rhurst

loose wooden spokes

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Any ideas on tightening loose spokes?  I am refinishing my wheels and found a few loose.

The wood is all in good shape but know now is the time to tightening them.

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If the car is to be driven more than on and off the trailer at shows, it is time to have your wheels re-spoked by a wheelwright. Whereas some wire wheels can be tuned/trued by adjustable spokes, there is no such provision for wood spoke wheels. Where are you located ? What kind of car is it ? Someone here may be able to recommend a wheelwright near you. Remember, your life and others is riding on your wheels.   -   Carl 

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I agree on replacing the wood on the wheels.  Try Stutzman in Berlin, Ohio.  They have done several sets of wheels for me.

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There are flat horseshoe shaped washers that can be slipped into a space between the big part of the small end of the spoke and the steel felloe. It takes a special pusher tool to push the felloe out for this. You can get wheels respoked in a humid area and when you get them home to a dry area they can shrink and be loose. I remember seeing an IHC Highwheeler in Nevada that had newly rewooded wheels and many of the spokes had shrunk but the worst one on the very top had backed away about 3/4". It couldn't be driven after all the expense. The bottom line is,you don't want to be driving the family around on anything but the best wheels you can get whatever decision you make.

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The ONLY solution is new wood.  Anything else is a band aid and could cost you your life, or worse others their lives.

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8 hours ago, C Carl said:

If the car is to be driven more than on and off the trailer at shows, it is time to have your wheels re-spoked by a wheelwright. Whereas some wire wheels can be tuned/trued by adjustable spokes, there is no such provision for wood spoke wheels. Where are you located ? What kind of car is it ? Someone here may be able to recommend a wheelwright near you. Remember, your life and others is riding on your wheels.   -   Carl 

I'm located in Louisiana just outside New Orleans.  The car is a 1923 Hudson Sedan. It appears to be only one wheel and two spokes.

Robert

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I agree with others, new spokes are the only solution.  I have a brass era car that had slightly loose spokes.  I tried every method of tightening them that I found on these forums.  Some gave temporary improvement.  Then I had the wheels re-spoked .  If you intend driving the car its the only way to go.

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I say there is no single solution for every problem. Years ago I remember an article in one of the old car magazines about someone that had their wheels redone pretty sure by a wellknown wheelright in southern California. They took one of the hub plates off and showed the new spokes and many didn't even touch the hub center. They were only held into place by the bolts going through the edge of them. Wonder how long those newly rewooded wheels would last before loosening up. Do your wheels have a steel felloe or a wood one with a steel band around it? In other words,do the small ends of the spokes go into wood or steel? I presume steel by '23. You have a heavy car in a sedan,unless you haul it far distances to tour,you'll be driving in flat,humid conditions. There is no substitute for a quality rewood job if you really need it,I'm not sure you do. Two weeks ago I drove back to Stutzman's in Baltic Ohio to pick up some rewooded heavy Cadillac 25" wood felloe wheels. It cost me over $200 to ship them,two boxes,two in each box. Original,complete wheels with weathered spokes,too weathered to use. Noah Stutzman estimated $400 per wheel but it was tougher than he thought and it ended up being $2000 for the set of four. Plus the trip back there. I did deliver some stuff I sold and pick up some other stuff I bought on that trip but it was still a pretty heavy hit on the pocket book. So do it if you need to,don't if you don't. And if you happen to drive back to that hilly,curvy countryside,be mindful of the Amish trotting along in their horse and buggy at 10 or 15 miles an hour that you might not see until you're right on top of them. Last thought from me,is there someone close that has many years experience with early cars that could look your situation over first hand,maybe a club member,and give an opinion?

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46 minutes ago, rhurst said:

I'm located in Louisiana just outside New Orleans.  The car is a 1923 Hudson Sedan. It appears to be only one wheel and two spokes.

Robert

Perhaps someone here has a good wheel for you. If it is only one, chances are you may find another to replace it.

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Hello, This is not a fix for loose wood wheels but "Back in the Day"    when wood wheels were common, once or twice a year  they were painted with a mixture of Linseed Oil and paint thinner to help keep the wood moist and therefore expanded.   Most wood wheel users have failed to continue this practice.

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I've been reading about using antifreeze to stop wood shrinkage. Apparently it will soak right into the actual cells of the wood and dries and once done the wood will not shrink.  It stops the cracking, checking and warping of wood and it works on green wood.  The idea comes from wood lathing of bowls etc. to stop them from cracking and using a very wide plank as a table top or similar. I expect it will have great success on new wooden spoke wheels too.  I haven't found any information of how it will work on dry wood. 
 Antifreeze is also a great wood preservative especially if mixed with water that has dissolved Borax. 
 I am presently testing antifreeze on a scrap of kiln dried spruce 2x4 for a project I'm doing.  First I measured the width and thickness of the 2x4 to the thousands of an inch using calipers and six days ago I started by submersing  the 2x4 into minus 40 degree antifreeze/water solution. Unlike soaking with water the 2x4 had minimal expansion of just 2-3 thousands of an inch after 6 days. I expected the wood to swell a lot but it has remained pretty must is stable. 
 If I had a dried out wooden spoke wheel I would experiment by  remove all the paint/varnish product and then submerse the wheel in water until everything tightens up. Then  submerse it in  antifreeze to see if it stops the shrinking.  

 Wouldn't this be an amazing fix if successful? 

 You can Google the antifreeze method to stabilize wood.
  
 
  

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I have been lucky or maybe using a car everyday makes things last longer.  I have never had a loose spoke or wheel.  My wheels were originally a natural finish.  Sometime between 1930 and 1959 my Grandfather painted the wheels (probably when the varnish wore off).  Since 1959 I have re-varnished or top coated my spokes every 5-8 years.  Spar varnish was/is the only finish that seems to soak in and therefore lasts longer.  I have found that  the polyurethane type of finish does not soak in even when thinned and within a couple of years and one stone chip begins to peel off.

 

The attached links are about a late friend of mine.  If you follow his day to day trip you can see that soaking the wheels was really a very very temporary fix.  After he hadthe car shipped back to Victoria he had the wheels re-spooked and was able to enjoy driving it for several years.  I was never able to find out his rear end ratio but his Nash (a much higher quality car than my Pontiac) really did not like to run faster than it's "sweet spot" about 42 mph.  Brian was totally surprised to drive over 60 mph on original wheels in my Pontiac.

 

https://driving.ca/auto-news/news/on-the-road-1930-nash-450-sedan

http://www.nashcarclub.org/b_mckay.html

 

There is really only one solution to a loose wheel.

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It has been some years ago now that a guy from from somewhere in South America drove his late 20's Graham from his home in South America to my fair city in Eastern US. By the time he got here the spokes in a couple of wheels were loose where the spokes went through the metal felloe. I had been using a product called Kwik Poly for years to rebuild rotten wood so we took the wheel off, mixed up the Kwik Poly and poured it in the top of the spoke. We didn't know if it work or not but he drove the car to Alaska and then back to South America without any trouble with those wheels. Kwik Poly is no longer being produced as far as I know but I believe XP 2000 may be the same product by a different name. Obviously I'm not saying it would work in your situation. I offer no guarantee.

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Before my father passed away he related to me how many of the cars he owned back in the day had wooden wheels that would loosen up from time to time. He said the fix back then was to simply turn the garden hose on them for a while as the wood had simply dried up. After a good soaking they were good as new. Said it was a very common thing for owners to do. I don't think anyone does this anymore.

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That is the reason for  using the oil. It is the natural oils inherent in the wood that slowly dries out. When the wood is dry, it will suck up any liquid offered it, hence water quickly makes the wood expand and if the wheels are simply dried out, they tighten up again. If wheels are driven dried out the loose spokes begin to wear against whatever they join. This is where the epoxy comes into play. Oil is a longer term fix because it dries, or evaporates, at a slower speed. The traditional fix is Linseed oil and kerosene, about a half and half mixture. If the Linseed oil is thinned out some it will soak into the wood faster and easier. The kerosene evaporates pretty rapidly but leaves the Linseed oil in the wood. Any oil will work however and over the last several years I have taken to using lemon oil. It is inherently thinner and makes less of a mess. I paint it on with a brush till the wood will no longer accepts it. One other thing, wheels will tend to become loose more rapidly in hot dry environments and when they are left unfinished.

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