My '24 Roadster waited patiently through the holidays for Santa to bring some extra cash so we can move on a little closer to showing off on the road! Fortunately, the fat man didn't let us down.
There are a few mechanical things I want to take care of, but probably the biggest expense ahead of me is the paint job and wheel restoration. I've got some qualified guys in mind for the paint job, but I'm just wondering what suggestion this site might produce regarding the wheels. I've re-finished plenty of furniture in my time, but never spokes. They are currently black, as I imagine they always have been, and despite what the purists might say, I want the spokes to be natural. There, I've said it.
So tell me, what are the best steps to proceed with this project? What do I need to know? What should I be scared of? How do I plan this project in conjunction with the overall paint job? As always, all your knowledge and suggestions are welcomed!! Thanks.
I had the black paint glass blasted off my wheels. It worked great but left grooves in the wood. I don't recommend that unless others here say it can be done better. Perhaps light sanding and repainting work on the wheels. Lets see what others say.
Chemical stripper is the safest way. It will not hurt the wood or the metal. You can even do it with the tires still on.
If your wheels are like any of the ones I have stripped they will have ten coats of paint and varnish. Multiple applications of stripper (follow directions on the can) might be necessary, along with some heavy scotchbrite (wear rubber gloves and safety goggles). Then take the wheel to the car wash and use the high pressure water to remove all the traces of finish.
Chemical stripped and scrape the stripper off with glass
I cut off the bottom 4" off a 55 gallon drum and laid the 21" wood wheel in with 3 gallons of stripper. Cover the job with a piece of plywood and come back the next day to a wheel thats ready to scrape clean with a putty knife. Maybe lose a pint of stripper per wheel. Use FLAMMABLE stripper for manly results.
Scrub the rest clean with a stiff brush and the garden hose. troop
The best I have used is still my favorite...
Spread it on with a brush, thick and won't run fast, cover part with plastic trash bags to keep the stripper from drying out as it does its work.
Then scrap off stripper, place plastic drop cloths for clean up. Use plastic putty knife when metal stripping, metal or glass for wood, in fact, save that dangerous Ford plate glass. Bust it in scrap towels, and you have nice sharp shards of plate glass for scraping wood!
When I was at a car show in the summer someone told me that they new a old timer in the paint business that would break the top off a coke bottle and use it as a scrapper.
Anyone try/hear of that?
we used broken glass soda bottles to strip the varnish off the ladders when I first got on the fd. I was done every year, scraped off, lightly sanded, inspected and then new varnish applied. it have done it to T wheels too. I have also bead blasted them and stripper. anyway you do it, there are 12 per wheel x 4 wheels and a lot of fun. NOT but a job that must be done. have fun
I use glass beads in my cabinet, go slowly and do it myself. I get good results with no groves. Trick is to work lightly. I will never use stripper again. KB
And, as far as refinishing goes, (the second part of your question) after the wheels are stripped and lightly sanded apply boiled linseed oil to the wood spokes. Keep applying until the -possibly- dry wood soaks in enough. Then use marine spar varnish to finish. NOT regular linseed oil but be sure the can says 'boiled'. A chemical change occurs when the linseed oil gets boiled so that further finishing (paint/varnish) will adhere
Check around your area for someone who media blasts using different kinds of abrasives. He will know what to use on wood spoke wheels. Chemical strippers are fine but real messy. Because you can do it yourself, strippers are in wide use but a blast will do a better job on both the spokes and the metal hub and wheel and leaves the assembly ready for the next step. But, be sure you use someone who knows what they are doing.
If you do any scraping on wood buy a set of woodworking hand scrapers and a sharpener from a woodworking supply (Woodcraft; Rocklers etc). These are metal and easy to use. Much less hazardous than using broken glass. That's how how scraped off most of my wheels. Than just a light sanding to smooth out.
Sorry- mistyped. Should read: That's how I scraped--
If the paint is VERY old you might try dragging a razor blade backwards over the paint to "pop" the paint off. If the paint does not come off clean, then reverse the direction of the blade. I stripped a wheel last fall using this method. It worked well
If a lot of sanding is required get some belt sander belts in whatever grit you need, take a straight cut across the belt to open it out flat and cut 1" strips the full length of the belt. They really stand up to the shoe shine action of spoke sanding. I mounted my wheels in a Work-Mate folding table. It worked great. A detailing sander helped a bunch too. Golden Oak stain to even out the color. See my profile pic for results.
Scrape each spoke with what ever will work for you. I've done dozens of wheels, and I use a small kitchen knife, and do them one spoke at a time. I wouldn't consider blasting them at all.
I did okay with staining and varnishing a newly re-wooded wheel from Stutzman's Wheel Shop...
... but my other three wheels, though old, are still nice and solid, so rebuilding won't be necessary and I'll therefore have the added step of stripping off the black paint before doing anything else. I'm presently looking into a local outfit that does soda-blasting because from what I've heard, regular sand-blasting ruins the surface grain of wood.
Other than that, it's just a matter of applying stain and several coats of marine spar varnish with sanding in between coats.
I've cleaned 8 wheels by scraping them with an old cheap pocket knife, it's fast and effective for me anyway.
With no sludge mess to clean up afterwards ! Broom and dust pan works fine for clean up.
Take you a piece of scrap wood and some 320 grit sand paper staple the paper to the wood for sharpening your knife with as you work whit on the paper/wood ever now and again to keep it sharp, then when your done the 320 grit followed up with 400 grit paper to sand spokes and fellow and your ready to wipe with a tac cloth and paint or stain.
Trey, with any finishing you do after scraping/stripping, all should be done with the grain along the spokes if you are going to clear finish the spokes. Any wrapping of sandpaper around the spoke and pulling it back and forth will result in scratches across the grain and will require heavier sanding with the grain to remove them. The same applies to sanding between coats of clear.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Got the sand paper strips idea watching the old Ford assembly plant movies from the teens & 20's. Seemed to work for them too.
I agree with Dennis Henrichs. If you are going to scrape spokes with any thing get a scraper from a paint store. The one I like best is a three blade scraper from SHERMIN WILLIAMS!!!!
Since I almost always find one or two or more spokes that I am going to replace I always take the wheel apart and after I scrape them I use a belt sander on them
If I don't need to take the wheel apart (which is seldom) I scrape and use a coarse strip of emery cloth.