Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Too Good to Be True? $30 Les Schwab Powdercoat

Last year, I had an epiphany:  The best way to finish my '51 Super Sports project is to start from the ground up.  And by that, I mean tires.  And wheels.  And then axles. And then the frame.  And etc, etc, etc...  I'll just restore pieces in order and keep bolting stuff back together until there's nothing left to bolt on.  Simple, right?

For one thing, the car is already completely disassembled.  I mean completely dissassembled - as in, I moved it into my garage in cardboard boxes.  So far, the haphazard piecemeal approach hasn't gotten me too far - after all, I bought the car in 1997.  I think that having a simple strategy about which part to tackle next will help me get the whole project organized.  I hope.

So, first order of business is wheels.  I bought new rubber from vendor Tony Smith.  I knew I wanted bias plys for two reasons: 1) the radials I put on the Crosley 'vert really changed the driving characteristics, and 2) those piecrust sidewalls just look cool.  I was too cheap to pop for the Coker Goodyear 'Wingfoot' reissues so I opted for the cheapie Load Stars... very close to the original Crosley size and about 1/3 the cost of the Cokers.

Now that I had the tires, I needed to decide whether to paint or powdercoat the rims, and what color.  I'm still not 100% sure what color I'm painting the finished car, but I've narrowed it down enough that I think the stock wheel color will be a good fit with my options.  Crosley roadsters came with the same off white wheel color as most postwar Crosleys, so if I decide at some point to go with a wilder color I can use the restored rims on another Crosley.

So, paint or powdercoat?  I hemmed and hawed forever, wanting to try powdercoating, but not happy with the prices I was finding, like $50 a rim to sandblast/coat.  I decided to go with paint and logged into the HAMB to see if I could find advice on the best primer/paint to use on wheels.  The HAMB answers were pretty consistent: powdercoat.  And, some of the guys had a tip: Les Schwab Tires offered sandblasting/powder coating for $25 a rim!  I did a quick google search and confirmed that they did offer this service, and that one of their custom colors, 'Almond' looked damned close to the stock Crosley rim color!  Custom colors were only $30 a rim!
The next morning I excavated the Super Sports' four wheels and then chose the best 'extra' rim I had for a spare.  I headed to the West Sac Les Schwab, about a mile from my house.  They were helpful and even accommodated my request to save the four decent vintage tires off the five rims.  they confirmed the powdercoating rate, $30.40 per rim.  I did have to pay extra to have the old tires dismounted.  The powdercoating was done offsite so they said they'd be ready in about a week.
I waited for their call like a giddy schoolgirl and I was super excited when I went to pick up the finished rims a week later.  I was not so happy when I got there.  Overall, the rims looked good - the color was perfect - but the details were not great.  Several rims had a small bare spot near the hole for the valve stem, apparently where the hook they hang the rims from during the process prevented adhesion of the powdercoat.  In addition, two of the rims had been banged together in the truck, scraping a big chunk of powdercoat off.  The staff were apologetic about the scraped rims and said they would send them back to be blasted and powdercoated at no cost.  The bare spots were discounted as part of the process - no free fixes for them.
It took another week and a half to get the two rims back.  This time, they were perfect- no scrapes, and no bare spots. The Les Schwab guys mounted and balanced the tires on four of the rims (I only bought four tires/tubes from Tony so the spare rim is waiting for rubber).  They were nice about mounting tires I hadn't bought from them since this was obviously a specialty project.

Cost, NOT including tires or tubes:
5 rims, sandblast and powdercoat...........$152
Dismount/Mount tires.............................$80
Wheel Spin Balance................................$50

TOTAL, with TAX................................$293.78

So, my total cost for coating, mounting/dismounting and balancing was barely more than it would have been to have five rims powdercoated pretty much anywhere else.  That said, I have two rims with visible blemishes, and it took almost three weeks. 
Was it worth it?  Kinda.  The price really is unbeatable, but this is a classic 'you get what you pay for' deal.  If I'd paid $50 a rim I'd have made sure each rim came back perfect. As it is I'll just touch up the bare spots with matching paint and hope there are no adhesion problems down the road.   Since this car is going to be a driver I'm willing to live with small stuff like this.  When I restore the Hmod sports car I'll definitely plunk down the extra cash to have it done right.

And last- anyone want a set of vintage tires?  I saved them because they were in too nice a shape to throw away- they'd be perfect for someone who wants to use real vintage tires for display.  There are two Goodyear Wingfoots and two other brands.  If anybody wants them, they can have them... I just hate to see them thrown away!


bkrsdoz said...

Tim, I would like at least one of them for a spare for my '42. I am going to NH this weekend, and will check the brand.I would like them to match the two I have on it already that are good. I'll get back to you on Monday, if it's OK?

Ol' Man Foster said...

It's yours- just let me know which one/ones you want!

Ol' Man Foster said...

Oh yeah- tires are gone!