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Thread: Balancing Wheels

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    Member parkerg1's Avatar
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    Balancing Wheels

    I posted this on another forum, but thought I would try here also. I am wondering if anybody has tried the Harbor Freight wheel bubble balancer? I am ordering a new set of 60 spoke chrome wheels for my TR3, and am Leary of having a tire dealer mount them. I am thinking of trying the HF tire mounting machine, and there bubble balancer. I cannot find anyone local that has the ability to correctly balance wire wheels, so thought this may be an option. Any thoughts?
    Gary

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    Yoda martx-5's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    Back in the sixties, I used to go to Bridgehampton race track to watch the road races. A lot of big races there, and pit access was pretty lax. I used to watch the pit crews mount and balance tires. They all used bubble balancers. I had one myself and it worked just fine. Don't know what happened to it, which is a good thing, as I might have been tempted to do what you want to do.

    As it was, I was faced with the same problem as you when I wanted to get new, and wider wire wheels for my TR3. I called Hendrix Wire Wheel and had the wires I wanted dropped shipped from Moss (Hendrix didn't have what I wanted in stock at the time). I bought the tires from Hendrix, he mounted them, redid the runout on the new wires...he likes to keep the tolerances tighter than the manufacturer, balanced and then shaved the new tires to run true. All for what seemed like a lot of money, but after putting them on the car and driving at speeds that could've got me locked up, I realized that it was worth every penny I paid. These things are as smooth as glass at any speed.

    https://www.hendrixwirewheel.com/
    Art
    '58 TR3A TS236xxL
    '92 Mazda Miata -- Supercharged
    '07 Mazda RX-8
    '11 Mazda CX-7

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    Yoda Geo Hahn's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I mount and balance my own tires & wheels using the HF tire change and bubble balance. I'm slow but I get the job done and know it is right.

    The tire changer works well once you get the hang of it, also helps to have one of their 24" tire irons on hand. For wire wheels I mount one of the adaptors to the HF changer to help secure the wheel. I always work with the backside of the wheel facing up so as to not mar the visible side of the rim.

    Our tires have pretty tall sidewalls (e.g. 165/15s) so those are pretty easy to mount -- modern tires with low aspect ratios can be trickier.

    The bubble gadget is simple non-dynamic balancing but I have never had a problem with the results using stick-on weights (HF has those too). Probably helps that modern tires are well balanced to start with.

    The whole thing is easier if you have a lift as it can be used to mount the changer very securely. Also, I use the lift itself as a bead-breaker as the Harbor Freight bead-break attachment (that comes with the changer) can be a bit rough on the rim. Might not matter on your tires but I have some wires that I have sealed rather than use tubes and do not want anything scraping against those seals.

    A 3-way valve tool (most FLAPS) is useful and a big compressor makes it easier to set the bead on a new tire. Use lots of soapy water and talc baby powder if you have tubes.

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    Jedi Warrior RJS's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I had new tires mounted and computer spin balanced by a small private local shop who had the adaptors for wires wheels. But I did get a vibration over 60 mph which wasn't there before.

    So I then purchsed the HF bubble balance and they were spot on.

    I haven't done anything further since. Next steps will be checking lateral runout and trueness. If those are good, I'll rotate front to back. Last would be to go back and have them rebalanced.

    Bob

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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I'm starting to feel lucky. I mounted my Coker re pops of the Michelin XZX tires on new 60 spoke Dayton wires, but the NTB didn't have the adapters to balance them. Then I forgot all about them until these posts! I've had them up to 100 on the freeway with no noticeable shaking. Hearing these stories I'm wondering if I should even have them balanced now...with the possibility they'll only get worse?!?
    John

    1955 TR2

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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I've used the HF mounting machine to mount new tires on new 60 spoke wheels for my two Healey 3000's and it worked well. I'm not sure it would be great for breaking the bead on removing an old tire. I haven't tried that yet. I also use the bubble balancer and it has worked perfectly. I only attach weights to the inner side of the wheel to correct any balance issues. I've had both cars to 80 mph(I don't like going any faster than that- ) and it is completely smooth after using the HF bubble balancer .

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    Member parkerg1's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    New wires are on the way. I decided to try dismounting and mounting with a couple tire irons, if that doesn't work will buy a HF mounting machine. Also have decided to go with the HF bubble balancer. I will let you know how they work. Tires are new radials so breaking the bead shouldn't be to tough.

    Gary

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    Yoda Geo Hahn's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I really like the HF tire mount equipment except for the included bead breaker -- a bit too much effort, drama and violence for me. Instead I use one end of the lift though I think something similar can be done with another car, some boards and a jack.

    Wheel on the floor and a 2x4 against the tire (tire is deflated, valve core out and there is a car on the lift for weight):



    Lift lowers and breaks bead:



    Flip tire over and use a second 2x4 underneath to allow for the hub:



    Bead breaks on backside of tire:



    One other tip - many tires are shipped tightly bound in plastic wrap. After weeks or months like that they have taken a set with the beads quite close together. That will make it very difficult to inflate the new tire when you try to set the bead (beads must at least be in contact with the rim to get the bead to set). What I do is use something (Coke cans in this instance) to spread the beads for a couple of days in the sun:



    Don't remove the cans until you are ready to mount the tire and they should be wide enough to mount successfully. If not then a ratcheting strap around the tire may be needed to force the beads to contact the rim.

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    Obi Wan Sarastro's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I got a professional-quality Coats balancer on Ebay a couple years ago, and use it for everything. I don't think it cost much more than the HF one and the quality is vastly superior.

    Steve Maas
    1966 Triumph TR4A, undergoing restoration: http://www.nonlintec.com/tr4a
    1952 MG TD, restoration completed 2014, sold 2016: http://www.nonlintec.com/mgtd
    1960 Austin-Healey "Bugeye" Sprite, sold 2010: http://www.nonlintec.com/sprite
    1967 Porsche 912: http://www.nonlintec.com/porsche

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    Member parkerg1's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I installed my new wheels today. I used a HF mounting machine, and 2 HF 24" bars. Worked good. I mounted my HF machine on my lift, for stability same as Geo did, great idea. I was able to get a old bubble balancer from a friend that had used it in his gas station 30 years ago. Looks just like the HF model now. Took the car out for a test run, and was totally smooth up to 70 mph.
    One question. At about 3850 rpm, my speed was 65 mph. Seems a little low. What should the speed be at that rpm?
    Gary
    TR-wheel-bal.web.jpgTR-wheel-mount-web.jpgTR-wheels-web.jpg

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    Gary,
    That depends on the gear ratio in the rear axle. If you had a 3.7 ratio the speed would normally be 2 times the tac speed. So 3000 rpm or 30 times 2 equals 60 mph. If you have a 4.1 rear axle then you would be slower than the 2 times. But I can not give you an exact speed.
    Also remember that you are reading off of a 50+ year old speedometer and tachometer that likely have never been recalibrated or adjusted to the tires you are running. There are lots of variables here, but you should start by checking the rear axle ratio.
    Charley

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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    Quote Originally Posted by charleyf View Post
    Gary,
    That depends on the gear ratio in the rear axle. If you had a 3.7 ratio the speed would normally be 2 times the tac speed. So 3000 rpm or 30 times 2 equals 60 mph. If you have a 4.1 rear axle then you would be slower than the 2 times. But I can not give you an exact speed.
    Also remember that you are reading off of a 50+ year old speedometer and tachometer that likely have never been recalibrated or adjusted to the tires you are running. There are lots of variables here, but you should start by checking the rear axle ratio.
    Charley
    The axle ratio was my first thought. I don't have OD, but could be an OD rear end. Who knows what has happened in the 50 years before it came to me. Any way to tell, besides turning the drive shaft and counting revolutions? I don't have a smart phone with GPS, but will take my son for a ride and have him check it.
    Gary

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    Yoda Geo Hahn's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    So far as I know, the 3.7 vs 4.1 occurred w/o regard to whether the car had OD. So any car might have the 4.1 but the 3.7 was certainly more common.

    Quote Originally Posted by parkerg1 View Post
    ...Any way to tell, besides turning the drive shaft and counting revolutions?
    That is the easiest, other way is to remove the diff cover and count teeth on the ring (37 or 41 I assume). Of course it is easier to turn a wheel and count the revolutions of the propshaft being sure to take into account that you only have one wheel turning.

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    Member parkerg1's Avatar
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    Re: Balancing Wheels

    I checked the tach today with an electronic one and it appears to be nearly dead on, I also checked the speedometer with a GPS, and it to is right on. It appears that I have a 411, or Randall thinks maybe a 430. Any way, I guess that I will just live with it, as at 77 I don't think I am up to changing the gear set. I don't do any interstate driving with it, and will just go a little slower and let the speed demons give me the finger. .
    Gary

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