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Old 03-18-2020, 12:58 PM   #1
First time restorer
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Default Radial tires on old rims

I am restoring my grandfather’s 39 Ford. As far as I know it has the original rims. Will radial tires work or should I stick with bias ply.?
I read somewhere that radials can cause stress on these rims.

Thanks
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Old 03-18-2020, 12:59 PM   #2
Ed Pitts
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

Radials will work fine. I have them on my 1935 wheels. Ed
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Old 03-18-2020, 01:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

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Originally Posted by First time restorer View Post
I am restoring my grandfather’s 39 Ford. As far as I know it has the original rims. Will radial tires work or should I stick with bias ply.?
I read somewhere that radials can cause stress on these rims.

Thanks
You're going to get a lot of vastly different opinions here.
Me? I think radials look like poop. But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Radials are much heavier and as such, unless you're front chassis is in very good condition, you're likely to have operating issues.
Wheel tramp is common.
The wide five wheels are different than'35 rims mentioned in a previous response. I'd be very apprehensive to mount radials on them.
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Old 03-18-2020, 02:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

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Originally Posted by Kube View Post
You're going to get a lot of vastly different opinions here.
Me? I think radials look like poop. But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I've got to admit that MOST radials DO look sorta like poop on early rims like Kube says, but there just happen to be a couple of modern radial tire brands which have been developed with the old car enthusiast in mind. The most popular is the Stahl Excelsior brand radials which are available in 16" wheel sizes (1939 Ford) all the way from 5.50 X 16" to 7.50 X 16", including the stock '39 size of 6.00 X 16". These tires are radials manufactured to look very close to an original tire profile. The picture below shows these Excelsiors mounted on 1940 Ford wheels which are dimensionally the same as 1939 wheels, except for the different bolt pattern. A friend in Florida has these mounted on stock '40 wheels on his '36 coupe and loves the way they drive and handle....and without tubes! DD


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Old 03-18-2020, 03:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

Radial tires made a huge improvement in ride and handling on my '35 fordor sedan when I replaced the bias ply tires back in 2007. I would never consider going back to bias ply. I build my cars as presentable drivers, and could care less about having a high point show car. So, appearance of radial vs. bias means nothing to me, however, my Diamondback smoothed side wall/black wall radial tires look as good as any bias ply tires that I've ever seen. I also have a complete set of Coker www radial tires, and plan to purchase a set of Coker Excelsior BW radial tires for a '35 coupe I'm slowly reassembling.
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Old 03-18-2020, 03:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

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I have Stahl Radials on 4 of my cars and love them. They are expensive but worth it in my opinion. Far better handling and ride than the bias ply's I had.
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Old 03-18-2020, 03:57 PM   #7
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

I don't think the Coker radials on this '37 (wide-five wheels) are ugly....

The steering and handling were greatly improved....

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Old 03-18-2020, 03:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

Radials are a good move to improve handling and ride. Be sure to keep pressures at 32 to 35 PSI. Added bonus, they will last many more miles than bias ply.
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Old 03-18-2020, 04:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

The PO of my '39 p/u installed tubeless plain jane radials on the stock wide five's. Goes down the road straight and smooth without any balance weights. I do have to watch the front tire pressures but not the rears. Guessing it is due to the stress from cornering causing a loss of pressure but that is just a guess.
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Old 03-18-2020, 04:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

I'm with the rest of the guys. When I had Firestone bias plies on my '51, negotiating a cloverleaf at anything near a reasonable speed was an adventure. I put a set of Coker Classic radials on it and it was infinitely better.
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Old 03-18-2020, 05:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

Chiming in!!...put Coker 600x16's on my '47. Love the ride and the handling, original rims and no tubes!! To each his own!!
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Old 03-18-2020, 05:13 PM   #12
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

I always install tubes in the radials I use on the original wheels on my classic cars....
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Old 03-18-2020, 09:37 PM   #13
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

I too always liked the look of bias ply tires. But last fall I went radial on '47 type stock rims, no tubes and no loss of air. The steering is way better. Since I am always on a truck chassis, I chose 215 85r 16s because they are readily available and way cheap on CL. These are tall and skinny and came stock on MANY dually pickups and cab/chassis. Anyways, I'm sticking with radials. I did go to a car show once in about 2014, and was underwhelmed by how they judged the cars.
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:19 PM   #14
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

As far as running wide 5s with radial tires, this is my experience. My avatar has had them on since just before I left for the LA Father’s Day roadster show in 2016. Absolutely no problems from blazing hot temps, over some pretty bad roads and at a top sustained speed of 85. Fronts are 4” running the Austone taxi cab 175/80-r16 tires. The rears are just a tad wider and run 235/85-r16 Dunlops I bought used @ Spring Carlisle of 2016 (and they are still on the car now). I am tubeless and they are balanced using Dynabeads. I run the fronts @ 28 psi., rears at 30.

The look may not be what you want but you can do it with no problems .....
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Old 03-19-2020, 12:48 AM   #15
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

No leaks from rivets? Coker makes some great radial looking bi plys. Don't feel the shift with a set of miltary 6py NDT at 70mph. But I do with the regular tires on the 36. I don't have my phone then or am concerned.


Guess if you worried you could run tubes or run flats like nascar. But like the cokers radials

Remember tires are no substitution to kingpins, rodends and tight stearing.


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Last edited by Tinker; 03-19-2020 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 03-19-2020, 04:13 AM   #16
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

My 58 GMC had 205-16s on the stock rims. I bought it like that. The rears were tubeless. Fronts had tubes. Both fronts failed. The tubes fatigued or chafed. I switched them to tubeless and never had a problem after.

Note these were stock riveted rims and NO SAFETY BEADS.

There is an often quoted myth that you need safety beads with tubeless. Not true. Tubeless tyres predated safety beads by (I'm guessing) ten years or so.

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Old 03-19-2020, 07:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

Here is my take on the whole issue. The rims were made to take the load of the car at full traction of the tire. They should be plenty strong enough whether forces are later horizontal or vertical. I've heard people swear up and down about hubcaps falling of the rims with radials. I just cannot picture a rim flexing that much. I'll believe your stories but I'm unconvinced that is the root of the problem. A tube is just a bladder to hold air and I cannot see how it helps hold a tire to the rim. It can make it easier to seat the bead but that's it. Any leaks in the tube will escape through the valve hole in the rim. Other that wire wheels I see no use for them and wires can be sealed up pretty well if that's your goal.
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Old 03-19-2020, 07:35 AM   #18
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

my 40 wagon has high pressure 42 lbs radials from ecopia a brand of tire from Bridgestone/Firestone and I have put them on at least five others and they love the ride better than bias
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:53 AM   #19
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

Over the years, I have literally spent days chasing slow leaks on just about every vehicle I have owned, EXCEPT my '51 Ford with tubeless Coker Classics on the original wheels. (They all turned out to be rim leaks.)

Also, I have found what "Mart" said about running tubes in tubeless radials to be true.
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:12 AM   #20
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Default Re: Radial tires on old rims

I am running Cooper smooth blackwalls on my 40 wagon on pre-67 F100 wheels with stock hubcaps. Steel belted radials at $97 at Discount tire.
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