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Hot Rods bubble tire balancer experience

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by RmK57, Nov 15, 2018.

  1. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,874


    The arrow on the bubble balancer for the valve stem, does it go on the same side of the wheel stem or opposite the stem? If the arrow is pointing to the stem, it would be on the opposite side of the stem?? After the bubble balance, putting in 3 oz of air soft bb's (verses Dynabeads) makes them run nice and smooth.
  2. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,307

    Dan Timberlake

    I had a pair of Pos - A - Traction belted tires that required vastly different correction weight on the inside and outside of the rim. A quality commercial bubble balancer was not be able to detect that.
    Narrow tires are inherently less likely to require a "two plane" balance correction, and modern tires seem to be of much more consistent construction than those old Pos-A-tractions, so evenly split inner and outer weights can often good enough. Owners of some cars with MacPherson strut suspension will often disagree.

    One type of "two plane" unbalance visible at 3:00 here -

    Note that "statically " , like a bubble balancer, the balance looks OK.
  3. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,064


    When the gas station I worked at got a spin balancer, we kept the old bubble balancer as well because there were certain specialty rims that we couldn't chuck up on the spin balancer. Occasionally I would balance on one and then test on the other, just out of curiosity. Don't recall finding a discrepancy (but in fairness, it's been 30 years...)

    I now have an old bubble balancer that I found in a collection of odd scrap at a building salvage yard. I think they found it in an old shop they tore down. They sold it cheap assuming it was broken--turned out they didn't understand how the release arm worked. One of my better finds.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
    alanp561, F&J and Truck64 like this.
  4. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,223


    The arrow goes closest to the stem, not 180 away.. I have the same triangle base balancer shown by others in this thread. They use oil under the bubble tower to keep the unit from swinging back and forth a long time, in case you did not know.

    Hnstray likes this.
  5. sevenhills1952
    Joined: Mar 14, 2018
    Posts: 954


    Slightly off topic but anyone balance a ceiling fan? It takes time, but I used a stick on weight with tape, when finished I put on permanently.

    Sent from my SM-S320VL using Tapatalk
    Truck64 likes this.
  6. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 3,953


    I was told that NASCAR teams use bubble balancers. Does anyone know if this is true?
  7. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,502

    from Ioway

    I use to see the Huey guys out on the flightline with a broom handle and a crayon or some damn thing, lol. Track part of the Track & Balance. The more modern aircraft use optical sensors and accelerometers. They will tell you "raise yellow blade PC rod 2 clicks, add 1 oz to hub" etc. I thought that was pretty cool.

    Your ceiling fan will fly much smoother with a good track & balance ;)
  8. RmK57
    Joined: Dec 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,684


    Not sure about nascar teams, but I'm sure nhra fuel cars wouldn't have any need for it. tf tire.jpg
  9. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,808

    from Berry, AL

    I found one of the old triangle bubble balancers on craigslist a few years ago at a good price. Went to buy it, got there and the glass was broken and most of the oil had leaked out. It just barely had a bubble left in it. Didn't figure I'd ever be able to find a glass for it so I passed on it. Haven't seen another for sale since.

    Was at a metal scrap place about the same time frame, found a couple of old manual tire machines somebody had brought in for scrap. Tried to buy one or both, they wouldn't sell. Said the owner was keeping them. Haven't found another one of them since either....
  10. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,879


    The reason you use 4 weights on a bubble balancer is that you can spread 4 relatively heavy weights out on the circumference of the wheel until the weight balance. You could do it with two heavier weights, but four places the weights in a more uniform position.
    If you used just one weight or two, it would have to be the exact weight the tire needed. If the tire needed 1 oz weight and you were trying to balance the tire with a 1/2 oz weight, it would never happen.

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
    alanp561 likes this.
  11. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,943


    A minor point, but the tire in this picture has an existing weight on it, which should be removed before rebalancing. In fact it's on the heavy side... so removing it will help balance the tire right away.

    pat59 likes this.
  12. bundoc bob
    Joined: Dec 31, 2015
    Posts: 125

    bundoc bob

    My experience is the higher the actual aspect ratio [eg 83, 70] the greater the chance a bubble balancer will work well, especially if you reject any tire
    [in our size ranges] that requires more than 4 oz to balance. That is a sign
    of a likely construction defect. When you get into the OT sizes, 40 and lower, force variation becomes an issue. And, they are uglee.
  13. The next time I try to help you f-heads out I'll be more careful.
    stillrunners, pat59 and J D Coop like this.
    Joined: Jan 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,759


    I bought one at a garage sale years ago ,Its the only one I ever saw that has an air hose hooked to it for it to float .
  15. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 7,394

    from Nicasio Ca

    I also worked at a tire shop in college. Had good results with the good bubble balancers pictured above, or for a couple bucks more we had the on car balancer. I bought one of those cheap HF balancers a few years ago, not much luck with that but in fairness I never bolted it down.

    At the auto shop class at my local JC they have a new top of the line spin balancer. Does everything but knock the weights on. Big computer screen plays how to videos and talks you through it, has a 'road force' wheel that presses on the tire to simulate actual driving conditions. I think it might make martinis but I haven't explored all the options.
    alanp561 likes this.
  16. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,899


    If the tire or wheel is out, no balancer will correct it.. Mine works well but nothing beats a good spin balancer with the lug centric attachment. Spun from the center hole is a waste of a spin balancer...
  17. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,625



    When we were always driving around during high school, we did not worry too much about balancing tires, until they started wearing funny. Then it was go to our friend’s gas station to use the bubble balancer to get the bubble level back in the center. If that did not help, then it was down the street to the alignment shop with those plumb bobs, string measurements and chalk on the concrete floor.

    Finally, there would be a discussion about which is better, a bubble balancer or on the wheel balancer? The pros and cons were always given to me by this older guy who owned the shop. He liked my 58 black Impala and wanted me to have a smooth running/driving car. But, he always asked if I was going to be changing tires and rims a lot. When the answer was no, he offered to balance the tires on the car using his tire roller balancer and not the bubble machine.

    Why the tire roller balancer? His thought and experience told him that you are balancing the whole system, not just the tire. It is as close to real life, rolling tire situation. But, the draw back was, you could not move the tires to the back and vice versa. They stayed where they were balanced for the best performance.

    I drove to West Los Angeles from Long Beach, because of a high recommendation for front end alignment and balancing. The 58 Impala and 65 red El Camino had their tires balanced on the car, using the roller balancer. This guy balanced a lot of race cars, hot rods and everyday drivers. He moved to Orange County and we continued to supplement his business in all of our cars from then until now.


    This idea of using a roller balancer (or tire spinner) was written about in magazines as the best way to get the tires balanced. Then someone invented the off-car spin balancer and that changed the whole ball game. It was hard not to expound on rotating tires for best wear, when you had to re-balance them on the car. The new machines were making it possible to rotate them yourselves.

    To add insult to injury, the new method of front end alignment came to most shops and it was either adapt or go under. Now, most upscale tire shops are in the business of selling tires, balancing, fixing flats, and wheel alignment for all cars, including hot rods and customs.

    Bubble balancers? Some still swear by them and they do work. But try not to get into heavy discussions about the value of those huge off-car spin balancers and the elevated alignment racks that are the latest thing for the new/old cars. Old vs New is always a topic of discussion.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    Latigo and Ron Funkhouser like this.
  18. Murphy32
    Joined: Oct 17, 2007
    Posts: 741

    from Minnesota

    When I sold auto parts in the '70s we would hand mount, inflate and bubble balance wheel and tire sets bought from us (for free)...I can't recall any complaints either-
  19. Oilguy
    Joined: Jun 28, 2011
    Posts: 486


    Mine came with instructions. Though I have never used it. DSC07363.JPG
    slowmotion and Elcohaulic like this.
  20. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 874


    I have two of the old bubble balancers and the bubbles are broke on both. Anyone know where to get parts for them? I would really like to use them.
  21. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,899


    I can do my own alignments. Where some screw up is not putting the front tires on two pieces of 20 gauge sheet metal with grease between them. It lets the tires relax. Then I bounce the car up and down to get it to settle. My latest off topic 69 elco has almost zero bumpsteer, so the bouncing isn't that important.
    I use two 10' sections of 1" conduit with two long screws threw the one end that fit into the front wheels. The pipe is supported by two milk crates that keep it level with the center of the wheel. I set toe by measuring each wheel from the center of the car, not from the other wheel..
  22. I'll elaborate on this a bit.... For best results you want four weights all the same size, and separation between the weights should be between 6 to 12 inches. If you're under 6", you need larger weights, over 12" smaller weights. The theory is this gives a bigger 'footprint' for the balance weight, offsetting any minor dynamic balance issues. As pointed out, with lower aspect ratio tires (70 or less) this isn't always effective. I remember working for Chevron when they came out with a 70 series radial, we very shortly got a Hunter on-the-car balancer as a bubble balance wouldn't always do the job with the heavier radials.

    And I'd always install the back weights first, then you could 'fine tune' the balance with the fronts.
    Boneyard51 and pat59 like this.
  23. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,874


    Oilguy, can you post a close up of your instruction sheet?
  24. Oilguy
    Joined: Jun 28, 2011
    Posts: 486


    I will try to get a clear photo for you today.
  25. elba
    Joined: Feb 9, 2013
    Posts: 624


    4 weights is correct . Balanced many this way . I was taught 4 weights back in the 60's .
  26. Oilguy
    Joined: Jun 28, 2011
    Posts: 486


    Could not get good photos so I scanned it. You may have to stumble through the last two pages but it is all there.

    Attached Files:

    • bal1.jpg
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    • bal2.jpg
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    • bal4.jpg
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    • bal5.jpg
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  27. Latigo
    Joined: Mar 24, 2014
    Posts: 660


    Worked at the local Farmers CO-OP service station while in school. Mounted and balanced a lot of tires. Wish I could find the old machines now. Also pumped a lot of gas. I now live in Oregon where you can't pump your own gas. Not smart enough I guess.
    jnaki likes this.
  28. I bought a Coats 20/20 and a bubble balancer out of the "Nickel Ads" 30 years ago for $200 and have done hundreds of my own and other's tire changes and balance. Even got the factory GM center adapter to balland the 8 lugs on a couple '65 Grand Prix's I had. But being in Idaho I have occasion to do a lot of 3/4 and 1 ton truck stuff and the hub cone on my balancer is too small to center those wheels. Anyone know of an adapter for that application?
  29. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,223


    I used to do a lot of customer work on old VW bugs with the wheels that look like wide five Ford. I bought an old aluminum wheel adapter for "early bug to chevy" at a swap, and it works fine. Maybe use that idea to have an adapter made..or..I once thought of spinning a bigger taper "ring" on a lathe to slip over the existing cone.
  30. I've considered that a few times too Frank, just never have remembered to do it until I needed it again. I've had pretty good luck "eyeballing" the wheel onto the balancer, adding weight and trying it on the vehicle. On real big tires I have a couple pre-balanced 15" and 16" steel wheels with the outer rim cut off that I use to find the heavy spot on the tire first, then mount it opposite the heavy spot on the road wheel as others have suggested. Some take a couple tries but it beats sitting at the tire store watching Days of Our Lives reruns for two hours with no beer.
    F&J likes this.

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