New tires and a shave

Bob Canfield’s 1974 MGB, purchased in 2013. Bob, vice president of the Positive Earth Driving Club based in New Jersey, brought the wire wheels and tires to K&T Vintage for truing and balancing.

By Bob Canfield Vice President | Positive Earth Driving Club

Reprinted with permission from The Terminal Post | June 2015, Vol 23, Issue 6

In late 2013 I “accidentally” bought a 1974 MGB from a local eBay seller. Aside from the fact that it looked OK for a driver, I was impressed with the look of the wire wheels. I never owned a car with wires, and they certainly looked good with the bright red paint.

While sorting out some things on the car to make it safe and reliable I noticed that the tires were old and not matched, and two of the wheels had loose/broken spokes. I picked up four nice used wheels from Ken Wignall, and had a local shop mount new tires/tubes and balance them.

I was ready for the first distance drive, so I brought it to Jon Spare’s retirement celebration at McGuire Air Force Base with Jack in the navigator’s seat. Once we got over 50mph the steering wheel was jumping around like I was driving on an old railroad bed. I knew my adventure with the wheels and suspension had just begun.

I replaced the front end bushings and kingpins, and added a sway bar. Then I took to the web to research the care and feeding of wire wheels. What I learned was that they require a lot more care then I thought, and are a real pain to clean. I realize now that if wire wheels did not look so good no one would put up with them (kind of like the Kardashians.)

The nearest shop that seemed to understand how to smooth out my ride was K&T Vintage Sports Cars, LLC in Allentown, Pa. I dropped off the wheels, and about a week later I returned to pick them up and chat with the owner, Ken Beck.

Ken has been involved with restoring and maintaining British cars and Corvettes for more than 40 years. He started K&T Vintage Sports Cars In 2006, and has built a great reputation for first-class work. One of the services he offers is tire truing and balancing.

Ken explained that even wire wheels right from the factory usually are not perfectly true. So it is common for an owner to find a local shop that will mount and balance the wheels on conventional equipment.

The problem with that is most balancers today use the center hub of the wheel and assume that the wheel and tire are symmetrical, and once mounted that the tire is reasonably round. Most classic British car steel wheels are lug-centered wheels, so the center hole in the wheel is not necessarily the center of the wheel assembly. In the case of wire wheels the only proper way to balance them is by mounting them on the correct tube axles, so conventional balancing equipment will not offer the best results for wire wheels (as I found out the hard way.)

The most interesting process that K&T offers is tire truing (shaving). The machine will shave the tire so that it is round and will run smooth on the road. This compensates for wheels and/or tires that are not true. This process is done before balancing, and the end result is a wheel that will run without vibration. There is more information on K&T’s website.

So if your hands go numb holding the wheel of your LBC on long drives, I suggest a visit to K&T Vintage Sports Cars in Allentown, Pa. Whether you have steel wheels, alloys, or wires you will notice a much smoother ride after a nice shave. The MGB is like a different car on the road now!

As an aside, Ken has asked that we include a visit to his shop on our next drive to the area. I am also trying to talk him into coming to our Brits on the Beach show in September to participate.

PEDC June 2015 Newsletter