So I'm going to start working on the "T Out of Mothballs" list. But, I was looking for a safety checklist also. SO I went back through the threads this year and found the following thread that has the MTFCI and MTFCA safety checklist:
I know one of the reasons I was looking for a list is because I'm concerned about the wood spoke wheels. The list mentions that the spokes need to be tight. Is there more I should know about checking wood wheels to make sure they're safe?
I think there's a MTFCI T club in the north Georgia area, I may try to contact the club to see if a member may be willing to come visually inspect the T with me. There are no MTFCA club's in GA. Are there any MTFCA member's in the north GA area? Figured I'd see what advice you guys had.
We recently joined the South Carolina Model T Club. There are several members who live in GA, but we don't have a roster yet, as it has been VERY recently that we joined. Some are members of both clubs, but I don't think you HAVE to be. If so, I guess we will be looking at joining 'International' too.
The looseness in spokes shows up at the top of the wheel where the weight is off of them. Loose ones usually will show some other signs too. Squeaking or popping and signs of powdery wood and/or rust at the hub and/or felloe.
I don't know how much faith to put in it, but I've also heard that a good spoke will 'ring' when you knock on it with your knuckle or maybe a screwdriver handle. A bad spoke will just go 'thud'. Mine ring and I have some old wheels with obviously bad spokes that do indeed 'thud', but I can't positively say that ALL good spokes 'ring' and ALL bad spokes 'thud'.
You might try this link:
I noticed a creaking noise coming from the rear wheels a year ago and noticed that the spokes were loose. A friend of mine told me that there was a solution, so I drove over to his place and we spent about one half hour going through each spoke using the spoke jack and putting shims in. That week, I found one on e-bay and picked it up for $20.00. Roughly 1,000 miles later, the spokes are still tight.
You will need to jack up the wheel and pull to and fro on the spoke to determine if it's loose. Stick the pointed end of the spoke jack where the spokes converge at the hub, then began expanding the jack until you have a space between the spoke and the rim to slip in a shim.
Darin. Last year, I drove about 9 miles to work in my newly completed '26 coupe to show my employees a genuine Model T. At the close of the workday, I was driving it back home when about 1/4 mile from work, I ran out of gas. I called to have my mechanic bring me some gas and as I was waiting for him, I was walking around my T. It was then that I noticed a fine dry powder on the inside of the rim around each spoke of the front right (passenger side) wheel. As I looked closer I noticed that it appeared to be wood dust. I then grabbed one of the spokes and was shocked when it rattled loosly in my hand. I then shook the wheel back and forth and it easily moved back and forth, independent of the car. All of the spokes were dangerously loose. To see how the wheel reacted under load, I put the lever in neutral and pushed the car a little ways and could hear a series of distinct clicks as the weight of the car forced the tenon of each spoke to seat in its' hole with a click.
Needless to say, after my mechanic brought me some gas and I got her started, I very carefully drove my Model T back to the Plant and parked her in the garage until I was able to re-spoke that wheel.
God was watching over me that day, for I shudder to think what would have happened had my front wheel collapsed while driving on busy hwy 60 at 40mph.
Now, before every drive, I make it a point to do a walk around and closely inspect each wheel and give each one a shake. Jim Patrick
I have run a lot of old wood spoke wheels. You do need to inspect them, and fairly often. Knocking on the spokes is a good way to check them, along with checking for any sign of wood or rust dust. Also do grab and shake the wheels occasionally. That can also show other safety issues like loose wishbone. Also, remember that the non-demountable wheels can get loose at the hub or felly end of the spoke like others, but also between the wood felly and the steel rim. You need to keep an eye on both places. Also watch for the rim and felly to change relative positions around the wheel. That can indicate a felly rivet having broken.
Wood wheels are much stronger than most people think they are. I can say this with some authority, because about 35 to 40 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Calistoga Classics Dirt Track Race Re-Enactments. For four years, one weekend per year, we were running six to eight model T speedsters or racers around a half-mile-plus dirt track at racing speeds. The faster cars were running laps at under 35 seconds (about 60mph). The slowest car turned laps at 46 seconds (that was me, running a single Holley NH).
About 1/3 of the cars ran on wood wheels, including me. In four years, two wood wheels were broken. One broke the rear hub, the wood was fine. The other collapsed a tie-rod and hit the wall. The collision broke the wheel.
I don't recall how many steel disc and wire wheels broke, but I remember four.
One problem wood wheels do have, is they can go from seemingly good, to "Oh my God!" in a very short time. That is why you need to keep an eye on them. But they rarely break without either a fair warning, or a collision of some sort. A collision can be a pot-hole.
Wood wheels are very much a part and the character of antique automobiles. While wire wheels were common on some non-Fords, they were rarely used on Fords in the brass era. (There are probably more brass Ts on the road now with wire wheels than ever were before 1917.)
Whatever your choice, it is yours to make. You have a wonderful car with a great history in the hobby, and your family. Thank you for including us!
Drive carefully, and enjoy Thanksgiving! W2
Where do you get the shims?
Lots of good suggestions. I liked to use a small rubber mallet, to check for spoke tightness. Give each spoke a light tap and you will clearly hear a difference in a tight and a loose spoke.
I cut shims out of spray-paint cans (carefully depressurize the empty can first!) or thin sheet steel. Another good shim for spoke ends, but only if you disassemble the wheel first, is a large tarp grommet. It fits SOME wheel spoke tenons and shims the length very well. Check for fit before getting too far into it.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I used push nuts on the tenon end of one wheel, on the recommendation of a forum member. Worked great. I suppose you could notch them and install them with a spoke jack. I disassembled the wheel and pressed it back together.
Note the use of metal “U” shaped washers to tighten up the spokes has gained a lot of questions on this thread including “where do I get the shims?” I believe your original question was dealing with safety or how to make your 1913 reasonably safe. I.e. not driving it is safe – but that is not very reasonable and not as much fun as driving it. Driving it and having an accident caused by a mechanical failure that was easily preventable is not any fun and could result in minor to catastrophic damage. In the case of lose spokes if they failed backing out of the driveway – probably more embarrassment than actual injury (photo posted by Ralph previously) note the fenders still appear ok.
To the other extreme – the spokes fail during a turn and the T and occupants roll over in front of the semi-truck that is coming from the opposite direction. And the more likely time of failure would be somewhere between those two extremes. In the photo below the car rolled away from any possible oncoming traffic (photo posted by Jay previously).
(Ok – it doesn’t always roll – but the bottom line – it is hard to control what it does when there is a wheel failure.)
For those who have not seen the Model T Ford Club of America Spoke Tightening DVD (also available on 8 mm film, I mean VHS) it covers the pros and cons of spoke tightening and illustrates how it can be done. I agree with the film that the “U” shaped washers should only be used as a temporary fix. The video used the illustration of during a tour the wheel is inspected and the spokes have become lose. Using the “U” shim to get the car back can be successful. But don’t keep driving it. The reason? The “U” can and sometimes does come back out. Ted the lead instructor on the video has seen them work back out. And I believe if a couple work loose then the others can work loose more easily etc. Based on that I would NOT recommend using the “U” shaped washers/shims – except for the temp drive back to the tour base or home garage (and if that is an all day drive – the vulture wagon might still be a better choice).
The film also shows two different ways to tighten up the spokes. Remember that you must have solid spokes and not cracked rotted etc or it doesn’t last any time at all. Darin, if you have the wood felloes, they recommend using the method of shimming between the spokes that do not have a bolt hole near the hub where the spoke tapers meet. And if you want to replace the spokes/wood in a wood felloe wheel, the video recommended a wheelwright as the wood felloe wheels are more complex than the steel felloe demountable wheels.
For the steel felloe wheels (that would be the steel felloe non demountables as well as the demountable style folks could use the shims between the spokes and the hub. Or they could use the complete circle washer where the spoke fits into the felloe. With the complete circle – it will not work its way out.
And as Ted who did the video stresses replacing the spokes with new hickory spokes is the best fix. [For demountable wheels the spokes are readily available see: http://www.modeltford.com/pl.aspx?t=s&v=2800HS&page=1 Also John Regan has nice plans for a spoke press see: http://www.modelt.org/index.php?option=com_morfeoshow&task=view&gallery=15&Itemid=10 see his web site at: and click on technical for the drawing of how to make it. ] Ted stresses and I agree – the wheels are one of the most critical safety items on the T. If a headlight falls off – it shouldn’t cause you to loose control of the car but if a wheel fails you most likely will loose control of the car – either it will stop when you were not planning to stop or something worse. The DVD or VHS tape is available from the club or the vendors (see Lang’s http://www.modeltford.com/item/DVD-6-3.aspx and many of the local clubs (the MTFC of South Carolina does) have the videos in their libraries for club members.
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