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Tips to Clean Original Wheels

1320 Views 20 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  SupRadical
So, the guy I bought my car from was an employee at the local Discount Tire shop. As such, I did luck out getting a $2k set of SSR Longchamp wheels and new tires on the car. I do like them and the stance they give BUT, I also am a sucker for originality and I happen to think the stock MKII wheels with BFG (white lettering out of course) is one of the best looking setups a period correct car ever had. So I want to have both setups.

The guy I bought the car from happened to mention he still had the stock wheels and asked in an almost dismissive tone whether I wanted them (I think he could never imagine anyone wanting them over the Longchamps.) I said yes I did (please) and reminded him a few times before the final transaction. So, I have them and they are overall in great shape. The Mastercraft 185/60 14's are going to have to go, but the wheels and center caps are overall in great condition with no real curb rash etc. (A few small areas where wheel weights were at one time.)

But, I do want to spruce them up a bit and I'm wondering what the best way to go about that is with this type of wheel / finish? With a standard polished aluminum wheel I'd take a lightly abrasive buffing ball on a drill and compound to them, then polish with Mothers etc. But these are not polished aluminum so I'm wondering what others have done to just bring out the original finish a bit?

Someone also tried to paint the black grooves but not the neatest so I'll redo that too while I'm at it.

Anyway, let me know what yo have found to work well on these wheels?


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I sanded mine down then applied a gun metal finish. Looks good but not original, if you want a oem finish this video shoes the process. I haven't tried it but I bet if you use a fine polishing compound with a machine you could get the same finish.
Wow that video / process is amazing. You did give me an idea and I looked and there is a place that refinishes OEM wheels here in CO so I may check them out first before I do anything on my own. I do think I could get them better but probably nothing quite like what a pro with that kind of equipment can do.

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It takes that kind of tooling to recreate the diamon cut style reflection.
And most wheel repair center charge about 200U$ per wheel for the whole process.
Many others (like me) prefer to do it manually, but loose the diamon cut look.
You can remove what is left of clear with paint stripper, sand the dammaged areas, then sand up to 1000-2000 grit, and finally poslish with Mothers paste. The cast areas are easy to paint aluminium with wheel paint, and the black lines are easy too at that point. Just a small paint brush, and whatever is on the polished surface just wipes out.
I did not clear coat them as final step, as I prefer a little polish each year.
Here is my take at it.
Wow well that’s really impressive! So all hand sanding? I hate to ask how much time you spent per wheel but that looks pretty phenomenal!
Dang, EcoSoap...I'll check it out!
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Nothing you do on your own can match the result of a fresh diamond cut on a lathe. Wheel Collision Center in Bath, PA are specialists in our wheels having done at least 20 sets of them. Not only do they lathe the machined finish, they restore between the spokes/center hub area and repaint the black groove. Then clear coat the whole thing - and I mean the whole thing - even the rear barrels are clear coated making them super easy to spray off the brake dust
Man those are beautiful! I love that you can see all the original details and grooves. So can you ship your wheels to them? And guessing in the $200 / wheel range?
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Also, I have not yet attempted to get my center caps off. Mine are really on there. Of course I would never pound on them and I'm hesitant to pry too hard either. What's the trick?
Take the wheel off. Then from the inside use a mallet and tap it out. Try not to tap in the middle, but on the edge of the bore.
Right. I'll give it a try for sure. That was my sense too...not to tap in the middle. I'd hate to punch a hole in those as they are perfect and 40 years old! Thanks!

Also, @suprarossa, lmk if you have a ballpark on what Wheel Collision Center charges. I checked with a local wheel shop and they said they can't do the laser. So, I think I'd have to ship them to these guys. Based on the number they have done (presumably for other forum members) I'm guessing others have send them their wheels and back to get this done?

Forgot to mention about the cap.
If you have the green tool bag in the trunk, there is a tool with a curved flat end in it. (I incresed the curve to be 90deg). If you look closely around the cap, on the perimeter you can slide that flat end of the curved tool, and pull out the cap.
I never liked the idea, being afraid to damnage the wheel at the location where the tool push on the aluminium, (this is why I bent it more) but you'll get the idea.
Ah yes! And I do have that original bag and that tool. Thx.
Thanks all. I got the center caps out no prob with some very careful prying from the outside. I found a place here that has a diamond cut machine and I’m waiting on a price.

I mounted two of the OEM’s up on one side of the car today and took awhile soaking it in. They look good on the front but after having the SSR’s on the back the OEM’s just sit so far inboard and I’m not sure I can get used to it. I guess I like the hulky look of the big offfset SSR’s more than I thought I would. I know I could do spacers of one sort or another in the back and I do like the retro goodness look of the OEM’s though on my car they would look killer in gold (which I’d have to powder coat to get that look and that seems blasphemous on OEM wheels.) So IDK, after my test fit I think I’ll run the SSR’s a bit longer.
I'll take the 185's if you don't want them...
Well I want to keep the OEM wheels no matter what. They should go with the car always and I may give them a try again later on. The tires on them are trash. Old and only two hold air.
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