Wheel Repair and RestorationSalvaging rare rims to save money
Here's a familiar scenario: You pull into a parking spot and your wheels do a "curb check." Or maybe you accidentally drive over a deep pothole. Oops, now there's a dent in the rim. How can you tell if you need to fix your wheel or go for new one? Is your damaged wheel a candidate for wheel repair?
Well, the good news is that most rims can be repaired. The only exceptions are those that are cracked or fractured, or the lughole areas are damaged. Fixing wheels usually runs anywhere from $65 to $125, depending on the type of material and extent of the damage, says Frank Mauro, Jr. of Stockton Wheel. Too much "radial run-out" (the vertical axis, versus lateral or side-to-side) is usually not repairable, and can result in wheel hop.
Steel, Forged, Spun, Cast, or Billet Aluminum Wheel Repair
If the wheel is too far gone, some companies can also remanufacture custom steel wheels for nearly any application on a built-by hand, one-by-one basis, or build new steel wheels to customer specs. While custom wheel rebuilding is limited mostly to steel wheels, Stockton can straighten forged, spun, cast or billet aluminum wheels. Some wheels may be too mangled to be straightened, but we came away amazed by what can be salvaged (as shown in the accompanying photos). This firm's special fixtures allow for checking of center section trueness as well as hop (egg-shaped) and wobble (excessive side-to-side run-out).
In addition to building custom wheels and straightening old ones, Stockton has a huge supply of used stock and aftermarket wheels and parts. In fact, one of the company's most valuable services to builders of hot rods and other types of vehicles is rebuilding or locating wheels with one-off bolt patterns or weird sizes.
For now, though, we'll focus on wheel repair and wheel restoration, since that's usually the more affordable and simpler way to go. Steel wheels are the most common material used in the manufacturing rims, since it's a firm and resilient substance, but obviously a bit malleable (as indicated by the effect of a curb check mentioned above). But alloy wheels can also be repaired easily as well, as shown in these photos. The type that are more challenging are on late-model Corvettes, due to their size and shape, but "nothing is impossible" Mauro claims, when repairing dents or when a rim is out of round.
Once you get your dents removed and the rim dialed back in, it'll be good as new-at least until you hit another bump in the road.
Stockton Wheel Service, 648 W. Fremont St., Stockton, CA 95203, 800-395-9433, www.stocktonwheel.com
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