Free Article for Newsletter Readers
from our August 2019 issue
What, I hear you ask, can I really do to improve my airplane for less than $50? How about very cool hub caps!
Lopresti makes very cool hubcaps, called Hubba Hubba Caps, for $239 for a pair of two white, very nicely sculpted pieces of molded plastic. If money isn’t an object, these are probably the best hub caps you can buy. They even have a small access panel for filling up your tires without removing them. They’re available for a variety of Piper and Cessna aircraft and are sold by many companies including Lopresti (which has been purchased by Whelen Aerospace Technologies) and Knots2U.
I have had these on my airplane for a few years, but I lost one recently, necessitating its replacement. Since they are only available in pairs, I didn’t want to purchase them again due to their high cost.
Grove Aviation makes what I believe are the best value in hub caps. While they don’t have a valve stem access door like the Lopresti hub caps, they cost about 80 percent less than the Loprestis. They are made of stamped aluminum and sell for about $20 each. They are available for standard 6-inch wheels or 5-inch wheels. They take about 15 minutes of time spent painting them and they come with screws and lock washers.
When they arrive from Aircraft Spruce, they are in a plastic bag with a smaller bag of three screws and lock washers. Remove the hub cap from the bag. If you don’t look very closely, or its IMC in your hangar, you might not notice that there is a very thin plastic cover molded to the hub cap. Remove this plastic cover, take the hub cap to a sink and scrub it with a ScotchBrite pad or kitchen sponge with a scrubbing pad on the back. Using dish detergent during the wash is fine. Wipe it down and allow it to dry for a couple of hours.
It is totally acceptable to go flying while the hub caps are drying, and I strongly recommend doing so. After returning from your flight, it’s time to purchase some spray primer from your favorite hardware store. Rustoleum or Krylon primer is fine and costs about $4 for a can. Make sure that the room you’re in is between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and that there is nothing in the area that will be ruined from the overspray. If you don’t have such a room, get yourself a cardboard box and paint in the box. This will keep paint from floating around the area and leaving primer or paint dust on your airplane, car or all over your Internet router.
Shake the can a lot and follow the directions on the can. A couple of thin coats of primer spaced 30 to 60 minutes apart is all it takes. Krylon, Rustoleum or a can of paint from Ace Hardware will do the job just fine, also for less than $5.
If you’ve never spray painted before, don’t practice on the hub caps. Use the inside of the cardboard box or get a piece of scrap aluminum from your A&P to practice on. Follow the directions on the can and shake well and put on several thin coats of paint. Each coat should go on after turning the hub cap 90 degrees. Wait the amount of time dictated on the paint can.
You can, of course, use any color that you want — red was my choice. The Lopresti hub caps I had were white and also looked great. Since I recently painted my airplane white, black and red, I thought the red might look nice. I’m very happy with these hub caps and the entire project cost less than $50 total.
A final note for Cessna owners: Knots2U has a 2-inch white plastic wheel insert for about $5. This is also a great deal.
Where to Buy Hub Caps