Repainting my Rally II's. -- Done.

This is how they ended up. Mounted and wrapped with 225/60R14 BFG Radial T/A's:


This is what I started with:


Back from the sandblaster ($15/wheel)


After 3 coats of Duplicolor Self Etching Primer (DAP 1690), and 2 light coats and a med coat of Duplicolor High Performance Silver Wheel Coating (WP 101).  * see notes about colors later.
This is also where things start going awry.  I had purchased the 14" Rally II Mask Kit from Ames, which turned out to be a waste in effort and quality.  They are essentially a material that's consistent with shipping labels, they came on a sheet as peel and sticks.  The mask makes no provisions for masking the small 1/4" ring that surrounds the parts that will be charcoal on the face of the rim.  I had "Assumed" the mask kit, was a complete mask. Not so.  The "stick" part of the mask was also a lie.  It didn't stick well, as you can see in this photo. It will come into play later.  I went out looking for some 3m pinstriping tape to try to mask off the areas that the Ames mask didn't cover; couldn't find any with my local loop of Monument Auto Parts, Autozone, OSH, Lowes... I settled on the Automotive masking tape you see in the photo below.  The auto masking tape $4.99 worked better than the mask kit. I could put it down, there is a small ridge between in what would be the charcoal sections, pressing my thumbnail into the depression made a crisp crease, that I could then use as a guide with my pocket knife to cut away the masking tape leaving a nice edge as the mask.  I knew at this point I should rip off the stupid mask kit and just use the masking tape for the spokes. But I ignored my common sense and stubbornly moved forward.  Damnit I paid for them I'm going to use them.


Not shown but there's also the problem of masking the wheel sides, after failed attempts to use a larger 3m masking tape, it just did not want to flex in a circle without coming off the wheel, I crafted a piece of corrugated cardboard into a cylinder that fit over the masking tape in the groove between the wheel face and wheel rim. The only downside to this, was the corrugated cardboard with an uneven cut left room for a little bit of the charcoal to over-spray into the void which I later had to touch up with the silver paint. The darker color is Duplicolor WP102 Graphite.


While painting the graphite color, just as I made a the final pass, one of the stupid mask labels popped up, and I covered the tip of one of the spokes in graphite.  After some expletives, I decided the wheels had enough coats of the graphite color and called it quits.  Once the wheels were dry, I sprayed some of the silver onto a piece of cardboard until it pooled, and I used a craft paintbrush to cover up the graphite over-spray on the spoke that had popped up.

When I had ordered the mask kit from Ames I also asked about the red Pontiac insert in the center wheel caps.  They didn't have a record of a part number for it. I asked about the entire center cap, and apparently its been discontinued.  To make mine red again I used a red sharpie ($0.95), that I spotted as I was checking out after buying some tools at OSH.


Now, about the colors. Despite being armed with known good Duplicolor Paint Numbers that would match the original OEM paints, Nobody locally had them in stock. To order them online would have meant waiting at least five to seven days for them to come via ground.  I settled on the Duplicolor paints above because they were, in stock, close enough to the hues I was after, and I was willing to sacrifice correctness for getting the wheels painted and having the car off the jack stands by the following weekend when my dad comes to visit.  A rolling running car is a lot more interesting than one on Jackstands.  And ultimately my plan is to replace the wheels anyway with some 18x8".  So they just needed to look decent, I didn't need correct. A Pontiac enthusiast will immediately be able to detect that these paints are highly metallic and the graphite is not a dark charcoal, and they are most certainly not correct.  But they do look good.

I am not an expert, and certainly won't be winning any concourse awards for my handiwork, but I'll give you the benefit of my limited wheel painting experience.

If I were to do this again, I would definitely have them sandblasted, I tried cleaning them with a 2000 psi power-washer, which was a waste of time, have them blasted.  I used Maas Bros Powder Coating, and I found that if I had allotted enough time for them to do it, they could have powder coated the wheels in the correct Silver/Argent for $50/wheel.  I thought that was expensive at the time, but considering it took me from 6am to 9pm, and a couple hours the next day to prep, prime, and paint these wheels it now seems like a bargain.

Have a work area in mind first.  Working on the wheels is a lot easier if you can do them all in the same stages.  My workbench couldn't hold more than three wheels at a time, so I had to do them in shifts.  I would make sure I had enough room to do all five wheels on a bench with at least a wheels space between any of the wheels. (All I needed to do was throw a longer 3/4 or 1" plywood board over my sawhorses, if I had thought about it ahead of time)

Do it indoors if you can, I did mine outdoors, and I had to pick out debris that was blown in from the trees. (It's also easier to paint by light if you are indoors) I on the other hand was outside at 9pm when it was pitch dark with my LED headlamp and work-light painting a dark graphite color.

Just mask them yourselves, and don't use the stupid tape with plastic dropcloth that you can buy at OSH it will not stick, or it'll stick to itself, trust me, just throw it away it'll cause you less frustration there. Mask it with auto-masking tape and newspaper and keep your sanity, don't bother with the silly mailing label masks.

If I were to do my cylinder column again, I would use a posterboard, and cut it very accurately. I'd also cut one for each wheel, because using only one form for all wheels it began accumulating paint on the form, and was about to start to run paint down into the work area.  You only need a cylinder about 5" tall, any taller then it starts making the only angle you can spray the paint, almost straight down.

Oh which brings me to my last annoyance.


When I remounted my wheels and was going on my first test drive, something was rubbing, majorly. It turns out that the new way to balance a tire is to install these flat lead weights that are mounted on double sticky tape on the inside of the wheel. WTF?!  And they were hitting my brake calipers on the front. I dismounted the wheels and had to cut them out. I've got to drive it to the shop that did the balancing and make them do it again on all wheels to make sure I can rotate the tires.

My last lesson learned so far: The valve stems are too short once the chrome covers go on, I guess I should have known this and made sure the shop put on longer ones.  Shouldn't the shop have known this?  They are common wheels, they knew exactly what kind of car I had even if they couldn't see it.

But the wheels and that BFG rubber, look good; so in the end, it'll have been worth it.