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Do's and Dont's of Wire Wheel Removal

Originally published in Healey Torque, a publication of the Austin Healey Club of New Zealand

Too many times, when a wire wheel needs to be removed, you see someone grab a hammer and merrily start pounding away while the car is still sitting on the ground. This is an absolute "No, no." Why? Because all the force of the hammering is transmitted directly to the spokes. About the only thing worse for a wire wheel is for you to go "kerb jumping."

So the first rule is: Always jack it up! (And don't forget to block those other wheels, too).

Secondly, unless you're out in the loonies with a flat tyre, put the jack stands under the car. Dropping a car on a brake drum is almost as bad as dropping it on you. If you don't believe it can happen, come by my garage and I'll show you a jack that failed, dropping my Healey a foot and luckily only scaring the hell out of me.

Third, always hit the knock off in a vertical direction. Think about it. The suspension was built to go up and down, not back and forth. Why put needless force' on parts in a direction not intended by the manufacturer?

Fourth, if it is a rear wheel take the car out of gear and release the hand brake. I'm sure none of you would beat on your transmission or differential gears with a hammer and that is virtually what you'd be doing if the car was left in gear.

A few final pointers: If you're going to be working around the splined hub, spin the knock off back on a couple of turns. This will save you getting a round grease stain on the front of your shirt just like your best Healey friend has.

Speaking of grease, before putting the wheel back on, be sure the splines are adequately greased. I recently had the sad experience of having to watch a friend hacksaw the spokes out of a wheel so the whole hub assembly could be removed and then the rusted-on wheel pounded off the hub. Use a knock-off hammer (usually lead or copper). Why take a pretty chrome knock-off and beat it to an unrecognizable pulp with a steel hammer?

And last but not least, check the tightness of your knock-offs regularly. Contrary to popular belief (and mechanical theory) they do loosen up, resulting in worn splines and expensive replacement parts, at the very least.

Not what you were looking for? Don't forget you can check our back issues using the AHCUSA Magazine Index.

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