What prompted this article was buying a set of 58037 Opel Ascona Rally wheels & tyres that looked ok in the photo, but turned out to be the worst set I've ever seen. Faults included being badly painted, excessive use of superglue, excessive use of impact adhesive (apparently applied with a spoon, judging by how much was on the tyres sidewalls, hard, cracked tyres, Rims looking like they'd been chewed by a dog (far beyond what could be fixed with filler); and one wheel badly cracked & broken, including a piece completely missing. I'd paid far too much to just throw them out - so after several months of "thinking time", decided to have a go at some pretty full on wheel refurbishment.
You'll see in the some of the following pics that I used a toy lathe for some of the work ... I'd say although it's theoretically possible to do without, the result will be a lot better with one - I don't think I'd have tried this amount of work without it. Secondly, don't be tempted by buying a cheap/knockoff copy lathe unless you're prepared to spend at least as much again on getting replacement parts to fix its faults.
Paint & Glue Removal
Anyway ... paint & impact adhesive were dealt with by lots of time & De-Solv-It Graffiti Remover (see the article on Paint Stripping for the method), and the tyres by gluing and a long soak in Glycerine (see the piece on Tyre Preservation for examples). The excess superglue was removed by scraping & sanding.
Fixing Broken Bits
Moving on ... the cracked rim was easy enough to deal with, as was the broken bit where the missing chunk was still around - check the edges will mate properly (sand where they don't), glue up, tape/clamp up & leave to set. Filling & sanding come later.
Bits that are missing entirely need to be replaced - having made the edges of the break straighter, I used two pieces of 1.5mm styrene sheet, heated with a hot air gun & bent around a round former of the right diameter, before gluing together, final sizing, and gluing on the rim. As you can see, the finish was a little crude, but it wasn't meant to be perfect - just to give a sound base for later shaping & filling.
Seeing how badly the outside edge of the wheels was chewed up on these wheels, regular filling & sanding wasn't going to work - which meant adding new material to form an entirely new edge. Knowing I was going to use 1.5mm sheet for that, I guesstimated where the edge of the rims would be if they hadn't been damaged, subtracted 1.5mm, and machined them down to that point. Very careful & accurate sanding could be an alternative to using a lathe at this point...
Oversize square pieces of styrene sheet were glued on, then weighed down & left to set overnight. I crudely shaped the square additions, cutting the points off with a scalpel, before returning to the lathe to make the outside edge properly round. I say it's theoretically possible to do that by hand, but it's going to be quicker, easier, and give a better, rounder result with even the most basic of lathes.
As for the inside edge, I did one wheel entirely on the lathe, but found it was more efficient to remove the excess & crudely shape the edge with a Dremel, before tidying up on the lathe, finishing with increasingly fine grades of wet 'n' dry paper (240 to 800 IIRC). I wouldn't have liked to do that by hand, even though the Ascona wheels (also found on the Willy's Wheeler) don't have the fine bead found on the outside edge of most Tamiya wheels.
Filling & Sanding
The outside of the wheels (apart from the replacement chunk) looked pretty good, but did have a small step that I felt could be improved, and the insides certainly needed more work ... I used "Squadron" brad white putty, left plenty of setting time, then finished with wet & dry paper - 240 to get the highest spots off, then 400 to 2000 in 400 grit steps.
You might want to have a look at the earlier articles on Painting Prep and Spraying, but basically I used acrylic based aerosol paints: White Plastic primer, VW Alpine White (I think it gives a slightly more convincing "old white plastic" look than a bright white), and a thick coat of Clear Lacquer. I don't know that these wheels will be particularly robust in use (the join between the outside of the wheel & the new rim is going to be a bit vulnerable), but as the alternative was binning them, I think it was worth doing.
Written by TB member Jonny Retro