Did Henry ever install Oak spokes in the T wheels?
Second growth hickory. I don't believe Henry even considered oak, and you shouldn't if you value your car and it's passengers.
Please, someone close this Panora's box, quick!!
I make spokes using nothing but Hickory. A gent in the clubs is convinced that when he sanded the black paint off of his original (factory) spokes that they were Oak. Second growth Shag Bark Hickory I guess is the wood of choice. Thanks.
And from what I understand Dale, not just ANY hickory! Should be "Shagbark Hickory".
And you're right David,.....this has been discussed to death fairly recently on this forum!
Sorry Hal,....we were typing at the same time and you're faster!
Hal, either your friend doesn't know oak from hickory, or he doesn't have original spokes. There is no evidence that Ford used anything but hickory for nearly a billion spokes.
I've been into wood all my life and if you take a spoke that has been weathered for 80 years and painted black at least once, unless you cut the spoke in half it would be difficult to tell the difference in grain between oak and hickory. Even if you did get to the unfinished wood the grain of hickory is much like white oak. I don't think anyone ever professionally used oak for wood wheels.
THAT's what I thought but I had to hear it from you experts! Many thanks.
Ralph, How are things with you? Regards to you and yours,
Thanks, Hal. ALS affects everyone differently. My main loss right now is ability to breathe. I am also weaker all around. I'm eating nearly constantly, but still losing a half pound a week. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to sit at the keyboard. It will be weeks, not months. At least I'm not in pain, unlike most other ways of dying. And my alleged mind is still relatively intact.
You don't have to look very far to find somebody you wouldn't trade troubles with.
I am not a wood guy. What does second growth hickory mean?
Second growth is the forest that grows up after the first forest has been cut down. I have no idea why it's better.
Old (original) growth trees grew slower and have tighter growth rings because they had to compete for light. Second growth trees that grow in the open light grow faster and in general faster growing trees (wider growth rings) are stronger.
Henry made near a billion of those things. Can you imagine seeing them all at once in a stack?
I would like to see some kind of test criteria for wood spoke wheels ie Wood Industry Standard, Underwriters Laboratory or an acceptable standard to meet the intent and safety. There are countless opinions as to what is acceptable and what is not. I have made spokes of walnut, oak, filbert and birch when they are all finished and painted you can't tell what they are. I have supported the wheels and placed hundreds of pounds of weight in the center with no failures. I don't feel this is an adequate test however they are very strong in every respect. A wheel with hickory or oak should be tested in a press until it breaks to determine what the breaking point really is. Early wheels were dished like buggy wheels however that design was discontinued.
Some time ago a member had posted a major failure from an oak wheel it was severely broken and looked real bad until he explained how it happened. He was towing the car and turning a tight arc on the gravel where the steering failed to respond and continued the turn on to the pavement with the wheels sideways and continued to pull until the lead wheel failed then promptly blamed the oak spokes. Could you pull hickory sideways and have it not fail? That is a very severe test for any wheel. I don't think I would endorse that method in to any test criteria.
Some spoke makers pay special attention to the grain and will split a cord of wood to get the best grain, I don't know if the strongest grain is on the flat, side or diagonal, course grain fine grain. Wood can grow fast and slow different qualities of wood can be attained from the same tree in a different location. Looking at many spent spokes the grain is in all directions, some with small knots and some twisted, who knows what is best. Without a bonafide test we are just guessing.
I think we are 100 years to late to expect any real standards as you suggest. The tensile and flexural strength of different species of wood is well documented. Wood is not like steel, and as you say, properties can vary from tree to tree, or within the same tree.
" I have made spokes of walnut, oak, filbert and birch when they are all finished and painted you can't tell what they are."
You scare me, and I'm fearless.
Make sledge hammer handles of your woods, and see how they hold up. That's a real world test of spoke strength.
You can do a keyword search for David Cockey, and read about how his '14 Touring's steering went hardover, and flipped the car. The Hickory spokes were undamaged. That is far more shock load than being dragged sideways.
Brent Terry's oak spokes failed turning onto a side road, and flipped the car.
Oak is brittle. Hickory yields and absorbs shock.
Rick, you are like Hickory.
You yield, absorb shock, and keep on going.
You are a real and original Model that we should all aspire to be!
It is very clear that when you look a published strength proprieties of hardwoods that Shagbark Hickory stands well above all other woods.
Bending Stress or Modulus of Rupture:
Shagbark Hickory = 20200 psi
White Oak = 15200 psi
Red Oak = 14300 psi
Black Walnut = 14600 psi
Sweet Birch = 16900 psi
Oak spokes are DANGEROUS never use Oak it won't take lateral loading and will fail at some point. That's why Ford NEVER used Oak along with most other manufacturers. Do your homework on this subject if you are still in doubt.
A question which has puzzled me for a long time is what wood was used in Model Ts built in England.
Manchester built 300,000 Model Ts. Hickory is an American wood. Did Ford send 14 million hickory spokes across the Atlantic, or did they use a European wood such as Ash?
In Europe, we use Acacia for the spokes.
Even for coach work Oak is no good and is not frequently used.
Doctor goes to a bar every afternoon to try and relieve the days stress. He always has an almond daiquiri. Dick, the bar tender, knows time is important to the Dr so he always has the drink ready at ten after 5 each day. This day he finds that he has no almonds and its a bit after 5 pm so he uses a hickory nut instead. Dr comes in, sits and takes a sip. Looks puzzled and says," Is this an almond daiquiri Dick ? " Dick says, " No, its a hickory daiquiri Doc." Question is was it a second growth shag bark ?
I am not going into this anymore! KGB
Did the mouse ever show up? Bud.
A lot of spokes came from Cuba. Cuba Alabama. There is a company there that makes hammer handle blanks.( OUT of Hickory) Owner says his grandfather and father made and shipped millions of spokes to Ford. Dan
Dan, could you find out which variety of Hickory they used?
I believe Stutzmans use Shellbark, which is even tougher than Shagbark.
Chuck, (I'm also in the Gold Country of CA.) I'd love to see that Billion spoke pile. For the wood to be useful I assume it needed to be felled, rolled for bark removal, milled, then stacked and dried. Next it could be cut to size and turned. Finally shipped to Ford. Each of these steps takes time, but the drying takes the most.
I just read a thread that mentioned in the 20's they ran out of metal dashes and went back to wood for a while. I can't imagine them not running out of spokes at some point, but I've never heard of that!
Here in the Gold Country there was a time when ALL old growth trees were removed for timbering the mines. We now have lush second growth on our formerly barren hills. The mine owners had to travel farther and farther away to find timbers. I find it incredible that enough second growth hickory was available anywhere to supply the auto industry in the '20's and '30's.
I assume Henry's suppliers couldn't just harvest trees and make spokes at the drop of a hat, they had to have enough dry wood available to proceed!
I find it incredible that they could accomplish the feat of supply without decimating their forests. Henry went to South America for rubber, did he go outside the U.S.A. for hickory?
Said I wouldn't, but here goes. shell bark shag bark and red hickory from left to right. Can anyone tell the difference from looking? Doubt it unless you are really familiar with the different types. Any difference in strength? probably, but not enough to matter. I have seen all types hickory used except for pignut and it is no good for spokes or handles. It used to be handles would not pass muster unless from pure white hickory, that change as they learned the red was as good. Matter of fact the worms won't bother the red as much. KGB
Some test criteria has been posted in the past. In this case, the testing has been done 100 years ago. We might not have the results of those tests readily accessible to us today, except to say that, in fact, all spokes for automotive use, were in fact made of hickory. I think that's as definitive a test result as is needed. It's not like we've decided to make wood spoke wheels today, for the first time in history. The science has been done years ago and the results have stood the test of time. The wood wheel was perfected years ago, let's not reinvent it.
Honestly, I'm with Ralph Ricks in fearing those spokes you've made out of walnut, etc. The fact that this wood is hidden under paint is even more scary.
Bill, That's a favorite of mine. First time I've heard that joke from someone else in 50+ years.
In response to your suggestion that there should be some test criteria for wood spoke wheels ie Wood Industry Standard, I offer this:
A standard for materials used in a product can be set by several different means. The two most common and valid are (1) Engineering design calculations, or (2) Service experience from testing of candidate materials.
Having been in the wheel design and manufacturing business (aluminum, not wood) and being an engineer by training, I can tell you that calculation of wheel stresses is a most complex and difficult task. Only today with the advent of Finite Element Analysis calculation methods and the computers to execute them has it become possible to approximate the stresses on wheel components. I say "approximate" because even the best of calculations are not yet fully predictive. Even with modern calculation methods it is necessary to validate wheel designs by real world testing.
One hundred years ago the only means of determining what worked and what didn't was by testing in real-world conditions. Of course the early auto makers had a leg up on the problem with a long history of wagon wheels to draw from. But after having seen billions of spokes in service, they really did have the definitive answer.
We stand on the shoulders of hundreds of years of wheel makers. If Ford could have made spokes out of other, cheaper woods, he would have done so. I see no reason to attempt to calculate what Ford so thoroughly demonstrated to be true.
Philippe, Is that the same wood used to build the Ark named in the Bible?
Ref for hickory spokes that states hickory will never run out for car wheels. But never tested as autos went to steel wheels
Go to page 1107 for conclusion
http://books.google.com/books?id=1R5aAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA1102&lpg=PA1102&dq=automobile +wooden+wheels&source=bl&ots=SMGQ0Qg7Y6&sig=iO5nOVVsGi7GZs693-8s7ZVqtis&hl=en&sa =X&ei=pvcTU5a7Lcm5kQfIjYEQ&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q=automobile%20wooden%20w heels&f=true
Here in western PA the Amish spoke makers use shagbark hickory that is sawed into 2" squared blanks. If you want a premium spoke, they will turn them out of splits to take full advantage of straight grain for the length of the spoke. You will pay more for this Amish equivalent of a Mag Wheel. My wheel man will not sell spokes to do it yourselfers because of liability issues.
One thing not mentioned is the reason for second growth hickory vs old growth. The old growth trees are old and more brittle with age. As a tree ages it has withstood years of storms high winds ect. The forces of nature cause stress on the wood and cause "shakes" to form in the grain of the trees. The older the tree the more likely to have "shakes" in the grain. The younger second growth trees were being harvested in the "prime" of there life. Just think of it as us as old "geezers" vs a young man in his 20s/30s. Which is stronger and less likely to break some bones doing hard work, a 20s something or an old "geezer" like us. We had a saw mill for several years. The better lumber always came from the smaller size logs than the real large logs. The large logs made bigger and prettier wood but it was never the same quality as the smaller mid size logs.
I restored my 1925 T coupe in 1974. I sent the wheels to a wheel restorer in Seattle. I remember the wheels had to be shipped by buss. I'm pretty sure they are oak. Over the past 40 years they have performed well. They still seem tight and true. If I had read the forum, or seen anything in the mags back then, I would have sought out hickory. At that time this was the only shop that I saw advertising. I remember that he had equipment that he bought from a defunct circus. They used it to restore and replace their wagon wheels.
One feature of oak that has not been covered is that is expands a great deal when wet, then shrinks more when dry. Oak is only suitable for use in making barrels, where the expansion makes the barrel seal. In hard times, it can be used for furniture that is only used indoors, but it is a poor quality wood with large open grain.
Haven't see this mentioned but my front spokes are about .200 smaller thnn the rears..
White oak and hickory can look very similar. I think I know the firm you're referring to. Did the name of that company begin with a "G"? If it's the one I have in mind, I believe they did first class work and probably used hickory.
Can you post some up-close photos of your spokes?
Base on this chart:
Hickory changes much more then oak in reaction to changes in moisture content.
One of the inherent problems with wood spoke wheels is the changes in size due to changes in moisture content (and temperature). It looks like oak would be better in that regard but not in strength.
That really surprises me, we made the mistake of using Oak to build a flat bed on a pickup to feed with. The 1x8 s were bolted to a steel frame cross way of the bed, butted up, the first time they got wet, they swelled so much that it sheared the bolts off the last three boards as they were pushed off the back of the frame. after that, we always used pine.
......but they swelled up across the grain and not lengthwise. Right?
Wood changes due to moisture changes the most in the tangential direction, a little less in the radial direction and very little lengthwise of the grain. Wherever wood is used it needs to be designed work in all moisture conditions that it will be exposed to. For a pickup bed that may mean leaving a little space for each board to expand without causing any problems.
Yes Jim, cross ways but not length ways, but that much swelling would cause problems at the hub, I would think.
Jim, The problems was solved by cutting a quarter inch gap between each board with an angle head grinder. That is what happens when you let a bunch a cowboys work with a material that they know nothing about
I am not a fan of oak as I react to the saw dust and smoke from it.
I would agree that hickory is the best wood for a wheel application from what I understand is that the pith is as hard as the fiber. In the day that these wheels were manufactured the conditions that they were exposed to is far different than that today. Gravel, dirt, mud, wet and high stress pulling appliances and driving equipment was the norm. The wood was exposed to natural sandblasting from the inherent dust and did wear the wood down substantially. Driving a Model T to day is far different than that it was exposed to when manufactured. With woods other than hickory and with the road conditions and driving habits of most hobbyists today the same stresses would not be endured. I don't feel that other than hickory can be determined dangerous and scary when driven normal and relatively straight at 25 mph. I wouldn't recommend 60 mph and hard abusive turning even with hickory spokes. I think the intended application should be considered before other than hickory woods are condemned. Wood spoke wheels I have made from birch, walnut and oak have performed with out any faults. The wood is treated with linseed oil to repel moisture as the wheels do sit still most of their adult life the limited amount of road activity has not caused any of the wheels to break apart, collapse or otherwise fail. If I ever offered a wheel to anybody I would disclose its intended recommended type of service. I don't feel my wheels are scary, unsafe or dangerous and I don't feel I am subjecting my family and friends to a dangerous condition. Most of the stress on a wood spoke is under compression, hard turning will apply side stress how much it would take I don't know. So far my scary dangerous wheels have not collapsed or fallen apart.
"So far my scary dangerous wheels have not collapsed or fallen apart"
.So far, so good, but films at 11.
I ran oak spokes for a year at speeds up to 70, but it took only one skid at 10mph to break them. Modern, dry pavement are put the most strain on a wheel, until you hit something at an angle, like a RR track.
Like I was, wishful thinking is blinding you to reality, David.
Ok, got me a little concerned,two years ago I bought my first T, it had been stored a long time, the spokes are painted none are loose but we do drive it a lot with passengers the last thing I want is an accident I could have prevented so I may want to just have them rebuilt, who does anyone suggest and does anyone know what the cost could be?
John, if the spokes are tight, look and feel sound, then you don't have to rebuild the wheels. If it ain't broke, don't fix it
Roger, they are tight but the paint is coming off a couple of them and one on the back wheel seems like it is bumpy not smooth like the others but I rapped on it and it does not sound different then the others
I know I won't convince you of anything, however, your statement, "Driving a Model T to day is far different than that it was exposed to when manufactured", is a fantasy.
We are asking these wheels to do exactly the same things that were demanded of them when Model T's were new. They are still expected to support the weight of a Model T, still expected to stay together when cornering hard, stopping fast, hitting a pot hole, bumping a curb, etc. Yes, any wood will work under normal conditions. However, when you need to swerve to avoid a collision, for example, you require the same strength that was originally engineered into these wheels.
As to modern driving conditions being less strenuous that those the Model T era; another fantasy. If anything, we drive them harder, with better roads allowing higher speeds and with having to drive a bit quicker to prevent us from being a rear end hazard, the forces, (and potential forces under panic conditions), have increased the need for strong wheels. With the offering of excellent hydraulic brake setups, we are also putting much higher brake loads on "modern" Model T wheels.
It's still a somewhat free country to do as you please so, by all means, enjoy your walnut wheels, but do NOT lead anyone else, who is fresh to this hobby, believe that they can do the same with complete safety.
I'll end by quoting Ralph Ricks, which I don't do often ;>) "Like I was, wishful thinking is blinding you to reality..."
My oak spokes haven't failed yet.
I've started my T by spinning the crank for years, and I've never had a problem yet.
Note the word these sentences have in common.
I don't recommend spruce but that wood is tough. After falling a hundred fifty year old five foot diameter one to close to my shop a couple of limbs cut three feet out from the tree were pushed in the ground two and a half feet. My fifty horse four ton tractor bucket laying flat to the ground slammed into the limbs several times only splintered the ends. Had to dig below ground and chop the ends off by hand.
Splitting the trunk for fire wood is a chore with a hydraulic splitter, it shreds with strings of wood still holding to halves together.
Wonder how spruce rates?
For the technically minded, feel free to read the following document:
A cursory look at the tables in the document implied to me that hickory had both superior strength (called Modulus of Rupture in the document) and higher work of fracture (called Work to Maximum Load in the document) than Oak. The following numbers from the tables are for clear and straight grained specimens, dried to a 12% moisture content.
Modulus of Rupture: 139,000 kiloPaschals
Work to Maximum Load: 178 kiloJoules per cubic Meter
Northern Red Oak:
Modulus of Rupture: 99,000 kiloPaschals
Work to Maximum Load: 100 kiloJoules per cubic Meter
So, using these particular figures, Hickory has 40% higher strength and 78% higher work of fracture than Oak.
Spruce and especially Sitka Spruce has the strongest strength to weight ratio on any commonly available wood. That is given an equally weight of wood, spruce is stronger then other woods. That is why it was used in airplanes.
However the bending stress of spruce per unit of area (PSI) is about 1/2 of that of hickory and would be a very poor choice for spokes.
Then on the other hand, spruce limbs may be close to Hickory. Spruce limbs are known to be very dense and strong. It is common to fall limby spruce tree and the tree just kind of rocks over on the limbs with the main trunk being supported well off the ground on the strong limbs. Because of the limited size and availability I have never seen published structural values for spruce or any other limbs.
Not only are limbs the hardest part of the tree, that are also the most decay resistant parts of the tree. It is vary common to find just the spike knot of trees when everything else has long since rotted way.
Maybe if you could find enough of these, they would not rot and be very strong:
The limbs on the three trees the city fell are very heavy for there diameter and full of pitch. A five inch diameter has about eighty growth rings.
All in all its not a good idea to switch what we know works to what might work on something as important as wheels. The one spruce was rotted in the trunk about thirty feet from the ground.
around here that tree has withstood many hundred mile an hour winds for years with two thirds of its rot in the middle. I could crawl in side the trunk if it were not for the sharp spike knots in your picture going all the way from a nice out side through to the rotted center of the tree.
My former Bellanca Cruisair has spruce spars covered with mahogany plywood.
On the ramp at Marana AZ, where picture taking is prohibited.
Ford had the following to say concerning spokes in the Jan 1922 “Ford Service Bulletins” [available in reprint or digital from the vendors]:
Hap l9l5 cut off
To add more interest on Hickory spokes, this is a publication of a test made in 1914 (published in Automobile Topics), by Univ of Michigan, and involved the testing of 23 wheels of the Ford type, provided by Hayes Wheel Co, Jackson MI.
Of note is the series of 'tests' and the one that was recognized as the better is the 'rim dish test', load applied parallel to the axle, which would replicate what happens in a skid, and the wheel hits the curb. A likely happening in auto driving. Other tests were 'heart test', load applied in the center, and 'direct crushing test', load applied to the rim of a standing wheel.
Tests were also made with wire wheel and it responded well to tests too.
And the picture shows comparison of America hickory to English wood spokes, where the English oak broke cleanly, and the hickory splintered. (from article Wire vs. Wood, Motor, 1912.)
Made some close scans to allow reading some of the info.
Dan Treace - Excellent post! I cannot find it now, however, a very recent post asked the question, what type wood was used for wheel spokes on the Model T's manufactured in England, as we know that hickory was the wood used by Ford in the U.S.A. I believe the article you just posted Dan, goes a long way towards answering this question.
I have not seen any recent posts in this forum by Neil Tuckett, who is considered "Mr. Model T" within the Model "T" Registry in England, but I can't help but wonder if he has some knowledge in regard to Model T wood wheels in England. I'm thinking that the answer regarding type of wood originally used for English wood wheels might be covered in the book entitled, "The English Model T Ford", a book in which Neil Tuckett was a co-author.
At any rate, very interesting article Dan,......harold