Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Around the Rim (Part 5)

I really can't believe it took 5 posts to cover cleaning up and painting a set of rims. It took fewer posts to cover replacing the floors. I guess there were more steps on the rims. I can't believe it took longer, calendar-wise either, but getting things done in the cold winter is much harder than getting them done in the warm summer. I should probably remember that when I plan things. It could be at least in part because most of the rim work has been done outside since the garage is full of project cars and assorted parts and painting in cold weather forces some creative thinking. Hmm... anyway.. on to the paint!

Prime and Sand
Once everywhere you don't want paint is covered, you're ready to prime. By "everywhere", this includes the rubber tires, and the inside of the rim. If I had a paint gun, I would have gone that route, but I don't. So, I did the best I could with what I had: rattle-can primer, paint and clear. After all the time I'd put in the prep, I really wish I could have used a real paint set-up, but that's just how it goes. Follow the directions on the paint. Use many light passes with the primer. Make sure all of the deep spots (like the holes where the lug nuts go) get hit before going after the easy spots.

Once dry, let it set for an extra stretch of time. I let them sit for a weekend in a warm dry room, but I'm just like that. Using 320-grit sandpaper, I smoothed out the primer on all 4 wheels. I expect some would prefer to sand with even higher grit paper, and if this were going to be a 6-digit car, I'd defer. I expect to drive this car, not show it. The road will wear the rims no better nor worse if I sanded more. Anyway, similar to the treatment before taping, I wiped the wheels down with glass cleaner after the sanding was completed.

Color Up
First, I wanted a body-color matching edge. I've been looking specifically at rims on cars almost as long as I have been looking at cars. Where having one-color rims was the only way for years, a blending of shiny alloy and color is becoming much more common. I waned to go one more step and do 2 colors plus alloy. So, I started with the body-color match. This brings the rims to the car, helping bridge a gap created by not going with a common rim for the MGB (Rostyle or wire).

To do the color, I first tried to mask off the rest of the rim using thin-wall cardboard, but I could not get tape to stick to the old primer-covered tape. So, I dug back into my old house-painting bag of tricks and cut a make-shift paint shield out of a pizza box. By holding the shield up along the side, but not touching any to-be-painted area (against tape), I was able to deflect any over-spray without getting the cardboard into the fresh paint.

The weather here has been cold and wet. Neither of those conditions are good for painting. To offset some of the bad, I kept the rims inside my living room up to the moment I was going to apply paint. When there was a break in the rain, I quickly moved a room-temperature rim out into the yard, popped it onto an upside-down 5-gallon tub and shot color. Two times around for solid coverage and then I set the rim flat under the front porch eave and ran inside for another rim. I did this until all 4 rims had a vermilion ring.

Black Out
About this time, we were hit with successive snow storms that delayed my progress a bit. That's why the 4 different parts of this post didn't come out one right after the other. Anyway, once the vermilion dried and set for a few days in my semi-warm garage, I planned for the black paint. Before I could shoot the black, I had to cover up the vermilion, remembering that tape wouldn't stick well to primer. By contrast, the painter tape stuck very well to the orangey finish-color. As gently as I could, I covered the orange ring. I discovered while striping the tape that some spots were soft and the paint pulled away with the tape. I chalk that up to the cold conditions and did some isolated touch up.

Anyway, once the orange was protected, I shot the exposed rim with a reasonable coat of black primer, sanded (600-grit) and then shot hi-gloss black. I intended to do two light coats with the high gloss, but between the weather conditions and the paint, I couldn't get a light coat to lay down. So, I did a heavier-than-I-intended coat and then quickly followed with a light coat on top of that. The end result was pretty good, leaving only a couple of sags. I caught them early enough that I was able to scrape them away and re-shoot. A few marks were left behind, but they disappeared during color-sanding.

Color Sand
After I shot the black and let it set a couple of days, I pulled the tape off the orange. It looked pretty good, with a couple spots I knew I'd need to address. I opted to get the wet-sanding done first, and grabbed a bucket of warm water and 1000 grit paper. I cut the paper into 2" squares and wet-sanded each rim with a fresh square, rinsing the paper in the bucket every minute or less. This took down the gloss, but also removed little paint anomalies. I also wet-sanded the vermilion. I had virtually no burn through, with a few little spots near the lug holes. I simply covered around them and fogged-in some black and let that set for another couple of days before color-sanding those areas.

Strip and Final Prep
Once color sanded, I could remove all of the tape and get a good sense of how the final product would look. I knew there would be some clean up needed. Some tape had pulled away from the aluminum, so some paint made it past. Elsewhere, the tape wasn't at the exact edge, so some clean-up was needed. This took a few hours, but the result is better than I'd expected. To remove the over-spray, I used 220-grit paper on the raw aluminum. To set the fine edge, I used a putty knife along the contour to mark the line from black to raw aluminum and then sanded the rest of the paint on the aluminum side with the 22-grit. Once it was all sanded, I hosed it off, cleaned them with glass cleaner and then hosed them off again.

In the Clear
The funny thing about paint is that you find every little minor defect after you've applied it. I spent a few hours just nick picking on the paint edges and still they weren't perfect. I decided it didn't matter and I was pushing it too far. These rims were $100 with barely-serviceable rubber on them. They had deep gouges and the clear coat was flaked. I decided to just shoot the clear and be done with them knowing full well that the more time I put into them the more heartbroken I would be when the inevitable piece of gravel scratched one.

Once I had the rims cleaned, I moved them into my living room (thanks for your tolerance, Boo) so I could get them up to room temperature. Remember, it's in the 40F's during the day and getting below freezing at night, so getting the paint to adhere is a concern. So, I had an afternoon when it wasn't actively raining, so I followed the same process as before: one rim at a time, I bring a rim out, set it on an upside-down 5-gallon bucket and shoot. I was able to get a light coat of clear to lay down, so I followed the suggestions on the interweb (as well as on the can) and shot 2 light coats within 10 minutes of each other on all 4 rims. Then I moved them under cover and set them flat to dry.

The picture to the right, here, was taken the following morning, after it had completely dried. They aren't perfect, but I think they look really good. The concept of a 2-color plus chrome was executed, and once the tape came off the rubber, and they were mounted on a car, I think they look pretty amazing.

So, that's it for the Rim Job. I had a morning of swapping rims around the cars in the yard, but it was totally worth seeing the car transform. I think the next big effort will be addressing the radiator in the bus. I did promise Hapy that I'd replace his rad before the next festival season began. 4Peaks is less than 3 months away!

As always, thanks for following along-

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