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Wire Wheels

Wire Wheels Published: 22nd Jun 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Wire Wheels
Wire Wheels
Wire Wheels
Wire Wheels
Wire Wheels
Wire Wheels
Wire Wheels
Wire Wheels
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Wheels are like shoes – if they don’t look good then your classic will never really stand out, Now winter’s over and it’s the show season, here’s how to make your wheels wonderful!

WISING UP TO WIRE WHEELS

WHERE SHALL I START?

Before making them look good, check that they are. Inspect the spokes with care, looking for damage, deterioration and, most of all, broken ones, which must be replaced for safety’s sake. The timehonoured way of checking for the latter is the simple ‘pencil test’ where a tap should give a healthy metallic ring – you’ll soon pick up the sound.

Scrutinise the rims for damage and don’t forget to scrutinise the centre splines for wear. If bad – you’ll also probably feel a ‘clonk’ when moving off – then you should consider replacing them or at least having them rebuilt.

According to leading exponent MWS International, spokes cost £3-4 each with a new painted rim for an MGA typically £65 but before any repairs are carried out the wheels are thoroughly inspected, a job taking a couple of days.

CAN I USE AN ALLOY WHEEL CLEANER?

Yes you can but only if the wheels are painted as bare metal or lacquer finishes will be attacked by the more aggressive acid cleaners, so be careful what products you buy and seek expert advice (perhaps from a marque or wheel specialist) if in doubt. Pressure washing is not recommended but use a moderate hose for rinsing instead. Sounds daft, but consider changing your brake pads because some types give off damaging black brake dust – a change to EBC Greenstuff pads, which are cleaner in use, will keep your wheels looking good and improve braking at the same time.

AND WHAT ABOUT POLISHING THEM?

If your wheels are sound but tarnished, then a good way of improving their appearance is to simply use a normal paintwork renovator but not something as savage as T cut, followed by normal car polish, both of which will also help repel the dirt. If your car has chromed wire wheels then a chrome polish is fine but don’t do it too hard or too often. If badly pitted then perhaps a soap-filled wire wool pad may revive them to a reasonable appearance first – what have you got to lose?

Periodically remove the wheels and clean both sides thoroughly – right up to the spoke heads – certainly before you put the car away for the winter but not before spraying with WD-40 or similar to protect them over the lay up.

ARE REPLACEMENTS AS GOOD AS NEW?

Yes. Admittedly some cheaper aftermarket replacements weren’t that good about a decade ago but today top types from the likes of MWS International, Tech-Del and Longstone Tyres are up to factory standards and their prices can make having old originals overhauled uneconomic. Moss Europe, for instance, sells new painted MGA wheels from £137 each with larger 5.5inch 72 spokers aimed at competition use for £183.

New spinners, which always set the job off cost around £25 a wheel. By the same token, purchasing second-hand ones can be a waste of money as they may well need overhauling anyway to make them roadworthy. MWS says its wire wheels are primer-coated using Cathodic Electrophoretic technology. This increases the corrosion resistance to very high levels. A topcoat of silver ash or black follows this.

HOW EASY IS IT TO CONVERT TO WIRES?

Generally yes because wires were in vogue with many classics up to the 1970s. Basically you are going to need the hub assemblies and you regularly see these at autojumbles.

Alternatively you can buy brand new if you own a popular classic – which is always the safest bet as old hubs can have worn or damaged splines. The MGOC sells a conversion for the MGB from £350 and just £265 for a Midget and they come complete with spinners. However, together with the wheels you are looking at the thick end of a grand; a cheaper option is to go for bolt on chrome wire wheels, which attach to your existing rims and look pretty authentic. The MGOC sells this kit for an MGB at just under £300.

There again fitting wire wheels isn’t dear when you compare the cost of quality alloys. For instance, London-based TR shop is offering nut and bolt chrome wire wheel conversion kits for Triumphs ranging from £770 for a Herald, Spitfire, Vitesse or GT6 to Stags (and don’t they look great on wires-ed) for a little over £900. You know what you can do with your alloys…

AWESOME ALLOYS

NOW HOW DO I BEST LOOK AFTER THEM?

In short keep ’em clean! By this we mean that you wash them as a matter of course rather than when they start to look dirty. By adopting this obsession at least you stop brake dust and general grime eating into the alloy meaning just soap and water suffice

It’s only when the wheels are allowed to deteriorate that a dedicated alloy wheel cleaner is needed. In days of yore we used a Brillo pad because that’s all there was – but don’t do it now as it is likely to scratch their surfaces. If you really want to be fussy, remove each wheel once a month to thoroughly clean the inner rim too!

ACID OR DETERGENT CLEANERS, THEN?

By their nature acid cleaners are more brutal on the alloy surface, which is fine to disperse brake dust and light pitting but perhaps an overkill every time you clean your classic – another reason to keep them as clean as possible. There’s no shortage of product on the market so take time to read the packaging to see what suits you best and contact an alloy wheel specialist or smart repairer for advice. There’s nothing wrong in using a normal car polish to seal and help protect the surfaces or you can use special rim waxes.

WHAT ABOUT GOOD OLD STEEL RIMS?

We agree – there’s nothing wrong with a good old fashioned hub cap! A good well painted steel wheel and immaculate tin lid looks as good as any alloy we reckon and certainly makes a change plus is more in period with many classics, especially if you complement it with a wheel trim. Steel rims don’t suffer so much from kerb damage and are dead easy to renovate. Here’s a neat trick: by painting the centre a different colour to the outer rim it gives the illusion of a wider wheel. Northants Wheels & Tyres has a great stock of rims.



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