I am considering purchasing a set of smooth white tires and would like to learn what others think. Does anyone have any good recommendations as to brand? Choices seem to be: Firestone, Universal or Coker. Is it easier to mount one over the other and do you use flaps?
When it comes to quality, the brand is irrelevant. All clincher tires come from the same factory. The only differences among them are prices and names. I wouldn't expect the most expensive to last any better than the cheapest.
I also expect mounting them is about the same for all. Two things are important. Little Ford irons are an exercise in frustration. I've found that some nice long irons from HF make the job much easier. The other consideration is temperature. Warm and soft is easier than cold and stiff. Put the tires in black plastic trash bags out in the sun for an hour or two to warm up before you mount them.
Opinions vary widely on flaps. Some say they're important, and others insist they're a waste of time and money. If you go to Google and enter MTFCA: flaps you can read the arguments for and against.
Steve, You say all clincher tires come from the same factory. where and who is the manufacturer?
Who is HF?
Tires are made in Viet Nam. HF = Harbor Freight
Re the flap over flaps...of the 3 brass cars I now own, I can tell you on two of the cars only one tire has a flap, the rest of the tires don't. No problems either way. As for my latest '12, which incidentally sports the smooth all black tires, I have no idea what's inside, and don't care to find out until....
I love the way that white smoothies look on any brass era car. I ran them on my ‘14 Touring for several years. They looked great and ran quieter on pavement than treaded tires do. The downside, is twofold; they’re expensive and they wear quickly. I found that they cost about twice as much as treaded tires, and only last about half as many miles. I got about 3,000 miles out of each of the two sets of white smoothies that I ran on my ‘14.
Eric, I'm thinking that's likely average tire mileage "back in the day". We were spoiled when antique tire sizes were reproduced by stateside manufacturers in the 60s - in the interest of "authenticity", at least the clincher tires currently available are probably no worse than the tires made a century ago. Anyone know what expected tire mileage was in the 'teens and twenties ?
I’d say that 3,000 miles would have been considered very good during the T era. Every period account of cross country travel that I’ve read, has at least one incident of tire failure. I’ve been driving antique cars a few thousand miles per year for about twenty years, and I’ve only had one flat tire while driving.
Eric, what were the smoothies like in the rain?
I should add this note of caution for those who missed my tire drama. Buy fresh tires and steer clear of NOS bargains. They looked perfect coming out of the wrappers, but...
I prefer to purchase my tires through Lang's because they always see to it that their customers get the very freshest rubber. -To do that, they "drop-ship" directly from the manufacturer.
White tires do have a recent history of turning brown and this has caused quite a few customers considerable frustration. -It appears that the culprit was an incompatibility between the chemical make-up of some types of inner-tubes and the tire itself.... and that leaves me wondering whether there may be a similar chemical non-compatibility problem between certain types of flaps and white tires. -This I do not know. -What I do know is that Lang's catalog contains the following warning regarding white tires:
NOTE: ALL WHITE TIRE WARRANTY, They require our new tubes to be used with ALL White tires. -Our tubes have been tested and approved for use. -Thus, they are acceptable under the terms of the warranty. (The cheaper versions have been known to cause discoloration to the tires). When making a warranty claim on the All White tires, we will need to submit proof to our manufacturer that new tubes were purchased and used in the tires.
I guess that tells the story.
Tim, Eric, Bob, Rich, what brand do you prefer or does it matter at all?
I don't buy white tires because they wear quickly and are more expensive than I can afford (but, boy, they sure do look great). -In terms of tread design; I used to buy Firestone NON-SKID's, but they wore out in just a couple of years. -When I replaced those with the standard Firestone diamond tread, the car handled nicer and the tires lasted longer. -I've also run on Ward's Riversides and that's also a darned good tire design.
Daniel...it's still kind of too early to answer as first of all, both my first set of "bad" white tires and the new set that was replaced by Langs were Wards Riverside. The current set has now been on over a year, I'd have to check my mileage but I'd say I easily have a good 2K miles on them, and they're wearing very well.
That said, I cannot say the same for a Wards black tire that I bought a year ago for my '13, when I replaced an "out of true" wheel with a better one,on the passenger side, but I kept the bad wheel & tire for a spare. This particular black Ward barely made it a year, my toe-in is spot on, and all the other tires on this car are some kind of tire called "Commander". Never heard of it. When I took the worn out Wards off, to swap with the good Commander from the original wheel, (I put the Wards on the original wheel just for a spare), the big thing I noticed was how stiff/strong the Commander was compared to the Ward. Huge difference. Don't know if that explains the quick wear-out or not but I'm thinking it does. So I don't think I'll buy any more black Wards. I don't think these Commander's are in production any more. Next black tire I will try Universal.
Gil, smooth tires are just as slippery in the rain as trended tires.
Daniel, I bought Universals, because they were cheaper than Firestone tires. As I understand it, the tires are the same, except for the logo. The licensing fee drives the cost up on the Firestone tires.
Eric, I was concerned they might be even worse! There's probably a reason tire makers started using treads. I had heard that there wasn't much difference on rough roads, but that on wet blacktop the smoothies were more dangerous.
I wouldn't mind paying more per tire, more often, for white smoothies as long as I wasn't any more likely to hurt somebody, and as long as they stayed white while in use. I have strenuous objections to paying more for tires that would make me more likely to lose control, or that turned brown and ugly.
Daniel,White tires look beautiful!! The smooth white are period authentic.If you plan to just show your car, get them. I WOULD NEVER HAVE ONE!! I restored my 1911 touring car 25 years ago.I am on my 7th set of tires. I drive and show my car. When I wear the tires down to 1/2, I sell them. I have tried all the brands. I prefer the Universal straight tread,because it is easier to clean up for showing..In my opinion, The Firestone tire is the hardest to install.The rest are in order. Wards riverside,Corker and Universal. Like Steve, I use the long Harbor Freight tire irons and plastic bags to put them on.It does not take long to put them on. (10 minutes ) ( Look up installing Clincher tires on U tube) The longest day that I have driven my T was 240 miles in New Hampshire.
Peter, I agree, smooth white tires look beautiful on an early car, the black ones just don't seem to look right, so I am willing to spend the money, just wanting to know what brand smooth whites others are using and get their experience with them. Thanks for your comments.
Eric H. speculated on the distance that tires could go back in "the day".
This is only one data point (Two, actually. Two tires). My grandfather's favorite story was an epic trip that he and family took from Fillmore, CA to Fort Smith, Ark. in 1923. The car was a 1921 Sheridan. It was occupied by two adults (my grandparents) and their six children, ranging in age from 5 up to 18 years. Grandpa passed away over 40 years ago, and I sure wish I could ask him more questions about the trip now.
But back to the subject of tires. My grandfather related that he put two brand new red rubber tires on the front of the car, "the best he could buy" just for the trip. They drove from Fillmore, CA to Bridgeport, CA, a distance of just over 350 miles, and the two red casings were worn to the cord. So they purchased two new tires. He and my grandmother held a caucus and realized that, at the rate they were going through tires, they didn't have enough money to make it to Arkansas, let alone make it back home.
They decided to press on and see how much further they got on the next tires. Unfortunately, he didn't recall how far they got on the subsequent tires. But the red tires must have been a fluke, because they made it to Arkansas and back home without running out of money.
And you can change the tires on the side of the road too on that 1911!
This upholstery tack got the tube! Following other T's on tour can be tire hazardous.
Pete goes a bit extra on tube and tire change, pulls the wheel off and mounts from the rear of the rim. It's a show car with Nat'l awards, so paint touch up on the backside is preferred
I agree with Pete about the Universals. They're the easiest to clean. Besides, the ones on my '14 were bought new in 1976, but not seriously used until 2008. Tread is starting to get a little low now but the tires are still supple, easy on and off, and are crack free.
Hi RV, are those Universals you have on your 14 smooth? I have decided to use the smooth whites but wondering about the brand preferences.
I have a set of smooth gray Universals on my barn fresh 1912. I'm guessing they have a couple of thousand miles on them with no obvious signs of wear.
Of course it goes with out saying, the front end is perfect, the alignment is spot on. Unless your basic systems are perfect you will not have a good end result no matter which brand or style of tires you purchase.
It might surprise you if you cross measure your frame and see how far out of true it is. I'm not sure they were ever really perfect from the factory. I have seen some t frames out of true some 2 to 3 inches. Some of that from their rough treatment and road conditions and some from poor manufacturing processes.
If you want good tire wear and drive-ability you need to start at the very beginning, frame, spring bushings and shackles, front axle straight, king pins and bushings. My barn fresh 1912 had 3400 miles on the odometer, and the axle was bent. Your axle may look good to your eye but like you model t , your eyes are old as well. You need to measure and check everything as you restore your T.
I even checked the straightness of my rear axle housings. I purchased new USA axle shafts and found one of them bent some 30 thou at the tapered end.
Check everything from front to rear for wear and alignment.
I agree on the importance of alignment. If it's off the road can eat up your front tires amazingly fast.
Steve, are you saying unpaved roads wear tires faster than driving on pavement ? (horse shoes wear 'way faster on pavement . . .)
Daniel, no; the ones on my '14 are the straight ribbed black Universals. About 12 years ago I bought a set of all white smooth Universals which I have not yet mounted, and will probably do so only when I have built a second set of wheels for them, to be installed when/if I decide to show the car. Those new white Universals are still in great shape, bright white with no cracking whatever.
Great, thanks RV, I will probably be trying a set of those.
FWIW, which may be nothing whatsoever, I stored those all white Universal smoothies, still in their factory wrappers, in the loft of my shop for several months over the spring and summer after I had gotten them at Hershey the previous fall. Like most attic/roof storage areas, it became brutally hot up there during sunny days and cooled off at night. It was about that time that the first browning/cracking issues became front and center stage on the Forum, so I got worried and phoned one of the QC guys at Universal. I mentioned the Sahara Storage the tires were in and he STRONGLY suggested I get them out of there IMMEDIATELY. I did, and, taking off the wrappers, I found that they were still in outstanding condition. They have remained so since that time, covered by the white vinyl tire protectors that Sherri Cameron was making at that time.
I have no idea if the several months' daytime heating and night time cooling was in any way responsible for this, maybe sort of putting a final vulcanizing on the tires, but it happened and the tires are still great when so many others have had problems with all white smooth tires that were made at the same time.
Whether one attributes the discoloring problem to the tube or flap or the "skin" opening up on the tire and chemicals leaching out, whatever, the one common theme regarding browning tires from the era in which they brown is that they don't do so until they are inflated. They'll store beautifully in a variety of conditions, but only after they're inflated is when the issue seems to reveal itself.
Walter, I mounted the tires on wheels, which were installed on the car, as soon as I got them down out of the loft and unwrapped them. They were on the car for about a year, fully inflated (but not driven), before I decided to go with the ribbed black Universals, which have been on the car ever since. I removed the whites and wrapped them in the protectors, and they've been that way ever since.
R.V., sorry about that. Above I read that you had a set that you had not yet mounted. I must have missed another part of the discussion.