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Smooth Blackwall Tire Sidewalls:

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Drive Em, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    My '64 Galaxie is built to look like a 60's stock car would look like. I am using modern Bf Goodrich radials for a nice ride, but the blackwall lettering does not look right, and it really bothered me. My solution was to sand the sidewalls smooth to get a nice un-cluttered sidewall. A little experimenting on an old tire led to this process shown here.

    You will need a dual action or "DA" sander, and a few discs of 80 grit paper. The 80 grit may seem coarse, but on the "DA", it leaves the sidewall really smooth, finer grits do not give as good results. This process will not harm the tire in any way, as I have done it on several cars now with great results:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the tire with all the lettering visible:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I leave the air in the tire as it it far easier than sanding on an un-inflated tire. If you have some really nice wheels, you may chose to mount them on some junk wheels just in case you slip with the sander and end up sanding your wheels. You really don't want to get right up next to the rim, so just be careful.

    You basically start sanding on the lettering, and let the sander do the work until the lettering is gone:
    [​IMG]

    This is the progress after about a minute:
    [​IMG]

    This is after a few more minutes. You want to sand down until the letters are gone and no more, though it is really hard to do any damage to the sidewall using the "DA". I go ahead and lightly sand all the way around the sidewall so it all has the same texture, which ends up nice and smooth:
    [​IMG]

    I removed all the raised lettering, but chose to keep the tire size, serial numbers and well as the D.O.T. markings, though you can remove it all for a really smooth look. The edge against the wheel needs to be gone over with some Scotchbrite to knock the glaze off and give a nice uniform appearance:
    [​IMG]

    I used 5 sanding discs to do all 4 tires. It takes about 20 minutes per tire. This process works well on radials or bis ply tires.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
    shoebirdgal likes this.
  2. good idea to get the older look!

    have you ever tried a finer grit paper after the 80?
     
  3. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    80 seems to give the smoothest look while still being easy to get the letters off.
     
  4. FunnyCar65
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 2,078

    FunnyCar65
    Member
    from Colorado

    I think you could work your up to finer grit discs to smooth the side wall up more.
     

  5. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    The dual action with the 80 grit leaves it really smooth, as finer discs seem to clog easier.
     
  6. 61bone
    Joined: Feb 12, 2005
    Posts: 890

    61bone
    Member

    Might want to try a finer grit in a wet paper.
    Good tech , keep em coming
     
  7. willysguy
    Joined: Oct 2, 2007
    Posts: 1,217

    willysguy
    Member
    from Canada

    Nice tech. Thanks for sharing.
     
  8. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    Bump for the morning crowd.
     
  9. Mart
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,648

    Mart
    Member

    Why not sand all the marks off? if questions were ever asked, all the markings are still on the inside..
    Look great.. there are some really awful markings on some of the modern tyres..
    Yeah.. I spell tyres funny.. I'm English.
    Mart.
     
  10. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em
    Member

    I've sanded all the markings off on a few sets, but these were already mounted and balanced, so I took all the big letters off as the small letters near the rim don't show as much.
     
  11. striper
    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 4,498

    striper
    Member

    For wet sanding rubber with finer grits try kerosene instead of water.

    Pete
     
  12. daddio211
    Joined: Aug 26, 2008
    Posts: 6,014

    daddio211
    Member

    Bobby Alloway told me that after he does this process he wipes the tires down with lacquer thinner. I never understood why, but why question the legends. I haven't had taken the time to do this myself... maybe if I did I'd understand why he does it. Anyone know? He also told me sanding tires makes a hell of a mess, so don't do it in the shop, do it outside. I filed these nuggest away in my narrow little mind for my "someday" projects.

    Yes, I know this thread hasn't been active for almost a year and a half. :)
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  13. sun down
    Joined: Mar 22, 2008
    Posts: 471

    sun down
    Member
    from tx

    another meaning to slicks.............and yours look really slick
     
  14. willysguy
    Joined: Oct 2, 2007
    Posts: 1,217

    willysguy
    Member
    from Canada

    daddio211, I'm thinking the lacquer thinner helps blend the fine sanding scratches by melting the rubber ever so slightly.
     
  15. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,306

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    I like it, but what about the raised white letters ? Do you just leave them since they are mounted towards the inside ?

    I have mine mounted towards the inside like that but because I have a fenderless car they will still be visible. I though of trying some kind of black dye to cover them as I understand you can't sand them off.

    Correct ?
     
  16. daddio211
    Joined: Aug 26, 2008
    Posts: 6,014

    daddio211
    Member

    Okay, THAT makes sense! Thanks for the tip!

    Yeah, I think you'll want to use tire paint over the letters. If you start sanding the white letters you'll find that the whole side of the tire is a white wall. At least that's what I read from guys who do this frequently. ;)
     
  17. 26 roadster
    Joined: Apr 21, 2008
    Posts: 2,017

    26 roadster
    Member

    Good tip, love that look!
     
  18. 46Reid
    Joined: Feb 15, 2010
    Posts: 14

    46Reid
    Member
    from SoCal

    I did the same thing with some new tires I bought for my '46 Chevy truck but I did it with the tires dismounted, that way you aren't at any risk of damaging the wheels.

    And I used a grinder with a 120 grit flapper disc. The gouges were minimal compared to an 80 grit. Plus, IMOP, the orbitial sander will leave swirl marks where the grinder will make the sanding more uniform.

    My brother in law did this trick to a set of raised white letter tires and I did it to a set of brand new radials for the black wall effect. I like the outcome still to this day.
     
  19. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,306

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta



    He sanded off the raised white letters ? I didn't think that was possible.
    Think I'll find a worn out Radial T/A tire and try it out to see what happens. :)
     
  20. 46Reid
    Joined: Feb 15, 2010
    Posts: 14

    46Reid
    Member
    from SoCal


    Yes. The sidewall of the tires below the raised white letters is white. How wide the whitewall is depends on the tire, manufacturer, etc. But his turned out to be pretty wide. And they turned out nice. You can see the seam where the tire is "mated" together, but at 55mph it's all white. And, I think he used some radial t/a's that he bought at the Big 3 here in San Diego.
     

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    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  21. I've done the same thing with radial blackwalls. Sure makes them look alot better. I use a DA and 80 grit, then finish it off with 120 grit and a few scuffs with a Scotch Brite pad around the wheel and tread side. I shave all the lettering off, including the sizes/DOT/etc because it's usually on both sides of the tire. I've found that by mounting the wheel on the front hub and spinning it around while sanding makes it alot easier for me. I've done this with raised white letter & thin whitewall tires too, to make them wide whitewalls but I start out with a 4-1/2" grinder and a flap disc to get into the white, then finish with the DA.
     
    shoebirdgal likes this.
  22. aerorocket
    Joined: Oct 25, 2007
    Posts: 488

    aerorocket
    Member
    from N.E. P.A.



    Thanks for the tip they look good.
     
  23. -C-.
    Joined: Oct 27, 2012
    Posts: 66

    -C-.
    Member
    from GERMANY

    . . . I will get some practice on old tires first too !
    I bought some tires as blackwalls from Diamondback. Each tire in smooth was $ 50.- less than average.
    But when it comes to special sizes this is manybe a good option.
     
  24. Bugman Matt
    Joined: Feb 25, 2015
    Posts: 3

    Bugman Matt

    I've recently tried this process after reading this thread and I'm extremely pleased with the outcome... I added a tredwear white letter graphics kit to mine (I know not to everyone's taste :p) What I wanted to ask was what kind of lacquer thinners should I use to apply to the smoothed sidewall? Is there any particular type/brand that I should go for? Will I need to dilute the thinners? Any advice would be great.
     

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