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Thread: Painting hubcaps

  1. #1
    Registered User bobc's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Orange, California

    Default Painting hubcaps

    I'm getting ready to paint my "D" hubcaps. Just wanted to see if anybody had any hints on getting the job done. So far, it appears that most are advocating just taping carefully. Any other suggestions?



  2. #2
    Supporting Member EScanlon's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    Vancouver, WA


    Ok, this is where it can get lengthy, so I'll just chip in fast excerpts.

    Wash and dry the hubcaps with a STRONG solution of soap/water. This removes as much of the brake dust and other contaminants present.

    Wipe Wax and Grease remover on and off with a clean rag for each step. That is TWO rags, one with W&G on it, one that's clean to remove it. You can reuse the removal rag as the application rag on the next step, but don't try to reuse a removal rag as a removal rag because it defeats the purpose.

    Using a strong tape, tape off any area that will NOT be painted. Putting two layers or more at this point will pay off well. The double layer is to protect the masked areas from the next step.

    Now you should only have the areas to be painted exposed.

    Using a Maroon scotch-brite pad, scuff up the old paint. You're not looking to remove the paint, just scuff up the surface and remove the gloss. This is to give the new paint "teeth" to bite into and stay on the old paint.

    If you've already removed all the old paint, then you want to be sure to use a paint that WILL accept bare metal as it's base or you will need to spray primer first. This is critical if you expect the paint to last.

    At this point you should have the exposed old paint areas de-glossed.

    Remove the tape masking and apply/remove Wax and Grease remover again. This eliminates the possibility that you shredded the edge of the prior tape that would allow bleed-through paint on the edges. The tape was necessary to protect the shiny exposed metal.

    Using fresh masking tape, re-mask the hubcap. You don't need to double tape like before. I like to use a 1/4" masking tape to follow all the contours and curves, that I then overlay with 3/4" but only just enough to continue the mask. The 1/4" tape should be exposed enough that it will be the primary edge mask, while still being accessible for removal independently of the balance of the masking. This will make sense at a later step.

    There are two styles of tape out there, one is a plastic style and the other is a paper type. The plastic type isn't as forgiving in tight curves without stretching a lot and that can cause problems in sticking. The paper type can be stretched around curves somewhat easier but you have to be careful not to tear it's edges nor stretch it to where it becomes porous.

    Try to make the edge of your tape that actually stops the paint, to be ONE continuous edge. That is, if you have to splice an edge do not just overlay the next piece of tape, use a razor blade and carefully mate the edges of the tape. Overlaid tape has a tendency to have little creep holes at the overlay point.

    Once you've re-taped the whole hubcap again, and go ahead and "skirt" the hubcap so as not to get paint on the backside, then use Wax and Grease remover again. This is to cleanse the cap of your finger oils.

    Now you're ready to paint.

    Set up your hubcap such that you can walk around it while facing it all 360. Then using very short side to side strokes, spray paint from the edge to the center, then shift to the side, and now from the center to the edge, shift to the side and back to the center. Walk your way completely around the cap. This will give you your first coat.

    Your second coat is the same as your first, except now you will be painting on the OPPOSITE side of the cap. This is critical if you have embossing or edges that won't have received spray directly (i.e. just deflected spray) on your first coat.

    Subsequent coats are up to you should there be any areas that look as if they need it. Remember, don't spray a THICK coat, spray a UNIFORM coat.

    Your FINAL coat is one to achieve gloss (if your paint is a gloss type), or sheen if your paint is a satin. (I don't recommend Flat for hubcaps .... it's impossible to keep clean.)

    You can wait till the next day to begin removing the tape from the painted edge, but that will leave you with a ridge at the edge of the paint. If you wait and allow the paint to harden too long though, you may find that you have to use a razor blade to cut the edge in order to get a crisp edge.

    The next step is why you left the 1/4" masking tape on the edge accessible. That will allow you to remove just the 1/4" while not fiddling with the balance of the mask which just protected unpainted areas and can be removed later without affecting the painted area.

    If you think you can handle the hubcap with the paint still somewhat soft, then do the following:

    Allow to set for at least an hour or so, then before the paint has fully hardened but after it has definitely skinned and even started to harden (like a very stiff taffy), begin removing the tape at a steep angle to the paint edge. This method allows the tape to pull away and "tear" off the edge of the paint.

    The paint should be sufficiently hard to allow the tear, but still barely soft enough to "heal" the edge. Do this carefully and you will have a smooth paint edge that won't catch on things.

    Dang, it's still long......

    Hope it helps though.
    Last edited by EScanlon; 09-01-2007 at 10:41 AM.

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