Can anyone tell me what kind of wood these spokes are made of? Thanks, Mark
Looks just like the hickory spokes that were on my 24 roadster, just maybe with a light stain?
My uneducated guess would be oak. It will be interesting to hear the experts opinions.
They look like hickory to me.
How ironic Ray, these will be going on my '24 roadster! These spokes look like they were black at one point and the paint has been stipped. Mark
They look like redoak to me. Hickory and redoak have very much the same grain pattern though. Hickory is just a little tighter grain, and if freshly cut, hickory is much whiter looking. Aged, it is really hard to tell in a picture. Another reason I beleave it is redoak is the dark stains at the end of the spoke. Redoak is high in tannic acid which turns dark purple or black when in contact with metal and exposed to moisture.
Hard to tell from just a picture, but they sure look like a closed-grained wood, like Hickory, Oak is open grain, and really doesn't look the same.
Dims Hickory, plain as day.
I'm not an expert..hell...I'm not even a pert..but I'm guessin that they've been around awhile...so they're probably earned they're keep? If they were junk...they'd be broke by now?
They look and could be original spokes. They would be hickory if Henry Ford made them. Hickory is a much stronger wood.
I have to agree with Doug. What ever they are, they have been around long enough to have proven themselves worthy! lol
Most, but not all, of the grain in the pix above is straight and true to the wheel, with very little cross-grain. Compare to Hal Schedler's, new hickory, here:
See, fellas, here's why we need a test to determine if a particular wheel is safe to use. Merely making new ones of some breed of hickory is not good enough.
As for age being a good sign, I don't think so. I have 3/4 of a set of oak spoked wheels that have been around over 25 years. The fourth one broke the first year in service. I may use the others for a stair railing or something.
Looks like closed grain Hickory, which, because it is hard and strong, but flexible, makes it the most suitable wood to use on spokes. Oak is brittle, which makes it unsuitable to use on spokes and unlike the wood pictured, has open grains which are deep and very visible. These look like a smooth, worn hickory sledgehammer handle. Jim
The Ford spoke drawing calls for Second Growth Shagbark Hickory.
That's progress, Tom; I believe you're the first to post that Ford specified Shagbark. The tree pic came from Tim Moore.
If you say those spokes on the wheel with the blue hub are hickory, I won't argue, but I would almost bet my model T that is Red Oak from the pic!
Wait...wait...wait....lol...I just reread your post. I see now you are saying those ARE Red Oak. Sorry sir, but now I sure feel better about my eyes! Sure looked like oak to me! lol
Note the part, "especially well designed to withstand extreme side-strains when turning corners at fast speed." Fast when that was written was over 10 mph, not over 50 mph, as today is considered fast.
The spokes on the wheels with the red hubs are hickory. Notice the lack of medullary rays that are found in the wood of all oaks. These medullary rays are very noticable in the wood that broke (wheel with blue hub) As far as using shagbark hickory only, I'd question that. Smooth bark, shell bark and pignut hickory could also be used provided the growth rings were not too wide and the grain was straight. Hickory is a much tougher wood than red oak which tends to be brittle, as is well illustrated.
Ford specified Shagbark, I don't think Ralph was necessarily saying one way or other, just that Ford's specs state it.
You would not want to mix different hickories in the same wheel, as their characteristics are quite different. That means you would not want to have spokes from different hickories in the factory, due to inventory control challenges.
Hickory, Bitternut. 0.66 1.79 66 9,040 1,680 -
Hickory, Nutmeg .. 0.60 1.70 - .6,910 1,570 -
Hickory, Pecan ... . 0.66 1.73 44 7,850 1,720 2,080
Hickory, Water . .. 0.62 2.02 53 8,600 1,550 -
Hickory, Mockernut 0.72 2.22 77 8,940 1,730 1,740
Hickory, Pignut .. . 0.75 2.26 74 9,190 1,980 2,150
Hickory, Shagbark. 0.72 2.16 67 9,210 1,760 2,430
Hickory, Shellbark. 0.69 1.89 88 8,000 1,800 2,110
For a wheel, the third column, Impact Bending, Height of Drop Causing Failure, in inches, is no doubt the most important.
Likewise, you would not want to mix new and old spokes on the same wheel. Their strengths may vary too much, and the stiffer spokes would take too much of the load.
For example, Douglas Fir hardens with age. It's tough to drive a nail in the studs of my T era house.
That's interesting that Pignut and Bitternut are listed as separate species. According to my tree book (and according to vernacular usage), Pignut is a common name for the Bitternut Hickory.
For what it's worth, many moons ago when I was cutting hickory bolts and selling them to the local handle factory, Pignut was the only type of hickory they wouldn't take.
Shagbark and Shellbark are usually grouped together in the lumber trade, even though their numbers are quite different in the above table.
I don't want to appear to be a skeptic in all this but I have original Ford Factory drawings for the spoke both in the rough blank dimensions and the FINISHED spoke dimensions and NEITHER of those drawings say anything but the words "HICKORY". No specifics beyond that. So could someone please tell me EXACTLY what Ford Spec they are talking about since I would like to investigate into that further. Saying it is a "Ford Spec" is not specific as to what is being talked about. Ford part drawings?? Ford Record of Changes?? Where do I look??
One thing no one ever mentions every time this argument comes up is that modern methods of making these spokes are very different than the way it was done back then. This time, the past was better. Cutting up dimensional lumber to turn spokes out on a lathe will not give you the same strength the original spoke had when new. Why? Because the wood was split into blanks and then shaved to it's final shape. The wood chose where to break, not a saw cut where it was most effective to get a more boards. Splitting ensured that the grain ran the length of the piece. Saw cut lumber could have the grain running at a small angle, even though it looks like it's lengthwise.
Not sure I agree with that Tim, I have cut several roted spokes from T wheels, What comes to mind is the grain is usually about 1/16 growth rings ( old growth) . and it is usually within about 15 degrees of across the rotation of the wheels. So the maximum strength is at ninety degrees to tire rotation or side pressure. With the fifteen million Ts built I doubt that the spokes were split, but I do not doubt that they were set up so the grain ran at a right angle to the wheel. Just my opinion!!