Making Wood Spokes

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2008: Making Wood Spokes
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jeff Humble on Friday, July 04, 2008 - 05:20 pm:

I bought enough new hickory spokes to rebuild 2 wheels, but the learning curve cost me about 18 spokes to get one wheel right. Decided I would have to make my own to do the other wheels so I came up with some fixtures to help mass produce a lot of spokes. First jig is to cut the 15 degree taper on a table saw. Second jig is to hold the spoke for sanding the curve for the hub on a drill press. Third fixture is a socket to hold the spoke in the lathe. Of course I used hickory too.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By bill leahy on Friday, July 04, 2008 - 05:33 pm:

jeff,

very nice. you will undoubtedly have a "few" requests for your handy work.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 01:03 am:

Jeff:

Your jigs all seem fine to me but your pictured first spokes does not have the grain running absolutely straight which is very important for them to be strong. Since this is or could be a life safety issue, please don't actually build a wheel with that first spoke nor any like it since it could break rather easily. Of course for checking out your fixturing it is perfectly OK.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal_Schedler on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 02:54 am:

If you check the old spoke that Jeff posted it's grain is about the same as the new one. I use a little different approach.

After turningJig for 15  angleJig for hub


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal_Schedler on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 03:10 am:

Here is another pic or two.
Before pressingPressingRouting hub holeComplete


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks - N. Ill on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 07:36 am:

Nice, creative work, Jeff. What kind of hickory do you have there? How does it compare to the spokes you bought?

I UPSd a some Osage Orange to that master craftsman Hal last year, and this is what he produced:


I'm ready now to haul home a load of OO that I have split into spoke sized pieces. You, John, are the only one I have seen mention splitting to get straight grained spokes. Three hours with a rented splitter yielded quite a pile from this snag.

rdr


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jeff Humble on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 08:52 am:

John,
Good comment regarding straight grain. My source of hickory is the local hardwood supply where I bought a 6/4 thick plank. Once I cut up the billets I can see the grain, some do not have a straight enough grain, and all have some amount of slight grain wander with the center of the grain at one end pretty much still at the center at the other end.

To my surprise, my original spokes do not have a very straight grain. I picked out the worst one and I split it at the center of the tennon end, the grain went right off the spoke.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks - N. Ill on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 10:24 am:

All we can buy at the local hardwood candy stores in Socalif is Pecan Hickory, which is little more than half the impact bending strength of the standard, Shagbark Hickory.
http://www.woodbin.com/ref/wood/strength_table.htm

This Shagbark is on Tim Moore's place.



Grow your own spokes...
-------
I would like to know what hickory the vendors are selling, and hence my question to you, Jeff.

I'm going to have a local wheelwright make spokes for me out of this pile.



This old square nail was completely buried in the tree, found only after splitting.

Do Osage scraps burn good?

rdr


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 01:10 pm:

I too have seen some original spokes that are not totally straight grained but that doesn't mean that one should not care about it. This is especially true with the higher speed driving that we do now compared to the T era speeds. A broken wheel in the T era was probably a nuisance but at our driving speeds, it means real trouble. Splitting wood is still the best but some boards are easier to read the grain on than others. Small tight grain lines are easy to read while others are not. Ford had a test that was obviously not done on ALL spokes because it would have easily broken the original spokes like you just did. Guys - just be careful when making spokes - a bit more time and inspection can make a wheel a whole lot safer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 07:58 pm:

Jeff,

I am curious what went wrong to kill 18 spokes? I am about to try my first wheel. I have built the John Regan spoke press and have painted my spokes. I just have to decide whether to go for it or put on a third coat of paint. I may bite the bullet tomorrow. Any last minute advice on what NOT to do?

Thanks,

Hal


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jeff Humble on Saturday, July 05, 2008 - 08:45 pm:

Hal,
I lost spokes in the learning process, did the press thing 3 times untill I figured out how to do it. My secret was to tap each spoke a short ways into the fellow with a rubber mallet to get it started, made the spoke teepe less acute and did not have to fumble with 12 loose spokes falling out of the hub during set up. Others may have better advice than I can give.

John,
Agree about the need for straight grain for spoke strength. Without the ability to split billets for spokes I had about 33% waste to get enough billets with acceptable grain. That was a learning process too.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 12:53 am:

When using the press I designed, one point seems to often be missed. There are tons of ways to PUSH the spokes "home". One can use a Jack against the underside of something heavy like a car or a house jack under a beam in the house with the wheel on the floor or even a really fat lady can sit on it. The problem is that the PUSH is easy but without a good press the setup is very difficult because the spokes tumble down while you try to get everything in the proper place before the PUSH to "home". The REAL important part of my press was the ability to HOLD the hub solidly in MID AIR in exactly the right point so that all spokes are "clicked" up against the underside of the hub and all are at the same side by side location so that the whole thing then presses together evenly. My press makes it possible for ONE MAN to do a wheel by himself. I did my first 4 by myself at home and my 5th one on stage in the video so it isn't like I have a ton of experience at wheel assembly.

The exact correct height of the hub for a given press will take some time to determine on the FIRST wheel but I built 5 wheels with my FIRST press design and did NOT lose a single spoke in the process. The height variance is due to the rubber you use to hold up the felloe and any thickness variance in your wood 4x4 thickness. The hub should be TIGHT in mid air when you start - it is NOT loose and just PROPPED into place. If it is too high to start with, the spokes will fall out as you attempt to assemble the "teepee" of spokes. If too lose you won't be able to get the last spoke into the teepee. The last spoke should go in tight and then you PULL UP at the hub end of each spoke in turn to make sure it does NOT move but is already up tight against the bottom of the hub. If pulling up on a spoke makes it "CLICK" up into position you then need to lower the hub in mid air a small amount and go around and check each spoke again. Twist them back and forth whil pulling up on the hub end. The first time you do this it will take some time but once you have done it - you will be able to do the next wheel much faster because you should MEASURE the height of the hub so that the next hub can be put in that exact same position to start with. Only when ALL spokes are UP and will NOT click up higher in position when pulled UPWARD are you then ready to begin to press the whole thing home by loosening the bottom nut and then tightening the top. Once you have good tension on the top nut you can then spin the bottom nut all the way down and tighten the top nut fully to pull the hub all the way down. The SETUP before the final push is the important part and the hub should be TIGHT in mid air when you do this setup so that it cannot wobble around nor spin. It is spins the spokes leaning against it will fall down.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Barker on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 07:04 am:

Jeff (or anyone else),
Do you have the dimensions for the spokes? (in my case for 1926 21" wheels) How did you get the length EXACTLY right? I might have expected your lathe jig to have a guide to set the shoulder at the outer end.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jeff Humble on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 08:22 am:

I cut all critical dimensions on the table saw. First the width, then length, then a reference cut for the tennon shoulder, then the taper for the hub end, then the 45 degree chamfer. All but the 45 degree chamfer were done using the hub end for reference, or in other words I set up my table saw measuring from the hub end for all cuts but the 45 degree chamfer. I do not have a Ford drawing so my dimensions are from reverse engineering (measured my old spokes and measured new spokes and arrived at a final size:
Billet size 1.750" x 1.250" x 8.875"
Length from hub end to shoulder of tennon 8.250"
Tennon dia .531-.547"
Taper for hub 15 degrees.

I would recommed you make up some practice spokes, press them in a wheel, and see how well those dimensions work out for you. Having a new spoke is useful to determine the correct set up if your old spokes are not a reliable size anymore. My wheels are from a 1926 Canadian and the original taper at the hub was different than I made, the spokes had an alternating pattern, each spoke had the 15 degree taper at the front view and also a 10 degree taper on the side view, for a sort of dovetail, one spoke would have the wide dovetail on bottom, next would have wide dovetail on top etc. Do not know if all Ford spokes had that feature, the vendor spokes do not, and I did not use it either, just one more variable for spoke fabrication and wheel assembly.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jeff Humble on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 08:28 am:

Chris,
Look at my first post to see the lathe operation, you can see the reference cut for the tennon shoulder. Reference cut was done on the table saw measured from the hub. Allowed that critical dimension to be easily reproduced for all the spokes. With the exception of the tennon diameter, the turning operation has no critical dimensions associated with it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Barker on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 11:08 am:

Forgive me but I'm still confused. Possibly because I'm English.
I can understand how you formed the taper.
I guess that you form the inner hub curve until you have exactly 1/12 of the hub's circumference.
How did you determine the dimension from that inside curve to the outer shoulder? How much interference do you aim for so it's all tight?
I know from adding just two shims to one of my wheels that 0.020" length makes all the difference.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Barker on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 11:12 am:

Forgive me but I'm still confused. Possibly because I'm English.
I can understand how you formed the taper.
I guess that you form the inner hub curve until you have exactly 1/12 of the hub's circumference.
How did you determine the dimension from that inside curve to the outer shoulder? How much interference do you aim for so it's all tight?
I know from adding just two shims to one of my wheels that 0.020" length makes all the difference.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By humblej on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 11:46 am:

The dimension from the hub to tennon shoulder is prior to the hub curve being added, so the dimension is from the longest distance(where the curve intersects the taper), not the shortest distance (the tangent of the curve)

My advice would be to start your wheel rebuilding with a known quantity-vendor hickory spokes, after you get some experience you may want to consider making your own spokes, if you do, my jigs are a good method to control critical dimensions and streamline the repetitve operations. I am begining to feel resonsible for possible wheel issues someone may have in the future by following my overly simplified descriptions of the spoke making process. I do feel confident that anyone can make thier own jigs based on my designs, tailored to your specific wood working machinery, from spoke dimensions taken from your own wheel spokes or copying the vendor made hickory spokes. Be carful of the quality and process, like John Regan says "could be a life safety issue".


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Sunday, July 06, 2008 - 02:05 pm:

Jeff:

When I made my spokes I used a mini lathe somewhat differently but the essentials are the same. I used a 4 jaw chuck that closed by single key to achieve centering but I made a split steel chuck much the same as your wood wedge hub end jig. On mine the wedge is the usual 30 degree included angle but being split in half WIDTH wise - each half of the chuck had the 30 degree angle holder and the 4 jaw chuck squeezed the wood across its thickness to hold it in place.


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