Definitive Widowmaker Wheels


For you lovers of the Class 8's and bigger.

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 343

Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:50 am

Post Thu Mar 16, 2023 4:06 pm

Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

I know this topic has been discussed in the past and I'm not really sure where to post this, so here it is again.

I generally understood widow-makers were two-piece wheels. And lock-ring three-piece wheels were the safer wheels for self-taught mechanics to use if they want to change their own tires - providing they're clean of rust, the lock ring is seated etc. But this video seems to contradict that, showing how he mounts his tires to his split-ring wheels and at one point stating lock-ring rims were the widow-makers. Unless I misunderstood the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UFvWt8OqTc

Now I don't know if I should consider the expense of six new wheels for my Loadstar truck. I liked the idea of changing the tires myself.
Would someone please, with ag and truck-wheel experience please post here the clear definitions of split-rim, split-wheel, lock-rim, lock-ring, widow-maker, and any other similarly-worded phrases and state how dangerous each is and if they are the dangerous widow-makers with pictures, if possible. Posting pictures, diagrams, and links to totally truthful, knowledgeable videos will all be sincerely appreciated, as would pointing out the flaws or inaccuracies in any other videos on the topic. At this point I just feel confused again from what I thought I understood.
Thank you, everyone.

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Thu Mar 16, 2023 5:55 pm

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

Oh boy, where to start.
1st off terms like lock ring, split ring, widowmaker etc are all slang terms and mean different things to different people, Kind of like the terms Budd and Dayton. So called "Budds" are disk wheels and "Dayton's" are demountable rims.
Given that, it is hard to say any slang term has a hard and fast definitions.
"Widowmakers" generally refer to Firestone RH 5 deg wheels, these split in the center like a sliced bagel
Three piece rims, solid rim, solid side ring with a split lock ring, like Accuride's "radial commander" rims are not dangerous, but are easy to damage if not handled properly.
Goodyear made a rim, common on IHC's that the lock ring is solid, and the rim portion is split at the valve slot in the rim.
I take exception to many things in that video, not the least of which, is he didn't force the bead away from the ring all the way around, before he painted it, you can see the ring is "sprung" and should be replaced, it is no longer concentric with one end bent up. Also, he is wrong about there not being a bead seat, the rim has a 5 deg taper on BOTH sides, the fixed side tapers up just like the lock ring side does, if it didn't the tire would just spin in the rim when force (power or braking) were applied.
Chaining rims while inflating may make you feel good, but is doubtful it will save you. Chain is not designed to stretch much before it fails, If you have a sudden failure, the chain is more likely to become shrapnel than contain the blast.
Tire cages work by deforming when the tire/rim assembly fails, The are NOT reusable after a failure, the tubes deform and absorb the energy. Tire cages stretch and deform a great amount without coming apart.
OSHA puts out a poster of rim types and way to check that the lock ring a rim are a match.
If you really want to have fun, try a Trilex rim, mostly found in the near East and Down Under
https://bindasmaldubai.en.ec21.com/TRIL ... 91862.html
It breaks down into 3 pieces.

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Thu Mar 16, 2023 6:47 pm

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

Most common wheel or rim (wheel has an attachment disk with bolt holes, a rim has a open center) you will come across in 20" tube type service is a split lock ring wheel. They come in a verity of mfg and style and parts DO NOT interchange between styles.
I have 10-15 lock ring to every one of the other types.
The only one I do not want to deal with if at all possible is the Firestone RH 5 deg wheel, I'd rather do a Trilex, although I have never come across one.
Properly cared for, cleaned and painted multi piece rims "want" to go together properly.
A clean, pained rim with rubber lube on the tire/tube assembly will "seat the bead" and push the lock ring deeper in its groove with less than 15 PSI or so. That is the time to make sure everything is where it should be.
I have done a lot of tube type rims, of many types, and ran then OTR on my tuck and trailer. They are not to be feared, but you MUST understand what to look for, and when to discard when it is damaged. I've run rims/wheels that date back to the 40's on my Semi's without problems, age is not the limiting factor, condition is.

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Thu Mar 16, 2023 7:28 pm

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Wed Mar 22, 2023 11:35 am

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

Here is a better video on the widowmaker RH5 deg. You have to wade through about 6 min to get to the rim info.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuFaNv9y29c

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 343

Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:50 am

Post Sun Mar 26, 2023 11:38 pm

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

cornbinder89 wrote:Here is a better video on the widowmaker RH5 deg. You have to wade through about 6 min to get to the rim info.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuFaNv9y29c

I think that was one of the best videos I've ever seen on the topic.
Thank you.

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Sun May 14, 2023 8:16 am

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

In the past week I have de mounted 4 Goodyear KW's (split across the valve stem slot, solid side ring) a few lock ring wheels and five Firestone RH 5 deg (widowmaker, split in the middle) rim assemblies. By far the Firestone's were the worse. The Goodyears came apart easily even though they haven't been touched in likely 60 years or more, the lock rings took a bit more. The Firestones had real low mileage tires on them, but might have been mounted in the 90's. The Firestones were so rusted inside and the place the lock together so degraded it was amazing they hadn't blown apart with the 25 psi or so that was in the tires.
There is may be one out of the 5 Firestone that a braver man than I might re use, all of mine are going to Alter Scrap in Des Moines, IA.
All rims when new or with a fresh paint job inside, come apart easily and "want" to reassemble properly. Once rust builds under and behind the bead area, it can be a fight. Only the Goodyear design comes apart easily once that happens.
The various types of split lock ring wheels are the safest to handle, but with an attention to detail the Goodyear KW's aren't bad if you know what to watch for. I will not have a Firestone widowmaker, there are better alternatives.

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Sun May 14, 2023 8:35 am

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

When I used to send my rims out for "re-conditioning" the tire wholesaler would sand blast and paint the rims. They had a plant that did only that. I never sent my multi piece rims for fear they would come back with mis matched parts, or worse yet be tossed rather than re conditioned.
A wire wheel doesn't do a good job of getting down in the hard to reach places like the lock ring groove. I have a needle scaler that does an excellent job of removing rust even in the grooves. It also uses a lot less air than a sandblaster and doesn't have the mess to clean up afterwords. Mine is a Jet brand scaler and is a commercial tool not one that fits into an air chisel. Air chisels have a smaller bore and longer stroke and don't work ideal for scaling.
If I had only one trucks worth of rims, I would see if I could find a local blaster to clean them, cheaper and quicker than doing them yourself. I have 14 rims in use on my K's (7 for each) plus a storage trailer and Marmon still have lock rings in use.
If you are looking to do your own, and are willing to put in the work, I would look for a used scaler in commercial tools. My Jet has easily replaceable needles and parts are readily available on the .net for it. If I recall, I paid around $100 for it. (used)

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Wed May 17, 2023 8:54 am

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

Going through my stash of de mountable rims, looking for 6" width, I came across on 5" rim that looked like it could be cleaned and used. Rims that narrow are hard to find, they were mostly used on the 30's stuff, as most modern tires are too wide to fit right on a rim that narrow.
So If you need one, come get it. I am in western Iowa, Free but wouldn't mind getting a few Goodyear "KW" style lock rings for 5.5 or 6" rims, in exchange. These are the type where the lock ring is solid and rim has a split along the valve stem slot.
All my rims are for 20" diameter.
Also posted in the "For sale" section.

Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee

Posts: 5216

Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:28 pm

Location: Lyman, IA

Post Thu Jun 01, 2023 1:18 pm

Re: Definitive Widowmaker Wheels

I was looking for a new carrier bearing for the drive shaft on my K-7, yep, still available, so I got to playing around and punched in the number for the side ring on the old Goodyear split across the valve stem slot rims, To my surprise, Parts Depot had some! Amazing, not going to order and don't know how much they are, but I found it interesting
Parts Depot is where IHC (and I assume dealers) off load their NOS and obsolete parts. You have to have an account to buy from them direct and they only sell to big shops and dealers. Can't get an account for a small operator like me, but Inland Truck Parts has an account and I can order through them. You don't need an account to check their stock, but do to get prices. You need a part number to search as they don't list any other way.. You might be pleasantly surprised what comes up in stock. Their stock doesn't come up in a goggle search (like it does for many others) so you have to search through them.

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