Posted By: Grigg Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Wed Jul 18 2012 12:48 PM
Possibly the most asked questions about Big Bolts relate to wheels and tires.
We have a Tech Tip with many of these answers and options already covered.
Please also check out our other Big Bolt Tech Tips

The short answer is in most cases the original wheels and tires if in decent shape are your best option, there is nothing wrong with tube type wheels/tires. Most (but not all) truck and equipment tire shops will service them or you can yourself and you can still buy tires.

Now your next question might be what about "split rims" or "Widow makers"?
Most all of the wheels in question are "Multi-Piece Wheels"
See this picture of some of the many possibilities
Of all those the ONLY one rim design to avoid, the true "Widow maker", is the Firestone RH-5* shown in the bottom left. Also shown in real life here:

If you're building an everyday driver with a modern drivetrain then perhaps newer tubeless wheels/tires are a decent option. Please see the tech tip for those options and considerations.

The following links will help you safely work with original multi piece wheels, what to look for and how to mount and dismount them.

OSHA tire charts, a great reference and they're FREE

OSHA manual for "Servicing Single-Piece and Multi-Piece Rim Wheels" Website:
PDF version of same:

An excellent how to manual:

Another good resource with some how to, start on about page S-25

Posted By: warren keillor Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Mon Oct 15 2012 10:13 AM
I changed all the tires on my 54 1.5 ton without any special tools except some big "C" clamps. It was surprisingly easy to do the Bud AR split rims, both off with the old, and on with the new tires.
No rims were beaten or tortured in this operation. They were completely cleaned, power wire brushed, phosphate treated, primed, and painted. The new 700X18 tires came with inner boots to protect the tubes. Specialty Tire of America made the tires at very competitive prices to similar modern tires.
Cheers Warren
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Sat Nov 03 2012 12:11 PM
Unless the tires are rusted tight to the rims, the oldtime duckbill-shaped hammer is still the most efficient way to dismantle tires from split-rim type wheels. All it takes is a little practice, learning how to hit the tire/wheel junction, not the wheel. Anybody with a little bit of coordination and average upper body strength can do it. One step up the ladder is the slide-hammer type tool that breaks the bead down without having to swing a hammer. Those things are a bit more expensive than the hammer, but if you're planning to keep the truck for a while, the tool will pay for itself with just a few tire changes.

Two items that are absolutely essential are a clip-on inflater chuck on a long hose with a ball valve, so the tire can be inflated from a safe distance away, and a heavy chain to wrap around the tire/wheel assembly in several places if an inflation cage isn't available. Several tons of force bearing on the lip of the rim is not something to take chances with. Once the rim is assembled properly and inflated to the right pressure, it's not dangerous. The design of the rim locks it together securely. Getting the pressure in there in the first place is where a damaged or incorrectly-assembled rim will show up as an explosive separation of the parts.
Posted By: glasman Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Fri Dec 07 2012 09:10 AM
I guess I should go to Canada and look for some wheels. I obtained 8 good looking 3 piece wheels with the hope of replacing my widow makers which came on my 2ton.
Off to the tire shop I went with 4 of the best looking ones. Actually none of these had any rust on the outside to speak of.

The result at the tire shop was a big disappoint because the air powered bead breaker could only break one tire off the rim.
After removing the tire it was apparent why. Even though the outside was rust free the inside was not, probably due to condensation and the inability to dry out on the inside.

Now I tried this at another tire shop, one which deals with mostly truck tires and had the same result.
I guess the moral of this story is...don't get your hopes up until you see the inside of the wheel, providing you can get the tire off.

Posted By: Axe64 Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Fri May 16 2014 03:32 AM
I have work on heavy equipment for a lot of years and have changed tires on 2 and 3 piece rims, I have had to use a backhoe at times to back them down. I have also seen a hole in the roof of a shop 15 ft high and knew of a man loosing his head from these rims. Gentlemen if you do want to use these rims please put them in a cage or wrap them with chains before putting air to them. Please be safe Axe
Posted By: Grigg Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Tue Sep 09 2014 03:30 PM
Video about the dangers of damaged wheels and the force stored in a tire, be careful.
Posted By: distributorguy Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Wed Sep 16 2015 05:03 PM
I simply dropped off my rear wheels (duals) at a local farm tire co-op and they didn't bat an eye at them. The only comment they made was about corrosion being a factor in being able to reuse them, and used replacements were available cheap if I needed them. Good farm tires (fairly aggressive tread) were only $120 each if I recall correctly. Under $700 for the set mounted with all the goodies.
Posted By: Grigg Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Wed Feb 24 2016 05:08 PM
Thanks for reading this thread,

If you have more specific questions about your own wheel and tire situation Please first search the forum, you may find the answer pretty quick.
If no luck perhaps you've found a good thread closely related to your question. Reply and present your questions in those related existing threads or if needed start a new thread/topic.

If some basic info is missing or wrong here please send me a PM and I'll address the problem.
Likewise if you find a new useful resource about wheels and tires and our trucks please let me know.


P.S. Please do not PM me your personal wheel and tire questions.
This public forum works, builds, and strengthens with each new discussion, question, and answer.
Sending me a Private Message to ask about your wheels or what not will not help existing and future Stovebolters.
Posted By: Grigg Re: Wheels and tires --- What to do? - Fri Jan 12 2018 01:13 AM
Just found some info on wheel and hub fit.
SAE standard J694 revised 2001-02 “Disc Wheel/Hub or Drum Interface Dimensions — Commercial Vehicles “

10 lug with 7.25” bolt circle.

Bore in wheel:
Steel, 5.251/5.261”
Aluminum, 5.251/5.254”

Hub pilot diameter:

Pilot length:
Single, 0.28”
Dual steel, 0.52”
Dual aluminum, 0.85”

Those dimensions will be useful if either boring older wheels with the smaller 4.75” center bore (or older and smaller) to fit the ~1955 and later hubs with 5.25” pilot.

Also, if making bushings to adapt later wheels to older smaller hubs you would shrink fit steel bushings on the hubs and ensure the OD is as listed, and suggested lengths.

The standard was first issued May of 1955, so earlier revisions may or may not have similar tolerances listed for the 4.75” center bore wheels and matching hubs, as about this time GM switched to 5.25” bore. I don’t have an earlier copy.
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