Making Spokes

Posts that have nothing to do with the Model T. You can post here or OT posts will be moved here.
Forum rules
If you need help logging in, or have question about how something works, use the Support forum located here Support Forum
Complete set of Forum Rules Forum Rules

Topic author
Posts: 491
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:14 am
First Name: Henry
Last Name: Petrino
Location: Modesto, CA

Making Spokes

Post by HPetrino » Tue Jul 28, 2020 6:26 pm

I had a 1959 episode of "Tombstone Territory" on the TV. In one sequence Lee Van Cleef was making spokes for a carriage or a wagon or whatever. They were long spokes being fashioned out of a piece of wood that looked to be about 2" X 2" X 24". What was interesting was the lathe he was using. It looked like an authentic period tool from the 1880's. It was foot powered and the work was turned by a belt. It seemed to turn fast enough for him to shape it, but I imagine he couldn't take too much of a bite.

I've seen some of the films showing Ford Motor Company making Model T spokes. Dang. It must have taken a skilled lathe operator at least a half hour to make one spoke on the foot driven lathe. Ford had sped that up considerably. It's hard to imagine the industrial progress made in manufacturing things between say 1875 and 1925.

Anyhow, it was interesting.

Wayne Sheldon
Posts: 1822
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:13 pm
First Name: Wayne
Last Name: Sheldon
Location: Grass Valley Califunny, USA
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Making Spokes

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:54 am

Foot powered wood lathes were made and sold well into the mid 20th century. They also date back to the early 1800s.
Most local blacksmiths and wheelwrights needing spokes to repair a wheel during the 1800s hand carved the spokes using a draw knife. A good wheelwright using a draw knife and a tenon cutter could make a spoke for a carriage or wagon in about an hour. I have my grandfather's (and probably his dad's before him) draw knife and tenon cutter. I remember them being in the small blacksmith shop on his ranch in Modesto (which they sold when I was twelve). Wagon and carriage spokes were nearly always oval shaped. Standard common lathes can only cut round spokes.
Factory made wheels, spokes were likely cut on a cam lathe ( to make the oval shaped spokes), likely driven by overhead shafts and belts.

Wish I knew a good reason why spokes were nearly always oval?

Thanks for sharing the show segment. Been a long time since I have seen "Tombstone Territory"!

Rich Bingham
Posts: 1397
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:23 am
First Name: Rich
Last Name: Bingham
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho

Re: Making Spokes

Post by Rich Bingham » Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:17 pm

Good comments Wayne ! Draw knife or spoke shave ? I imagine both were commonly used. FWIW, “out in the Wild West”, blacksmiths who were also wheel-wrights and wagon builders relied on a lot of help from wholesale suppliers who provided generic hardware, axles, hub boxing, bolts, clips etc., and roughed out felloes and spokes in different sizes. This was not only for convenience, as most Western localities could not provide seasoned timber of suitable species for wheel repairs or construction. Hickory was always preferred (for tool handles as well). From the 1880s until the demise of horsepower at the end of WW II, as this valley was being settled, The Consolidated Wagon & Machine Co. followed the rails and ran a practical monopoly. In the late 1970s, when “urban renewal” improved the old commercial neighborhood in Idaho Falls by tearing down all the old historic buildings, friends I knew salvaged a number of interesting items that had been stored and forgotten as demand for them waned, among them were bundles of wood felloes and spokes of different sizes.

As for oval spokes, the ideal of course was an optimal strength to weight ratio, also with an aesthetic aspect, a wheel should be strong, but look “light”. Oval spokes do that best. (for Model Ts too !)
"Get a horse !"

Herb Iffrig
Posts: 781
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:47 am
First Name: Herb
Last Name: Iffrig
Location: St. Peters, MO

Re: Making Spokes

Post by Herb Iffrig » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:48 am

This link to a video on making oval spokes was on here not too long ago.
Do you have a link to the one from the TV show. I tried to find it and could not get to it.

User avatar

Mark Gregush
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:57 pm
First Name: Mark
Last Name: Gregush
Location: Portland Or
Board Member Since: 1999

Re: Making Spokes

Post by Mark Gregush » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:49 am

Herb, thanks for the video link. Cool stuff.
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

1925 Cut down pickup
1920 Dodge touring
1948 Ford F2 pickup

User avatar

perry kete
Posts: 838
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:46 am
First Name: Dennis
Last Name: Seth
Location: Jefferson Ohio

Re: Making Spokes

Post by perry kete » Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:43 pm

I would love to visit his shop he is so amazing with everything he makes, from wagons to wagon wheels. I am in ah

Thanks for posting
1922 Coupe & 1927 Touring

Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:44 am
First Name: Bob
Last Name: Shirley
Location: Atlanta Tx
MTFCA Number: 29135

Re: Making Spokes

Post by BobShirleyAtlantaTx » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:33 pm

. This works for me, but warning it gets boring very quickly. The blank is 1-5/16 X 1-13/16 X 10-1/16. It takes about ten minutes to shape the spoke. If you have questions call 90three eight24 one949.

Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:44 am
First Name: Bob
Last Name: Shirley
Location: Atlanta Tx
MTFCA Number: 29135

Re: Making Spokes

Post by BobShirleyAtlantaTx » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:44 pm

This is out of order, you must cut the angles on the blank first in order to chuck into the lathe. The little gizmo on the jig is just a fast way to locate the center on the pin end of the blank.

Post Reply Previous topicNext topic