From European Car December 1996

Wheel Straightening

by Paul Mitchell

 

The frustrations of discovering a bent wheel on your vehicle are many and varied: You may find it impossible to find new replacements, thereby necessitating the outlay of at least $2,000 for a quality set of aftermarket alloy wheels. Fortunately, an inexpensive alternative is available.

After having two of an impossible-to-replace-set of O.Z. wheels damaged, I was advised by a racing friend to try a wheel-repair company; he explained that if he had to buy a new wheel every time one was damaged on the track, he would be forced into bankruptcy and even to possibly giving up racing. He had been using this particular wheel-repair service for several years, with the repaired wheels going on to see regular race duty for years after the repair with no signs of weakness or previous damage.

I then selected Tru Wheel's service on the basis of my friend's personal reference. When dropping off the bent wheels in North Hollywood, I learned that Tru Wheel had been in business for several years and, during that time, has developed many tools and processes specific to the task of putting straight wheels that are not. Not willing to divulge what it considers to be trade secrets, I wasn't allowed to watch the process of the wheels being straightened, much less take photos. I would have preferred watching the truing process, but I understand the need to maintain a lead over the competition.

After considering the sheer number of wheels at the shop being repaired, and the fact that my friend continued to race with his repaired wheels, I felt safe entrusting Tru Wheel with my bent, O.Z.s. Also comforting was knowing that all heli-arc welds are performed by an individual licensed for aircraft weldings.

The repairs required to remedy my less-than-round wheels were a virtual list of those offered by Tru Wheel--including truing bent wheel centers, a repair often declined by other shops. As it turned out, three of my wheels had bent center; on with 3mm of lateral runout at the outer flange. Additionally, I had four bent outer rims with substantial lateral runout needing the company's expert attention. While the wheels were there disassembled, I opted to have them refinished--another Tru Wheel service.

After disassembly, truing the outers and straightening the centers, the outers were polished and clear coated while the centers were stripped and repainted in silver. Chroming is another service available, as is powder coating.

With the passing of two weeks, my wheels were ready; perfectly straight again. At approximately $100 per wheel for straightening, and refinishing starting at an additional $50 each, I found it to be a bargain. Particularly when considering the alternative--at least $2,500 for a new set of multi-piece wheels. The new finish is indistinguishable from the factory original, which is to say to a very high standard. The wheels, once thought lost, were now true to withing manufacturing tolerances; less than 0.030 runout in either direction and balanced within a few grams.

My wheels straight and strong, I was now ready to venture out again into the word, hopefully wiser, and secure in the knowledge that whatever hazards may await me on the road, Tru Wheel is there for me.


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