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Old Wheels, New Look - reprised by request

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by C9, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Old Wheels, New Look
    Here’s a little project that’s gonna take a some time and effort. As well as access to a lathe and a mill. A dividing head would be nice to have, but there are ways around that.
    What we’re going to end up with is a set of gennie style 32 Ford hubcaps adapted to slot mags.
    As you’ll see, it makes for a considerably changed appearance, especially when compared to the billet style caps I’ve been running the last few years. I like the billet caps, but in view of the almost total lack of straight lines on Deuce roadsters, they didn’t quite work style-wise. The back wheels with their 10" width along with the deep inset looked pretty good with the billet caps, but the narrower 5.5" wide front wheels didn’t look quite right with the somewhat square billet cap sticking out so far.
    Since I like to do things a little differently from most - and still stay within the bounds of good taste - using the commonly available aftermarket small screw on center covers didn’t really appeal to me.
    To give you an idea of what we’re doing, here’s a couple of photos showing the billet caps.
    Rear wheel. (15 x 10")
    Front wheel. (14 x 5.5")
    (The angle of the photo makes the tire look larger than it is.)
    Before we get too far into the cutting and whacking out of the aluminum adapters, shown in the next photo is a size comparison of a standard 48 Ford hubcap on my 31 on 32 rails roadster and the re-pro stock size 32 Ford hubcap. These smaller caps made for late style wire wheels. Said wheels available at most any wheel specialty house.
    To top it off, making a fairly precision tool is necessary. The tool, a drill plate set up to fit the wheel pattern you’re fitting the adapters to as well as the pattern you’ll use for drilling the wheel for the hold-down bolts. Note that some of the measurements I use are noted as 5.5" This to denote five and one half inch due to my word processing program does not translate the half inch fraction to other programs very well. Other fractions and decimals are as they are and no translations needed.
    If you’re familiar with a mill and dividing head no further instructions are required here.
    You can also do what you need to do with a lathe and drill press. For the most part, the lathes I’m speaking of are the size you’ll find in a small shop or garage. Size-wise, in the region of 10 x 24" and 12 x 36". On most these lathes you’ll find indexing holes drilled into the side of the big gear under the housing hood that you raise to lube the headstock bearings or access the back gears. These holes are locked into place by a sliding pin. Some guys use the pin to lock the headstock during chuck removal, but the pins are not designed for that kind of stress and will break. Putting the back gears in which locks up the lathe is the way to go here. The few big lathes I’ve been around run up to a 24" + swing with 96" between centers and these lathes do not have indexing holes. (These particular lathes are Monarchs so perhaps other makes of big lathes have indexing holes.)
    The basics for the drill plate are as follows:
    Knock out a disc of aluminum 6" in diameter, about 1" thick.
    Face it off so front and rear faces are parallel.
    Once the disc is done, clamp it in a three jaw chuck and locate dead center on it by touching lightly with a center drill. .020 - .030 depth is all you need.
    Set a threading bit in the tool holder and crank in the cross-slide until the threading bit matches the dead center drill mark. (Vertically as well as horizontally.)
    Set the cross slide indicator at zero.
    If you’re using the standard late model Ford wheel bolt pattern of 5 on 4.5", crank the cross slide out exactly half that distance. IE: 2.250".
    Spin up the lathe and lightly touch the face of the aluminum disc with the sharp pointed threading bit and scribe a line around the face of the disc.
    Measure to double check that you now have a line scribed at exactly 4.5" diameter.
    Set the threading bit on its side so you can make an accurate cross mark on the 4.5" scribed line when the cross-slide is drawn out.
    Lock the carriage in place on the ways.
    Using the lathe’s indexing holes - my lathe has 60 as do most smaller lathes - lock your zero point in place and advance the threading bit with the compound slide - set at zero degrees to the ways prior to - until it sinks into the disc perhaps .010 - .020".
    Spin the cross slide out a ways. This drags the threading bit across the face of the disc and makes an accurately scribed drilling point at zero degrees.
    Retract the threading bit with the compound slide.
    Count off - carefully - 6 holes on the gear and lock the 36 degree point in place.
    Repeat for the 72, 108, 144, 180, 216, 252, 288, and 324 degree scribe marks. (One more 36 degree advance will take you back to the zero point.
    Center punch all ten of the scribed marks. An automatic center punch works well, but a careful person with a sharp center punch can do just as well.
    Center drill all ten scribed marks.
    Pilot drill five of the center punched holes - every other one. A 3/16" drill works well. Some folks who make these drill plates like to drill them for the typical mag lugnut size of 11/16", (.687), but I prefer to make them .500, (half inch). It makes life easy to clamp the drill plate down with flat washers and regular half inch - 20 nuts & bolts instead of having to use a mag lugnut. The mag lugnut not so difficult, but it’s conceivable you’d have to shorten five of them for the correct fit depth-wise.
    Now that the lug holes are drilled in the drill plate and its been checked for fit you’ll need to drill the remaining five holes to the tap drill size for a 1/4-20 bolt. The drill plate shown has holes drilled all the way through with the #7 tap drill so it can be used for tap drill drilling. The additional hole to the left is simply centerdrilled and could be used for other purposes in the future. Simple enough to do it when you’re doing the indexing.
    Seen below is the drill plate.
    Making the drill plate is about the most difficult thing you’ll have to do for this project.
    The rest of it is fairly straightforward.
    Use the drill plate bolted in place with the properly sized bolts and nuts to drill the wheel proper with the tap drill required. Dismounting the wheel/tire combo and laying it flat on the floor makes for easy drilling and tapping.
    Use a drill/tap block to keep the tap straight when starting the tapped holes. This is important. Start the tap crooked and you’ll break a tap off in the wheel.
    Here’s a photo of a typical drill/tap block. It’s a simple piece of 1" thick aluminum with various holes drilled within to keep drill or tap straight.
    The adapters I made are two piece units, but there’s no reason you couldn’t cut one out of a solid piece of billet. The nice thing about the two piece adapters is, you can have a change of heart as far as how far you want the hubcaps to stick out. An additional reason I made a two piece adapter setup was that I was fortunate to find a piece of 6061 T6 aluminum with 7" OD and 5" ID. Starting with a piece close to the proper size saves money as well as a lot of whittling.
    Machining the outer part the hubcaps attach to is fairly quick. Making a complete new one-piece adapter with properly indexed and drilled mounting holes, clearance holes for the lugnut relief is quite a bit more work.
    The voice of experience speaking here. I made the first set of outer adapters 7/8" tall in an effort to get the hubcap to sit as far inside the wheel as I could. As things turned out, it wasn’t enough to allow the hubcap locking mechanism to clear the lugnuts and a taller outer adapter was required. 1" tall did the trick here and I used 1 1/4" tall for the rear wheels since the caps sit inside the deep wheel quite a ways. If necessary, the rear wheel adapters can be cut down 1/8" if they are required to sit in further than they are now.
    Below is a photo of the inner and outer adapter. The inner adapter is made from 3/16" flat plate, cut roughly to a circle and turned round on the outer edge in the lathe. The OD of the inner adapter ended up at 5.725 which was a good fit for the ID of the outer adapter which came in at 5.726. You want a fit that goes together - and comes apart - easily, but having to force the adapter pieces together is not necessary or wanted. Even with .001 clearance, the two pieces snapped together quit well with virtually no play. Something you want if you want the hubcaps to spin along well centered in the wheel. Interestingly, the sheet metal hubcaps are fairly accurate and run true.
    The inner adapter can be drilled with the drill plate and will come out quite accurate. You’ll need to drill with a clearance size drill for 1/4-20 allen bolts (stainless preferred) as well as clearance for the mag wheel lugnuts hex portion that are used to bolt the mag wheel down.
    In fact, if you do the drilling for the inner adapter using the drill plate, you can bolt the inner adapter to the drill plate, clamp the drill plate in the lathe chuck and do the inner adapter OD turning. Use of flat washers of matching thickness (hardened washers are uniform in thickness and standard flat washers vary in thickness ) to get the inner adapter up away from the drill plate to allow non-interference turning will do the trick.
    After that, boring the approx 3" ID center bore on the inner adapter is easy.
    You can gain a little additional room - about 1/16" - by turning a step on the OD of the inner adapter to allow the hubcap proper to sink a little further in. Not shown here, but the front adapters on my car have such a step.
    The outer adaptor is fairly easy. The ID is as noted. OD is 6.750". This is just a little bit bigger than the cap proper and allows an additional shallow cut at the end of the job to remove any machining marks from clamping in the chuck etc. If it ends up unmarked, the OD at 6.750" is still ok as it’s slightly larger than the hubcap proper and it looks right. In fact, most folks don’t notice the hubcap sitting up on the aluminum adapter because the adapter has the same finish as the wheel does.
    Once the ID and OD are cut to size you need to cut a 20 degree angle on top of the outer adapter for the hubcap to seat on. The hubcap is tapered from the outer edge to the inner and if the 20 degree cut is not done, the hubcap won’t seat properly due to the retaining devices won’t catch in the retaining groove like they should.
    Note that the outer adapter has a step within for the inner adapter to sit on. The step is 3/16" thick which is about right and it also allows for the step to be cut thinner if you’re trying to get the hubcap proper down into the adapter as far as possible.
    The ID of the step proper is approximately 5.000". This is not too critical as the relief cuts for the five lugnuts are spaced 72 degrees apart around the ID of the outer adapter. (The lugnuts are 13/16" hex and the heavy duty washers used - Centerlines* - require a 1 1/4" relief cut). What would have worked here was a 1 3/8" mill cutter, but the one I borrowed required a 1" R8 adapter for my mill and the largest I have is a 7/8" R8 adapter. To that end a 1" mill cutter was used and the dividing head backed up 9 degrees after the initial vertical cut so as to do a horizontal non-climb mill cut so as to elongate the relief cut. 9 degrees sounds like a big deal, but it’s not. Since the masking plate in use on the dividing head required 8 turns of the crank for 72 degrees, one turn back equals 9 degrees.
    *The Centerline washers are good ones to use on the uni-lug style mag as they’re 3/16" thick. To gain a little more clearance for the front caps I used a hardened washer that’s about 1/8" thick.
    You’ll need a square retainer groove cut on the inside of the outer adapter for the hubcaps triangular locking pieces to drop into when mounted. The groove is 5/16" wide, 1/8" deep and .150 down from the top edge. (When you cut the 20 degree angle, leave a flat area on top about .120 wide.)
    I did try a triangular retainer groove, but the square groove works better.
    Shown here are the lugnuts used. Originally a set of racing through drilled lugnuts, they were cut down to gain clearance for the hubcap locking mechanism. ( One lugnut is shown original length for comparison purposes). The locking mechanism is four triangular shaped pieces at the ends of and part of, two flat pieces of spring steel located 180 degrees apart. Clearance is required so they can bend in and then spring out when the locking pieces drop into the retainer groove. The original size lugnuts fit under the hubcaps, but do not allow the locking mechanism to work due to interference with the longer lugnuts. The shorter lugnuts work fine.
    This photo shows the inner and outer adapters mocked up, sans mounting bolts (buttonhead stainless allens) and ready to receive the hubcaps. The hubcaps are simply popped into place as they are for the stock installation.
    What is difficult to see in this photo is the 20 degree angle cut on the hubcap receiving face of the outer adapter. The angled cut necessary so the hubcap will fit in like it’s supposed to and lay flush against the adapter. If you look close you can see the aforementioned outer step on the inner adapter.
    Some may balk at drilling and tapping the wheels proper to receive the adapters and there’s a way around that.
    The first, as is obvious, bolt the adapters to the wheels using the lugnuts. That will work, but it’s not a method I like.
    Another way to go is to get a closed top set of mag wheel lugnuts, drill and tap them for 1/4-28 and bolt the adapters directly to the mounted lugnuts. Problems incurred here are, the lugnuts may have to be shortened for clearance depending on how tall the outer adapter is and you run into concentric problems depending on how you’ve drilled and tapped the lugnuts. Gripping the hex of the lugnuts will give you an off-center pattern. What you want to do here is grip the lugnut by the round portion and then the drilling and tapping will be on center regardless of how much the hex is off center. Make no mistake, most bolts have the hex off center when compared to the shaft of the bolt proper. Install and spin up most any bolt in a lathe and you’ll see what I mean.
    The next two photos shows the front and rear wheels with the 32 Ford caps adapted to the slot mags. A distinct improvement to my mind. The front caps don’t sit out so far and in fact are far enough down in the mag that they are protected against dings and the like. The rounded shape of the 32 cap fits well with the rounded lines of the 32 roadster as well.
    A somewhat complicated project, granted. Even so, I believe any thinking person with access to a lathe and drill press can make these adapters. The best part is, they’re different enough that I doubt if you’ll ever see anything close to what you have with these caps adapted to an old style mag wheel.
    The only other thing you’ll need for this project is a specialized removal tool. Pulling the caps off the angled adapter is harder than it appears.
    Shown below is a double ended window glazing tool with the "V" cut off and the angled flat side ground to a rounded edge on the outer edges with the corners rounded as well.
    Removal tool.
    XX Photo - Adapter 9
    (I can’t find a pic of the removal tool. It’s simply a small putty knife with thick strong blade designed for windows and the blade is factory bent at about 20*. Sharpen it to a dull edge to get between camp and adapter and pry the cap off.)
    Once you get the tool started when removing a cap, you’ll want to bring the tool around to the side before you start prying. When you get one or two of the triangular pieces popped out of the retaining groove, the rest is easy. Be prepared though, sometimes the caps pop off before you’re ready and fall on the ground. Not that I’ve ever done that.
    Here’s a shot of the car showing how it looks with the 32 caps installed.
    You’ll find that running the small 32 style caps on the older mag wheels makes for an interesting and different appearance. There are other style caps available in this size. As mentioned, you won’t see anything similar no matter where you go. Running a mag wheel with a for-real hubcap gives the car a very different appearance as well. With all the brightwork on the wheels you may want to give some thought to filling in the embossed V8 symbol with paint similar to what was done to the 48 Ford hubcap on the blue steel wheel shown above.

    For my car, I think painting the hubcaps V8 with the same blue paint seen above will be the finishing touch.

    All I gotta do now is find a 14 year old with clear eye and steady hand to paint them for me....
    MO_JUNK and racer-x like this.
  2. DMFB
    Joined: May 22, 2009
    Posts: 545


    Looks pretty bitchin! I like that a ton better than the billet ones you had on there.
  3. I forgot to correct the hubcap type.

    I believe it was PasadenaHotRod who pointed out that they are 34 V8 caps.

    And all this time I thought I had 32 caps....
  4. willymakeit
    Joined: Apr 13, 2009
    Posts: 1,326


    Thanks for post. This will work on my F100.

  5. hoop
    Joined: Mar 21, 2007
    Posts: 598


    That looks great. Thanks for the tip.
  6. Steves32
    Joined: Aug 28, 2007
    Posts: 1,280

    from So Cal

    Wow- that's definately different & not something you will see everyday.

    When you described what you were going to do- I cringed. But the final look is very cool.
    Different is good.
  7. v8 Bake
    Joined: Dec 23, 2007
    Posts: 296

    v8 Bake

    Thanks think I can make it happen on a 5x51/2 pattern
  8. One reason these were made in two pieces was due to my experience with the solid billet caps.
    They were carved out of a single piece for each wheel.

    As you can imagine, it took a while and there was quite a pile of chips around the mill when done.

    In retrospect I should have left the top thicker and cut a curved design into it instead of the simple squared off design.

    Regardless, an interesting exercise with a helluva lot of wasted aluminum.

    Not sure if I addressed it in the original post, but the outer piece was turned from 7" x 1" wall thickness aluminum tubing.

    It was turned down a few thousandth's to match the OD of the caps proper.

    A design I thought of before the billet caps were done was simply a flat
    1/4" plate for all four wheels with the fronts bored out for a cap over the spindle hub and dust cover.
    If you made the right sized step in both plate and cap it would be self retained.

    One thing that really helps in tapping aluminum in the smaller sizes is to use either a forming tap - made for alumnum - which has no flutes and is stronger than a normal 3 or 4 flute tap.

    Another good way out is a 2 flute tap.

    In any event, buy 2 or 3 taps for the job, try to buy US made or any other country besides China.

    Chinese taps go dull fast even when used in aluminum.

    Many machinists swear by WD-40 as an excellent tapping fluid for aluminum and I agree.

    You can find the stuff anywhere.

    Bite the bullet, buy a gallon can, get some clean solder brushes and wash out some old tuna cans to hold the WD-40.
  9. speedtool
    Joined: Oct 15, 2005
    Posts: 2,541


  10. Really cool man.
  11. awesome work! wheels look 100% better
  12. That came out very nice.
    Thank you for the detailed lesson.
  13. Moes49f1
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 5

    from AZ

    Who else has made these? Anyone do them for 5 on 5-1/2 folt pattern?
  14. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,165


    That is a real sharp touch, I love your steel wheels with the sheel color accents in the stripes and lettering, bad ass. ~sololobo~
  15. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,495

    Atwater Mike

    Great look! But can you hide the rear 4 bar 1978 look? Just tuck it in behind the rails, please...Front 4 bar is bad enough.
  16. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 14,643

    from oregon

    I'm with you NOW but in their time four bars were pretty standard, but glad they have been somewhat phased out. In my mind it was the Model A chassis that the four bar always looked, how do I put it, um, hideous.
    Atwater Mike likes this.
  17. To put it politely, C9 is not with us any more.
    The time to tell him what to do with his car has passed.
  18. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 14,643

    from oregon

    Yeh, we did see that but felt a need to get started on the rest of the world.
  19. How does one even find a 7 year old thread to bitch about something the thread is not even about ???
    Tudor, Texas Webb and Tim like this.
  20. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 14,643

    from oregon

  21. Jay posted some great threads and was great story teller not to mention a published author.
    swade41 and Lone Star Mopar like this.

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