Removing Anodization

  • 0_1483370713715_CameraZOOM-20170102065010878_50.jpg

    I was inspired by @No to remove the anodized blue. My OW was getting scuffed up and bare aluminum looked ok on his board (and on my work-in-progress removable fender).

    I thought I would share my process here, in case anyone else felt like trying the same thing. I'll skip the whole history of experimentation and just describe the steps of how I would do it if I was starting over.


    • Belt Sander
    • (Optional) wire brush on power tool (drill or grinder etc)
    • Oven Cleaner (containing Sodium Hydroxide/Lye)
    • (Optional) bumper sticker remover spray
    • Q-tips
    • Masking tape
    • Paper towels
    • Tools for OW disassembly
    • Thin mounting tape
    • OneWheel

    Steps (what I effectively did):

    1. First, take the OneWheel apart. Down to the two bare aluminum frame bars. I won't go into detail here, someone else probably documented this procedure. Keep track of the screws.
    2. Carefully pry out the OW badge on the one side. This can be bent easily so use care. I used a thin long flat-tip screwdriver. If it does get deformed it is soft enough to be reshaped easily. Remove any excess adhesive from both the badge and the aluminum. The bumper-sticker remover spray could be useful here.
    3. Use the belt sander to abrasively remove the blue on the flat surfaces: top, side, bottom. When I did it I found that the sides are surprisingly not perfectly flat (this may be from stress of regular use). The (optional) wire brush could be handy here for some touch-up like this or for the ends or it could be taken care of in the next step. I chose to leave the bottom surface that had the serial number as is.
    4. Wash off both bars. I washed them in the kitchen sink using dish soap and a sponge. Thouroughly rinse and dry them off.
    5. Now we play with chemicals. Use the oven cleaner to do the recessed parts (power switch, charge port, motor attachment, etc). This can also be used for the ends and any stubborn blue that didn't come off with abrasion. Also be sure to do this in a well ventilated area and do NOT let the Lye touch your skin, it will burn (wash off immediately). Using the oven cleaner means babysitting the parts. It is not just apply and come back in 20 minutes. To get the cleaner in a workable liquid I sprayed it into a short glass and poured it over or used the Q-tips to apply it. Keep the areas to clean coated in cleaner. Every few minutes rub off whatever will come off using a Q-tip. I used masking tape to cover the bottom of each hole and then filled the hole with cleaner. Soak, scrub, soak, wipe, repeat. This is the most time consuming part.
    6. Wash off both bars again. The cleaner may leave bleached splotches that may not wash off. If necessary, grind more and re-wash.
    7. Clean off the OneWheel badge and use the mounting tape to reattach.
    8. Reassemble the OneWheel and enjoy.

    It may also be possible to simply submerge the bars in cleaner, possibly scrubbing the blue off occassionally. I wanted to try to limit how much oven cleaner was out at any given time and I also wanted to keep the serial number untouched.

    When I was experimenting I found I could not simply cover an area with cleaner and leave it alone. Most of the blue did come off but it also seemed to pile up in spots. I think it is important to clear this away periodically. Scrubbing the surface is also effective.

    I originally planned to go back to the sander after the Lye treatment to clean off white splotches that were left behind. After looking it over I decided I thought it looked ok; it added some character. So I left most of them.

  • Sanding in progress

    Oven cleaner treatment

    Mounting badge

    Ready to ride

  • Earlier experimenting

    Earlier treatment shot

    With detachable fender

  • Looks good! Thanks for posting a tutorial, I never removed the blue from the holes, now I know how lol

  • @No
    Yup! Q-tips and some Lye oven cleaner should do it.
    Just don't get any of the stuff on you unless you want to reenact that scene from Fight Club.

  • There's a chemical that will remove it too..

  • Probably not a huge deal but something to think about. The anodizing provides corrosion resistance for the aluminium. Yes, the aluminum will form an oxidation layer by itself but the rails could start having issues in areas where the bare aluminum is in contact with dissimilar metals where moisture is present, but this would most likely take some time. We most likely won't own these things long enough for the oxidation to weaken them to the point they are unsafe but just thought I'd pass it along. I own a body shop that is certified for aluminium repair on Tesla, Porsche and others and the OEM's are very worried about any contamination from ferrous or other materials coming in contact with bare aluminium even to the point that there are many sandpapers we can't use on aluminium because they contain things that could embed themselves into the metal and weaken them over time.

  • @wr420 aluminum oxide actually protects the aluminum from further oxidation.. aluminum doesn't rot away like steel.. I am a certified welder and also own my own shop.. never heard of what you're saying..

  • Oddly the theme of this thread reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer describes a photo of him and Gerald Ford (or some other president), and how it turned out really nice after he had Ford airbrushed out of the photo.

    No judgements - glad to see people making their OW's unique.

  • Oh I forgot to mention..
    When researching this originally I found a post on the internet that said Greased Lightning is good at removing anodization.
    I tried this and I found generic Lye based oven cleaner seemed to work better. It may have been that my technique improved a little but I think it was more that the generic cleaner was more effective.

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