The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by 6sally6, Oct 14, 2019.
7J, reversed the rims, partly to get the look and partly to make sure the offset was OK
Yes. The early '60s Rambler steelies have 12 5/8" centers, the same as Ford 15" steelies, and the hoops are 4" wide. I did this conversion in '73 before the wheel companies offered a 15"x4" wheel with 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern. Set my backspace, had them welded, and went cruising in my '34 Sedan.
1964, High school machine shop, I like many here have posted made my own using 15" Chevy wheels, drill out rivets, flip center, weld center in, weld stem hole closed, drill new stem hole. I had a pair with the recap street slicks we bought back then for years on my different Chevys, painted black/baby moons. Then I found out I could buy chrome reverse wheels from J C Whitney $8/$10/$12 per ( can't remember exact price ) and my wheel building days were over. I have many good memories from building stuff as a kid through present days, though now as a senior even a small project is major and takes me forever, my deal now is "Nothing Happens Fast"
Buddy did a pair of 15" x 5.5" rims and '51-'56 ford 15" x 4.5" centers …
used truck spares but they needed to be older riveted rims... 6" or 6.5"... wide...
the car wheels were the best I could find… he reversed them, bought me an extra 1.5" …
I messed up... gave away what he didn't use...
car rims on truck centers..... errrr...
Oddest was a set I built for a friend's Karmann Ghia VW in the seventies. He wanted a stock look with wider wheels. Cut the centers out of the VW wheels and welded them into a set of Ford rims. Both were originally welded not rivetted so it took judicious use of a cutting torch to not damage the centers in one case, and the rims in the other. Made a pointer with a block of 2X4 and a piece of welding rod. The front hub of the VW served for a jig, drove the centers into the rims with a hammer, then bolted them to the hub and trued them up using the pointer and a few taps with the hammer. It was not hard to get them within 1/16" of true. Welded them up and they worked fine.
On the same car, showed him how to make fender flares using conduit tubing and jacking out the fenders slightly with a jack, piece of plank and a sandbag. Necessary to cover the wider tires.
Hey, I've done this a few times!
If you try to do it at home I would really recommend trying to set it up on something that you can spin it on with a dial indicator. Just lining up the old rivet holes doesn't always work and what if you want a backspacing that doesn't line up there?
Found this article in a May 1967 Rod&Custom magazine.
The last ones I did was for a 51 Chevrolet pu.
I used 56 Buick station wagon rings with late 50 early 60's 6 lug centers.
The Buick rings have a nice smooth tapered look , I also left the valve stem in its original location , witch becomes the back side.
The wagon rims are 7" wide and when reversed its 5" from the center to the outside edge.
I still have two Buick wagon rings for something someday.
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I have been saving the centers from my early Chevy and Ford wheels with the intention of installing them back in original type hoops.
What I found, is a tractor supplier that sells hoops that will require me to turn the centers down. Right now the hoop I bought would have an interference fit of .125”. I wander if it would be ok to turn them so that the interference is .0625 and just heat the hoop up , drop it over the center, true it, and rivet/ weld it.
Still waiting to make turning fixture. And take measurement on and original hoop Id at work with the CMM
Started doing the Chevy centers and Buick hoops when I was about 14 after reading an article about it.
we could buy the buick rims for about a buck a wheel and I had a bunch of Chevy rims.
Would drill out the rivets with my dad's big old 1/2 inch chuck Milwaukee drill . Don't get that thing hung up or it would break your wrist.
Then chuck it up in the lathe and spin it until the run out was gone and then arc weld the two back together.
We also made wider rims for our beach buggies when you could drive on the Lake Michigan beaches for miles before the property got bought up for summer homes. We would weld a spacer in between and weld 2 rims together for dual wheels on the back and snow tires for grip. Climbing the sand dunes in a cut down 55 Chevy pickup with a Olds motor and a hydro was a lot of fun back then.
I still have a wheel for my '40 Ford Tudor that Dad did in early 1965. He was putting 15" wheels on it and had found several Ford pickup wheels with the same center as the '40 so he could run stock hubcaps. Still needed 1 more so he took the center out of 1 of the 16's and same with a 15 with wrong center and welded the '40 center into the 15" rim that had same size hoop. A couple years ago I had those wheels power coated black and mounted tubeless tires on them. That one welded up wheel ran very true but did have a tiny air leak somewhere. I tried sillycone on the inside with no luck. I hadn't thought about the fact that Dad ran tubes in them back then! I had one more wheel powder coated and kept the welded well as a momento. He did race car wheels way back when as well. Never failed.
When we were building our 1940 Willys Coupe for the B/Gas and C/Gas class at Lions Dragstrip, we were limited as to how much we could do, depending on our bank account as teenagers. We got the 283/6 Strombergs running well and that was a start. But we knew what we needed to go faster and have any chance at a national record, as well as winning an event against the top echelon guys like K.S. Pittman, Jr. Thompson and Doug Cook. That was a lofty goal and despite the odds, as teenagers, it was a challenge.
Once we rebuilt the 283 into a larger 292 c.i. motor, added a 671 supercharger, and all of the required blower spec parts inside, we were well on our way to being able to challenge those top racers. The times and speeds were getting closer and we were happy. One thing worked well on our Willys, the Bruce Slicks that fit under and inside of the rear wheel openings without any modifications.
Those slicks grabbed well and were used by a lot of racers, until the M&H slicks started showing up on those top racers. So, we had our goals of a new set of Halibrand mag wheels, but our first step was to see if those M&H slicks were going to work for us.
With our mechanical skills, we thought we could take several 15 inch Chevy bolt pattern steel wheels and make them wider to fit those bigger slicks. This was in response to where were we getting the money for those wide Halibrand rear mag wheels. After looking at our steel rims, we decided to have our local expert machine shop do some altering on our 15 inch Chevy rims. Henry’s Machine Works in Northeast Long Beach was the go-to place for all metal work and modifications to any hot rod or drag racing car. It was a stone’s throw away from Bixby Knolls and the costs were reasonable.
Those steel Chevy 15” rims were modified width-wise to 9 inches wide, hoping the new M&H slicks would fit and work well. We also knew we would have to cut out the wheel opening on the rear fenders to make the wider rims and slicks fit and work well. So, we were ready. But, as you can see, they were in our final for sale ad as a sleeper item. At the last race, our 7 inch wide Bruce Slicks still worked well and we were ahead of our opponent, when the accident happened.
We could have kept those wide steel Chevy rims and mounted the M&H slicks, but that would be for our Impala as the Willys was gone. Who could cut a rear wheel opening on a pristine black 58 Impala, just to mount wider M&H slicks? The Bruce slicks found a home on the Impala until we sold it to a friend a couple of years later.
Bruce Slicks on the 1958 Impala… Lions Dragstrip 1959-60
In the early '70s, I used early '60s rambler hoops that fit over my early Ford steelie centers to make 4" fronts with 5 on 5 1/2 bolt pattern, '40-'48 caps. This was before anybody offered 15x4 rims. The hoops were 12 5/8' ID and the early Ford steelies were 12 5/8' OD. Today, those new wheels are over $150 each. Note: Reversing the hoops renders them unable to accept a beauty ring or a full cap, like a Moon disc.
I always wanted to build a set of 15 x 8 wheels. Using riveted early Chevy centers on 8" hoops with a back space of 5"... Then I would get some 255/60r15 tries from Diamondback and have them remove all the side wall markings.... A tire with a 8" wide tread, on a 8" wide wheel, is suppose to be perfect, according Herb Adams and a few others..
Those Merc wheels are perfect.. Couldn't you drill a hole for the air valve, I'm too old to be climbing under my car just to put air in a tire..
built em' for circle track cars in the early seventies lotta guys that didn't have the bucks for the "good" wheels. most ran tubes with them , as long as the wheel wasn't burred or sharp edged that worked ok. Some times we wrapped duct tape over the inside of them wheels in the welded area and that would be the easiest way to resolve the pin hole air leaks in the weld up for tubeless applications and smooth the contact surface between wheel and tube if one was being used. being a contact sport a lot of them wheels didn't survive long, i remember seeing them later at yards and behind shops, mostly bent to shit.
We did a set for a stock car but got busted by tech, as there was an offset rule we certainly abused. Trued them up on a front spindle, tack, tack... check and welded them up. We moved the valve holes so they would be better protected.
“With our mechanical skills, we thought we could take several 15 inch Chevy bolt pattern steel wheels and make them wider to fit those bigger slicks. This was in response to where were we getting the money for those wide Halibrand rear mag wheels. After looking at our steel rims, we decided to have our local expert machine shop do some altering on our 15 inch Chevy rims. Henry’s Machine Works in Northeast Long Beach was the go-to place for all metal work and modifications to any hot rod or drag racing car. It was a stone’s throw away from Bixby Knolls and the costs were reasonable.”
“Those steel Chevy 15” rims were modified width-wise to 9 inches wide, hoping the new M&H slicks would fit and work well. We also knew we would have to cut out the wheel opening on the rear fenders to make the wider rims and slicks fit and work well. So, we were ready. But, as you can see, they were in our final for sale ad as a sleeper item. At the last race, our 7 inch wide Bruce Slicks still worked well and we were ahead of our opponent, when the accident happened. “
The reason we went to our local Henry's Machine Works is that of their reputation in drag racing and construction. We had the 15 inch Chevy rims, but despite our skills, we did not want something that might possibly not be in full balance or put back together in perfect symmetry. The slightest bolt welded back together in the smallest area might be off by a hair. But, when the finished product is spun on an open hub, one will definitely notice the out of round or angle of the spinning rim.
We did not want that to happen, so we had Henry's Machine Works do all of the cutting, straightening and balancing the best way they could. Needless to say, upon spinning the empty 15 inch rim on a front hub, the black Chevy rim rolled smoothly without any wiggles or odd ball rotations. Now, where were those huge M&H Racemaster Slicks?
Some of you guys may be expert enough to do your own cut and paste. Balancing and truing the alignment is the most important thing to check and re-check. But, for us, we left the finer details to the professional machine shops to come up with an excellent product. We never got the chance to use them. By the time we were getting ready for the final push to the Nationals with our pre-ordering the last go fast speed parts, it was over in a blast.
Anyone know what 16 in rim to look for that will work with Early Ford Centers . I have some 5 in wheels I want to widen . Thanks and be safe
I used some 2000 Chrysler minivan rims, cut center out and took my 39 ford wide fives apart and welded the wide 5 centers in the Chrysler rims . They were a perfect fit and are 6.5 inches wide I believe. The orig ford rims were 4 inch wide so quite a difference.
And it's a heck of a lot easier to find Chrysler minivan wheels than Rambler wheels..
I just scored two, and am preparing to do the same thing.
ID on the hoop needs to be 12 5/8" to fit snugly over the 15"early Ford center. In case anyone is interested in going the other way, an early '60s Rambler hoop is 4" wide and makes a great swap for "littles". Wheels with that measurement cost over $150 each from the wheel companies.
I hear you, Bud. My little episode took place in'73-'74 when I found some Ramblers in junk yards. I just ask around when we are bench racing and enjoying a brewski, and to this day, haven't found any other Rambler wheels. An acquaintance races AMC cars and has a few American coupes/sedans but the wheels are NOT FOR SALE ! In fact, I haven't seen an early Rambler anything on the street in maybe 35 years.
BTW, I did have to reverse the rims for clearance issues on my truck, was gonna weld up the old air valve hole and drill new one but never did , not a big deal , had zero leaks anyway.
This will be for the rear of an open-wheel car.
I will still check clearance, though.
Mine are on a 39 ford pickup and they were going to rub , yours might be OK but reversing was no biggie . I suggest you get as good of rims as possible, I had one that the outer lip was distorted a bit, I tapped it back out and looked good and worked good, as far as getting the old center in thr new rim, they fit like a glove , actually tapped them into place and they were snug enough to sit perfectly still while welding. I used a carpenters square ( just because it had a long enough strait edge ) laid across the rim and measured down to the old center at about ever other contact point ( the rivet point) and they came out as perfect as possible as far as being on strait . The hardest part of the project was cutting out the new centers, I mean it was not terribly difficult but you wanna take some time removing welds and not gouge the crap out of your new rims when grinding the welds flat, whole process was probably a couple hours or so. FYI, seems I remeber finding some minivan wheels that were not the exact fit, it was a large salvage yard and I picked thru a few .the ones I found were actually thrown in a 2000 minivan and if memory serves , there were some other Chrysler cars that had some that would have worked so what ever you do be sure and measure the wheels at the salvage yard or wherever you get them.
I love the look of a shortened rear end and deep dish back wheels..
The two photos of the Red Ford with the flip front end are from Sears lot in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. This was a popular drag race spot in Pittsburgh back in the 60s and 70s. The neighborhood would all come out with the folding chairs and Pepsi coolers filled with Iron City and have a party watching the cars race. One night a motorcycle cop came down and parked by one old couple and they gave him a beer. He then went out and raced a car with his police Harley!! I remember him shifting the stick shift on the side.. LOL I miss the old days..
Love those pics
For somethind a bit different.
Some 40 years back, in a moment of "how hard can it be?" I decided to put 15" rims on some 17" '34 wheels. The rims are installed reversed with zero offset.. I think the rims were 55-56 Ford?
All spokes were cut and bend adjusted, then cut to length with an interference fit to the rim. I tack welded about six spokes, then had a professional welder finished the job. I must have been real keen, I ended up doing four sets, then promised myself "no more"
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