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Tires for the 53 Roady


Guest 53 Roady
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Guest 53 Roady

I am seeing some adds for bias look radials at very high prices versus more reasonable "nostalgia" radials.  I'm thinking 8.00 -15 equivalent.  Any suggestions and or endorsements of one of the 2 suppliers?  The car is a driver with a nice set of the spoke hubcaps so I want it to look nice.

Thanks

Pat

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I buy my antique car tires from Wallace Wade Tire Co. in Dallas, Texas. I like the owner (he is a Buick Club member) and I like his employee. It's a rather small place, but nice people, good tires, and is not too far from me in northern Texas. Their motto is "If we don't have it; we'll get it."

Pete Phillips

Leonard, Tx

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My experience is that radials will crack and become unsafe after about five years.  My bias ply tires are lasting about 15 years before they start to crack.  It's possibly the additional flexing of the radials.  We don't see this on our drivers because we are wearing them out long before five years.  I'll stick to bias on my old cars.

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I use Coker original style tires on the cars that came with them. I get about a 20% price break when I buy through Summit Racing.  The price is lower and they don't charge for shipping.

 

The last set of four was a hair over $800 and replaced ones that were 9 years old. Ninety bucks a year ain't bad.

Bernie

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My experience is that radials will crack and become unsafe after about five years.  My bias ply tires are lasting about 15 years before they start to crack.  It's possibly the additional flexing of the radials.  We don't see this on our drivers because we are wearing them out long before five years.  I'll stick to bias on my old cars.

That's a good point.  Radials will last 5 years or 60K plus miles...bias ply will last 15 years or 15k miles.  The price is about the same and it all depends on how much driving you do.  I have bias ply on all of mine but one...on that one I got 30K miles out of the radials before they started separating at 5 years, so in this case a better value.

If you want radials, the only ones to consider are the Diamondbacks.  I just bought my second set from them and even though the basic tire was failing after 5 years the whitewalls were still pristine, with no checking or other blemishes.  And they will make them any width you want:  fantastic company where you never hear 'we can't/won't do it that way'.  The second set is constructed on Toyo tires:  there is absolutely no runout , 2 tires required no weight to balance and the other 2 needed less than an ounce; smooth and quiet on our local textured pavement and no vibration up to 85mph!  And all of the tires were less than 3 months old.

Willie

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i quite agree with dave, i have BFGoodrich silvertown bias ply wide whitewall tires on my 1953 pontiac chieftain custom catalina, that i bought new in 1985, no cracking yet. these tires are still in excellent condition. the compounds used in today's tires are nowhere near as good as the older tires, thank you epa, i would never mount radials on wheels or cars older than the late 1960's, wheel makers had to redesign the rim to work well with the new radial tires, older car's suspensions are not design to work with the stresses that radial tires subject the car to. 

 

charles l. coker

1953 pontiac tech advisor

tech advisor coordinator

poci

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 i would never mount radials on wheels or cars older than the late 1960's, wheel makers had to redesign the rim to work well with the new radial tires, older car's suspensions are not design to work with the stresses that radial tires subject the car to. 

 

charles l. coker

1953 pontiac tech advisor

tech advisor coordinator

poci

I would like to see references to support that statement.  Tires are tires and the rims and suspension don't care what type.  How can a different tire be any worse than rough roads vs smooth roads?

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I believe the issue with "wheels" was winnowed-down to whether the wheels have their centers welded to the outer rim or if the centers were "bradded" to the outer rim (which would be more for tube-type tires, I believe).  Radial tires do, or can, have a different set of "harmonics" than bias-ply tires do, plus the OLD (i.e., what might be termed "real" radials) from the middle '60s and such did have some harmonics (depending upon brand, somewhat) which tended to peak at about 45-50mph, but then "quietened down" at higher speeds for that great "radial ride" they had on the road.

 

Harmonics, being what they are, can affect different wheels differntly, depending upon many factors, including the rim's diameter and width.  Plus the natural harmonic frequency of the wheel itself and how the tire harmonics interact with that.  When the harmonics of the tire match the harmonics of the wheel, THAT's when the two resonant frequencies magnify each other and that's probably where the welded-center wheels might begin to have durability problems.

 

Any harmonics of the wheel/tire will be somewhat transferred to the suspension locating devices, where they'll be dampened a little by the rubber pivot bushings of the suspension.  When "radial tuned suspensions" were touted, they tended to use bushings which were a little firmer.  Later on, these firmer bushings became the "default mode" for any replacement bushings, from what I could tell.  Vehicle OEMs that used firmer bushings to start with, usually did some other things when radials became standard equipment, regarding impact harshness at certain speeds, for example.  Some used different bushings while others used added sound dampening materials to take away the "boom".

 

In general, I suspect that most of the vehicles we're driving in current times will have rubber suspension bushings which are becoming "dry" and/or have "taken a set".  This can have some subtle differences in how different tires work on our vehicles.  Radials might be best with toe-in settings more toward "0" as bias-ply tires might be better with toe-in settings of the vehicle manufacturers (for when they were built, but toward the minimum part of the spectrum).

 

Due to the suspension designs and suspension geometry of the older vehicles, certain brands of vehicles usually got more miles from the tires on them.  Inflation pressure is a big contributor to tire life with bias-ply tires, provided the tread width and wheel rim width are acceptably matched, such that higher inflation pressures can be used.

 

LOTS of variables such that what works on one vehicle might not work quite as well on another brand of similar vehicle.

 

"Tire cracking" has nothing to do with radial tires per se, but is generally related to the tire's rubber compounds and such.  Back when 30-45K bias-ply tires were more "the norm", we didn't see many of the same issues we might have seen had they lasted for 60K miles (normally).  Kind of like some "new" diseases" and such now being more prevalent  now as we're now generally living longer lives.

 

My gut suspicion is that many of the repro bias-ply tires are not quiet what similar-named tires were when they were produced "back when".  In some ways, with modern safety checks and better production machines, they are better, even with a "speed rating", but I'm not really sure that on-road handling would be what it used to be (due to possibly newer rubber compounds).  More research will be needed before I make my final determination. 

 

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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Guest 53 Roady

    Well fellas I asked for advice didn't I?  Thank you all for your thoughtful responses.  Here's where I'm at.  I drove the Roady up the interstate to a car show.  I was doing 70 but the SUVs were swerving around me on both sides at 85.  So I'm going for the radials as a survival strategy.  I have run radials on my 57 Olds all over the country including high speed and wash board dirt roads for 30 years with no wheel problems.

    The Diamondbacks on the 53 above sure look nice.  Are they modified from a completed tire?  DB says a new "Auburn" model is due out.  Is it scratch built or modified?

     It looks like Coker sells the Coker Classic which has rounded radial style shoulders and an American Classic with pie crust bias ply looking shoulders.  Does going to the bias look negate the handling advantages of the radial?

Thanks again

Pat

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    .....The Diamondbacks on the 53 above sure look nice.  Are they modified from a completed tire?  DB says a new "Auburn" model is due out.  Is it scratch built or modified?.....

 

 

If  you don't like the brand of tire that Diamond Back Tire uses for their whitewall conversions and you have a set of the old Portawall red, white, or blue rings hanging in your garage, you are in luck. Glue them on the blackwall tire you prefer.....similar to how Diamond Back blackwall tires are transformed into white sidewall tires..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKpUpZoV9gg

 

Be sure to use a good glue.   :(

 

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

Edited by 1953mack (see edit history)
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My two cents.

Diamondback makes a better product and is a better company to deal with. I buy from them regularly for customers.

I will still buy Coker bias ply tires which look better, are necessary for judging high-point cars, and last longer on cars not driven as often as they should.

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We've been running radials on our '56 for 20 years.  Just put on our first set of Cokers (bought from Summit) this spring, then drove it 500 miles heading to Springfield and back this summer.  They look good, drive nice, and have a decent price.  Going faster than 80 is a lot of work, but that's more because of the old suspension technology than anything else.

 

This is the third set of tires we've put on the car, so obviously we are getting about 10 years on a set (and the last set were not bad, the white was just too narrow).  UV is the tire's biggest enemy, followed by tire cleaners that make them shiny.  Be careful what you wash them with, and keep it out of the sun and they will last a long time.  Technically, it's ozone that breaks them down and UV makes ozone, as well as electric appliances (so don't park it next to your air compressor).  I've been getting 100,000+ miles out of radial tires for over 20 years (on other cars) because I take care of them and put the miles on before the ozone breaks them down.

 

We were talking with Wallace Wade back in February (they come to a swap meet up here every year), and he said his only problem in converting to radials was that a 205/75R15 couldn't handle the weight of his Buick.  He strongly recommended going up to the 225, but said the 215 would probably be OK.  We'd always had 205s on it in the past with no problem, so we went with 215s.

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My speed buzzer is set at 85, don't go no higher. Being a modern car with ball joints instead of king pins and tubular shocks can make a difference. The Interstates were designed for 100 MPH five years before my car was built. It's just that buzzing that is annoying, but I don't listen to it as long as some.

 

When I was a kid in 1959, people would cut, quickly, in front of an old car to read the radiator badge. Well, if you can't figure out what I'm driving in your rear view mirror before I blow by that 1.8 litre, you'll have to learn about taillights, skinny tires, and tail pipes the size of your pistons.

 

The key to driving old cars fast is to let them find their grove. Don't oversteer them, just gently guide them. And don't hesitate on lane changes, Decide when and do it like you mean it:

 

It's just a jump to the left.

 And then a step to the right.

 With one hand on the wheel.

 You bring your knees in tight.
But it's the pelvic thrust.
They really drive you insane.
Let's do the lane change again.

 

Bernie


 
Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Guest 53 Roady

Thanks Matt.

    The Coker American Classics I was looking at from Summit were 8.20 equivalent which I think is 235R75-15.  I saw a set on a 58 Chevy and the pie crust sidewall looked good.  I asked other guys at the car show --some had both Diamondback and Coker.  Some praised the DB whitewalls for staying whiter.  One fella had to send Cokers back to get balance.  It is complicated.

Pat

Edited by 53 Roady (see edit history)
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The Coker American Classics I was looking at from Summit were 8.20 equivalent which I think is 235R75-15......

 

That size of tire/wheel combination will be a tight squeeze with limited clearance getting them on the rear drums behind the lower fender well opening. You might have to carry two jacks in your trunk. What size are you running now?

 

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

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...One fella had to send Cokers back to get balance.  It is complicated.

Pat

Yeah, we had one that gave our local tire shop some trouble with the balancing because it was a little more out of round than most.  After remounting it with the bulge opposite the valve, his machine was able to dial it in.  You just have to be smarter than the tire.

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I bubble balance and triangulate the weight placement on my old cars. I can't remember a bad one. Watch out for that technology that might outsmart the user.

 

If you are working on an old car sometimes old technologies may be appropriate. Kind of reminds me of how I watched TV with and antenna for 50 years and never had the screen freeze or skip and jerk until I got the high definition cable.

Bernie

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Guest 53 Roady

The Roady came with 4 225-75-15 tires from 1989, one of which has given up.  The spare is an old Goodyear bias 8.00 15.  I understand that the beautiful black convert above has 235-75-15s.  The Buick Facts For Salesmen book says 8.00-15.

Some references equate 225 -15s with 800-15s while others equate the 235s.  This is probably because it matters whether you look at fatness or diameter.  800-15s are about 29.5 inches in diameter while the 235 radials are 29 but the 225s are 1.4 inches less at  only 28.1.

Edited by 53 Roady (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...
Guest 53 Roady

What is the range of whitewall widths appropriate for the 53 Roady? Tim's 3and 1/2s above look right but vulnerable on a driver.  Will 3s look right as well?

Thanks

Pat

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If you're aiming for originality, the OEM tire size and whitewall width is a 8.00 x 15" bias ply tire with a whitewall 2.5" to 2.75" wide. You need to look at original Buick Factory and Showroom photos (I have quite a few) or OEM tire manufacturer's catalogs...not pictures of 'restored' Buicks with Coker or Diamond Back tires...to confirm what I'm saying. The 3.0"-plus whitewall widths were pre-1953 and as the cars got newer, the whitewall widths began getting narrower, down to 2.5" max in 1959, then the 1"-wide, followed by today's black-wall look.

 

Buick literature indicates that Firestone, Goodrich, and U.S. Royal were the major tire suppliers for Buick Motor Division during the 1953 era. Whitewall widths varied with the manufacturers. That is why the latest and greatest 2005 BCA JUDGING HANDBOOK states that a non-authentic tire size includes an obviously incorrect (more than 1/2-inch variation from factory) whitewall width.  

 

If you're not concerned with the OEM look, your opinion is the answer. 

 

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

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Here is a handy conversion chart to compare and use for interchanging and sizing match-ups :

 

http://www.vintagecarconnection.com/vintage_tire_size_conversion_chart.htm

 

… oh and taking a look at both Coker and DB websites.  It appears that DB tires are indeed current blood full modern radials profile, tread.  The works.  This is perhaps why they may drive and last like new radials, because they appear to be just that.  White walled tires on modern profiled radials. Can also put a beauty ring above the radial to make them look somewhat like a classic www tire and not so much of what they are.  Modern profiled radials with white walls.

 

Coker on the other hand, appears to have attempted to create the radial specification along with the topography and profile look of a bias tire of old.  Perhaps this combo may diminish the overall useful mileage of these tires as Mike indicated above.  But they do look great and if you are not putting high mileage on your cars then what the heck these would appear to fit into the look just right category.

 

Still Coker also offers a nice range of bias ply with traditional webbing, profile and treads along with improved traction treading.  Cannot tell from the site as far as I can tell, as to just who is making the tires for them if not actually stated.

Edited by buick man (see edit history)
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Guest 53 Roady

Al, I know what you think of the Portawalls but I'm leaning toward a set of the DBIIs.  I have a nice set of the wire wheel hubcaps.  Given this would you choose a 2 5/8th whitewall?

Thanks, Pat

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Al, I know what you think of the Portawalls but I'm leaning toward a set of the DBIIs.  I have a nice set of the wire wheel hubcaps.  Given this would you choose a 2 5/8th whitewall?

Thanks, Pat

A 2 5/8th whitewall would have nice proportions for your car.  But note that  Coker tires and DB tires I have bought are up to 1/4 smaller white when mounted.

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Al, I know what you think of the Portawalls but I'm leaning toward a set of the DBIIs.  I have a nice set of the wire wheel hubcaps.  Given this would you choose a 2 5/8th whitewall?

Thanks, Pat

On either a bias ply or radial tire, my 2¢ worth is that it's going to look better the closer you can keep the mounted tire whitewall width to 2 3/4". You'll be happy with the radial tire ride, too. Good luck. 

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

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I have both Diamondback and Lucas wide whitewall radials on all of my Buicks for at least the last 10 t0 20 years. I have had absolutely no problems with them and they are on the stock steel wheels and one set of chrome spoke wheels.  I have had the suspension beefed up on all cars so they don't wallow around curves. 

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Guest 53 Roady

I am a notorious second guesser with a large dose of Scot, but with your help I finally decided.  I ordered a set of 2 and 3/4  whitewall DB II tires due in 2 weeks.  I'll get them on the car and post pics and you can decide how we did.

Thanks again

Pat

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  • 1 month later...
Guest 53 Roady

I want to thank you all and especially Tim, Tank, and Al. The Toyos were ordered with 2 and 3/4 whitewalls.  2 and 1/2 inches are revealed when mounted.  I think they look just right and they balanced well and drive well.
Pat

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