I have read about the dangers of loose wooden spokes and certainly don't disagree. My question is, how do you check for looseness and how much is too much?
I have tried grasping each spoke at its midpoint, pulling inboard and outboard, then fore and aft, and twisting as well. I can detect no movement. This is almost too good to be true, as the wheels are originals from 1912 as far as I know. Is there some over test that I should be doing ?
What about wheel position ? Should the car be moved a bit forward or aft and then all the spokes re-checked ?
I'm no expert but I like to hold the top of the tire and push in and out to see if the wheel will flex. Compare it to the other three.
I grab the spoke and push it towards center of car and then pull it outwards. If it moves in the felloe it is loos and needs to be fixed. Check every spoke this way.
I suppose if you have paint or varnish on your spoke you might look for powder around the end of the spoke.
If you hear your wheels clicking on turns then you need to get out and check all the spokes.
Rap each spoke with your knuckles and listen. A dull thud means it's tight. Any slight rattling sound means it's loose. If the car is putting weight on the wheel, the top spokes(s) will be tight no matter what, so either take the weight off the wheel or do the test, then rotate the wheel 1/2 turn and do it again.
Mike, wouldn't that be the bottom will be tight and the top loose?
Look for signs of movement in the spokes at the rim, if they are loose you can usually see it.
I agree that powdery residue where the spoke goes into the felloe is a good sign of loose spokes. I grab 'em near the felloe and try to wiggle them. If they move, they need tightening (Or replacing). If not, they are probably OK. The 2-3 spokes near the bottom will be tight due to the weight of the car. You could roll the car and check them in another position, or you could just check them periodically. What are the chances there are only 1-2 loose spokes on a wheel and they ALWAYS are on bottom when parked?
Knocking on them with your knuckle (Or a plastic screwdriver handle) may help you find a loose one, but that test is usually recommended for helping find a dry rotted spoke. Good solid spokes will 'ring'. A dry rotted spoke will go 'thud'.
Warning. Some will say this test is BS.
Dave said it all, shake the wheel and if pops snaps or squeaks, you need to tighten em up. KGB
If you have a wood felloe look for rust working out from between the rim and the felloe.
Tony, you are right about wooden spoked wheels having the load on the bottom spokes when the car is at rest. The weight of the car is exerting compressive forces on the lower spokes.
Just the opposite applies with laced wire wheels, as opposed to the welded wheels on late Ts. With laced wheels the weight of the car exerts extending forces on the upper spokes, and the lower ones have no weight on them.
I find the best way to detect a loose wooden spoke is to jack the car and rap the spoke with a knuckle. The loose ones will talk to you. Clicking when rolling the car and dust/rust around the felloe and hub are indicators that something needs attention.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Dick, Lots of time you'll hear loose spokes especially if they have really dried out. It's that Clickity Clack as you drive along slowly.
Anyone else here have any good 30 X 3 RIMS?
Word to the wise, If you are going to get new wood make sure your old rims run true first!
Wouldn't it be better to jack up the wheel and take the load off before checking ? Dunno - just asking!
Oops! -- I guess I was talking about the spokes in Australia.
I discovered mine by accident one day in December, 2010 when I drove my newly re-restored T about 8 miles to work to show my employees. At the end of the day I was driving it home when I was lucky enough to run out of gas just outside the gate of work. As I was waiting for one of my employees to bring me a gallon of gas, I was walking around the car admiring her and on the front right passenger side wheel, noticed a very fine brown powder on the rim between each spoke. When I grabbed the tire and shook it back and forth, to my horror, the tire and rim moved about 1/8" to each side, independent of the hub. I then checked each spoke and the dowel that went into the rim moved back and forth. I had always heard that if you can hear a click when the wheels are turned, it means your spokes are loose, so I put my T in neutral and began pushing the car by turning the front wheel. Sure enough, there was an audible click as the dowel of each spoke bottomed out in the rim. I'm sure that, had I not run out of gas, my wheel would have collapsed on the way home. God was watching out for me that day. When I got my gallon of gas, I slowly and carefully drove my T back to the office and over the next month, after ordering new spokes and making a Regan spoke press, re-spoked my wheel in the conference room at the office. I now do a walkaround shaking each tire to be sure there are no obvious dangers. Jim Patrick
I found one of my wheels loose the same way Jim did and just in case you haven't seen one here is a Regan spoke press
It6 cut off the last part of my message since you have a 1912 your wheels go together differently
A 12 could have more problems than just loose spokes. The wood felloe is riveted to the steel rim--sometimes they get loose. A problem I've found with a lot of them is the wood felloe starts to "spread out" where the tennon of the spoke goes into it. I've even had the felloe split along the grain from the "spoke hole" while sitting in the barn.