So, after spending a little time in here looking around and thinking there were no safe way to replace my 2 piece 5 bolts, I decided enough was enough and fired off a letter to Stockton wheel. I browsed their website and they said they make custom wheels so what's the worst they would say. Here's what I wrote...
Message: I have a 1955 Ford F600 with widowmaker wheels. I am looking for an alternative to this before I decide to just change the axles to a lower capacity to replace the wheels. Can you mate the centers to one piece tubeless rims or can you drill duallie wheels for the 5X8 bolt pattern? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
and his response.
We build 22.5" tubeless duals to replace your widow makers. I've switched to 9r22.5" tires.
For what it's worth, I have decided I really don't need the capacity that the extra cost will incur and I am just going to swap out the axles for 1 ton units. I'm making a 5th wheel puller and I really can't justify the added expense to keep the big 5 pattern, the 200K mile tires and then spend the money to try to find a lower geared eaton as well as a over/under drive just to get the rpm down to where a diesel is happy. One ton axles will cover it just fine with duallies on the back and a custom western hauler bed.
Wow, I've heard of bad service but that goes above and beyond. Obviously everyone makes mistakes but it's hard to argue with that many unsatisfied customers. I'm glad I made this thread because it taught me to stay away from bad service.
I'll look into the other threads you pointed me to. Thanks!
I'm gonna edit this, and add some positive information. A week or so ago I swapped notes with a friend who is a restoration professional, and also a big truck enthusiast. He mentioned that in recent months he'd spoken with the shop guy at Stockton and given him some hints on how to improve the look of their big truck wheels. As the below pics appear to show, Stockton's method is to weld a flat plate having the new bolt pattern on the face of a donor wheel, machine out the donor's center, then seam weld the inner seam. In the past they didn't clean up the welds very well, but my friend says wheels he's recently seen look much better. They still don't look exactly like originals because the face is so flat, but they do look better he says. Stu
The term "split rim" can be misleading. The widow maker is a true split rim because it breaks apart right down the middle of the rim. Pictures are posted in the F-500 thread. If you look closely at the pictures you'll see that the technical name for the widow maker is "Firestone RH-5°". There are also other kinds of rims (too many different designs to list their names) that split at the face of the wheel. These are commonly called "lock ring" or "split ring". They are still safe to use if not damaged, badly rusted, etc. All multi-part rims should be handled with care and serviced using a cage. Stu
Yup, mine are true Widowmakers. It's a shame too, they are in really good looking condition. I'm going to be at the local u pull it in a weekend or so. I have half a nerve to see if I can find a one piece or a locking rim that will fit my centers in and weld them up. As long as everything is true and balanced, I don't see what the big deal would be about welding them up.
By welding them up I mean tacking them together and letting a professional welder run the bead. I'm good but I'm not that good.
In reality, I'm probably going to do the axle swap instead. Anyone interested in a 6.15 eaton?
Yeah, we've had others think about making their with their old centers and new rims. The issue is liablility if one fails and causes a wreck or injury to somebody. That's why companies like Stockton, American Wheel Specialist, and others charge real money to do it right. Plus, they have good insurance. Stu