I'm in the process of purchasing a 1927 Touring Model that has bumpers and wire wheels. I've always loved the Wooden wheels but this one has Wire Wheels. The seller has offered to swap a set of Wooden Wheels off a 1925 roadster if I would prefer these. While I like the look of the wood, I don't want to hurt the originality of the car if wire is truly what belongs on it. I'm also buying the car to use on weekends for country drives in Florida with my wife.
My question is this: Should I leave the wire wheels on or make the swap? The country drives could be around 60 miles round trip, 45 mph sections and curvy roads? We also live in Central FL which may be prone to higher humidity should that be a concern.
Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Wire wheels are in demand, and worth quite a bit more than wood spoke wheels. Some will argue that a '27 should have only wires. I vote for wire wheels.
Someone else will chime in with more definitive information but I don't believe there were any options except wire wheels in 1927. So from an originality standpoint you should keep the wires. At the same time, if you like the wood wheels, get them! NOTHING about the Model T and what is considered "original" is written in stone. There are tons of exceptions to every rule that folks have come up with.
There's nothing 'wrong' per se with running some good 21" wood wheels with demountable rims (I'm assuming that's what would be coming from the '25). Safety-wise as long as the spokes for the wood wheels are in good shape they're just as safe as the wire wheels.
The only issue I can see would be that a '27 has a large drum rear axle, and the '25 does not, so the seller would have to put some large drums on the '25 wood wheels. It's not just a simple 1 for 1 swap.
In '27 the only cars still coming with wood wheels were the roadster/pickup by that time wire wheels were standard on all other car bodies. Pssst I would be willing to trade you my '27 wood wheels off my roadster for your wire wheels.
I'll trade ya my '26 wood wheels and hubs for your wire set up!
As Ed said, you will have no problem getting rid of you wire wheels and hubs. Near as I can can tell (I'm new to Model T's), a good set of wire wheels and hubs runs $600 - $800 around here.
1927 open cars came from the factory with wood wheels. Closed cars had wire. Whichever came on your new Ford, the other was an available option, so either is "correct". Ed is right about the higher prices for wire wheels. If you can find good ones, $100 each is not unreasonable, while similar Model A wheels can be had for a fraction of that. Given your choice, if the cost is the same, I'd take the wire wheels with the car then shop for a separate set of wood wheels so you can switch whenever the mood strikes.
Lots of folks in Florida drive cars with wood wheels. I wouldn't worry about that. Lots of folks go at breakneck speeds like 45 mph on them too. It's no problem if the wheels are in good shape. If they're not, danger lurks even at slow speeds.
Most of the open cars got wood wheels even in '27, I think. Only the closed cars had wire wheels as standard during the last months of production, so wires were almost always an option for a Touring - there was a option package called a "Sport Touring" sold by Ford that included wires, bumpers, a tan top boot and a pair of tan triangular gypsy curtains. Maybe your car was a Sport Touring, then you should certainly keep the wires.
I like the looks of the wires as many others do, so the best deal whether you like the wheels or not is to get them with the car, then maybe sell them later since you'll get more for them than what wood wheels will cost you ( of course depending on if you buy good older wood wheels, rewood bad wheels yourself or if you let someone restore them for you..)
There were millions 26/27 T's made with wood wheels and large brake drums, so they won't be hard to find.
Black tires with wide white sidewalls are very common on antique cars today, but were uncommon when those cars were new. Other options that were uncommon in the T era are popular today too. That goes for 26-27 wire wheels. The reason they're so expensive is that they're popular today, partly because so many people believe all 26-27 T's should have them, and they're relatively scarce because not all T's did have them.
But I know which set I prefer
p.s. The open Improved Car, by '27, were available in colors too, and the wire wheels had color options, along with the wood wheels, those could be had in varnish finish too.
By the way, I neglected to say welcome to the affliction, as the saying goes. Here's something you'll need:
Go with wires but then again, I like wire wheels on brass cars too. (flame suit on)
The ad Dan posted illustrates another feature much more common today than in the T era. Varnished wood wheels were an occasional option on some of the late cars, but today you see lots of them on T's of all years.
Thanks to all for the quick responses and very valuable information. I'm going to keep the wires and search for a set of woods with the correct size. Thanks to Seth for the information about the 25 and 27 having different axles and drum sizes.
This being said, I would like to pick up a set of good wood wheels and is there a source you can recommend? Also, can I purchase Woods with the correct drum size for the 27 so that swapping from time to time will not be too much trouble, or is it a bigger job than I realize? I've worked in the Automotive field for 30 years now, just never on a Model T.
Thanks also to Steve for the website selling the manual. I bought all of them as I'm certain there will be lots of tinkering to do.
Thanks again to everyone for all the helpful information! I do appreciate it.
I wasn't sure how many '27s ever came with wood wheels but based on what Roger is saying there should be plenty available with the large drums.
One thing to note is that it won't be quite as simple as just unbolting the lugs from the wire set and throwing the wood wheels on. You'll actually be changing the hubs any time you go from one set to the other. Not a big deal in the rear because it's just one big nut and a cotter pin. Since you have a T you should go ahead and buy a hub puller just because everyone T owner should have one, but you'll definitely be using it more if you swap wheels like that. That rear axle nut should be torqued on at 150 ft-lbs and no, that's not a typo.
On the fronts though you'll be setting the tightness of the bearings each time so that it's snug but not too snug (also remember passenger side has left hand threads). Again, not a big deal, but something you'll need to pay attention to.
As for a source - no idea. If you get wood wheels I'd definitely recommend getting some that have demountable rims. Just like the ones you see in Dan's picture.
You may find some wood rear wheels with big drums, or you may get some earlier wheels and change the drums. About two million cars were made with the big drums, so they're plentiful. You may find some wheels online or through magazine ads, or you may find some at swap meets. As there are a lot of less-than-wonderful wood wheels around and good ones can be costly, I'm inclined to buy the hardware cheap at swap meets or auctions, get new spokes, and assemble them myself. That way I know they're solid, and it saves dough. Of course that requires research and study to know what parts you want and what ones you don't.
Badda-bing, badda-BOOM! Here's what you need right here.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Model-T-4-23-Wood-Wheels-Split-Rims-Hubs-Bearings-E XCELLENT-/361188246530?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item54187f4402 &vxp=mtr
The only things you would need to buy afterwards are tubes, tires, and the large brake drums - all of which is readily available from Langs or Snyders or Chaffins or whomever your favorite T supplier is.
I had black wood spoked wheels on my '26 Touring and changed them to wire wheels. Why? I always liked the look of wire wheels on a Model T and they were option factory equipment in that model year in black. So, unless someone can dig up an original dealer invoice, who's to say you're incorrect putting wood wheels on your '27 if they weren't original to the car? Besides, your name is on the title...it's YOUR car. Do what you want!
Seth From NC: I looked at that link and it states 23" Wheels. Is this the correct size I need? Again, a newby to Model T's so I just want to make sure I ask the correct questions.
I think the folks who listed them just measured to the outside edge of the (silver) demountable rim - instead of the outer edge of the wheel felloe (black). Those are 21" Hayes wheels, which would be correct for your T.
Be aware that the wire wheels have their own style hubs.
You want 21" wheels with split rims. The ones in the link looks like 1925-27 Ford 21" wheels but without hubs?
The split rims can be tough to find in good condition, so the wheels may be worth the current bid, but I would feel better buying wheels with hubs in place that I can inspect before committing to buy.
Front and rear hubs for wood wheels are plentiful and cheap, though. But rear hubs tends to wear in the cone for the axle shaft if some former owner didn't remember to retighten the nut after a few miles.. Shims takes up some wear so slightly worn hubs can still be used.
Get a few books and catalogs from.. say Lang's and Snyder's and ask more questions here - lots to learn, but no rocket science ;)
(Message edited by Roger K on January 20, 2015)
Hey Roger, if you look at the rest of the photos and read the description the seller provides the hubs are included in the auction. There are 3 front hubs and 2 rear hubs. Based on the pics and description they are the correct wood wheel hubs and all look fine. Should be no problem to assemble and mount right on a car.
Good set if nice tight wood wheels are very strong it your c