How to Paint Vespa Rims

Written by tom lutzenberger
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How to Paint Vespa Rims
New scooter tires frequently come powdercoated from the manufacturer today. (scooter image by Vonora from

Vespa scooters, both vintage and modern, rely on their wheels to stay up on the road and perform. However, wheel rims take a beating from road wear, grit, oil, elements and use. A new paint job provides a great cleanup and can last for many years.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Socket wrench set
  • Tire levers
  • Tire pump
  • Steel brush
  • Towels
  • Scraper
  • Aerosol automotive wheel paint
  • Automotive primer
  • New rim nuts and washers
  • Rented sandblaster tool
  • Air compressor pump
  • Sandblasting material (sand or plastic beads)
  • 3 by 2 feet long wood panels (booth front and back), 2
  • 1.5 by 2 feet long wood side panels (booth sides), 2
  • 1 panel with 4.5 square feet of area (booth bottom)
  • Long wood framing sticks (internal booth frame work)
  • 1 clear plastic panel with 4.5 square feet (booth top)
  • 2 hinges for the top panel
  • 1 perforated grate 2.9 feet long and 1.4 feet wide (inside booth tray)
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Wood glue

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  1. 1

    Deflate the tire first to avoid pressure popping the securing nuts off the rim dangerously. Use the appropriate socket wrench to loosen the wheel rim nuts. Pull the rim off and replace it with a spare rim and tire so you can use the scooter in the meantime. Remove the tires from the released rims.

  2. 2

    Wipe the rims off with a shop rag or towel, removing any dirt, grit or oil. Scrape off any hard residue. Metal tools will scratch the rims.

  3. 3

    Sandblast the rims at home. Build a box frame with a clear, viewable top. Connect the top with hinges. Insert a grate in the middle for the wheel rim to rest on and the spray material to fall under. Support it one-third of the way into the box with wood blocks on the internal edges providing a lip for the grate to sit on. Insert two holes to run gloves through to the inside like a radioactive booth in the movies. Insert another hole with a flap to attach the rented sand spray tool through. Perform the blasting in the self-made sanding booth. Throw away the blast material residue. See References for a homemade booth example.

    Alternatively, hire a professional blaster to clean the rims. Make sure the blasting removes all paint down to the bare metal. Paint the rims with primer to avoid flash rust from setting in.

  1. 1

    Rattle-can paint the rims. Lay the rims down on newspaper with sufficient cover to avoid overspray on the area floor. Use an even back-and-forth pattern of spraying to avoid clotting or dripping. Repeat the process every 10 minutes until an even coat appears. Let the rims dry for at least two hours in an area with no wind and dust. Let them dry further on a cleared shelf.

  2. 2

    Obtain a professional car painter to perform the colour work. Identify the desired colour based on paints the painter carries.

  3. 3

    Hire a powdercoat painter. Make sure the rims are in a bare metal state.

  4. 4

    Put the tires back on the rims, avoiding scraping the new paintwork. Use plastic levers if necessary to seat the tire bead. Secure together if using split rims. Attach new nuts and washers and tighten the rims. Inflate the tires. Reconnect the tires to the scooter wheel hubs. Test-ride the scooter.

Tips and warnings

  • Hurrying the paint job usually results in overpainting or missing a spot, and you will have to do the work all over again.
  • Powdercoating is permanent. The paint powder is baked on. This provides wonderful durability, but sandblasting may remove metal from thin areas.

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