Any thoughts, opinions, experiences? These are a new product called "Aluma-Spoke".
Aluminum was available in the day, and Henry didn't use it, so I'll stick with wood. Besides wood gives a little, aluminum won't. Just what you ask for my opinion.
If God had wanted Model Ts to ride on aluminum spokes, She would have grown aluminum trees.
Ralph, Thats Funny!
Yeah, but if you've got a speedster and not enough dough for a set of expensive disc wheels, what the hey? As to not being flexible, I wouldn't put them on a TT that's driven off road through fields, but speedsters are meant to be driven on good, smooth pavement, not off road. (grin)
Not to hijack the thread, but what do you think of these? I was thinking of getting a set!
Well I admire his creativity!!
Oh, now…there are aluminum mountains Ralph, is that close enough? They just were not there for Henry to find yet.
The USA stocked manmade mountains of Bauxite outside of Gulfport Mississippi for a future corner on the aluminum market! Then it turned out it was cheaper to recycle old beer and soda pop cans!
I think the possible problem with aluminum spokes is that whoever is making them is not using shrink wrap oxide printed and coated poly surface, (Like what they do with laminated flooring)! Yeah thats a bit sarcastic but the devil made me do it
Here’s why…without any disrespect to anyone, anyone who comes up with a modern fix and modern materials that looks original is an asset to the hobby by popular consensus. Those that try modern answers but with modern looks are well….overlooked!
Putting my neck on the line here and stretching it for the cleaver…while it may look Aluminum, anyone care to tell me why it doesn’t eliminate all of the problems of wood wheels and age? Other than in a side slide to an immovable object where hickory may snap before something else really gets destroyed and aluminum will bend and maybe take something else with it? Aluminum has better properties of material than any of the wood species used for spokes, it is not affected by moisture, I can only guess that whoever is doing them kept the same profiles as to shape and tapers, and if that is the case, and same size wedge end, and it all still manages to go together…then the answer is in fact a better wheel!
The only ‘if’ I see myself then, and only leave it as an ‘if’ because I can’t get to tables right now, is I think aluminum expands more than hickory with temperature. It also therefore contracts more with temperature. Figure that part out, and for a non-purist or someone who can come up with a paint that really stays on aluminum, and this could actually be interesting….but then Jay in California will probably come up with a box of them made in the 20’s anyway
How many alloys of aluminium do you suppose there are? Which would be right for wheel spokes?
There would have to be a lot of research and testing done before you could have confidence in a safe, competitive product.
For its weight, hickory is stronger than aluminum. How much heavier do you want your wheels to be, just so you could ride on an experimental wheel?
Henry made and sold about a billion hickory spokes, really. 48 x 15,000,000 plus replacements.
Wood decays. Aluminum alloys corrode with gusto. What about dissimilar metal corrosion against the steel hubs and felloes?
Steel spokes were tried, and failed. You can read about that in Fahnestock. Wood bounces back to its original shape after a heavy strain. Metals don't.
Purist I'm not, but some ideas are best stillborn. Aly spokes have been pitched at the Bakersfield Swap in past years, but I've never heard of any being driven.
Beginning in 1902, Franklins were mostly ash and aluminum. They used very little steel. In fact, HH Franklin had been in the aluminum die casting business for several years before he started building cars.
Bauxite is around, but it doesn't grow on trees, and it takes gobs of electricity to smelt. Pure aluminum is soft, so it must be alloyed. Second growth hickory is simple to process, and easy to select and inspect.
I have seen many aluminum wheels on old cars. On several antique car which had original wheels that the tires were no longer available or the wheels on the car were too poor to use restorers have used the old wheel to cast new ones.
Instead of doing it spoke at a time the wheel is cast spokes and felloe in one piece. That way they can then fix good rims to the wheels and have strong lightweight wheels similar to the "Mag" wheels so often put on modern vehicles.
They can be easily painted and some even go to the trouble to have the spokes painted wood grain so they appear to be timber spoked wheels.
Franklins used wire wheels typically.
Right, Royce, on the later cars. At one time Franklin was the largest user of aluminum in the US, yet they still didn't use aluminum wheels.
I have Frnaklin pix of 1902, 1905 and 1922 with wood wheels, and 1919, 1930 and 1934 with wires.
It was all tried back in the day, and aluminum wheel spokes were found wanting.
John, the spun wheel discs are pretty neat. Now, if they were only made for 21" wheels.
How about hollow carbon fiber spokes with wood grain cast into the outside surface.
I know a machinist who made aluminum spokes for his Model T wheels. They are the same size and shape as wood spokes, and they're pretty neat, I think. One thing's sure, they won't rot. By the way, he said he doesn't want to make any more of them.
They won't rot, but they will oxidize.
Ralph is right! If old Henry thought aluminum was a better material than wood, we'd be running aluminum bands in our transmissions!
I like Peters idea.
Tens of millions of cars. Trillions of miles. And other than collisions or extreme decay after decades of exposure, how many failures? Why mess with a good thing? I trust wood spoke wheels. I have driven them on a speedster at high speeds and dirt track ovals.
And I am the one that often closes with "drive carefully", W2
Of course Ford ran on hickory, but in 1920 you could get steel spoke wheels for your Ford,
claims were "conventional appearance, durable enamel finish....lighter weight, non squeak and non rattle in any climate"
Would there not be alot of corrision between the steel hubs,steel bolts and so forth and the aluminum?
I Actually think the carbon fiber idea is more feasable even though much more exspensive.
Here's a link to the Atlas Steel wheels on our 1915 touring car from an accessory of the day post.
Actually, If the spokes were cast hollow, out of a suitable modern alloy, then finished and anodized, I suspect you could out perform wood in every way. They would be lighter, stonger, flexible and free from rot. They also would be protected from corrosion by anodizing process and this would also allow them to hold paint. All that being said, I personally would use wood, as it has stood the test of time and is certainly adequate for most peoples needs. To each their own.....Thanks, John M.
I took a good look at these spokes in Puyallup, WA at the "Early Birds Swap Meet." The spokes looked good but I had some reservations. There isn't any yield when a wheel is being assembled so a spoke press can't be used. The hub end of the spoke pilots into the fello like the wood wheel but again the aluminium wont compress like the wood spoke does. To get a tight fit into the fello the edges of the hole in the fello could be swaged before or after assembly. The end of the Al spoke wont deform like a wood spoke does to match the radius of the fello so the load is carried on the radius of the punched hole in the fello but perhaps a filler could be used to spread the load. The spokes I saw had been machined to allow for powder coating so at the hub each spoke side had a bit of clearance to allow for the powder coat thickness. This could be revised and the spokes masked before powder coating like a local powder coater does. These spokes are a new product and some development issues are to be expected. The wheel I saw looked good but only time in service will fully validate these Al spokes.
If you think aluminum alloy spokes are better than wood, how about making aluminum body kits to replace the original wood? How about sledge hammers with aluminum handles?
A set of Al spokes at $27 each is $1296 plus rims, plus hubs and assembly. I think a wire wheel set is about the same price and probably better...
IF I was in the market I would sure consider a set. But then I am a sucker for trying different things. I get a chuckle out of people disliking the shiney spoke thing, but being OK with the shiney disk wheels and the shiney wooden wheel covers. Some guy didn't like my shiney aluminum tool box etc. either
There are lots of metal and fibreglass and who knows what else available for hammer handles. And of course we won't mention my speedster body.
As posted months ago about the E Timer: Time will tell. Wood is the standard and it's a renewable resource. I don't see a big market for these beyond the Must Haves in the hobby. I admit the look is really different.
Some of you have countered that neither Henry nor Franklin used aluminum for wheels. In their day, they were smart not to. Aluminum of the teens and twenties was nothing like it is today. Back then there were few alloying agents and aluminum was pretty much just "pure", or maybe somewhat impure. Today however, aluminum alloys go far beyond what could have been done back then. There should be no reason why aluminum shouldn't work, from a strength perspective, for T wheels.
I must say, what I wouldn't like about those spokes is the stamped logo, or whatever it is, that shows on each spoke, just above the tapered end.
i like the idea but not sure about it.
The alloy used for the spokes was 6061-T6. I also think the spokes should be anodized after machining.
I think they could be investment cast in 356-T6 and be price competitive with wood spokes. The problems I see would be achieving a tight fit on the hub and the felloe. Loctite would fix any hub looseness. It might require reaming the felloe to achieving a fit where Loctite might make it tight. Wood is a little forgiving in making a press fit. Aluminum typically will gall when press fit. For a onesy or twosey, the spokes could be hand fitted by a careful craftsman. A shrink fit might solve any problem in achieving a tight fit.
If the wheel were assembled right it should be outstanding.
I agree with those that say there may be a concern with fitting aluminum spokes because it will not compress like wood. If they fit exactly correct and the hub is true there may be no problem. However, if you look very close at Erich's photo is does not look like they fit very well with gaps between the spokes and different thicknesses of spokes.
Seems to me that there is the possibility for some movement and wear at the steel/aluminum interface that could lead to some looseness.
While reading Cecil's deliberations about pressing in the aluminum spokes it occured to me that I had Kelsey wheels which do not need to be assembled as has been discussed with Jim Patrick using the FUN Projects spoke press and placing them in a pyramid.. If these wheels are "not Kosher" to this arguement then stop reading but as I couldn't find any mention of them I thought it may be another "Canadian" difference that hasn't been seen much.
These spokes have a double taper or wedge one as per normal for around the hub and one on the side faces of the spokes where they meet. This allows you to put the spokes into the felloe holes on neally the right plane as when the spokes are all in place less that an inch is left to press the spokes together to finally reach home and be tight. Every second spoke is put into place with the taper facing up and then the other six are put in between with the taper facing down.
If the aluminum spokes were made this way if would be possible to make the fit really tight as they don't have to be piled into a pyramid so they can be forced into a flat plain.
In this photo you can see the difference in the ends of the spokes which shows the one up one down sequence.
The beauty of this method is that they can be easily tightened if they become loose (timber) by placing a packing piece between each side face and also a washer on the felloe dowel end and easily pressed back tight. The wheels I had were on my Model T when I bought it and have been replaced with wood felloe wheels but the back wheels were tightened by me when I was a teenager with the help of an old mechanic. We places thin metal rectanges between the spokes at the hub and a washer over the dowel at the felloe, put all the spokes in place and pressed them together, they tighened up great.
While on the aluminum spoke I might be tempted to TIG weld the joins at the hub end to make them even stronger???
Thats some good photography there Peter!
Regarding aluminium spokes - remember a couple of years ago a Finnish company modified/restored a Model A that had a Cosworth under the bonnet?
Those wheels are aluminium and painted to look like timber.
I'm surprised that no one has started makeing spoked billet wheels for the T, they are made in every other configuration you can think of for the street rod crowd, some of which have very thin spokes that must hold up well on heavy high HP cars. KB
It's the shock absorbing qualities of hickory that is so hard to duplicate with aluminum. Brittle or stiffer woods like oak, or example, are not used for wheels, because they don't absorb the shock.
Picture a sideways shock load on a spoked wheel, as from hitting a rut while turning. The small, high pressure tires transfer most of the blow to the spokes. Hickory spokes may bend .2 inch or so, then recover.
A spoke that bends only .05 inch, for example, will be subject to 16 times the force, and so has to be 16 times as strong.
I'll throw a curve into the conversation. I know a guy in South Minneapolis who built a speedster. For new spokes he used thick wall conduit. He's a certified welder but I'm a little spooked by his choice of material.
There are very nice detailed photos of the Fastest 1929 Ford Model "A" building at:
The aluminum "spoke" wheels are not individual spokes but a single blank of aluminum cut out to look like individual spokes. Quite a bid different then the T spokes of this thread.
Those sure look like castings to me. They look like very NICE castings. Of course most of us are driving around on some sort of cast aluminum wheels on our modern cars (and trucks) these days.
Your points on the shock absorbing properties of hickory are well taken but, you speak as if all wheels, model T or otherwise, can only be made out of wood. IF you're using wood then yes, you want excellent shock absorbing qualities. However, the aluminum makes up in strength what it lacks in shock absorbing.
You're correct, those wheels are cast. They do show part of the mold in the photos.