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Hot Rods Hubcap Skin Removal

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Fortunateson, Jun 5, 2020.

  1. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 3,110


    I did some searching and I "still didn't find what I was looking for" (apologies to U2). Anyway I'm trying to find out about removing the skin from hupcaps. I think the common way is to bend the lip on the backside to get access to the inner piece and remove the skin. Somewhere I heard that if you carefully drill through the back layer you could blast some air in through the hole to remove the skin.

    As anyone else heard of this method and/or tried it? An enquiring mind needs to know...
    Joined: Aug 1, 2009
    Posts: 489

    from 94577

    Are you trying to remove the chrome from a hubcap?
    What hubcap are you working on?
  3. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,653


    Can be a real bear uncrimping the cap. Most are chrome plated brass and old brass gets brittle and tend to split. I never tried the air gun trick, but have ground the edge back to relieve the crimp, then glued them back on.
    Squablow likes this.
  4. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 10,513

    Blue One
    from Alberta

    Hubcap skin? I wonder if you can make boots or belts from it :D:D
    RRanchero Rick likes this.
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  5. rustydusty
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 1,546


    Hubcap skin???
  6. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 8,044


    Many years ago I removed the chrome trim surround from my 46 Olds instrument cluster and used an old cap removal tool to evenly raise the lip sufficiently enough around the circumference to pry it free. Similar to hubcap, edge was rolled at factory over the inner structure.
    After it was rechromed I assembled in reverse and used a small wooden block to roll the edge back over so as not to damage the new chrome. Perfect now and undetectable.

    clem and dan31 like this.
  7. texasred
    Joined: Dec 3, 2008
    Posts: 1,061

    from Houston

    Circumcised hubcaps are "off" topic
    RRanchero Rick likes this.
  8. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,398


    I had always assumed that the guys who were repairing that style hubcap (generally from 30's era cars, a thin stainless shell with a design stamped into it, then crimped over the top of a steel cap, in the same way as a Wide-5 Ford cap but without any exposed steel) were doing it by just trimming the overhang lip off, straightening and polishing the stainless shell, blast/repaint the steel inner section, and then gluing the stainless shell back on over the top.

    But I was only assuming that and I could be totally wrong. I'd be too afraid of putting a split in the thin shell trying to get it off, since it's so thin and hard. Any bending of the crimped lip seems like a possible crack area.
  9. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,398


    No way I'd try to drill through just the steel layer and not the stainless layer, and if you did that successfully, I still don't think it'd work, if you could get any air pressure into it you'd be expanding the convex shape and actually making the outer perimeter tighter.

    Maybe a sharpened disk like a tiny pizza cutter could be pushed in on the back side of the lip crimp and wheeled all the way around a few times to open up the crimp. Still risky though.
  10. I knew a guy in the '50's that had a wrecking yard. He spent a lot of time peeling hub caps for the brass. It must have been worth the trouble.
  11. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 3,110


    Well I like the bottle cap idea as well as gluing the outer shell back on...

    My worry is the cracking of the outer skin when taking them off as well as putting them back on. These are hubcaps for my FARGO and they don't grow on trees!

    I'll try the bottle cap idea or maybe even the pizza cutter idea one of these days. I'm always asking questions to be prepared for when I actually do the particular job. However... with my memory delivery guy taking breaks whenever he wants to I may have to ask the question again! LOL
  12. Examples of a steel hubcap base with chrome plated, pressed brass skin. These are for a 1931 Dodge and are rough, but you get the idea.... 57a5079896122_stuff088.jpg.538ca5195fb5dff985bd043f6a398521.jpg 57a507aa10ab2_stuff092.jpg.25450df6e900f091c031c6995bdd3b24.jpg
    MAD MIKE likes this.
  13. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,074

    Atwater Mike

    The late Don Orosco told me he was immersed in a project that involved deskinning hub caps. He didn't say which, but you can bet they'd turn out perfect...

    Bonneville Butch and I peeled some bezels off some old S-W gauges, Butch found a source for watch crystals that made up the convex glass for the old 'Wings'...
    As said above by @mgtstumpy, we rolled them back on with a little wooden roller I made up, (6" wooden handle, with a 3/4" dowel, 1" long...simple double shear bracket. Looked like an old miniature lawn mower! But narrow...) )
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  14. The drilling of a hole in the backside of 1937-1938 Ford hub caps seems to be the easiest way to remove the stainless skin. Blowing air through a small hole doesn't deform the skin, it just pops the skin off.
  15. hfh
    Joined: Oct 22, 2012
    Posts: 253

    from Western MA

    Many years ago we drilled a 1/4 to 3/8” hole through the steel part of ‘37 Ford hubcaps. Blowing a blast of air in the hole made the stainless pop right off. After painting the steel, stainless popped right back on.
  16. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 6,803


    HFH: What does the point of the drill you used look like?

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