Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Pontiac Rally II Wheel Restoration For GTO Firebird
Pontiac Rally II Wheel Resto
Restore Pontiac 5-spoke wheels
By Jim Black / Photography by Jim Black
LeMans to GTO, Firebird and Trans Am, and Catalina to Grand Prix, Pontiac’s Rally II wheel was a popular option on these and other models from the late 1960s and beyond.
First available on the 1967 models under UPC code N98, Pontiac’s Rally II followed the original Rally (later designated as the Rally I) and was all-steel in construction with a true five-spoke slotted design. Wheel attachment was five-lug with a 43/4-inch bolt pattern but the larger Pontiac’s used a 5-inch bolt pattern.
The Rally II wheel was manufactured by the Motor Wheel Corporation (at the time a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company subsidiary) and available in 14- and 15-inch diameters, and in 6-inch and 7-inch widths. Applications varied by year and model, and with standard drum or disc brakes in some cases. Each wheel manufactured included the manufacturer’s stamping, plant number, wheel size, Pontiac wheel code, and specific date code. All GTOs from 1967 thru 1970 used the optional 14x6-inch Rally II and in 1971, a 15x7-inch wheel was added. In 1972, GTOs had three Rally II offerings, a 14x6-, 14x7-, and 15x7-inch wheel. In 1973 all GTOs optioned the 15x7-inch Rally only, and in 1974 a 14x6-inch was the only Rally II wheel offered on the GTO based on the smaller Ventura series platform. Today, Rally II wheels are being reproduced by a number of manufacturers in several widths, diameters, and finishes, as well as to O.E.M. specifications.
Most Rally II wheels were painted argent silver with charcoal gray inserts and finished off with stainless steel trim rings, PMD center caps (in red or black) and special color-keyed lug nuts. Deviations in this combination included the GTO Judge, GT-37, 1974 GTO, and Can Am models that came without trim rings; and again the Can Am and a few other models with special body-colored wheels. As the Rally II matured and got older, specific wheel colors, trim rings, center caps and lug nut designs varied until production of the wheel ended in 1981.
We’ll be restoring a set of five classic 14x7-inch Rally II wheels that came with our 1969 GTO convertible. Although not correct for our application (’69 GTOs used 14x6-inch only), we’ve chosen to restore and use these wheels until a complete restoration to original is performed on our GTO. We’ll be starting with a clean slate after all five wheels have been thoroughly inspected and deemed roadworthy and then media-blasted to remove all traces of rust and previous paint. So follow along as we utilize a few basic techniques and seek great results even from “shaker” can paints. We’ll also put the finishing touches to our wheels by mounting new rubber, trim rings, center caps and lug nuts.
1 Our 1969 GTO came with a set of Rally IIs and each wheel (like this example) contained the usual surface rust and faded and/or chipped paint. Before spending time restoring, we took to our wheels to a nearby tire center and had each of them checked out prior.
2 We had access to a commercial blasting cabinet, but as an alternative, most large cities have media-stripping companies, although costs can vary. We loaded our wheels one at a time in the blast cabinet and went to work. We’ll be stripping a set of five to the bare bones.
3 There are several different types of media which could be used but we decided on aluminum oxide (available through Eastwood) which makes quick work of the process. We loaded the hopper with half a bucket (2 ½ gallons) of media. Typical stripping time was about 20 minutes per wheel which can vary.
4 With the first wheel completely stripped of paint and rust we can easily see the Motor Wheel Corporation manufacturer’s stamping and the 14 x 7 wheel size and code JJ (Rally II – Pontiac). We’ve elected to use the 7-inch wheels even though they weren’t available on our ’69 GTO (6-inch code JA wheels would be correct for our application).
5 Each wheel also came with a date-code stamping located on the inside rim edge near the valve stem mounting. This particular wheel was cast on June 13, 1970 at Motor Wheel Corporation’s plant no. 1 (M1).
6 Here are a few of the items we’ll be using to restore these wheels. Check the bill of materials for a complete list.
7 We laid out some paper across our workbench and set each wheel up on blocks. This will allow paint spray to ventilate from under the wheel and give more professional results. Using a good quality self-etching primer, we applied two light coats to all surfaces.
8 After the primer had sufficiently dried (about one hour) we lightly wet-sanded each wheel, rinsed and wiped it dry in preparation for the color coats.
9 Once completely dry, we used Dupli-Color Metalcast silver-gray and applied two light coats followed by one heavier finish coat to the back and rim surfaces. The Metalcast paint looks like powder-coat when dry but any silver or gray paint could be used.
10 Once dry, we taped off the open slots, cap and wheel stud openings to prevent our next coat of paint from messing up the back of the wheel we had just painted.
11 To finish off the wheel faces we’ll be using Eastwood’s Rally Wheel paint kit which includes two cans each of Argent Silver and Charcoal Gray wheel paint and Rally II wheel stencil kit.
12 Using a tack cloth we wiped down the wheel face, then applied two light coats of argent silver, followed by one heavier finish coat, allowing 10 minutes between coats.
13 After drying overnight, we cut a few small pieces of scuffing pad and carefully prepped the spoke insert areas of each wheel for paint.
14 Using a fingernail we scuffed the surfaces adjacent to the spokes to ensure that the paint would adhere properly, using caution near those areas that would remain silver. After scuffing we used a tack cloth on the inserts.
15 Next, we carefully masked off the outer rim areas with paper and then applied the spoke masks, using only light pressure around the mask edges.
16 After masking, we applied two light coats of charcoal gray followed by one heavier finish coat, allowing 10 minutes between coats, then let the wheels dry overnight.
17 The next day we carefully removed the masking and applied a couple of light coats of Dupli-Color acrylic clear lacquer for added protection and glossier finish.
18 We allowed the wheels to cure for four to five days and then took them to our local tire center for mounting and balancing. We chose a set of classic BFGoodrich radial T/As, series P225/70R14. Balancing weights attached to the front face won’t affect the trim ring attachment.
19 When installing the center caps we placed painters tape over the hub area to prevent scratching the finish. The tape is easily removed after the center caps are attached.
20 Sans trim rings? We were tempted, but opted for a new set of stainless rings and lug nuts from Ames Performance which put a wrap on our Rally II wheelrestoration project
• Access to media blasting cabinet Choice of blasting media (aluminum oxide preferred)
• 2 cans self-etching spray primer
• 2 cans Metalcast silvergray enamel
• 2 cans Argent Silver acrylic spray lacquer
• 2 cans Charcoal Gray acrylic spraylacquer
• 1 can clear acrylic spray lacquer
• Stencil masking kit
• 400 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper
• Scuffing pad
• Tack cloth
• Masking tape
• Paint respirator