Can anyone identify the kind of wood this spoke is made from? The break seems too clean to be Hickory. (?) Sorry about the repeat if this has been discussed before...I didn't see it.
The short answer is, yes, someone can ID the wood the spokes were made out of. There are folks that do that.
Here is one site that discussed in general how it is done.
From another site:
Wood identification is a complex process. There are thousands of tree species. The number depends on what you define as a tree but easily there are 10,000 different tree species. The most accurate identification will be based on the characteristics revealed under a microscope. This thread gives some good information for a start.
Assuming you are not interested in the process of wood identification but simply want to know “What wood is this?” you can send a sample to:
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Here are the instructions for sending them a sample. Usually they will identify the genus but not the species. So you will learn that your wood is Ash, but not which ash or Pine but not which pine.
Current info on how and where to send samples at:
Here is more of a DIY wood ID description. Looks like you could differentiate between oak and hickory by looking closely and seeing if the pores are radial rows (for oak) or pores solitary or multiple (for hickory).
It is also interesting to note that the range of mechanical properties of oak and hickory overlap with some oak stronger then some hickory. In general hickory is stronger then oak.
Very interesting. Thanks, Hal.
I really cannot tell from just that pic what wood it is, but I wonder if the rim came off the felloe?
It's not the ultimate breaking strength of hickory that's so important as its ability to absorb impact by its flexibility. Oak is brittle; red oak more brittle than white oak. Pecan is not a true hickory, or is not in the same class as the other hickories, like shagbark.
This one is on Tim Moore's place in Mich.
If you have a wood you think is as good as hickory for wheel spokes, make a sledge hammer handle out of it, and see how it holds up.
Here's what oak did for me:
Ralph, what became of your experiment with the hedge (Osage Orange) spokes that you were going to try? Just curious. We have a lot of "Hedge" around here, it makes very good fence posts, very resistant to rot and is very tough. Dave
By the way the spoke at 7 o'clock snapped, I'd guess its oak.
Funny you should ask about the Osage, David. Hal, who started this, carved a single spoke for me, and it's a work of art. I have a woodpile of Osage waiting to be made into spokes. A neighbor has a lathe I can use any time, but I've almost never used a lathe.
The local spoke guy, who used to use red oak, until I educated him, is swamped. Last I knew he switched to Pecan, which is all that's available in our hardwood lumber yards. Meanwhile, Shagbarks in the Midwest are being cut down for firewood.
They say the dirt around an Osage fence post will rot before the post does.
He also made a desk queen pen for me. It's too nice to use.
Osage orange posts: still solid after sixty years. There are no staples. The fence wires have to be tied on. The bent nail shows why. The old posts haven't all survived, but a lot of them have outlasted the wire.
I was about to suggest Osage Orange, or "Bodock" as we call it here. I made a couple of double trees for my wagon with it. If someone is going to make spokes with it they better get really GOOD tools. I've seen the stuff throw sparks on a chain saw - seriously. I am convinced that on the 7th day while the Lord was resting the devil went about planting Osage Orange, Honey Locust, and Johnson grass. All impossible to get rid of.
As far as spokes go it might work well. It is a cousin of English Yew which was used for the Longbow. Cut correctly it should provide the same flex and strength as hickory does.
If someone has a diamond tipped lathe bit and they want to make spokes then come see me. I can provide all you want.
When we visited the Cherokee Trail of Tears Museum in Oklahoma a few years ago, they showed bows made from Osage Orange.
"Boad-ark" or osage orange is tough a wood as you can get. I have a farm here in central Texas full of it. The Indians here in this area and other areas where the wood was plentiful used it for bows and possibily arrows. You have to cut it and work it fairly green or soon after you cut it as it gets hard and tough to work.
The stuff was used to make hedge rows as protection in some parts of the world or so I have read.
We used it here on the place for fence posts for years. I have some corner posts thats 12-14" in dia.
I dont think Ford would have used it for spokes (my opinion) for the reason is that its to hard and would be hard to work. (my opinion)
Hickory was the choice but its not indestructible as some would think.
Again my opinion.
I noticed the disc brakes. Cause and effect?
Second growth hickory, probably shagbark and shellbark, was preferred for its straight grain. With spares, Ford must have made near a billion spokes.
Bodark = bois d'arc, the French name. The first white settlers arrived here before there was barbed wire. Salesmen came through the country peddling Osage orange seedlings for hedges the farmers could plant to keep their livestock in. When I was a kiddo most of the country roads and fields were lined with hedges. A lot of them are gone now, but a lot remain. I still have hedges along the east and west sides of my place, and they're a great source of firewood. I can testify about the hardness of the stuff. My grandfather used hedge logs under the bathroom when he built it. I burned up three brill bits trying to make a hole for a new water line. The last bit is still stuck in the log. I finally installed a flexible line that goes around the log.
I doubt if the brakes had anything to do with this failure. Looks to me like excessive side load, such as skidding sideways and hitting a rut or curb.
Don't we know whose this is?
According to reference materials I have reviewed, (Cabinet Making and Millwork) by J. Ferier and (Technical Woodworking) by Groneman and Glazener: Weight and density of a wood seem to be an important factor as does the method of sawing, with quarter sawing being better for strength.
The overall winner, according to these gentlemen, is Carya ovata (shag bark hickory). Its weight is up to 52# per cubic foot, density (specific gravity) up to .70. It has the combined advantage of stiffness,toughness and hardness which makes it the best choice for tool handles and wheel spokes.
The second strongest wood appears to be Fraxinus americana (white ash). Weight up to 42# per cubic foot, density up to .55. It too is used for tool handles and wheel spokes.
The oaks have good weight and density at 47# per cubic foot and density of up to .81 for Quercus virginiana (Live Oak) but lack the toughness of Hickory and is used mainly for barrels and ship building.
So what this says to me is, Henry and his wheel wrights had it right!
Ya, I'd like to know more about how this happened or what caused it?
The spokes and fellows look to be in good shape. I can't help but to think about how different the Non demountable wheel is as compared to the later demountable stlye. Seems like the few small rivets that hold the fellow to the rim might be very critical especially with slamming on the brakes or hitting something a little sideways.
Please post some more info about the accident
The damage looks like the result of two problems.
1. Wrong wood.
2. Excessive side load (but I doubt it)
In my experience, good hickory does not shatter like this.It looks more frayed when it fails.
I would say from the fracture pattern the spokes were made of White Oak or even possibly Maple or Birch!
As for the pins holding the rim to the fello, the interference fit of the wood to the rim is what transmits the power to the rim, as far as I can tell.
I could be wrong.
The broken spokes are not birch or maple. Very likely, they are oak.
It says wilwood on it so it must be wilwood
This picture that Hal posted was from a car on a tour that had rolled over. It's the right rear wheel and when the car rolled over (at road speed)it apparently landed on this wheel while the car was rolling sideways resulting in a tremendous impact on the wheel. This was not the result of going around a corner too fast or hitting a curb. This huge impact would likely break the spokes no matter what wood they were made of.
This picture that Hal posted was from a car on a tour that had rolled over. It's the right rear wheel and when the car rolled over (at road speed) it apparently landed on this wheel while the car was rolling sideways resulting in a tremendous impact on the wheel. This was not the result of going around a corner too fast or hitting a curb. This huge impact would likely break the spokes no matter what wood they were made of.
What was the cause of the roll over? Cornering too fast? Or locked up rear brakes and got side ways and grabbed traction?
They said the car rolled a time or two. The spokes look like Oak, but I wonder if any wood could survived that kind of trauma.
Ralph, Osage Orange is very workable but I don't trust my workmanship to be within the tolerances required to make a perfect wheel. Consider this: If you are 1/100 of an inch off on each of the 24 angle cuts, that's a 1/4 inch gap( or overage). Not good enough! I also don't have a way to reduce a "log" to the 8/4ths required to make the blanks. They sure are pretty though!
One disadvantage of Osage Orange is that it is very hard to work when dry and it does distort quite a bit when drying. So you can not finish work it when green because it will change a lot when drying.
Historically, the wood was in great demand for making hubs and rims of wheels for horse-drawn vehicles. The supply became scarce even before the automobile replaced the horse.
More then you ever wanted to know about Osage Orange at:
Thanks Jim. I think there is a hedge row (of Osage-Orange) near Dixon, Ca., a few miles West of Davis.
I have a longbow of Osage Orange made by my Great-great-grandfather (Cherokee). I made a similar one about 35 years ago and used it for target practice. I was surprised how powerful it is. It is amazing how the wood will bend nearly double without breaking. I've worked a lot of different woods, but none other is anything like it. It is not surprising that the Native Americans considered the wood to have spiritual powers.
Keith, I didn't see your post before I posted. You'er right.
Jim, no one ever published the cause of the accident that I know of. Ken had after market spring perches that appeared to be shock absorbers. To me the spring perch breaking is suspect.?? With disc brakes you can lock um up pretty easy.?? Marks on the road indicated that the LF tire came off before the skid marks. Did the perch breaking cause enough side pressure on the wheel to roll the tire off?? I'm a "Monday morning quarter back" and I don't have facts that people closer to the situation have. My 2CW.
The car is going to be rebuilt by one of the members in our club next spring in centrsl Missouri he has already started on some pcs, and has bought some replacement parts, when he returns from Florida for the winter he will go and bring the car home
John, Good news! How is Marge doing?
She is getting along fine, back home, and I think a daughter is living with her now also
Thanks. If you see her tell her that at least one T'er is thinking of her and I wish her well. Hal
I would like everyone to see new, closeup, detailed pix of the broken faces of that perch, and any telltale witness marks of this apparently hidden defect.
Then I would like to see it and its mate sent to Jersey George for metallurgical analysis. This is too important a failure to ignore.
This accident was well covered in posts back in July -August. It's doubtful whether the exact cause will be determined as it appears the investigating police thought it was just a failure of the old parts ( or whatever) and left it at that. To properly determine the cause would be expensive and would seem to be unlikely to be proceeded with, not having knowledge of these cars might also mean that they may look in the wrong areas or miss the real reason for the accident.
My thoughts at the time were that one thing which may have started this tragic accident was the front left tire. This car was a well restored vehicle by a knowledgable owner it was probably in better condition than most of the Model T's on the road.
As you can see from the photo above the tire is missing. It was reported that the tire was recovered with the tube still inflated inside. Obviously this can't happen if the tire is inflated at full pressure and if it was a punture there would be no air in the tube.
When travelling across the USA I had trouble with the tubes in particular the valves. They would fail at the point at the end of the stem letting out the air if it was more than 30 psi. The tire would go down to about 30 psi but then hold the air. I had this happen once in the car park of Bill Smiths museum I put on a small hose clamp and it stayed good the rest of the trip.
If the top 30 psi leaked out around the valve stem and the tire then peeled off the rim this may have been the start of the accident. The perch failure may have also been the cause but for the tire to also loose its pressure at at the same time is a long shot.
I don't think we will ever know for sure but hope that when the car is restored that the parts are looked at caefully to see if indead failure of them is the problem and that they can pass the information on to us so others can check their parts.
Hal & John D. Please tell Marge that we're thinking of her and have her in our prayers also.
Peter - I think you're right in that we'll never know the exact cause of the accident. There were several contributing factors: The left front tire off the wheel, it had an above the axle wishbone (connect for this '15), but did not have an accessory below the axle brace which is recommended, and it had disc brakes which may have locked up which made the driver lose control. Then there's the after market shocks / springs / spring perch that could be defective or contribute to the loss of control like Ralph mentioned.
This car was driven by a knowledgeable and experienced T driver who maintained his T's in excellent condition, but sometimes things just happen.
"...but sometimes things just happen."
We can rationalize why bad things happen to good people in attempt to ease the loss we feel, but that is not enough.
We certainly would not tolerate this kind of attitude with airline accidents. Bearing in mind that more people in the US have died in Model T accidents this year than in airline accidents, we have a challenge to improve what we're doing.
Whether the broken perch was the primary cause, or a subsequent failure, it should never have failed, ever. Careful analysis of the perch would reveal the likilihood of it being the primary cause. Regardless, once the perch broke, an accident was assured. We need to prevent that in the future.
Likewise, the tire coming off the rim should be analyzed, even if it means putting that wheel and tire on another car for testing. However, a local T guy had a front tire come off several times without accident. I don't know the cause or how he fixed it, but losing a tire need not cause an accident.
I, for one, would never participate in planning a tour which allowed early cars with unreinforced wishbones. They may not be the primary cause of an accident, but a secondary factor that renders a car uncontrollable.
Hmm, in thinking through what Ricks just posted, a few thoughts
1) Those statistics are re-assuring, but I'm still remembering my last flight when the 737 suddenly dropped, nose down, yellow flashes around the nacelle I could see out my window (over the wing seat, fortunately, as some folks in the tail got hurt). Yeah, we survived, but I know I left my fingerprints embedded in the seat tray!
2) If there had been an accessory below the axle wishbone, wouldn't that have kept the axle in place when the perch broke (give that that's what happened)? I don't know, I'm just asking.
If the tire came off first, did that provide enough "twist" on the axle that the perch broke?
Hopefully someone will look at the perch ends and see if there's any indication of a previously existing crack.
I'm not asking these questions to be morbid, but to see what might be done to prevent a similar incident in the future.
"2) If there had been an accessory below the axle wishbone, wouldn't that have kept the axle in place when the perch broke..?"
Good point, David. I had not even thought that far. It's even conceivable the perch wouldn't have cracked and failed in the first place, had there been a wishbone reinforcement.
We must not forget that we're driving 83 to 102 year old cars, and we usually don't know what these cars have been through and how they've been maintained on their lifetime.
Because of this, we must be extremely careful in how we drive, restore, repair and maintain our Model T's. Your life may depend on it.