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1930-32 Buick wheels: options, restoring, changing styles? Opinions sought….


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My car has the standard wood wheels.  They are in good shape but very drab and the spokes are rough due to the grain of the wood.  Also my tires are old and too small.  I’m considering my options, which are:  restore these wheels and get new tires, or upgrade to another style wheel and possibly procure a set with good tires already on them.


It’s my understanding that the three other types of 1931 wheels used the 5 lug style hubs so I would have to change hubs to run those wheels.  How difficult is that to do and how many parts have to be changed?  Would the brakes or drums have to be changed?  Would any other brand GM wheels from this vintage be “plug and play” on my Buick?


If I restore my existing wheels, what would they have looked like when new?  My thought is that the spokes would have been smooth and painted black and had a painted pin stripe on them (red, to match the stripe on my all-black car).  What is the recommended way to smooth out the spokes?  Sand to bare wood and fill with what? (wood filler? Fiberglass body filler?, spot putty?)   Or just build up coats of primer and paint and sand?


Would the optional trim rings that go behind the hub caps work on my wheels or do they only fit on “trim ring” Artillery wood wheels?   If so, anyone have a source for them?


If anyone has a set of 5 lug wheels and hubs, be they wire, disk, or artillery, with or without tires on them (prefer with), I would be interested.


Thoughts, advice and opinions welcomed!  Thanks!IMG_3674.JPG.f3d55300506f622d6a4965bf006cca5e.JPG



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Your spokes do not appear to be in bad shape.  However you must check for squeaks and loose spokes before you decide to use them.  I prefer natural un-painted wood spoke wheels.  I was hesitant to have my 1915 Speedster wheels sand blasted.  But when I was shown an example blasted with a softer greensand abrasive I was sold.  The blaster told me that if any of the wood was bad, it would be clear to see.  Fortunately, all my spokes were good and were ready for varnish on the wood and paint on the fellows when done.  Three of my Buicks now have unpainted wood spoke wheels.

12 Buick Wheels Varnished.JPG

12 Buick Roadster at the top of The Old Spiral Highway.jpg

Nickel_Tour 1913 Buick.jpg

1915 Bumble Buick.jpg

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Hi Ben


Thanks for the comments.  I agree with your assessment on the proportions of my car.  It is hard to beat the look of a circa 1930-33  4 door 6 window standard sedan. Even though they were usually the cheapest and most “common” body style I like them the best.    There don’t seem to be too many like mine that haven’t been “gussied up” over the years.  I’ve seen pictures of some that are two tone bright metallic colors with wide whitewalls and add on chrome accessories and they look silly.   Mine is probably  how most of them looked back when they were new or late model cars, so it has a certain charm like that.   My tire are “multiple size” tires.  They say “4.75, 5.00, 5.50, 6.50”.  They are clearly closer to the smaller of those two sizes than the larger.  The 60 series came with a 6.00 tire but I think I’m going to go with a 6.50 tire which the 80 series came with and that was essentially the same car with the same wheels on a 6” longer wheelbase.    My assumption is that my wheels were originally painted black as they are now, but I think they would have been a smoother finish with a painted red stripe on the spokes.  I think someone has sand blasted them in the past and accentuated the grains in the wood (oak?).  My plan was to sand or strip them and then fill in the grain and repaint them black.  I do not intend to leave them natural because I generally am not a fan of natural spokes and I don’t think it would be correct for the car.  I also don’t intend to disassemble them as the seem solid.  My quandary is what to fill the grain of the spokes with to make them smooth again before I paint.   Alternatively I could go to a different style of wheel (wire, disc).    I also like the Olds you picture better with the painted wheels.

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14 hours ago, cjmarzoli said:

I think someone has sand blasted them in the past and accentuated the grains in the wood (oak?). 


That is just the natural grain. I also expect that they would have been smooth when new, but I was not around then, so don't know for sure. If someone stripped them to refinish them, or if they weathered, the grain filler would have gone away. In addition to the loss of any filler, the grain also raises when unprotected wood gets wet.


It wouldn't be Oak, unless someone replaced the wood with Oak. In fact, a few years before your car was built one manufacturer was involved in a high-profile lawsuit when they tried Oak wheels and some of them disintegrated. Don't quote me, but I think it was Buick. The correct wood to use in North America is Hickory, and that is probably what they are. Hickory has a visible grain when not filled, somewhat like Oak.


Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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