Forum/model t veterans well know red oak.spokes Will likely fail you. I've heard from two t veterans, both known to this group who have said you can get by with white oak. The crux of the matter is I am considering selling a set of 30/3.5 white oak spokes wheels. I want some assurance as to their quality. Yes they're tight, recent respokes, good hubs etc. With respect I ain't asking options as to value. I'm asking people's experience with white oak spokes wheels. Please no "Hickory is the only safe choice" comments unless you can REALLY. Back that up
Lastly, I've run these wheels close to 1000 miles over the
course old two years under several different circumstances, including lateral forces.
White oak machines well, nails and screws well although pre-boring is advised. Since it reacts with iron, galvanized nails are recommended. Its adhesive properties are variable, but it readily accepts a stain. White Oak can be stained with a wide range of finish tones.
Machines similarly to red oak but has greater tendency to chip and splinter. Turns well. Difficult to work by hand. Nails and screws satisfactorily although pre-drilling is recommended. White Oak generally glues satisfactorily, stains and finishes well with no need to fill pores for smoothness.
The use of galvanized or stainless fasteners are recommended to avoid dark discolorations that can result when White Oak reacts with iron and certain metals.
I'll say Hickory is the best choice. One hundred plus years of automotive wood wheels is what REALLY backs that up. Nobody can assure you, with any certainty, that your wheels are as safe as, or almost as safe as, or half as safe as... hickory.
That being said, the spokes on my '21 Roadster are ash. I've driven them hard for over 30 years. Still doing good.
I think your best bet is to offer the wheels for sale, with full disclosure, and let the buyer decide. If it's someone new to the hobby, who doesn't know enough to make an informed decision, I would be hesitant about it. Either way, nobody here can give you the assurance you seek.
Home » Reference » Strength Properties of Commercially Important Woods
Strength Properties of Commercially Important Woods
The table below provides laboratory-derived values for several mechanical properties of wood that are associated with wood strength. Note that due to sampling inadequacies, these values may not necessarily represent average species characteristics.
Source: U.S. Forest Products Laboratory
Tree Species Average Specific Gravity, Oven Dry Sample Static Bending Modulus of Elasticity (E) Impact Bending, Height of Drop Causing Failure Compress. Parallel to Grain, Max Crushing Strength Compress. Perpen. to Grain, Fiber Stress at Prop. Limit Shear Parallel to Grain, Max Shear Strength
(0-1.0) 10^6 psi inches psi psi psi
U. S. Hardwoods
Alder, Red 0.41 1.38 20 5,820 440 1,080
Ash, Black 0.49 1.60 35 5,970 760 1,570
Ash, Blue 0.58 1.40 - 6,980 1,420 2,030
Ash, Green 0.56 1.66 32 7,080 1,310 1,910
Ash, Oregon 0.55 1.36 33 6,040 1,250 1,790
Ash, White 0.60 1.74 43 7,410 1,160 1,910
Aspen, Bigtooth 0.39 1.43 - 5,300 450 1,080
Aspen, Quaking 0.38 1.18 21 4,250 370 850
Basswood 0.37 1.46 16 4,730 370 990
Beech, American 0.64 1.72 41 7,300 1,010 2,010
Birch, Paper 0.55 1.59 34 5,690 600 1,210
Birch, Sweet 0.65 2.17 47 8,540 1,080 2,240
Birch, Yellow 0.62 2.01 55 8,170 970 1,880
Butternut 0.38 1.18 24 5,110 460 1,170
Cherry, Black 0.50 1.49 29 7,110 690 1,700
Chestnut, American 0.43 1.23 19 5,320 620 1,080
Cottonwood, Balsam Poplar 0.34 1.1 - 4,020 300 790
Cottonwood, Black 0.35 1.27 22 4,500 300 1,040
Elm, Eastern 0.40 1.37 20 4,910 380 930
Elm, American 0.50 1.34 39 5,520 690 1,510
Elm, Rock 0.63 1.54 56 7,050 1,230 1,920
Elm, Slippery 0.53 1.49 45 6,360 820 1,630
Hackberry 0.53 1.19 43 5,440 890 1,590
Hickory, Bitternut 0.66 1.79 66 9,040 1,680 -
Hickory, Nutmeg 0.6 1.70 - 6,910 1,570 -
Hickory, Pecan 0.66 1.73 44 7,850 1,720 2,080
Hickory, Water 0.62 2.02 53 8,600 1,550 -
Hickory, Mockernut 0.72 2.22 77 8,940 1,730 1,740
Hickory, Pignut 0.75 2.26 74 9,190 1,980 2,150
Hickory, Shagbark 0.72 2.16 67 9,210 1,760 2,430
Hickory, Shellbark 0.69 1.89 88 8,000 1,800 2,110
Honeylocust - 1.63 47 7,500 1,840 2,250
Locust, Black 0.69 2.05 57 10,180 1,830 2,480
Magnolia,Cucumbertree 0.48 1.82 35 6,310 570 1,340
Magnolia, Southern 0.50 1.40 29 5,460 860 1,530
Maple, Bigleaf 0.48 1.45 28 5,950 750 1,730
Maple, Black 0.57 1.62 40 6,680 1,020 1,820
Maple, Red 0.54 1.64 32 6,540 1,000 1,850
Maple, Silver 0.47 1.14 25 5,220 740 1,480
Maple, Sugar 0.63 1.83 39 7,830 1,470 2,330
Oak, Black 0.61 1.64 41 6,520 930 1,910
Oak, Cherrybark 0.68 2.28 49 8,740 1,250 2,000
Oak, Laurel 0.63 1.69 39 6,980 1,060 1,830
Oak, Northern Red 0.63 1.82 43 6,760 1,010 1,780
Oak, Pin 0.63 1.73 45 6,820 1,020 2,080
Oak, Scarlet 0.67 1.91 53 8,330 1,120 1,890
Oak, Southern Red 0.59 1.49 26 6,090 870 1,390
Oak, Water 0.63 2.02 44 6,770 1,020 2,020
Oak, Willow 0.69 1.90 42 7,040 1,130 1,650
Oak, Bur 0.64 1.03 29 6,060 1,200 1,820
Oak, Chestnut 0.66 1.59 40 6,830 840 1,490
Oak, Live 0.88 1.98 - 8,900 2,840 2,660
Oak, Overcup 0.63 1.42 38 6,200 810 2,000
Oak, Post 0.67 1.51 46 6,600 1,430 1,840
Oak, Swamp Chestnut 0.67 1.77 41 7,270 1,110 1,990
Oak, Swamp White 0.72 2.05 49 8,600 1,190 2,000
Oak, White 0.68 1.78 37 7,440 1,070 2,000
Sassafras 0.46 1.12 - 4,760 850 1,240
Sweetgum 0.52 1.64 32 6,320 620 1,600
Sycamore, American 0.49 1.42 26 5,380 700 1,470
Tupelo, Black 0.50 1.20 22 5,520 930 1,340
Tupelo, Water 0.50 1.26 23 5,920 870 1,590
Walnut, Black 0.55 1.68 34 7,580 1,010 1,370
Willow, Black 0.39 1.01 - 4,100 430 1,250
Yellow-poplar 0.42 1.58 24 5,540 500 1,190
I apologize for that mess I just posted. I thought I was posting the link. Apparently my iPhone assumed I really wanted to play a game of "stump the dummy".
Next time I'll review before hitting the post button.
(Message edited by adminchris on September 21, 2015)
I have been running white oak spokes on my 26 for 11 years with no problem on some pretty nasty roads these were the only thing available for years, I think Tom C drove his car to all 48 states with oak spokes.
Basically White Oak in compression is much more susceptible to deflection than hickory. Though it has more resistance to side load during compression than red oak it doesn't hold a candle to hickory. Look at the charts for the mechanical properties of wood. Then make up your mind. Personally I wouldn't run any oak spokes, red or white. One man's success is a poor measure when it comes to living or dying.
I couldn't find the link, but some time ago someone posted on this forum a table that contained various strength properties of various types of wood. It indicated sheer, tensile and flex among other things. I can't quote the specific values, but I do remember that hickory was not only Number One in desirable properties for making spokes, it was Number One by a significant margin over Number Two. I'd suggest looking up those values and then deciding for yourself if you consider your white oak spokes safe.
Keep in mind that marginal material may never cause a failure. As long as everything is fine, everything is fine. However, that 1 crisis second when it's necessary to test the limits is when the marginal materials will fail where the proper material would not.
Perhaps someone else on this forum with better computer skills than I have can find the thread with the table.
Dexter - I cannot, nor would I try to "back up" any info about shagbark hickory spokes vs. oak spokes, however, there might be one additional fact that I've never seen mentioned that might help,......you can decide if this is any help or not:
I honestly believe that there is a reason that you see hickory axe handles,shovel handles and baseball bats. I can honestly say that I have never noticed any of these items made out of oak. For what it's worth,......harold
Thanks Henry. You're a wordsmith of the highest caliber.
Actually, baseball bats are ash.
Well, okay Jerry,....guess I made an "assumption there", but I am more sure about the axe & shovel handles!
Oh, and actually, bats are aluminum nowadays,.......harold
P.S. Actually, I should quit try'n to' be "cute", 'cause for all I know, maybe baseball bats are now made of some sort of what Stan Howe calls,...."unobtainium"!
I would use them on one of my fleet, but none of mine exceed 15 MPH.
I know. I used to think they were hickory too. I used old ball bats to make my own spokes. Took a lot of bats. One per spoke.
Michael G. and Chris B. - That's it. As I recall, the big difference between Shagbark Hickory and White Oak as relates to spokes is the "Impact Bending, Height of Drop Causing Failure" value. The White Oak value is 37 while the Shagbark Hickory is 67. I'm not 100% sure I actually understand what that means, but folks who do know have said it's what makes the Shagbark Hickory spokes superior.
Too bad Ralph Ricks isn't around for this discussion. He was passionate about it.
I miss Ralph Ricks. I cannot read this thread, without thinking how he would respond to the words "oak" and "spokes" in the same sentence.
I thought we years ago agreed, that oak spokes are for display only.
For safe driving - hickory is the only alternative.
The Late RDR is rolling over in his grave that someone here on the Forum is still debating on the safety of Oak Spokes on the road.
A google search may find some detailed discussions about wooden spokes.
Just remember, there was, is a reason that Ford called for the use of second growth hickory for spokes in wheels. KGB
I would like to remind you all Ralph Ricks had a failure WITH RED OAK SPOKES. Some of you have "generalized" oak spokes into one category. Anyone know of a known accident which occurred with WHITE OAK spokes?
Do we have to have an accident or is it ok to just use hickory since we know it is strong enough for spokes?
Dexter I know you are trying to find someone to say that oak spokes (white, red, live, post) are OK. They are not OK. Oak is hard and brittle. Hickory is tough and resilient.
Royce I'm trying to find peace of mind about selling these wheels so I don't screw anybody, I've priced them about 15% less than what I think comparable hickory wheels would be worth.
Some of the guys posting here have taken things out of context by generalizing that red oak and white oak are of the same qualities. That's not true.
Think of it this way. You sell your wheels with White Oak spokes to a novice. He puts them on his T. Shortly thereafter he's taking a turn way too fast, hits a huge rut and a wheel fails. The T rolls and he's killed. Later the family reads this thread. What do you think will happen next? Note that it won't matter that a Shagbark Hickory spoke wheel would also have failed.
Dexter - why are you selling them?
Running oak spokes is like running with bald tires on your family car. Sure, they'll work and you may drive for thousands of miles without mishap. But it only takes one mishap and all the savings are gone; and then some.
When your mother told you not to run with scissors, it was a warning of the outcome. The same advice is given here for oak spokes. It's still your choice.
Ken I think your talking about red oak spokes.
Ron, I bought these wheels for a t I had years ago, ran them hard. No trouble.
I sold that t but kept those wheels and put the old rusty wire wheels back on it. Basically I was taking money out of the t I put in because I didn't figure it would bring much with or without the white oak wheels. It wasn't a nice t. I have another nice t with non demountable wheels that I've considered using my white oak wheels on as they are demountable. Now the oil patch in lacheezieanna is on its ass and I've had no steady work since March. I need the money.
Just curious. Were all factory spoke wheels Hickory? As in Europe, Australia etc? Did any car maker ever use anything other than Hickory?
I'll jump in with something that I haven't seen yet. Climate. Hardwood trees grow much slower in colder climates than warmer ones. I believe that the results of the chart posted earlier would have different values for specific species growing in different climates. Numerous hockey sticks and baseball bats were produced in Quebec because of this fact. I have seen many spokes in old original wheels that look nothing like hickory, but more resemblance to a yellow birch from this area of the continent.
I have a set of wheels on my T that are some type of Canadian elm. 12 years and probably 20000 miles later they are still sound.
Russell, RDR once speculated euros went to wires because they had no Hickory-- don't kno if that's fact. All US autos used hickory. It's superior. I will admit that.
My white oak spokes came from Wisconsin, So maybe that helps their integrity Collin. Interesting point you made.
Called Tom Carnegie's shop. Hutch, his hand pretty much.dispelled the word that Tom toured with white oak.
No offense Mr Goelz. Hutch also said he ran with oak for year without incident, however he no longer does.
Not a lot of woodworkers in this crew, are there ?
Charts and histories aside, when it comes to hickory wood, the USMC phrase
"No better friend, no worse enemy" always comes to mind. Hard to imagine a
tougher wood for both impact resilience and deflection. That is because it is
VERY sinouy and hard as an anvil ! Conversely, working with the stuff is a real
PITA and dangerous, as the same properties make it grabby in your milling equipment
and enhance the potential to lose fingers or get speared many time over what other
woods will do.
For these reasons, it makes excellent vehicle spokes. Will other woods work ?
Sure. Do some people drive like it's still 1915, while others hammer their corners
HARD ? You betcha, they do ! So, one man's "OK" is bound to be another man's
disaster just waiting to happen. The way I drive, spokes made of Velveeta cheese
and Spam would probably hold up for years (unless my dog discovered them ...
then I'd come home to find just rims and spindles and a fat dog. But that's another
matter. But as it relates to the subjectivity of the question, there have been occasions
where other T guys have driven my truck and I am shocked at how hard they will hit
the corners ! I NEVER hammer my corners like that, pointing out that driver use/
abuse plays a significant role in safety. Bottom line:
When it comes to this subject, there is no "OK" that works "across the board".
Hickory is your toughest, safest, and best choice for spokes. Will styrofoam, fine
crystal, or rice cake work too ? Sure. Is that really how a person wants to hedge
their safety bet/s ?
The real issue here is that you seek anecdotal history to support what the science and Ford's specifications simply will not. The fact that you asked the question, implies that you already know the risk associated with oak spokes. I would think long and hard about Henry's comments before making your decision to sell them.
White oak and red oak appear to be totally different species and in some ways the mechanical properties are not the same. But where it counts white oak isn't any better wood for spokes than red. And red is lousy. A fence rail of white oak will sag in a matter of a few years because it doesn't have the radial strength to hold its own weight. However, if you throw a piece of red oak and a piece of white oak in a swamp, the red oak will rot in a few couple years and the white oak will be there a hundred years later. If you're going to sell those wheels to someone simply based on whether or not someone in this group has had a failure your accepting the responsibilities for providing someone with substandard product with a greater risk of failure. Selling them with a 50% discount doesn't make them any better. Money is tight for a lot of us but I'd be damned if I'd put someone's life at risk because I'm broke. Hickory spokes, under certain circumstances have failed. But Hickory is so much better than any other wood. No matter what you do to justify pushing the liability aside its still a bad idea to use white oak for wheel spokes.
Be up front with the customer. Tell him what they are made of and what the problem with that is. Tell him they are for show, not go. Good for a museum car, or something like that. You're gonna have a hard time getting someone on here to tell you they're OK to drive on. Even if they believed it to be so, they ain't a gonna say it on the forum.
With all due respect, you're essentially looking to transfer your guilt/doubts to someone else by having their endorsement of your wheels. It's not going to happen. (I really don't mean that to sound sarcastic.)
The choice for wood spokes made of other woods than select hickory, which Ford used, and which is supplied today by quality wheelwrights and our T vendors isn't a good decision.
"The wood of choice for auto wheels in America is hickory. Hickory is the primary wood used for wheels because it is strong and flexible. Some other woods are stronger or harder, but the combination of strength, toughness, yet flexibility has not been found in any other hardwood. Wheels require such a wood to last. Oak is not used in auto wheels because it can shatter across the grain."
Have researched and had read one period article on the net regarding wire wheel development and that hickory was not to be found in Europe, so some early autos there used oak. And that English oak was used for very large artillery wheels on wood wheel trucks and really heavy transports. That is because in large cross-section, of those huge diameter spokes oak is very strong too.
But in smaller sized spokes and wheels, as used on lightweight cars like the Model T, hickory is indeed the requirement, for the second growth with tight rings as noted, is best for those comparable small diameter wood spokes.
Better to use select hickory than any other wood for Model T wheels that will be driven by T's on today's highways. Acknowledged by professionals and business entities as the choice of wood is the key. Offering another type of wood goes against the grain of current product use.
Buyer Beware used to the be rule.
The modern trend in laws protecting consumers, however, has minimized the importance of this rule. Although the buyer is still required to make a reasonable inspection of goods upon purchase, increased responsibilities have been placed upon the seller, and the doctrine of caveat venditor (Latin for "let the seller beware") has become more prevalent. Generally, there is a legal presumption that a seller makes certain warranties unless the buyer and the seller agree otherwise. One such Warranty is the Implied Warranty of merchantability. If a person buys skis, there is an implied warranty that they will be safe to use on the slopes.
Dex -- It seems to me that the only way out of this dilemma which you can take with a clear conscience is to put the white oak wheels on the car you intend to keep, and sell the wheels which are now on that car. You have run them and feel that they're safe for you to drive on, so they'll probably work for you many more years.
Thank you Mike, that is a logical thoughtful response. I cannot give up my non demountable wheels on my car though. Those white oak wheels can stay in the rafters until I die if need be. Or someday, or at one time I wanted to build a speedster and you bet I'd run um wide open even at risk of death or dismemberment. I think you'd get warning signs if trouble were
About to happen. Two days ago i came real close to getting wiped off I10 in the 91.corolla. I periodically check my 6 to watch for that crap. Thank goodness I caught it and swerved or he would got me. 85ish versed 63ish twice vehicle weight clipped right corner. It would have been my ass.
You all can sure I'm being up front with the customer. I even told them of this thread.
Jerry Van Ooteghem, I've always liked your posts and character. I except your comment with humility.
Dan Treace, you have always been a great poster, thanks for your input.
Nice to have gotten to become more familiar with the character of the others, for better or worse.
A couple "T" guys that are also into wood working (wood turning lathes) have made beautiful pens out of spokes!
I have made some spoke pens myself from old TT spokes.
The old hickory is hard on the tools and is slow to work with for me anyway.
But the Hardest wood I ever made a pen from was a piece of a Locust fence rail from beside the driveway.
I dulled all my tooling just to make 1 pen. But it looks good.
Another issue I don't see mentioned.The shrinkage rate of woods depending on the dampness in the air and such.
Somewhere I have some really pretty maple spokes a local club member took from a wheel. They were loose as geese in Lake Erie. Very dangerous.
Has anyone tried Locust wood for spokes?
Thank you Dexter. I appreciate your comments and I'm glad that you were not offended by my comment.
You bet Jerry. Forgot to mention my appreciation for Hal Davis too. Another poster who is helpful.
Black Locust is sinuous and tough as hell. It was the wood of choice for insulator
pins used by telephone and power companies for 100+ years. Can take some serious
strain. I too wonder how it would hold up as spokes.
I see a lot of wheels that are being used that are in really bad shape. Some I think would be safer with balsa spokes. I would use hickory and install them correctly.
Slightly OT but I can't help but feel this way about a T.
As many reasons as there are to own one, (and believe me, you don't need to tell me twice about the fun, smiles, memories etc. that come with owning a T) the question of safety has always been looming over me. I couldn't help but feel slightly traumatized after seeing the photos of the snapped spokes and reading comments of fatal roll overs, it is a bit of a deterrence. Just a thought. I don't want to clutter up this thread, mind you. Perhaps a thread already exists out there pertaining to this topic.
A picture is worth 1,000 words or is it?? Will a picture tell how something was destroyed or simply that it was?? If not used in a true light what will a picture actually tell?? Bud.
Bud, have you been sniffing the philosophy salts ?
Burger you got some of that stuff? I would think so considering your posting material. Where can I get some?
Chicken or egg? Did broken spokes cause the accident or were the spokes broken due to the accident?
Different people take safety in different ways. I am probably more cavalier than most. I wouldn't think twice about shimming an otherwise sound spoke on the outer end of a steel felloe wheel and I wouldn't think twice about shimming a wooden felloe to the steel rim, assuming everything else was sound. To some people, a clicking spoke is a sign they need to pull over immediately, say a prayer of thanks that they still have their hide intact, then call AAA. To me, a clicking spoke is a sign I need to look at my wheels soon.
Having said all that, there's no way in "L" I would drive on oak spokes.
I'm going to run them again while I see to orginal demountables, the front ones need work and I know how to fix them. I'll be sure and let you all know if I have trouble with the uh, white oak.spokes
Burger,Nope i'm just trying to tell how it happened instead of what happened!! The pictures of the smashed oak spoked speak loudly even though they do not show what caused it!!!!!! With what caused the smashed wheels i wonder if Hickory or steel would have held up?? There are people here who know how those wheels were wrecked,and wonder what would have been next to be destroyed?? Hickory is and was the standard of the spoke industry for i think several reason's! To me to show the pictures without telling how they were destoryed is like the reason Hittler invaded Polland or so he said! Sorry i said so much but a picture can tell you what you want to believe or almost anything!! Bud.
I saw exactly the same type of wheel breakage, with red oak spokes, caused by nothing more than a right hand turn, on a '13 Runabout. There was a bit of sand involved, but nothing too deep or extreme. Busted off every spoke clean at the hub. I picked up one of the broken spokes. It was light as balsa wood.
Who can say for sure, but I don't think Ralph's breakage would have happened with hickory. But I could be wrong, (it's happened before!).
Jerry,I don't know either. What little i do know is there is/was more to the story and the power of a model T did not break them.Bud.
In your first post you said "Please no "Hickory is the only safe choice" comments unless you can REALLY. Back that up"
I think I can do that if you will bear with me while I try to explain it in non-engineering language.
When we need a material for any given structural application, we must first understand the nature of the load. For a wheel component, simply being able to withstand a high static load isn't sufficient. Wheels see shock loads. In other words, it's not just a case of putting a lot of weight in the car to see if the wheels collapse; you also have to consider high transient loads from turning, potholes, etc. A mattress might be able to support a really fat guy, but a bunch of kids will break it down just by jumping on it too much.
The common term for a material that can withstand high shock loads is "toughness". In other words, it takes a lot of work to cause a failure. The engineering measurement to compare various wood species for toughness is "Work To Maximum Load".
As an analogy, consider whether you could break a rope that has a maximum strength of 100 pounds. Yes, you could probably break the rope by tying one end to a sturdy tree and then giving a mighty jerk. But, could you break a 100 foot length of that same rope ? Probably not. If you tie one end of the 100 foot rope to that same tree and give the same jerk at the other end, all you'll do is stretch the rope. So how about if you tie the other end to your waist and take off at a good run, hoping that the shock of your weight when you hit the end of the rope will cause a break ? Probably still won't work. The rope slows you down and you never get to your 100 pound load. What you will have to do is get a good run and then keep on running while the load builds up. Keep running until you are pulling more than 100 pounds. Can you run with a 100 pound load holding you back ? I sure can't.
So, how do the various wood species rank for Work To Maximum Load ? Without going into the details of how that term is dimensioned, my copy of Department of Defense manual ANC-18 gives the following numbers:
As you can see, oak isn't even second best. Even though oak is nearly as strong as hickory from a static load standpoint, oak only withstands about half the energy before failure. There really doesn't seem to be ANY other wood that approaches hickory in this property. That standout property is why hickory has long been the material of choice for wheel spokes.
As they used to say about prize fighters, "He's got a glass jaw." Oak has a glass jaw.
I don't know squat about the properties of various types of wood, but if Hickory is what Ford used, then I would stick with it. Someone commented that baseball bats are made of Hickory. At one time that was true, but now most are Ash and some are Maple. Hickory is much heavier.
BTW: I'm not a lawyer, but if an owner clearly indicated to the customer that the spokes were White Oak, I don't feel that he/she would be doing anything ethically or morally wrong by selling them.
Just razzing you. Your post sounded so "ethereal".