Archive for May, 2007

TECH Stuff #10 How to choose the wheels for your Rod

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Choosing the wheels you want to run on your Rod involves a few things to think about.  Style, finish and size are the main considerations, but before you make those choices, there are a few things to mull over.

1.  Style

I’m sure we all have a style in mind that we’ve pictured in our heads that would look cool on our Rod.  The 3 most significant appearance features of a custom ride are the body styling, the paint scheme and the custom wheels.  The wrong wheels on a custom rod is the same as wearing brown shoes with a tuxedo.  Some of us are nostalgia freaks that want the same custom wheels we had on our first car, and then there are those who think billet is cool and others who want a touch of today in their wheel style.  In any event, make sure the wheels you want are available for your particular Rod.

2.  Finish

In an earlier TECH Stuff (#7) we discussed finishes of custom wheels along with their proper care and maintenance.  This is a big consideration.  Painted and chrome wheels require the least maintenance.  Polished aluminum requires the most.  Think about how much time you are willing to or can devote to cleaning your wheels.  Also check out the finishes available for the style of wheel you want.  Steel wheels are available in painted or chrome.  Cast one piece aluminum and forged wheels are available in painted, machined finished, polished and all chrome.  Billet 2 piece wheels are offered in machined or polished only.  Composite (steel rim / aluminum center) only come in all chrome.

3.  Size

After you have made your style choice, check to see the available sizes.  The older styles that are still available are most likely offered in 14″ & 15″.  The newer styles are probably not available in 14″ and the pickens are slim in 15″.  For some reason a lot of the manufactures have skipped the 16″ and gone with 17″ and up.  I personally like the 16″ because the tire selection is huge and you still get the big meat look with the tires and the nostalgia look with the wheels.  The trend of big wheels and low profile tires is becoming more popular with the Rodders every year.  The steel wheel with baby moons and trim rings starts to look goofy in 17″ and the early composites and one piece aluminum styles get lost after 17″.  So if you’re into the nostalgia look of the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s, plan on sticking with 14″, 15″ and 16″ wheels. 

4. Other things to think about

A.  Does your Rod have or do you plan to convert to disc brakes?  Some of the aftermarket brake systems are not very wheel friendly.  Make sure you check with the brake manufacturer to verify the compatibility between his brakes and your wheels.  I think some of these brake manufacturers think everyone buys brakes first, then builds a Rod to fit them.  I’d bet there were more Rods built around a set of wheels than brakes.  I’ve never had a brake manufacturer call me and ask for wheel profiles or samples to check against their brakes.  Seems like the logical thing to do.

B.  Check the bolt pattern (TECH Stuff #2) on your Rod to make sure the wheels you want are available in your bolt pattern.  There are a lot of Mopar guys out there that have stressed out trying to find a 5×4.00″ bolt pattern in the wheel style of their choice.

C.  Make sure you have verified the load rating of your wheel choice to the load requirements of your Rod (TECH Stuff #3). 

D. Last but certainly not least, check your clearance in the wheel well.  Check for fender clearance, brake clearance, suspension and steering component interference.  Refer to TECH Stuff #1 for more information on determining your wheel backspacing or offset.  Nothing is more irritating than tire rub when turning or going over bumps. 

In summary, do your homework before you decide on your wheels.  They can make your Rod.  And remember, don’t go to the prom with brown shoes.

TECH Stuff #9 A few facts about using Nitrogen in tires

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Using Nitrogen to inflate tires instead of plain old air or oxygen is not a new phenomenon, but it sure is getting some attention lately.  I did some research on the subject and decided I was missing the boat.  I’m one of the 85% of Americans that don’t regularly check the inflation pressure in my tires (I wonder who took that survey?).  Based on my research, I should be using Nitrogen.  I learned that Nitrogen is all around us and we take in Nitrogen in every breath of air we breathe in. (more…)