Adding Wire Wheels to Your British Classic

It’s hard to beat the elegant good looks of chrome wire wheels. This probably explains why they were fitted to so many of our favorite classics, although many more cars left the factory without wire wheels than with them.

Fortunately, it’s often a simple matter to convert cars to run on these wheels, especially if the cars came with wires as an option. We did a wire wheel conversion on our Triumph TR6 using parts sourced from Moss Motors, and the entire project took less than an afternoon.

Step 1: Remove the Old Hardware

This step is fairly self-explanatory: simply remove the old wheels and put them aside.

Step 2: Fit Hubs

Since wire wheels use a center mounting point, a splined adaptor hub must be bolted to the stock hub. There are two ways of doing this:

  1. The stock studs can be cut down so only 5/16-inch protrudes from the face of the hub. If you’re going this route, remember that the studs will need to be replaced with new ones before the stock wheels can ever be reinstalled.
  2. The other option is to remove the hubs so that the stock studs can be replaced with shorter ones. A hydraulic press is needed to install the new studs. (Hint: Moss stocks the shorter, wire wheel-spec studs.) Now the wheels can be physically bolted to the hubs. Note that the hubs are threaded so that the knock-offs won’t loosen themselves as the car drives down the road: The left-side hubs have a right-hand thread pattern, while the right-side hubs feature a left-hand thread pattern.

Step 3: Fit New Wire Wheels on the Car

Now it’s time to put the mounted and balanced wire wheels on the car. Apply a light coating of silver anti-seize to the splines and install the wheels. Each one is simply held in place with the center nut.

Replacing Old Hardware

A lot of wire wheels have been in service for 50 or more years, and these components do age: splines become worn, while spokes loosen or go missing. If the hubs have worn splines, simply replace the unit. Wheels can be rebuilt, but it is sometimes just quicker and less expensive to replace them, too. Worn wheel splines are usually a sign that it’s time to replace the entire wheel.

Get Balanced

Properly balancing wire wheels takes a special technique, but fortunately Moss Motors also offers some easy-to-understand directions. Moss includes a copy of these directions with every set of wire wheels sold, while a copy can also be found online.

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View comments on the CMS forums
wspohn HalfDork
6/27/16 4:41 p.m.

You said that you either need to cut the wheel studs down or press in shorter ones.

You missed one. Simply use a thin spacer the thickness of which equals the amount you'd need to cut down the studs.

These are Triumph wire wheel adaptors on MGB hubs (fitted to an GA, but that isn't relevant) with such spacers.

PS - you might also want to note that you need to use special shallow wheel nuts so the adaptors don't cause the wheels to bottom on the nuts instead of the bevel on the adaptors (regular wheel nuts hit the inside of the wire heel rim)

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