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Tightening wood spoke at the fellie ??

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Yes Get new wheels made. We had a guy in town who had a teens Federal truck and he soaked his hard rubber tires/ wheels in the pond for a few days  every year until he tried soaking them in oil. I think that solved the problem longer that soaking in water.

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If you can afford it, I highly recommend having those wheels rebuilt by one of a few really good wheelwrights familiar with wood felly wheels. Wood felly wheels are not quite like steel felly wheels. Steel felly wheels can have new spokes made and pressed into the felly by any decent wheelwright or even good capable hobbyists.

Wood felly wheels must have the spokes and fellies assembled outside the wheel rim, and then pressed into the steel rim. There are a number of things that can go wrong and cause damage to the spokes, tenons, or fellies and result in a hidden failure just waiting to give you a nasty surprise when you do not expect it.

IF (big IF) the wood is still good enough? And one has some background, experience, and ability? The wheels can be disassembled and reworked with appropriate shims in appropriate places to make them solid and tight again, and may be good for a few more decades. HOWEVER! The wood is now somewhat over a hundred years old! It has shrunk with age, and is continuing to shrink. The grain integrity is getting more questionable with each passing year. Sometimes rivets must be added on either side of the tenons (NEVER through the tenon!) to keep the felly from splitting though the tenon hole and loosening quickly again. The problem is, that putting those rivets there also weakens the felly somewhat. So the cure may be as bad as the disease? Thin sheet steel or brass shims can be put around the tenons to tighten the fit in the fellies, however (lots of 'howevers' in old wheels!), if the shimming makes it too tight (even slightly!), that in itself could cause the felly to split and cause serious problems.


As said by Mike West and in my first sentence. Best to have wood felly wheels rebuilt properly if you can.


All that said. I love wooden spoke wheels, and trust them very much. Wooden spoke wheels are much stronger and more resilient than most people think they know. I KNOW this. More than forty years ago, I had the rare opportunity to run my first model T Ford racing car at speed on a half mile dirt racing track! This event happened one weekend per year for four years (I went all four years!). Two days, morning and afternoon races, all model Ts at pretty good speeds. It was interesting, that in the four years, quite a number of cars with steel disc and steel wire wheels had hub, axle, and wheel failures. Only two cars with wooden spoke wheels had wheel failures. One, actually broke a hub. The hub was replaced on site and the wooden spokes were undamaged. The other, collapsed a tie rod causing loss of control and hit the outer fence. That was and is one of the truths about wooden spoke wheels. As long as the wheels are in reasonably good condition, and tight, a wheel breaking will almost never cause an accident or collision. A broken wheel is almost always the result of an accident or collision. Wooden spoke wheels should be routinely inspected for cracks, damage, or looseness.


How fast were those model T racing cars? The track was somewhat over a half mile. The fastest model Ts (including a couple with wooden spoke wheels!) were running the over half mile in 31 to 34 seconds! So, at or near 60 mph average. By the way, the modern big V8 sprint cars that ran the track almost every month? The track record for a modern sprint car then was barely under 27 seconds! The bulk of the sprint cars were running between 28 and 30 seconds, with the slower cars/drivers in the anywhere from there to 35 seconds. The fastest model Ts, even on wooden wheels, were keeping up with a lot of the modern sprint cars!

Yeah. I feel safe on my wooden spoke wheels.


I love that Hupmobile!

Edited by wayne sheldon
I hate leaving typos! (see edit history)
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I agree with having the wheels re-wooded.  You do not say where you are, but I currently have a set being redone at Stutzman in Berlin, Ohio.


IMO, safety is the priority and if there is any issues with the wood replace it.  The last thing you want to do is driving down the road or making a turn and have a wheel fold over on you.  For $1,000-$2,000 depending on your wheels, what is your life worth?  I always default to new wheels.

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