147 Franklin Airman

Tire squeak on vintage car

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I have been plagued with tire squeaks for years and wondered if anyone else has had the same problem.

It appears to be only in one place and normally near the split on the locking ring. I have just fitted 4 brand new BF Goodrich white wall tyres 600x19 and 2 of the wheels have started squeaking. It almost sounds like a stone stuck in the tread.

I have rotated a tire 180 deg and the squeak is in the same place on the tyre. I am running all 4 at 36lbs. The tires are fitted on wooden spoked rims.

It is clear that it happens when the tire is under pressure ie. at the point when the tire touches the road surface. Increasing the tire pressure doesn't seem to make any difference although I haven't tried max pressure.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by 147 Franklin Airman
wrong pressure (see edit history)

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If I understand you correctly, the wheels are artillery wheels?  If so, the squeak is probably coming from the spokes.  Usually it indicates that the wood is shrinking/ worn and needs to be replaced some time in the future.  I would look at the wood wheels.

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1 hour ago, Larry Schramm said:

If I understand you correctly, the wheels are artillery wheels?  If so, the squeak is probably coming from the spokes.  Usually it indicates that the wood is shrinking/ worn and needs to be replaced some time in the future.  I would look at the wood wheels.

Thanks for your reply Larry. I thought it might be the artillery wheels but I rotated the tire and the squeak was at the same location on the tire so the artillery wheel was 180 deg away from where the squeak was.

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Is it the lock ring? I had a weird sound like what you describe from one of the disc wheels on my 1929 Cadillac with lock rings. I never cured it, I simply swapped out one of the sidemounts, but that's what I suspected.


But now that I think about it, it may also be the tire itself, especially if it seems localized on the tire, not the wheel. If you bought a Coker-built tire (which is pretty much any antique bias-ply tire, especially a 600-19), they're known to be pretty iffy in the quality department. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's the tire itself making that noise. Something might not be right inside the tire carcass itself. Call the place from which you bought them and see if they'll send you two replacements. If you're angry enough, they will send the replacements for free.

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Thanks Matt

It never occurred to me that it might be a faulty tire, its been driving me crazy.

The tires were imported from the USA by a dealer here so I will have a word with them.

Many thanks

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1 hour ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Try soaking the wheels in water. This makes the wood swell and squeaks stop, if the cause is loose spokes.

Thanks Rusty

I will give that a try just to eliminate the wheel itself. 

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Just to update on my wheels, I took the car out yesterday for 2 hours in the pouring rain and out again today in the dry and I couldn't believe it but the squeak had gone. Rusty was right.

This only confused me more because of when I rotated the tyre 180 deg on the wheel.

This has also raised another query in that my spokes are varnished and whilst I have seen others paint them I wonder if they shouldn't be oiled thus preventing them drying out so quickly. Too much water would surely slowly encourage rot.

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Back in the old days, it was a fairly common practice to fix your squeaky wooden wheels by letting the car sit in a creek for a couple of hours.  Continuous immersion could rot the wood but an occasional soak will just replace lost moisture and swell the wheels up to regular size.

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Do an ebay search on "chair-lock".  This is a product to cause wood to swell, it does work on wood spokes.  The product was developed to use on wooden kitchen chairs when the wood fitting gets loose.

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