The wheels that came stock on virtually all late '40s and early '50s Fords were a Firestone design known as RH-5°. This design, as the attached picture shows, depends totally upon a strong mechanical grip between the two halves of the wheel. Over the years these wheels have developed a tendancy to come apart violently and hurt/kill people with no warning. This is due to wear, metal fatique, rust, road damage, and probably in some instances mis-matching of parts. As a result no reputable tire shop will touch them anymore for safety and liability reasons. If you do a Google search of that Firestone RH-5° name you'll find a good number of court cases pertaining to them.
There are other multi-part wheel designs, that we generally called a "lock ring" style, that are still serviceable. These were made going back into the 1930s and are still in use today on Dayton style big truck wheels. Truck tire shops will work on these. Finding them is becoming difficult in appropriate sizes and with the 5 lug x 8" circle and 6 lug x 7.25" circle bolt patterns used on our trucks. For this reason we've looked long and hard to find sources of widow maker replacement rims. There have been a number of threads here about wheel safety that include names of companies that can provide replacement wheels. You might do a forum search of that Firestone RH-5° name, widow maker, and multi-part wheel safety.
What is the reasoning about replacing the original wheels?
Why are they dangerous? My truck is running pretty good now through the fields mostly, into town soon after a state inspection. How many wheels actually made widows?
I had just wrote on another thread about split rims today and that in a condensed version I started out working tires some 30 years and only seen 1 real bad an almost and one that I blew up last fall.
The one I blew up was a dual mounted with a incorrect ring that I put together, mistake on my part and it did last approx 50 miles before coming apart. Because it was a dual and the ring was on the inside nothing but my attention was caught, had that wheel been on the front I would not want to think what would have happened in a crowded intersection in town.
The other wheel that was real bad was a 10-00-20 that was leaning up against a truck door with an improperly mounted ring that thank goodness came off after the guy stepped away from it. The tire missed me a short distance away and continued out into the pasture, the ring was buried into the door, wrecked some stuff but no one was hurt.
The one I almost let get away was a wheel off of a fertilizer truck that was brought to town to be pumped up. It was in the back of a pickup loose and when I was asked to simply refill the tire and if the leak was small they were going to take it back to finish their work so like a dumb kid I started putting air in this pile of junk with not even so much as a chain run through it to which after a bit I heard a creaking noise then a crunching, then I seen the ring coming up around the edge to which at once I let out a yell and people started hitting the dirt. The good lord must love fools and idiots because that day I removed the air and took the core out of the stem before the wheel could blow which worked out. In spite of my ignorance I knew I would hate my self if I had injured someone else with my stupidity. The wheel was so rusted that when I had tried to refill it the ring land simply started giving away.
Despite my mishap last fall to which I had not paid attention I try not to take chances with these wheels. I still do them without second thought but with care and have equipment to restrain them in case of failure and pay very close attention that the rings or rim halves have seated correctly before removal from device.
Wow Guys !
Thanks for the responses, the rims I found on the dodge mh (brentwood) were 17 inch split ring (one solid ring with an open seam). The guy was nice enough to let take the spare home to see if they would fit but while the lug pattern was ident (hence the reason for the euphoria) they just were not wide enough in back to slide over those big f4 timken drums. Boy was that a let down. I am looking for an rv junk yard and may have found one 'bout 40 klics away. By the way I am a nurse working a rehab unit for broken femurs, hip , knees, strokes so when one of you old farts decides to have one of the above come see me ha! jv
I took too long writing my bit about split rims and me so I'll tell you now that I for all the stupid stunts I have ever pulled I' am indistructable. Ha, Ha.
Yeah, what Orin describes happens with "lock ring" wheels the same as with widow makers if they have rust or other damage. And every wheel catalog that I've got cautions to never mix-match rim and ring designs.
Wheels should be cleaned and inspected for damage (sand blasting is best) and reassembled using of a safety cage to ensure that the ring is correctly seated.
I'm real interested in what JV says about the 17" lock rings on the rear. The drums are the same front and rear according to the books. I know they fit the front, so why not the rears? I've got to figure this one out.
That'll teach me to trust my memory. I just looked it up again and see that rears are 15" ID and fronts are 14" ID. That I'd say explains it. Stu
No, that doesn't explain it. I just went and measured the inside diameter of a Budd 17" lock ring rim (actually I did several to make sure different rim designs don't matter). The ID of them is 16 3/4". I then measured the ID of a Budd 19.5" like is used by a lot of guys on this board. It measures the same or maybe a 1/16" or so less for weld line. I then measured a 19.5" that is a rebuild done by American Wheel Specialist. They use old 17" centers and new 19.5" outer rims. Same measurement. So why do these fit some guys 15" rear drums, and not JV's (Nurseynurse's)? Is there something I'm not seeing here?
So from what I understand this should also work for my 1947 Ford COE ?
Originally Posted by ewatness
I thought, given the recent post about the questionaire for replacement options for widowmakers and split rim 20" wheels, that I would recount my recent experience for those interested.
I have a 52 F6 which came with a mix of 20" stock widowmakers, split rims and 2 Budd 22.5x6.00 rims bearing 10R22.5 tires in poor shape. I also had a bunch of extra wheels and rims that came with the truck. The inside rear wheels on the rear were not touching the pavement if you can imagine that because the 22.5s were mounted on the outside! I wanted to fix that immediately and get rid of the widowmakers using the substantial advice here on this website.
I found a set of used 22.5x5.25 Budd wheels from a bookmobile and jumped for joy but, when they were sandblasted, I found that 2 wheels were cracked at the handhole toward the rivets on the rim and the rims were not that great looking. Besides, to have those wheels enlarged to 6.00 would have cost a small fortune so I would need to mount 9R22.5s despite the fact that those tires are not spec-ed out for the 5.25 inch rim - 9R 22.5s are recommended down to 6.00 wide rims but I am told they work just the same. I did worry about an accident and having someone notice that the tires were oversize for the wheels. Besides, in short order I would have had upwards of $250 to $300 in each wheel and still need to find 2 more and then buy the tires.
So I opted to go with the new 19.5 steel wheels from American Wheel in Pasco. They arrived @ $265.00 each in silver and I had them painted white (I know that black is the stock color - I chose to be different). The wheels easily fit over the hubs and bolted up nicely. The big drawback is that they do not have stock handholes. These handholes are smaller than the stock so they do look a little odd. And the face of the wheel is flatter. I have posted a picture of them at the end of this post.
Part of the decision was the cost of rubber as well. I could get 9R22.5 Michelins for just under $350 (not shopping around) or spend only $225.00 for Hankook 225/70R 19.5s. There were add-ons to dismount and dispose of the old wheels, balance the tires ect. American Frame and Alignment in Kent Washington was where I got all my help. They are great - worked with me every step and no dumb questions from me. I also had them work on my rear end leak at the same time.
The final and most important part of the decision was to make the truck safe so going with modern wheels and tires that were warranted to fit made me go with the choice I made. And I am not trying to create a perfect, numbers matching vehicle. I just want to have a way to haul around my 52 8N tractor.
I am very happy with this although if someone would make stock wheels and tires to fit I woudl have been much happier.
Same bolt pattern. I bought a '47 COE a while back and it had the snap ring type rims, not the WM two piece. If yours has the snap ring type, and they're in good condition, you shouldn't have any problems.
It has only 4 wheels under it and no two are the same. As the truck was in a junk yard for a long time it appears that it has now a collection of bad wheels from other trucks. One has snap ring but that wheel is dented and rusted. Therefor I just want to buy 6 new wheels, -ergo- one less think to "restore or worry abut"
One question to anyone that want give me his/her opinion:
The original frame is in GREAT condition(and the whole truck in not missing anything that I can tell) . Is there any reason I should NOT use the original frame. With good wheels and rubber and other things in popper condition how well do these truck perform on the highway ? I there any reason whatsoever to be considering taking the cab off and putting it on newer frame ? I also think I understand the difference between restoring something versus fabricating building a car/truck therefor I really want to stay with the original frame.
I also love the color, quit rustic. I might just keep this color and just give it few coat of matte clear.
Here is a photo of my 12 year old son next to our "NEW" 1947 Ford COE Truck
Welcome to the FTE Forum TH, nice looking COE.
A lot of answers and opinions could be provided to your few sentences. I recommend starting a new post and introducing yourself to the forum, asking your questions there. Also provide more info on your truck; 6, V8?, trans, single or 2 speed rearend. Otherwise it may get lost here, as it is headed away from the original thread topic. In the meantime, here are a couple of links from the forum that have talked about wheels and may give you some more info:
As to using the original frame, inspect it in the area where there is a double frame insert, roughly starts behind cab and runs to taper in front of rear axle. Just check that there is no rust bubbling between the sections. If it's bad, it will make your deision for you. Myself, I'll be using the original frame. And I would vote to head in that direction, but that's me. It depends on how you want to use your truck and what trade-offs you want to make.
OTR shows specialty trucks on their site, and several wheel size options. Included on their page are several 20" and 22.5" types with varying widths. What I'm interested in, is their outer ring for mating to a possible inner dish made from patterning an original. May be worth exploring at work. Below is a pic from that page showing a Toyota Dyna
Yeah, we've talked about them too. The main hurdle you'll face is the fact that your stock rear end has 14" drums. I've heard some guys comment that they've found 16" modern tubeless wheels to clear the drums, others have said they tried it and couldn't get them to clear. Probably has to do with the individual wheels each tried.
If you intend to keep the stock rear end, the best option is to find some 17.5" tubeless rims from a '60s era Ford or Dodge truck. They have the same 8 lug x 6.5" bolt circle pattern as your stock 17" widow makers. I have a set of these and have compared their inside diameter to that of the widow makers and know they'll fit. Another thing you could try would be 16.5" tubeless from the '70/80s. We've had mixed reports, though, on whether they clear the drums. The advantage to them is availability. They are much more common in yards than the 17.5s.
The other option is to swap out the stock Timken rear for a Dana 60 out of a 67-72 F-250. It's a bolt in swap and lets you then use stock 1949 - 55 F-2/250 16" tubeless rims. This option lets you keep your hub caps. Finding the F-2 rims might take some doing but it's a clean option. Stu