Practical Carriage Building

Compiled by M.T. Richardson, Vol.1. 1891

Wagon Wheels

How to set the wagon wheels fig 106

I will try to describe my way of making wagon wheels, and also making wagons run well. For a two-horse wagon with a thimble skein three by ten inches, the hub ought to be of good oak, eight and one-half inches in diameter by eleven inches long. The mortises in a factory-made hub are generally about one and three-quarters inches long. I cut them out to two and a half inches by three-quarter inch. I next put all the bauds on the hub, and then fit and wedge in the boxes. I am obliged to wedge them in because I do not use a machine in my shop.

The straight-edge fig 107

I then get out the spokes. I cannot find factory-made spokes to suit me, because they are either too broad at the point or too narrow at the hub. I cut the tenons one-eighth inch wider than the mortise in the hub is long, and about one-thirty-second of an inch thicker than the mortise is wide. I finish my spokes, making them one and three-eighths inch wide at 'the point, as I am going to use one and one-half by one-half or five-eighths inch tire.

The factory and the hand-made wagon spokes fig 108

I then boil my hub in water about an hour, or until it is hot all through. Then put a block of wood in each end of the box. I have a lot of blocks turned on a mandrel, with one-inch holes in them to fit various sizes of boxes. The turning is done perfectly true, so that when the blocks are driven into the hub, the holes will be in the center. I next place the hub in the frame used for driving spokes, putting it on the one-inch rod in the frame and passing the rod through the blocks in the center of the hub, and then set my gauges so as to drive the spoke so that it will be straight in front; that is, have no dish. I saw off the tenons of my spokes so that they cannot be driven against the box by one-quarter of an inch, and then I drive them with a heavy wooden mallet.

How the wagon spokes look in the wagon hub fig 109

I next take a gauge with an inch hole on one end, slip it on the iron rod, measuring from the center of the hole, and set the marker at the other end, just half the diameter of the wheel, and mark each spoke for the sawing off, also marking back from the point of the spoke the depth of felloe to cut the tenons on the point of the spokes to receive the felloes. I then saw off and cut the tenons, taking care to cut them so that when the felloes are driven on—after being bored through in the center—the straight-edge, when laid across the wheel on the front or outside, will touch both sides of every felloe. The tenons should fit tightly in the felloes, without wedging.

How the spokes should be driven fig 110 - How to measure to get the axle square fig 111

I drive on the felloes, rubbing the saw between them to make the joint between them fit, and then put in the dowel pins and check off the face and back. I next place the gauge again on the iron rod in the center, set the marker to mark the outside of the diameter of the wheel for the tire, cut this off to the line, and square to the face of the wheel. I then have a wheel straight in front and without dish.