Repair wood wheels

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David N
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Repair wood wheels

Post by David N » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:24 pm

Doing maintenance today and found that the rear wheels on my 1915 Touring are getting real loose. They have wood felloes with oval shaped spokes. I'm wondering if I should try to re-spoke them myself or, could anyone recommend a professional that could do the job and what a rough cost per wheel would be?

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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by SurfCityGene » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:06 pm

Dave Seiler down here in SoCal does super great work but I don't think he does the early wood fellow wheels I had the wheels done by George Garrigan in Sonora who advertises in the VF. You might call or PM me if you'd like to discuss how nice my wheels came out.
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Steve Jelf
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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:42 pm

I would not recommend do-it-yourself for wood-felloe wheels. With steel felloes, sure. Make your Regan press and go for it. But I think wood-felloe wheels should be done by a pro. Here are the ones I know of:

Anderson’s Wooden Wheels
Dale Anderson – Owner-Operator
Box 1433, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Canada S6V 5S9
Phone (306) 763-4049
Fax (306) 763-4018

Calimer's Wheel Shop
30 East North St.
Waynesboro, PA 17268
(717) 762-5056

Stutzman Wheel
33656 County Rd 12
Baltic, OH 43804
(330) 897-1391

Vintage Wheel Shop
George Garrigan
19842 Via Redondo
Sonora, CA 95370
(209) 533-0468

Dave’s Wood Wheel
Dave Seiler
412 South Flower
Brea, CA 92821
(714) 501-7080

I sent my rims, hubs, and other metal parts to Noah Stutzman and a few weeks later he sent me back a crate of beautiful new wheels. I don't recall the exact cost, but it was under $200 a wheel.

IMG_1806 copy.JPG
IMG_1810 copy 2.JPG

One thing I will do differently if I have more wheels made: I will not prime the metal parts. I'll prep the metal parts with 50/50 phosphoric acid to prevent rust until I paint, and when I have the new wheel(s) I'll use a primerless paint. Little scratches and dings are very likely when you mount tires, and a lighter colored primer makes them really glaring.
The inevitable often happens.
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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by Altair » Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:04 pm

Repairing wood fellow wheels is a bit tricky, I have done it but it is not for everybody. I ground off the rivets holding the wood fellow to the rim and tapped the wood assembly out still assembled to the hub. I drilled the old loose tenon out and inserted and glued a short hardwood dowel that went into the spoke about an inch. 1/2" drill and 1/2" dowel will work. With the glue in the hole the dowel will fit very tight and to assure the dowel went to the bottom I had to drill a very small hole in the center of the dowel to release the air. These were very strong when completed and the assembly was placed back into the rim and re-riveted in place. This isn't for everybody but I enjoy the challenge.

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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:50 pm

Wood felloe wheels CANNOT be assembled the way steel felly wheels are done with a Regan press or other type press. Forcing the tennons in at an angle WILL damage them. Maybe not enough to become dangerous. Then again, they could become very unsafe, or even not survive assembly altogether (which is much more desirable than having half your tenons ready to let loose without further notice!).
The reason for that is that the wood felloe wheel's tenon needs a longer, full straight sided and tight contact. They cannot be forced in at an angle without breaking. The softer wood to wood contact needs that straight tight fit for long-term strength. The wood to steel felloes first squeeze the tenon in a small short area, and second has a slight "dish" that the end of the spoke is supposed to press into. The larger area around the tenon is not necessary for a long-term tight wheel. Therefore, they can be pressed in starting at an angle.
The wood spokes and wood felloes need to be assembled outside the steel clincher rim, then pressed in as a unit.

I have known of several people drilling out the tenons and replacing them with dowel pins. I have never known of such a repair failing. However, for mathematical and laws of physics reasons, I personally do not like the idea.
If the old spokes and tenons are in good condition, just a bit loose from age and shrinkage, maybe worn a bit from working loose for some miles? And the felloes are solid enough, not badly split etc? A thin sheet metal shim can be wrapped around the tenon and used to adjust the looseness. Very careful fitting is required! Too loose will just wear loose again. Too tight will split the felloe and create looseness in that way. Minor splits starting up from the tenon holes in the felloe can be repaired by careful cleaning, gluing (I use epoxy), and clamping. This should be followed up with a rivet across the felloe to help prevent the split from reforming. I do not fill and finish the rivets so placed (although I use low head types). I prefer they be visible (they don't show that much once painted), so that anyone now or later can know a repair was made.

The hub end will likely also need to be shimmed, to push the spokes outward and compensate for age and shrinkage. That requires a whole another set of the "right ways" to be done.

Reworking or rebuilding wood felley wheels is not for everybody. They require quite a bit of careful fitting, and careful assembly.

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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by DanTreace » Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:55 pm

I’ve used Johnson wood wheels for a set of wood felloe. . Nice work.
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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by Will_Vanderburg » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:15 pm

Dave Engel of Engel's Coach Shop in Montana does excellent work on all types of wheels: buggy, surry, wagon, CANNON, automotive.

He is related to a family of Stutzman's from Illinois.
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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by Terry_007 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:42 pm

Agree this is not something you should try yourself. The assumption is that the spokes are loose in the felloe when it's more likely the felloe is loose against the steel rim itself. A tell-tale sign of a loose wheel will be red dust showing up where the wood meets the metal. Recommend you contact one of the recommended wheel makers nearest you to discuss. I had new wheels made by Bill Calimer. Check his website for info on how the wheels are constructed. Takes a little longer but great work and he stands behind it.

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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by David N » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:36 pm

Thank you to everybody for all of the great information. The spokes are shifting forward and backward in the rear rims about an inch or so (the felloe looks tight to the rim). Thank goodness I was doing my routine maintenance on the car and noticed the spokes leaning at an angle. The fronts look nice and tight but the rears are scary. I am pretty handy and a former machinist so I am able to fix a lot of things. Since safety is of the utmost importance to me, this is definitely something I am going to leave to a professional.

If anybody has any other suggestions or information, please let me know. Thank you again.

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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by Mike Fortney » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:25 pm

I powder coated my metal parts. Strutsman’s did the a very nice job got 150 each wheel. Mikef

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Re: Repair wood wheels

Post by Thorlick » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:54 pm

I have rebuilt wood wheels on both my steel and wood felloe wheels. It is not difficult to do either.

Whilst some feel they would not do wood felloe wheels themselves, if you know how to do them there is no reason not to go for it. The rebuilders are regular humans just like you and so if they can build a wheel, you can.

I won't explain how to do it on this post, but the method requires painting the wheel when you are done because the rim needs to be heat shrunk in place. You can easily build up a wheel as good or better than new. You will however have to be prepared to heat the rims and to peen the rivets.

I built these wheels on my first model T "Toady"

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