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Bias Ply vs. Steel Belted Radials


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Here's the "newbie" again. I'd love to get some input on the value of changing the Bias Ply tires of my '56 Executive (which are almost new) over to Steel Belted Radials. I've "heard" that the bias ply tires are "unsafe at any speed" more or less, at least I was told not to drive over 50 mph. And is there anything that has to be done to the car to use steel belted radials, and any advice on brands? Jeez, a lot of questions, sorry bout that.

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The "bottom line" of your question is - DONT DRIVE YOUR CAR FOR ANY DISTANCE, OR SPEED, on "collector car" / bias tires. If you just have a "hangar/trailer queen" that is never going anywhere but from grass show-car field, to your trailer - fine.

Let me qualify this with a hearty "thanks" to those who make and distribute "collector car" / bias type tires. They have perfomed a valuable service to the collector car hobby, in getting tires for us to make our cars "look" authentic. But if you will read the small print, you will find they are brutally honest about the limitations of the old style "bias" tire.

The big "danger" areas of driving on these tires are as follows:

1) POOR DIRECTIONAL CONTROL:

I drove cars in the old days, when all we had was "bias" tires. They would "hunt" street-car tracks, road imperfections and "freeze joints" in an annoying way, but NOTHING like the so called "collector car" tires of today. In MANY, but not ALL "collector" cars, these current "collector car" tires are MUCH worse in this respect, than the tires we had in the old days.

2) TIRE HEATING:

I drove long distances at high speeds in the 1950's. The bias tires available then would "heat up" dangerously at sustained speeds of over 60 mph. We used to pump em up to about 40 lbs, so as to reduce cord flexing. With higher air pressures, we rarely had failures.

There is SOMETHING about the current "collector car" tires I have experience with, that causes them to heat up from high speed flexing, even WITH higher air pressurs, MUCH MORE than the tires of yesterday.

I suspect there is something about these modern bias collector tires that make them inferior to what was available years ago.

I have been using radial tires on my 6,000 lb. Packard V-12 for a year now. It now handles, steers, and brakes the way I remember an expensive luxury car should. Cruising the highways of Arizona at extreme speeds during hot days, I have felt the tires...they are only slightly above ambient temps.

What about " Dont use radial tires on old wheels"......?

Unfortunately "back yard" mechanics who were unable or unwilling to get a decent basic education in the physical sciences....have a "need" to volunteer their "expertise"...and thus we find nonsence such as you "shouldn't use modern oils....or tires..on collector cars".

Now - SOME tire companies practice " preventative legal defense " and tell you that you shouldn't use their tires on old cars. Makes sense...with everybody suing everybody these days for looking cross-eyed at them...can't blame em for that. But this is not a TECHNICAL point...this is a LEGAL point. Here's why.

By the mid 1930's, most automobile manufacturers had adopted the SAE/ASTM technical standards for car wheels. I suspect by then just about everyone was using the "drop center one piece" wheel rim manufactured for the industry by MOTOR RIM AND WHEEL CORP.

"Do the math"....can there be any difference in side-loadings to the wheel rim, f the air pressures are the same..? (since radial tires have much better flexibility..and thus the ability to distribute impact loadings, I suspect the risk of wheel failure is even LESS with radials).

Pete Hartmann

Big Springs, AZ

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i have 235-75 R 15 steel readials (CHEAPEST that Pep boys sells) on my 56 executive. They r mounted on the stock factory Packard wheels. NO PROBLEMS!

I run this car I'state speeds in hot weather as well as 50- 60mph state routes that are curvy and hilly.

I would NOT use a re-production tire of any kind on a car. (however, i do use re-pops on my motorcycle).

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I ran Goodyear Regatta steel belted radials on my 1955 Pat for 3 years. Never a problem, runs straight & smooth. This included several long distance highway trips in western USA in the summer at sustained 80+ for HOURS. The Goodyears were cheaper than Coker. Last year I swapped the Goodyears onto my 1972 Cad Eldo because one of the "$100/set" Pep Boys radials I had on it blew out in 100-deg heat on a trip to AZ. I now have Coker wide-white wall steel belted radials on my Pat, but I haven't made any long high speed trips in it (yet).

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Might try this, has info on their line of tires, with Ques. Ans. page

coker.com

Whats the reason tubes recomended on some wire wheels, and not others?

When I got the "56" Clipper HT had new H-78X15 all 5, spare never used, label still there. Driving it with those tires was like they had a mind of their own. Changed to Firestone P235 / 75R Cross over calls for a P225 but looked a bit too small. Now handles very good, goes where you point it, HA. Would like chrome wires but think with tubes might be too firm in the ride dept. Jack

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> This doesn't happen very often but this time I AGREE WITH PETER 100% about radial tires. I put a set of four radials from Pep Boys on my Chevelle last year. What an improvement that made in the Chevelle. I will new buy bias ply tires for anything. When I bought my 53 the felow had put a set of Coker WWW bias ply tires on the car on the car. I took the tires off the car and got rid of them. When I get the Packard back on the road th first place we are going is to Pep Boys for radial tires. After 14 months in the body shop the Packard is coming home at the end of the month. I was very lucky I found people who do top notch work at reasonable prices. I had her painted light blue bottom ie Polaris blue with a deep dark blue metalic top. They painted her with about four coat of base color and four coats of clear, then buffed it out looks like a new paint job from the factory.

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WAIT....Pack 53....! Hey...John...you dont have to go to Pep Boys. Get a copy of HEMMINGS...in which you will find several suppliers of RADIAL tires with authentic width white walls. My own personal prejudice is that cars look better with white walls ..THAT ARE THE CORRECT WIDTH FOR THEIR ERA.

So dont get the super-wide width that was pretty well gone by the end of the 1930's....about 2 3/4 in. wide is what you want to get that "authentic" look for your car's era.

Pete Hartmann

Big Springs, AZ

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P.S...

John.....you don't need inner tubes - unless you have spokes...in which case...be sure you 1) order inner tubes ESPECIALLY DESIGNED FOR RADIAL TIRES....AND....2) dump a hand-full of ordinary talculm powder into the tire casing before stuffing the tube in there....THIS IS IMPORTANT....

Packard used the standard "drop center" wheel made by Motor Rim And Wheel...from the early 1930's on.

John..I know you dont want to hear this...but facts are facts...your era Packard has a VERY fragile front end....which gets the "jiggles" on anything but good road surfaces....and unless the wheels are ROUND and PROPEERLY balanced.

My suggestion is that you first mount your new tires...then drive the car for a few miles to make sure they are all seated in.....THEN you can have em mounted on a GOOD balancing machine...checked for "true" (if they are not within a thirty-second of "round"...DONT USE EM..... and then have em properly balanced, both statically and dynamically ( I rather doubt if you could find a bad balancing machine these days...if you tried....!)

Pete Hartmann

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Pete, ARE U JOKING ????????

<<<<.THEN you can have em mounted on a GOOD balancing machine...checked for "true" (if they are not within a thirty-second of "round"...DONT USE EM..... and then have em properly balanced, both statically and dynamically ( I rather doubt if you could find a bad balancing machine these days...if you tried....!)...>>>>

1/32 out of round?????? You r talking about a set of CERTIFIED tires or something????? I have yet to see a set of even hi-dollar tires run within 1/8 inch.

As for the balancing, i'd be suprised if anyone can find a balance operator that wasn't flipping hamburgers last week.

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out of round tires can be ground to round. Some of the larger tire stores carry such equipment to grind them. Even then, i think its 3/32 inch is the best they can do.

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Packard V8:

Amen to your comment about finding a balancer operator "who wasn't flipping burgers last week." I always insist that the store manager or his most senior tech balance my tires. Hopefully it's been at least a few months since he was flipping burgers! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif" alt="" />

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Eddie

I Got info from Coker's catalog, #2001 so its a year old. Try their web site,

www.coker.com You may be able to contact them for additional info.

1317Chestnut Street

Chattanooga, TN 37402 FAX (432)756-5607

Jack Harlin

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As costs keep going up, its difficult to make decisions which is better. Guess Pep Boys must be a good buy. My Son & Daughter paid for my tires as Christmas present. I didn't want to hit them too hard. HA. The 4 Firestone 235X15 with 1-5/8" WW cost $339.84 incl. 7% tax. Of course would look better if White was extended to rim, minus black ring inbetween, but I can live with them. I've never shown a car preiod, so doesn't matter to us. Jack

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Jack: When I got the radials for my Chevelle at Pep Boys the bill came to around $150.00 I think. I decided are thier 30,000 mile radials the cheapest they had. Being as I drive my car only about 500 miles a year I couldn't see putting anything else on. The man said at the counter they had free tire rotation every 5000 miles. I said I will see you in about 10 years.

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Thats funny, but the store may not be there in 10, yrs. If I had a "400" would mabe chose a different W.W. but the W.W.W. I think is overkill on Clippers. If I could find can of white latex rubber paint like times gone by, I'd use it on black to rim. Now "U" can laugh.

Jack Harlin

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Brian, yes the wheels from my 1980 1/2 ton Dodge pic-up r nearly identicle to the factory JR packard wheel. 88 Ford ranger wheel too. The offset is about 1/8 inch difference. I dont know about the Sr's. MAYBE the Ford wide wheel pattern????

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Jack: Here is something funny to me, but you had to be there to see the expresion on Brads face. About 11 years ago I helped pull the trany and rebuild from his 56 Clipper. As I had lifted the trans from the floor to work bench I said to Brad don't you think we should turn in a warrenty claim to Packard. He just looked at me dumbfounded for a couple of seconds, then we both had a good laugh.

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I put a set of BFG WWW radials from Coker on my wire wheels. Wheels had been restored with SS spokes and nipples and sealed for tubeless tires. The change in handling with the radials was significant (read jubilant! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" /> ).

I believe the bias-ply tires were made from old tennis shoes. I swear that if I drove slowly with the drivers window down I could hear someone chasing me on sneakers. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif" alt="" />

I don't think there would be a problem with Packard rims as they went to a heavier "safety rim" in 1953. The wire wheels have a heavier rim as there is a caution in a TSB or SC about using only new weights on the wire wheels as the old weights would not grip the new rim sufficently to stay on.

YFAM, Randy Berger

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On my 36 - 1404, I'm running BFG's 750-17 Bias Ply tires I got from Coker. True they don't handle like radial tires, but on my car, they do just fine. I've been running them for a little over 3 years now (a little over 6,000 miles) & had no problem with them. As for long trips, the longest I've been on was going to a show about 100 miles one way, I ran around 55/60 mph.

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Balance weights for wire wheels:

Why not use the crimp on bee-hive weight???? They come in chrome. Look much cleaner than the rim weight on wires.

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