Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Stripper Comes to Town

The weather has turned surprisingly warm here in Seattle and so now I am stripping the black paint from my rims.  To be safe, I first try with the spare from the trunk. It's the same kind of rim as the others and a previous steward of the 2000 painted it with the same black pigment. Full disclosure: I have no connection, financial or otherwise, to the product I use (at left).  But the outside temperature must be at least 60 degrees F or 21 C for the active chemicals to work properly.  Believe me, the stuff is way too toxic to use in large quantities indoors.  I still recall stripping the black paint while in the garage, from the rear panel trim as a nightmare of toxic fumes and improvised breathing devices.  The outside door was open but the air quality turned into that similar to an old Soviet industrial city.

I lift the spare from the wheel well and again admire how pristine is the metalwork inside.

1) The wheel well with original BMW jack to the left but with a better lug wrench over the tire

 Noticing a few spots of surface rust, I sand them down, wipe the dust away with mineral spirits, and spray the well with some handy gold paint I keep around for just such occasions.

2) The wheel well after a quick hand-sanding with 100 grit paper

3) This paint-work won't win any beauty contests, but then I haven't entered one lately.  I think I should have shaken the can more; the paint dries multi-hued.  When I get the car resprayed the paint will match the rest of the floor pan correctly. But that's going to be a big job and so far it's out of sight over the horizon

Now it's time to tackle the tire. First I tape it off with newspaper as a barrier. We don't want the stripper to come into significant contact with any rubber, including the tire valve.

 4) The tire, ready for action

Next I spray a liberal amount of stripper on the paint and wait half an hour for the product to do its work.  I don garden gloves; the stuff burns bare skin as if you stuck your finger into a vat of battery acid. Of course I avoid plastic-type mitts; the stripper will fry an hole in them as surely as the alien in the Sigourney Weaver movies dripped acidic blood through the floors of her spaceship.

To then remove the stripper requires only a few paper towels and a garbage bag in which to dispose them. Or so I fool myself into thinking.  A putty knife might be used to scrape reluctant bits of paint from the recesses of the rim.

 At least that's the theory. Reality has other plans.

I allow everything to dry and begin to scrape. And scrape.  And scrape some more.  I switch to paper towels, watching whole forests get sucked into the project.  I fetch more tools, screwdrivers, razors, 2 by 4s, anything with an edge.  But my efforts are all in vain.

5) The end of the line

The stripper doesn't work. Why not?  Perhaps the temperature is too cold, perhaps the curves in the rim prevent me from getting enough purchase to scrape the paint efficiently.

I will head to a sand-blasting shop when I find one that is neither pricey nor sloppy.  You can put a fork in me; I'm done.

On the bright side, I maintain the perfection of the metal in the car's wheel well, at least until I get enough money to repaint the body.

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