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Hub cap restoration for a 39 pontiac with beauty rings. I need a recomendation

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Some cars of that age had steel hub caps with chrome sheath crimped on. You can buy the chrome part for some cars and replace it. I know this goes for some Chrysler products, don't know about Pontiac but if there are any Pontiac parts suppliers it might be worth a try. Or buy new hub caps or good used ones depending what you can find. I would try a web search and that well known auction site.

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To restore them, the skin must be removed. If they are chrome plated brass, as both of my cars are, the brass must be annealed first to prevent it cracking around the edge when you raise the crimp. I have taken a couple off using an old blunt paring knife, going round and round and round, gradually raising the crimp. Then it is a simple matter of straightening them. A very good panel beater with patience will do this. I have heard of a jeweler doing it. The body or carrier of the hubcap is probably zinc plated and that can be fixed and replated, probably electro-plated so there are no dags to remove.

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I would check with good plating shop to see if they can repair them. I just had a quote form a notable shop for the caps on my '36 Dodge at $300-400 each. The skins need to be removed, all the damage repaired and then the skins refastened to the cap bodies for plating. They claim that the thin brass skins will not be sturdy enough for polishing without being refitted to the cap bodies.Then they plate the whole cap.Of course, cost is somewhat determined by the condition of the caps.

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If the brass skin is left on the steel backer and goes thru the plating process the solutions will get in between. The result will be the steel rusting in  between. This will prove to be very undesirable as the chromed brass will crack with expansion.

Do Not go down that road.  I used to restore 34-36 Auburn 8 hubcaps  using the above method. We have since reproduced them. The hours of pick and filing are over. The reproductions are PB quality.

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Curti that sounds good but the item here is no one reproduces the dang caps for a Pontiac.  I doubt mine will rust since the car spends it's life indoors

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Carefully pry off the covers, which are likely brass. Do any necessary repairs to the covers and carefully replace them onto their bases. Now, and this is the critical part, solder all the way around the crimped on covers. If you don't, plating solutions will leak between the cap and cover and seep out over time causing mayhem and destruction. After soldering, send them to a reputable plater for copper, nickle and chrome. Many chrome shops will do this entire process for you. Some times it is better to do what you do best so you can pay someone to do what they do best.

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There is an old salvage yard near me that still has thousands of vintage hubcaps in an old barn. Most are 1940's through the 60's, but you occasionally find others. In the past, I have rooted through there and found the best examples possible...usually good enough to polish and repaint and use...although not "perfect." There must be lots of old yard with old caps in them, I would have thought? 

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 There was a time when we were experimenting just making the skins and using the original backers. So I was buying junk caps.  This is one of many hubcaps that I bought with this malady.

It is a direct result of plating the skins on the backer. 

 

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That's great experience and advice for all of us. Thanks, Curti! 

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