Sign in to follow this  
Dave Pfeiffer

Restoring wood spoke wheels

Recommended Posts

I have been reviewing the forum discussions, and I don't see any topics that cover this question. I am starting to restore wood spoke wheels (my first attempt) for a 1911 White. These are demountable rim wheels with wood felloes and a steel band that goes around the wood felloes. Except for a couple of bolts holding the hub in place, I have removed all metal hardware from one of the wood wheels. If I remove the hub, I expect the wood wheel to fall apart. Since I want to refinish the wood portion of the wheels separately from the steel parts but with all of the spokes and felloes together, I am thinking of gluing all of the wood parts together. Will I be creating any problems by doing this? Thanks.

Dave Pfeiffer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would Not use a hard-setting glue on them. (Were not originally). The wood needs to be able to expand, contract and flex slightly (which prevents cracking).

The gaps from ware, shrinkage or wood-compression can be filled with varnish or paint (varnish preferably, which stays more flexable with age) with no problem tho.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course the most important thing is to seal All wood surfaces and any gaps that can let in and hold moisture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, actually, moisture is not a bad thing on wood wheels. When originally built, the wood is dried in a dehumidified room to a low percentage of moisture content. Then the wood is assembled tightly, and the wood begins to absorb moisture from the air, swelling, and making the whole tight as Dick's hat band, as they used to say. In fact, one of the old tricks to tighten a wood wheel was to drive it through a creek, to add moisture. If the wheel wood is so loose that you think it requires glue, then it is not a safe wheel. I recommend Calimers in Waynesboro, Pa. for replacement. About $300 a wheel, and you are set for life and safety. Good luck. David Coco Winchester VA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would consider using Kwik Poly as a sealer. Kwik Poly has a low viscosity, the consistency of water, which allows it to soak into wood fibers. It sands easily and can be layered if needed.

http://www.kwikpolyllc.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You need to think about whether you are going to seriously drive the car, or use it as a show car. If the former, I think you'll find that both the wheels and rims are probably crooked and/or out of round. So if you want to tour with the car, new wheels and rims would be desirable, and they are available brand-new in many sizes.

As for whether the original wheels are strong enough for driving after all these years, see the Calimer's website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> moisture is not a bad thing on wood wheels</div></div>

Soaking wood and varnish in water also makes them soften and Rot. Excessive Moisture, soaked into wood or trapped in gaps In the wood parts, Is a Very Bad Thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of the responses. I appreciate the insight and sharing of experience on restoring these wheels. My main question which I may not have made very clear was whether or not gluing all of the wood parts together would create problems later. My main concern was whether the inflexibility of the glued wheel would be a problem. It sounds like it would be. Thanks again for the replies.

Dave Pfeiffer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Rick aka Speedster, yes, you are correct, I should have said something like "the correct moisture in wood is not necessarily a bad thing." thanks David Coco Winchester Va,.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Direct Answer to Your Direct Question--- If you wheels need glue then they are no longer strong enough to be safe in use. When together ( felloe band but no hub) they should be tight and solid enough to ring when struck. Another note, before you go to all this work you may want to check the authenticity of demountable wheels, unless that is not an issue with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I restored 1909 wooden wheels that were loose and almost falling apart. I took all the metal off except the rim. I cut a 1/2 inch steel plate round that fit against the fellow almost to the rim. This would hold the wheel straight. I then used Quick-poly (without thickener)over the entire wheel. Use a lot of little cups and plumbers flux brushes. I gave mine two coats then turned the wheel over and did the same to the other side. I then used thickened Quick-poly to fill in the bad spots. You can then sand and prime them. My wheels are now strong and straight. Ralph Coker said he has done wheels this way and has run the Great Race. When they finished he said his wheels were the tightest in the group.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing make sure you mark each spoke and put them back where they came from. We redid our wheels and maked each wheel and each spoke. I have pictures but don't know how to add that here.

Email me if you want pictures of how we tore ours apart.

jstruck@midtel.net

Deby

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again for all of the feedback. I'm back again after being off the air due to a modem failure. I noticed that Layden suggested checking the authenticity of demountable rims. Does he or someone else know that they are not authentic for a 1911 White? I have no reason to think these are not the original wheels. In addition, does anyone know if these wheels should be finished with paint or in a natural wood finish?

Thanks again.

Dave Pfeiffer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Demountable rims were in existence but VERY uncommon before 1912. In that year Cadillac scooped the auto word with the introduction of electric start but even they didn't add demountable rims until mid year as an option. White was a quite progressive make and did offer demountable rims on the 1912 GAD model, I do no have any info on 1911. I know of no original documentation to show natural wheels on early autos. Your wheels would have been painted as was the radiator!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't say whether wheels on a white were painted or natural, but I can definitively say that wheels on Oldsmobiles in the teens were finished in natural wood. They were very proud of this and claimed that they did this to show the high quality of hickory used. It is possible that other manufacturers did a similar thing even though the majority of wheels were painted. I would start digging in the White literature. Be advised that preparing the wheels for paint will be a whole lot easier and less time consuming than proper prep for a natural wood finish. It took me from ten to fifteen hours a wheel to strip the paint that someone else had applied to the wheels of my 1915 Olds. If I had just repainted them It would have probably only have taken five or six hours to prep them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any truth to what I read in an old article about applying linseed oil to the wood wheels to help them from drying out?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, there is truth to that. Wood will absorb the linseed oil. If the wood is dry it will continue to soak up the linseed oil until it is satuarated. You can take a piece of dry wood and set it in a pail of linseed oil with part of the wood sticking out and come back a few days later and see where the oil has been "wicked" up.

If the wood is especially dry you may have to keep coating it with linseed oil daily for a week or so. Be sure to wipe off the excess about 10 minutes after applying it.

If you rub the linseed oil correctly you'll get a beautiful sheen. Well worth the effort on certain woods.

If you want to put polyureathane on the spokes after applying linseed oil be sure to allow the surface of the wood to dry thoroughly first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a quick note; Be sure and number spokes for each wheel and keep seperate, so when u put back together each spoke will match the next one. I did my 28 chrysler this way, except for the 1st wheel, and 3 went together nicley, and the 4th one took a while. So far so good ive been driving the car for about 8 years, and no problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not use the linseed. It attracts the chipmunks and rodents and will chew on the wheels. I did a deck and they went crazy on it. Made some pepper water and sprayed the deck and they quit. Sure made a mess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 1925 dodge with wooden spoke wheels and live in Namibia (Africa). So I cannot get help that easily. I have trouble with one wheel where I have taken the wheel apart. The dryness here is incredible (20% Moisture) BUT FUNNY ENOUGH, THE OTHER 3 WHEELS ARE ALL RIGHT. now I can see hte spokes protruding into the metal is worn and possibly a bit too short. Who has any idea of how to fix this problem??

I have thought of filling the worn parts with two component epoxy or rubbery glue. any idea??

the wood is in excellent condition and have been treated with varnish.

Thanks for any help

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good morning all,

I am new to this site and have been researching a wooden spoked wheel I have aquired. I was told it was a 29-30 Hudson but do not agree. There are no rivets holding the hub on but pressed barrell rivet of sort. The wheel hub will not come off unless these are drilled out ruining them. The Hubcap logo I believe is IH, possibly indicating International Harvester? Any help identifying would be greatly appreciated.

Terry

post-83458-143138859742_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this