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Chrome or painted wheels

Molly

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Seeing Moss Motors is having another sale, which includes wheels, I thought now would be a good time to buy.
I was all set on buying chrome wheels till I read the description Moss has that says Austin Healey originally came with painted wheels. Other than “what I like” is there any opinions, pro or con, on one over the other?
The car is a 1960 AH 3000 BT7, black exterior, red interior.

Thanks, Dave.
 

Jack T

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Technically, painted wheels are stronger than chrome-plated since the spokes are heat-treated. Chrome-plated spokes are subject to hydrogen embrittlement in the plating process, and stainless spokes cannot be heat-treated. Not that any of that really makes a difference on a street car.

Personally, I prefer painted wires on a Healey, especially on the roadsters. I bought 72 spoke painted for less than 60 spoke chrome. They give a great smooth ride.

In the end, though, you should buy which you like more.
 
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Seeing Moss Motors is having another sale, which includes wheels, I thought now would be a good time to buy.
I was all set on buying chrome wheels till I read the description Moss has that says Austin Healey originally came with painted wheels. Other than “what I like” is there any opinions, pro or con, on one over the other?
The car is a 1960 AH 3000 BT7, black exterior, red interior.

Thanks, Dave.
It comes down to personal choice, really. I've had a couple sets of chrome wire wheels, comments as follows...

Chrome are easier to clean with spray-on chrome wheel cleaner.
This is a fact!

Technically, painted wheels are stronger than chrome-plated since the spokes are heat-treated. Chrome-plated spokes are subject to hydrogen embrittlement in the plating process, and stainless spokes cannot be heat-treated. Not that any of that really makes a difference on a street car.

Personally, I prefer painted wires on a Healey, especially on the roadsters. I bought 72 spoke painted for less than 60 spoke chrome. They give a great smooth ride.

In the end, though, you should buy which you like more.
This was true a number of decades ago, but I'm not convinced that it still is. I had a set of chrome 15 x 6 "center-laced wheels that I bought from Bruce Erfer (dba British Wire Wheel, IIRC) back in the 80s, and I was then actively campaigning my car in the local Louisiana autocross challenge. I can assure you that the car was driven harder than 99.99% of them get driven today (Dougie & a handful of others being the exceptions) and never experienced a loose spoke, let alone a broken one. Those wheels were sold under duress during the 90s, still in mint condition.

I sourced a set of identical wheels from Dayton Wire Wheel not quite a decade ago (<10 yrs) and they too are still in mint__and tight__condition. I'd be lying if I claimed the old set were of the construction as my present set, as I don't remember, but MOST wire wheel manufacturers nowadays use chrome-plated barrels and hubs, and polished stainless steel spokes.

Dave, my recommendation is to get on the phone with Moss (or query MWS directly) and verify the wheels construction. If they're using the same method as Dayton does for their wheels, there really is no downside to chrome ones anymore.

As far as originality goes, unless your're entering the car in concourse events, i.,e., 48-spoke wheels** & bias-ply tires, then go for the the look, reliability AND safety that you want.



** My BN6 came with 48-spoke painted wheels when I bought it over four decades (>41-yrs) ago, and even with the then popular Pirelli P3 tires, I broke a few spokes. Granted, they were already twenty-one (21) years old at the time, but reportedly had just been "trued" for the sale.




And finally, in the one picture is worth a thousand words form of expression, I'll close with this.

IMG_7623-me.jpg
 
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Re chrome spokes being more brittle I agree with Randy's surmise that such is no longer the case. Back in the day I had a 1960 BN7 with 48 spoke chrome wires and I broke spokes--and experienced flats--on a frequent basis. The 60-spoke Dayton chrome wheels that I purchased from British Wire Wheels on my present BN1 have been on the car for 20 years and 60K or so miles with no broken spokes. Of course, I have periodically sent my wheels to Allen Hendrix at HWW for mounting up new tires and I know that part of Allen's procedure is to examine wheels and do what might be necessary.

Just my personal opinion but I do not like the appearance of 72 spoke wheels on anything but a convertible car and even then I think they look too busy. YMMV....
 
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RAC68

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Hi Dave,

As the woman who kissed the cow, each to his own taste. As an original owner of a BJ8 Phase 1, I had painted 60-spoke wheels delivered on the car. After the first year, as part of a complete cleaning and care, I decided to repaint the wheels with silver paint as apposed to the darker original (more gray) color. The brighter silver paint was a much better combination and actually brought up and very much improved the side view impression of my Healey.

When deciding to replace the original 60-spoke wires with 72s, I was hard pressed to determine which (chrome/painted) to choose. Viewing the benefits of both I decided on the Chrome 72s over the painted even though the silver-painted (immediate change after delivery) wheels would show brighter then the chromes.

Consider New rear splined adapters
That was back in about 1990 and the wheels chosen were Dayton 72-chromes. Today, you can get new wheels that are both tubeless and will never need truing. One recommendation I would make is to replace your back rear splines before installing your new wheels. Over the years, the teeth of the splines will tend to bend and distort. This will cause less of a true and tight interface with your new wheels and, depending on how bad, could round the teeth of your new wheels.

Either way, new wheels are always a good thing,
Ray(64BJ8P1)
 

vette

Darth Vader
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Course if you want something that is really a lot easier to clean get aluminium Mini Lites. Of course it is obvious that my car never had center lock hubs. When I bought it it had good old Austin original solid disc wheels with small chrome Austin Hub caps. I believe I have read in one of the tomes or other that Austin Healey's original specification for wheels was disc wheels with lug nuts on 5" centers. That's what mine had when I bought it. Delivered to Germany. But a very high percentage if not almost all Healeys sent to the U.S. where spec'd with wire wheels. Not surprising huh.
 

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Patrick67BJ8

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My splined hubs were about 45 years old when I purchased my 60 spoke chrome wire wheels so I also put on new splined hubs at the same time. Check your splines carefully because putting new wheels on old worn splines isn’t good.

i had MOSS drop ship my wheels to Hendrix where he checked them for trueness, installed racing tubes, valve stem grommets, trued the tires and balanced them.
 

Keoke

Great Pumpkin
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You hear all these folks including me say GET GHOME WHEELS believe em.
 

Keoke

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My opinion--worth what you paid for it--is that it varies with the car's color. I think my chrome/SS Daytons look great on my red/black BJ8, but painted looks better on my white/black BN2/100M. Maybe the 'flashier' chrome/SS looks better with a brighter/flashier paint job, and the silver-grey painteds look better on more subtle colors. Healey Blue is a tossup, but I lean towards painted just a bit.

An advantage of the chrome/SS is they can be trued without messing up any paint (or powder coat).
 

dougie

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Chrome/Stainless wheels really make a BRG Big Healey.......





65 BJ8 Front yard 1.jpg
 

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John Turney

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....

Consider New rear splined adapters
That was back in about 1990 and the wheels chosen were Dayton 72-chromes. Today, you can get new wheels that are both tubeless and will never need truing. One recommendation I would make is to replace your back rear splines before installing your new wheels. Over the years, the teeth of the splines will tend to bend and distort. This will cause less of a true and tight interface with your new wheels and, depending on how bad, could round the teeth of your new wheels.

Either way, new wheels are always a good thing,
Ray(64BJ8P1)
Check both front and rear splined hubs. One of our members changed the rear ones and Steve Day (British Car Ranch) was giving her car a check-over and the front ones were about to give out. She had a 1,000 mile drive home from Rendezvous so they were changed. I changed all four when I got my new wheels.
 

F Schreiber

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18 months ago I got new chrome Wheels from Hendrix for my BN7. And my BN7 is primer gray. I like the chrome and I got 60 spoke because I thought the 72 spoke was to busy and I like the 60 spoke and Hendrix figured there would be no issue with broken spokes. Having him balance true the new wheels is the way to go, and have him balance the rear drums, and move the rear splines around for the truest position ( and they still wont' be exactly on center and true).
 

red57

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and move the rear splines around for the truest position ( and they still wont' be exactly on center and true).

Can you explain what you mean by this, and how you measured/determined they were off? Did you take the whole car to Hendrix and they found a problem? Do you have a manufacturing defect in the hub possibly?

Thanks
Dave
 

F Schreiber

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Well, nothing even when new is perfect. So if you imagine pencil sticking out same direction as the axle, and then you turn the wheel, it will wobble, no matter what. You want to minimize that. And if you imagine the rear wheel drum, the face of it is no exactly flat and parallel to the side of the car. No matter what. Nothing is perfect. So when the wheel turns it wobbles because of that. You want to minimize that. And when then they make the new wire wheel spline its not perfect when new, or neither is an old one. And also the 5 lug nut bolts are not exactly in the center, and neither are the holes in the new spline hub for the wire wheel. So the idea is to take that spline that you bolt on and install it so that its wobble is opposite the other wobbles so they cancel each other out a bit. You just put it on and measure with a dial indicator and the them take it off and rotate it a set of holes and measure again and see whats better. And if you really want to waste time you can try shimming it a bit. Same thing goes for the bolt hole centers. They are not exactly in the center. But if you move it around, you might make that cancel. The sad part of this is that if you move these hubs around and you can meause the difference, that means the new ones have to be off some to be able to make a difference. But as I remember, for my car it did make a difference playing with it. (Made a difference in the measurement, I don't know if it made a difference in the way the car drove. But little things add up. )
 

F Schreiber

Senior Member
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I just picked up wheels from Hendrix. He suggested I try moving the hubs around. And he also balances the rear drums. I took them and he balanced them that day for me.
He measures the ballance of the new wire wheels real close, and just the the runout in the car axles, the new ones are not perfectly true or perfectly in balance. He will true up any new wire wheel. And he knows when he is done which wheel is the best and worst and tells you which position on the car to put them on for the best feel in the drivers seat.
 
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