Tips for the Maintenance of Stag Wheels
This section was written by William Mayo and Walter Holliday,
originally appearing in Issue 38 of The Vintage Triumph magazine (currently out of print)
HTML version by Tim Buja, TKBuja@insightbb.com
Proper maintenance of the wheels has the result of making a vehicle safer, more reliable, and less expensive to own. For those Stags equipped with wire wheels (1970-1972) it is important that spline extensions and hubs be attended to properly. Failure to do so can result in spline wear (“clunking”) and, in extreme cases, loss of a wheel at speed.
Spline maintenance is easy enough, although it is somewhat messy. Mechanics tend to avoid it because it’s also rather time consuming, hence it becomes the responsibility of the owner. First, the wheel nut is removed, and if possible, the wheel itself. If the wheel will not come off, squirt some WD-40 [or similar penetrating oil] into the space between the splines and allow it to penetrate. If the wheel still refuses to part from the spline, the next step is to drive the car back and forth slowly (2-3 mph) on level ground while repeatedly applying the brakes. Having done this, jack up the car again and further attempt to remove the wheel. If neither method works, the wheel and hub are probably too perished to use anyway, and the wheel will have to be torched off. After removing the wheel, the splines should be thoroughly cleaned with solvent and a wire brush. I find that a brush the size of a toothbrush works best, particularly for the wheel. After cleaning, the splines should be coated lightly with PBC (Poly Butyl Cuprasyl, a copper-based lubricant) and reassembled. Do not use other types of grease as they still allow rust and corrosion [and can spatter the surface of the wheel with an oily film - TVT Ed.] . Replace the wheel and tighten the nut. Retighten after driving 50 miles. This procedure should be performed twice a year.
While on the subject of wire wheels, I should also mention that for a wire wheel to be really safe and serviceable, all of the spokes should be intact and tight. Two spokes broken of the wheel’s seventy-two does not mean that the wheel is 70/72 OK. If any spokes are broken, get them replaced and have the wheel trued. A rough test can be made by “plinking” the spokes with your finger or a wrench and listening to the response. All of the spokes should have approximately the same sound. A dead sounding spoke means that truing is called for.
Regarding alloy wheels, the situation is much simpler. All lugs should be lightly coated with PBC and hand-tightened with a 6-point socket and torque wrench. As the lug nuts are of aluminum alloy (and expensive) air wrenches should not be used. On a final note, if your car must ever be towed on its front wheels (and has wire wheels) the wheels will have to be tightened every few miles as counter-rotation will cause the nuts to loosen. If possible, it is always best to flat-bed or trailer the car.