I have a 1927 Tudor - one of the last to roll off the assembly line. When I got the car, it had tired wooden spokes on it. I was thinking of respoking the wood, but I've also been mulling a conversion to wire wheels.
Any opinions on wire vs wood?
Any differences in performance, maintenance or other measurable issues?
I know only 1927's offered wire as an option, so would that make me an outlier with the T gang?
Any input much appreciated. Either option is not cheap, so I want to make an informed decision and be happy with the path I take.
Thanks in advance.
A lot easier to change a tire on a wire wheel than a split rim.
I also have a 27 Tudor made in May of 27. I believe they were optional in 26 and became standard in 27 or maybe standard just on closed cars. I'm sure someone will correct me if that is wrong.
Mine has wires. The wire wheels offered by Ford use welded spokes and are for the most part maintenance free. Mounting and dismounting tires is easier too thanks to the drop center style of rim. See previous posts about using rim spreaders for more on that.
That said, I would not turn down a car for having wood spokes. They are fairly hassle free if not allowed to rot or weather too much. I'm sure many will expound further on the subject.
Wire wheels were standard in 1927. In my view wire wheels are stronger and don't deteriorate with time and weather like a wood wheel.
The 4.50-21 tire will last many times longer than a 30 x 3-1/2 clincher and both wood wheels and wire wheels on the improved cars used the 4.50-21 tire.
It boils down to what you want, wires would be more "correct" but if you like the wood wheels, go for it. Unless you are 17 it is likely either wire wheels or new wood spokes will last your lifetime.
Figure about $150-$200 to redo the wood wheels - Total = $800
Wire hubs run 150-200 apiece = $800 and hopefully the races are good or add the price of races.
Wire wheels = $100-$150 each and then you have to clean them up and repaint them
Tires, rim flaps, and inner tubes.
How much do you want to put in this project at this time and how much do you like the look of wire versus wood?
I have both types and I like the wire wheels but the wood just reminders you of how old these cars really are. Tim
I do think there's something special about wood wheels. Good lord - the wheels can break because they are made of wood. On the other hand, if wire was standard on the closed cars in 1927, I do want my car to be correct. I'm torn.
Your choice. As I read the encyclopedia, either one is correct. Wires were standard for your car, but split rims were still standard on the open cars, and I assume they were an option on closed cars.
My take on this. At least to my satisfaction, this detail is not yet resolved.
(Except TT trucks.)
Basically, welded wire wheels were available as an option (at least) pretty much throughout model years 1926 and '27. They appear to have been a bit scarce in the beginning, however becoming more common on all body styles by spring of '26.
Several times, and several sources, I have read that the wire wheels became standard on sedans and coupes. I have read different timelines for this, and even read excerpts claimed to be from original Ford factory letters. I have also read that ALL Fords used wire wheels as standard equipment some time early in '27 model year.
However, empirical (surviving cars) and photographic evidence doesn't seem to agree. There just seem to be way too many late surviving cars (including sedans and coupes) with wood wheels. I can accept that even hundreds of cars could have had wire wheels removed and replaced by wood wheels. I have, over the years, known more than a few people that did that themselves simply because either they liked their car with wood wheels, or liked the offer they got to trade away the wire wheels for wood and cash.
It just seems to me, that if wood wheels were so bad, rotted out, and broke? Why do I see so many '26 and '27 Ts with wood wheels instead of wires? And why do I see so many wood wheels available, and wires are so hard to get (and expensive) for those that want them?
Just me, and my silly opinion.
But, then, I do like wood wheels.
Regardless, your car, your decision. One thing. I do think that once done, done right, steel wire wheels should be good for a lifetime. Wood wheels do need to be watched a bit for any signs of shrinkage or wear between the spokes and fellies. But I still like wood wheels.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Eido, you don't need flaps on wire wheels, just a narrow rim liner to go over the spoke ends in the wheel well. That will save you enough to buy a wire wheel at least.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
I was going to say that my '27 touring has wooden wheels that I believe are original. To Frank from Australia (a country that I have never visited and badly want to), I don't know how it could be easier to change a tire then on the original '27 T wooden-spoked wheels, but if it is, the T wire wheels must be the easiest wheels on which to change a tire in existence.
When I got my late '27 pickup, it had no wheels. Learning all late '27's had wire wheels, that is what I got. I ran them for maybe 11 years. Finding a photo of my car taken in 1927 I discovered it originally had wooden wheels because it was a fleet purchased vehicle. So I switched to wood.
As you see I have experienced both styles of wheels on this car. Some observations:
Wire wheels: easy to change to spare, drop center makes it easy to change tire, strong no maintenance, looks cool, tires mount with tire irons
Wood wheels: not as easy to change demountables, split rims deform easily and are difficult to mount in tires, less expensive and not as strong, need constant maintenance such as shimming and refinishing, relatively easy to rebuild with new spokes, looks cool, need special tool to mount tire
(Message edited by Thorlick on December 09, 2016)
If your tires and inner tubes are good, you can switch them over to the wire wheels easily. You can sell your wooden wheels and rims and reduce the cost of the changeover to wires. I have been driving my touring for over 45 years with wire wheels and they ride so smooth. I think the balance is better with wire than wood.
Once you re-spoke the wood wheels, they will last a lifetime, Especially if you keep the car out of the weather when you aren't using it. I have wood wheels that were re-spoked 45 years ago and they are just as tight as the day I had them done.
I have a '26 Touring (March'26 production). My wood wheels were creaky so I opted to replace them with black wire wheels and hubs. As they were available as a dealer item at that time I didn't feel hesitant about installing them. I try to keep the visible items "period correct" as much as I can. No regrets. They are strong, look good, and are far easier to deal with than split rims.
First off, I have never changed a tire on a split rim so I have no experience to draw upon, but going off of recent posts regarding tire changing, rim spreaders, use of talcum powder and GoJo and others I have surmised that changing a tire on a split rim is somewhat more involved than a tire change on a drop center wheel of any kind, wire or otherwise. Drop center wheels need little more than tire irons for mounting a tire. I've done it many times on motorcycle wheels and on bicycle wheels it can usually be done without any tools whatsoever thanks to the drop center design.
Do you have some secret for changing a tire on a split rim you could share? Your post implies there is little difference in difficulty between the two rim designs. Thanks.
MTFCA # 32411
Another point to consider: Wire wheels support from the top and bottom, wood wheels only support from the bottom.
Jack, please explain the physics of that statement - it's not intuitive.
Jack is saying that the wires from the hub to the upper side are in tension - with wood the support is from the bottom with the spokes acting as columns and since they are pressed into the inner rim they can't support from the top, if allowed they would pull out of the rim...
I wanted to add that I have driven a sedan with both wood and wires and I feel that the wires are more forgiving on rougher roads than wood, but that is only my opinion FWIW
Correct, as Jack posted, here are drawings from 'Sir' Murray Fahnestock
The load is only on the lower spokes.
In Ford Wire wheel, those are 'welded' spokes, much better than any typical bicycle wire wheel with 'assembled' spokes held with nipples. The welded spoke wheel is akin to a solid steel wheel.
And with the triangle welded wire spokes, they are strong in lateral thrust too, which a wood spoke wheel lacks.
Throw in the fact that 5 Ford wire wheels, complete, weigh 36lbs less than 4 wood spoke wheels and an extra rim, the lighter wheels in flywheel theory of the revolving wheels on the T would create less brake wear too.
And this Service Bulletin states that factory closed T's with wire wheels as standard could be changed out to wood wheels (Black or Natural finish) to the customer at no charge! So you can have a late T with split demountable 21" wood wheels from the dealer.
Some cars look good wearing wire wheels. Some look better in wood. To
my sense of aesthetics, the primitive look of a Model T is WHY I gravitated to
the Model T, and the wood spoked artillery wheels are an essential part of that
quintessential look. Resultantly, any improved car with the high mounted
headlamps, nickel trim, rounded fenders, and straight cowl is already disqualified
from consideration as something I would want in my garage. The wire wheels
are just one more reason to nix the idea. As I tease my Improved Car friends:
"If I wanted a Model A, I'd BUY a Model A !" or "If I wanted a modern car, I'd
at least get one with cup holders and power windows !"
I like that older, cruder look. Besides, at least half of the comments I get about
my T are regarding those wood wheels. Cars just aren't sold with wood spoked
wheels anymore !
Burger, I couldn't agree more. I'll "see" your meniscus, and "raise" you one aesthete !! ; >)
From the research that I have done, the 1927 Canadian cars did still have the option of wire or wood.
Rich - You could have told Burger,....."resultantly",...."I'll see your meniscus, and raise you one aesthete !!
Burger - Com'on now,.... Is "resultantly" REALLY a word? I'm still pondering the "unfathomability" of THAT one !! (:^)
Thing is, a wheel is a wonderful piece of engineering, regardless of the type. Wood spoke (artillery), wires or discs each solve the problem in their own unique way -
Ultimately the increasing weight, power and speed of later models out-stripped the ability of artillery wheels and wires to stand the gaff.
I probably don't understand everything that goes into modern cast aluminum wheels, but it almost seems to me that they are the truly "crude" wheel . . . sort of a Fred Flintstone simplicity in a solid cast chunk of aluminum when compared to the elegance of a wood spoke wheel.
Gary, Once the rim is off the wheel, I deflate the tire, push the bead off the rim edge, and slip one side of the split over the other. With two big screwdrivers I usually will have the tire and tube off the rim in about five minutes. Since the wheels are usually rusty, I then spend a lot of time wire brushing, then sanding and painting the rim. Mounting the tire is just as easy. Then with the screwdrivers, I pry the split portion of the rim back to where they butt properly, fasten the clamp (there are several different styles). and inflate the tire. I do use flaps and will not assemble a tire and wheel without one. BTW: when I bought it, my '27 (March production date) had one badly bent rim. After examining it carefully, I found that it had been destroyed via the use of the rim expander tool. I would never use one. I also think that anyone who thinks that an "improved" T looks like a Model A needs to see an eye doctor for an exam. No offense - just sayin'...
Since this thread drifted into comments on split rims, FWIW, I found excellent directions on dealing with them in a 1932 issue of Dyke's Automobile Encyclopedia. I followed them when changing tires on our 1922 model 126 Packard, I disremember the tire size offhand, but the tires are a little heftier than the Model T 4.5 / 21". Didn't know about rim expanders then, didn't need no steenkin' rim expander - just a good tire iron.