Shine… ish

 

img_2676 Well, they can’t all be winners, can they? After the stunning success and almost frightening ease in which the headlight project all came together, one can’t expect that every check box on the list would be completed with such aplomb.

Such was the case on a recent sunny afternoon in the prizmgsi.com workshop.

Finding the temporary spare tire down about 45 pounds of pressure from the number recommended on the sidewall was not surprising. Discovering that the lug wrench included in the car’s toolkit was rather sloppy due to a massive fissure in the metal was… kind of. 25 years can take their toll, metal fatigue and all that.

The cheapo ratchet set (kids these days might call it a ratchet ratchet set) that has only stuck around because of the nice plastic case that holds everything within nicely organized was hauled into duty. Surprisingly, not only was there the proper-sized socket for the GSi lugnuts, the toy-like handle was able to deliver adequate torque to loosen said nuts. Score one for Harbor Freight.

GSi-specific 14-inch alloy wheel swapped out for bright yellow temporary spare with nearly 15 pounds of pressure, the car totally did not look like it had been abandoned on the side of the road. As a side note, the prizmgsi.com sarcasm font is broken.

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Back in the workshop gravel side-driveway, the real work could begin. As you can see above, those 25 years have been rough on the metal of the wheels not unlike the lug wrench. The plan today would be to strip the nasty clearcoat off and see what lay underneath. Once that assessment was complete, further action would be taken as warranted.

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The good news here? Well that orange-hued and -scented chemical stripper works wonders. After a quick thirty-minute application – the minimum recommended on the jug – much of the failing clearcoat was but a sludgy mess on my plastic putty knife. A quick rubdown with mineral spirits revealed some shiny aluminum and some remaining clearcoat – not surprising with the quick turn around. A second coat of stripper, followed by a longer wait resulted in complete clearcoat annihilation.img_2687img_2694img_2695

There was definitely some shine under that mess, but also some nasty pitting in the aluminum. Pulling out the trusty polishing kit, the workshop was filled with the sound of an ancient drill pressed into service doing something it was never designed for.

The drill survived the ordeal, but unfortunately so did the pitting, along with some cloudy discoloration at the dividing line between remaining clear coated areas and worn-away sections.

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One spoke turned out okay – if the rest of the wheel had been as good, I may have considered this exercise a success. But the aforementioned cloudiness and some more significant pitting marred the remaining spokes.

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Only three more wheels to go!

So now we are at a crossroads – travel down the path of least resistance and call it good enough (or until a set of Enkei Compe are sourced), or damn the torpedoes, bust out the 80 grit, grind down the fine machine lines, pitting, staining and whatever else – and polish to a mirror shine.

What say you, dear reader? Full mirror shine for the GSi or shine-ish for now? Leave a comment if you have an opinion, or even better, if you know of an idiot-proof way to get rid of the pits and stains.

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