* So, I have a case of the dry rots. Tires came with the car and I have no idea of age or mileage on them. I have 2 - "Bedfords", 2 -"Coker Tires", and 1 "Wards" tires. Coker tires look better than all others.
* I have a late 23 coupe.
* Wood Hubs
* Demountable Tires
* Size 30" X 3 1/2"
* I have Lang's, and Snyder's catalogs.
* Want to be as period correct as possible with my choice. (not sure if that is possible with tires.)
Other than looking at the catalog's and picking a new set of tires with a random flip of the coin, I have nothing to base my expensive choice on.
- Experience and Yes... Opinions....
- Suggestions and pointers as to what to look for when making this decision are welcomed.
- Is there another vendor to choose from for tires?
Your tire question has a simple answer. - bring lots of money.
I bought 4 Universal Ts and tubes from Langs last fall and am waiting for warm weather to replace the 50 year old Sampson tires with age cracks that are on my 1919.
To my amazement 3 of the current tires/tubes held 55 psi over the winter. I changed the tube in the the other tire last summer and it dropped to 30 psi so I am a bit concerned about the quality of the new tubes.
What ever decision you make be sure to include the shipping and tax when you calculate the cost. I was able to meet Don at the Amhurst NH auto show and swap meet last fall and saved both shipping and sales tax.
Scott -- You might check with Lucas Tires. They make the Wards Riverside replicas. The Wards tires were the most popular in the 60's and 70's, until they quit producing them. You could keep your Wards tire as a matching spare, if it's not too far gone.
My experience is to go with Cokers, They have the better warranty. All 30 X 3-2/2 are made in Vietnam. Theres no getting around it. Iv bought tires that cracked in two years. The set I have on my 19 are cracked just after three years.
Regarding clincher tire types, none of the catalogs I've seen say anything about differences in general handling, puncture resistance, braking ability, traction on wet pavement, or anything else of that nature. A phone call to Universal Tire revealed that of the brands they manufacture (Universal, Firestone, Montgomery Wards Riverside), all have a 4-ply, nylon cord and, for a given size, all have the same load rating.
Montgomery Ward Riversides whine a little louder than the other tread designs. The original, made-in USA incarnation of this tire is reputed to be the longest-lasting Model T tire ever produced, but tougher to mount and dismount because the rubber is necessarily stiffer. But that was years ago. Riverside's reputation for durability no longer applies because nowadays, all Model T clincher tires, including Riversides, come from the same factory in Vietnam and the same, much softer rubber recipe is used for all of the black tires. I read somewhere that the new Ward Riversides don't last quite as long as the other tread designs because of a slightly smaller footprint, but that’s baloney. I measured both brands of tread and they’re the same size.
Universals are a little larger in diameter than the other brands, so theoretically, they'll yield a very slight "overdrive" effect while cruising and slightly worse hill-climbing performance. Maybe that kind of physics is interesting to academic types, but in real life, I doubt anyone would notice such a difference. Universals are the most common, least expensive Model T tire available, but according to the manufacturer, they’re of the same quality as all the other black clinchers.
Harvey Firestone was one of Henry Ford's camping buddies and Firestone tires have the advantage of being original, historically authentic equipment. Universal Tire admits that though their Firestone NON-SKID clinchers are made from the same recipe as their other black tires, they do wear out faster because of the tread design. Not a good thing for a tire that's about twice the price of the others. I used to have the NON-SKID tread incarnation of the Firestone tire on my front wheels and two sets wore out in rapid succession. I finally wised up and replaced them with regular-tread Firestones.
Compared side by side, you can easily see that the regular-tread Firestone is about two inches taller than the NON-SKID Firestone. Regular Treads handle better and wear longer.
The rumor mill has it that white tires are once again being produced. Though they look very nice and are the only "correct" tire for the brass Model T's, they are extremely expensive. They also wear out very quickly because the lack the carbon-black ingredient which stiffens the rubber of the black tires.
I've read in Harold Sharon's book, "Understanding Your Brass Car" (highly recommended—the best and most authoritative technical book I've ever read on the subject), that some tires on the market today are to be avoided because they have an incorrect clincher design which will cause wear along the rim due to flexing and allow the inner-tube to creep in and get pinched. Unfortunately, Mr. Sharon doesn't name names, so I’m going to speculate a little on the clinchers of two brands of tires produced today—and you can take it for what it’s worth:
Firestones were original equipment on millions of Model T Fords and they worked just fine back then, even without flaps (and we know that Mr. Ford never installed flaps). Assuming the original Firestone molds are being used by today’s Vietnamese manufacturer, the clinchers will be of the same size and shape and should work as well as they did back in the days when Henry and Harvey were pals. As for personal experience, I’ve been running Vietnamese Firestones without flaps for years and haven’t had an inner-tube pinching problem. The original Montgomery Wards Riverside tires were of even higher quality than the Firestones, so again, assuming use of the original molds, the clinchers of today’s Vietnamese Riversides should also work as well as ever.
I have four Firestone tires on my '23 Touring. I bought the first two about 14 years ago during my restoration when I rebuilt the front end. I bought the other two about 5 years ago. They have held up well. The older ones are not dry cracked and they all have about 2-3k miles on them and are wearing well. I picked these because they would have came on the car from the factory although there are other brands still made today that are "period correct". My understanding is that they are all basically made by the same company.
Yes, you will hear people complain that they are made in Vietnam. So what? There's a lot of things not made in this country anymore. You cannot compare these tires to the steel belted radials on your modern car .
I see you're in Ohio. Another option is Universal Tire in Elizabethtown, PA. They make the Univeral "T Driver". They are a good, lower cost option if you're not hung up on the name brand. If I had an everyday "driver" T, these are the ones that I would go with.
Good luck sorting through the opinions.
Period correct go with Firestone's, but they cost more.
Next bet is go with Universal T-Driver. You have to like the look of larger sidewall tread feature, large looking raised 'lugs', but these are similar to other brands made back in the day. $160 from Universal Tire. I have both T Driver and Firestone's, and for the best $ value and longest life, the T-Driver IMO the value.
Todays Universal T driver.
period tire with similar sidewall design
Firestone side wall design.
Wards Riverside sidewall design
Whatever tires you use, be sure your toe-in (gather) is properly adjusted or you'll soon wear out the front ones. (Page 46 in the Ford manual.)
Scott - You may also want to check out the Lucas Classic Tires website. They're in Springfield, OH. Driving distance from Centerville, so you can save the shipping cost, if you can get what you want from their in-house stock. I got mine directly from Universal Tire in PA, since I already had three used (but great shape) Universal ribbed, and Lucas would have had to order them anyway.
Dan brings up a great point about the side profile of the Universal T drivers. They definitely give the T a different look. It's one of the reasons I went with the more expensive Firestones, other than the correctness factor.
T Driver tires are crowned like motorcycle tires. You get more rubber on the road with Excelsiors, meaning they will last longer.
That's my experience.
How bad is bad? I recently traded off my 29 Chev that had S-3 (WW II rationed) tires all the way around. They had little cracks everywhere and I drove it fairly regularly. I've got a pair of knobbies on the rear of a speedster that are 50 yrs old. You have to look and evaluate carefully. I have 6 T's and several other old cars--I can't replace a tire every time it gets little cracks. I have some tires purchased a few years ago that are cracked worse than some that are 35 years old. If you start to see a separation crack along a seam and you're seeing the cotton cord,--that's significant. Just my opinion!
Remember what the guy did to get his sorry tires to pass safety inspection in the movie "The Worlds Fastest Indian"? Don't do that.
I thought the Firestone tires are now being made in the U.S.A. FWIW
As for the sidewall design of the Universal T-Driver, I like it, patterned after the famous Samson tires of the late '20's.
Old Samson tire sidewall design
Here is the 'Made In Vietnam' mark on a Firestone clincher, mfg date 1-17-11. This is one of the set I bought 3 years ago, would be surprised if they are made in the USA today.
Maybe it is only the 21 inch Firestones being made in America?
My experience with Firestone tires I don't like'em.!
I bought 4 new Firestones from Coker I'm fortunate enough to live 30 miles from their store, I mounted them but about a week or two later I had one split at the bead, Coker made it up of course but I had to take my rim back with me for them to inspect. No problem they gave me a new tire I was happy with the customer service.
The following month I loaded my T to take it to a show, as I was strapping it down I noticed on the inside sidewall on a rear tire I had a split from the rim all the way to the tread..!
This one wasn't as easily made up I had to do some heavy discussing with the sales team at Coker that is until Corky Coker walked in and asked what was going on? I explained it to him , he took a look at the tire and told the sales team to get me a new tire, he then said he appreciated my business and I went on my way.....
When I returned home as I started to mount the new tire I noticed a date code on the plastic wrap in the form of a small strip of white paper, I went back to my trash box where I had mounted the first set of 4 and found that I indeed had bought two that was really fresh, and the other two were almost 3 years old. So make sure you ask for fresh tires when you buy don't accept something that's been stored in a warehouse for extended periods of time.
Again the Coker family are all excellent folks to deal with just check your tires no matter where you get them...
When last I bought some tires from Lang's, they informed me that the tires would be "drop-shipped." In answer to my next question, they explained that drop-shipping meant the tires would be shipped directly from the manufacturer. I asked why Lang's didn't stock tires and Ashley replied, "This way, we know the tires our customers get will be fresh. We insist on that."
Sure enough, when the tires arrived a few days later and I peeled away the wrapping, there was that unmistakable aroma of brand-new rubber. No question about who I'm gonna call when I need new tires.
For the record, the 21 inch Firestones on my car are of the "made in New Zealand" era, perhaps from the mid 1970s, and still looking good, wearing well.