Since I like original wheels, I rarely pay much attention to Buffalo wire wheels. There was a gentleman on the Sierra Vista tour that had a mishap with his '14 touring...., a wheel came off! He tried to tell me that the early Buffalo hub caps did not have the locking pin in them. I'm not buying that story. Would anyone that is knowledgeable on Buffalo wheels care to explain this?
I'm not sure as to the age of my Buffalo Wheels on my speedster but it has no locking pins or any signs of such being there just uses the taper of the nut against the wheel hub.
This Speedster has been on the road for nearly 50 years has done lots of miles and never had the wheels come loose.
Maybe he had the wheel hubs on the wrong side?
Early one's don't. I check mine every day before driving because of this. Not a big deal if you check them.
From what I understand, Bill Rader made a number of sets years ago that had no locking mechanism. Might have been some of his.
I'm aware of Bill Raders repro hub caps. I knew the guy that did the machine work on them. I still am not buying the story of no locking pins. I can't believe Buffalo would have designed a hubcap that you have to check every day to see if it's tight!
I have pondered this question also, but if you look at any more modern wire wheel you will not see lock pins either. any knock off wire wheel can work loose, just as any model T can run out of oil. I all ways hit my caps before any serious run. never had any problems yet.
I have seen many non-locking buffalo hubcaps over the years. Some of the caps were era-made non-locking replacements, some even nickel plated. If you do a proper pre-flight check on your T before taking it out, you would find a loose hubcap before a wheel lets loose. I ran a set of non-locking caps, they never loosened up, but then again I always did a quick check with the wrench. Both types are out there. You must use the correct direction hubs to avoid disaster with non-locking.
I have owned five sets of Buffalo hubs and caps. Three old sets and two new ones. only two sets are brass and the other three are nickel plated. All of them have locks. One old wrench does not have a thumb screw and the other one has a thumb screw to hold down the locking spring latch.
I found four sets of wheels. Three were 30 by three and a half and one set was 20 inch with locking rims. None have ever even loosened a tiny bit. I usually check them before a race but have never heard a single click.
I took this picture this morning. The sailing vessel was launched in 1905. You can hear its big one cylinder engine thumping for several hundred yards.
That sailing vessel was launched in 1905 and it's just getting back to port! Better lock up all the 109 year old ladies!
The wheels in question were called HOUSE by the factory, we today often refer to them as Buffalo for obvious reasons. The flush and hexagon caps all had locks in them. The wing type did not.
As I mentioned above, I do not have Buffalo wire wheels, but I hate to see nice people on tours have problems with them. Again, had the proper hubcap with the locking pin been used, this accident could have been avoided. The owner claims the early hubs didn't use the locking pin. Well, if this is so, then why do the hubs have the notches for the locking pin to engage in? My advice to anyone with REPRODUCTION Buffalo hubcaps, get rid of them, and put the proper hubcap on your car.
I have witnessed as well as endured several wheels being lost during my relatively brief life as a model T owner. I have seen wood wheels, bolt on wire wheels, and of course knock-off type wire wheels come off. When it comes to Knock-off type wire wheels I have seen both locking and not locking caps come off. Locking caps or not locking caps is not the question. Either is original or repo. The question is usable or not?!?!
I am not the only one who has run sub-par components because that is all I could find. I personally have been running winged non locking hub caps on my speedster for almost 10 years now. I have run original worn bronze caps as well as repo caps in both bronze and aluminum. I used to use a locking wire on the wing caps, but the wire never got tight, it only scratched the paint and dulled the polish.
There seems to be a common paranoia amongst Buffalo owners, and that is if they don't hammer their hub caps into submission before entering the car, the caps will maliciously unscrew just to prove a point. It is my theory that this practice, be it right or wrong, is the root of the problem. Now let us think about what is happening when a person repeatedly tightens a hub cap every time they get in their car. If the cap never loosens, than we have to assume that the cap is getting tighter. If the cap is over-tightened, something has to fail. I have seen the hub threads stretch in length, and even collapse in diameter, and I won't even mention wear. Almost all original caps I have come across are barrel shaped, they have stretched radially except for the first thread under the taper. As well the locks commonly stick open due to corrosion in the pivot pin, or a broken wire spring. And I haven't measured how much the wheel centers collapse due to abuse, but they are stamped steel and I can only assume they do. The hub and hub cap cross sections are so thin, that the components distort before the threads fail. To identify a bad part requires a micrometer and and a set of thread wires.
There are countless Buffalo components of all levels of quality, both original and repo, being used today. I do believe that a healthy level of paranoia will keep you safe when motoring in your wire wheel equipped Ford. But ultimately we are responsible for the quality of the components that we decide to use on our vehicles. No amount of paranoia can compensate for worn or distorted components.
I've got Buffalo's on both of my cars. I've never had an issue with a lose cap, but I still check them every morning before I take the car out. With wood wheels I always checked all of my spokes.... just like I check the oil level, coolant level, cotter pins, etc.... I don't do it because I have a reason to believe there is a problem, I do it because it's the smart thing to do.
All this sounds like a good reason to use Hayes wire wheels if you can. We had a member loose a House wheel going over a bridge across the Murray River in Echuca. The wheel went rolling on ahead of him and parked itself against the bridge railing, still upright. Those wheels were soon traded on a set of 27 T wires. It changed the character of the black sedan they were on.
Allan from down under.
I got my buffalo wheels after one came off the previous owners car. They were improperly installed and never rechecked. Maybe do to wear, these rear wheels hit the rocky mountain brake drum before seating on the hub. If any of this has scared you away from buffalo wheels you can send them to me.
Still waiting, keep them coming.
Andy I have a pair of rear hubs there's a few good threads left, the Marcels are not quite a flat top and the welds holding the tapers in only shows a few cracks,you'll have them by Saturday.
If you go to the HCCA website you can read my posts, and others', about the Sierra Vista tour. There are several pictures, including one of Ken Kenewell's T after it lost the wheel. He was very lucky, because the wheel came off in town on a wide, level road as he was slowing to make a turn. It could have happened 5 miles before or after, at speed, on a downgrade. It could have happened two days before, when I was riding in the back seat!
Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ
I think this Buffalo rim still has a couple miles left in it. I hope you can use an extra 20" rim... or maybe it's a 21"??? Kinda hard to tell anymore. It's a little bent, but I'm sure with a little hammer and a lot of patience you can make it work. I'll get it on the mail truck next time it comes around.
Thanks Robin and Kevin. It's a start but the other wheels should start rolling in any time.
A simple safety check is to tighten the wheels to their correct tightness than paint a small mark going from the cap to the wheel center. Check the mark every time you use the car, if it has moved, things have loosened. I agree, "whacking" them every time you go for a ride is probably not a good idea for the threads on either the hub or the cap.
most english sports cars with knock off wire wheels have no lock, just right and left thread
I've been on one tour where a Buffalo wheel came off, (not mine), after several miles on a constantly twisting road with a sharp drop off on one side. Just as the car got on straight, flat & level road, a rear wheel fell off. Scary.
In another instance, I was looking at a nice 13 touring parked in a lot. I noticed the right front wheel was very nearly off the hub. I put a note on the driver's window. He later thanked me very much. Scary.