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The Stripping of Wood Spoke Wheels Prior to Restoration


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I had a previous post regarding this topic and I've read almost all the other posts on this topic.  Some questions come to mind.  My wheels are painted and appear to be sound, no loose spokes or visible damage.  I don't want to disassemble the wheels if it is not necessary.  Starting with stripping the spokes, paint stripper is recommended but I did see one video where a guy used a heat gun to soften up the paint which was then just scrapped off.  Soda blasting also has been suggested as a way to clean the wooden spokes without doing them harm.  After the spokes have been cleaned I want to have the metal hub, drum face and rim sandblasted.  In order to protect the wood spokes from the abrasion what type of "duck" tape can be used to mask the spokes?  After all is clean should the metal part of the wheel be painted first or should the spokes be varnished?  My thought would be to keep the spokes masked and paint the wheels first and varnish the spokes last.  Past experiences are the best instructor.        

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2 hours ago, leomara said:

I had a previous post regarding this topic and I've read almost all the other posts on this topic.  Some questions come to mind.  My wheels are painted and appear to be sound, no loose spokes or visible damage.  I don't want to disassemble the wheels if it is not necessary.  Starting with stripping the spokes, paint stripper is recommended but I did see one video where a guy used a heat gun to soften up the paint which was then just scrapped off.  Soda blasting also has been suggested as a way to clean the wooden spokes without doing them harm.  After the spokes have been cleaned I want to have the metal hub, drum face and rim sandblasted.  In order to protect the wood spokes from the abrasion what type of "duck" tape can be used to mask the spokes?  After all is clean should the metal part of the wheel be painted first or should the spokes be varnished?  My thought would be to keep the spokes masked and paint the wheels first and varnish the spokes last.  Past experiences are the best instructor.        

Sign companies use a rubberized tape when sandblasting signs to different levels. A regular sandblasting place may have that rubberized/protective tape.

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  • 4 months later...

I am new at this forum so the attempt to post before and after photos of the spoke refinish I done on my 1927 Willys Knight wheels may not come out. i sanded the metal parts and primed them first. Then I used a electric heat gun to heat the spoke just enough to soften the old varnish and carefully used a single edged razor blade to carefully scrape away the layers of old varnish. I was very wary of losing spoke material and causing the wheel to out of balance {if they ever were in balance}. After I had removed all the old varnish I used Elmers carpenters wood glue to seal any small cracks in the spokes and filled them with wood putty. To complete the spokes I took a belt from my belt sander, cut it into strips so that I could wrap it completely around a spoke for even sanding, and finished each spoke to the bare wood. Each spoke was treated with wood conditioner and allowed to dry for the weekend. Then they were given another light sanding to blend the shades of the conditioner and the wood. I chose to use four coats of spar varnish with a couple days drying between each the striping is the detail tape bought in different sizes from any auto parts store, and they are sealed with a couple of coats of clear spray enamel. Once dry, the spokes are taped and the metal is spray painted.IMG_0234.thumb.JPG.a090445ca0806fec883c42f12bb3216b.JPGIMG_0229.thumb.JPG.36b7b719b903672b09cdaa38aa8c93c9.JPG

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Working on thee old cars is always a fine line between “how I can do it”, and “how I should do it”. Under normal circumstances I can dash down to NAPA or O’Reilly’s and pick up a part I’ve buggered up. But working on a 100 year old car is a bit different.When I done (my own) wood spoked wheels, the consensus was to take them apart, and do them “right”. The bolts, if I can find them, which holds the wheel together are $4.00 apiece X 14 X 4. You do the math, and this is just for bolts, not counting damage I do to the wheel by taking something apart that enjoys a 100 year long relationship with their hub. I used the heat gun, razor blade and a sanding belt because it was within the scope of “what I could do” rather than what others thought I “should do”. They do look good and I still had some time to enjoy driving the car before it got too cold.

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