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Hot Rods Motorcycle/spindle mount spoke wheels on early diggers?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Mike Britton, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. Hey guys,
    I'm doing research on a potential early dragster restoration. I'm trying to determine when the motorcycle wheel came into vogue on dragsters. Also, when did the spindle mount 15"/18" cast spoke wheels come along? I see the 18" wheels mostly on altereds, were they used on diggers as well?
    I went to search, and I've surfed all the vintage dragster threads, and saw plenty of images, and went through all my vintage R&C issues, but I'm not sure when the wheels came along. I have a pretty good idea, but I would still like to hear from some of you that were there.
    I know a lot of you guys were in the sport longer than I was. I didn't get into T/F until 69, and wasn't paying much attention before then. By that time, just about any dragster worth taking out was wearing SPE, or maybe Moon wheels? 14681686_1277233832308283_2023200379309484782_n (1).png
    Don't really want to start any pi$$ing matches here, just some idea of what not to do.
  2. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,485

    from Colorado

    I was doing work for Hallcraft wire wheels in El Cajon in the late sixties and he was one of the early manufacturers of wires for dragsters. He machined the hubs and then laced the wheels with HD spokes. I think that the rims were were stock MC rims.
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  3. Mike,,Back in late 50s.we machined a hub from alum to fit early Ford spindles.then strung the wheels and aligned it to be true,.Of course,we had a stock motorcycle wheel to start with.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  4. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,066

    Atwater Mike

    Hansen's Supercharger Service was stocking/selling Hallcrafts for Anglia spindles and early Ford spindles as early as '62. Not positive about tires, but think they were Avon Speedmasters...
    Richard Hansen also showed me something 'brand new' then: Helium in the front tires.
    (Rich Hansen: "Helium in the fronts...It's the only answer.")
    So amazing the 'out of the box' thinking that 'racers and rodders respectfully' have displayed through the years. The Racer's motto: "Why not?"
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  5. Speed Sport roadster was running wires in '55.
    firingorder1 likes this.
  6. Thanks all.
    I'm in the "research" stage here.
    Sometimes it's easy to put things together that shouldn't be put together simply because you've been around all these parts for so long that they really don't look out of place even if they are.
    Found a really good thread on vintage trailers that talked about using boat trailers for early dragsters.
    Makes sense, a 12-13 foot vintage digger isn't going to way too much more than a decent 12-13 foot outboard boat. And by the time all the extra metal is added, you've increased the capacity of the trailer quite a bit.
    Swap meets are coming up, and I'm always on the lookout for the right early chassis, (K88, Eelco kit, etc,). Would like something around 100", multi carb, pre 68. It's out there, all I have to do is find it.
    Don't wanna car to race, want a car to take to the parking lot shows, to GoodGuys, etc........
  7. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,478


    Hey Mike,
    Kenny Lindley was an early pioneer in a FED with wire wheels. At Lions Dragstrip from 58-60, he was always there. Obviously, he was a favorite of ours in person and filming. He is shown racing Jack Chrisman in the famous Sidewinder of Paul Nicolini/Joe Maillard, who also ran early wire spokes. It seemed like the style of wire wheels in FEDs started around this time and began to spread in the 60s.
    Kenny Lindley with Don Hampton 58-60

    This video includes shots from 58-60 Lions, Riverside, and Bakersfield combined. Dragmaster Co. FEDs were using wires, also.
  8. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,478


    Hey Mike,
    Just to be sure that you have most of the FEDs with wires in front from this time period, here is another one for you. Riverside Raceway in 1959 with FEDs that had wires in front.
    Please let me know if you need anymore for your project.

  9. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,679

    Larry T

    Something a little different, Mustang motorcycle tires on custom built wheels by Eddie Hill. I still know where the rims and spokes are.
    Done in the early 60s.

    Hanes brothers.jpg
    48fordnut likes this.
  10. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,478


    One final video clip of early Don Garlits on his trip out West. He was at the 1959 "East vs West" meet in Riverside and the 1960 Bakersfield Smokers meet. As you can see, in all of the videos, there were different versions of wire wheels for each build. but, the trend from 1958 with solid rims and discs to wires caught on in 59-60. IMHO
    Every area of the USA/Canada would have their version of when the wire wheels started on the FEDs. But for us in So Cal, this looked like the starting point.
  11. Great! Thanks, all! Now I can start picking at the swap meets without much worry because chances are real slim here in Texas I'll find anything earlier than say, mid 60's-early 70's.
    Looks like the hardest part naturally, is going to be the chassis. Most of those "little" cars (120" or less) were destroyed in accidents, or cut up to build other cars.
    I'm in no hurry, have no deadline. But I would like to find a survivor instead of bending up new tube as the old car would just have more sentimentality.
    What I have learned from all of you is that if I find a nice set of "wires" before I find a car, I'm not wrong going ahead and bringing them home and throwing them on the pile.
    Kinda makes me wish for the old "Hot Rod Exchange" that was down on Beckley here in Dallas, IIRC. There was always some leftover digger parked out in front.
    Gonna make going to the swap meets fun again! Thanks, Mike
  12. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,679

    Larry T

  13. rooman
    Joined: Sep 20, 2006
    Posts: 4,042


    for a car of that era you need to look for wheels to suit early Ford spindles. There are plenty of spokers out there to suit Anglia spindles but they came on the scene a little later.

    racejam likes this.
  14. Thanks, Roo. I'm not going to discount using a 15"X maybe4" steel wheel with VW tires as those were everywhere at the time. And actually, those very thin steelies don't weigh a lot more than wires.
    I'm guessing Southwest Wheel could still build up a pair for me.
    Larry T, I'm still a customer at Brown's after 20 some odd years! David is helping me keep my 76 Ironhead alive.
    The sale of the tudor in my avitar is where the startup money for this dream is coming from.
    True story. The first date I ever had with the most wonderful woman I ever knew was to Hot Rod Exchange on Beckley to trade a bare 6X2 Hemi manifold for a complete 3x2 setup for a Y block Ford.
    She was all in for the hot rods and I knew she was a keeper! Lasted 46 years.
    After all the research, I'd like to find a CR K88, or an Eelco. But, beggars' can't choose. As long as it's less than 120"( best fit for my shop) and not trash, I'm in.
    Larry T likes this.
  15. the shadow
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,104

    the shadow

    5 months later but thought I'd let you know that Pat Bilbow Of Lyndwood welding in wilks-barre pa was offering 19" spoke wheels for the early ford spindle in 1958 on his Lyndwood Eliminator dragsters & altereds. He used military surplus harley davidson wheels and adapted them with very minor machining to fit Ford bearings for the big ford spindles. they were harley davidosn VL hubs with a 19" rim and 3.25 x 19 tires.
    FYI- the pic in your first post is my friend Dick Belfatties Shadow #2 dragster (K-88), he ran those crietz spoke wheels for a short time on both his shadow #1 (TE-440) & #2 rails, he switched back and forth then stayed with spokes soon after (see pic). the other pics are of my '59 Lyndwood rail (98"wb) and the lyndwood spoke wheels.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
    Hot Rods Ta Hell likes this.
  16. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,478


    Hey Denis,
    You probably made this wheel when working at Hallcraft: upload_2017-6-24_7-24-29.png upload_2017-6-24_7-25-43.png Hallcraft Wheels in San Diego

    Those Hallcraft wheels are/were outstanding.
    tfeverfred likes this.
  17. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,293


    Since nobody addressed it, figured I'd chime in. The 1st ad I've ever found referencing American front spindle mounts is June of '59 Hot Rod page 89. Lists 15"x 3.5"(10.5 lbs) for $52.50. The ad says "formerly Palamides Racing Equipment Co." so I would assume they were available under the former prior to this ad. The 18" version came out later, I would guess about '64 ish.
  18. unclescooby
    Joined: Jul 5, 2004
    Posts: 4,939

    from indy

    The one in the foreground was allegedly built in the late 50's and the blue one on the trailer said to be mid-50's.
    The older one runs early Harley wheels and the later one ran Hallcrafts

  19. unclescooby
    Joined: Jul 5, 2004
    Posts: 4,939

    from indy

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