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Wheelwright

Additional information is currently being compiled for publication. Please check back later. 

 

We have received a request to explain how we align the spokes to the felloes. The following procedure is an example of how it is done in the shop.

NOTICE:   This procedure is posted by Old Fashioned Farm solely as a public service.  Old Fashioned Farm its suppliers or contributors do not warrant the accuracy of the information contained herein nor are they responsible for any errors or omissions and assumes no liability for its use. This information is not intended as, or to be used as, a replacement for the original manufacturer instructions, but rather information which may be helpful to others.

The pictures shown are of a wagon wheel with white oak spokes. Prior to this picture, the spokes have been cut to the proper length, installed in the hub and the tenons have been cut on the ends. Just an FYI, when the spokes are installed in the hub, the assembly is called a spider.

 

There are two types of felloes or rims. There is the cut rim that consists of multiple segments placed end-to-end to create the wheel and the bent rim which consists of two halves that create the wheel when placed end-to-end. The cut rim includes two spokes per segment and the bent rim contains half the total spokes of the wheel. The following procedure is for cut felloes.

NOTE:  It is possible to coat the tenons with Boiled Linseed Oil prior to assembly to protect the wood. Be careful with the oil because some paints react badly when applied over the oil.

Select a couple of tenons to install the first felloe. The location of the first felloe is not important. However, once the first felloe is selected, install every other felloe around the wheel.

Position the felloe so the tenons on the spokes align with the mortise in the felloe. If the alignment is off, put one tenon in a mortise only far enough to keep it from moving when pressure is applied to the second spoke. Do not put the tenon all the way into the mortise at this time. If the alignment is only off slightly, attempt to pull the spoke in line by hand.

If the spoke needs to be pulled further apart instead of closer together, use a spoke on the opposite side to move the spoke. It is not necessary that the spoke be inserted in a felloe in order to be used as a pry point although it is preferred.

 

If the alignment is off more than can reasonably be moved by hand, obtain a spoke puller. Position the hook of the spoke puller on the shoulder of the tenon.

 

It is possible to place the hook on the body of the spoke, but it has a tendency to slip and also the closer the hook is to the end of the spoke the easier it is to move. However, if the spokes are further apart than the reach of the spoke puller there may not be an option.

Position the arm of the spoke puller on the opposite side of the spoke that is to be brought into alignment. Move the arm until the tenon is in the correct position and then insert the end of the tenon slightly in the mortise. Now both tenons should be started in the mortises of the felloes.

Use a hammer and attempt to drive the tenon the remainder of the way into the mortise. Be careful not to hit the edge of the felloe where damage would show on the finished wheel. The shoulder of the tenon should be seated firmly against the felloe. If the tenon does not go into the mortise easily, obtain a rim clamp to properly seat the felloe.

 The Rim Clamp is primarily used on heavy wheels such as wagons and coaches. Normally it is not necessary on buggies and carriages because the spokes are light and can be moved by hand. However, if the rim is not bent correctly, is out of round, or is not the right diameter the rim clamp can we used to bring the rim back into position. 

Hook the arms of the rim clamp on the base of the spokes close to the hub. Loosen the screw until the foot extends beyond the rim. Attach the hook of the screw to the arms of the rim clamp. Tighten the screw until it is pushing against the felloe. Continue tightening the rim clamp until the felloe is properly seated.

 When properly seated, the tenon will not extend all the way to the outer edge of the felloe. There will be an open area between the end of the tenon and the felloe surface.

 

The ends of the felloes should lineup. Place a scrap piece of wood above and below the felloes near the ends. Apply a clamp to hold the felloes in place. 

Insert a wedge in the slots cut between two adjoining felloes.

Once the felloes are installed, it is time to attach the tire (Tyre). This is normally done by the blacksmith.