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Old 01-25-2011, 04:46 PM   #1
CPA-DVM
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The painting of hubcaps

So, as I get my wheels all sorted out here this spring, it comes time to deal with my rather rough looking hubcaps.

I have the four original hubcaps that my truck came with. They are chromed and should look like the top two. As you can see the other 2 don't. The chrome is still nice on all four, and since I need to refinish half of them, I figure I might as well do all four.

How do I go about doing this? I don't have a lot of painting experience.

I figure I can tape off and mask and then rattle can, but I don't anticipate that holding up very well. I have seen alot of really nice looking original hubcaps on here, some painted and some chromed. I figure at least a few of you have had to do this.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:28 PM   #2
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

You asked, so here goes. I restored a set of similar caps a few years ago, and went all-out for a FACTORY look. They came out spot-on perfect, but it was a bunch of work.
1st, start with straight set of hubcaps and polish them up good. 2nd, take molds off a good cap using body filler and mold release. 3rd, shape your molded "plugs" to exactly fit what you DO NOT want to paint. Saw, sand, file, or do whatever works for you to get just the right fit. Plan your painting in stages, and create plugs for each stage or color.
4th, clean the metal well and paint away with good quality paint. Rattle cans are fine provided it's good paint and the tip atomizes well. You can soak the can in hot water to warm the paint and increase pressure if needed. A heat gun works too, but don't over do it.
Next, enjoy hubcaps that don't have hard or crooked tape lines and display just the right amount of factory paint "bounce" on the edges.
like I said, it's a bunch of work.. so you decide how you want it to look.
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Old 01-26-2011, 05:50 AM   #3
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

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Originally Posted by oem4me View Post
You asked, so here goes. I restored a set of similar caps a few years ago, and went all-out for a FACTORY look. They came out spot-on perfect, but it was a bunch of work.
1st, start with straight set of hubcaps and polish them up good. 2nd, take molds off a good cap using body filler and mold release. 3rd, shape your molded "plugs" to exactly fit what you DO NOT want to paint. Saw, sand, file, or do whatever works for you to get just the right fit. Plan your painting in stages, and create plugs for each stage or color.
4th, clean the metal well and paint away with good quality paint. Rattle cans are fine provided it's good paint and the tip atomizes well. You can soak the can in hot water to warm the paint and increase pressure if needed. A heat gun works too, but don't over do it.
Next, enjoy hubcaps that don't have hard or crooked tape lines and display just the right amount of factory paint "bounce" on the edges.
like I said, it's a bunch of work.. so you decide how you want it to look.
I've read this three times. You lost me after the polishing part...
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Old 01-26-2011, 08:40 AM   #4
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

i'd tape off what you want to b chrome then steel wool to remove old paint and prep for painting/ remove the tape/wipe down with wax&grease remover then retape and paint with quality rattle can paint remove tape polish chrome and call it good to go
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Old 01-26-2011, 10:43 AM   #5
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

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I've read this three times. You lost me after the polishing part...
Sorry, let me try again. If you cover the hubcap or just part of the hubcap with a mold release and then smear a medium thick coat of body filler over that area, you can pop the hardened blob of filler off and have a perfectly formed "plug" to cover the area you do not wish to paint, but you must first carefully define the edges of the plug by sanding and shaping the rough blob. You then have a pre-formed "mask" that can be used a hundred times with no taping and better results. if you make the necessary plugs for each stage or color of paint, you can paint all four (or more) hubcaps perfectly in the time it would take you to do one poorly by using tape.
does this make sense?
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Old 01-26-2011, 12:40 PM   #6
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

I polished, cleaned the caps, then used painters vinyl tape (not wide, about 1/4, or 1/2 wide) to mask off the edges (vinyl tape is the the easiest to mask, it's flexible, and you get a clean edge), then roughen the area to paint with a course pad (3M pad), clean the area to be painted, then masked off the rest of the caps/area that I did not want to paint.

I painted the black first, let that set. Then, painted the red second. I used paint thinner around the edges of the red - a cloth, finger tip to remove any over spray (best to do this when the red is still wet). Obviously you're going with a different color, but you get the picture.

I spent a lot of time prepping, masking to get good, clean lines. I also used good paint with a good tip (rattle can). I have a local automotive shop that will mix good paint in a can, with a good tip.

I had an NOS cap to use as a reference and to also match paint colors.

So - if you want to rattle can - that's what I did. Here are the pics of how they came out.
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Old 01-27-2011, 11:45 PM   #7
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

Thanks guys. I asked at the local NAPA and Advance and they can both match in their spray cans. As for the tape, all I can find is Frog Tape which is like blue painters tape but green and has something that leaves cleaner lines. Where do I find this vinyl tape and what does it look like? (I am picturing electrical tape and I know that's not right.)

Also should the black on these be flat and the blue gloss, cause thats what it looks like?
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:54 AM   #8
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

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Originally Posted by CPA-DVM View Post
Thanks guys. I asked at the local NAPA and Advance and they can both match in their spray cans. As for the tape, all I can find is Frog Tape which is like blue painters tape but green and has something that leaves cleaner lines. Where do I find this vinyl tape and what does it look like? (I am picturing electrical tape and I know that's not right.)

Also should the black on these be flat and the blue gloss, cause thats what it looks like?
I will take a picture of the tape for you. It is a little like electrical tape, but because it's narrow its much, much easier to mask/work with. I will post pic on Saturday of the tape so you know what to look for.
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:33 PM   #9
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

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Originally Posted by CPA-DVM View Post
Thanks guys. I asked at the local NAPA and Advance and they can both match in their spray cans. As for the tape, all I can find is Frog Tape which is like blue painters tape but green and has something that leaves cleaner lines. Where do I find this vinyl tape and what does it look like? (I am picturing electrical tape and I know that's not right.)

Also should the black on these be flat and the blue gloss, cause thats what it looks like?
Got a lead on the tape for you....

Google: "1/4"x36 Yd Plastic Tape" (scotch makes it). You can buy it online... this is the tape you want - it's much easier to work with on masking off the lines for the black part.

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Old 01-28-2011, 12:47 PM   #10
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

i'd ask at NAPA or if you have an autopaint supply store//should b abli to find 1/4 or even1/8 tape at either place// the custom painters i know dont use plastic tape for thier graphics or flame jobs
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Old 01-31-2011, 01:22 PM   #11
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

I'll put up a few pics of what I was talking about in my earlier post. Doing it this way IS a fair amount of work, but I'm a kind of nut for details like soft edges and just slightly off-registered factory production work. ....plus, I can do a million more with little effort.
Each mold covers what you don't want to paint.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:17 PM   #12
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

think the tape u are talking about is called fine line tape
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:40 AM   #13
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

I'd consider powdercoat instead of paint for durability.
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:00 AM   #14
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Re: The painting of hubcaps

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I'd consider powdercoat instead of paint for durability.
Not to hijack, but I keep hearing about powdercoating and 2 things come to my mind since I'm not all that familiar with it

1) Since these caps "pop" on to secure themselves to the rims, won't the powdercoating chip off when you need to pop the caps on and off to remove wheels??

2) Even if you p.c., won't you still have to paint the details to make it look stock ie, colored bowtie, and black cog appearance??
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