Today I purchased five wire wheels and hubs that I found on Craig’s List. Included were the chrome knock offs. They are 14″ rims from a MGB that have been sitting under the seller’s house for a few years. A bit rusty, but should clean up well. Aside from the difficulty of finding a set of wheels and hubs anywhere for a good price, I was pleased to find these a mile from my house for the sum of $150.
I was going to build the car with the slot style alloy wheels that I have from the Datsun truck donor and switch out to more authentic 19″ wire wheels when I could afford the $2000 plus cost that would entail. Now I can get a somewhat authentic look at a much lower cost. True, the taller wheels would look better, but I plan to drive this daily and so it will be good to have tires that are more easily available. The 165 SR 14 tires on the wheels I just bought should be more easily available, though I may look for taller ones to get a more period look. Either way, I can have a pair of spare wheels and tires on-hand to swap out when necessary.
This web site has excellent information on wheels and tyres, more than you will ever need to know. Ever wonder what all those marks on your tyres mean? He has the answers.
One issue with wire wheels is the fact that they need tubes in the tires. Having tried to find tubes for radial tires before and facing blank stares from all the 19 year old tire jockeys I’ve asked, I almost gave up hope that such things still exist. Yet exist they do and I’ve found an on-line retailer that carries them. Coker Tire has a nice range of historic tires and carries Michelin tubes. I’ll still have to find a garage that has worked with wire wheels and is willing to put in the talc power to keep them from over heating. Balancing wires is another issue as most tire machines don’t have the adapters to do a proper job. Surely someone here is willing or remembers the old days. It certainly won’t be Costco, as much as I like the store for modern things.
Previous to that, I’ll have to get the tires off, so I can get the rims sand blasted and painted. I’ll keep tires on two of them so I can use them for fitting and moving the build around when that time comes.
A lot of work remains to be done, but finding wires locally makes me quite happy since I’m keeping good parts from the steel scrapers, saving money and getting a more authentic look. An even happier fact is that these parts were basically free to me. I took a computer that was given to me that had a failed part, replaced that with another donated part and sold the computer for more than my new wheels and hubs cost. So, I converted computers that would have gone to the scrappers into working machines, found a home for them and got parts that I needed, again keeping them from the scrappers and bringing my project closer to reality. Sweet!