TexRiv_63

Tire Recommendations

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I have an urgent need for five new tires on my 34 Chevy, they will be size 525/550-17 tube type blackwalls. I would be interested in both positive and negative recommendations based on your personal experiences as to tire brands, styles and suppliers - thanks!

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You realize this subject is a holy war. 

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Firestone.........keep a close eye out for defects and blems............

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At least your wheels are setup for offset valve stems. Those tubes are available for the 525/550-17 size. My Plymouth has the valve stem holes pointing radially inward which makes finding tubes in that size a problem.

 

My current set of tires are Lucas Olympic selected because they had a nice vintage looking tread and nobody makes a reproduction of the Goodyear All Weather (diamond) tread tires my car originally came with in that size. My understanding is the Olympics were made in Vietnam, can't say for sure because they lack the DOT markings (apparently tires that can only fit antique cars are exempted from the DOT marking requirement). The Olympics have a fair amount of whining noise when running at speed.

 

My previous two sets of tires were manufactured by Denman at a plant in Pennsylvania that is now shuttered. In the case of the current Olympic and previous sets of tires, I found that lots of weights were needed to balance (even though my rims themselves appear to be balanced). And the tread life is not as good as I recall from running Sears Allstate on the same car back in the 1970s. So far my impression has been that modern reproduction tires in the 525/550-17 size are not as durable they could be.

 

Maybe next time I'll try the Firestone reproductions. I don't like the look of the tread, too 1950s looking for me. But if they balance well and have good tread life they might be worth it.

 

I am afraid to put radials on my old rims. But if, like Fords of the era, you can get new wheels for your Chevrolet, you might want to look at the radials offered by Coker. Not sure my spare tire cover would fit over them and there has been some questions about running radial on 1930s vintage wheels. On the other hand, I know a few Model A Ford types that run these tires and like them (and are able to get new manufacture wheels if needed).

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1 hour ago, padgett said:

You realize this subject is a holy war. 

 

It shouldn't be. This isn't a general thread, its about 525/550-17. As far as I know, all current production antique tires come from the same manufacturer, no matter whose name is on the sidewall. The only exceptions are Blockley and Diamondback-Auburn, neither of which are offered in this size. The only radial in the mix is the Coker Excelsior Stahl Sport.

 

IIRC The usual issue with this particular size is with sidemounts, spare tire covers, etc. because when the 2 sizes were combined, all tires became the larger size. I see a rear mounted spare with no cover, so that is probably not an issue here.

 

If I were going to road trip in this car, I'd get the Stahl Sports. If not, I'd get whichever tire looks best (probably not the Stahl Sports). The Allstates on the car are great looking tires. That's going to be a tough act to follow.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Bloo said:

 

 The Allstates on the car are great looking tires. That's going to be a tough act to follow.

 

 

The Allstate spare has never been on the ground. The four tires on the car are Montgomery Ward Riversides. All five tires are cracked all over and hard as a rock. The Riversides are also out of round making for an interesting ride...

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Back in 2000 I bought a Pierce Arrow V-12 that had been sitting with the same tires since the war. I intended to go through the entire car before I even tryed to start it.......welll, a few buddies came over, had a few beers, and we tossed in a battery and fired it up. I ran very well on gas that was at lest thirty years old, and we took her for a spin. Car just kept running better every time I drove it, and we must have put on 150 miles the first week. Got it up to speed and the car drove fantastic at 70 mph. I decided to replace the tires and tubes to really test the car out on a local tour. A week goes by after the tires arrive and I bring the car down to a friends restoration shop to start on the first two tires. Took the front drivers tire off, laid if flat on the ground and removed the valve stem to deflate it. I then jumped up on the tire to test how stiff the sidewall was going to be and see if the bead would release. My foot went straight through the sidewall punching a hole the exact same size of my 14 boot! It was like a candid camera or Three Stooges skit. My buddies fell over laughing, from my reaction and the fact all of us were driving around at high speed on tires that were literally falling apart, but looked fine. Lesson learned, I replace all the tires on every car I buy unless I can prove they are less than five years old, and change them all out at ten years or half tread left.  A photo of the car below the day I bought it......I'm sitting on the right.

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Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Aw, now the issue has deflected (don't politicians usually do that!) to the general subject of keeping old tires in use. When I bought my 1931 Chevrolet Deluxe Coach 11 years ago as a barn/garage find, it had not run since it was somewhat rebuilt (poorly) in 1967. But it wore a brand new set of 6 Goodyear 4.75-5.00x19 tires purchased in 1967 by a PO, tires which had never seen the road (and I assumed new tubes). As a precaution, I took one of the sidemount spare wheels to the local Goodyear dealer who had only one comment "Throw them away". Non-plussed, and having carefully examined them (they were soft, no cracks, tubes held air 100%), I decided to put off the decision. Restored the car and in 2013 I got it back on the road for first time in 46 years. Have driven it ever since on the now 53 year old tires without a single issue in about 1500 miles. I keep the car out of the sun as much as possible, a real threat to rubber, and don't get the car over 35/40MPH. Now don't get me wrong, this is just my experience and does not suggest anyone should ignore the age of tires. My advice is keep an eye on and take good care of your tires regardless of their age, always be aware of where you're going and how fast, and and keep them properly inflated. Worst thing for old tires is if they are allowed to sit "flat" for a long time which causes sidewalls to crack on flat area. Happy Motoring.

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I too have driven plenty of cars with old tires and luckily have lived to tell about it, but I am definitely with Ed and will quickly replace the tires on this car. Any other recommendations on the replacements?

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I personally like the look of the BFGoodrich tires with the pie crust around the perimeter. I have the Firestones on my Cadillac (I think you did, too, Don, yes?) and while I like the aggressive tread pattern, I don't know if it's right on a smaller car like the Chevy. Blackwall BFGs would look right and are reasonably priced. They're all coming from the same place, so pick the one that looks best to you. Anything is better than what's on there now.

 

I might also recommend buying your tubes from a truck supplier rather than the ones that the antique tire supplier sells. 17-inch truck radials aren't hard to find and tend to be higher quality than the light-duty round condoms Coker sells.

 

14 minutes ago, Gunsmoke said:

Aw, now the issue has deflected (don't politicians usually do that!) to the general subject of keeping old tires in use. When I bought my 1931 Chevrolet Deluxe Coach 11 years ago as a barn/garage find, it had not run since it was somewhat rebuilt (poorly) in 1967. But it wore a brand new set of 6 Goodyear 4.75-5.00x19 tires purchased in 1967 by a PO, tires which had never seen the road (and I assumed new tubes). As a precaution, I took one of the sidemount spare wheels to the local Goodyear dealer who had only one comment "Throw them away". Non-plussed, and having carefully examined them (they were soft, no cracks, tubes held air 100%), I decided to put off the decision. Restored the car and in 2013 I got it back on the road for first time in 46 years. Have driven it ever since on the now 53 year old tires without a single issue in about 1500 miles. I keep the car out of the sun as much as possible, a real threat to rubber, and don't get the car over 35/40MPH. Now don't get me wrong, this is just my experience and does not suggest anyone should ignore the age of tires. My advice is keep an eye on and take good care of your tires regardless of their age, always be aware of where you're going and how fast, and and keep them properly inflated. Worst thing for old tires is if they are allowed to sit "flat" for a long time which causes sidewalls to crack on flat area. Happy Motoring.

 

Why do we keep having this discussion? With all respect to my friend Gunsmoke, please don't drive on ancient tires. This is EXACTLY Ed's point with his story, above. The tires LOOKED fine and he drove on them and they seemed healthy... until they weren't. The tire's external appearance doesn't tell you anything about what's going on inside the tire carcass. Failures rarely happen from the outside-in. I was driving a 1970 Buick GS and it felt like it had a lump in the tire. I figured it was just flat-spotted from sitting. Then, as soon as I drove about 30 feet in our parking lot Ka-BOOOM! It gave up all at once. Brand new Michelin tires with fewer than 200 miles on them, but more than 10 years old. No cracking, no signs of failure, and I had driven on the car just a few weeks earlier without incident. They were fine until they weren't. Fortunately, I was only going 5 MPH in the parking lot. 10 minutes earlier I was going 50 MPH down the road. No amount of monitoring the tires would have prevented it.

 

I'm shocked by car guys who spend thousands restoring and preserving their cars, then pretend that the single most important safety feature on their cars is optional. Fresh tires are cheap insurance against the worst. If you're lucky, you merely experience what Ed and I have experienced. If you're not, the tire gives up at speed and you're lucky to damage a wheel or a fender. I'll leave you to think about the worst thing that can happen, because it can and it does. How awful would you feel sitting by the side of the road with a hurt car (and hopefully not a hurt body or hurt family or hurt bystander) and realize that you could have prevented it simply by installing fresh tires?

 

If your gas tank was leaking, would you just ignore it and say, "Nah, it's fine. I'll just keep it below 1/2 a tank?"

 

If your engine made 2 pounds of oil pressure, would you ignore it and say, "The rod bearings aren't making any noise, I'm sure it's fine. I'll just drive slower."

 

No. No you would not. Why are tires different?

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13 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

I personally like the look of the BFGoodrich tires with the pie crust around the perimeter. I have the Firestones on my Cadillac (I think you did, too, Don, yes?) and while I like the aggressive tread pattern, I don't know if it's right on a smaller car like the Chevy. Blackwall BFGs would look right and are reasonably priced. They're all coming from the same place, so pick the one that looks best to you. Anything is better than what's on there.

 

I like them too, but unless you know something I don't, they aren't made in the correct size. Firestone looks nice. So does Olympic, and they cost the least by far. OTOH Lester might put the most rubber on the ground.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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+1 on tires. If I needed OEM tires for a show, I'd drive on modern tires and switch at the show. Same thing I used to do when racing but that was because the 'vette would not fit on the trailer with the race tires so I had a set of BFG Radial T/As for rain and trailer tires.

 

Only tires I've had fail when driving was a pair of used CR70x13 Firestone 500s I bought for the rear of my Sunbird for a trip. That was in '79 (before we knew age was bad) and then it was vibration that made me replace them.

 

I do suspect that my tires last longer because they are garaged in a warm state where the humidity is always there. It is rare that I replace tires because they are worn out.

 

For a few decades I bought nothing but Michelins for personal/family use but am back to BFGs (same company) for my cars now.

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So far I have only seen Firestone, Excelsior, Lester and Lucas Olympic brands available in my size. I'm leaning toward the Olympic because of the tread and sidewall design, price, and the fact it is NOT sold by Coker. Has anyone had bad experience with this tire? (PM me if you do not want to share here)

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7 hours ago, edinmass said:

My foot went straight through the sidewall punching a hole the exact same size of my 14 boot!

 

So maybe those guys called "tire kickers" know something after all.

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I am gong to replace the 525/550-18 tires on my 1933 Chevrolet in the next year and did some research on tire size after reading a posting on the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America (VCCA) forum a year or so ago.  Some were complaining that some new tires marked as the same size as their old tires would not fit under their metal tire covers.  I believe the dimension that was creating the issue was the diameter of some of the tires.

 

My 33 originally came with 525-18 tires which have not been available since before I bought the car in 1971 and have had 525/550-18 tires since I bought it.

 

I did some research on 525/550-18 and 550-18 tires that are currently available and discovered in almost every published dimension to include Section width, Tread width, and Diameter the 550-18 tires were smaller than the 525/550-18 tires, which surprised me.  I would have thought the 525/550 s would have been smaller.   Since there are still no 525-18 tires made I took the dimensions of several 525-21 tires and only reduced the diameter by 3 inches to compare all 3 dimensions to the other two sizes and found the 550-18 tires were very close to those of the 21 inch tires reduced in diameter by 3 inches.

 

I also posted my question on the VCCA forum and those who answered were using either BFG or Firestone 550-18 tires.

 

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Edited by Vila (see edit history)
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11 minutes ago, Vila said:

I am gong to replace the 525/550-18 tires on my 1933 Chevrolet in the next year and did some research on tire size after reading a posting on the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America (VCCA) forum a year or so ago.  Some were complaining that some new tires marked as the same size as their old tires would not fit under their metal tire covers.  I believe the dimension that was creating the issue was the diameter of some of the tires.

 

My 33 originally came with 525-18 tires which have not been available since before I bought the car in 1971 and have had 525/550-18 tires since I bought it.

 

I did some research on 525/550-18 and 550-18 tires that are currently available and discovered in almost every published dimension to include Section width, Tread width, and Diameter the 550-18 tires were smaller than the 525/550-18 tires, which surprised me.  I would have thought the 525/550 s would have been smaller.   Since there are still no 525-18 tires made I took the dimensions of several 525-21 tires and only reduced the diameter by 3 inches to compare all 3 dimensions to the other two sizes and found the 550-18 tires were very close to those of the 21 inch tires reduced in diameter by 3 inches.

 

I also posted my question on the VCCA forum and those who answered were using either BFG or Firestone 550-18 tires.

 

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Interesting chart. I guess I should create the same chart for the 17 inch tires. I know that I can't fit my metal spare tire cover on my current (or two previous) sets of 525/550-17 tires if the tire is inflated. My solution is to inflate the tire after the cover has been installed which is a bit of a hassle. Maybe there is a tire slightly smaller in diameter that would fit in the cover better than what I have now.

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On ‎10‎/‎15‎/‎2019 at 11:37 AM, Matt Harwood said:

 

I might also recommend buying your tubes from a truck supplier rather than the ones that the antique tire supplier sells. 17-inch truck radials aren't hard to find and tend to be higher quality than the light-duty round condoms Coker sells.

 

 

 

I am concerned about tube quality after the many horror stories seen here. Would you by any chance know a source for 17" tubes for my 525/550 size tire?

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2 hours ago, TexRiv_63 said:

I am concerned about tube quality after the many horror stories seen here. Would you by any chance know a source for 17" tubes for my 525/550 size tire?

 

Hmmm... I usually have my tire shop get them for me when they're mounting the tires. They're a heavy truck tire outlet and they're right across the parking lot, so I use them by default, but they're also the only guys in town who aren't afraid of lock rings. I bet that a 16-inch truck or trailer tube would work just fine and be small enough in cross-section to fit in those tires. If you have a local shop that does big trucks, I'd recommend giving them a call and see what they say. Always better to shop locally and trust their advice so if there are problems later they'll help you out.

 

Sorry I don't have anything more specific than that, like a brand or a place to buy online.

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22 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

Hmmm... I usually have my tire shop get them for me when they're mounting the tires. They're a heavy truck tire outlet and they're right across the parking lot, so I use them by default, but they're also the only guys in town who aren't afraid of lock rings. I bet that a 16-inch truck or trailer tube would work just fine and be small enough in cross-section to fit in those tires. If you have a local shop that does big trucks, I'd recommend giving them a call and see what they say. Always better to shop locally and trust their advice so if there are problems later they'll help you out.

 

Sorry I don't have anything more specific than that, like a brand or a place to buy online.

Thanks Matt. I do plan to have whatever tires I use bought and installed through a local tire shop that does a lot of truck and "oddball" tire work so I will discuss with them.

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If you really can't decide, go through the ratings and pick the tallest tires. Those cars are geared a little on the slow side. Every little bit helps.

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4 hours ago, Bloo said:

go through the ratings and pick the tallest tires.

I went up one size on my Pontiac and then selected the tallest tire.  Made a real difference on the highway.

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15 hours ago, Tinindian said:

I went up one size on my Pontiac and then selected the tallest tire.  Made a real difference on the highway.

You are a long time daily driver of a prewar car, may I ask what brand / supplier tires and tubes you use?

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On 10/14/2019 at 7:00 PM, edinmass said:

Firestone.........keep a close eye out for defects and blems............

Great advice and near the first comment - a very nice tire. 

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I noticed most trucks have metal stems for their tubes.  I have had several rubber stems just fall off (new tubes less than 5 years old).  Went to metal stems and have not had a problem.

 

Side note, resurrected a 1928 car that had not run in 30 years, the back tires were new but 30 years old.  The first run went great about 35mph start hearing a tinging sound sporadically.  Stopped and look at the car everything seem good, on the way home same sounds.  I pull in the driveway determined to figure out the sound, turns out pieces of sidewall were flying off the tire hitting the fender...ting ting.  It got new tires.

Edited by Graham Man (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, TexRiv_63 said:

You are a long time daily driver of a prewar car, may I ask what brand / supplier tires and tubes you use?

In recent years I have used Coker Tires 525/550-19 4 ply rating  1998-2004, (45,000 miles),  Insa 500-19  475-19  made in Chile 2004-2010 (40,000 miles).

I couldn't get a deal from the new owners at a local tire shop, where I had taken our fleet of limousines and hearses for 30 years so I called a shop in Vancouver and had tires, tubes and flaps delivered by bus in two days.  The tallest tires they had were Excelsior 525-550 x 19, 6 ply rating, max load 1332 pounds @ 32 psi.  I don't drive the car as much as I used to since I retired, so with 30,000 miles here is a picture of the tread.  With these tires my rpm @ 60 mph went down from 3047 to 2802 making the car quite a bit quieter.

 

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