This will probably make some of you laugh (and others cry) but I was given a '53 F500 a couple months ago and have been slowly getting it back into functional condition. I've swapped out the engine for a 7.3L diesel and have pretty much completed the process down to what I thought would be the last part -- the brakes. The front brakes are completed but in researching how to do the rear I started finding references to the Widowmaker rims. Go figure, that's what I've got. I hear all of the wisdom loud and clear: "get rid of them" and I've read quite a few of threads on feasible alternatives. I don't have a lot invested up to now, but at the same time I haven't really put the rig to the test moving dirt/brush on the ranch (which was the only reason for getting the thing.) So, before I sink a lot of time/dough into swapping out rims, tires, and possibly an axle, I'd like to see if there's a way to negate the risks associated with the split-rims until I see how it works. To that end, I have three questions:
1) Has anyone come across any information on welding some type of "through bolts" that could be used to hold the two parts of the rim together? I'm not really looking at creating the hybrid rim style I've seen around - primarily because I don't have 6 other rims that I can canabalize.
2) Assuming the tires are mounted on the vehicle, do the fronts or inside-dually's pose any risk if they separate?
3) If I were to wrap the tire/rims with chain I think I could get ~10 loops. What size of chain would be necessary to absord the impact in the event of a break-down? The truck will probably never be used on the road/highway, so aesthetics are not really a concern.
At present all valve stems have been pulled and I don't plan on inflating them back up until they're remounted on the truck. Thanks in advance for any ideas/suggestions.
Last edited by K_Man; 05-16-2012 at 10:30 AM.
Reason: title change
That pretty much answers it I think, but to answer the specific questions and to belabor the point I'll say more.
1. There is no way I've seen to create a safety catch "jury rigged" device to render widow makers harmless. Too much captive force inside.
2. A widow maker that is mounted to the front or inner rear will blow in, correct, but will create a mess of your truck. Last week I had a fellow visit who bought a set of one piece 19.5s. He'd just bought an F-4 and while rolling it off the trailer after hauling it home it blew an inner rear. Without provocation. He's now a believer.
3. See the video Ross posted, 'nough said.
I see that you live in Kansas. There's got to be an old Dodge or IHC sitting in a field somewhere that has a decent set of "lock ring" style wheels you could swap for. From what I've seen, widow makers were most prevalent on Fords and Chevies. Lock ring wheels are generally pretty cheap if you find them and would allow use of your existing tires if they are any good. Stu
Last week I had a fellow visit who bought a set of one piece 19.5s. He'd just bought an F-4 and while rolling it off the trailer after hauling it home it blew an inner rear. Without provocation. He's now a believer. Stu
Wow. Could have just as easily been the outer tire with somebody standing there.
K Man, I'm pretty much in the same boat as you. I traded for an F-5 back in the fall that was intended to be just yard art (it's been an entertaining story to say the least). It may actually run again someday, but it may never leave my farm. I know I need to do the swap so that somebody doesn't get hurt. My plan is to just put some used truck tires on it from a local garage after I get my one piece rims. I worry about if something ever happened to me, and somebody had to move the truck or air up one of the tires and didn't realize the danger. This is the left front on the truck when I got it. It was already about half flat. The rim was so rotten that the valve stem was missing. The previous owner told me he wanted to put air back in it but couldn't because he couldn't find the valve stem. I told him I was glad he didn't. You're looking at death ready to happen with this picture.
1949 F1, Stock / 1950 F-5
1950 F1, 302, AOD (still in a lot of pieces)
1997 F150 XLT, 4.6L
2008 F250 XLT, 6.4L Powerstroke
2011 Expedition EL
No doubt it's something that I've come to respect/dread. Speaking of, I have a new-found respect for those that tinker with this "vintage" era stuff. Every turn seems to introduce yet another obstacle.
The videos of these things blowing certainly are eye-openers. As has been pointed out, there's a lot of energy harnessed there but the limitation (flaw if you will) of a cage/chain is that by the time they're useful the energy is already kinetic. It's kinda like a bullet running down a plugged barrel. I'd like to think that a 1/2" retaining disc bolted on with, say, (5) 3/4" bolts would do the trick of physically holding the rim together before that energy could ever start moving in the first place?
Yep, go ol' Kansas has more than its fair share of field junkers. I just wouldn't know who/where to start looking for these things, whereas I've got piles of scrap metal to tinker with.
Doc, seeing that rusted-out rim section would just about be enough to make me wet myself... Heaven only knows what that gentleman was thinking even contemplating using that thing. Then again, I'm probably not one that has any room to talk.
I was thru KS last summer, and there is a place, I believe in Great Bend or Lyons, that has over an acre of truck rims, stacked 10 ft tall. It's on US 56. For sure, most of what they had was for stock trailers (lock rings), but they were closed when I went by and I couldn't inquire.
1952 F-1 Flat V8 3-on-the-tree MSD, Rochester 2G, Red's Headers
“It’s really hard to make predictions, especially about the future.” -- Yogi Berra
Stu/Ross - thank you. I actually live between G.B and Lyons (sorta), and will check into that. I may go ahead and replace the 2 outters for now. This is a highly customized riggin' with two sequential (manual) transmissions, so the less money invested until I know it'll work, the better.
I had my truck towed to my house with widow makers on it last July. I haven't driven it yet, except in my driveway. It runs, has brakes and I've rewired it. But I only recently exchanged the widow makers for good Budd 89340 wheels from a '78 Southwind class A motorhome. In my case, I got lucky. Stu found them on Craigslist and told me about them. The RV was 8 miles from my house, so I picked them up the next day, with tires on them (5 of which are near new). I'm not driving it yet because it's still registered non-operational and I don't have insurance on it. CA frowns on driving such vehicles on the streets.
Several threads on here about these 19.5" wheels and the 22.5" Budds as well with the correct bolt pattern. I know nothing about the RV market in KS, but look for the replacements there. You only need 4 to start... Good luck, and welcome to FTE!
Thanks for the Welcome, Joe. I spent a couple years in L.A. so I know what you mean about the DMV. That place is one notch this side of chaos.
I'm going to see if I can track down that yard on 56 hwy. Every time I've done business with a salvage in the past I always come away feeling totally hosed...it peeves me something fierce. In the name of safety I guess I'll just grin and bear it again.
I've revisited some of the threads concerning replacement rims and most of those seem to be focused around either looks (matching the original), bolt patterns (5x8), or outside diameter. What rim should I be looking at if I wanted to keep my existing tires, which are the 8.25x20's? At the risk of sounding like an ignoramus, I can't use 20's on a 19.5 rim, can I?
Ross, my account doesn't let me send emails but I'm thinking there was a joint on the eastern outskirts of Lyons along the lines of what you're talking about. Next trip to KC I might take that route to see firsthand.
I'm toying around the idea of just pulling the outside set off the rear end for now while I'm testing things out and then locate a complete 6-bolt axle/wheel package. Some of the Rockwell axles I've browsed at look promising. In its current form this brute can practically idle itself up a pond embankment with a full load of dirt - so I hate to mess with a good thing without really thinking it through.
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