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Early Ford Wire Wheel Tech

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wheelkid, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. wheelkid
    Joined: May 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    Alliance Vendor
    from Fresno, CA

    Heres a little tech about 28-35 stock Ford wheels and some aftermarket ones
    All these wheels had 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern and about the only other thing they had in common was that they all have a space for a flange inside the bolt pattern circle. This flange or two plane bolt patteren pad was only on mechanical brakes so when using 40-48 or any other brake setup a spacer should be used to give the 1928-35 wheel support on the inside of the bolt pattern, but many people dont and they ussually seem to be ok. But you should definately not use newer ford wheels on mechanical brakes.
    Anyway, here a little about each stock wheel.
    These are 21"x3" wheels with welded spokes. As you can see the top spokes are straight lace and the bottom spokes are single-cross. They have a rolled bead rim and are prone to cracking on the hub from one of the bottom spokes to the bottom or back of the hub.
    30-31s are pretty much the same thing as 28-29s except for they are a 19"x3" wheel with a normal bead rim called knife edge. Same pattern for spokes, cracks in the same place and welded spokes.
    These are 18"x3 1/4" wheels with welded spokes. The spokes are single cross on top and bottom. Hubcap hole size is 5 3/4, as is the rest of the wheels mentioned here forward. Unlike the two Model A wheels the lugnuts on these are covered by the hubcap.
    These are 17"x3 1/4" rims that are pretty much the same as 32s.
    Same as 32-34 wheels but they're 16"x4" These are by far the most plentiful because back in the war years, when a car needed new tires, a set of these wheels with new tires could be had for less than a set of 17" or 18" tires because of the price of rubber if you could find them. A good way to tell these apart from 17s and 18s without measuring is the valve stem hole. The 16" has a normal hole in the flat part of the rim, while 17" and 18" have the hole in a humped up area. (see pictures of the 17" and 18")

    18" Ajustable Motor Wheel
    17" Bent Spoke Motor Wheel
    16" Bent Spoke Kelsey
    16" Ajustable Spoke Kelsey
    Some of these wheels have rivited spokes that have to bend right before they go through the rim so they can be rivited striaght, this is how they get their nickname "bent spoke kelseys". Where the spokes go through the hub they are not welded or rivited, but loose. Most of the 16" wheels are made by Kelsey-Hayes while most of the 17" and 18" wheels like this you'll see are made by Motor Wheel. You can tell if it's made by Motor Wheel or Kelsey-Hayes by looking at the dimples on the lower spokes. If the dimples go in, toward the bolt pattern, then its a kelsey, if the dimples go out, toward the rim, then its a Motor Wheel. Also the Kelseys have 40 spokes and the 16" Motor Wheel had 36. The 17" and 18" Motor Wheel has 32. The 16 inch Kelsey bent spoke wheels came in 2 different widths 4 inch is the most common and a 4 1/2 wide that had a flat area around the valve stem hole. Kelsey and Motor Wheel also built ajustable spoke wheels. The spokes on an ajustable wheel are held together by little nuts called nipples. The nipples go through the rim and screw onto each spoke. Kelsey made ajustable spoke wheels in 17", 16" and 15", they also had 40 spokes. On the 17" and 16" the top spokes crossed twice and bottoms crossed once. On the 15" wheel the topspokes only crossed once and the bottoms didn't cross at all. Motor Wheel made an ajustable spokes wheels in 18", 17" and 16". The spokes on Motor Wheel ajustables were swedged, which means they are bigger where they come through the hub than where they connect to the nipple.
    Kelsey and motor wheel also made adjustable spoke wheels in 16 X 4 with lock rings for easier mounting and dismounting. The rims where made by firestone Lock ring wheels are like trucks had in the 1930s thru about the 1970s
    kidcampbell71 and Spooky like this.
  2. InDaShop
    Joined: Aug 15, 2004
    Posts: 2,785

    from Houston

    Great tech!

    Can you elaborate on the caps for the '32-35's. I know the A's are small, but are all 32-35's interchangeable?
  3. wheelkid
    Joined: May 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    Alliance Vendor
    from Fresno, CA

    Sure, All the caps from 32-35 are the same size 5 3/4, So they are all interchangable. In fact even Chevy caps from the same era (not sure what years) are 5 3/4. So you could even put chevy caps on your ford wheels or ford caps on your chevy wheels if you wanted to... but i dont know why you would.
  4. Rusty
    Joined: Mar 4, 2004
    Posts: 9,449


    Cool and a good refresh of the memory for Swap meet season

  5. Digger_Dave
    Joined: Apr 10, 2001
    Posts: 2,517


    wheelkid, THANKS for the I.D. info AND pictures!
    Getting ready for a swap meet next weekend; and I'm in the middle of sorting
    out all the old wheels that have "piled up!"
    Now at least I'll know what I have!
  6. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    You can use '40-48 wheels on mechanicals--the support ring needed is just the opposite from the early wheel/late brake thing, a flat ring around the OUTSIDE of the studs. This swap is apparently MUCH more susceptible to cracking than the other, so Model A places have sold that ring forever. Don't even drive one around the block without it...
  7. Bobby Green
    Joined: Jun 9, 2001
    Posts: 1,318

    Bobby Green

    Wheel Kid,

    Don't forget about these. These are Kelsey Hayes Bentspokes in 18"

    Attached Files:

    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  8. seymour
    Joined: Jan 22, 2004
    Posts: 5,125

    from PNW

  9. i really needed that!!! great tech.
  10. pimpin paint
    Joined: May 31, 2005
    Posts: 4,937

    pimpin paint
    from so cal


    Can these early Ford/Kelsey/Motor Wheel wires be run at modern freeway
    speeds sainly? I've bought a set of 16'' Ford wires, at a swap, but I gotta
    bad feeling that the guy who sold them to me wasn't smiling because he
    was my friend! If they turn out to be egg shaped, can the be trued up?


    Swankey Devils C.C.
  11. wheelkid
    Joined: May 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    Alliance Vendor
    from Fresno, CA

    Looks to me like the bottom dimples go out they have 32 spokes, Motor Wheel
  12. wheelkid
    Joined: May 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    Alliance Vendor
    from Fresno, CA

    A good striaght set will be fine, but crooked ones really shouldn't be run too fast There's not really any good way to straighten them since they have welded spokes.
  13. wheels spoken well round here!
  14. InDaShop
    Joined: Aug 15, 2004
    Posts: 2,785

    from Houston

    From my pile.
    Left to right.

    '35 Ford wire 16", '32 Ford wire 18", '29 Lincoln wire 20"

    Attached Files:

  15. Bigcheese327
    Joined: Sep 16, 2001
    Posts: 6,691


    Just a BTTT for this great post in honor of the fact that we're going to go tour the old Motor Wheel factory in Lansing this Saturday.

  16. roundvalley
    Joined: Apr 10, 2005
    Posts: 1,777


    This should be a good BTT.
  17. ryangobie
    Joined: Jan 1, 2006
    Posts: 460

    from Jersey

    awesome. any chance theres a thread like this about solid wheels?
  18. Lucky77
    Joined: Mar 27, 2006
    Posts: 2,489


    Awesome tech, thanks a ton!
  19. Good article.

    Any photo's/dimensional details on the spacer?

    Cheers (& BTTT;):D),

  20. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 7,570


  21. HomemadeHardtop57
    Joined: Nov 15, 2007
    Posts: 4,221


    good info..thank you
  22. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478


    can you buy replacement spokes?
  23. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,959


    good thread! The only Ford Wire Wheels left out were the 1926-27 T wires that look like the 28-29's but have a smaller bolt pattern, and the 20 inch AA truck wires from 1928. This 12 inch Kelsey Hayes wheel has 40 adjustable spokes, fits a 26-27 T hub and was built for a Midget Race Car. Haven't found a mate to it in 30 years.

    Attached Files:

  24. Window Licker
    Joined: Apr 18, 2009
    Posts: 288

    Window Licker

    a spacer should be used to give the 1928-35 wheel support on the inside of the bolt pattern

    who makes this spacer i have been told i need to run them in order to keep my wheel from my wheels from cracking but i cant find the company that produces them?

    any help would be great
  25. Andy
    Joined: Nov 17, 2002
    Posts: 4,719


    Wheelkid who started this sells them. I also sell them. I posted some in the for sale section a couple of days ago.
  26. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    Joined: Aug 7, 2009
    Posts: 2,069


    Watch for Cut-Downs. 18" & 17" cut down to fit a 16" or 15" outer rim for better newer tires of the times. They work fine. You'll notice them my the center of the X favoring the outer rim & welding of course
  28. Spooky
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 1,800


    Thanks for this. I just scored 5 17" wheels plus a set of '37 Ford hood sides, a lubester and a Wayne Gasboy gas pump.
    Thommyknocker likes this.

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