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Words by Nick Salvatore for Fourtitude | Photos by HRE Wheels
As you may recall from our recent interview with HRE Performance Wheels Creative Director Patrick Moran, we had ordered up a set of custom 21-inch wheels for Project S7. The P101 is from the firm’s new monoblok line and fit the bill perfectly. And while we’ll have a full report with accompanying photo shoot of the wheels on our car in the near future, we thought we’d first focus on the production process for the tailoring of a set of alloys – an HRE specialty.
Below is a pictorial of shots captured during the build process and they offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the latest HRE Forged wheel range is created. The wheel that we’ll be installing on our S7 project car represents HRE’s lightest, strongest and deepest monoblok design. All that being said, here’s the process in pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Forging: Each customer order goes with and stays with the forgings. All information, width, offset is on this sheet can be referenced here.
Forging: Starting weight is about 125 lbs per forging, and it will be milled down to about 22lbs for the P101 in 21”.
Lathe: Defining the profile of the wheel face, from here they are taking the raw forging and trimming it down to profile. The lathing of the “bowl” (the lug area) here on Series P1, is a big differentiator in weight and structural strength over the P40SC series.
Mill: The Series P1 involves a milling process called “kellering” which allows curved and sculpted milling to take place vs straight ball cutting which is utilized on the Series P40SC. This process adds a considerable time to the milling.
Mill: Note the finishing tool that is used as different spokes are being milled and the finish on each as they are processed.
Mill: 3 different stages of “finishing” can be seen on the top of the wheel, starting at 12 o’clock and moving clockwise.
Mill: The “traveler” document stays with the wheel set at all times so anyone can be aware as to specs, size, finish and detail.
Brush: This is the start of the “brushing” process of the wheel. (Brushed tinted clear was chosen for the finish) Note the wheel dimensions that are referenced on the barrel as well as the order number. “MO” stands for Medium Offset.
Brush: Note the finalized wheel finishing details. The black powered is metal dust and a lubricant used in finishing that gathers to eventually be cleaned.
Brush: Note Order number 6532 in upper right of the final document, which matches wheel markings from earlier. This information and serial number will be available on the back of the wheel to reference as need by the owner.
Brush: Finishing happens on a foot controlled turning wheel, this barrel finishing will be slowly finished outward at a consistent speed to ensure quality and uniformity.
Brush: Finishing continues in the lug area on the wheel, each brushed finish takes close to 3 hours per wheel. A polished variant could take upward of 20hrs per.
Brush: “Brushing “ is complete. A Quality check is done at each step in the forging process to ensure quality and all details are taken into consideration.
Clean: A series of cleaning detergents and steps is utilized to clean up any build up off the wheels.
Clean: A soak is utilized to ensure all areas that might have been missed via the spray are considered and cleaned.
Powder: Powder Coat. Plastic powder receives an electrical charge to adhere to the wheels before baking in an oven.
Powder: The wheel bakes in a sealed oven with specific filters to keep the finish integrity clean and dust free.
Detail: Post “baking” the white powder turns the requested tinted clear to reveal the finish. A client will have the ability to customize the wheel further with specialized center caps or as see here, the HRE engraving in Gloss Red.
Shortly after these photos were taken, we laid our hands on the actual wheels and where immensely impressed. Most shocking possibly is the low weight of 21.8lbs for the 21” wheel.
What’s next? Following a great experience in the past with Michelin, we have again partnered with the French tire manufacturer. The 21×9.5 P101 will be wrapped in a 265/30/21 Pilot Super Sport tire. Now, iIt’s off to Autodynamica here on the outskirts of Houston Texas for wheel and tire install. Then, to the 2013 SEMA show as Project S7 will be a HRE Feature car, but not before a few other stops to change up the finish and some go fast parts….stay tuned!