Article & Photos By: Daniel Donley – www.pandemoniumcustomchoppers.com
Originally Published In The August 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I was hanging out at the local hot rod shop with the guys having a couple of beers checkin’ out the sweet cars when I noticed on one particular car that the tires had no lettering on the side walls what so ever! So, of course I asked where they got the tires? They said “Well, we buff all that off and then polish the tire.” So me being me, my gears got to turning and thought I want to try this on a set of motorcycle tires. I thought it was pretty rad. So, a whole bunch of questions later on how to make this happen I got my ass back to the shop to give it a shot. So this month’s tech, is really going to be more of a let’s try this and see what happens. I started off with a brand new Shinko tire that was laying around the shop. I mounted it up on to a rim that I wasn’t too worried about scratching. I didn’t want to use a good rim because I had no clue what was going to happen.
To start things off I grabbed my 90° air grinder and various grits of Roloc fiber pads, I started with the brown which is coarse, and started to grind away at the lettering on the sidewall. Immediately I noticed that the tire got hot and sticky but the lettering was coming off. I let the tire cool for a minute and proceeded less aggressively to try to reduce the heat being put into the tire. This seemed to help a lot. I didn’t get too crazy here; my main focus was to just get the lettering off and only remove as much material as necessary while not gouging the tire. I then followed up with the red pad which is medium grit. Then on to the blue pad which is fine grit. The fine blue pad seemed to smooth things out nicely. After going thru these three grits coarse, medium, fine. The next go around I will probably just start with the fine blue pad first because the others seemed to be too aggressive. Hence the lets just try it and see what happens.
The blue pad really gets things smoothed out nice and even but I still had some ways to go. It just wasn’t smooth enough for my liking. I needed some way to not get so much heat into the tire, I figured wet sanding was the next logical step. I got a bucket of warm soapy water and some 150 grit, 220 grit and 400 grit sand paper. I started out with the coarse first and worked my way to the fine grit. While using lots of water and soap to keep things nice and cool. I was on to something with this method. I made sure between grit changes to remove the previous grit sand scratches. After I worked my way to the 400 grit, I dried off the tire to see where I was at. It looked pretty damn good. But I thought it could use just a bit more. So I went and grabbed a red scuff pad and proceeded to use the warm soapy water and the red scuff pad to give it a nice even polish. After drying it off I was like “Holy Shit, I think I got it.” I sprayed on a little tire dressing and rubbed it into the sidewall 2 or 3 times I noticed that the sidewall is a little duller than the original but it is definitely baby ass smooth and definitely acceptable.
Sometimes you just got to wing it and try something new. Not knowing what you are going to get in the end, sometimes you screw shit up and sometimes you win. Well, I am going to call this a winner. On a further note, this is very straight forward but a little time consuming with a learning curve involved but once I got the process figured out it was pretty simple. I would say you could do a tire in a couple of hours. So if you are looking for that next cool custom feature that you can add to your sweet show stopping ride, this just might be the ticket to put you on top at the next show. And have everybody askin’ Where’d ya get them tires?
This is what we’re starting with
The brown coarse Roloc pad made for quick removal of the tire lettering. Don’t go too fast or too deep here you want to keep the heat down and just remove the lettering, not dig into the tire.
The red medium Roloc pad was used here to smooth and blend from the previous brown
The blue fine Roloc pad was used to polish out and smooth.
Using warm soapy water starting with 150 grit and working my way to 400 grit I was able to really get the tire to start coming around.
I finished everything off with a red scuff pad, this put on a nice buff finish.
This is what we ended up with after a couple of coats of tire dressing.
Here is the before and after you can see the difference! Looks pretty damn good for just wingin’ it! If there is something that you would like to see me do a Tech article on? Please call me or email me with your idea for a tech article! If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at the shop anytime 419-576-6812