Monday, October 21, 2013

Paint it Black!

Words by Ben - Snaps by Ben

There's always a point in a motorhead's life when it's time to get new wheels for your car. Usually this happens soon after (or even before) getting your ride, after a change of taste or wheel fashion, or after the wheel suffer a bad fate after an accident of some sort. In my case, it's an incident which resulted in one of my back rim getting busted that got me to start hunting for kicks again. 

While searching, my mechanic lent me a set of Volk Racing CE28N, and the mismatched style started growing on me. Since I couldn't find another set of K-Speed K391, and I still couldn't afford my dream SSR Professor SP1R, I decided to change the rear wheels to TE37r, for a subtle mismatched look. After all, aside from having 6 spokes instead of 5 spokes, the design was rather similar and would be prefect for the looks I wanted to achieve. 

The only issue - they were black, while my K-Speed were gunmetal grey. I figured that would not be a problem as I would quickly fix it with some sanding paper, a couple of spray cans, and some elbow grease, like I did a few months back when I resprayed my autocross/track rims to blue, as you might have spotted in the Spark Motorsports Gymkhana post. 

So I got the rims, the sandpaper and found some spray cans that, I hoped, would do the job just right. After burning quite a bit of elbow grease preparing the first rim, I couldn't resist to go ahead and spray... And the result was horrifying. So much for gunmetal grey, or even deep grey, I ended up with a flat, dull grey. 

The more I looked at it, the more I hated that grey. 

The sad part was that when I asked for a rims spray shop for help, they told me that the paint I used was too soft for them to spray over, and that sanding everything off would not be possible. Not possible is not in my books, and I went ahead to find another solution, which I found when a friend recommended me to Plasti Dip. 

For those of you who are not yet familiar with the miracle solution, here's a quick intro: it's not paint, it's rubber. In the main lines, you'll be spraying coloured rubber, which sticks to virtually anything, and can be pulled off whenever you want. Key words: sticks to anything. Just what I needed! 

Of course, there are always a few catches to miracles: It only comes in matte finish (but there are additional sprays to add shiny textures, and it can be peeled off. The matte finish wasn't a problem as I made up my mind to spray the wheels black, but the peeling off part was my worry - as I wanted to keep the chrome lip on the rims (I'm not fond of full black rims), I would have to mask the lip, but I was afraid that removing the masking would pull the paint off the whole rim. After a bit of research and some good advice from Singapore's Plasti Dip dealer, the plan was set, and I proceeded as follows - 

I started by thoroughly cleaning the wheel... 

I then masked off the lip, the tyre, the lug nuts and the air valve. Masking off the tyre is not necessary as you can peel off the paint once you're done, but I just like masking off stuff, so I went ahead. As I was spraying with the wheel mounted on the car, I also masked off the brakes behind the rim. 

This done, I sprayed the first, thin layer over the whole rim, all the way to the masked area. The aim of this was to give a rough, sticky base for the other layers to grip on. 

I let the base dry for 10 minutes and added more layers of black, but only on the spokes. I avoided spraying on the masked-off area, and applied three coats, leaving 10 minutes to dry between each layer. 

For the final layer I sprayed a generous, thick layer over the whole rim, especially around the lip. As soon as I was done spraying, I quickly pulled the mask on the lip, lug nuts and air valve. I removed the newspaper on the brakes from behind the wheel to avoid any risk of messing up the job and let it cure for 4 hours. 

The paint was not pulled off along with the masking, and the result was just perfect, to my eyes.
I need to do a proper photoshoot!


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