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Thread: Help! Dirty Hands! Perpetually Dirty Wheels!

  1. #11
    I have the same issue as Diaspora, but my hand rims are aluminum from TiLite. I have never had this issue before and I have had three other wheelchairs. Here is info I got off the internet that may be of some help.

    Aluminum Anodized Handrims

    Aluminum handrims are by far the most common handrims and are usually standard equipment on many wheelchair models. Because aluminum is a dirty material and will continually shed a fine black dust the manufacturers will have their aluminum handrims anodized to seal them and prevent the oxidization that causes the black dust.

    Stronger metals need less thickness. That is why, in some applications, aluminum is capable of being lighter than steel. It is simply thinner. Titanium is not only light weight, but is also capable of being formed still thinner. Also, there are many different alloys of these metals and weight, strength, and resistance to oxidation vary by alloy.

    The reason that Aluminum is dirty is that it forms a protective oxidized coat when it is exposed to air. The coat forms faster when exposed to water. The same thing happens to mild steel. You see this coat as a dullness in the aluminum. It shows up as very dark grey on your hands or gloves.

    Anodizing aluminum is done by dipping it in a tank with an electrolyte and using an electrical current to pull some of the reagent into the surface of the aluminum. The color produced depends on the specific voltage used. This is commonly done to produce a colored surface but it also protects from oxidation. Titanium is also capable of being anodized, but fewer places do it. If you are working with a shop that specializes in anodizing, you can specify how deep you want the anodizing to go.

    Anodizing and powder coating are both susceptible to scratches. Deep anodizing, which is not done by any chair manufacturer that I know of, would show fewer scratches but would still show the deep ones. Class III (Standard Commercial) anodizing is .1 mil deep, Class II is .4, and Class I is .7. Custom depths of greater thickness can be done.

    You can continue to regularly polish aluminum to prevent the build up of oxidation and even polish out scratches, bit this is prohibitively laborious for something the size of a chair. You can also use a car wax to prevent oxidation after you have polished, this will save you having to re-polish the whole chair, you can just polish and re-wax the scratches. It's still a LOT of work.

    If you don't like the scratches and don't want to spend much effort keeping them under control, your best bet is to apply an exterior protector over your scratch areas. Some people use adhesive chain stays, bicycle handlebar tape, or sew on leather.


    Anodizing is a type of electrolytic process used for the passivation of metal components, usually performed on aluminum parts. Passivation of the component is achieved by increasing the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of the metal component, thus protecting the component from corrosion. The anodizing process involves using the object or component to be anodized as the anode of an electrical circuit and immersing it in an electrolyte bath. When electricity is passed through the circuit, an oxide layer is formed on the anode. Apart from corrosion prevention, anodizing is also used as a cosmetic surface enhancement process, especially with the added use of dyes.

  2. #12
    Senior Member
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    I usually use Glass Plus and paper towel. Don't have specific routine. But when dirty, simply take 1 paper towel and spray some of the Glass Plue and and wipe entire rim. Paper towel easy to wrap around entire rim. Dries very quick.

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