Hey all, I'm going to bite the bullet and put new tires on my T. The 30x3.50s on it look like they were never used but unfortunately old enough to be significantly cracked from age.
I'm looking at Wards Riverside tires as the cheapest at $150 each, Universal T Drivers as a straight replacement for what's on there for another $10 per tire, and the prices go up from there. Are the Wards Riversides good enough for me or should I be aiming higher?
I buy Wards because all the clincher tires are made in the same factory in Vietnam. When you pay more for other tires, you're spending extra for the name, not better quality.
I am driving ca. 1950 Firestone's on the front of my 1919. They wear like iron and have outlasted 2 sets of Firestone's on the rear. They are cracked, too. How old are the ones you have now and how badly cracked are they?
The rears were just as old, but we were sideswiped 5-6 years ago and the left rear rim was slightly bent to where the bead was showing past the triangular fold in the rim. We finished our drive as-is...didn't even put the spare on. Could never have done that with a new tire. That tire was the devil to get off and I injured it in the process. I was able to save the rim, but not the removal-damaged tire. That is the ONLY reason those two tires are not still on the car (I wish they were). I did not want mismatched tires on the rear so the other old tire was replaced when the injured one was replaced.
I am not oblivious to the risks inherent in driving a "T" and honestly do not believe my tires add much if anything to the existing risk. I've seen several new tires come off rims and pass their owners. I've never heard anyone say "new tires are dangerous", and yet they are the ones that have come off rims (BTW, those new tires will likely be full of cracks in 3 years). Those old tires have now done 2 national tours, 4 Winter tours, 2 round trips across Florida, and countless miles during pleasure drives. And, they still have plenty of tread. The cracks appear no worse than when I purchased the car 8 years ago.
There is one detail that is not mentioned often enough. And it makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, not all tires are labeled appropriately. The most important factor in an old tire and whether it is safe to drive on or not, is whether the casing is cotton cord, or nylon or some other synthetic cord in the casing. Minor, almost invisible cracking in the surface of a tire can allow water to ingress, water can infect the casing, and cotton ROTS! In the dark, in the damp, cotton is eaten up by a variety of microbes that do not need, nor like, the sunlight. Nylon, on the other hand, is virtually unaffected by water. It will deteriorate somewhat in UV (sunlight), but as long as most of the outer black rubber is in place, that will not be a problem.
A few years ago, I tried to mount a good looking older Australian Olympic tyre onto a rim for a roll-around. It quickly told me it was compromised by trying to rip across the bead. I tried to be very careful, but it ripped again, and worse. I decided after a few small rips that the tire was not going to work, not even as a roll around. So I tore it apart, Turned out, that tire, made probably in the late '60s or '70s, had cotton cord. Although it looked nice, water had gotten inside, and the cotton had rotted so badly, that I was able, with my BARE HANDS, to rip it like a bed-sheet. It probably could not have held 20 psi had I been able to get it onto the rim.
Nylon cord tires, on the other hand, can be cracked badly, and used safely. They can usually be over-inflated to 70 or 80 psi (be VERY careful if you are foolish enough to actually try it. I have a few times, and so far have never been able to blow up a nylon cord tire). But it could happen, and your ears may not like it. I have heard a cotton cord tire blow at almost 70 psi. Nasty.
I know some people think I am nuts, and they may be right. But personally, I feel safer on fifty year old nylon cord tires than I do on the new tires allowed by the federal government today. Modern car, or antique.
Where is said factory in Vietnam?
Food for thought I guess, maybe I won't have to get tires.
For what it's worth, I have no idea how old the ones I have are. There's some indication the car was freshened up in the mid-seventies but it came to me without a history and nothing came up when I registered it so I assume it was last titled out of province. While the sidewalks are cracked, I've put 55PSI in them without any funny bulges and I've driven the car maybe five miles without them looking any worse. Would there be a date of manufacture code somewhere on Universal T Driver tires?
The Dunlop Chevron tires are to my knowledge made in UK, but they are also 4 times as expensive as the others made in Vietnam.
As for which new tires to buy for a model T clincher? Been said. Nearly all of them (except for some very expensive European model T size clinchers) are made in the same factory, currently in Vietnam. Most of them seem to work okay, and last for a few good years (at least the black tires). They all tend to be soft and wear faster than good ones used to. For that reason, unless you have a tread preference for a specific name on the sidewall? I would just use either the Riversides or the T drivers. I personally like the Firestone tread, and run several of them. But all mine are about 40 years old.
Unfortunately for me, not all old rubber survives the test of time. My NVOS tires were lovely when they were unwrapped, but country roads ate them up PDQ. I'll be going back to black.
September 27, after 1340 miles.
Send me a PM and I'll e-mail you a pdf file of an article on the differences between Model T clincher tires.
My Universal Drivers Tires "Clinchers" were made by Goodyear in Canada (1955), that's the only reason I haven't bought the Wards tires.
And so far they're wearing fairly well, but then I'm not traveling on old country roads either.
Whatever you decide on tires, check out new tube availability . The 1/2" rim hole will accept the metal stem tubes, but not the current available rubber stem tubes that measure 5/8" at the base.
Look at the ad's for tubes with description of product, decisions,,,, decisions.....
Martin Vowell:: Please post your picture of rims and valve mounting hardware positions. Thanks !!
I run Wards Riverside on my 1915 Touring. 30 x 3.5 on rear and 30 x 3 on the front. I estimate we put about 3000 miles a year on the car. I have to put a new set on every other year. All four are pretty slick by then. What kind of mileage are y'all getting on your clinchers?
Here's the tire to the rim...hmmm I need to redraw this drawing.
Now, when I drew this I was thinking of rim liners and "flaps" were new to me, guess I should redraw it though to show it goes between the tire and the tube. I called it a flap in the drawing, but it's totally in the wrong position, but in the correct position for a "rim liner".
I guess rim liners are not used on demountable rims anymore, although when I put my tires on in 78, they were.
But the bridge nut locks the bridge to the tube, this acts like a rim lock and keeps the tube from spinning within the rim and also helps keep the stem up off the rim too as sort of a strain relief.
Definitely got to redraw this!