We had decided to strip the paint from the spokes of our wood wheels. Today I bought this at Harbor Freight.
It works well. I cleaned two spokes in just a few minutes.
Paint stripper works well also. Either way will work.
With all due respect, those sanding drums will destroy your spokes. Consider using stripper, as John suggests above.
Tommy, listen to Jerry. Dave
Well a few years ago I was going to strip paint off some wheels. I have an old copper boiler and a 2 burner camp stove. I bought a box of TSP ??(Trisodium phosphate) and mixed it in the water and heated it up and the used a putty knife and a wire brush and they came ultra clean and very little detail was needed. I then used some fine sand paper to clean up the metal and the spokes. Let them dry few days and painted them black and the job was done. The job was fairly easy.
The best sanding thing I found for cleaning/sanding spokes is belt sander belts cut into 1" wide strips for the full length. 18" or whatever length you want. Won't tear or rip apart and keep the spoke round unlike your drums which appear to be distorting them. "Shoe Shine" back & forth motion is best. A Work Mate folding table is great for holding the wheel too.
You all may laugh at this, but pieces of broken single pane window glass make great scrapers for getting between spokes. When the edges get dull, just grab another piece and get back to work. No sandpaper to clog etc.
The spokes are wood. Wood has grain. Unless needing to remove wood, all sanding should be along the grain. Anything else will leave scratching across the grain. That is OK if you intend to fill and paint as is standard.
Dan, I am not laughing! 1" wide strips of window glass make excellent scrapers, discarding them as the become dull. I would do the job no other way. even the valley between spokes can be scraped by drawing the glass away from the valley so the grain isn't raised. Final sanding is always along the spoke, not around it.
It is upsetting to see wood butchered by the wrong processes, usually in the pursuit time and labour saving.
Allan from down under.
I second Dan's method. A small, very sharp knife will also work as a scraper; re-sharpened the knife on a water stone when dull from scrapening.
I don't know if anyone is still doing it, but I had the front wheels on my TT dipped at a furniture restorer. I read all kinds of horror stories about how that would ruin the spokes, but it didn't. All that happened was that I ended up with some very nice clean spokes. That was in the mid '90's. Worked for me. Dave
I felt like, as Allan said, that sanding should be done with the grain, or along the length of the spoke rather than across the spoke. I thought about strips of sandpaper drawn back and forth, like some people "polish" a crankshaft, but decided to go with the drum sanding kit instead. I wanted to avoid the mess of using stripper but I admit that what I DON'T know about working with wood could fill a large book, or two. I want to remove the flakeing black paint and remove as little wood as possible. The distortion of the spokes must be an illusion in the pics because I'm sure that very, very little wood was removed on these two spokes. I appreciate any and all advice. Thanks
Looking closely at the pics I can see why the spokes appear to be distorted. If you look at the ends of the spokes, where they attach to the felloes, they appear to not be round any more. That is one of them optical illusions. I assure you that not enough wood was removed to change the shape as much as it looks like. I am not argueing or saying that I will continue with the sanding as I have, just trying to decide how to continue. Thanks again all.
Tommy, Please don't take what has been posted here and above as bullying or that you did something wrong. It is good info.
What you used definitely would not have been my first choice. They have the ability to get away from you and do quick damage no mater how careful you are in my opinion.
Yes stripper is messy, no way around that. But it is the least likely to damage good spokes. I used Permetex 80577 (Napa# 765-1085) paint stripper in a spray can. My wheels were painted multiple times so it took repeat applications. I used about a can and a half on each wheel. It needs to be flushed clean with water.
I used a piece of sheet metal that I used a hole saw to cut a hole similar to the diameter of the spoke. I then cut it across the hole, effectively making it a half round scraper. It worked great and you just drag it along the grain of the spoke removing old paint and liquid stripper.
I then used 1" wide strip sand paper to finish the cleaning process, using it much like you describe as polishing a crankshaft---but carefully.
I finished that up by taking sand paper and going with the grain of the spoke to remove the scratches. I needed a smooth wood layer as I was converting to natural wood spokes.
I only had the chance to do the rear wheels last year, hoping to do the fronts by spring time. But hear are mine.
To further what I posted above, if you are just trying to rid the flaking old paint but the rest of it seems sound, you probably don't have to strip the whole wheel if you are repainting everything black. Just get rid of the flaky spots by scraping like Dan said and feather it all out with sand paper. Then you can reprime (sand out any imperfections at that point) and paint. That will keep you from using stripper.
I am going with natural finish so they have to be clean.
What finish are you going to use?
Thank you, Paul in Tacoma
Another neat trick is using shards of broken glass to scrape off the old paint--cheap, readily available and free! Did this on our Depot Hack in the '70's as my part in the project w/ my Dad. It takes a little practice so that you take the paint an not the wood, but it worked well especially down at the crotch by the hub. I then used strips of emory paper to polish out the surface--shoe shine style 1st, then with grain to finish.
Do you recall which stain you used on your spokes, name and brand? Your spokes look great and I'd like to duplicate that for a friend's 1926 Coupe. I experimented with various stains on new Stutzman spokes, but I don't like any of them. Your color is perfect.
It was Pecan, and I am pretty sure it was Cabot brand, but I can check.
I don't know what to use on mine. I don't want a stain, that is I don't want to change the color of the wood, I just want some shine. Something to protect the wood.
Tommy, I use marine spar varnish, usually 3 coats,lightly sanded between coats. This product is made for harsh marine conditions and has really good ultra violet protection. Just apply it directly to your timber. It does help if the bare timber is first prepared with a coat of Penetrol to seal the grain.
hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Interesting post. I used a variety of hand file to remove the old paint from the spokes. Took a couple hours and didn't affect the wood.
Look into a product called Kwik-Poly for your rims.
Using plate glass shards for this over the years. Old time painter's tip I got from my dad who worked his way thru college in the depression as a painter's helper.
Then light sand over the scrapped spokes, mask off the wood and spray paint the metal felloe and hub parts. Coated with good spar varnish, first coat thinned, then second coat full. Done.
Everybody does stuff differently. As far as I'm concerned, Tommy ruined his wheel, but that is his choice. Using the broken piece of glass is an idea that has been around forever. I use an old kitchen knife. The Kwik Poly is for the wood, not the rims!
I did my rear wheels since I was working on the brakes
Here is the products I used, the refinisher only took minutes to clean the wood, and actually took off some of the old paint on the rims.
Kyle, I looked at the kwik poly. Would this product be good for filling many tack holes in our top bows? Maybe adding sawdust or putting toothpicks in the holes and splits?
I restored the top bows for Ole Gert using Kwik Poly and that stuff made a believer out of me. Easy to work with and fills in cracks, tack holes and the repairs I made in the process. As a bonus, as the name says, itís quick!!
Robert, absolutely kwik-poly works perfectly for that. We've repaired a top bow that was almost completely snapped apart with kiwi-poly. Still holding up.
I have to agree with those that tell you that the sanding drums are way too aggressive for this job, especially when you get to the hub area. Where the spokes flare out to meet each other, there is a delicate, sharp edge at that point. You can see that in Dan's wheel pictures. BTW, Dan, that's an awfully wide gap between those two spokes. This edge is often lost during wheel restorations, but it is an important detail of the wood spoke wheel. The sanding drums will round off that edge faster than you can say "ooops!"
You will also find that some paint is in the grain of the wood, and I think only stripper can lift it out. Yes, you then have to fill that grain to get a smooth finish (clear or painted).
It's not an easy process to have "natural finish" wheels if they were painted before, but the final product can be one to make you proud. That's in spite of those who claim the wheels were always painted! Back in the day there were folks offering wheel striping services, so some cars did have natural finish wheels, maybe not from the factory, but when the cars were new. I don't think any car was accessorized as much as the model T.
Agree with Dan and Dan above on the broken glass. My Grandfather showed me many years ago that the best scraper for a curved surface such as a spoke was a piece of a broken Coke bottle. Very easy to scrape the rounded edges with it.
Black wheels are beautiful!
One wheel in primer, one sanded and ready for primer
the easiest way to natural spokes....
I didn't have any broken glass when I stripped my spokes, so I used the side edge of a narrow putty knife. It was almost like using a cabinet scraper. Not as quick as glass, but the old, brittle paint just popped off. Then I finished the job with 80 and 120 grit sandpaper. I used Minwax spar varnish for the front wheels, but don't think it will last long-term so when I respoked the rear wheels, I paid the extra money for a quart of Epiphanes spar varnish with beautiful results. 1 quart will be enough for at least 10 coats on all 4 wheels. Beautiful results too.