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Getting that Old-School Wheel Look

GETTING THAT OLD-SCHOOL WHEEL LOOK

FITTING OVERSIZED STEELIE-TYPE wheels with hubcaps has been a hot trend for quite a few years. This wheel style looks great on classic trucks because it looks like the original wheel but in modern and larger sizes. You get the best of both worlds with big wheels that maintain the factory look of your classic truck. These wheels aren’t limited to old trucks either. We’ve seen them on newer trucks with great results.

How do you get this look? There are several approaches and the primary question you have to ask yourself is which cap style you want to run. There are many different options, and once you’ve picked a particular hubcap, you can move on from there. Some want to run generic moon caps, while others prefer later dog-dish-style caps. The options are limitless.

Once you’ve selected a cap, decide which wheel you want. One of the most popular is a basic billet smoothie. There are many companies providing different wheels with a variety of contours. Another option is running GM transit wheels. They’re customarily only used when transporting modern trucks to dealerships, and then they’re returned or destroyed once the truck is fit with custom wheels. These work if you can find them, but you’ll be limited to 22 inches and they’re made for six-lug applications only.

One of the simplest options is from Coy’s wheels. It’s new C-33 wheel has a smooth look reminiscent of classic wheels in 18-22-inch sizes. Their best feature is their aluminum construction. They’re also an on-the-shelf item that can be purchased easily. If you go this route, you can search swapmeets for caps or turn to companies like Classic Industries for reproductions. Coy’s can mount them for you, or you can use a kit like the one available from Chad Terhar.

You can also finish off your wheels any way you want, including paint or powder-coating. This can be a little more difficult with patina-style vehicles because you’ll have to eyeball a color to match.

For this story, we turned to New Year Metal Finishing. The staff specializes in custom wheel-and-tire combos. These guys are refinishing pros, and they were the perfect choice to powder-coat a set of C-33 wheels.

Speaking of wheel-and-tire combos, Toyo just released the third version of its performance truck tire. The Proxes ST III has a wider tread comprised of a silica-based compound that contributes to shorter stopping distances in wet conditions. Not only are they an all-season tire, they also come with a 40,000-mile warranty for extra peace of mind. With everything in hand, it was go time. Continue reading to see how the process went down. ST

We started the process with a set of Coy’s 20×8.5 C-33 wheels with 4.75-inch backspacing with the standard black powder-coat. They were packaged with smooth 7.5-inch caps for a clean look. Installing these takes a few gentle taps using a rubber mallet.

Pry the caps off using the provided plastic tool.

We wanted a more classic look and decided to fit a set of 1955-59 GMC caps (P/N CT26710) from Classic Industries. As you can see, they don’t attach easily to these wheels.

We used a set of custom clips to mount these caps. Many people make them and we found some from #Clipcaps by Chris Tahar. Though these were made to fit caps to transit wheels, they were a good base for our project.

The back of these caps have an inner ring that prevents them from fitting wheels other than the originals.

We started by cutting off the inner ring using a die grinder with a cutoff wheel. We cut up to the lip of the chrome outer, which leaves enough material for mounting.

We used an angle grinder to smooth the jagged edges left behind from the cuts.

The clip kit comes with a template to mount 10.5-inch caps on transit wheels, but it can be used to mount caps to other wheels as well. We traced the caps and discovered they were 9.5 inches in diameter.

The clips were laid over the template to determine their spacing and new mounting points.

The holes for the clips need to be ¼-inch from the inner lip of the wheels, so we marked one spot as a base for the template.

Then, we poked some holes and used a felt pen to mark the clip location.

With the wheels marked for the mounting points, we used a punch as a guide to make the holes.

The provided bit was secured to our drill and we marked off an inch with tape as a stopping point. That should be plenty to fit the hardware for the clips.

Once the holes were drilled, they were threaded with the included pipe tap. A good tip is to turn the tap back out onequarter turn for every half turn forward. Also, don’t go too far or you might break off the bit.

Since we wanted to match the color of the wheels to the truck, we turned to New Year Metal Finishing for powder-coating. The wheels were scuffed with scouring pads and an orbital sander using 320-grit sandpaper.

The mounting surface was covered in tape to keep it bare and help mate the wheels to the truck.

The wheels were wiped down and placed in the oven for a few minutes to soften the existing coating for better adhesion.

Once the wheels were coated in fresh powder, they were loaded in the oven to harden the material.

The coating was left to bake for an hour, and then the wheels were unloaded and allowed to cool for 30 minutes. Then the valve stems were added.

The Toyo ST III tires (255/50R20 front and 265/50R20 rear) were mounted and the tape on the backside was removed.

 

The tires were filled with air and the units were balanced with proper weight.

Once the wheels returned from New Year Metal Finishing, the bolts were removed. This was a bit tricky because the heads had been coated, which made it difficult for us to fit our tool.

The clips were installed for the final fitment with the bolts and washers from the kit.

The wheels were bolted to the truck using the provided lug nuts.

Finally, the caps were simply pressed onto the wheels and the clips kept them in place.

                                            THE FINAL PRODUCT

The process might have taken some time to configure, but as you can see, the results were well worth it. The Coy’s wheels had the look we were after, and the wheels are the perfect size with our 5×5-lug pattern, too. After some work to fit the caps from Classic Industries, they really topped it off well.

The Toyo Proxes STIII tires with modern engineering to handle the updated performance of this truck make it possible to use these wheels. The arrowhead tapers help maintain straight-line stability, while the directional shoulder blocks assist with braking and maintain a quiet ride. The multi-wave sipes combat irregular wear for longer life and a smooth ride. We actually had a set of bigger STII tires on the truck before and these new STIIIs provide better handling and a smoother ride. We were impressed with the new tires. Combined with the look of the wheels, this combo really did the trick for this truck.

SOURCE

Clipcaps by Chris Tahar
Instagram @Struggle_ 55
Quickier2@gmail.com

Coy’s
801.392.2639
Coyswheel.com

Classic Industries
800.854.1280
Classicindustries.com

New Year Metal Finishes
714.371.0703
Newyearmetal.net

Toyo Tires
800.442.8696
Toyotires.com