Thursday, September 2, 2021

Rebuilding Wheels - Leon Hardiritt Beil's

These wheels were used for a couple of years and have definitely have seen it's fair share of elements and miles and it showed. Wasn't comfortable putting them up for sale because it had some issues that needed to be addressed and I never got around to doing it. So it sat in storage for a couple of years. Circa a couple of months ago pulled these out and went through inspecting these and well they were horrible. Visible bends in a couple of inner and on an outer barrel, caked on brake dust, the coating on the face was scratched up and some areas it looked like the aluminum underneath was oxidizing causing the coating to delaminate. The bolts had caked on brake dust both on the inside and outside and also the face looked like it was yellowing. The yellowing didn't make sense because it was the first set of wheels I've really noticed it on, might be the chemicals used to clean these wheels in the past breaking down the coating, maybe brake dust sitting no them reacting with the coating enough to stain it if anyone else has an idea on what could cause this please comment below. I even touched base with Weds USA and they said that it was weird because they haven't come across that issue. 

My thought process was to clean it up, disassemble, address the face, address the bolts, address the outer barrels and inner barrels, get the wheels checked for true roundness and tadaaa.. well all that is good but don't do it in that order. 






I want to try to preserve as much of the originality of the wheels as possible so I used a heat gun on the stickers as well to help slowly peel them off in one piece. 



I got over zealous and disassembled the face from the wheel. My thought process was to get the face off, strap the inner and outer lips together so it doesn't have to be resealed, get the face fixed and then reattach and then fix the bends and polish the lip. Well that's not how it worked out. The outer lips had a white hazing of sorts and a shit ton of surface scratches so that needed to be addressed. I tried polishing the lip but it just would not polish up, the scratches were getting less and less noticeable till I noticed what looked like burn through. There is (which I later found out) an anodized coating on the outer lips and that's what I was polishing till I burnt through it. Well no turning back now.  The anodized coating can only be removed now via acid dipping. So my plan on a quick fix will not work.  

 So to do it right the correct order would be (if I had to do it again):
1 - Clean wheels
2 - Dismount tires
3 - Check for and fix bends
4 - Disassemble 
5 - Send off lips for polishing 
6 - Send off the face to get refinished
7 - Address the bolts or get new bolts
8 - Reassemble    
9 - Re-seal 
10 - Mount tires
11 - Enjoy


4 different kind of bolts and nut from the front and back of the wheels. I keep them separated so it is easier to keep track of them.  


So these bolts and nuts are really tarnished from brake dust, elements etc. They look black and not the shiny stainless steel they should be. So now the question is should I get new bolts as well? That's an expensive proposition especially since I want to keep everything as original as possible. I soaked the bolts in cleaners and that didn't really help much since everything seemed to have been baked on. So then I tried an ultra sonic cleaner, helped a little but not where I wanted it to be. What did work though is a tumbler. 24 hours of tumbling and most of the baked on crap was coming off.


Another hour in the ultrasonic cleaner and then each bolt got a rub and tug with #000 steel wool. 




They look awesome now! If you are not doing this yourself on your spare time then I highly suggest you just buy new bolts. My estimated cost on all new bolts and nuts was about $100/wheel.   


These wheels now needed a deep clean so well here are pics on that:




This took a little bit of time and needed different brushes and cleaning solutions, steel wool and a LOT of time! This is what it looked like after cleaning: 



The yellowing on the face is more clear in the following pics and more visible now that it was clean:





So now to address the face. I definitely want to keep the diamond cut finish no the face, to me that detail on the wheel is awesome. The way the light reflects off the diamond cut face adds a spectrum to it which is an awesome detail. This would be a whole lot cheaper to just get this powder coated because keeping the face with a diamond cut by a good reputable shop is about $300 a wheel on average not including shipping and the huge wait time. My estimated cost on getting this done including shipping etc was anywhere from $1200 - $1500. So  before I did that I wanted to see what I could do to fix this issue locally. I started sanding on the wheels to see how thick the coating was. IT was THICK!! I started at 1200 grit and kept going down to see how abrasively these needed to be sanded to get rid of all the scratches. I found that using 360 grit on a soft foam pad on a DA got rid of a majority of the scratches and the yellowing. It seems that the yellowing was just on the surface. This again takes time, went slow and kept cleaning it to make sure there was no burn through. If it burns through that will completely mess up the diamond cut face. 



So the face has different dimensions and well so each of these areas needed to be addressed. I found some scotch-brite wheels in different abrasiveness. This was AMAZING!! Exactly what you would need to get into the lug nut area and in the indention for the bolts etc. So ordered a bunch of those and a Milwaukee rotary tool. 



 So with all the wheels sanded I wanted to make sure that whatever coating I put on does not interfere with any surface that required a torque spec. The hub of the wheel, the area where the face gets bolted together and the area where the lug nuts were the main ones I wanted to address. Took measurements of them and my idea was to get some circles cut in vinyl. 








That worked great, now to get it coated. 

The different dimensions of the wheel had different finishes to it and these just add to the details on the wheels that I really like. So to keep all that detail this is what I came up with. All the windows, lug nut and wheel bolt holes I wanted to keep a smoked silver grey, so that's what ended up going on there. 


After the color coat and 48 hours to ensure everything is cured I sanded the face to get rid of the color off the face. 




Now for the clear. Look at the definition and finish!!! Thanks for painting them Jeremy!!



So with the face sorted and looking factory fresh (well almost) decided to tackle the outer lip. As mentioned before these have a coating on it and if it was just surface oxidization I could've sanded it down and polished it to an extent but it had deeper scratches that had to be stripped. For me to do this would've been more time consuming and then polishing, another time consuming task. I do not have the skill level or the proper equipment to do this. I did get different aluminum buffing wheels and rouges to try polishing it myself but the amount of time I'd have to spend on it first stripping and then polishing, I did not want to invest in it. Called George @ Exotics and he said he would take care of it. So onwards it went from there. Exotics stripped the lips and got everything polished up for me at a very reasonable time. I've used Exotics multiple times in the past and have not had any issues. You need to have realistic expectations though, but George has always taken care of me though so kudos Exotic Motorsports & thank you.




Now on to assembly. I marked each quadrant and numbered them in a star pattern to follow the path I'm going to take in torqueing each of the bolts down. Oh I forgot to mention I did a ceramic coating on the outer lip where the face sat and the face itself, inside and out. I'll coat the rest of the wheel once everything is together and straightened. 




With everything bolted down and torqued, time to seal it. The edges of the inner and outer lip was scuffed and wiped down multiple times with isopropyl alcohol prior to assemble to ensure there was no grease residue anywhere. Once the face was bolted down ran a tape edge on the inner and outer lip and did a final wipe down before sealing it.



Take your time feeding the silicone into the V groove and then I used my gloved finger to push it down some more and finally used a plastic spreader to smooth everything out. 



Removed the edge tape to reveal a nice clean line. Don't try to put wheels on immediately though. I usually give it at least a week for it to cure completely. This is a thick bead so why risk things now, also a good time to say that I've never had a wheel leak on me because of the seal. 



With the wheel together I now can get it straightened. Please note this should be the first step, I had to polish my outer lips once I got it back from straightening. So sent the wheels out to get everything checked and rounded. I could visibly see three wheels that needed work on the inner barrel.






So yeah come to find out all 4 wheels had bends on the inner barrel and a bend on the outer barrel on one of the wheels. Well it's all fixed now. The valve stems for these 21" wheels are super special, and the factory ones I could not save. I tried different valve stems because well a valve stem is a valve stem but none I tried had the clearance to fit so well called up Weds and got the right ones, also got TPMS adapters for them.





With everything assembled off to get some tires mounted. Check out the equipment. Mounted and road forced!! Giggity giggity.. 






No crazy stretch, even stretch for the front and back and just enough stretch to clear what needs to be cleared. Super happy with how everything turned out, especially in keeping all original hardware. At this point I have to say the manufacturing process, barrel strength and the coatings etc these wheels have are amazing!!! I've said that 10 years ago and I'll reiterate it now.

These take time, work and money to do, so please don't blame me if you decide to do it yourself and things start snowballing. Doing it right is expensive and at that point it's almost better to buy new wheels I feel. Only problem is these are not in production anymore. 

Big thanks to Jeremy 2 The Body Shop, Exotics and Weds for undergoing the process with me. 


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