Faux wood rims

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I have two bikes that use 28 x 1 1/2 single tube tires. I have a set of extra alloy coaster wheels. I replaced the half inch pitch cog with an Ichi Bike one inch pitch cog. To make them appear original I cleaned the rims, buffed them with fine steel wool and taped the nipples. I smeared 5 minute epoxy on the rim as nothing sticks as well as epoxy primer. I used rubber gloves and old painter garb for this. A thin layer is all you need. While it is still sticky I brushed on the fake wood, which contains real powered wood and is stainable. The epoxy stays sticky for quit awhile. After it dried overnight I applied two more thin coats, waiting two hours between coats. My next step is to apply a stain prep penetrant and then stain. The final step will be to apply slow setting clear marine epoxy. I had everything except the wood paint so this experiment has a minimal cost. At this point I’m not sure if it will work.
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There is a long tradition of painting something to look like something else. It's called "trompe l'oeil," which is French for "fool the eye." There are tools available in craft stores for faux wood grain painting and lots of info online.

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There is a long tradition of painting something to look like something else. It's called "trompe l'oeil," which is French for "fool the eye." There are tools available in craft stores for faux wood grain painting and lots of info online.

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You can buy a graining tool from the fake wood company but none of my wood bicycle wheels have any noticeable grain. Instead I spent time brushing in a fine grain with the brush. I’m hoping for an even stain color with the brush grain giving depth. If I don’t like that the plan is to sand away the brushstrokes and go for the even brushless look of real wood wheels. This is an experiment. Here is one of my bikes with real wood wheels and this is the effect I want.
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There is a long tradition of painting something to look like something else. It's called "trompe l'oeil," which is French for "fool the eye." There are tools available in craft stores for faux wood grain painting and lots of info online.

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Long tradition indeed! The earliest records of trompe l'oeil date back to ancient Greece. Legend has it that Zeuxis painted grapes with such skill that the birds flew down and pecked at his art!
 

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I put on the final epoxy coat, washed the tire and put it on the rim while the epoxy was very slightly sticky. The only real problem was where the valve stem went through and chipped the finish as the wood filler made the stem hole too small. No paint came off the rim otherwise during tire installation. There is some black from the tire that got into the sticky epoxy. The real test will be to see if it chips off while riding.
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us56456712

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The powdered wood and latex paint didn’t accept stain very well, even with a pre treatment of stain penetrant. You would have to use a stain much darker that what you think you need. The product says it’s stainable but you can also buy it in a darker shade. I used a knife to cut off the masking tape. A few areas of peel required an additional coat of epoxy and a touch up with a very fine artists brush. This would work better on bare rims, before lacing. I have another wood wheeled bike and I plan to do this on the rims before I build the wheels. The original wood wheels on this bike are fine but they don’t make tubular tires wide enough to fill these rims.
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After some use the Retique It rubber based paint with wood flower didn’t hold up any better than other paint on rims. It tends to chip in small areas, especially around where you mount the tire with levers. I touch it up but thats a pain. It also doesn’t accept stain, being rubber based. I’m trying something different. I roughed up alloy rims I had laying around with 80 grit. Then I wrapped Kraft paper strips from grocery bags around the rims. I used outdoor flexible carpenters glue to make a paper machie. After the glue dried I carefully felt around the rim paper for looseness or air pockets. I slices these open and squeezed glue under them. Then I sanded out the wrinkles and roughed up the paper. Next, I rubbed in marine flex epoxy into the paper. After it dried a few more air pockets became noticeable. These areas were slit and epoxy forced into the pocket. Then the epoxy coated paper was rough sanded so any remaining wrinkles were removed. Then, three thin layers of flexable outdoor epoxy wood with wood flower in it was applied. This was sanded and stained. The spoke holes and valve stem holes were drilled out and a dark stain placed in the holes to mimic rust and dirt. The final coat is another thin layer of flexible marine epoxy. I mounted a 700 x 38 tire and it went on easily, seated and there was no chipping. It seems very durable. Water could get into the paper around the spoke and valve holes and could cause a problem. I’ll avoid water. Real wood wheels are fussy to use, the spoke tension pulls the nipple washers into the wood so the spoke tension gets soft and needs frequent tensioning. This will avoid this. The next thing is to spoke them up with vintage hubs. They look pretty bad as I’m no carpenter or craftsman. Since I’m so bad I though if I didn’t worry too much about the looks they could pass for old. Someone with more patience and skill could do a much more convincing job using this or a modified method. It’s something I came up with myself. I did no net searches, I just used what I though might work. Riding will be the acid test, but I think it has a good chance of working.
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I like it.

I got a little experience creating wood grain by accident. Refinished a table that had an oil finish top, despite heavy sanding, it wouldn't take stain well. Layed down 2 coats of heavy stain in slightly different colors by dragging with a rag, took 2 days to dry then a good coat of matte poly. I was sweating that one, coulda gone all kinds of wrong.

Have you consider hydrodipping the rims. Not sure if it would wrap all the way around.
 
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Nice job. Woodgrain vinyl wrap would work great on wheels. I used 3Ms 'Bubbinga' quality woodgrain wrap to recover my '41 Buick Special Sedanette's stamped steel window surrounds and dash with great results. Secret is to heat the wrap as you go using a hot air gun or hairdryer, allowing the vinyl to easily stretch and conform to compound curves without wrinkling.
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I like it.

I got a little experience creating wood grain by accident. Refinished a table that had an oil finish top, despite heavy sanding, it wouldn't take stain well. Layed down 2 coats of heavy stain in slightly different colors by dragging with a rag, took 2 days to dry then a good coat of matte poly. I was sweating that one, coulda gone all kinds of wrong.

Have you consider hydrodipping the rims. Not sure if it would wrap all the way around.
Yeah, I considered hydro dipping. The problem is nothing sticks well to bare rims, it easily chips and scratches. Perhaps a professional industrial shop that does synthetic gun stocks could get it to stick. I think it would still come off when you mount tires. New tires are so hard to get on and off.
 

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Nice job. Woodgrain vinyl wrap would work great on wheels. I used 3Ms 'Bubbinga' quality woodgrain wrap to recover my '41 Buick Special Sedanette's stamped steel window surrounds and dash with great results. Secret is to heat the wrap as you go using a hot air gun or hairdryer, allowing the vinyl to easily stretch and conform to compound curves without wrinkling.
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I tried this, didn’t stick on the multiple curves wrapping and around. It looked bad and came off. The bead area is not covered so that is an obvious give away. Paint works but it easily chips and requires a lot of touch up. I have’t tried paint with a top coat of flex marine epoxy. Years ago I restored a1948 Buick Super. Took me about 10 years. I traded it for a BMW. It was huge and was the smallest model. The 1948 Roadmonster looked the same but was different. Looks like yours also has the start switch on the throttle.
 
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I tried this, didn’t stick on the multiple curves wrapping and around. It looked bad and came off. The bead area is not covered so that is an obvious give away. Paint works but it easily chips and requires a lot of touch up. I have’t tried paint with a top coat of flex marine epoxy. Years ago I restored a1948 Buick Super. Took me about 10 years. I traded it for a BMW. It was huge and was the smallest model. The 1948 Roadmonster looked the same but was different. Looks like yours also has the start switch on the throttle.
48/49 Buick torpedo Sedanettes are my all time favourite cars. My '41 would have started life with the starter on the gas pedal, but the previous owner had the ignition conventionally re-wired.
Having watched many videos showing what vinyl wrap is capable of covering, and how tough it is, I reckon wrapping a bike wheel would not be difficult if approached correctly. Those window surrounds on my '41 had plenty multiple compound curves - probably just as many as a bicycle wheel - but with care I managed to wrap them successfully. Applying heat ensures the vinyl stretches and snugs down around beading and indentations. This was my first attempt at wrapping. I watched umpteen YouTube videos first, just so I was up to speed about the wrapping process. And I opted to go for quality 3M brand wrap after being pre-warned not to waste time and money on the cheap stuff which uses inferior adhesive. Not all vinyl wrap is the same. Like just about everything else, you get what you pay for.
 

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I basically tried everything, paint, paint with wood flour filler, vinyl wrap, thin steamed wood veneer laminate (this didn’t get soft at all by steaming as it’s kiln dried and split) and steamed basket weaving wood strips. The basket wood had to be laminated as it wasn’t wide enough. The problem is you would need a custom vacuum mold. You can’t clamp all the places well enough with just clamps. So it’s loose in places and is unusable if you just use clamps. When you try to reglue and move the wood it cracks and comes loose. This is with epoxy, I didn’t try any other glue as clamping was such a disaster. I tried to use an inner tube with zip strips inside the rim but that kept rolling off. I thought if the tube would stay put I could use a jillion close pin clamps on the edge but it kept coming apart. I tried wrapping the strips with electrical tape to hold it in place while the glue dried but everything moves around, falls off. The tape gets all epoxied up from the constant readjusting. It still had places where it was pulled away and not glued. A laminate like this would leave the original bead exposed, an obvious fake. It was a mess to scrape, file and sand off the epoxy wood failure. This wheel here uses the rim from my previous failures. So far I can mount tires with out chipping the fake wood from the bead but three small chips came off when I dismounted the tire. I repaired those. This epoxy wood job very well could come off with riding, I’ll have to see. Real wood is nice but the constant maintenance is a pain. The spoke tension gets soft, over and over, as the nipple head washers sink into the wood from spoke tension. The carbon lined ones don’t help this problem as the spoke heads are still sunk in wood. Carbon liners allow more tire pressure than unlined ones, pretty low pressure can blow the wood sidewalls apart on regular wood clinchers. So the carbon liners help with increased tire pressure but do nothing from preventing your spoke tensioning from getting soft. I want the best of all wood wheel worlds, ha,ha.
 

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48/49 Buick torpedo Sedanettes are my all time favourite cars. My '41 would have started life with the starter on the gas pedal, but the previous owner had the ignition conventionally re-wired.
Having watched many videos showing what vinyl wrap is capable of covering, and how tough it is, I reckon wrapping a bike wheel would not be difficult if approached correctly. Those window surrounds on my '41 had plenty multiple compound curves - probably just as many as a bicycle wheel - but with care I managed to wrap them successfully. Applying heat ensures the vinyl stretches and snugs down around beading and indentations. This was my first attempt at wrapping. I watched umpteen YouTube videos first, just so I was up to speed about the wrapping process. And I opted to go for quality 3M brand wrap after being pre-warned not to waste time and money on the cheap stuff which uses inferior adhesive. Not all vinyl wrap is the same. Like just about everything else, you get what you pay for.
Your car sure looks better than original. One of my friends has a 1941 restored Buick Convertible. It has a bad steering box right now. It’s so hard to keep the wrap straight and the top of the wheel hoop keeps hitting you and getting in the way. I’m just not enough of a craftsman to get wrap to work. It kept pulling away on the inside top when I tried to stretch it in a circle, bubbled up and then it wouldn’t stay once it got loose. I didn’t watch any videos, which sounds like I should have.
 
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