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Are new vintage size tires larger than the originals?


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I have a 1929 Studebaker President that has 6 wire wheels. I recently purchased a set of 2 new Lester 6.50 X 19 tires to replace the very old side mount tires. I wanted to have newer dependable tires for spares. The tires the car is running on were purchased a couple years ago.

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The problem: The new Lester tires (including the ones that are a couple years old) do not fit the fender wells. If I let out all the air in the tires and push real hard I can force them into the fender wells. The old Lester tires fit snugly, but they also sat high enough that I was prevented from installing the original spare tire locks.

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Are the tire manufactures increasing the size of tires? The owner’s manual and original factory photos show that my car is supposed to use 6.50 X 19 tires. Why do the new 6.50 X 19 tires not fit in the fender wells when fully inflated?

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Is anyone else having these same problems with new tires not fitting in the fender wells?

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Mark,

Have you tried contacting the tire manufacturer or dealer and asking them to exchange them for something that will fit into the original sidemount location? It would seem that they should be willing to work with you.

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I spoke with the tire distributor regarding my problems with the spars not fitting in the fender wells. I was informed that this is a common problem for Duesenberg’s, Auburn’s, Packard’s, and many other makes. I was told that the polyester fibers used in the tires cord is more flexible than the cotton fibers used originally and allows the tire to expand further when inflated. The options that I was given was to use smaller tires for the spares (6.00 X 19), or keep the original 6.50 X 19’s in the fender wells uninflated. I was told that owners who have this same problem do not inflate their spare tires and carry electric air pumps to inflate the spares when they are needed. Now I need to go hunting for an 6 volt portable electric air pump that can be connected to the car battery – which is positive ground.

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Mark,

A 12 volt air pump should work fine on 6 volt, it would just turn slower and thus take approximately twice as long to air up a tire as it would on 12 volts. Of course option two would be to call AAA if you are a card carrying AAA member (which I suggest when touring).

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You can get an air pump at most chain stores that you need not plug into your cigerette lighter. It is free standing and does not have a cord. It is about 4 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches. you charge it by plugging it to your home electric outlet. Just remember to charge it once in a while. I carry mine when I go on trips.

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When was the last time you actually removed your spare on a vintage car and used it? I still have the original spare red line in the trunk of my 69 442. It has never seen the pavement in 41 years. Leave it soft and lighten up a bit. It will all be fine.

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And don't believe their story about polyester being more flexible than cotton thereby allowing polyester cord tires to expand more. If that were true one could make a tire any size you wanted just by varying the air pressure. I do know that back in the day recap shops often capped 6.70-15 and 7.10-15 (as well as other sizes) tires in the same molds, molds being very expensive. I suspect the same thing is going on with new "replica" tires. Same size tires, just different number slugs in the molds.

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My Cadillac had 750-17 Lesters on it when I got it and I just replaced them with same size Firestones. Both fit in the fenderwells OK but the metal covers only fit the Lesters if they were fully deflated. The Firestones are even larger so I'm not planning to use the covers.

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Just out of curiosity, what do the tires measure ? Seems like a 6.50x19 should be 31.5- 32" diameter. Of course a modern tire has 10-12/32nds of tread which adds to the diameter.

I wonder if you could have the tires shaved (common in autocross tires, Goodyear used to bring shaved Wingfoots (Wingfeet ?) out to major events). Prolly gain a 1/2" that way.

ps Lester (Universal) gives the 6.50x19 tire diameter as 32.25" which sounds a touch large. Coker OTOH has a 6.50x19 that is an inch smaller: 31.25".

Edited by padgett (see edit history)
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When was the last time you actually removed your spare on a vintage car and used it? I still have the original spare red line in the trunk of my 69 442. It has never seen the pavement in 41 years. Leave it soft and lighten up a bit. It will all be fine.

Last month a screw left in the roadway deflated the left front tire of my 1933 Plymouth. I was glad that I had a spare with air in it otherwise I'd have needed a tow to get home.

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