Q: What are the
differences between stainless steel spokes and nipples and chrome
steel spokes and nipples?
Stainless steel spokes and nipples do not rust while chrome-plated steel
does. Stainless steel, depending upon the type used, is also stronger than chrome steel and is better
suited for heavier cars or where the horsepower and handling of the
automobile have been improved. Sadly, without expert polishing,
stainless steel is not as shiny as chrome-steel and has a satin-type
patina to it that some owners find objectionable.
For owners who are not able to keep the spokes and nipples
as dry as possible or who live in a high humidity locale, stainless
steel is worth your consideration. However, the rest of the wheel cannot be ignored
simply because stainless steel spokes and nipples, are in-place. It does little
good to have rust-free spokes if the other chrome-plated surfaces are rusting
away. The wheels will still demand attention and the need for drying
away water and keeping the surfaces clean. The nipples will trap
water and are generally the first place for rust to take root. Stainless steel
nipples will prevent rust.
Please be aware that in all applications, the wheel
hub and outer rim are still chrome steel and must be maintained to
avoid rust or corrosion.
Please click here to view the differences between stainless steel
and chrome plated steel surfaces.
What is the difference between lip-lace, standard and
reverse-style wire wheel spoke patterns?
differences in appearance are shown in the photos below.
Starting with the "lip-lace" or "bead-lace" style,
this type of wheel features spokes that are installed very close
to the front edge of the wire wheel. These wheels are typically
used on classic Thunderbirds and other automobiles where a high
backspace or positive off-set is required to either properly fit
a wheel well or clear certain disc brakes. Lip-lace wire
wheels require the use of inner-tubes. This is due to the
manner of their construction.
The standard style of wire wheel finds the hub section of
the wheel installed near the middle of the outer rim. There is
generally equal distance or nearly equal spacing of the hub,
between the front edge of the wheel and the back edge of the
wheel. The standard style is the most common style and fits most
automobiles. Inner-tubes are normally not necessary with style
of wheel unless the tires selected require them.
The reverse style of wheel features the hub section of
the wheel installed as close to the back edge of the wheel as
possible. By doing this, a "deep-dish" look is presented.
Although the reverse style of wheel is quite attractive, it is
the most difficult to fit onto a car without sufficient space in
the wheel wells. Further, large drum brakes or disc brakes may
not fit inside the wheel as they would with a standard pattern
wire wheel. Inner-tubes are normally not necessary with style of
wheel unless the tires selected require them.
Before deciding which style you prefer for your car, it is
suggested that you take careful measurements of your wheel wells
Please click on this link to download a
copy of our measuring guide.
We are always happy to provide further information
about the styles of wheels we offer.
The wheel on the left is a
standard style wire wheel. Please notice how the hub of the
wheel is located near the middle of the outer rim. The wheel on
the right is a reverse style wheel. The hub is installed
very close to the back edge of the rim, creating a "deep-dish"
type look. (Please click on the pictures for a larger image.)
The wheel on the left is a "lip-lace"
or "bead-lace" type wheel. The spokes are installed
nearly at the front edge of the wheel. This is necessary for
proper fitment in small wheel wells or to fit large disc brake
calipers. This style of wheel is often used where fender skirts
are used and there is not sufficient space for the wheel and
tire. The wheel on the right is a standard pattern wheel.
The hub section of the wheel is located near the middle of the
outer rim. This is the most common type of wheel style. (Please
click on the pictures for a larger image.)
Q: How do I find
an installer for my wire wheels?
Wire wheels are
not quite like conventional stock, steel or aluminum wheels. The
wheels that we offer are made the same way they were over 70
years ago....by hand. They do not have the same level of
precision that stock, steel or aluminum wheels may currently
have. Sadly, most tire shops we have encountered do not have
technicians with sufficient experience or knowledge to know how
to understand the proper methods and procedures to mount wire
wheels or they may have incorrect equipment for the job. Most of
the "Big-box" type tire stores do not have the experience, time
or desire to give the extra care mounting a wire wheel may
require. We have had numerous problems where an inexperienced or
"rushed" installer will not properly mount the wheels and tires,
improperly balance them and in even worse cases, scratch, bend
or damage the wire wheel. The most important thing in
selecting an installer is to find one who HAS EXPERIENCE with
wire wheels. We would rather have an installer who has wire
wheel experience do the job than an inexperienced installer who
has the world's best installation equipment. Experience trumps
equipment. Always ask the installer is they have installed wire
wheels before. Some of the wire wheels we offer require
inner-tubes. We have found that some shops just flat-out will
not mount wheels with inner-tubes. Determine from your
technician if installing inner-tubes will be a problem for them.
Generally, the wheel and tire shops that cater to
hot rodders, customizers, high-end wheel owners and Jaguar
owners will have the most experience. Regarding equipment,
familiarize yourself with our
mounting instructions and try to
have the installer use "Lug-Centric" type equipment such as a
finger attachment or flange plates. Better yet, if you can find an installer who
can balance your wheels and tires on your car, you will obtain a
more precision balance. What we are typically experiencing are
installation shops that use modern, high-tech type balancers
that are not calibrated or set-up for wire wheels which have
much different tolerances than modern wheels. An inexperienced
or un-informed installer will not recognize this difference in
wheel architecture and conclude that the wire wheel is "out of
round" or defective and not attempt to properly balance the
wheel. This situation is aggravated if the installer makes no
attempt to rotate the tire on the rim or match the high and low
spots of the wheel and tire to maximize the balancing results.
Wire wheels, especially when mounted with whitewall tires can
call for large amounts of weight, sometimes over 5 to 6 ounces
of weight. This is normal. A responsible installer will take
steps to re-balance to minimize the required weight while others
won't spend the time or will misinform the customer that
something is wrong with the wheels and tires.
concern to be aware of is that some tires, especially older or
worn tires will make it difficult to obtain a precision balance when matched with wire
wheels. We recommend making sure your tires are less than 7
years of age and in good condition. If you take your wheels and
tires off of your car, be certain that you re-install them in
the same location. If your wheel and tire came off the left
front of the car, please return the wheel and tire to that
position. This is very important. We are always a phone call
away if you have any questions. Let us help you obtain the best
possible balancing for your new wheels. Finally, consider
purchasing a wheel and tire package from us that has the correct
tire properly mounted on your wheel. You will have a much
smoother installation doing it this way and probably will end up saving money
Do wire wheels require a lot
Wire wheels will require more maintenance than a conventional steel
or mag wheel. They are not as easy to clean as the aforementioned
styles. It is not as easy to get between the spokes to remove any
dirt or debris. If your car is in daily service as opposed to a
weekend driver or trailer-queen, you can expect to have to clean
your wheels frequently if you want to keep them as attractive as
possible. Some enthusiasts have no problem with this task and
consider it part of the overall detailing demands of owning a
collector car, while other owners are less tolerant with the task
and may even consider it a burden. You should not consider
purchasing wire wheels if you are not prepared to perform regular
maintenance. Over time, if you keep your wheels relatively clean, it
will hardly seem like it is taking that long at all to keep them
like new. In our view, no other form of wheels looks as great as
Do you have
any advice on how to mount tires on wire wheels?
It is best to find an installer who has some experience
with wire wheels. They are not as easy to mount tires on
as a common steel wheel and do require the utmost of
care. Find an installer that use a "touchless" type
mounting system where no metal comes in direct contact
with the rim itself. Our wheels are built as
"lug-centric" and must be balanced from the
wheel stud holes or on
the car. An experienced tire installer should have one
or the other option available. Most quality tire shops
have "finger" attachments or flange plates, that enable balancing from the
wheel stud holes.
Balancing by the center
hole instead of by the wheel bolt holes will result in a poor job
Sadly, a lot of
tire shops have little or no experience with wire wheels
and may not realize that wire wheels have very small
amounts of movement or wobbling compared to a modern
CNC'd or billet aluminum wheel. Aggravating the
situation is when the installer attempts to balance wire
wheels from the center hole using a cone for centering,
an incorrect method. Do not let an installer
balance your wheel from the center hole. Try to locate an
installer with the proper equipment and knowledge. Don't
let an inexperienced installer tell you that your wheels
are bad or defective when the installer doesn't have the
equipment or knowledge to make such a statement. It is
not unusual to have as much as 5 to 7 ounces of weight
required to balance a whitewall tire and wire wheel
combination. The whitewall tire may require 3 to 5
ounces of weight alone without considering the wheel. The
proof of the pudding is how your wheels perform on your
car. Do not get into arguments with inexperienced
installers, just put the wheels and tires on your car
and discover for yourself that they are performing
For cosmetic reasons, the weights should
be attached from the rear, not on the front side of the
rim. It will spoil the appearance of your wheels. We favor the
glue-on or stick-on type weights over the clip-on style
which can harm your chrome if the weights scratch your
chrome finish. Inspect your wheels carefully before and
after to make sure there are no scratches or dents left
on the rims by the installer. An experienced and
responsible installer should not damage your finish. We
have seen dents, scratches and other marks left by
careless installers or by using out-of-date equipment. Any
questions regarding balancing should be referred to us
for friendly advice.
Please click here for our mounting instructions.
Can I use my current
tires on the new wire wheels or must I buy new tires?
It is perfectly O.K. to
run your current tires if they are the correct size for your
new wheels. It is important to make sure that you return the
tires to their original position on your car once mounted on
the new wheels. In other words, if you take a tire off the
left front wheel, you should return the same tire to this
location. Also, we recommend checking your alignment once
the new wheels are installed and realigning your car if
carefully follow our balancing instructions for maximum
performance of your new wheels. Read all instructions
carefully before installing.
Please click here for our mounting instructions
it true that wire wheels are prone to rusting out?
to the architecture and design of wire wheels, they tend to
trap water. Our wire wheels use a style of chrome plating
that is of a very high standard but permitting water or
moisture to accumulate or remain on the chrome surfaces can
eventually lead to a surprisingly rapid appearance of rust
or corrosion. This is true with nearly all chrome wheels,
not just ours. The extra effort in drying off your wheels as
described below will result in years, even multiple decades
of rust-free use.
When considering the
purchase of wire wheels, you should be mindful that if your
wheels get wet, you should take steps as soon as reasonably
possible to dry off your wheels. If you wash your car, start
by driving it around the block a few times to get water out
of and off the surfaces and then dry the wheels thoroughly.
If you have an air hose or even a garden blower, you should
use this to remove any remaining water. Some owners will
apply a thin coat of WD40 or other rust inhibitor on
their wheels, especially if the vehicle is going into winter
Please feel free to
call or email us to discuss wire wheel maintenance. We want
you to be happy with your wire wheels.
How can I keep
my wheels looking show quality?
This is a question we feel confident we can answer
because our wheels are used by many owners of Concours
cars and we have received many thank you cards, emails
and phone calls from our show-winning customers. We
recommend using soap and water to keep your wheels
clean. A dish-washing liquid detergent is sufficient.
Even though our chrome plating is rugid, harsh
detergents and especially abrasive and bleach containing
products can cause serious harm to your chrome surfaces.
This may not occur suddenly but rather, over time. Harsh
cleaning agents will eventually spoil your chrome. If
you insist upon using a cleaner, we recommend the
Wizard's brand cleaner we sell and also Simple Green.
Between cleanings, spraying on a very thin coat of WD40
may help to minimize rust or corrosion, especially
during winter storage. Some customers of ours report
success using polishes available from Maguires, Mothers
Please click here to view our cleaning products.
When it comes to tires, which is better, bias-ply or
steel belted radials?
The advantages of bias-ply tires are: 1) Most
authentic, period-correct look for a vintage car. 2)
Less expense generally. 3) In most cases, wider
whitewalls and more choices of brands and whitewall
sizes and appearances. 4) The most notable appearance
features are the straight up and down or vertical side
walls, the attractive "pie-crust" edges of the tires
that resemble scallops and the period-correct looking
tread patterns. A good example of a bias-ply tire with a
wide four inch tire can be seen on this link:
BIAS PLY TIRE.
of bias-ply tires are that they do not ride as nice as
steel belted radials will or perform as well on
cornering or in wet conditions. They tend to follow
cracks or seams in the pavement and they will
"flat-spot" if they sit too long without use, although
in most cases,
the tires will smooth out after driving for a given
distance. If you are running bias-ply tires presently
that are over 9 years of age, they are probably in need
of replacement and new bias-plys will probably perform
much better than outdated rubber will. Bias-ply tires
probably will not have as long of an estimated tread
life and may not have a high enough speed rating if you
have a need for speed.
of steel-belted radial tires are: 1) Superior
ride and performance. 2) Attractive design. 3)
Period-correct appearance and whitewall stripes for more
modern cars. 4) Longer tread-life and 5) Speed rated for
higher speed driving. The disadvantages are: 1) Higher
cost. 2) Can cause cracking or harm to antiquated
wheels. 3) May detract from a vintage presentation on an
older car. 4) In tight quarters, a steel belted radial
may be wider than needed and could rub or make contact
with a fender skirt or body panel. Please click here to
see a fine example of steel belted radials on a
STEEL BELTED RADIALS.
To discuss the
correct choice for your car, please feel free to call or
email us with your questions.
You can view our tire selection by clicking here.
I own a set of
wire wheels already and I am thinking of restoring them.
Does it make more sense to just purchase new wire wheels
or restore the ones that I have?
We are one of the few wire wheels vendors that can offer
restoration and also sales of new wire wheels. For a
general explanation of our restoration services, please
click on this link:
RESTORATION SERVICES. In most cases restoration
costs will exceed the cost of purchasing new wire
wheels. However, a show-quality restoration can be
justified for the following reasons: A) The wheels are
unique to the car and originality is required. B)
Sentimental reasons (for example, the wheels belonged to
the owner's late father). C) The wheels have unusual
hubs, spoke counts, offsets that cannot be duplicated.
D) The restored wheels will add great value to the car
and can be restored to a higher standard than purchasing
new wheels. E) The hubcaps or center emblems are not
available anywhere else.
take from eight to twelve weeks or more, depending upon the nature
of the services required and materials specified by the
owner such as stainless steel spokes or copper plating.
wheels has its advantages because new wheels may be much
stronger and safer than even old, restored wheels.
Thicker metals, more spokes, stronger outer rims and
better suited off-sets are available in new rims. Most
styles are available off-the-shelf or can be prepared
within a few days or weeks.
I own a late model
automobile. Can I put your Collector
Style wire wheels on my car?
We discourage using our Collector wheels on post 80's or
90's automobiles. Our wheels are made by hand and
although they are precision-built, the tolerances and
specifications we use may not be adequate for more
modern cars where modern construction techniques result
in much higher levels of precision. Also, some modern
cars have tire pressure monitoring systems which our
wheels do not have. We currently have no front wheel
drive wheels in production. We are able to serve some later
model automobiles such as the rear wheel drive, Cadillac
Fleetwood Broughams made up until 1996. If you have any
questions, please contact us for more information about your
balancing of my new wheels, I saw the front lip of the
wheel weaving up and down very slightly, as though the
edge is not straight. Is my wheel out of round or
Before any wheels leave the factory, they are triple
gauge-tested for accuracy and roll out. No wheel is ever
shipped that isn't within our exacting specifications. However, the
front edge of our wheels are not perfectly flat and
smooth like a billet aluminum rim would be. These outer rims
are formed in the same manner as the originals in the
'50's and 60's, and in
most instances have slight rises in them that can appear
to look like a wobble upon rotation. If your wheel was
not damaged during shipment or during mounting, the most
probable cause of this condition is the edge of the
wheel not being perfectly straight. This does not affect
performance and in most cases is concealed by the
mounted tire. Tire installers who are not familiar with
wire wheels and this type of outer rim will often report
the wheel to be "out-of-round" or to be wobbling, when
in fact it is not. The outer rims are made by the same people
who make Cragar wheels in California and are of the
highest quality. If you aren't certain about this, please
feel free to call us for technical support. Don't be
surprised to see weights attached in the amount of 3-5
ounces or more. If higher amounts are called for, ask
the installer to rotate your tire 180 degrees and
re-balance. To view our installation instructions,
click on this link.
Where can I purchase new tires, especially whitewalls at
Please visit our discount tire website at:
www.widewhitetires.com for the best selection
and prices on the web. We also offer wheel and tire
packages at attractive prices that are a convenient way
to purchase wheels and tires.
My wire wheels need repair. Can they be fixed?
Yes. Simply let us know the nature of the problem and we
can give you advice on how to remedy the situation. We
work with repair facilities that can perform repairs
such as fixing leaks, straightening out dents and
replacing spokes. We specialize in the restoration of
Please click here for more information.
Do you think it
is a good idea to purchase used wire wheels?
Unless you intend to have them restored immediately or
you collect old wheels, we would recommend against it.
Most used wheels we have seen have unknown histories.
They could be 10, 20, 30 years old or even older. Sadly,
the spokes could have small cracks or defects in them
that are hardly visible. Rust can be hiding like a
cancer eating away at the spokes which could lead to a
serious failure. The wheels could leak from dried out or
damaged inner liners resulting in costly towing bills.
We have seen cases of wheels that have suffered
catastrophic spoke failures which could lead to a loss
of control of the automobile. You just can't be sure
enough to risk your safety on used rims.
Q: Is it a good
idea to run inner-tubes in my new wire wheels?
inner-tubes, there are strong arguments to be made for
and against having tubes. A lot of people think that an
inner-tube by itself is a dirty-word or taboo. We
respectfully disagree. The wheels we sell are
"tube-friendly". The wheels are specially prepared to
accept inner-tubes and there are no sharp edges in our
wheels that could harm a tube. Despite our best efforts
and the best efforts of the technician you may choose to
install your tires, the sad fact is that leaks can
happen when an owner elects to go tubeless. An
inner-tube can prevent this and also solve a leakage
problem no matter who caused it. Additionally, since we
restore wheels, we frequently receive wire wheels that
are 50 years old or more. Surprisingly, the wheels that
used inner-tubes have much less or even, no rust on the
interior as opposed to wheels that are run tubeless. The
top photo on the below shows a 57 year old Kelsey Hayes
wheel that ran inner-tubes. No rust is visible. Below
the Kelsey Hayes wheel is a 3-year old wire wheel that
ran without tubes. The water content and moisture in the
air has caused rust in the bead area of the wheel. An
inner-tube would have probably prevented this. Most wire
wheel owners run collector type tires like those found
on our whitewall tire website (Coker, BFGoodrich,
Goodyear and Firestone). These tires work well with
inner-tubes which are not discouraged by the
manufacturers. It is a matter of safe practice to
carefully inspect the inside of your tires to find and
remove any inspection tags or mold marks and sharp edges
that could cause a hole in your inner-tube if you choose
to use tubes. Inner-tubes also hold the shape of the
tire better and safely secure the tire on the rim with
vintage wire wheels that do not have a safety-bead. If
you run a radial type tire, please make sure you select
a radial type inner-tube and if you have bias-ply tires,
the correct tube is a bias-ply tube. With inner-tubes,
the disadvantage is that if the tube should be
punctured, the air will escape rapidly which could cause
poor handling or even loss of control of the vehicle. A
puncture to a tubeless tire will only cause air to
escape from the point that the puncture occurred and
leakage will most likely occur at a slower rate. You
could probably limp to a tire shop if you ran a tubeless tire
while a tube-type installation would put you on the sidelines.
My wire wheel is leaking. How can I repair the leak myself?
easiest method is to simply install an inner tube. If you
choose to do this, it is critical that you make certain that
there are no inspection tags inside your tire. We have found
as many as 8 of these small, paper tags inside of one tire.
Remove every one of them. Even leaving one in can cause your
inner tube to fail.
decide to repair the leaking wheel yourself, start by
inflating the tire and either submerging the wheel and tire
in a tank or spraying Windex or a soapy solution on the rim
to find the spot or spots where a leak has occurred. Once
you do identify the leak, mark the rim where the leak has
been discovered. In most cases, the cause of the leak is
that the liner material inside the wheel has failed. The
most frequent cause is that during installation, the liner
material may have been harmed by installer error, such as
cutting the liner or using too much air pressure to inflate
the tire and seat the beads.
Clean the inside of
the wheel thoroughly using Acetone. We want the sealer
area as clean as possible. Don't pull off all the
existing sealer, just clean it. After identifying the
area where the leak has occurred on the inside of the
wheel, apply GE or Dow Corning brand 100% pure silicone.
Make certain the material you purchase says it is
"Non-corrosive". We prefer you use
clear silicone so that you can see if you have covered
up the area involved and that you have it thick enough
but not too thick. You can purchase this material at
Home Depot stores. You will only repair the area
involved not the entire sealer area. It is not necessary
to lay a coat of silicone over the entire sealer area.
Lay down a thin coat of silicone over the involved area
and smooth it flat with a putty knife. You can apply the
new silicone material directly over the old sealer.
Smooth the silicone out evenly so that there is no area
available for air to leak out through the sealer
Be careful that you do not allow the silicone to get
close to the lip or bead of the rim. Material stacking
up on the bead area may prevent your tire from seating
or beading-up properly. If you accidentally get some
silicone in this area, clean it off as soon as possible
or wait until it drys and then remove it.
Allow the silicone to dry for 5 days before mounting
your tire. The silicone takes a few days to set-up and
fully dry. With these steps taken, you should not have
any further problems. Make certain that the coat you
apply is thin and not too tall or it may interfere with
the installation of your tire or inner tube if you use
one. If the wheel continues to leak, it may need to be
repaired by a professional. Please contact us in that
should have any questions, please feel free to email or call
us. Thank you.