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OEM 1954 Buick Kelsey-Hayes wire wheel vs. Wheel Vintiques Repro


1953mack
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This is a continuation of my Post #44 in the following link: http://forums.aaca.org/topic/266693-wheels/page-3

 

As promised, here are the eight visible differences…some obvious and others not so…that I spotted when I placed an OEM 1954 Buick Kelsey-Hayes (KH) 40-spoke, 6”-wide wire wheel next to a similar looking reproduction 40-spoke, 6”-wide wire wheel from Wheel Vintiques (WV):

 

1. RIM HOLE

The diameter of the tire’s air valve stem hole is larger in the KH rim (.625” or 5/8”) than in the WV rim (.453” or 29/64”). The location is in the drop center well wall on both wheels and the valve stem points toward the center of the wheel (not upward). Older inner tubes usually have a larger diameter valve stem. When modern inner tubes that have the smaller diameter valve stem are installed in the OEM wheel with the larger sized hole, a rim hole reducer bushing is recommended to fill in the gap, prevent water infiltration, and to keep the smaller valve stem centered in the larger hole.     

 

2. RIM CONTOUR

The rim contour/bead profile, noted by a stamped letter that follows the stamped size of the wheel, designates that it meets certain dimensional criteria. The 1954 Buick KH wire wheel is stamped 15x6 L and 54 in the drop center near the valve stem hole and is not readable with a mounted tire. The WV wire wheel is stamped 15x6 J along with the Month, Day, and Year of Manufacture on the outer backside of the wheel and is more easily read with the tire/wheel removed from the brake drum. The KH wire wheel rim was designed for a bias-ply tire with an inner tube; it does not have the inner and outer safety beads. The WV rim has the safety beads and according to WV ads, allows running a tubeless tire without an inner tube. The safety bead depressions are noticeable about 1¼” in from the face of the rim’s flanges. When viewing the rim without a mounted tire, the safety bead humps are noticeable on the inner bead seat edges. Safety beads are designed to provide a better tire-to-wheel fit, prevent tire bead slippage toward the dropped center well, and prevent air leakage from the rim due to the horizontal forces applied to a tubeless tire during cornering.  (Edit: see my sketch in Post #3 below.)

 

3. HUB BUBBLE BUMPS / INNER DEPRESSIONS

The four 3/4"-diameter stamped bubbles located between adjacent lug bolt holes are more pronounced on the KH wheel hub than on the WV wheel hub. These depressions when viewed from the backside of the hub are necessary for front brake drum rivet and rear brake drum bolt head clearances. The fifth space between adjacent lug bolt holes is drilled the same on both wheels for a brake drum pilot stud (guide pin) that helps positioning a tire/wheel combination onto a brake drum.

 

4. HUB FLANGE

The 9 7/8” overall diameter of the hub is the same on both wheels; however, the front to back dimension is deeper on a KH wheel hub (4 7/16” vs. 4 1/16”). This ±3/8” difference is due to a perimeter flange that projects further inward beyond all other adjacent wheel-to-brake drum mounting surfaces on a KH hub. You will run into an interference issue when trying to use this KH wire wheel on some later-year Buick finned-aluminum Fabricast brake drums. On the backside of a WV wheel hub where it mounts up against the brake drum, all surfaces are uniformly on the same vertical plane…no protruding projected flange.  

 

5. HUB DRILLED HOLES

On a WV hub, the twenty spoke holes for the inner (shorter) spokes are drilled closer to the face of the hub by ± 5/16”.                             

 

6. SPOKES 

On a KH wheel, ten of the inner (shorter) spokes are labeled K and ten are labeled L. The outer (longer) spokes are also labeled differently: five each are labeled G, H, I, and J.  On a WV wheel, all twenty inner (shorter) spokes are labeled the same with a number 3; on the outer (longer) spokes, five are labeled FF/T and the other fifteen are not labeled. Differences in spoke identification could be due to bend angles or varying lengths. I did not disassemble the wheels to compare.   

 

7. SPOKE FINISH

OEM KH wire wheels came with chrome-plated carbon steel spokes. I ordered my WV wire wheels with the optional stronger polished stainless steel spokes that eliminated my hydrogen embrittlement concerns. I have heard that some wire wheel restoration shops do not offer nor will they install any type of chrome-plated spokes.   

 

8. WHEEL LINER

KH wheels came with 1½” wide, easily removable inner wheel flaps to prevent inner tube punctures from the spoke’s nipples. WV wheels have a layer of 1¾”- wide silicone sealant to prevent air pressure loss due to over-sized (?) drilled spoke holes.

 

I will not even attempt to address any structural design or technical issues that might include questionable hub/rim metal gauges, drilled spoke-hole sizes, spoke gauges, spoke butt end gauges, rolled or cut spoke threads, chrome plating, workmanship, and overall quality.  

 

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

“500 Miles West of Flint”

 

 

Edited by 1953mack (see edit history)
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Thought I would update this Thread and post a sketch that was included in my recent article for the '53-'54 BUICK SKYLARK CLUB Newsletter. It shows the rim contour comparison between the subject J and L style wire wheel and the location of the safety beads that are on the Wheel Vintiques wheel only. I mentioned this in a previous post but it's worthy to note again that the 1953-1954 OE Buick Skylark 40-spoke Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels were designed and built for a tube-type tire (without the safety beads) before Buick started supplying their new cars with tubeless tires in 1955 with one exception: when you purchased the factory Option T wire wheel package in 1955, Buick supplied inner tube-type tires with the wire wheels.  

 

1-Scan-001.jpg.f6ee4417ddd802a97d56724affae22a0.jpg

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

Edited by 1953mack (see edit history)
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Al,

 

Years ago the 53'-54' Club toured the Dayton wire wheel company and they didn't recommend driving on their rims and the were pretty much for show only.    Our tour guide told us that they reproduce this wheel but it's way under built.  Not enough spokes he told us.    

 

I'm sure the wheel vintiques are the same way.  

 

One club member built a set of wheels for his 53' Skylark using a larger spoke.  Unfortunately he doesn't drive much anymore to see how they hold up.  

 

BTW  nice job sending articles to the Skylark newsletter each month.  

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

I have a set of new WV Repro 15" x 6" wire wheels for my 1953 Skylark.  I am planning on ordering a set of bias whitewall tires and tubes to be in compliance with Buick Judging Sheets.  I have several questions:

a) What was the correct whitewall width for this 1953 Skylark when sold new?

b)  Some say the correct tire size tire is 800-15, for use with the original 15" x 6.5" wheels, but in 1954 with a 15" x 6" wheel, I saw that the correct size was 760-15 for that wheel.  Since the WV repro wheels are 15" x 6" (same as 54 Skylark Original Wheels), I am thinking that 760-15 might be the best choice.

c) Looking at current Hemmings Ads, noted the following bias tires - pricing was about the same.

     Coker:  Coker Classics  760-15 with 3" Whitewall, <or> 800-15 with 2-1/2" or 3" WW,

                  U.S. Royal: 820-15 with 2-3/4" or 3-1/2" W.W.

                  B.F. Goodrich:  760-15 with 2-1/2" or 3-3/8" WW, <or> 800-15 with 2-1/2" or 3" WW.

      Lucas: General Tire: 760-15 with 3" or 4" WW, <or> 800-15 with 3" or 4" WW

      Universal: 760-15 with 3" WW, 820-15 with 2-1/4" or 3-1/2" WW, Firestone 820-15 with 3-1/2" or 4-1/4" WW.

Hoping for some ideas on the above choices.   Thank you,

Fred

Edited by Fred Zwicker
typo (see edit history)
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On ‎2‎/‎25‎/‎2019 at 9:05 PM, Fred Zwicker said:

I have a set of new WV Repro 15" x 6" wire wheels for my 1953 Skylark.  I am planning on ordering a set of bias whitewall tires and tubes to be in compliance with Buick Judging Sheets.  I have several questions:

a) What was the correct whitewall width for this 1953 Skylark when sold new?

b)  Some say the correct tire size tire is 800-15, for use with the original 15" x 6.5" wheels, but in 1954 with a 15" x 6" wheel, I saw that the correct size was 760-15 for that wheel.  Since the WV repro wheels are 15" x 6" (same as 54 Skylark Original Wheels), I am thinking that 760-15 might be the best choice.

c) Looking at current Hemmings Ads, noted the following bias tires - pricing was about the same.

     Coker:  Coker Classics  760-15 with 3" Whitewall, <or> 800-15 with 2-1/2" or 3" WW,

                  U.S. Royal: 820-15 with 2-3/4" or 3-1/2" W.W.

                  B.F. Goodrich:  760-15 with 2-1/2" or 3-3/8" WW, <or> 800-15 with 2-1/2" or 3" WW.

      Lucas: General Tire: 760-15 with 3" or 4" WW, <or> 800-15 with 3" or 4" WW

      Universal: 760-15 with 3" WW, 820-15 with 2-1/4" or 3-1/2" WW, Firestone 820-15 with 3-1/2" or 4-1/4" WW.

Hoping for some ideas on the above choices.   Thank you,

Fred

 

Welcome to the 1954 BS WWOCOA (aka 1954 Buick-style Wire Wheel Owner’s Club of America).

  

My answer to your Question “A”. . .  

There is no correct whitewall width for a 1953 Buick Skylark or any other 1953 Buick. Buick had three documented tire suppliers in 1953 . . . U.S. Royal, Firestone, or Goodrich . . . and the whitewall width varied among all three manufacturers. Typically, a buyer never had a choice of tire manufacturers. There are Buick Showroom and factory photos floating around on the internet along with OEM spare tires still in the trunk compartment that show whitewall widths anywhere from 2 1/2" on a new 1953 Buick Skylark 76X to what appears to be closer to a 3 1/2"-plus exposed-width on a 56R. It boils down to a matter of what you think looks correct. Points shouldn't be deducted if your whitewall widths fall within that range. Keep in mind that you lose some of the whitewall width from the advertised dimension once the tire is mounted.   

 

  715434068_1-1953BuickSkylarkinShowroom.JPG.12e9e4416c51ed0ffee4ce578f9cdf08.JPG     1-Scan-022.jpg.a3ee4457e7a6f39a7667d848e305356b.jpg

 

My answer to your Question “B”. . . 

More correctly, some Buick documents show the correct  tire size for a 1953 Skylark is 8.00 x 15” mounted on a 6 1/2"-wide wire wheel . . . and for a 1954 Skylark, the  correct tire size is 7.60 x 15” on a 6”-wide wire wheel.  

 

IMO, I’ve read your recent Posts and I'm thinking that you might have jumped the gun and didn’t do your homework before you purchased the set of five repops made by Wheel Vintiques. The price that you said you paid for them tells me that the wire wheels do not have the stronger stainless steel spokes. Am I correct? At the same time, you are asking for suggestions or recommendations from others on this Forum on what size of tire would be correct for those 6”-wide wire wheels. Common sense tells me not to tell you what size tire to run on them and I doubt that anyone else would take responsibility if you were involved in an accident or fatal that involved a tire failure where you went with their opinionated size that might have been or not been correct.

 

Here’s what would be appropriate for you to find out before spending any money on tires. You need to contact the wire wheel manufacturer who spent the time and money to do all the R&D of their product that involves life and safety issues. You need to get their answers in writing to the following questions:

(1) Why is (or was) Wheel Vintiques offering a 6”-wide wire wheel with a choice of either chrome-plated carbon steel spokes or polished stainless steel spokes? How are weight loads or tire widths/sizes affected by the different type of spokes?

(2) What is the maximum bias-ply tire size, with or without an inner tube, do you recommend and guarantee it for your carbon-steel spoked-wheel?

(3) What is the maximum bias-ply tire size, with or without an inner tube, do you recommend and guarantee it for a polished-stainless steel spoked-wheel?  

When you receive their answers, you might decide to return the wire wheels. If you decide to keep them, I would file that paper along with your other insurance papers for future records.   

 

Maybe we'll meet at a BCA Nationals where they have 400-point judging. Good luck.

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

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Thank you John and Al for your very interesting and helpful comments. The 1953 Buick Skylark that we are currently restoring will be displayed in our car museum in Canfield, Ohio, along with either mint original or restored to original Buicks (restored 1917 Touring, body-off rotisserie restored 1954 Riviera 2-dr HT (400 Points at Charlotte),  mint original 1956 Roadmaster  Conv (30K original miles) and  older restored 1957 Super 2-dr HT.  We also have many other cars on display (over  50 total).

 

While I go for originality, I hate to admit that after a restoration is complete and after spending several years on a restoration, including professional engine rebuilding, the cars are almost always "too good to drive". Accordingly safety issues mentioned are recognized , but probably not a critical issue.  I am unsure of what to do with the existing Skylark wheels (car has a set of original 6.5" spoke wheels that are pitted and rusty and could be reconditioned, if this is still possible and if a dependable source can be located.  (Cost and lead time is also a factor). Availability of new repro stainless steel spoke wire wheels is another issue, as from what I was told, the wheels with the stainless steel spokes are not in stock and could be months away if ordered.  The chrome steel spoke wheels seem to be less of a delivery issue. Accordingly, I ordered a set of 5 of the 15"x6" repro wheels from Jegs that are on backorder, with an estimated delivery date of mid April.  It may still be possible to cancel this order, provided an answer can be forthcoming at reasonable cost.

 

As for tires, original Buick literature that I have calls for 800-15 bias tires with tubes, and I agree that he whitewall width can vary from about 2-1/2" to 3-1/2".  I will probably go for 3" to 3-1/2".  I have also seen  several other 1953 Skylarks with 820-15 bias tires with tubes, which might be good, unless if judged to be incorrect.  Repro new whitewalls bias tires seem to be  readily available in both 800-15 and 820-15.  At present the car has a set of Coker Classic whitewalls in 4" width, which seem too wide.  These tires look perfect but are about 10 years old and will be replaced with what I hope to be as close to the original as possible.

 

Our cars can be seen at www.tipcars.us    I am attaching pictures of our other Buicks with this post.  My '53 Skylark is the last picture, but is now being restored (body-on but everything else off and to bare metal). Luckily there is no rust, but plenty of undercoating that is very difficult and messy to remove.  Car will be painted Majestic White with red wheel wells and red and white interior and black top.  Other than the wheels (undecided yet), everything will be restored to original specs.

 

Thanks again for all of your interest and input.   Fred

17Buick2.jpg

54B-LHTip1.jpg

56Buick1.jpg

57BUICKa-F.jpg

57B.RF1a.jpg

Front1.jpg

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3 hours ago, Fred Zwicker said:

I am unsure of what to do with the existing Skylark wheels (car has a set of original 6.5" spoke wheels that are pitted and rusty and could be reconditioned, if this is still possible and if a dependable source can be located.  (Cost and lead time is also a factor). Availability of new repro stainless steel spoke wire wheels is another issue, as from what I was told, the wheels with the stainless steel spokes are not in stock and could be months away if ordered.  The chrome steel spoke wheels seem to be less of a delivery issue. Accordingly, I ordered a set of 5 of the 15"x6" repro wheels from Jegs that are on backorder, with an estimated delivery date of mid April.  It may still be possible to cancel this order, provided an answer can be forthcoming at reasonable cost.

 

Fred, sorry I have not given more attention to this sooner, a few life matters have popped up. I would highly recommend canceling that order and having the original wheels restored. No issue with originality that way and you will know what you have. Have not thoroughly read all this post but if no one has offered a vendor to do the restoration I would suggest posting another thread asking for such. They are out there. Hope this helps. Again sorry for the delay.

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Mr. Earl (Lamar),

 

I agree with your position and support your decision 100%.  There comes a time in every man's life when he must back off on many of his prior and sometimes difficult responsibilities, and now is the time for you to enjoy life, do some travelling, finish your Buick Garage and do whatever you please without being tied up spending so much time  with all of us on this and other forums. Hopefully you will some day get out to Ohio to visit us - the welcome mat is always out for you. 

 

Best regards and good luck and A BIG THANKS for all of your friendly advice and help over the years,

 

Fred

 

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🌝Thank you very much Al and Mr. Earl,  Taking your advice, I located a source for show quality rebuilding  of my five existing original 1953 Skylark 6.5" x 15" wire wheels, using stainless steel spokes and nipples for $795 each with a 60-90 day lead time.  They answered the phone on the first ring and connected me quickly to  David Adler, who was very informative and friendly. Luckily the set of repro 6"x15" imported wire wheels that I ordered elsewhere is on back order, so I will cancel  that order and go with the following rebuilding:

 

Motorspot, Inc.  (Truespoke Wire Wheels)

Attn: David Adler

427 Industrial Way, Unit C

Fallbrook, CA  92028

760-731-8303

www.truespoke.net

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