What is the latest on fixing loose wooden wheels?
A few months ago the 1926 Hudson wheels were getting so bad that I didn't want to drive the car without some sort of action.
My buddy & I removed the demountable rims and bored a small hole in the end of the spokes. Into that cavity, we repeatedly injected linseed oil and then plugged the hole with a bit of doweling. After a half a dozen such treatments over the course of a week, the rims were reinstalled and the were as tight as new.
One of my "pals," a bit of a smart alec, intoned that our remedy was doomed to failure, that the spokes would loosen up again. This past Saturday, I drove the car and did hear some clicking. Urrggghhh . . .
What now? The Hudson needs attention again and the 23 T has lots of loose spokes. Tinkering Tips has several solutions. One is shims on the end of the spoke were it meets the fellow. Some folks I know say this will work well, others say it will not.
Another solution that I was high on was soaking the entire wheel in 10% linseed oil & 90% turpentine for a week or so. Now I'm not so sure that would work. If full strength oil was temporary, how good could the mixture be?
Another pal recommended a special product intended for tightening joints in wooden furniture. One brand is something like "Titechairs." This fellow swears this is a permanent fix.
The wood is good in the wheels of both cars and I would hate to respoke. Both cars almost certainly still retain the factory wood, another reason to try repair rather than replace. What do you fellows think? Any words of wisdom? I'll bet there are lots of us who have some loose spokes to attend to.
For many years my back wheels had three steel shims hammered down between the spokes at the hub end which worked well. Eventually the spokes loosened up and the shims kept coming out. For one wheel it was sufficient to press down each of the holes in the felloe. The other wheel required washers to be put between spoke and felloe. They haven't loosened up since and are original dried out spokes with paint flaking off. One day I'll soak them in linseed oil and turps.
If you do soak your dried shrunken spokes in Linseed Oil and Turpentine solution, it will fill the pores and expand the wood...temporarily, but make sure it dries thoroughly (at least several weeks or even months), before putting back together. Chances are, your spokes will be exactly the same size as they were before the Linseed Oil treatment, but it won't last.
I once restored a Civil War musket which was shrunken with age. After several weeks in a solution of Linseed Oil and Turpentine, the gunstock had absorbed the Oil into it's pores so much that it expanded to its' former size. All the cracks closed and all th sunken pores assumed a smooth appearance. After drying for several days, I put it back together, all the parts fitting perfectly and as tight as they did in 1862. After getting it back together, I noticed it continued weeping Linseed Oil from the pores, so much so, that after several weeks, the formerly tight parts started to loosen. Eventually, the gunstock, while it had a nice, rich finish, was back to its' former size, open cracks, sunken pores and all. All of the Linseed Oil that had expanded the pores had all drained out. I believe that all of your spokes will do the same thing and shrink to their former size and you will be left in a more precarious situation than before, because when you press in the expanded spokes, it will compress the spokes, so when they do finally shrink back down, they will be even smaller and looser than before.
Tight spokes are essential to provide tremendous pressure to the steel ring in order to hold up the weight of the car and provide stable support, especially in turns, where the most danger of failure occurs, as sideways pressure is applied, as the car turns the corner. Loose spokes will almost certainly fail at some point resulting in catastrophic damage to your car and possibly you or others. Please do not take chances with your wheels. There is no safe way to expand shrunken wood to its' former size, especially when considering something so crucial as spokes. No matter what you do, it stays shrunk. In your case, with aged, shrinking wood, it would be best for you to install new, tight spokes and press them into place with a 3 ton press. Don't take chances with your wheels.
Good luck. Jim
I dismantled my loose wheel and installed punched washers to the outer ends of every spoke. The washers were made of 0.45mm galvd window flashing material, drilled undersize and punched so that the dowels also increased in diameter and the raw edge of the washer couldn't wear through the dowel.
This was 2 years ago and now, after many miles the wheel is still tight.
Paul, Band-Aids are only good to protect a wound while it heals. Dried out, worn, split spokes won't and can't heal; they need to be replaced.
I'm sorry to be so harsh, but as Jim said:" Don't take chances with your wheels. " Your safety and that of your passengers and others on the road is in your hands.
Don't let this happen to you:
Wow! This picture is worth a thousand words... plus one question. Did all four of the spoked wheels on this Model T fail at the same time? It looks to be sitting level. If so, it must have been like a domino effect, each wheel failing, one by one, due to the temendous tolerances placed on the spokes, as the car continued down the raod at crazy, suddenly changing angles. Scary! The poor driver was lucky to keep 'er on the road and upright.
That picture makes my Model A wheels look that much better!
Only the two rear wheels failed in that picture. The car is on a slight downgrade, which may explain why it looks level. He had just rounded a corner and we assumed the rough washboard surface of the road wreaked havoc with the loose spokes. What a time we had moving the car to the side of the road! James is right, the picture is worth a thousand words. After being there for that incident, the money spent for new spokes all of a sudden does not seem like very much. It sure is money well spent.
Paul- I had the same problem with loose spokes. Just one spoke a little loose at first, then gradually over the months more spokes loosening and the felloes getting loose until I was afraid to drive it. I was ready to pay someone willing to replace/rebuild the whole wheel for me, but couldn't find anyone! Even contacted someone in the Vintage Ford magazine who advertises as a wheelwright, but he advised me to "just buy a new wheel, it's cheaper". I was then fortunate enough to meet someone who offered to shim the spokes for me (25 thousanths washers placed at the felloe end of the spokes). Took 2 on every spoke, placed with the help of a special spreader he designed). It looks and feels like a new wheel now. Originally, I had my doubts. But I'm a believer now.
Jim, I was not there. They hit a bump on the gravel road and lost both rear wheels. The fronts remained together, but they probably need replacement as well.
I have conversed (I was going to use "spoken") with a few people who have lost wooden wheels and, yes, it IS scary. It does increase the "pucker factor".
BE SAFE!!! Bill
I remember a discussion regarding using oak laminate applied to the spokes where they contact each other at the hub. The spokes are then pressed together with a press. The hole for the hub is then also lined with laminate before the hub is replaced. I don't know how well this works, but would seem to be very tight and long lasting. I also have a set of 80 year old wheels that the wood appears good on, but they have some creaks audible while driving. I can wiggle a few of them. I won't use oak spokes, and the new hickory ones are twice the money. I would like to hear if the new hickory ones need additional tooling or will work as purchased. I have wire wheels on my 23 now, but am considering rebuilding my old, but fairly good, wood wheels. This would allow me to finish the 26 running chasis and look for a coupe body!
The laminate method works very well if you fill the space between the ends of the spokes and the hub. what I use for that job is tongue depressors which are driven in on both sides so it will keep the wheel round. If you don't fill the space between the center and the hub, it will work loose as you drive along. I always check before each tour and so far it has lasted for several years.
I've got cases of tongue depressors!
Gee, this thread has sure not been encouraging! Is there anything to loose trying this chair tite stuff? If the wheels are really trash anyway, maybe this untried remedy might offer some improvement. If the only other solution is shimming or replacing the spokes, the chair tite can't hurt anything.
I'm sort of surprised that no one has tried this before as it was listed in Tinkering Tips.
Paul, Test Pilot
The only thing to lose if the spokes aren't tight and safe is your life, or that of your passengers. In the model t era, cars were seldom driven over 25mph. I remember from reading that there was even a move to have a national speed limit of 25mph in around 1925. We drive these things at much higher speeds just cruising around town. Wooden spoke wheels support the weight of the axle (and vehicle) on only 2 or 3 spokes by compression. Wire wheels "hang" the hub on over half the spokes on the wheel. I'd hate to have a wheel come apart at 45mph! These cars don't handle high speed roll overs well at all. I've seen the results of people ejected from cars.
Noel Chicoine, MD
No argument there, I'm much in the same mind. The question is about this chair tite material that was recommended in Tinkering Tips. Either the stuff swells the wood long term and saves the wheel or any advantage is only temporary and the wheels will need rebuilding or replacing anyway.
That is the only question.
I have tightened spokes in wheels by first inspecting the condition of the wood, if satisfactory clean the spokes in a TSP solution or other wood stripper to remove paint and or grease etc. Then after the wood is completly dry, soak the complete set in raw linseed oil for about a week. then soak them for a short time in boiled (double or triple) linseed oil which will seal the surface and give you a base for varnish or paint. If the wheel has steel felloes. the spoke holes in the felloe should be what was called dimpled, which brings the diameter where the spokes contact the felloe back to spec or maybe somewhat less to compensate for spoke end wear. be sure to dimple the felloe equally to keep the felloe concentric with the hub. There are tools from the era to accomplish this, but I used sockets and a piece of all-thread. Using a large socket on the spoke side, larger than the O.D. of the spoke and a smaller socket (or heavy washer) inside the felloe flange on the spoke hole with a piece of all-thread slightly smaller than the spoke hole to pull the sockets together dimpling the felloe back to original shape, or slightly more, to allow for spoke wear. When re-assemblying, I used JB weld on the felloe end of the spoke to take up the wear clearance and embed the felloe to the spoke. Be sure to number the spokes when dis-assembling so they go back together as they were originally to avoid problems re-drilling the hub holes etc.
On the hub end of the spokes I have used very thin gasket material (.005" to .010") coated with non hardening permatex as shims between the tapered mating surfaces if needed. These also must be evenly spaced to keep the wheel parts as concentric and even as possible.
The tongue depressor shim method mentioned above may work because most tongue depressors are birch; a fairly dense wood that takes compression loads well. However, it has very poor decay resistance, so I would soak them in a wood preservative first. Rick A.
I have successfully tightened wheels in a way similar to what Stan described (the "dimpling", not the oil part), and think it works very well, only I did it on a hydraulic press. Since then, I have modified the process to do the same thing without taking the wheel apart. Rather than using the large socket on the spoke side, I have a couple of heavy pieces of steel shaped to fit around the spoke. These sit on the supports of the press and support the felloe. On the rim side (outside) of the felloe, I start with a socket that almost, but not quite, fits over the outside of the hole punched for the spoke nipple. Pressing that socket down compresses the hole to a bit smaller size. I usually use a succession of 2 or 3 consecutively smaller sockets. 6 point sockets seem to work a bit better than 12 point sockets. I then use a socket about the diameter if the spoke, or just slightly smaller than the opening in the support pieces. In pressing that socket down, it slightly dishes the felloe toward the spoke, tightening the spoke lengthwise without using shims. I can try to post some pictures later if anyone is interested. As Stan mentioned, there were era tools for doing this, and someone has posted pictures of them on one of the forums. From the picture, it looks like it would do the same job of dishing the felloe, but I don't think it would compress the hole.
We've never tried "Titechair" but we have tightened wooden wheels. In one case we coated both ends of each spoke with a white epoxy and then reassembled each wheel, wiping up the excess epoxy. These wheels have remained tight for about 10 years now. With another set of wheels we made shims using 0.040" brass stock and hole saws and inserted the shims between each spoke and the felloe. The spokes had been boiled in a 50/50 mixture of turpentine and linseed oil for several hours. When completely dry the spokes were sanded and 3 coats of urethane varnish applied. These wheels have also remained tight. All of these wheels needed to be assembled with a press. In all cases the wooden spokes were in good condition initially. I do agree that new spokes are best though.
I was going through the same problems with all of my spoke wheels (demountable 21's). When I started taking off the wheels to start with some type of method to tighten up the spokes, I found that all of my hub bolts and nuts were loose probably because the car was broght into a very dry climate. After tightening all of the hub bolts, all of the original wooden wheels are now tight.
I sent away to a company that produces "ChairLoc". I was going to use this item where the spoke end goes through the steel fello. I actually believe it will work after using it on some scrap wood. The problem is, I have been told by another poster, and the company that produces this product, that it is not water proof. In fact, to clean up any excess product, you use soap and water. This certainly makes it a problem in the application we are talking about. I have been trying to come up with a solution as to something to coat over the ChairLoc product to keep it waterproofed.
Hi Tom. I was reading this thread and got curious. My T came from wet Oregon, and I'm in Fresno...very hot and dry. My '15 has the original non demountable, wooden felloe wheels. Sure enough, several spokes were loose, particularly in the front wheels. I misted a very small amount of water over the wheels from an atomizer spray bottle, wiping off the excess. Within 5 minutes, the wheels were tight. Then, I checked the hub bolts. Just like you, I found all hub bolts to be loose. I tightened them up, and now, all appears okay. I would not have a problem with using Chair-Loc. In fact, I plan to use it. If the wheels get wet in the rain, even better. Originally, the wheels in these cars got wet all the time. I'm convinced that's what helped keep 'em tight! Good Luck!!
I recently rebuilt a wheel using an epoxy material used to "harden" wood for restoration purposes.
The material is a two part epoxy made by PC Products. This material sets slowly enough to allow the material to penetrate the cracks and porous wood.
After hardning I did a cleanup cut on the lathe to remove the drips and to true up the spokes. I built a jig to drill a .5 in hole, 3" deep, into each spoke. I turned 12 4" X .5" dowels from hickory which I inserted into the spokes using an industrial version of "SuperGlue" and hardner used by the woodworking trade.
I did shim the tapers with brass stock when assembling but the feloe ends were as tight as factory new. Once reassembled and tightened, (New hub bolts are a necessity) the wheel is as tight and true as new.
I also ran a destructive test on the new spoke dowels... Dowels broke at the top of the spoke on the repaired spoke just as the un-doweled spoke did.
I was getting ready for a Regional tour and had a problem with a rear wheel. I took the spokes out and glassed the flat areas and wraped a thread diped in reson around the nipples. After it all dried I spun the spoke in my lathe and turned the nipple to a tight fit in the hole and lightly sanded the glassed 15 degree area with my sander. That was 8 years ago and I do drive my car alot. The spokes in that wheel never have loosened up. I have alos built my own spokes and had good results. I am running aset of my wheels on My tourning car Picture is in the form pictures it is the Ice Cream wagon shown.
OH lordie I cannot waite to hear from borken winch
My 26 Touring also came from Oregon, and was moved to the High Desert north of Los Angeles. You could almost sit and watch the spokes shrink!
I may end up refinishing the spokes with some type of paint, varnish, or lindseed oil. I am wondering how much more any finish would tighten up the spokes?
When talking with the fellow who sold the ChairLoc, he told me that the stuff would washout if contacted by water. I would think that if you were to use this stuff, you would need to come up with something to waterproof it. Another Model T guy told me that he had used it with success, until he drove the car in the rain and all of the spokes became loose again.
Why wouldn't you use waterproof wood glue like Titebond II, Titebond III , or Gorilla glue?
Spar varnish will seal it if it stays tight and doesn't crack the varnish seal.
Spar Varnish or some type of paint would probably work. The ChairLoc is not really a glue. It swells the wood fibers, therefore causing the wood spoke ends to swell up tight against the fello openings.
I think it is time to do a little experimenting. I will take some scrap wood samples and apply different types of sealers to them and see if they will waterproof the ChairLoc.
Will report back with the findings.
Three years ago I had a demountable wheel with badly worn tenons. The spokes were quite loose and, when going around a corner, the wheel sounded like a rotating coffee can with a dozen bolts in it. I removed the spokes, cut off the worn tenons, drilled a 3/4 inch deep, 1/2 inch dia. hole where the tenon was and inserted a 1.5" hardwood dowell. I reassembled the wheel using two part epoxy on the tenons and at the parting lines in the hub. There was sufficient adhesive to bond the spokes to the hub faces too. This wheel is a rock! However, I recently learned from John Regan how to build a fixture to respoke wheels. This technique has proven to be so easy for me that I have "repaired" my last spoke system. From now on, I will replace the spokes with new ones. I just ordered a set of 48 hickory spokes from Langs for $7.50 ea. I also support the use of oak spokes and they are $5 each. If you use oak spokes, just don't drag your car sideways over a curb. Steve Boyd
Come to think of it, I once heard that glycerin could be used to swell an axe handle to keep it tight. And, glycerin is water soluble - Chair-Loc might be mostly glycerin?
Thanks guys, I have been following this discussion closely. With my very limited time & budget, respoking the wheels is not appealing at all. Also there is the originality factor. I'm striving everywhere to use Ford parts of the correct vintage to make this old T as close to correct as I can. If the wheels can be saved with Titechair or something of that nature, it is sure worth a shot.
Please do let us know of your tests Tom. The fact that this solution was written up in Tinkering Tips at some point indicates that somebody, somewhere had a go already. If they don't speak up, we'll just have to try it ourselves.
I just replaced three sets of spokes and was a bit sad because the ones I was taking out looked so good and solid -- just loose. One rear wheel would not come apart so I used the sawsall to cut out a few of the spokes. I cut them near the falloe and the wood was good and solid. When I grabbed the spokes to pull them out of the hub, they literally fell apart. Turns out they were suffering dry rot at the hub. I will have three wheels done tomorrow and am keeping a wary eye on the fourth. Judging from the look and feel of the old spokes I would have never believed they were already ready to collapse. The point is, don't judge on appearance or "shaking" because the real danger can be well hidden behind the last paint job.
Ditto the hidden danger!
If you want to test the spokes, hit them, as hard as you can, near the hub with a large rubber mallet. If they're good, the mallet will just bounce back. If not, you'll be sweeping up pieces of wood in your garage instead of the side of the road.
I needs some info on wire wheels...
1. Speedster wire available on a 1923 Runabout?
2.Difference between Speedster wire wheels and 1926-27 wire wheels
3.Will 1926 -27 wheels fit a speedster
A speedster is made with any thing you want, so any wheel is or could be a "speedster wheel".
Many Model T speedsters have original Model T wire wheels. These were only supplied by Ford in 1926 and 1927 modle years. There were no factory Ford wire wheels in 1923.
There were dozens of brands of aftermarket wheels. Some are special wood wheels, others are disc wheels. Many aftermarket wheels were wire wheels. These special wheels were available from 1909 onwards. It would fill thousands of pages to tell you about each type.
Speedsters are often seen with wheels originally made for other types of cars, from Model A Ford wheels to 1929 Chevy wire wheels. that's the nice thing about a speedster, you can use anything and it is "correct" because that is what a speedster is for, to reflect what you want.
Tom Lawthers,what is the results of your testing?
Glad someone brought this thread back as I am noticeing a intresting strange problem with the front wheels of my 1 ton.
From what Royce says a speedster is a street rod Nelson
I hate to say it, but after getting the spokes tight again by tightening up the hub bolts, I never got back to any experimenting with the "Chairloc" stuff.
Besides working six days a week, I have been busy with a MG restoration.
Thanks for reminding me about this subject. I will be getting back to a normal work schedule here by the end of the year, so I will try and devote some time to seeing what can be done with waterproofing the Chairloc. In any case, I need to get back to the T again and get some things done.
I will post my results on the forum.
That "Chairloc" stuff as Tom calls it does work, but if there is a lot of varnish or paint on the spokes it probably will not work very well.
I usually unscrew the center hub bolts and use a small portable hydraulic press to force the spokes apart and insert shims cut to the size of the ends of the spokes (the flat part). I use a very hard paper called "fish paper" by the electrical world. I think it is about 10 or 15 thousands tickness.
If the spokes are only slightly loose, ever other spoke usually does it. If the center on the hub is loose after this, I fabricate a metal ring and insert it to take up the space. After this I give the spoke ends and the center a generous helping of chairloc and bolt the center back together.
If the spokes are VERY LOOSE and the ENDS are worn to a point, I DO NOT TRY TO TIGHTEN THEM, I REPLACE THEM. This center shim procedure also works on wood felloe wheels
The spoke ends must be tight in the steel felloe.
DO NOT try to build up the ends, your LIFE and YOUR FAMILY is worth more than that I think.
One should not be content with just the appearance of a spoke. I had a number of spokes begin to loosen on the back wheels of my car. They were beautiful, having been painted by an expert in 1972. I was going to shim them, but then thought I should check them out try to get them totally tight again. When I took the wheel apart, I was pulling the first spoke out when it dissolved in my hand. Then, a number of those which followed did the same. Turned out that even though they looked great on the outside, they were totally dry rotted on the inside.
If I had tightened them with shims, it would have only been a matter of time until the back of my car looked like the picture above. After discovering that, I took the front wheels apart and found the same thing. That really put the scare in me. While we focus on figuring out a way to shim them and not spend $120 a wheel to replace them, the wheels are near the top of the list in terms of safety and God help us if one of the front wheels decides to collapse, even at a low speed. I will never shim another spoke. If they act loose, I want to know their total condition before trusting my well being, along with others in the car or on the highway, to what could be a very bad problem.