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  • Chrome Wheel Caps vs. Stock Plastic Replacements/Wheel Cleaning
  • Chrome Wheel Caps vs. Stock Plastic Replacements/Wheel Cleaning
  • Chrome Wheel Caps vs. Stock Plastic Replacements/Wheel Cleaning
  • Chrome Wheel Caps vs. Stock Plastic Replacements/Wheel Cleaning

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  1. #1
    Member C3Vette Lady's Avatar
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    1981 Red Coupe, 1973 Big BlockStingray
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    My aluminum wheels are missing the wheel caps. In the catalogue, I found die cast metal chrome ones that claim to be better than factory, but isn't chrome going to look bold with my aluminum? Also, curious if they are that much more durable than the stock plastic.

    The plastic ones also advertise "chrome" appearance. Any suggestions as to how they look and hold up?

    Also, while on the topic of wheels, what cleans the aluminum the best and what can I use to scrub the grime spots off without damaging the wheels? There is 8 year old grime stuck on my wheels....

    Thanks again for any help!
    Lanelle
    "Real women OWN 2 'vettes"

  2. #2
    ssvett
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    Lanelle, The plastic chrome is better then the metal, I think. My pickup "had" chrome center caps, they are rusty now. The plastic is also more easy to clean, no scrubbing, just wipe off with a damp cloth and buff 'em to a shine with a dry one. As far as cleaning your wheels. I will let someone else post about that. I know that there are some chemicals out there that will make the job a little easier, but you will need a little elbow grease with whatever you use.......Steve

  3. #3
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    1959 black 270hp (9/2/69) 1981 Beige L81(10/20/80)
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    Default wheels

    Hi Lanelle, Welcome to the forum. Your '81 came with chrome plastic caps. They sometimes don't fit very tightly and fall off. We replace one about every year. The cap and emblem are ordered seperate and you have to stick the emblem on (adhesive backed). They are still available from Chevrolet, got one in November. '81 wheels as well as '80 and '82 were high polished as opposed to the "brushed" finish of the '79 and older so you can't use an abrasive on them. I sit down on the floor with each wheel off and polish them with Mother's Aluminum Polish. It's my favorite. I'm sure others have their favorite also. The bottom line is elbow grease and lots of it. Check the yellow pages for a Pro Strip type of place that srips and derusts metal. I had Pro Strip in Ft. Wayne IN strip and polish a set of nasty Trans Am wheels on a restoration project and they looked great. Once they are shiney it is fairly easy to keep them that way. Tom
    NCRS 1360.............SACC 2082.............C1 Registry..............L81 Registry
    1959 Chevrolet Corvette 1981 Chevrolet Corvette , 350 L81 automatic Frost Beige

  4. #4
    Member twiget's Avatar
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    Before I started to use Mothers to polish the wheels on my '78 I used aircraft cleaner. The stuff was designed to clean bird guts and stuff like that off supersonic aircraft aluminum and composites. It worked amazingly well, better than any spray cleaner I have seen, and probably the best overall, next to Mothers. Mothers takes a lot of elbow grease but the results are worth it.

    As for the center caps, my '78 had plastic too and as Steve pointed out they where very easy to clean. They where a lot lighter than the metal center caps too.

  5. #5
    Member C3Vette Lady's Avatar
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    Default Reply re: aircraft cleaner

    Thanks for the ideas! Any clue where to look for aluminum aircraft cleaner? The spots all over the rims have probably lived there for the last 8 years as it wasn't driven for that long when I bought it. The wheels are just covered with freckles of scum! Also, is there anything stronger than a rag (teflon pads possibly?) or basic sponge I can use to clean them with? Also, Tom, what did that Pro Strip place charge you for cleaning your rims? Thanks again for all the help!
    Lanelle
    "Real women OWN 2 'vettes"

  6. #6
    Chrome Wheel Caps vs. Stock Plastic Replacements/Wheel Cleaning DDLS3's Avatar
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    Flag Aluminum wheels

    Lanelle

    Stick with the plastic caps definately. No the chrome doesn't stand out as you would think, mine are original and to compensate for the loose fit I touched an ever so small amount of non hardening gasket cement to the back side. They still should pop out easily when required. I like Wenol polish, comes in a small tube and is available from several catalogs. You can scrub by hand if you like, but I would suggest getting a small cloth buffer for your electric drill motor. Much faster and does a much better job. My original aluminum wheels shine like a mirror.

    [Edited by DDL-81 on 01-23-2001 at 10:32 AM]
    Dale

  7. #7
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    Default whels

    Lanelle, It was about 8 years ago when I had the wheels stripped. They charged around $45. per wheel but these had severe corrosion in the painted areas and had to be dipped to remove paint, dipped to remove corrosion and then the original areas that were bare were polished. I painted the recessed areas as original when I got them back. For just a polish on a smooth wheel shouldn't be any more than that today, I wouldn't think. Can't say for sure. Mothers doesn't seem to work well with a power buffer. I have some Wenol that I haven't tried, DDL-81. What type of a buffing wheel do you use? Do you rub in on by hand and then buff it off or apply it with the buffer? Tom
    NCRS 1360.............SACC 2082.............C1 Registry..............L81 Registry
    1959 Chevrolet Corvette 1981 Chevrolet Corvette , 350 L81 automatic Frost Beige

  8. #8
    ksems
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    Lanelle,

    You can get the caps w / emblem from Dr. Rebuild and Zip ( i think )
    Dr. Rebuild has them for $12.00 each,... RiksVet as well has them.

    When I did my wheels last year I used NAPA paint stripper ( comes in a can)
    Spray on and wipe off. I used it to remove the old clear coat from the wheels.
    doesnt harm the rubber , but I covered mine anyhow.

    To paint the slots I used NAPA automotive flat black.
    I flipped the wheel over and sprayed them that way.
    It really looks nice.

    I polished with Mothers ( also from NAPA )
    I didnt re-clearcoat, dont think they need it..Just polish a few times a year with Mothers

    Good Luck,
    Kevin

  9. #9
    ksems
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    I need to put this in the Tech section on the L81 registry site.
    This is a common topic that we all will have to tackle eventually

    Kevin

  10. #10
    Chrome Wheel Caps vs. Stock Plastic Replacements/Wheel Cleaning DDLS3's Avatar
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    Default Wenol and buffer

    Tom
    Use the Wenol(red) to clean and restore the wheel, Use wenol (blue) to really shine it up. You will need two buff wheels they are about 3" in diameter and mushroom shaped, 1/4" drill chuck. Put a little daub on the wheel then buff it in. Actually works best if it starts to dry out while your buffing. The blue is like any wax/sealent wipe on, let dry, wipe off, buff w/clean buff wheel.
    Dale

  11. #11
    Administrator Yoda's Avatar
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    Default Wheel Cleaning

    Guess I'll throw my .25 in too

    The wheels on the Rare81 where very dull when I found her. Most it was the sun (ultra violet) exposure.

    I learned this from my 84, the coating was scratched so an OLD Body Fender friend suggested Acetone and a tooth brush, then "Mothers", it worked then so I did the same to the Rare1 and it worked great. I took the wheels off, got comfortable and about 45 minutes to an hour per wheel and they look "marvelous". The paint was ok between the spokes, so just a touch up with some Black paste SHOE polish and I was concours ready .

    Guess I may have used up $.50 instead of my .25

    BudD

  12. #12
    Administrator Tom Bryant's Avatar
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    Default thanks Dale

    They are still pretty shiney from the last Mother's treatment but I have never been able to get the mirror look. I'll give it a try and have the '81 standing tall this spring. Tom
    NCRS 1360.............SACC 2082.............C1 Registry..............L81 Registry
    1959 Chevrolet Corvette 1981 Chevrolet Corvette , 350 L81 automatic Frost Beige

  13. #13
    Chrome Wheel Caps vs. Stock Plastic Replacements/Wheel Cleaning DDLS3's Avatar
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    Default Shine those Wheels

    Lots of ways to get the aluminum to shine up WOW!!! Hey pick one that works for you and keep them looking great....
    I did see chrome wheels styled after the aluminum, came from a company in California. Not for me, but it might be of interest to some.
    Dale

  14. #14
    Member C3Vette Lady's Avatar
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    I wish I could describe what the stuff on my rims are. It is like dried sticky gum or tar or something and each rim is covered with freckles of it. It would probably clog a buffer real quick, and I have to get it off before I can polish them. I guess I'm stuck with stripping them, yes? I tried straight "simple green" and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed" but it still left a stain even though the mass of the sticky stuff was gone. I think steel wool would get it off, but it might scratch the rims. Seems like there should be a chemical to cut through the goop. I even tried "goo gone". It is just hardened on the rim. Has anyone used steel wool on aluminum?

    Bud, did the acetone take the clear coat off your rims when you used it?

    Twiget, where does one find that aluminum plane cleaner? It doesn't take off your clear coat, right?

    Thanks a bunch for the help!
    Lanelle
    "Real women OWN 2 'vettes"

  15. #15
    Member twiget's Avatar
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    Lady,

    I dont know where you would find aircraft surface cleaner in the civilian world. Perhaps at a private airport. The stuff I was using was mil-spec, and thus very expensive. Being in the Navy I realy didnt need to worry about that though. The cleaner didnt damage the clear coat at all.

    A word of caution, if you decide to use acetone to clean your wheels, please use rubber gloves, a rubber apron, and a face shield. Also, dont use it on your tires if you have just driven anywhere and the brakes are hot, acetone has a very low flash point.

    For more details send me an email and I will get them for you. There is a lot of stuff you should consider inorder to use the stuff safely.

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