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Brushed Style Center Cap


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Bertimus

Disclaimer: I also inquired with this same post on the AACA Reatta forum 🙂

 

So I am at my wit's end with the center caps on the 88 brushed style rims. It seems even the second I first applied just plain old water the center caps began reacting badly (oxidation/foggin). Seems like most rim specific cleaners remove the finish. Even more perplexing is that when the finish is removed, so is the brushed/machined styling!! So apparently the machining/brush was applied to the finish and not the aluminum itself? Does anyone know anything about this or why this happens?

 

Once the finished is removed it begins to luster into a chrome, which I have seen done quite a bit and looks awesome, but is personally not my cup of tea, as I'd like to preserve the original look.

 

Ps. none of this applies to the rims, they are not hyper-sensitive like the center caps.

 

So what maintenance methods have worked for you guys as far as persevering the original brush style?

 

Eventually (when I have the extra cash, which means not any time soon lol) I want to get the caps and the rims completely remachined. I saw on a post by gentleman who had it done by Hubcap Heaven in Tennessee, and they look gorgeous, but I am having a hard time even finding that service here in southern california (if any of you know of a place post it here!)

 

Also, if any of you have successfully restored the brushed styling yourselves, your DIY knowledge would be greatly appreciated

 

Thank you 🙏🏽

 

Pictured below:

1. Condition when I bought the car (standard wear and oxidation)

2. The unfortunate state it's in now

3. An example of the usual approach (stripped + chromed)

4. Example of a remachined rim+cap by Hubcap Heaven in Tennessee

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2seater

Sorry I can't help you with ideas for the preservation/resurrection of the originals. Many of us really dislike the original rims as too small, too narrow and poor backspacing so they appear tucked under. I am one of them. I respect your desire to preserve the originality, so with that in mind, set them aside for restoration and get some later full size GM wheels and tires for daily duty. There are a ton of styles out there for good prices. The 5x115mm bolt circle is on almost all of the Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and some Cadillac full sized cars for more than two decades. Just a suggestion

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What 2seater said...plus 1991 Reatta 16 inch factory wheels/center caps will fit no prob' and look good, too. 

Edited by ship
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DAVES89

Other then the wheels I run on the 'Red and the 'vert I like the 16" wheels on the 2000vintage Buick Regal. They are chrome and look great.

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Bertimus
11 hours ago, 2seater said:

Sorry I can't help you with ideas for the preservation/resurrection of the originals. Many of us really dislike the original rims as too small, too narrow and poor backspacing so they appear tucked under. I am one of them. I respect your desire to preserve the originality, so with that in mind, set them aside for restoration and get some later full size GM wheels and tires for daily duty. There are a ton of styles out there for good prices. The 5x115mm bolt circle is on almost all of the Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and some Cadillac full sized cars for more than two decades. Just a suggestion

I ended up buying two caps in good condition on Ebay from a gentleman in Arizona. They were fairly difficult to track down in a decent enough condition. Only now did I find the name Jim Finn (oh well, at least next time I know). But I'm going to replace the current stripped cap and keep it as a backup along with the extra I ordered. Then I'll put it back on when I get all the rim and caps remachined which I am determined to do, not as soon as I'd like, but eventually.

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Bertimus
8 hours ago, DAVES89 said:

Other then the wheels I run on the 'Red and the 'vert I like the 16" wheels on the 2000vintage Buick Regal. They are chrome and look great.

Yes I've seen those quite a bit on Reattas, I have to agree they look super cool! But I'm one of those stock preservation/keep it original kind of dudes. Plus, I already ordered some 15" Cooper Cobra tires 😎

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Bertimus
9 hours ago, ship said:

What 2seater said...plus 1991 Reatta 16 inch factory wheels/center caps will fit no prob' and good, too. 

I may just be a weirdo, but I like the original tire size and rim style lol! But I do enjoy seeing all the different upgrades that folks do

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  • 2 weeks later...
Danpatters583

Once you get them machined you can get them powder coated with a clear powder. That way it keeps the nice look but will keep clean and all that for many years to come. 

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Bertimus
8 hours ago, Danpatters583 said:

Once you get them machined you can get them powder coated with a clear powder. That way it keeps the nice look but will keep clean and all that for many years to come. 

Yeah I definitely without a doubt want to get them remachined and recoated (when I save up what I'm guessing will be at least $600 here in CA). Maintaining the original finish has been nothing but a pain, it makes me want to just give in and strip and polish them into chrome just not to deal with it anymore (a good solution if you can't afford to remachine them, and it doesn't stop you from remachining them in the future). I thought the rims were immune to reactions, and just last night I was cleaning a rim with a gentle waterless wash and sure enough, it began clouding up, badly. Luckily my handy Flitz metal polish was able to salvage it (took more than an hour to repolish) and still maintain mostly all the steel brush style grain. But just note: I remove the center caps whenever I use Flitz, because it will DEFINITELY strip the machined finish off the caps. The trials and errors these wheels have been putting me through I tell you🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️ 

Edited by Bertimus
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Ronnie

There is just a thin sheet of aluminum that is formed around the plastic center that pops onto the wheel. It has been a long time since I looked at my center caps. I remember them having some sort of brushed finish instead of a machined finish like a lathe would produce. If you have any dents or really deep scratches in the aluminum I don't know what machining process could be used to clear that up. If your caps are just dull and cloudy it seems like you should be able to use sand paper, maybe in a circular motion, to put a factory like finish on the aluminum. You would have to experiment with sand paper of different grits to get the finish you are looking for. Then coat with clear to keep it looking good. I've never done this. I'm just throwing it out for discussion.

 

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Bertimus

Here is what I learned about the wheels and the center hubcaps:

 

If you're dealing with the original finish, the caps should be treated like newborn babies. 

 

Rub them gently with a gentle compound to clean them. Then gently rub a gentle non-corrosive polish, and then wax. That's it, nothing more and nothing less. 

 

The wheel/rim's are machined into the metal itself, so it's not likely you'll strip the grain (unlike the caps, which are stripped if you just look at them too hard), but the finish is a different story. Last night I cleaned one wheel with a gentle wash, and it came out stunningly. I confidently moved on to the the next wheel and it immediately began reacting severely and clouding up like a winter's morning in Oregon. These wheels and caps have minds of their own. So I no longer experiment with cleaners. Like I mentioned above, an hour plus of polishing with Flitz metal paste polish remedied the accidental clouding. A little bit of the finish was unfortunately lost but not very noticable after polish/wax.

 

So for maintenance, repeat the same center cap process for the wheel, but you can use Flitz Metal Polish confidently, as opposed to the caps, which I do not let anywhere near the Flitz.

 

Pictured below is the result of my sweat and tears. I want to thank JIM FINN for supplying me with near mint caps, and for the maintenance tips. You're the man Jim! 🙏🏽

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Edited by Bertimus
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Bertimus
20 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

There is just a thin sheet of aluminum that is formed around the plastic center that pops onto the wheel. It has been a long time since I looked at my center caps. I remember them having some sort of brushed finish instead of a machined finish like a lathe would produce. If you have any dents or really deep scratches in the aluminum I don't know what machining process could be used to clear that up. If your caps are just dull and cloudy it seems like you should be able to use sand paper, maybe in a circular motion, to put a factory like finish on the aluminum. You would have to experiment with sand paper of different grits to get the finish you are looking for. Then coat with clear to keep it looking good. I've never done this. I'm just throwing it out for discussion.

 

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Definitely looks like that would work, thanks for the input! 

 

Another interesting observation is that all the caps I ordered (I ordered a few others outside of Jim for emblems) all had grey plastic backs. My original caps all had black plastic backs, like the one you pictured above. Maybe its an 88 thing

 

 

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Ronnie

Your wheels turned out great! Looks like a new wheel in your photo.

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DAVES89

The wheels look great. I agree with Ronnie, they do look like new.

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Bertimus

Thanks mates, hope this thread helps with people with their future wheel/cap frustrations! 

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2seater
26 minutes ago, Bertimus said:

Thanks mates, hope this thread helps with people with their future wheel/cap frustrations! 

Despite what I said at the beginning, I do like what you have done. Kudo's to you

 

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