Welcome to RAW Works. My name is Raymond and I live in the western suburbs of Sydney. This blog will be a portal for me to photo-document the wheels I refurbish and repaint. This is only a side hobby for me so there won't be any crazy custom jobs! My skills have only stretched so far as to using body repair materials, resprays and polishing, so anything that requires welding and unbuckling will be beyond what I can do. I hope to improve on my current skills as I go along, and as a lover of wheels, it's a way for me to express my art side as well as giving life to some tired wheels again.

At the moment, I'm just scouring through eBay for damaged wheels selling for cheap. If you have any wheels you don't need anymore, throw me an email/comment. At the moment I'm just buying sets of wheels to refurb then sell them off. I prefer not to do personal jobs/requests as I don't trust myself with that yet! But that said, pass me an email/comment if you need any help wheel-wise.

My Facebook page is @ http://www.facebook.com/raysalloywheelworks/, please "like" it!


Feb 3, 2010

BBS RSII Part 4 - Shits and giggles

Besides white paint and bumper black, I had primer grey and spray putty pink lying around. I was seriously running out of time so getting a good cleared and glossed finish was out, especially with my track record of painting. So I decided to go half grey, half pink :)

Firstly, I had the centres soda-blasted. Saved me the messiness of using paint stripper and hours of sanding:

The finish was damn clean, it was tempting to rock raw alloy, but I would've needed to finish off polishing the lips and I just couldn't be bothered at that point.

On goes the primer grey. The same was done for the pink:

I also pulled apart the centre lock:

And used what I had left of the wrinkle paint:

Bolts were cleaned, taped up and sprayed black (ghetto, I know):

Bolted them back up together, and this was the result (minus tyres):

To be honest, I was going nuts over the grey centre with polished lip, as well as the pale pink of the spray putty.

Anyway, I managed to find those conical bolts for the adapters - I had to have 10 of them shortened for the 15mm adapter as they would poke through and foul on the mounting surface of the rotor. Here are the adapters:

To tie it all up, I had to get a set of no-compromise tyres, something that would stretch beautifully over the 17x8's and provide me the clearance I needed for the rears (sitting at ET10 on stock guards). I found a set of Pirelli Pzero Neros in 195/40R17, a rare size in Australia. 205/40's are readily available but I was going to settle for those.

When I went to pick them up, I was amazed by how small the sidewall looked! But mounted up, they had a nice stretch and looked awesome:

So next was to fit them onto the Mk3 and rock it down to Melbourne:

Rear tyres were raped by the guards though. But like they all say, if you ain't rubbin'...

BBS RSII Part 3 - Polishing metal

The process was first using the flapper wheel and nylon brush to take out any gunk and level out any minor scratches/gashes. Next was the hand sanding, gradually increasing grits of 120 dry, 240/400/600/800/1000/2000 wet. It is worth noting that wet-sanding provides a harsher sand than dry-sanding of the same grit with the same paper. It's a common misconception - doing a 240 grit dry sand followed by 240 grit wet-sand will be taking a step backward.

Lip @ 400 grit:

Lip @ 1000 grit:

Lip @ 2000 grit:

Next was polish. I bought a kit from Bunnings that was a straight attachment to my drill. Came with black and white polishing compound, as well as the appropriate mops for both.

The black compound, used with the sisal mop, cuts the metal first to take care of any scratches still on the surface after the sanding. The white compound, used with the loose mop, brightens the metal up to give that "mirror-polish" lustre.

After the polishing, I buffed it with Mothers Mag Polish:

This was my first time metal polishing, and the results were far from perfect. There were still quite a few scratches that remained after polishing (though minor). I may have spent too little time with the rough grit sandpaper. Or it could have been the polishing kit being inadequate. My polishing technique could be to blame as well, as my polishing left a lot of black residue on the mops and the metal itself (easily taken out by Mothers Mag Polish though). Could be a combination of the above.

Anyway, the results:

Hard to capture the metal polish and the scratches, but they're the best pics that show it.

The photos were taken by your average consumer pocket camera, as I hadn't bought my DSLR at the time, so this polishing job was done more than a year ago.

Until about 2 months ago, I put this wheel project on the shelf. The polish tarnished a bit, leaving some oxidised markings. But they cleaned up well with another buff of the Mothers polish.

With University enrolment to take care of and a trip to Melbourne to prepare for, I had very little time and money to fulfill my idea of polishing all the barrels perfectly and having the centres powdercoated gold. But with SEDF coming up, I really wanted to fit these wheels on. First of all, I needed adapters so I went to Adaptec Speedware, run by Matt Crooke in the US. Having tried out adapters before, I knew what I wanted this time around and wasted no time ordering them. 5x100 --> 5x112, 15mm pair and 25mm pair and hub-centric to VW hubs and wheels in anticipation of using Audi wheels in the future. Paid ~$450AUD landed for them, which I thought was a fantastic price considering he whipped them up during New Year's for me, and Express-posted them. Paid on X'mas Day, machined, packaged and delivered by the first week of the New Year, there's nothing to complain about really!

Actually there was one thing... instead of having pressed studs on the adapters (so I could just use nuts to hold down the wheel to the adapter), Adaptec tapped threads into the adapter instead. Which actually isn't really a bad thing (even better I think, with safety in concern), but it meant that I had to get my own wheel lugs, as I only have ball-seat lugs and the RSII have conical seats. I'm only complaining cos I didn't reserve enough time to order in custom wheel lugs as the 15mm are seriously thin - a dummy fit with the stock VR6 ball-seat wheel bolts showed that when torqued down tight, the end of the wheel bolt sits just flush on the other side of the adapter... fit was incredibly tight. I actually still on the look-out for suitable conical seat wheel bolts... fingers crossed I'll find them by SEDF.

As for the colour scheme for the wheels, I had to think of something that would be relatively easy to knock out in a couple of days...

BBS RSII Part 2 - The motivation

Before I go on with the progress, I'd like to add in that I had many ideas for this wheel. First and foremost, I wanted to try out polishing. The rims showed very little signs of damage at first sight, since there was the outer rim guard protecting it. However, as I tried to sand down one of the barrels, it showed ugly bits of its past. I didn't take any bare metal pics of it, but the damage was beyond re-welding new metal in. Talking to another car enthusiast (Chris Preen), I came to realise that re-welding new metal will inevitably leave a mark, even though the surface would be level. See, the material used for the barrel would've been an alloy composition - to repair it and achieve flawless metal polish would mean that the exact same composition of alloy would need to be welded in. Plainly, it would be incredibly difficult to do it.

So anyway, the first idea was to have the barrel polished, and the centre-face powdercoated/painted. Ideas ranged from classic BBS gold:

...or black:

...perhaps colour-coded white:

...or even something wild like red, or blue to match the interior.

As I saw more pics, more ideas flooded in, most of them wild and different to the norm. What about painting the centre black (or some other colour), then machine down the front metal section and polish it?

...or all black w/ polished bolts

...or all white w/ black wheel bolts?

All of the above ideas were great, some even epic, but all of them required a lot of work. Polished lip w/ classic BBS gold centres was the favourite for me, so I proceeded on to polishing the first lip...

BBS RSII Part 1 - Start of a wheel project

So, I had bought these on eBay about two years ago, reserving them for a major overhaul and bring them back up to better-than-new status. Picked up at Wollongong for $100, not bad.

They're BBS RSII, this particular model the RS702. It has a 5x112 pattern, are 17x8, ET35 all-around, and I'm guessing the centrebore was made to fit Mercedes Benz vehicles. They were a perfect for a B5 A4 previously, so they had hub-centric rings fitted to Audi-spec (57.1mm, which means VW-spec too :D). They're 2-piece, built in the modern way - barrel is one piece, with the centre-face able to come apart. The location of the bolts look a little awkward. I think the guys at BBS thought so too, as they released subsequent two-piece wheels with bolts lined up around the lip, and/or located closer to the spokes to make them less conspicuous. I'm thinking the BBS LM and the RS-GT.

Anyway, all wheels were in similar condition to the above - outer rim was guttered to the shit-house and just generally dirty. Not pictured, but it came with the chrome-logo BBS centre-caps, but like all of them of this vintage, the surface has been heavily oxidised.

Besides those little niggles, the centre-face was in great condition, and the outer-rim was only a "guard", with most of the under surface metal (the actual rim) untouched. However, I found out later than two of them did go through the guard and managed to scrape the metal underneath, and on one incident, scoop up a bit of the metal. More on that later.

So, first order of duty was to disassemble them. First hurdle - finding the right tool for the job. The wheel bolts that hold the pieces together were of the 12-point female kind, known as a "spline"-type bolt. They have been referred to as triple-square, but I have since found that to be incorrect - the triple-squares have a different edge to the indents, more of a "square"-edge than a "point"-edge, as seen in the below pic:

Generic shops didn't have them, which lead me to discover specialist tool shops (I went to VEK Tools in Smithfield). Expensive, but they have every tool that you really need. That said though, the M8 spline bit I got for the wheels along with the bit socket only amounted to $9. Made disassembling the wheels a breeze, and is a must - don't ever think about using allen keys for bolts like these, unless you've got a sick fetish for stripping bolts.

Fuck yeah.

As I undid each and every bolt, I came upon the valve stem - on this wheel design, it doubles as a wheel bolt to hold the pieces together as well. It uses a larger hole, so there's no need to make markings on the centres and barrels when pulling them apart - they only go back together one way. The wheels came with a screw-in device that acts as the stem that protrudes out of the wheel to allow air to be inflated through using conventional tools. Furthermore, they come with a screw-in cap to give a smoother look of the overall wheel. Very cool, first of its kind I've come across. (Pics of the stems in Part 3.)

Once all the bolts were taken out, separating the pieces was next. Two wheels came out easy - a soft knock on the hub mount face was all it took to pop it out.

However, the other two was a bitch and a half - someone had separated them before, squeezing a shitload of unrequired sealant between the two pieces. I tried everything - standing on them, jumping on them, leaving them out in the sun before jumping on them, untold number of whacks with the mallet. But still to no avail. I decided to take them to Peter @ OZwheel out in St Marys (Minchinbury now) as I had to get some wheels re-rolled. He used what look like a punch and a hammer, gave three-or-four heavy whacks and they came out like nothing. You could imagine my face watching him do something in 5 seconds with successful results in what took me 5 weeks that resulted in a mashed mallet. Anyway, he charged me nothing for that, so all was good.

Once the centres were out, I could rip out the outer rim guard. It was a flexible thin metal piece that had a chrome finish. Not easy at all to take out as it was sealed on. Took a couple of thick screwdrivers and some pliers to wedge out. Each consecutive one seemed to be harder to get off as the previous one.

I may have scuffed the surface of the rim a little bit, but I managed to sand them out.

Ah yes, the sanding...

Plenty of hours wasted scraping the gunk off, then hitting it with the flapper wheel and nylon brush 'til I saw shiny metal.