My wife has a 1980 Schwinn World Tourist that has a good frame and is mechanically sound. The rims have developed rust on the rims even though it is in the garage. Is there a good way to remove the rust or any rust remover that works well on chrome wheels? Please do not recommend Coke and aluminum foil. I have tried that and it does not work (I used the same method shown on You Tube videos). Granted, the bike is not worth much, but with the rear baskets, it looks like the "wicked witch of the West's" bike and has character.
If you want to keep the steel wheels, you need to remove the rust and stop it coming back.
For Pinheads of Rust
- Strip off everything that is not metal (tyre/tube/rim tape)
- Poke at the big rust spots, look for rust under the chrome. You need to expose the rust to treat it
- Sand off any large lumps of rust with sandpaper (this is tedious)
- Treat the whole wheel surface with a rust resolver like "Rustbuster" which is an acid. Use gloves and eye protection - this stuff dissolves skin nicely.
- Allow it to dry/cure overnight
- Next day, sand any lumps of black rust ready for painting
- Immediately prime the whole wheel, spraypaint works well. Then immediately wipe the primer off the chromed parts because it won't stick there anyway.
- You can try applying a spray chrome paint last. Avoid the brake track, it won't last there.
Personally I used grey primer and simply left it at that.
If the rim is too rusted then you're up for some more in-depth work. If flakes of chrome come off because of rust underneath, then its significant. The rust will have penetrated under the chrome, and its very hard to get to. So the fix is to take it all off.
- Disassemble the whole wheel, loosen all the spoke nipples, remove the bare rim hoop. Order replacement stainless steel spokes and brass nipples.
- Send the rim hoop to a commercial shotblaster for cleanup, with whatever product they recommend. Could be glass pellets, walnut shells, sand, or similar abrasive powders.
- While these steps are happening, service the hub with new bearings etc.
- Once the whole rim is bare metal, get it commercially rechromed. A proper chrome expert will know the appropriate grades to use so the brake track works.
- Reassemble with new spokes and nipples (you may as well do it right) on the fresh hub.
Upgrade for Safety
Personally? I'd scrap the steel wheel, and replace the whole rim with a modern alloy rim. This will make braking work much better too.
Downside, is that modern 700c wheels are a few millimetres smaller than your existing 27" wheels. So the brakes have to reach a bit further, and you need new tyres. Your spare tubes should be okay though.