North American Turbocoupe Organization



Polishing TC wheels
firebirdparts Offline
Member
#1
Has anybody polished original 1987-88 TC wheels and perhaps gotten them to match the finish on the center cap?  Were they clearcoated?

I think I am going to try with a spare set but I fully expect it'll take 100 hours.  I hope I'm wrong.
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Jeff K Offline
Administrator
#2
100 hours sounds about right. When I had the stock TC wheels, I found them to be an extreme PITA to clean, and they needed some restoration anyway. Not wanting to spend endless hours restoring them and still having the cleaning hassle, I picked up a new set of 16 inch Cobra R's and put 245/50/16 tires on them 20 years ago and never looked back. The 245/50/16 tires are within a few millimeters of the stock tire diameter so no inaccurate speedometer readings, and the Cobra R's are SUPER easy to clean, and, IMO, look better than the stock wheels.
Jeff Korn

88 Turbo Coupe: Intake and exhaust mods, T3 turbo at 24 psi, forced air IC, water injection, BPV, Ranger cam, subframes, etc., etc.
86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner): intake, exhaust, valvetrain mods, 100 HP N2O, ignition, gears, suspension, etc., etc.
05 Taurus SEL Duratec daily driver
04 Taurus Duratec (wifes car)
02 Pontiac Grand Prix GT
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized
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Mikey97D Offline
Member
#3
(05-18-2021, 11:17 PM)Jeff K Wrote: 100 hours sounds about right. When I had the stock TC wheels, I found them to be an extreme PITA to clean, and they needed some restoration anyway. Not wanting to spend endless hours restoring them and still having the cleaning hassle, I picked up a new set of 16 inch Cobra R's and put 245/50/16 tires on them 20 years ago and never looked back. The 245/50/16 tires are within a few millimeters of the stock tire diameter so no inaccurate speedometer readings, and the Cobra R's are SUPER easy to clean, and, IMO, look better than the stock wheels.

Jeff, what year Cobra's were 16"?  I have the '93's that are 17" and they are easy to clean too.
1988 TC, 5 spd, Stinger 3" Exhaust, Schneider Roller Cam, -4° Cam Pulley, Cone Filter, Gilles Boost Control Valve set at 17 psi, Walbro 255 lph, CHE Rear Lower and Upper Control Arms, Braided Brake Lines, Hawk HPS 5.0 Front and HPS (F) Rear, CRES Inserts in front calipers, and '93 Cobra Wheels with General 235/50R17 Tires.   
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Jeff K Offline
Administrator
#4
The wheels I bought were replica Cobra R wheels, and were available in several diameters and offset / backspace. I dont remember for sure where I got them as as I got them 20 years ago, but I think I got them from a place called Performance Wheel Outlet.
Jeff Korn

88 Turbo Coupe: Intake and exhaust mods, T3 turbo at 24 psi, forced air IC, water injection, BPV, Ranger cam, subframes, etc., etc.
86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner): intake, exhaust, valvetrain mods, 100 HP N2O, ignition, gears, suspension, etc., etc.
05 Taurus SEL Duratec daily driver
04 Taurus Duratec (wifes car)
02 Pontiac Grand Prix GT
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#5
(05-18-2021, 08:28 PM)firebirdparts Wrote: Has anybody polished original 1987-88 TC wheels and perhaps gotten them to match the finish on the center cap?  Were they clearcoated?

I think I am going to try with a spare set but I fully expect it'll take 100 hours.  I hope I'm wrong.

When I picked up a spare set of OEM wheels last year I searched the Internet and found this DIY fix. Sometime soon I hope to actually get started on this.

Yes the site is called MyPlantDr, but the site’s author has written a very well-researched article in which he describes his progress in stripping off the clear coat and and polishing the rims, and his final results.
Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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firebirdparts Offline
Member
#6
(05-23-2021, 06:06 AM)anasazi4st Wrote:
(05-18-2021, 08:28 PM)firebirdparts Wrote: Has anybody polished original 1987-88 TC wheels and perhaps gotten them to match the finish on the center cap?  Were they clearcoated?

I think I am going to try with a spare set but I fully expect it'll take 100 hours.  I hope I'm wrong.

When I picked up a spare set of OEM wheels last year I searched the Internet and found this DIY fix. Sometime soon I hope to actually get started on this.

Yes the site is called MyPlantDr, but the site’s author has written a very well-researched article in which he describes his progress in stripping off the clear coat and and polishing the rims, and his final results.

Thanks for the link.  I think I will try a low speed polisher with sand paper. With this finish there might be a good place to stop among the grits. I have had some experience with this;  I have some late  70's Firebirds with the snowflake wheels and those are pretty difficult to deal with.  They need to be brightly painted (except for the gray ones), so the paint edges are critical, and they were originally made with naked tool marks, so in fact they painted them in gaudy colors and then cut the face with a lathe.  The lathe made the paint edge.  Then they were clearcoated.  The paint is indestructible, so it's actually just the clearcoat that makes them look bad when they get old. On those wheels, if you mask them for paint, it's pretty much torture. Then you will polish off the tool marks, but the cap is not brushed. You're not trying to match anything.

I need a set of tires, and I have a spare set of wheels, so it looks like it's just the right time to take the plunge.
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firebirdparts Offline
Member
#7
Well, I started in on one wheel for test purposes. As I hoped, the aluminum is beautiful under the clearcoat. I just need to get it all off without scratching the wheel up too much. that is what takes so darn long.
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#8
(06-16-2021, 03:17 AM)firebirdparts Wrote: Well, I started in on one wheel for test purposes.  As I hoped, the aluminum is beautiful under the clearcoat.  I just need to get it all off without scratching the wheel up too much.  that is what takes so darn long.

Try a plastic scraper, not a putty knife.

The plastic takes longer and you’ll probably need several, but it won’t mar the aluminum.

Walmart has THESE, which I haven’t tried but looks like it will work. I’d probably get at least 2 packages to start, I’m sure there are other uses.
Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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firebirdparts Offline
Member
#9
Exclamation 
So here's where I am so far, using 4 products.  One of the reasons I am posting here is that methylene chloride is more-or-less legislated away and so paint strippers might be reformulated vs. what else you find on the web.  I bought two off the shelf, citristrip and Jasco premium paint and epoxy remover and used each on half the wheel.  They both take the clearcoat off immediately.  The Jasco is stronger. I am using a toothbrush-shaped thing but with longer bristles to get at these holes where the paint is.
[Image: LUY8kiB.jpeg]

On this wheel, I have deliberately left some of the gray paint.  I am not concerned about getting that cleaned all the way, and I can say the stripper softened it up a very great deal.  After a day or two it dries.   I am going to attempt to get paint to stick to that.  Haven't bought it yet.  Would love to have a paint code, but don't expect to find one.

I have been working with a polisher and also Nevr-Dull to see if I can disguise the corroded areas without changing the appearance of the tool marks.  This is not easy or maybe even not possible.  The whee's appearance is quite good enough for 60 mph already.  I will keep playing with it.  The polish I'm using right now is probably something I bought at a swap meet but of course I have 25 more.

[Image: 8KyqkoN.jpeg]
[font="Proxima Nova Regular", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]https://imgur.com/[font="Proxima Nova Regular", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]https://imgur.com/8KyqkoN[/font]8KyqkoN[/font]
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#10
(08-18-2021, 03:34 PM)firebirdparts Wrote: So here's where I am so far, using 4 products.  One of the reasons I am posting here is that methylene chloride is more-or-less legislated away and so paint strippers might be reformulated vs. what else you find on the web.  I bought two off the shelf, citristrip and Jasco premium paint and epoxy remover and used each on half the wheel.  They both take the clearcoat off immediately.  The Jasco is stronger.  I am using a toothbrush-shaped thing but with longer bristles to get at these holes where the paint is.
[Image: LUY8kiB.jpeg]

On this wheel, I have deliberately left some of the gray paint.  I am not concerned about getting that cleaned all the way, and I can say the stripper softened it up a very great deal.  After a day or two it dries.   I am going to attempt to get paint to stick to that.  Haven't bought it yet.  Would love to have a paint code, but don't expect to find one.

I have been working with a polisher and also Nevr-Dull to see if I can disguise the corroded areas without changing the appearance of the tool marks.  This is not easy or maybe even not possible.  The whee's appearance is quite good enough for 60 mph already.  I will keep playing with it.  The polish I'm using right now is probably something I bought at a swap meet but of course I have 25 more.

[Image: 8KyqkoN.jpeg]
[font="Proxima Nova Regular", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]
tj://imgur.com/[font="Proxima Nova Regular", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]https://imgur.com/8KyqkoN[/font]8KyqkoN[/font]

That Jasco might be just the stuff I need as well. I’m using one of the gel strippers in the metal can, can’t recall the name right now, but it’s really hard to work with and requires scraping and gets on everything, like my clothes, etc.

The difficulty in its use is probably why this project has dragged on so long. I’ve had my wheels for about a year and a half and have gotten one of them almost stripped off.

Thanks for the tip and the progress report. That wheel looks pretty good!
Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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