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Hello here I have a 1920s disc wheels split rims for my 1926 dodge I am not very familiar with this kind of stuff i.e. changing tyres and exedra I hear that he is a very dangerous if you know anything about these please let me know thank you Matthew

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Automotive split rims (with the split across the rim) are not dangerous at all. If you are clumsy you could pinch yourself but nothing worse. An example is this one on ebay 321728733829

The dangerous split rims are the ones with two or three pieces. One side of the rim actually is separate and either locks into a groove or is held in place with a shaped piece that is held in place with wedges (sometimes called rim clamps) under the nuts on the rim bolts.

It seems that all tire shops assume that you are talking about the dangerous ones without even knowing what they are talking about. Even the dangerous ones are not unsafe as long as you follow safety precautions.

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When they talk about dangerous split rims they are talking about huge truck tires pumped up to 50 pounds or more. Not skinny car tires from 1926.

The split rims were made to make it easy to change tires. Some advertised that you could change a tire with no tools just your bare hands.

If you know what you are doing there is very little danger.

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As a kid I worked at a gas station and we mounted tires. 60's Ford trucks had split rims and we were not allowed to work on them. They had to be taken to facilities with cages you'd put the tire in as you inflated it. When the bead would pop onto the rim it caused quite a violent pop. Guys were killed and our boss kept a picture of one of the incidents by our tire mounter. I don't know about smaller skinny car rims, but the Ford rims were not huge trucks.

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As mentioned already, there are TWO completely different kinds of "split rims". The more common type in the late 1910s until about 1931 is the type with a single "cut" across the rim to allow easy (that's a laugh) mounting and dismounting of tires by using any of several types of rim tools to compress the rim to a smaller diameter than the tire bead. The rim tool then helps to expand the rim back to a snug fit onto the new tire. These type rims are nice, and as safe as most modern drop-center type rims.

Then, there is the other type.

The "multi-piece" split rims came in dozens of variations. They were used a lot on earlier (brass era) cars with wood wheels (both with demountable rims and wheels without demountable rims). Many of the earlier types will be three and even four part rims.

Trucks, large AND small, used split rims from very early well into the 1980s before a bad reputation for decapitating tire shop personnel caused them to lose favor in the trucking industry. (My '68 Chevrolet 3/4 ton PU still has its original two-piece split rims).

Automobile (small and large car size) wheels often used similar two and/or three part split rims on both steel wire and steel disc wheels in the late 1910s into the mid 1930s (sometimes even later).

Most Dodge automobiles using steel disc wheels during the '20s did use the two part split rim (the rim is non-demountable from the wheel, the entire wheel is changed on the car).

The cautionary statement first. Yes, the two part rims can kill you!

That said, I like them. In my lifetime, I have had three different '60s PUs that used them. I have almost always changed the tires myself (many tire shops refuse to anyway) and I have changed many dozens of them. I have also changed quite a few large truck tires for trucks in my family. And I have changed more than a few antique automobile tires also.

They are NOT very dangerous PROVIDED you have a little education and pay attention to what you are doing. The entire scare back in the '60s and '70s was tire shops tossing untrained kids into harm's way without any training.

Rule number one. Make certain that the ring is straight (okay, round, but straight round)!!!!!! Make sure also that the groove in the rim is clean! If either the ring or the groove is not in good, clean, condition? The ring may well not seat properly.

Rule number two. Certain safety considerations aside, ALWAYS put the first 15 (sometimes 20) psi into the tire SLOWLY!!!!!!

A couple of those safety considerations:

A cage is nice. Heavy steel bars cage to keep the rim and tire inside while you reach in from outside to put air into the tire. A nice idea, but rarely available. I have never had one, never used one.

On model TT Ford truck rims (and others) it is often suggested to wrap heavy rope or chain around and around and around the tire and rim before putting in air. This won't really work well with Dodge (and other) era steel disc wheels because the center hole is small enough that the stretch of the rope could likely give a dangerously false sense of security (chain might still work, but can really scratch paint!).

Most important! Stay out of the firing range! Visualize that if the ring flies off the rim, it will shoot out with great force in roughly straight out from the side of the rim (FACT, such rings have gone as far as two blocks away). Work from the back side of the rim, or off to one side from the tread.

How I do this, depends a lot on the specifics of the tire and rim. I often reach through the center of the rim to hold the air onto the valve stem, with the ring aimed away from me and toward something less prone to damage. The explosive force will be divided between the ring (a pound or two?) and the rest of the rim and tire coupled to your weight. If it blows, by staying on the backside of the rim? You will probably get knocked onto your behind, but as long as you don't hit your head onto something sharp on the way down, you likely would not be seriously hurt. Be aware of what is around you and nearby in the firing direction. Always, think safety.

Something I do not have, but I would recommend? A lock-on air nozzle, so you don't have to actually hold onto the rim or tire or hose. What I made a long time ago, and still use now, is a short air hose that has an old tire pump screw-on end and a tube valve stem on the other end. I still have to manually hold the compressor hose end onto my extension hose, but I have moved me out of the firing range.

Make sure the rim the ring and the tire and the tube are all cleaned and prepped and ready to assemble. Some rims and tires (probably your Dodge) go together easier by putting the tube inside the tire first, then put just enough air inside the tube to make it not quite firm to a finger squeeze. Carefully (so as to not damage the tube) position the tube where you want it in the tire and insert the valve stem into the wheel rim valve stem hole. Start carefully pressing the tire into place on around the rim. Push the backside bead all the way to the back of the rim. The outer bead will need to be carefully pushed in just a bit beyond the ring groove (sometimes you must let some of that air you put into the tube back out again).

Now install the ring(s). These vary a lot across the many years, manufacturers, and patents. Some rings are solid all the way around, and can be very tricky to work with. Some are cut once to snap on easy. Some that are cut actually have tabs and hardware to bolt the ring back together onto the rim.

As I recall, most '20s Dodge steel disc wheels I think used a single cut removable ring with a very good shape to it that should be easy to see which way it goes on. With the tire on far enough? The ring should snap into place easily. (Of course, I could be mistaken, I think I have seen a couple Dodges with some odd multiple ring setup)

Once the wheel, tire, and all rings are in place, recheck again that everything has seated as it should. It is usual that the outer bead of the tire will be a bit inside of the ring. It will require some air pressure to push it out. And THAT is where the danger begins.

Now that you know to stay out of the way, and be careful, start putting in some air. Then take a quick look at the ring. Make sure it is still seated how it should be. Add a couple more psi air (ONLY a couple psi), inspect again. Watch both inner and outer tire beads slide into position on the rim. Hopefully, the beads will simply slip into place gently and quickly. If not, you may need to persuade it. If the tire and rim were a bit tight, it may take a lot more pressure to slip the tire bead over than you should ever consider having in a split rim that has not fully seated yet.

With only about 10 to 12 psi in the tube, and keeping a very close watch on the well seated ring (always staying out of the firing range), hit the tread of the tire with a medium size hammer while rolling the tire around. The hammer blows deflect the sidewalls of the tire, coupled with the 10 psi pushing the sidewall over. Keep a close watch on that ring! Moving and shaking and hammer blows can dislodge a ring sometimes.

Once the tire is properly positioned on the outer parts within the rim, the ring is confirmed properly seated in its groove, and pressure is up to almost 20 psi? Things become pretty safe. One thing that is not commonly understood? Is that not only does the ring keep the tire on the rim, once it is pressurized, the tire locks the ring into its groove.

There are two danger zones in airing up these type split rims. The lesser danger is at that low pressure before everything has seated and locked each other into place. Things sometimes push out unevenly or snap and cause other parts to slip out of proper position. This can cause the ring to not be seated properly, and that can become extremely dangerous.

If you don't check and make sure that everything has seated properly? If the ring is not seated properly? And you start putting real pressure into the tire and tube? Poorly seated rings can be forced clear out, or even broken and partially blown out. That is the really dangerous time. 50 psi puts out a lot more force than you probably realize.

Let me say again, I do not want to scare anybody with these. I like them. I have used many of them. I am not afraid of them at all. But I do have a healthy respect for their potential to do great harm. I want other people in this hobby to have the same feelings about them. Learn how to handle them safely. Then drive your beautiful car and enjoy it!

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What he said. Folks often think that if the ring flies off it might break their arm. The truth is, if that ring comes off under pressure it will more likely take your arm completely off as well as your head if it's in the line of fire. I grew up in Dad's tire shop. Prior to his buying the building a man was killed in the building changing a truck tire. You could still see the semicircular dent that ring made in the exposed wooden truss 12 feet above the floor AFTER it killed the guy. We change them now and then and always use a clamp on air nozzle and the hammer technique talked about above. We never let employees do that job, either my Son or I take that risk.

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Do a split rim search, read the postings, do it yourself. The first one is hard because you don't know what to do but it is one of the simplest jobs on your car. You likely cannot get anyone to do it for you unless there is a nearby member. I have dealt with a local tire company (heavy duty trucks and cars) for30 years (our fleet is 10 vehicles) and they won't change a split rim for me.

Post us a picture of your car and wheel and all of us will help you. The hardest part is not scratching/chipping the pain if you have restored vehicle. Even without a rim jack or rim tool I could change your tire in 15 minutes.

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Just a side note. The tire mounter I used in the 60's had a screw on top that screwed down to hold the rim in place as you mounted the tire by hand with a long lever. It dismounted the tire automatically, but you had to mount it by hand. My boss could not emphasis enough the fact you HAD to loosen the screw when you inflated the tire. If you left it tight, the POP of the tire being inflated could cause the screwed down part to FLY up and off. It weighted a good 5 lbs. Even as a 16 yr old kid, this got my attention and I remember always to loosen that thing....

Also, google "split rim tire cage" Some interesting photos...

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Many thanks to Wayne for his valuable input. I have disc wheels on my '26 touring and until reading this thread had no idea about the dangers associated with split rims. There is no way that I would now even attempt to change a tyre. I am even feeling nervous about pumping up a soft tyre. What I am going to find out now is whether or not my local tyre centre will even take them on in the event of a puncture. The local guy is fortunately an old style independent operator so I am hoping he will agree to it but I now have a nasty feeling of unease that someone who is inexperienced may end up getting killed or seriously injured working on my tyre.

I am wondering if perhaps I should move the Dodge on and stick to what I know about...

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Edited by R.White (see edit history)
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I really do not want to scare anyone off of a good antique automobile because of the danger that the rims do pose. Tire shops tend to be afraid of split rims because of the liability scare from about 40 to 50 years ago. I especially like cars of the 1920s, the so-called "nickel age" second only to horseless carriages. Four cylinder Dodge Brothers cars are wonderful! I have never had one, however have about a dozen good friends that really enjoy them.

I hope you keep and enjoy that Dodge for a long time.

Anyone of average intelligence and some mechanical skill should be able to repair a flat or do nearly any routine tire changes with the two-part split rims as long as they are informed of their potential for danger and take appropriate precautions. I probably personally know more than fifty antique automobile hobbyists that take care of these rims themselves (actually, it may be way over 50??).

I have never personally known anyone that had one come apart under serious pressure. The most important thing really is to make certain that the rim and ring are both in good condition and fit properly. Then air up slowly until everything is fully seated, and you know that it is.

A long, long, time ago, I did have one almost come apart. I was airing it up a bit too fast when the tire popped out on one side and managed to kick the ring almost half out. Because I was watching very closely (and the pressure was still low enough), I was able to stop it, let the air out, and correct my error. I never ever rushed one since.

I also did once have a (relatively speaking) modern drop-center rim develop a crack in the metal without me noticing it. That kabang was interesting enough. That rim, and a couple others I had found before they blew out, is one of the reasons I say that two-part split rims are basically or nearly as safe as modern drop-center rims once they are properly mounted and aired up. Even supposedly good modern rims can blow up on you with little to no warning.

The rim and rim-spreader picture posted by Mark Shaw are the other type of split rims, the one-piece compressible type very common from the late '10s until about 1930 ('31?). Those rim-speaders are wonderful if you have that type of split rim. They are useless for the two-part or three-part rims/wheels like the (probably) Dodge Brothers wheel pictured in post #14 by Mpgp1999. Look closely at the picture, and you can see the ring around the rim.

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Can I ask you, Wayne, if a tyre shop will need to be equipped with specialist equipment or are they able to use modern machinery?

Ray.<script type="text/javascript" src="safari-extension://com.ebay.safari.myebaymanager-QYHMMGCMJR/5b38843e/background/helpers/prefilterHelper.js"></script>

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Buy or borrow one of these and watch a video on how to use it.


This not a split rim as noted in this discussion.

The thin piece in the photo of my 29 DB truck rim is the portion that is placed on the rim to retain the tire. I believe there is a different tool for the split rim in the attached photos. My question to the person that started this post is what is the tire size for the disc rim?

I believe my truck and an optional disc type wheel along with the wood spoke and iron spoke. The tire size is 600x20 for my truck.



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R.White, et al,

First, your Dodge Brothers rims can be done with simple tools, and almost anyone with some basic mechanical experience can repair or change a tire with these rims AS LONG AS they are informed enough to take the safety precautions. More at the bottom.

First, a bit more about different rims and tools:

As I mentioned in my first reply, there are many, many, different variations of two, three, even four or more, part split rims. Some of them, like my dad's '68 Chevrolet 3/4 ton PU actually require a very special rim/ring tool. While it is little more than a glorified screw-driver, the angles, spacing, and general shape of the off-sets are critical. My understanding is that there are about ten different versions of the tool, each for specific different wheels. I have two of them, including the correct one for my dad's truck as he bought the right one shortly after he bought the used truck almost forty years ago. With the correct rim/ring tool, the rims for his truck are difficult to do. Without the correct tool, they are VERY difficult to do, but can be done. I did it for him once when he had "misplaced" the tool. Two big screwdrivers and a small hammer, it can be done. However, those rings are not cut anywhere, and have an almost "secret handshake" to being removed or put back together. It is also VERY difficult to explain.

However! Most two (+?) part rings are cut and/or split like you can see in the truck rim picture posted by stakeside.

A couple of comments about that photo. While it does a good job of showing the ring, about halfway off the rim, it also shows something that you DO NOT want to see. Even partway on the rim, the two ends of the ring should almost (not quite) line up with each other. When the ring is completely off the rim, the ends may offset maybe an inch, but otherwise it needs to be almost totally flat, the ends should almost touch each other. That ring appears to likely have a bit of a twist in it.

The good news is, that although old-school teaching always said "Buy a new one!" They actually are fairly easy to straighten. Which is a very good thing, because nobody wants to make them these days for liability reasons, and they are becoming very difficult to find replacements (in fact, I need some 23 inch ones for my son's car). The fact that there are dozens of variations doesn't help any.

Those of us that like them and are familiar with working with these rings more and more would appreciate people not throwing them out just because they are slightly bent or damaged.

While there are many variations, the Budd and similar type two-part wheels like the Dodge Brothers company used tend to be fairly easy to work with.

Removing a tire:

When a tire is aired up, the pressure inside pushes the tire bead VERY tightly against the ring. Most, not all, rings have an edge (or shelf) that the tire bead then sits on top of. So the first thing you must do, is try to slide the tire bead over (in) a little bit. A tire bead breaker is nice, but most people do not have one. How difficult this task is depends on a lot of factors. How rusty or clean is the rim? How old or new or hard is the tire? How tight-fitting is the tire on the rim. Hard, old, tires and rusty rims are a nasty combination. Sometimes, all you can do is carefully cut the tire off.

Provided the tire bead is not rust-welded onto the rim, usually the bead can be moved over with a bit of effort. Often, it helps if you can lay the tire and rim flat on a good hard surface, then walk around the sidewall for awhile (a couple minutes at most), keeping your foot tight against the ring (sometimes, that alone will do the job, otherwise it usually helps to loosen the bead a bit). Do be careful walking around the sidewall! It is a bit like walking a tight-rope while someone else is pulling it to the side. A common antique (or motorcycle) tire iron can usually be slipped between the ring and the tire bead. Often, that itself can pry the bead over enough. Oddly, although it is a bit counter-intuitive? Two tire irons close together, one pry down, the other, pry up, can persuade a stubborn tire bead. If you do not have actual tire irons available? A couple large flat blade screw drivers usually can do the job. Something else that works really well, that a lot of antique car people have but likely didn't think of? An old, extra, tapered-end spring leaf makes a really good tire iron (oops, I just let out a valuable secret!).

Once the tire bead has been moved over enough for the edge of the ring to slip by, removing the ring is the proverbial piece of cake. Most (not all) rings have a notch on one end of the "cut". If you enlarge stakeside's truck wheel photo, you should be able to see the notch in the raised free end of the ring. Working under that notch, with either a screwdriver or a tire iron, pry the end up a bit, then work another screwdriver or tire iron under the ring itself. DO NOT pry hard! Prying on the rings is the number one reason most rings become bent. Instead, once you raise the end of the ring a bit? Tap on the ring lightly with a small to medium hammer. Do not hit it hard (you shouldn't even be able to see a mark in the steel). With a little pry pressure, it is the vibration from the hammer tapping that will allow the ring to slowly lift and move to the outer side. Once you get about five to eight inches of the ring lifted out of the groove, and moved over just enough to hook on the outer edge, just work your way slowly around the ring with the tire irons (or screwdrivers), tapping lightly with the hammer if needed.

Once the ring is removed. Depending upon the specifics of the various rims/wheels? Getting the tire to slip off may be anywhere from very easy to rather tricky. Usually, not terribly difficult. You may have to pry the bead off from the other side (just more fun to look forward to).

The first couple you do? You will probably hate my guts for talking you into it. After a few times, they aren't much worse than fixing a bicycle tire.

After removing the tire, putting it back together is really easy. The tire usually slips right on. The ring (provided it is properly straight and fits the way it is supposed to) can sometimes be pushed on with your fingers (do be careful of those fingers, though, the rings can pinch nasty) (I also sometimes push them on by hitting them with the heal of my hand). If it isn't quite that easy, usually just a little push with the tire iron or screwdriver, and maybe a very light tap with the hammer.

Then start checking for everything fitting right and seated properly. Sometimes you need to tap with a hammer (again, do not beat it, light taps only) to get the ring to set all the way in.

Air it up slowly as I previously posted. Always checking it to make certain that everything is seating properly.

The hardest part of the entire process usually is breaking the beads loose. You might be able to get a tire shop to help with that part. But general advice is not to let them remove the ring itself. They have a severe tendency to pry too hard and bend the rings. Tire shops just do not understand these things anymore.

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The rim on my spare wheel is broken off. The other rims are O.K.

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In Dad's tire shop his best employee was a weekend alcoholic. He would always show up on time Monday morning, usually very drunk. Dad would set him to the task of busting down large truck tires. By lunch he was stone cold sober.

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Thank you Machinist_Bill. My hope of course is that the antique automobiles I care about can be maintained as the pieces of history they are (with their proper original type wheels) and that people are not hurt in the process because they can be informed of a serious potential risk.

My opinion is that this is one of the areas in life where intelligence and education are the solution, not hiding from the problem by ignoring it or throwing it away.

R.White, I imagine it is the snap "ring" that you are referring to as "broken"? My guess is that it is just slightly over three inches short. That would be the mathematical equivalent of a one inch smaller diameter wheel. Someone in the car's (wheel's?) past has probably replaced a bent or otherwise damaged or lost ring with one from a one inch smaller wheel.

While one could maybe get away with it, it is not good advice to run a wheel with a ring that is too short by about three inches. So you should try to find a ring that fits correctly. Rings commonly came in diameter sizes all the way from 14 inch clear up to around 30 inch rim size (not to be confused with the tire's outside size). A model T Ford's 30X3.5 tire for instance is a 23 inch rim size. Many larger Horseless Carriages used 34X4 (26 inch rim size) with some using even larger sizes. Farm implements go even larger. 19, 20, 21, and 23 inch rim sizes are very common for automobiles of the 1920s. 18 and 22 inch rim sizes were around, but fairly rare (I am well aware of the rarity of 22 inch as I used to have a '25 Pierce Arrow series 80 that used them). Almost every inch size was used by someone, as well as a few odd in-between sizes.

Beyond the diameter or circumference size of the ring, there are numerous other factors for a proper fit. These things should be evaluated by someone with a proper background. Basically, these are matters of size and shape of the ring and how it fits into the groove in the wheel/rim. Not only the depth and width of the groove, but the angles of how it fits into the groove must be considered.

Finding good rings is getting difficult. Too many have been thrown away for many years, out of fear. Also, a lot of people that do have them do not want to take them to swap meets out of fear of responsibility if they sell them. So ask around. If you find one that is the correct size, and the fit is really good, you probably made a good find.

Good luck! And do be careful.

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Thank you wayne. The ring is actually broken; it has a ragged edge to the break. One can only speculate how it happened but it worries me that few individuals these days even realise the dangers. (I didn't and I have had vintage cars for 40 years). The chances of finding an undamaged ring here in the U.K. are pretty slim but I will have a look for one at Beaulieu Autojumble this year.

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"Actually broken"? That IS interesting.

I do have to say that there are repair options that should be highly advised against. A few years ago, I was considering making a short piece and welding it onto a ring that was too small but otherwise fit really well. Fortunately, I found a truly proper ring and did not need to do that.

I was taught early to "NEVER STRAIGHTEN A BENT OR TWISTED RING". But if antique cars are going to be maintained and driven occasionally? Damaged rings will have to be repaired and straightened for some of them. I have straightened several myself. I expect to have to straighten a few more. If I can't find what I need for my son's car, I am even considering a way of making the three we need for it.

Any sort of welding or heating of rings should be done by someone with a little more than average welding and metallurgical background.

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Hello I have the owner of the wheel have brought it to someone with 40+ years of experience he says it is perfectly fine and I will be running it as my spare

I can post more pictures if necessary

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Here's the dangerous Bas$%&Ds that gave split rims a bad name.. Had a neighbor that broke both arms fixing one back in the 1960's. He walked around for weeks in slings. When he went to the bar, he always had a good looking chic hanging around to tip his glass, and hold his cigarette for him, and also help him to aim when the time came. LOL. Dandy Dave!


Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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Thanks so much for the detailed information on these! It is very timely for me since I am getting ready to mount a new spare tire on a Dodge disc wheel. It did not occur to me that this could be a dangerous operation. Is there any benefit to using a soapy water solution to help the tire bead slide over against the ring (instead of popping over)?

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As a teenager, my first 'proper' job was in our local Tyre and battery centre (see how we spell tire and center?) and I don't recall seeing anything with a split rim but we only did cars and by the 1970's almost everything was tubeless. The only real risk I can remember was if a tyre was grossly over inflated. Someone left the airline on one and it exploded - but apart from a ringing in the ears, luckily, no one was hurt.

Being a trainee soaping the beads was one of the little jobs I was given; that and making the tea!

They still use soapy water today.

Ray.<script type="text/javascript" src="safari-extension://com.ebay.safari.myebaymanager-QYHMMGCMJR/c60de1a/background/helpers/prefilterHelper.js"></script>

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Had a local guy here working on a large truck tire. Georges Auto and Truck Repair. Hillsdale N.Y. Was a tire from an 18 wheeler a number of years ago. Had a cage but did not use it this particular day. These large truck tires are commonly 90 to 110 LBS Times Atmospheric pressure. A piece of the sidewall blew out and hit him in the chest. He was flown to Albany med via helicopter but he did not make it. Good guy with a promising future. One stupid mistake and everything was over. Need I say more? The truckers that lined up for his going away party was almost unreal. And I was one of them. Also wrote a eulogy of sorts.. Days that I would rather forget. Dandy Dave!

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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As stated before.

The early auto rims are quite different than the big truck rims. These rims were designed to be taken apart and tubes repaired with basic tools and a simple air pump. With the lock ring style the ring may pop off when you are getting to the last few inches when removing it.

The broken lock ring most likely happened when someone was prying incorrectly trying to remove it.

Pinched fingers are the biggest concerns I have

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