Inline Tube - Technical - Rally II Resto
Inline Tube - What goes Around - How to restore Factory Rally II Wheels
In 1969 all GTOs that were fitted with rally wheels got the JA code wheel and since there were roughly 70,000 1969 GTOs and most with rally wheels there should be 350,000 JA wheels out there. You may ask why they are so hard to find. I have found that since the wheel was only 14x6 it made the replacement tire look small and many of the original wheels were replaced and tossed because with no original tire available the wheels looked small on the car. Now fast forward to current day and cars prices are up and correctness is a factor and the original tires are all reproduced and the rims are now desirable again but most cars are missing the original wheels and with the demand the price goes up on used rims.
If you are lucky you still have the original rims behind the shed but if not, it could be a long painful hunt for good originals. Over the years these original have hit curbs, had lug nuts chiseled off or have been sitting in the elements collecting rust. If you decide that the above is all too much work you can order a new set of wheels but I have found that the center is used and the rim is new and in order to get the center out it is cut past the original spot weld making the center lip much smaller, So most wheel companies will not weld it in close to the rim edge that is required to look like an early factory wheel. Also after market wheels do not have date codes or wheel codes.
The first step in our restoration process was to find a set of matching wheels. We chose to drop these off and have the local sand blasting operation to strip them. It cost $25.00 a wheels and was well worth the expense so time was not spent in front of the blast cabinet all day. When the wheels came back they had the usually damage that would need attention. Each had a few rust pits and some scraping damage on the rim edge.
The inspection of each wheel revealed minor damage. This rim must have had a difficult lug nut in its life time and gave up the fight but left a few wounds. We first ground all the high spots and filled the low and sanded plenty to reshape this area. The other wheels had similar nicks, dents and damage that could be easily fixed. We also filled the large rust pits with body filler.
This is the wheel date code that was stamped in at the factory. The first letter is MI / 9. MI is the manufacture and the 9 is the model year 1969. The next number 2 is the month the wheel was made which is February. Next the 25 is the day the wheel was made in February and the JA is the wheel specification code this is the size 14x6 and the offset specific to 1969 GTO. It is a good idea to put tape over these numbers so they do not get filled in with paint and become unreadable in the future.
After all the body filler has been sanded we will coat the wheels with blocking primer this is the same material that is used for outer body blocking. This primer will fill small pits and sand scratches in the filler. It also fills the etching of the sand blasting process to make the metal look smooth again. We coated all surfaces of the rim.
After the primer has had a day to dry we are back to sanding. We will start with 220 grit and sand both the front and back and then proceed to 320 grit and repeat. We will finish with 400-600 grit to have a smooth finish. We have sanded most of the material off using the primer as a light coat of body filler. One of the critical areas is the joint between the rim and center, fold the sand paper and work it into the joint for a smooth edge.
After sanding the primer the wheels will need to be recoated. The first coat was a heavy to fill as much as possible but now that it is knocked down the second coat is just to cover the bare metal areas. The big flat areas of the wheels will be sanded and the small areas are next to impossible to get into so only the big flaws will be sanded out.
Now that we have recoated with a reduced thinner primer coat we are ready to sand again. This time we will be using 600 -800 grit. This sanding is to just remove any dust or dirt and flatten out the primer so the paint will look flat. This light sanding is mostly a trick to flatten out the outer wheel lip so the rims look brand new after paint. We are still keeping primer out of the date code area. We do not want to fill the numbers in.
The back side of the rim will be sprayed with a dove grey to match the original color. This will take a few days to dry before we can tape to it. If you rush your tape could leave impressions in the fresh paint. We are using painters green masking tape it has a lighter stick to it.
We are prepping to spray wheel color and wipe every surface with pre-clean to make sure we have removed all sanding dust. This is also a good time to run a pick around the channel between the rim and the center to remove any primer overspray that may be built up in the valley. For the silver spray we will tape off all the slots in the rim.
Once the wheel is taped off we spray the silver paint. This east wood paint dry's fast so it is important to keep moving once you start spraying the wheel. We went over the entire wheel 2 times. Paint does not fill pits or cover bad body work, it is just a final color over the prep work. It takes very little paint to cover the 5 rims. On this project it took less than one full spray can to do the wheels.
After letting the silver dry for a few days we are ready to tape the wheel off for the charcoal center color. We are using a inline tube wheel mask kit. These are precut pieces for the spokes and connected with blue fine line tape. The mask saves a lot of time but since the wheels are not perfect it takes time to line up the mask.
On another wheel we tried just the fine line tape with the same results but much more time consuming. The fine line tape also required much more skill to follow an unclear edge. The bare areas must be filled in and the rim edge covered with paper. The less direct tape to the silver area will prevent any tape marks in the paint that is not fully dry.
The center has been painted and the tire carefully mounted. Any dry spray in the 2 colors can be removed with a light coat of rubbing compound but be careful not to rub through the paint. The charcoal color also only consumed less than a can of spray paint because our prep work was so extensive.
Our date code is still very readable and although there are many coats of material on the wheels by sanding the flats and keeping the date code covered the paint looks very thin. We have also found that even if you car does not require trim rings there were wheel weights on both sides of the rim. Since this is a non trim ring wheel the valve stem is a bit shorter and it is capped with the dill nipple cap that was used on all cars in the 60s. These are from Inline tube.
We have duplicated the original factory overspray on the back of the rim by letting the charcoal overspray proceed through the spoke holes. On the 4 mounted wheels this will never be seen but is a nice detail for the spare that is mounted face down in the trunk.
While putting on the center cap it is a good idea to tape round the rim because the clips of the center cap can scratch the paint. Once the cap is snaped into place the tape is easily removed.
The finished wheels are mounted on good year tires. All judges had black wall tires unless ordered with an upgraded tire.
Here is one of our finished wheels on a 69 judge - looking every bit as good as it did when it was new.
Wheel codes GTO, Lemans Tempest
1967 GTO Lemans Tempest 14x6 JA for disc JC for Drum Cars no date codes
1968 GTO Lemans Tempest 14x6 JA for disc JC for Drum Cars no date codes
1969 GTO Lemans Tempest 14x6 JA for all
1970 GTO Lemans Tempest 14x6 JL or JT
1971 GTO Lemans Tempest 14x6 KU or 15x7 JW or KR
1972 GTO Lemans Tempest 14x6 KT or 14x7 KS or 15x7 KR
1973 GTO Lemans Tempest 15x7 KR or HM
1974 GTO Lemans Tempest 14x6 HN
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GTO illustrated Identification Guide