Project Super C, Front Wheels Part 1: Rusty Rims

This is the seventh post in our ongoing series on Project Super C. We are chronicling the rehabilitation of our 1954 Farmall Super C tractor, which has taken up residence outside of the Farmers Business Network office. If you are new to this series, please start with the introduction to the project in our first post.

In our last post, we repaired and tested the shifter mechanism, but this time we’re going to get to work on the front wheels. We replaced the front tires several months ago because they were completely ruined (see below left), but the front rims are rusted through (see below right) and will also need to be replaced. We have also noticed lubricant leaking from the central hubs that the wheels ride on, so we’ll disassemble them and overhaul their internals as needed. In contrast to some of our previous projects, this seems like it should be pretty easy (famous last words)!   

ruined-front-tire rust-closeup

Our first step was to remove the rims from the wheels. There are three clamps that hold on each rim, with one bolt securing each clamp:
annotated-partsWe planned to loosen the bolts with the wheels still on the ground. After a good soaking with penetrating oil, the first bolt turned fairly easily. Unfortunately the next bolt was rusted in place, and its head sheared off when we tried to rotate it. The same was true for most of the remaining bolts:

sheared-bolt-on-rim-croppedAt this point, we had loosened a couple bolts and sheared the heads off the rest, leaving them firmly stuck in the wheels. It is probably time for us to admit that despite our persistent optimism, nothing is going to come easy with this tractor!

To make any more progress, we next had to get the wheels off. We jacked up the front of the tractor and set it down on wooden cribbing.   

front-on-jacks front-on-cribbing-left-wheel-removed

Removing the hubcaps to unscrew the nuts that hold the wheels onto the front axles immediately revealed why lubricant had leaked out. There should be a gasket between the hubcap and wheel to ensure a good seal, but the gasket was missing on both front wheels:

front-left-hubcap-removed-croppedWe next pulled the wheels off of the axles, removed the bolts that still their heads, and removed all of the clamps (the ones held in by headless bolts came free with some hammering), thus allowing the rims and tires to be detached from the wheels. Even the intact bolts were badly rusted and deformed:

rusted-boltsWe tried to remove the decapitated bolts from the wheels by employing lots of penetrating oil and hammering, but it did nothing to dislodge the stuck bolts. We ultimately had to use a press to get them out:  

front-wheel-bolt-pressWith the tires off the old rims, you can see just how rusted out and structurally unsound they really were:

rusted-rims-removedWe definitely wouldn’t want to drive on those!

Finally, we needed to prep some used rims that we had acquired by grinding off some surface rust and painting them to match the old ones. We then put the tires on the rim by hand using tire spoons and feet.

alex-cleaning-rim-1 painting-rims-1
painted-rims tire-and-spoons-2

In the next episode of Project Super C, we'll turn our attention to the wheels and hubs.

green line

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