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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Wire wheels


Thoughts on using wire wheels please?

I know they are hassle, not as strong as steel or alloy wheels, difficult to keep clean and to find someone to fit tyres on.

But I have found a correct MkIIa Sprite axle for 1/4 eliptic springs and some 5inch wide rims, so would be great on my 61 MkII car currently on steel rims- all I need now would be Formula Junior engine and ali bodyparts to be a works Sebring MkII! And front hubs

I know if I was replying I would say - 'why bother?'

M Wood


Yes tyre fitting and particularly balancing can be an issue as my neighbour found with his Morgan with wire wheels. The local tyre place didn't realise that they needed special adapters to do a correct balance and initially he ended up with large amounts of balance weights which weren't needed. His local Morgan club had invested in a set of balance cone adapters which can be borrowed by members to take to tyre fitters so that the wheels are correctly located on the balancing machine. He has measured them and I believe he has done drawings so if you have a lathe or access to one you could make some.
David Billington


Thanks for the info. Is the kit you mention similar to:

Best wishes
M Wood


Yes that's the kit or very similar and it holds the wheel hub as intended on the precision locating surfaces. Previously my neighbour took his wheels in and the tyre fitter located the wheels as per moderns on the inner flange and outer centre which is incorrect as they're not accurate and resulted in a bad balance. When he went back with the correct adapters the tyre fitter was happy to learn something new and rebalanced the wheels with the correct adapters free of charge.
David Billington

Most important thing to remember about wire wheels - painted not chrome!
John Payne

According to the book you have jack the wheel up before tightening, then each time you have the wheel off you need to clean and re-grease wheel and hub, at least once a year you have to do this anyway, so at least four more times of messing about with clean and dirty grease each year. That alone would put me off without the other negatives.

I just don't see the point of them on a road car - plus IMO the steel wheels with chrome hub caps are the best looking on a Spridget and with a Sprite you have the bling of the AH painted red.

I believe it's the law that wire wheels must be chrome and shiny if you have the car out on a Sunday, so bear that in mind.
Nigel Atkins

I can't remember, are there any driving or handling benefits to wires on a road car?
Nigel Atkins

<<According to the book you have jack the wheel up before tightening, then each time you have the wheel off you need to clean and re-grease wheel and hub, at least once a year you have to do this anyway, so at least four more times of messing about with clean and dirty grease each year. That alone would put me off without the other negatives. >>

Not being one to question the wisdom of "the book" I thought that I'd add the following:

I have been running wires for the best part of 30 years. If you are going to tighten the spinners then the chances are that you'd have the car jacked-up anyway. Secondly I only ever clean and re-grease the wheel and hub when it looks as though it's needed - perhaps a handful of times in 30 years.

Chrome I'm told is a pain in the neck, so I would re-iterate John's comment and only use painted.

I've not had any bother getting tyres fitted and balanced. I have used a several tyre shops in my area (North Hampshire) and they've all been able to do this.

If you like the look of them - fit them!
Simon Wood

Its personal taste. In the late 70's I ran a round arch Midget as the daily driver and commuted 30 miles a day come rain /shine ice and salt. It had painted wires which I personally looked quite smart. It had the rounded hub nuts not the 'ears'. I certainly did not grease the hubs every year (the car got washed at fairly infrequent intervals and the wires even less!) I did not consider them a problem. I personally would not fit them to the Frog as I like the steel wheels.
Bob Beaumont

I have them on mine because it's how it left the factory...but I like them. Horses for courses and all that...just don't think about how the spokes are flexing when you corner. That's why chromed plating is a problem..the plating is too hard and tends to flake off. Didn't know it was law though, Nigel ;-)
David Cox

Mike - the Healey-prepared Mk IIs that raced at Sebring used the standard axle - the bodywork was 'eased' outwards and the inner wings altered when the alloy rear wings were added (as can be seen on JW-B's 9253 WD).

However the quarter-elliptic wire-wheel axle - fabled beast that is - makes everything much easier. Whether there is enough space for the later (Special Tuning) 5" wires on a SWA I'm not sure - it would depend on their offset.

Sebring front (and rear) hubs, spinners etc. are available, superbly reproduced, from Orson Equipment: - (they also supply the usual suspects, I believe).

But to say wire wheels are "not as strong as steel or alloy wheels" is just not true. Alloy wheels can buckle or shatter in response to a pothole where a wire wheel can flex and survive.

The weight of the axle hangs from the upper spokes of a wire wheel - like the roadway of a suspension bridge - more than it is supported by the lower spokes. The wire wheel is more sophisticated than its pushbike origins might imply.

And as for strength - the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Heures du Mans and the four days and nights (non-stop) of the Liege-Rome-Liege speak for themselves.
Tom Coulthard

I'm glad you don't question the wisdom of the book - yet you did :)

I know the advice can sometimes be towards the very careful and I did wonder about the jacking up bit but when replacing the wheels after a number of miles I check the wheel nuts for tightness, without the need to jack the wheel up, do you never need to check the spinners?

I understand it's double the fine if the car isn't Tartan Red.
Nigel Atkins

You can fit and balance your own if you buy a tyrechanger for about 35 and a bubble balancer for about 40. I use wires mainly because thats what the car came with and I also have nuts rather than spinners. As for lubrication I tend to use copper grease.

T Mason

Nigel, I never check the spinners. Never had one come loose. Never check wheel nuts on my other cars either for the same reason.
Simon Wood

This thread was discussed between 06/09/2018 and 09/09/2018

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