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Wood Spoked Wheel Restoration


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I’ve got a 1924 Six Touring Car I’m restoring and am wondering about the best way to go about restoring the wheels. These wheels have several heavy coats of both blue and red lacquer paint on them so they will need to be stripped and refinished. What I was wondering is it best to disassemble them having numbered the spokes, then refinish the components and reassemble them or should I leave them assembled to do so. The disassemble refinish and reassemble would be easiest but I can see some potential problems that could arise with either way. 

 

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John

Do not dismount spokes from the rim unless they are headed to a wheelwright for respoking.   I removed the hub, scraped and sanded the old paint and gunk.  My favorite scraper is a utility knife blade without a handle. It will fit into the narrowest point between spokes and will scrape cleanly.  With heavy paint build up you might have success using a heat gun to soften things up.  It is a very tedious project that takes many hours.  Others have taken wheels to a sandblaster for clean up. 

Kevin 

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Yes John, Kevin speaks the truth! I have done one 2 sets for my 1925 Standard and the rear wheels on my 1925 Master.

 I used a stripper on the one set and that was not worth the mess since much scraping still needed to be done. I made a variety of scrapers including pieces of plate glass.

The 21" incorrect set I had on the car loosened up and I had to make shims and soaked with boiled linseed oil before refinishing.

DSC00566.JPG.af759660eb1ad2c87c60502626e0cb95.JPG

DSCF2847.JPG.96a17a557fa4506b07c981ba8903ce04.JPG The wheels currently on my Standard.

My Master wheels were easier since they had been stripped and varnished back in the 1970s.

 I still had to scrape the steel feloes, prime and paint them.

Remleycameouttoplay.jpg.4f67aa7f1e8671ac28d0cdcb63d881d2.jpg 

So I need to get around to do the fronts now.

 

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     I took my wood wheels to an old sand blaster who used softer media (greensand) to blast wood wheels.  He advised that if the blasting made some of the spokes unusable due to rot, it would be best to know about it so I could get the wheels completely rebuilt.  The wheels came out beautifully clean with no damage.  Photos below are after painting metal parts and marine varnish on the wood:

 

Front Wheel.JPG

Rear Wheel.JPG

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I have to admit I was hoping that disassembling them was an option but wasn’t surprised when you both recommended against it. I’ll just continue on the way I’ve been doing them with a heat gun and scrapers. I never heard of “soft sand” for blasting wood and am a little leery of trying it. Thanks for the info!  

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 These were the correct 22" wheels for my 1925 Standard I bought from a Bend Oregon hot rod project. In the photo, the wheels are in Mark Shaw's Buick Barn in Vancouver Wash. prior to him shipping them to me in PA.

IMG_20200321_150829551.jpg.a178776945553840ae9c87b756782994.jpg

I had taken many photos of the restoration process being done. These had 3 coats of paint. Cream, Light Blue and the original Cobalt Blue (there were some remnants of the gold feloe stripe and spoke striping). My camera SD card became corrupted and now the photos are gone. I did do some sandblasting on the metal parts. My account may be floating around on the Buick Pre-War Forum site somewhere.

The completed painted (Brewster Green) and striped set still waiting to replace the 21" ones now on the car.

DSC01275.JPG.7b8ed4e0997c7ee058092571e5ce4145.JPG

 

Edited by dibarlaw
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I'm no expert but I think when they make these wheels, they heat the metal rim up to 600 degrees to expand it, then they put it around the assembled spokes quickly and let it cool so it compresses back down onto the spokes. I don't know how you'd go about doing that, seems like a job for a professional.

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4 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

I'm no expert but I think when they make these wheels, they heat the metal rim up to 600 degrees to expand it, then they put it around the assembled spokes quickly and let it cool so it compresses back down onto the spokes. I don't know how you'd go about doing that, seems like a job for a professional.

 

They press the spokes and fellowes into the rim with a large press.  At least that is how I have seen it done in the old Ford videos and how Stutzman wheel works does it in Ohio. 

 

Heating the rim can be done, but it is not the only way.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

I'm no expert but I think when they make these wheels, they heat the metal rim up to 600 degrees to expand it, then they put it around the assembled spokes quickly and let it cool so it compresses back down onto the spokes. I don't know how you'd go about doing that, seems like a job for a professional.

I don't think so. That's how they do wagon wheels but as far as I know Car wheels were  pressed in from the inside. Many have a slight angle on the base section of the spokes that tightens them up as the hub is compressed, Companies may vary.

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Wagon wheels with a plain band around the wheel were shrunk on as suggested. Could be done in the field where no large press was available. Early car wheels with a wooden felloe were pressed together as suggested and riveted to the rim like wagon wheels. Demountable rim car wheels with a steel felloe have the spokes cut at a shallow angle where they meet together. This allows the outer end of the spoke to be entered into the felloe alternating the spokes from inside and outside. When the hub bolts are tightened the hub ends of the spokes then come together with a flat face for the faceplate and the spoke angle cut forces the spokes out radially to tighten the wheel.

This is probably clear as mud!

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Ford manufacturing methods initially followed the train tire method of heating the metal and dropping it onto the wood felloes (or dropping the wood into a hot metal rim), and then allowing the metal to shrink-cool around the wood.

Ford ops switched in the later 1920s to a method of pressing wood felloe wheels down into a cold metal rim.

Ford ops were incessant about optimizing - heating time is a waste of time, its faster to press and go.

 

Low resolution pic of a guy inserting a wood felloe wheel into a hot rim, courtesy of The Henry Ford:

image.png.f63e79d485f15fd5390ace80bb454c3a.png

 

Press machine video of pushing a wood wheel down into a cold metal rim is courtesy of King Rose Archives:

image.png.9ed218d7f00f842df3d1500f1f0c1b7f.png

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

I’ve seen photos of restored Buicks with both varnished and painted and striped spokes and quite frankly I was tending towards leaving mine natural with varnish. What are the pro’s and con’s of each?

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Pick what you like unless you are into judging and that is another whole animal.

 

Personally I have some of my cars with natural wheels (some stain) with polyurethane varnish and others I have painted.


When I get new wheels I stain and varnish all of the wood wheels even if I plan on painting them.  The reason is if I should ever decide that I would like natural wheels the paint will not have penetrated the wood making the change more difficult.   Just my thoughts.

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For me, even though my Master wheels were varnished the 50 year old finish still needed to be freshened up. I do not like just varnished spokes. My opinion.

 The wheel of a 1924-45 I bid on in 2010. The hub nuts were originally nickel plated.

fi131.jpg.47ab30f9a9d5187f5288b74331b22b19.jpg   

How I did my 1925 Master. DSC01142.jpg.3db9932e8a6b3c07c6d5e4fe90a4985a.jpg

DSCF1626.JPG.a46cdf634bf6b086388ce368e46f3693.JPGThe 1924 Model 55 Sport touring with correct striping. Varnished wheel spokes and red spear stripes are correct for the Sport models.. Double stripe on felloe. Car is now owned by Tim Turvey.

buick-touring-1924-westmoerland-county-pa-82177a.jpg.d1a1ba7793a21597679e06351f130cc6.jpg This 1924 model 45 was restored in the 1980s. Different striping on painted wheel spokes. Then it was re-restored in Re-Sale red. They stipped the spokes. 

Picture034.jpg.2357f18a19440b49a9fde9a566bf240a.jpg

Either natural or painted the felloe and hub was usually the same as body color.

Again, as discussed it is up to you.

Edited by dibarlaw
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 I figure one should start with varnish.  You can always paint them later. If you paint now it's hard to go back. I like the varnished look anyway.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I tool my 1922 Buick wheels to a blasting shop.  He used the right media to blast these wheels without damaging any wood.

 

 

!cid_312a0cb4-8e5f-4e12-b2cb-93d3f5b1a047@namprd10_prod_outlook.jpg

!cid_43ed555c-5a9a-458b-8ff9-8309c5bed382@namprd10_prod_outlook.jpg

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