Some weeks ago when I picked up my last barn find car, there was a set of 12 spokes laying in the barn. They all looked like they were about a mile away from just coming out of the rim.
In all my years of working with the model T car, I have never seen any this bad.
This is a reminder for everyone to check their wheels for loose spokes very often.
Almost ever large tour I go on, I will hear a car driving with that "Creak" as it rolls by.
AW come on they are good for at least another 5 or 8 miles!
Those spokes look usable...just cut off the tenon, drill 1/2" or 5/8" hole x 1 1/2" deep (appropriate for the felloe) in the end and epoxy in a hardwood dowel of the proper size. Clean up and coat the spoke with liquid resin, preferably vacuum impregnate. Use ample epoxy or resin at assembly.
Are you serious? John?
A new set of spokes cost about $135. If I ever find a set of spokes on any of my cars in that shape, the choice would be simple. NEW,NEW,NEW.
Now a loose set, I would probably shim, that is not that hard to do. I would check the ends to make sure they were not worn.
Hard to tell from the picture, but those look like they are soft and dry rotted. Big difference between a little loose and completely structurally unsound. You might shim a spoke that is little loose, but once they have lost their structural integrity.....
Anytime you bring your car in to Pep Boys or Goodyear or whatever service station, their hourly rate will be $90-$130 per hour and that's based on a standardized shop-book value of how many hours a particular repair is supposed to take — which, by the way, would get the mechanic fired if he actually took that long on his projects.
What it amounts to is that your average car repair costs between $600 and $800 — and in the case of the higher figure, the price of four brand new Stutzman wheels. Now granted, for a lot of us (including myself), eight bills is a lot of dough, but nobody says you have to spend it all at once. Just overhaul the wheel(s) that creaks and clicks.
There's no excuse for driving on marginal wheels especially when Mr. Stutzman only charges $190 to completely re-wood and overhaul a wheel.
Hal, Yes these spokes are a little rotten, but I am sure the wear happened before they were placed in that barn. The ends of all 12 spokes looked the same. It scared the heck out of me when I saw them.
Yes, I am serious. I realize that this method is controversial, but it works. I did this 45 years ago when I couldn't afford new spokes....perhaps they weren't even available. Still have the car and it has been on two wheels in a turn without issue. It is a '26 roadster PU with many miles.
Bob - Is that the price for wood fellows?
OOps, Norman. It is Norman Kling. My old eye.
John, your idea may be a good one for spokes that are not as bad as these. I wouldn't consider using spokes as rotten as these. I make pens out of old spokes, but I doubt if I could find enough solid wood in the spokes shown to even do that. Picture yourself on a narrow levy road with almost no shoulder…a deep river on your right and a farmers field 15 feet below the road on the left and one of your front wheels collapses. (Or a bearing is in wrong and the wheel seizes.) Don't mess with safety!!!!
I love wood wheels! I trust (good) wood wheels! I drive on them hard. I grab and shake them often to see if anything is becoming loose.
Many years ago, I had a T wheel with the tenons worn down about that badly (the wood was good otherwise). I also had a 1925 Studebaker with three wheels solid as the proverbial rock. The fourth wheel, the wood was not soft at all, but the tenons were almost gone. That wheel I had rebuilt by the wheel shop in Sonora CA. They did good work. Different people run that shop now, but I hear that they are still good.
Those wheels showed me that looseness led to wear. Something we in digital distribution engineering called the "cliff effect". If you were to graph the wear vs failure, it slopes very slowly at first, then crashes fast. Or goes over the cliff.
Those two wheels, one T, one Studebaker, are why to this day, I shake my wheels often.
Steve Elliott, I took care of that front wheel a few days after you saw it. Nice and tight again.
Like Willie C is reminding all of us. Check wheels for looseness. Fix or rebuild if needed.
Thank you Willie C.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Yes, $190 was the price I last paid Stutzman's Wheel Shop to overhaul my wood-felloe wheel (My car is a 1915, so it has non-demountable wheels). I don't know what Mr. Stutzman charges for overhauling demountable wheels.
Wayne S. Thanks, that was the main reason for posting the pictures of those spokes.
Just by looking at the pics those spokes are ready for firewood.
John you are right, as I said in my opening post, a full set of 12 spokes were laying in that old barn with roof leaks. The extreme ware on the ends is why I picked up two of them.
Even if they did not have the rot, they would not go on any car of mine.
With new spokes available, questionable spokes are nothing to take a chance with. As a woodworker myself and one who has extensively used 2 part liquid wood repair epoxy such as that manufactured by Abatron, that is absorbed deep into the wood and turns to plastic, I would never take a chance on the safety of my T or the safety of others who might be in the way when they fail. That epoxy is okay for non load bearing wood house parts, such as window sashes, sills and doors, but not for such a crucial load bearing part as wooden spokes that must flex in every way possible and are subject to massive weights, pressures and forces, from all directions, especially when cornering. Always err on the side of safety, as there is no room for shortcuts especially on a part as crucial as the wheels, upon which, the rest of the car depends. Jim Patrick
John McGinnis knows of what he speaks. The process he describes is used in Large electric motors with form wound windings. Because the forces experienced by these motor windings are many times what a wheel would ever see (in all directions) it would be an incredible process for old and new wheels alike.
The process is called VPI (vacuum pressure impregnation). The perfect scenario would be to dip an assembled wheel in the VPI tank. The result would be a monolithic structure that would theoretically last forever.
In the process, resin is alternately forced into the substrate with pressure and vacuum causing the resin to fully saturate the wood, and all trapped air to be evacuated. The wood condition would be somewhat irrelevant. The finished "green" structure is then baked to start the cross linking of the resin, with the strength increasing as the structure ages.
Not too many Large motor shops around these days and I doubt few would be interested in doing wheels for a practical fee.
Thank you John. That sounds interesting and nothing like what I do with the liquid wood repair epoxy, which is simply painted on in numerous coats and allowed to soak into the wood as much as the wood will absorb before beginning to set up after which, no more can be absorbed. As you can imagine, under the way I did it, the wood would only absorb so much epoxy and no more, which would form a sort of shell of hardened epoxy surrounding the original wood core. If there were weaknesses in the wood core the spoke would fail. The way you describe the method is somewhat like petrified wood in which the entire spoke becomes epoxy. That's different and better. Jim Patrick
You describe the process well. I have not considered an entire wheel as protecting all other surfaces seems difficult. But individual spokes is relatively easy...and as is said, the wood absorbs the resin, whether it is punky, split or whatever. It is now a resin/epoxy spoke, much stronger than wood. A simple vacuum chamber is easy and vacuum can be obtained from your engine intake manifold. Use TAP casting resin...or equivalent. John