Lepsons Wheel Refurbishment - A Review

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Charles
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Lepsons Wheel Refurbishment - A Review

Post by Charles » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:26 pm

Courtesy of the abysmal weather we had this winter, I have been running a winter wheel/tyre set-up so I was in the fortunate position to think about giving my ALPINA wheels some serious TLC. After 7 years and 170k miles, they were beginning to show some signs of age - including various scratches from overexuberant cleaning in the early days, some light kerbing from the previous winter when I realised that summer tyres didn't work too well on the white stuff and the inevitable bubbling of the paint coat due to corrosion getting under the laquer from stone chips.

There's been plenty of discussion on the forum over the years about various wheel refurbishers but, interestingly, no-one had looked at Lepsons (www.lepsons.com) for the work. I came across them during my research and comments from other forums (Pistonheads to name but one) suggested that they were top notch. Then my tyre fitters (Charlett Tyres - 01865 842727 - www.charletttyres.co.uk) who supplied my winter rubber called me with a recommendation for Lepsons, so I called Mike at their Swindon branch (01793 887222) and had a long but extremely valuable chat with him.

To cut a long story short, I decided to invest some of my hard earned with them and duly drove down to Swindon a few weeks later to deliver my wheels and tyres into their caring hands.

Now I could just say what a brilliant job they did, but that would only be part of the story. On first arrival - having enjoyed the pleasures of the magic roundabout and getting lost round the back of the old railway workshops - I turned into the trading estate by Sainsburys and found what looked and felt like a tiny little unit with a variety of cars up on axle stands and towers of rubber all around. Looks can be deceiving, however, as it was a hive of activity and the unit was rather Tardis-like.

Image

At the front was the stripping, dipping and prep area where they remove the tyres - having marked exactly where the tyre was fitted relative to the valve so that it would be refitted exactly as before - treat the wheel to an acid bath before blasting it to bare alloy.

Image

At this point, any kerbing damage or cracks in the alloy are identified and repaired as well as checking the rim for flat spots caused by potholes and the suchlike so that the wheel is absolutely true when it enters the paintshop.

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The wheel now moves through to the next room where it is treated to a primer coat, then a powder coat and finally a laquer coat - together with appropriate curing in the oven. In the case of my wheels, the paint used was called "Sparkle" but for those of you who fancy something different, Mike and his team have a wonderful array of wheels in the office showing the various colours and finishes available to the less traditional or more risque owners out there. Whilst the colours may not be your cup of tea, the quality of the finish is second to none - as you may well be gathering from the sprinkling of photos in this report.

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Now, in my case, the centre caps for my Classic wheels caused no end of head scratching and amusement. If you haven't ventured around the back of one of these things, the locking mechanism and swivel cap spring arrangement might look straightforward but you need six pairs of hands and the light touch of a tender gazelle to get all the components into the correct places - without damaging the cap in the process.

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So how long does this process take, you may well be asking? Well, if you ask really nicely and they have space on the forecourt, you can leave your car there and pick it up with shiny new wheels within about 48 hours. In my case, I was in no rush - which was probably a good thing because they had the wheels finished in two days but the centre caps were like a monkey on their backs. Everytime I phoned for an update, I got the distinct impression that no-one felt brave enough to dismantle them! Eventually Mike announced that he was "going in" because Scott was too chicken (actually Mike said that Scott was extremely busy making the tea or something like that) and so the centre caps were ready for their shiny new coat. They even managed to put them back together again as well - but unfortunately it looks like I need to invest in some new centre cap badges as the quality of the finish shows up how rough the badges have become.

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And now we come to price. Given that a new set of wheels from Buchloe would set me back something in the region of £2,500, anything south of this price would be attractive. As a point of reference, a SMART repair at my local dealership would set me back about £60 before vat and the kerbing damage I had was too much even for that type of repair. So how much?

£232 + vat for all four wheels and centre caps :D :D :D

Yes, I typed that correctly. For about 10% of the price of a new set of wheels I have ... a new set of wheels. Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves. The quality of repair work is such that you wouldn't even know the wheels had been damaged and the paint/laquer finish is faultless. Before fitting them back onto my car I spent several hours applying Rimwax to every bit of exposed alloy which will, hopefully, make cleaning them in the future a breeze. And I almost forgot to mention, the balancing was absolutely spot-on. When I had them fitted a few hours ago, we ran them up on the balancing machine and they couldn't be faulted.

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So here they are, back on the car and I am delighted :D

Lepsons have very kindly prepared a price schedule for members of the Register as follows:

Up to 18" = £48 +vat
19" = £55 +vat
20" = £6- +vat
Centre Caps = £10 +vat each

I've already posted some contact details for them but here they are in summary:

Lepsons Ltd
www.lepsons.com
Swindon, Wiltshire - 01793 887222
Gillingham, Kent - 01634 580582

So, in conclusion, I cannot recommend Lepsons highly enough. Fantastic quality of finish, excellent customer service and prices that will have you ripping their arm off.
Charles
Teacher of Chemistry and driver of ALPINAs - not necessarily in that order ;)
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Post by Ikule » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:03 pm

Excellent write up Charles and i'm glad that you are so impressed with the finished result they look superb!, a big thumb's up for Lepson's 8)
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Post by Richy_Boy » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:35 pm

Agreed, did you have any corrosion on the centre caps at all? I have it quite bad on two of my wheels, which I'm hoping could be repaired, rather than paying out the £90 odd each to replace!

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Post by Charles » Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:18 am

Rich - I didn't have any corrosion but two of them were begin to "craze up" on one or two of the scallop edges where I think they might have been dropped.

Given that they are painted metal then they can be recovered easily and as beautifully as you can see.
Charles
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Post by Scorchio » Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:12 am

Thanks for the review, Charles.
My rims are due for a complete refurb as well. The paint is flaking off on the inside of the spokes. And some curb damage on the front rims.
I hope I can find a decent shop on the continent.
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Post by Charles » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:07 am

Scorchio wrote:I hope I can find a decent shop on the continent.
Just a thought - and my geography of Belgium isn't too hot - but you might consider driving the car over to the Lepsons location in Kent, leave it there and return to Belgium via the high speed link & Eurostar.

Might be quite a trek but at least you can guarantee a great job on the wheels.
Charles
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Renault Grand Espace - not mine but the wife's!

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Post by Alpina Jim » Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:24 pm

Great write up Charles and something to keep in mind for the future, especially for the price you paid for a top quality job.

You mentioned that the paint was called "Sparkle". In the past I have read on the forum that my wheels are probably "Sparkling Silver glass" I wonder if yours is a slightly different name for the same colour?
Jim

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Post by Charles » Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:39 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys!

Jim - when I took the wheels in they looked at them and told me the paint they would use is called "Sparkle". I didn't question this too much and clearly it is exactly the right colour. Sorry I can't help you further on the specific name but it struck me that it was a standard colour from the BMW range that they work to.
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Post by Geoff » Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:02 am

The finish looks very good Charles. I thought they would have removed the wheel weights and then rebalanced so that the next time you change tyres you don't have unpainted patches round the rim.
Looks like you just need some new wheel badges now to complete the job :wink:
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Post by Charles » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:07 am

Geoff wrote:The finish looks very good Charles. I thought they would have removed the wheel weights and then rebalanced so that the next time you change tyres you don't have unpainted patches round the rim.
Looks like you just need some new wheel badges now to complete the job :wink:
Not sure what you mean, Geoff?

The wheels were completely stripped of old balance weights - the ones you can see are the ones they fitted after they refitted the tyres and balanced the wheels.

Agree about the badges - but they cost almost as much as getting two wheels refurbished :shock:
Charles
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Post by Geoff » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:38 pm

Sorry Charles my misunderstanding when you said the tyre was marked to make sure it went back in the same place I thought the implication was that they didn't remove the weights, my mistake :oops:
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Post by IAM Joe » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:03 pm

Geoff wrote:Sorry Charles my misunderstanding when you said the tyre was marked to make sure it went back in the same place I thought the implication was that they didn't remove the weights, my mistake :oops:
That's how I read it too Geoff.

Charles, why do they mark the tyre to put back on the rim in the same place when they rebalance? I can see the logic of marking the tyre so it goes back on the same rim. Is that what you mean?
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Post by Mr-P » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:28 pm

Charles great write up and I am waiting to see a set of porsche wheels return to a friend.

Also the price is great per wheel but IMHO £10 per center cap is a bit steep.
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Post by Charles » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:16 am

Mr-P wrote:Charles great write up and I am waiting to see a set of porsche wheels return to a friend.

Also the price is great per wheel but IMHO £10 per center cap is a bit steep.
Thanks.

It may sound expensive for the centre caps but in the grand scheme of things, the discount on the wheels covers the price for the caps and I am not uncomfortable with less than £60 per wheel when a SMART repair is more expensive.
Charles
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Post by Toby » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:55 pm

Great review Charles. I have been thinking about getting mine done with them for some time, but it always seemed too much of an effort as they are quite far from me. But this has given me the motivation to do it!

Just booked mine in with Lepson Tyres for 4 new Falken FK452's, balancing, tracking and refurb (including centre caps) in the 'sparkle' you recommended. They will sort it all out as a single job.

Going in to Gillingham branch on 12th and picking up on 19th. They seem very professional.

Looking forward to seeing the results (especially as my tyres are border line illegal and picked up an annoying vibration at 65 mph last weekend which I'm hoping will be cured)!
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