I am 50 miles north of Pittsburgh, PA. I have been very slowly restoring a '66 GT. I have 5 wire wheels to restore. Would you have any recommendations? Mine is a budget operation (although I have many thousands invested) and mainly need the wheels inspected, repaired if needed, and trued. Thanks
The only firm I know of who can work with wire wheels is Hendrix Wire Wheel of Greensboro, NC. Allen does a GREAT job. BUT ... The "rule" is that if the wheels are older (yours are original?), then the real solution is to purchase new wheels. The reason is that the spokes rust to the nipples, making individual spoke adjustment all but impossible. Plus, the splines wear on the inside of the hub – and those are not repairable.
New wheels are available from Dunlop through several US distributors – Moss, for example. And, there are Dayton wheels, from Dayton Wire Wheel in Dayton, OH. The Dayton wheels use stainless spokes which will not corrode, so keeping them "in tune" should never be a problem.
Locally, you can always try a motorcycle shop as they deal with spoked rims all the time. The motorcycle shops are excellent for fitting tires to the rims, as well as balancing.
Hope this little bit helps.
John H Twist
University Motors Online
Cell 616 307 6737
Dayton also offers 'restoration service' for original wheels (link to site: https://www.daytonwirewheels.com/wheelrestoration.php). After an examination, they basically take a saw to the old spokes and re-string them using the original hubs and rims with all new spokes, if they are not too badly damaged or rusted. Great for really rare or odd (read that as expensive) wheels with a cost that had been about 2/3-3/4 that of a new wheel, but I'm not sure what that is now for stock MGB wheels.
Generally, as John also notes, if these are your original wheels, after 55+ years of normal wear and tear, I would say to go new, even if for stock 60-spoke, 14X4.5 stock rims if just to get new splined hubs. Also, if you use the car regularly at highway speeds, an upgrade to 72 spoke 14X6 wheels with larger tires would be safer as well as ride and handle better is a minimal cost. 185-70 tires are wider, but maintain the same overall diameter as the stock 165SR14 narrow-but-tall ones and fit in the wheel wells without modification. Both Moss (Dunlop) and Dayton offer those. Hope that helps you.