Even though I am not among those that advocate shimming old loose spokes, preferring to install new spokes instead, I was thinking about a safer way of tightening loose spokes for those that advocate it. Instead of shimming the spokes where the tenon fits into the rim hole, wouldn't it be better and safer to remove the hub plate, exposing the ends of the spokes where they butt up to the hub and using either wedges or shimming material between the hub and the spoke ends, drive the spokes, one by one, tight against the rim, then, mix up some epoxy putty like Aluminum Devcon, force it into the empty space between the hub and the spoke end not occupied by the wedges or shimming material, then, reinstall the plate, locking in the wedges so they cannot come out. This way, there would be no danger of the shims coming out like there is if the shims are between the spoke tenons and rim. Just a thought. Jim Patrick
That's the way I do it. Providing the spokes are not damaged, I glue oak veneer shims to the angled area, then press the spokes back in with a simple press.
IMO there is no need to shim between the hub and spokes, just shim between the spokes at the hub end. I also had loose spokes on my wheels and looked into the various methods of tightening them, and decided to force the spokes back out into the fellows by forcing metal shims between the spokes at the hub, this increases the diameter at the hub which pushes all of the spokes outwards back into the fellows. I know there will be a few critics out there but I have seen this done to a few vehicles and I have done over a thousand kms since with the wheels still tight and solid.
Perth Western Australia
I don't understand this concept. The weight of the car has to be transferred to the hub by some means. If a spoke is loose it is unlikely that the wood will have worn along the sides of its tapered end. If just one spoke is shimmed outwards by adding shims at its sides, then the end of the spoke will no longer push against the hub, and the load in the spoke will be transferred to adjacent spokes, and then onto the hub. Not ideal, but it might be OK. But if lots of spokes are shimmed, then the assembly will actually be loose on the hub, and the only path for radial loads is either bolt shear or friction into the two flanges. Neither is ideal.
The design relies on having a tight assembly on the hub. The integrity of the design is surely best maintained by tightening at the outer end, thereby pushing the spoke back into tight contact with both its adjacent spokes and also onto the hub itself.
I'm not advocating this for lots of spokes as a long-term fix, but shimming one or two is probably be fine for a while. I would suggest that if more than about 0.030" is needed, it's time to rebuild the wheel.
It's quite easy to make a screw device to fit between the spokes to push out the rim, then a shim shaped like a Pacman (an open 'C') can be pushed in with epoxy adhesive to join it to the wood.
Note that side loads on the wheel have to be transferred via the flanges. If a spoke is loose at the hub end, then the flange clamping force has been lost and must be restored by tightening the hub bolts. They may seem to be tight because the nuts have been peened, or because of rust, but if they are not clamping the spokes, the wheel is not sound.
I realise that some owners with longer experience than mine will claim that they have driven for thousands of miles with wheels shimmed at the hub, but it still seems wrong, and I think this only shows that Ford's basic design has good strength margins.
Wheelwright, part art, part science. I would agree, that as our wheels are moving beyond a century old, that new wood MAY be better. Old wood does need to be inspected, scraped or sanded to test for internal condition, and inspected again often for any sign of trouble developing.
But if new wood is used, how do we KNOW it is stronger than the old wood? Replacing good hundred year old wood with improperly dried/seasoned new wood could actually put one on worse wheels.
If, and ONLY if, the wood is good, not dry rotted, not deeply split, not seriously worn, good wood can be shimmed. The wheel MUST be tight so that the junctions do not work or wear making everything dangerously loose. If the tenons are loose in the felly (either wood or steel fellies), steel shims should be used around the tenon between the tenon and the felly. If the tenon is worn too much? It is my opinion that the spoke must be replaced. I have heard of people replacing tenons with hard wood dowel pins. But I DO NOT like that idea. Yeah, it is one of THOSE things that might work fine hundreds of times. But it leaves the spoke with a potentially weak joint between the drilled spoke and the dowel pin. The spoke, having been drilled, could split off the dowel pin under stress and result in a wheel failure (regardless of how well it was glued). It is an idea I do not like, and like less the more I think about it.
Length of spoke can be shimmed from either end to compensate for a hundred years of drying and shrinkage. There are advantages to shimming the outer end, and there are different advantages to shimming the inner end. There are several options for either end. Regardless, the hub bolts MUST be tight, but not crushingly tight (just almost).
I would also like to mention, regarding the use of oak shims (glued or otherwise held onto the wedge portion of the hub end of the spoke). While oak is generally NOT recommended for most wheel use? That is because it is NOT flexible enough for spokes. However, the wedge area does not require flexibility. Almost any hard wood can be used to shim that area. Generally speaking, the tighter the hub, the better. You do not want those shims slipping out along the road, allowing the hub to become loose fast and ruin a wheel in about fifty miles. Best to glue that shim to one spoke only (flexibility is still important). Tiny nails or brads can also be used to secure the shim to one spoke (must not be large enough to split the grain enough to weaken the spoke). Leave the shim a little long, then use a half-round rasp file to pretty up the joint between the spokes.
As always, drive carefully, and do enjoy! W2
Chris, I notice in your photo that you have removed the demountable rim before using your spoke jack. Would you recommend this, does it make the job easier?
Paul in Johannesburg.
I think it's a good idea because the rim does constrain the felloe, and when removed you can see and inspect the ends of the spokes. See the warning from Wayne about dowels etc.
You also need to know the dowel diameter to make the shim.
Chris is correct, the repair shown leaves a loose fit between the spoke ends and the hub nose. However, I have done this type of repair, using an exhaust pipe expander in place of the hub to push the spokes out towards the felloe. But, when I'm all done with the shimming of the spokes, I also wrap shim stock around the hub nose to reestablish a tight fit.
All that said, new spokes are better. My resistance to "advertising" spoke tightening methods here, is that a "newbie" might try it on a wheel that should never see road use again, with possibly terrible results. (I'm NOT picking on Jim for starting this topic.)
I agree with what Tony posted about the oak veneer on the flat area between the spokes at the hub end. I would add, however, that you might need to drive in a shim such as tongue depressor between the end of the spoke and the hub so that the weight of the car is against the hub rather than the bolts. When doing this, also make sure the hub is centered to the rim.
The above method works with steel felloe rims. I have no experience with wood felloes.
I would imagine it would not be advisable to shim one side until it is tight, for that would not allow you to shim the opposite side and give you an off center wheel. Ideally, it would best to make 12 shims all of the same thickness so that they can be driven behind each spoke, or, I like Jerry's suggestion of using shim stock cut into a long strip the same thickness as the spoke depth and wrapping it around the hub between the hub and the spoke butt until a tight fit has been achieved. Jerry, would the spokes be marked and removed prior to wrapping the hub and, after the shim stock was wrapped, the spokes would be pressed back in place?
As I said at the beginning of this thread, I prefer purchasing new spokes and respoking a wheel using John Regan's spoke press. The purpose of this thread was to try and find the best and safest method for tightening loose spokes for those members who prefer to tighten their loose spokes no matter what other members say about the dangers involved in doing this. Thank you for the input. Jim Patrick
While shimming wheels, it is also time to set up to spin the wheels and check for straight and true. Make certain the fellies/rims will not hop due to being egg shaped or oval. Shimming can easily cause these problems, and shimming is the easy way to fix them.
Front wheels, I spin on the model T front spindle (just handy, convenient). For rear wheels, I clamp a decent rear axle into a vise, and just spin the rear hub on a greased axle taper with a tapered thin shim to counter key-way interference.
This is also the time to correct wheel wobble. It can be a lot of work, shaving and shimming the spokes to correct for warping. Sometimes you have to put a wheel together and take it apart several times. But you want to limit that as much as you can. Putting together and taking apart wears the tapers and the tenons. And that can create more troubles to fix.
On wood fellied wheels, sometimes just a simple realignment between the felly and the rim can make a lot of difference.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2