This is the kind of thing you couldn't pay someone to do because it would consume too much space, take too long and be terribly expensive. I recall one veteran restorer commenting as he patiently sanded away at a wood-spoke wheel, "If it were easy, everybody would do it."
Well, truth is, it's not actually difficult if you follow the directions, but laying on a dozen coats of varnish and sanding each and every spoke between coats sounds like it could get awfully tedious (Sand, sand, sand, till you have no fingerprints. Wipe down with a mineral spirits-soaked rag, then wipe down with a tack rag. Sweep, vacuum and mop the work area so it's completely sanitary and free of dust. Change into clean work clothes and pull on a pair of latex gloves. Strain the varnish, Penetrol and mineral spirits and mix it together 2:1:1. Brush the mixture onto the felloe and twelve spokes, chase the drips and bubbles, clean the brush—and perform that same two-and-a-half-hour task once a day for two weeks).
Well, you know what? After a few days, something sort of odd happened: I started to pick up a knack of doing things just a tiny bit better and more systematically with each successive coat. It got to be a kind of Zen thing where my mind would wander while my eyes and hands did the work, and wonder of wonders, this repetitive job started to become a relaxing stress-buster.
Like, for instance, the other day after the missus and I had engaged in a domestic elucidation of vociferous rhetoric, I decided to hide out in the basement and channel my disapprobation through abrasives. Out came the wire-brush, sandpaper and Scotch-brite and next thing I knew, inner peace had been re-established.
And the neat thing is, this wheel is slowly becoming a thing of beauty just by following the directions.
LOL Bob I like that "The missus and I had engaged in a domestic elucidation of vociferous rhetoric"
My T does the same thing for me. Somehow after being married for a year and half, I realized I lost the best girlfriend I'd ever had by marrying her. We'll figure it out and it'll be fun again (once she starts picking up after herself never-mind-I'm-going-to-break-something-just-thinking-about-that) but in the mean time, when she irritates the absolute fire out of me and we really get into it, I can just go work on the T and completely forget the world. There's just me and this simple, straightforward machine, and all is right with the world.
Things do change after you're married. They change even more after you have a kid.
At that point in life, a man truly learns that his dog is his best friend. Whatever I'm doing, he's interested and inquisitive; where ever I go, he wants to go with me. When I tell him we're taking a ride to the hardware store, he peels out to fetch his leash and acts like we're going to Disneyworld. There is no loyalty like the loyalty of a dog (unless someone else is holding a cookie).
But I digress (always wanted to say that). We were talking about varnishing a wheel.
But I've got Wire Wheels!!??
You don't sand. You use a wire brush on them (but never on wood spokes). :-)
And this is what it looks like after the fourth coat of varnish.
Eight coats to go.
Is that because of all the
"domestic elucidation of vociferous rhetoric" going on?
or that you just want them to be beautiful??
As you can see by the photos, sitting right next to the wheel is a clothes-dryer, which, of course, exhales airborne lint like politicians exhale baloney. This evening, in a fit of what I can only deduce as jealousy, a threat was made to dry a load of laundry even as "Penelope's" wheel was yet quite sticky with fresh varnish. But for some crazy, absolutely inexplicable reason, the clothes-dryer picked this very evening to malfunction—almost as though it had been disabled. Crazy, huh?
Sort of like it's breaker had been mysteriously turned off or the plug had jumped out of the socket?
Like I said. Crazy, huh?
And after another round of sanding and varnish...
Those wheels look very good. I am glad that you were able to prevent your wheels from suffering from airborne baloney and/or dryer lint. A man has to do what a man has to do and sometimes it is not politically correct. One must weigh their domestic decisions carefully. Sometimes you have to bake enamel in the oven, or turn the d@mn dryer off. Its is what we real men have to do carry on the hobby! Rock on.
I meant to say, "Sometimes you have to bake enamel in the oven, turn the d@mn dryer off or sometimes you need to use the dishwasher to clean T parts"
12 coats of varnish -
one coat per day -
times 4 wheels -
equals 48 days
There has to be an easier way!
OH Ya -- 4 wheels per day then it only takes 12 days!
The cars are a labor of love and we do things for them that would otherwise be unaffordable (and I guess that's why it's always a much better deal to buy one that's already finished than to fix it up yourself).
So, okay, let's say prepping and laying on 2 coats of stain takes 4 hours.
Then, each coat of varnish takes at least 3 hours.
That's 36 hours.
That comes to 40 hours per wheel—in other words, a standard, non-overtime work-week.
Multiply that by 4 wheels and we're talking about paying somebody for 160 hours worth of work.
Another coat (and if you think this is getting tedious, imagine how it must be for me).
Well here's what I'm thinking.
There must be some safety regulation about this.
With that much gloss, there would be too much glare at night for cars waiting at an intersection. Drivers would be blinded.
I think you are glossing over the fact the wheels should be black. :-)
Tiz true. And were the car a roadster, I'd keep the black wheels. But the broad side of a post-1913 Touring is a vast, flat expanse of uninterrupted black with very little shadow detail, so the car could use a little extra texture when viewed from that direction.
Interesting discovery today. When I pulled the hub back from the wood (for sanding purposes), I noticed a knot in the wood, which turned to powder when I poked at it.
The hole is about 1/8" in diameter and 1/8" deep. When I stick a nail in it, the insides feel good and hard. Maybe I'll glue a piece of dowel in there or maybe I'll just forget about it.
Bob, that is what they make Kwik Poly for.
And yet another coat of varnish...
Bob, those wheels are gorgeous.
Joe, I've heard Kwik Poly is a terrible thing to put on wheels. Maybe I'm mistaken. Not trying to hijack the thread. Just curious.
Aw, it's a silly thread, Jared. Hijack it all you like! :-)
I was planning to lay on a dozen coats of varnish, but the Flivver is committed to a car show
this coming Saturday. With time that short, eight coats will have to suffice (and I still need to
paint the metal parts, mount the new tire, bolt on the drums, etc.).
Are all these photos of just one wheel?
What are the others like?
Are you doing all four in parallel or will this thread get as long as the ones which discuss which oil to use?
Last year, I discovered a crack in the felloe and a couple of loose spokes in on my left-rear wheel. I sent it for rebuilding to Stutzman's Wheel Shop and had planned, upon its return, to paint the bare wood black like the other three wheels. But Mr. Stutzman's workmanship was such a lovely work of art, I couldn't bring myself to hide the wood beneath black paint, so I stained and varnished it, which sort of committed me to doing the same for the other three wheels.
But the Good Lord knew better than to trust me with wealth (or good looks), so I can only afford to have the wheels rebuilt one at a time. That makes matching them a bit of a challenge as I originally mixed two different kinds of stain together to get the color I wanted (Guess I couldn't be trusted with brains, either). The stain combination I arrived at is one part Old Master's "Crimson Fire" and eight parts Old Master's "Rich Mahogany." I applied that twice and then used a marine spar varnish called "Epifanes High Gloss Clear Varnish" over the stained wood. The combination of stain and amber varnish yields a very pleasing hue with just the right hint of orange.
This is the second wheel. I did the first one last year. My cheapie camera isn't doing it justice. The very high quality of "Old Master's" and "Epafanes" products, in addition to Chip Button's instructions, overcame my absolute lack of wood-finishing talent, so don't blame me for how beautiful this wheel looks.
Before and after photos. A wheel, fresh from Stutzman's Wheel Shop and
after following George Button's wood-finishing instructions.
Wrestled the tire onto the rim today. And being a ham-fisted giabroni, I managed to
gouge the wood with a tire iron (Grrrrrr). Touched it up with some wood-stain.
Finally, on the car (Last photo. Honest.)
8 coats of varnish over 2 applications of stain
I hope it is not the last photo. Post your results as you do the other 2 wheels. I also hope your dryer makes a rapid recovery!
Mighty fancy for a Ford.
That's sure a lot of "Wax on, Wax off" work you did. The wheel looks totally awesome. Thanks for sharing. Ya done good Bob!
I'm done refinishing until after the driving season. The front wheels are next, but they hold ball bearing races and so, will need to be held by something a little more gentle than a piece of dowel clamped in a vice. Will probably make some kind of mini-ferris wheel support with an old spindle and put it on a turntable so as to have easy access to both sides of the wheel.
I agonized over the originality issue for a while (mostly because I really gotta get a life) and decided that Mr. Stutzman's craftsmanship was too beautiful to hide under a coat of black paint. Guess I'll just settle for "period correct."
It was easy. Between the very high quality of the materials I used and Chip Button's easy, step-by-step, wood-finishing directions, it was almost impossible not to come up with something that looked good. No talent involved, I assure you.