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Silver and black 63 wheel


petelempert
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Just re-installed the steering wheel on my 63. Doing a compete exterior/interior color change from blue/blue to silver/black. Since I'm redoing the interior black (re-did dash and now just starting upholstery), the blue wheel was not going to work. Also, the plastic was severely cracked in several areas and had minuscule cracks all over it. Ground all cracks down down, numerous applications of JB weld, one coat of fiberglass resin, sand and prime repeatedly over the last month, paint, then re-install. The original wheel was actually two tone, dark blue at the horn bar area and lighter at the top an bottom. To me, that sort of simulates an aircraft control yoke. I love that look and couldn't bear to paint it all black as per the factory so I did it two tone black and silver. It should work well once I reinstall the rest of the interior. I know it's not stock, but I don't think Bill Mitchell would disapprove. PRL

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Nice work. Don't know about Bill Mitchell, but I approve. Has anyone ever figured out why some cars came with two-tone wheels and other didn't? I thought it had to do with standard and custom interiors, but a whole bunch of Google images for "1963 Riviera Interiors" laid waste to that idea.

Ed

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Someone on one of the Buick forums related a chance meeting he had with Mr. Mitchell. If I remember correctly, the car owner asked Mr. Mitchell what he thought of the car sitting on lower profile tires. I guess Mr. Mitchell gave him a piece of his mind telling him that he'd completely ruined the lines of the car that the engineers had spent so much time on refining.

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No question, the guy was a genius. I've read that he could be brutally opinionated and even self-righteous. That said, I've also read that he could be flamboyant in some ways that today seem ill-conceived. I read about wildly colored jumpsuits with neckerchiefs and zip up boots that matched the color schemes of his cars and motorcycles. I think he'd probably be OK with my non-stock silver and black wheel because I'm betting he might have worn a silver jumpsuit with black boots. PRL

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Rocket-Thanks for the kind words. Here's the condensed version:

1. Pull the wheel and mount it on a long threaded bar with plenty of thread (like 12 inches) showing on each end, you'll need it later when you start sanding, painting and letting it cure. Then find a place you can stand it using the threaded ends, could be a vice, but I took one of those plastic boxes you steal from behind the grocery store and mounted half an old hinge to it. Then I stuck the threaded end into the hinge opening. The main thing is you'll need a way to rotate, spin and handle the wheel front and back throughout the whole process.

2. Use a Dremel tool to grind out any cracks. Grind them deep, otherwise the cracks will re-appear.

3. Clean the heck out of it with grease remover, then soap and water. It's got to be clean otherwise the epoxy will fail.

4. I used JB Weld for all the cracks. I swear by the stuff. It will take multiple applications depending upon how deep your cracks are. In some instances I had to build a small cardboard "dam" to keep the epoxy from completely running out.

4. Sand it until you are about to go insane, then sand it some more.

5. I used a coat of fiberglass epoxy resin to level out the entire surface plus it fills some of the really small cracks.

6. Sand it again. Then sand it some more. Use a finer grade as you go.

7. Two coats Rustoleum primer.

8. Sand it again.

9. Test fit the four trim rings to make sure they will still fit on the wheel once you've begun painting.

10. Use a fine file to restore any features (like the rib pattern) and make sure all your sanding has not made the wheel loose its features. This is really important since all the glop thats being applied could easily end up making the wheel look lumpy.

9. For my two tone, I used Rustoleum gloss black to paint the main horn area and half the wheel. Tape off all the areas you don't want black. Be careful here because the paint is sneaky. This paint looks great and is tough, but beware it has some witchy habits. Use light coats, with at least 48 hours of drying time in a warm area. If you load it up, the paint will bubble and crack making you want to throw-up and then start over. If you paint it too soon before drying, same bad result.

10. I used Rustoleum bright metallic silver for the other half. Same drill as with the black. I think it's important to stay with the same brand as some paint brands are actually incompatible. Do not put a gloss coat over either. I was tempted, but have had bad experience with gloss over a gloss base coats and NEVER put it on a metallic rattle can job. The wheel should be shinier than the dash and console but not wet looking.

11. I had the horn bar and the column ring re-chromed.

12. Let it dry about a week before assembly.

13. The whole thing took me about a month. The trick is to be weird about attention to detail when epoxying and sanding. Also, let the damn thing dry and resist the urge to pick at it and put too many coats on when painting. Every time I'd paint it, I'd put it away for two days and not mess with it. It's the only way.

14. Used some Permatex clear glue to seat the trim rings and let them sit for a day.

15. Install and enjoy the view.

Thats it. Let me know if you need more. PRL

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OMG! Everything takes so long! But thanks for the detailed process! I wish Over Haul'n would do a 1965 Riviera. It'd take them a year!

Probably not because the car would wind up with a Chevy crate motor and transmission, a Curry 9 inch Ford rearend, brakes from whomever wants the free advertising, an Ididit billet steering column, Ron Francis wiring harness, a modern sound system with a big amp in the trunk. And the body would be modified to Chip Foose's ideas - snug up the bumpers, etc. etc. - as to what he thinks it should look like. If you've watched enough of these shows, you'll notice that only the make and model are different. Everything else is the same on all cars. Gotta keep those sponsors happy.

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I guess the wheel restoration could be done faster but I you'd have to cut corners someplace in the repairs or allow less drying time for epoxy, prime and paint which I think is a recipe for disaster. To me, shaving a few days would never be worth looking at it over the next ten years and wishing it had been done to a higher standard. Much of the timing is also dictated by the condition of your wheel. Mine was bad, really bad so it took more time. I considered getting another wheel but felt the sentimental pull. I've dragged so many parts (actually the entire car) back from the dead, I felt like the wheel was core to the vehicle and deserved to be saved.

Also, I agree with Ed about Overhaulin. It's a fun show, but I'm sure the sorting process for their cars lingers on for months/years after the build. They build them on a tight timeline to make drama, but I doubt it's good for the car. You can't expect all those disparate parts to function in concert without a lot of tinkering. PRL

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I'd love to see how bad one of those Overhaulin cars looks 9 months after it is done when all the

primer coats that never had time to cure get through shrinking and swelling out the sanding scratches, and all the flat black paint under the hood that was put on over dirt and grease starts flaking off. Sorry Chip Foose, you can't restore a car in 7 days....can't be done. I met Chip Foose at a car show a few years ago, and I have a pic of him sitting in my GTO. I wanted to ask him how crappy his overhaulin cars looked a few months later but didn't have the nerve!

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Edited by Seafoam65 (see edit history)
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