TECH SESSION Periodically we will offer helpful tips and suggestions to the vintage car owner for the maintenace and repair of their vehicle.
Build your own Wheel "Knock-off" Tool Recently on www.tomyang.net there has been much discussion about knock-off wheel nut tools. In the past, a lead hammer was the accepted manner for removing or installing wheel nuts. Although this manner works, there are many drawbacks including possible damage to a fender, to the wheel or to the wheel nut itself. And there was always the possibility of uneven tightening torque between wheels.When I purchased my 330GT 2+2 in 2001 I wanted a better alternative to hammering on and off wheel nut spinners.I happened to see a technical article in the Ferrari Club News Bulletin about a knock-off wheel tool kit.(Unfortunately this company no longer manufactures this tool.)When I received the tool kit I realized the socket used was a modified truck socket. Here at Radcliffe Motorcar Company we manufacture our own wheel nut tools to custom fit each set of wheel nuts and accommodate specific applications, e.g., two-ear spinners, curved three-ear spinners and straight three-ear spinners. Although there are some very nicely made 'knock-offs' available through Ferrari parts houses, these can be expensive and do not necessarily fit everyone's needs. For those of you who are handy with tools it is possible to make your own 'knock-off' wheel tool, and for not a lot of money.
Instructions for Making a Wheel Nut Tool:
Equipment needed: A 24 tooth hack saw blade and 3/8 drill bit. For the most part this will require your own handiwork, but one part will require a small amount of welding. [See DISCLAIMER below.]
Parts needed: KD Tools 4 1/8" socket part no. KD2459. [Call your local NAPA store.] [the following parts are available through a number of sources, but to make it easy, I will give you the Sears part numbers] 3/4" Slide Bar Handle, Sears part no. 09444 1/2" to 3/4" socket adaptor, Sears part no. 094271 1/2" torque wrench By the way, I donít claim to be worldís expert with this, if you have a better idea Iím listening! Also, I generally do not make these tools for customers due to the liability involved.
To begin the socket has six flat sides. Each flat side of the socket is approximately 2 1/2 inches across. On each alternate flat side, for a three-ear spinner, and on opposite flat sides for a two-ear spinner, mark the center at 1 ľ inch with a sharpie. The depth of the cut is 1 inch as seen in the picture, and the width is 1 7/8 inches. From the center measure out 15/16" to each side, notice where the L is towards the top which is ĺ inch up from the base.
Once you have drawn the area to cut out on each flat side you are ready to start drilling and cutting. Please keep in mind these sockets are not made to aircraft standards so the measurements donít need to have a tolerance of .001. Not to mention each set of spinners are not necessarily exact either.
TIP: you may want to make the cut smaller and then file to fit.
A three-ear straight spinner does not require as large a cut in width. In fact it is closer to 1Ĺ inches across. A two-ear spinner will depend on the size of the spinner itself, for example, a smaller British one requires a smaller cut. I made one for a '57 300SL Roadster that used 52mm two-ear spinners, the cuts were much larger, same socket however.
Once you have the socket marked this is how I would proceed. First, drill the two inside corners using your 3/8 inch drill bit. Next, using the hack saw, cut straight down to the drill holes from the top of the "L" on both sides. If you made your drill holes large enough then you should have no problem getting the hack saw in place to make the 90 degree-turn cut. Of course if you have a vertical mill or even a drill press with an end mill, itís much easier. Unfortunately I have neither, so I have to resort to the hand-cut method.
TIP: Youíre better off to cut less than more. You can always shape or straighten a poor cut with a file. However, if you cut off too much to begin with then youíll have a heck of a time trying to correct it. Consider having the spinner in hand as youíre making the cuts to see how much you want to cut out.
Once you have the cut-outs completed you can actually use the socket, but wait, there's more. Protect your spinner by lining the cut-outs with 3/8 Teflon tubing split in the middle, or with fuel hose or even duct tape, anything to try and protect the chrome.
TIP: the Teflon tubing seems to hold up longer and doesnít crush as much as the other materials but let me know if you find a better liner.
Letís talk about torque wrenches and tightening the wheels.According to the FCA News Bulletin, the factory prescribed installation torque is set to 325 FT/LBS.Since this is nearly impossible to achieve with a hammer, this is where the torque wrench comes in. The average Ĺ inch drive torque wrench is 16 inches from the drive to the handle.Hereís how most manufacturers figure out the math on the torque range. Using my handy dandy Snap-on-Tool slide rule, if the torque wrench is 16 inches and the adapter or extension is 16 inches the total length is 32 inches. The dial reading is 150 FT/LBS and the desired torque is 320 FT/LBS. In my experience 300 FT/LBS is enough-- itís not too tight and yet itís tight enough that the wheel nut should not come off while driving, and at 300 FT/LBS the wheel nuts come off without too much of a struggle.
For the past 35 years, I have used anti-seize as a lubricant on the hub cone, splines and wheel nut taper.Richard Poelma who works for me, uses a mixture of anti-seize and an M.O.S.-type high temperature brake grease.Rich feels that this mixture holds up better over a longer period of time. Everyone will most likely have their own opinion as to the methods they are most comfortable with.
The adapter as mentioned above is a ĺ inch sliding bar that you weld in place, and then weld a Ĺ inch to ĺ inch socket adapter 180 degrees opposite the ĺ inch drive on the other end. You will have to cut the male end off and round it to fit the socket adapter at the other end. PLEASE READ: IF YOU ARE NOT AN EXPERIENCED WELDER DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WELD THIS YOURSELF, have a qualified welder weld up both ends as shown in the pictures (you can see that my welding job was ďokayĒ and workable but not very pretty.) Oh yeah, notice the adapter thatís welded and notice there is slight bend to it. That was caused by a wheel nut that was hammered on -- we simply could not get that wheel nut off and bent the adapter getting it off using a flex handle and a pipe. Just another reason Iím a proponent of this kind of tool.
TIP: It is possible to use a ĺ inch extension to move the adapter out farther from the wheel as well.
Finally, know that this job will not be accomplished quickly. Depending on your skill level, expect to spend a few hours. Again, I donít claim to be worldís expert with this, if you have a better idea Iím listening!
DISCLAIMER:Radcliffe Motorcar Company its owners and employees make no guarantees or warranties express or implied and are not responsible if you screw something up and hurt yourself. Always use caution in handling any tool and always wear eye protection. If you are not an experienced welder DO NOT attempt to weld this tool yourself - obtain the assistance of a professional welder. We'd like to thank the American Bar Association and all its members for making us put in this Disclaimer.
Any express or implied warranty that might arise from the information or advice, including any implied warranty of merchantability or any warranty of fitness for any customerís particular purpose is specifically disclaimed.This website has been prepared and compiled in good faith solely for the purpose of providing information about a specific project.Radcliffe Motorcar Company its owners and employees will respond to any requests for information or advice to the best of their ability based on information provided to them by the customer.
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