My wood spoke wheels started clattering and I had to do something. I have my T over at a friends on jack stands and I needed to do something quick.....
After checking with the folks who do the restorations for Merle Norman and the Nethercut collection...(they have several cars that won first in class at Pebble Beach)... and several other "pros" who do restorations on things other than cars... I've decided on a course of action for the time being..... I am soaking my wheels in water for three days..... After inspecting, I will mount the wheels and drive the car to verify the wood has swelled and made the wheels tight again..... After a few days I will use glycol based anti freeze a coupe times a week until I'm convinced the glycol has penetrated the wood (glycol will kill any rot, fungus or anything else that may be attacking the wood... glycol has many of the same characteristics of glycerin pluss the extra feature of killing the things that causes "rot"). I will then pull the wheels and finish them to seal in the moisture. As yet I'm not sure what the finish will be...although I'm leaning towards natural wood.... the dyes in the anti freeze will not effect the color of the wood........ after talking with an "old timer" who grew up driving Model T's and had to do what it took to keep them going with little or no cost... I've decided to use as a sealer...equal parts boiled linseed oil and turpentine.... this mixture will soak into the wood and give it a varnish like finish that will not chip or peel as it becomes one with the wood, not just a layer over the wood... I will re apply the mixture once a week for two or three weeks.... this will seal the wood while making the wood a little darker and give it a shine.
A special note here.... another way to tighten the wheels, use "Gorilla glue" where the spokes meet in the center.... this glue expands when it dries taking up the slack.....also you can
drive the spokes back to the center and use QuickPoly, JB Weld or some type of epoxy where the
spokes poke through the felloes.... build a dam around the spokes with string or tape so the
epoxy will not run down the spokes then poor in the filler material around the spokes outer end.
I'm using water to swell the wood and the glycol to kill any rot that might be in the wood....the glycol is water soluble and will penetrate the moist wood. For more information on using glycol, see my posting in the forum a little further down titled, "chemotherapy for rot".
In a few weeks, I'll post the results of my efforts...... Jungle Jim
Please do post the results Jim, I'd be interested to hear how it turns out. Just this evening I successfully re-spoked one of my '21's rear wheels with oak spokes from Snyder's. It was one bear of a job, but the new spokes are under a tremendous amount of compression, night and day difference compared to the other 3 wheels.
My technique was a little different than anything I've read or heard about. I inserted all of the spokes into the felloe, and layed the wheel out straight on the floor. I made a driver out of a piece of 3/4" steel, with a 2.2" hole in the middle of it bored on the lathe. I then used a 6 ton bottle jack and jacked the spokes and felloe down onto the hub. My drill press does not have the reach to drill the holes through the spokes. So I bored the holes between the spokes by removing the top of the drill press and placing the wheel over the post, then reassemble the drill press and bore the hole, then remove the whole thing and proceed to drill the next, and so on. The end result is an extremely tight wheel, which as near as I can tell is quite straight. The end result turned out so well that I might consider re-spoking the marginal wheels as well.
My wheels have soaked for three complete days and nights submerged in water .... Apon examination, I found the wood to have "swelled" nicely..... One note, I had tightened the hub nuts and bolts when the wheels were getting loose.... I should have loosened the nuts again before soaking as the swelling wood bent the plate and some of the hub between the bolts... I didn't realise swelling wood had so much power.
To save time, I think soaking the wheels in straight glycol or a 50/50 mix with water would be the way to go but, that would be a lot of money for the anti freeze. Perhaps another option would be to put some clorine bleach into the water used to swell the wood spokes.... either way, the "rot" killer would go right into the wood as it swells...... Anyone know how wood reacts over a long time with "bleach/water" sealed in?
I will post my findings as the work continues.... By the way, the wheels are now as tight as a proverbial "barrel hoop".