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Firestone Widowmaker Wheel photos Part 2

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  • Wheels / Tires: Firestone Widowmaker Wheel photos Part 2

    After we got to a certain point, Gary was just watching the ring making sure it was seating into the rim, he started to lever at the notch in the ring, pulling the ring the rest of the way onto the rim. As he did so, Ralph and I stood on the ring, moving, helping to lever the rim down fully onto the rim. You will see the ring actually stretch as it clears the rim, though not as much as does the tire iron. When the ring clears and drops down, you'll want to ensure there's a top ridge running around the inside of the lock ring and that it rests just up against the bottom edge of the rim. In the 1st photo, you see the ring and rim locked, #2 shows Gary pointing out the areas of the ring that are thinner at the locking area, allowing the ring to be pulled over and down onto the rim. The photo also shows the 2 rivets, above the notch in the ring and where they set once in place, opposite the valve stem. #3 is a detail shot of where you want to see the upper edge of the ring resting against the edge of the rim. We used the sledge and block, tapping around the ring to ensure even contact around the entire rim. Once the ring was seated, we ran a section of chain around the tire and through the rim, leaving some slack, as the sidewall expands when you air it up. Also, attach your chain hook around the links and not simply within the opening of one link itself. I wouldn't have minded an extra loop of chain or two, but this is what we had. It is strongly advised, for safety sake, you get a screw fitting for the air chuck and a remote air trigger when airing up these rims (we did not, but you should, if you do try this). We aired up the tires to 40psi, as they're now going to simply hold up the truck I'm restoring and only when I get to the point that I'm hauling actual weight will I worry about airing the tires up further.
    Picture #5 shows some of the appearance of the arc of the ring matching up to the edge of the rim, inside the tire, to the left. #6 shows where you want to set your valve stem in the opening in the rim; this positioning, before the ring gets set on the tire, can be adjusted by hand using friction against the tire liner, moving the stem where you want it.
    Now, the second tire was not as co-operative as the first (note that, the condition of the surfaces at the edge of the rim and of the ring help decide how smooth things go. If there is little roughness in the surfaces, the pieces go together easier. If time, sandblasting, and oxidation make things more irregular, it makes mating the 2 pieces more difficult) When we got to the point of 2/3 of the way through, we couldn't seem to force the ring onto the rim with just our bouncing up and down on the ring. On rim #2, we took the sledge and wood block and started tapping the ring down onto the rim. Not banging. Rim 2 was levered on and then Gary started remembering about using pipe clamps, since he'd recently done one of these rims himself on his truck.
    Rims 3 and 4, Ralph and I would get on the ring, stand on it to set in place under the rim edge, then we started using the clamp, pressing the 2 halves together, moving the clamp as progress occurred. You can see in Picture #7, where the ring has started to seat to the right, and is being pressed together to the left, towards the notch. #8 is a seated ring under the clamp and #9 is us finally learning that multiple clamps got us progress quicker than one clamp, twist, then move. It only took 4 times to get the routine down.
    I'm happy to answer questions, obviously, this is not a how-to series of photos and looking at the material on the edge of the rims and rings, it should give you a sense of how little material is there to secure the ring and rim, even without, probably, 50+ years of moisture and oxidation. I'm going on 3 years on my 1953 2R17 restoration, and 6 months now, of looking for a set of locking ring rims, having a local forklift company "try" to mount these, for $85 a rim, (that was kind of funny, the mechanic at the forklift shop came out and said, 'yeah, I think we can do them, the last time I've done those rims was in high school in the 50s' !) or pricing having these centers placed into new safety rims, so that was my decision for taking this step. Your choices may vary. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing this, without having someone with you who knows what is involved and has personally done these rims themselves recently. That said, I'm not uncomfortable with the ones I have now. In the future, I may consider having the centers re-mounted onto newer rims. I'll see.

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    Last edited by LeoH; 10-21-2017, 08:16 PM.