I have talked to several PAS members who have said they have had a lot of trouble with flat tires due to bad inner tubes. Dave Murray had quite a few flats on the way to the National meet this summer, all due to bad inner tubes. If I recall a year or two ago a member posted that they had started using a truck tube that was reinforced and had had no further problems. I can’t remember who that person was but if anyone has any good advice on inner tubes, please give us your thoughts. My 1247 uses 750-17s Thanks Doug Vogel
Six years ago I bought Bedford 700 x 19 tires and tubes from Lucas. The tires are fine but the tubes leaked at various rates. I then ordered tubes from Coker which gave much better results. One of my tires does leak slowly even now. In examining the tubes I found they all leaked at the point that the tube and the stem are joined/vulcanised together. You may have to exersize a ‘trial and error’ process to get a set that will hold. Good tubes still have a slow leak factor we don’t see in tubless tires. The average ‘good’ tire can leak a pound per week!
Just before the national meet in Temecula this year, I ordered five new Bedford 700 x 17 tires from Lucas for my 1934 8-cyl Silver Arrow, and also ordered five tubes from them at the same time. After the old tires and tubes were removed, I spent the better part of a day ‘dressing’ the interior surfaces of all five wheels, and ensuring that the rubber band around the rivets was in good condition and properly positioned. The inside of the wheels was as smooth as a baby’s bottom! I supervised the installation of the new tires and tubes at my usual local tire store, where they know I’m picky but accommodate me anyway (a tip to the tire installer works wonders). They used a proper amount of tire talc and spread it around thoroughly in the casings. I put very few miles on the new tires before driving to the meet. Itinerary both directions was through the Mojave Desert, with temps up to 110 degrees.
Had TWO flats on the return trip, one near the town of Mojave–at 110 degrees or close to it, and the other a day later south of San Jose at about 80 degrees. As originally planned, we spent the first return night in Bakersfield, where I sought out the oldest tire dealer in town and bought a 16-inch truck tube (all that was available on a Saturday) which seemed to fit the wheel better than the 700/750 x 17 tube furnished by Lucas.
We closely examined both failed tubes, orienting them to the respective wheels, and found no rough spots on the wheels that could have caused the tube failures. We determined that both tubes had developed small longitudinal splits immediately adjoining and parallel to the bonded seams–leading me to deduce that the Lucas rubber is too thin. I ended up replacing ALL the Lucas tubes with 16-inch truck tubes, which were substantially heavier then those from Lucas. I’ve since put at least 500 miles on the replacement tubes, more than half of them in 90-100-degree weather, without incident.
Accordingly, I will NOT use Lucas-furnished tubes in the future, but will stay with locally-procured 16-inch truck tubes. BTW, the Lucas tubes had NO manufacturer or country of origin marked on them, only the size. I am VERY pleased with the Bedford tires, however; even the two that suffered flats survived that trauma without damage, and they were certainly inspected thoroughly.
Like everything else, poor quality inner tubes are probably coming from China. Especially if there is no country of origin, although it is supposed to say “Made in China”. Any retailer could remove the little sticker to make it less obvious.
The last set of tubes I bought were for my 1926 Packard back in 2002. They came from Coker. No flats in perhaps 15,000 miles and they never even leak air all season long. It’s amazing. My motorcycles use Michelin inner tubes and likewise never leak air.
There has been news recently of many flat tires on modern cars caused by bad valve stems, which of course were made in China.
Lucas may not admit that they are selling Chinese inner tubes, so I think the best way to handle a situation like this is to use various forums and spread the word. We can always vote with our wallets. I don’t want to get political, but in my opinion I’d recommend that we buy NOTHING made in China, although that’s very hard to do anymore.
In the last several months we have bought six 19 inch Lucas tubes for a Model A Ford along with Denman tires, and a set of Lucas tubes along with 18 inch Denman tires for a Bentley.
I asked about the tubes prior to purchase because I like many others have had trouble. I was told the tubes were made in India and that the molds had been improved. Further, I was told the tubes were working very well. When they arrived, they were substantially thicker than the normal China tubes. They were not as thick as the Michelin tubes I have bought from Coker in the past. Problem is, the Michelin tubes are hard to get and don’t come in all sizes. Anyway, the Lucas tubes I received have molded in “Custom Classic”, the same as the proprietary Lucas tire line. So far the tubes (and tires) are holding up very well. We have only put several hundreds miles on either car since however.
One thing I do is to run 5 lbs over the recommended tire pressure. This keeps the tubes from moving around and becoming abraded.
Radial truck tire inner tube size 8/9R-19.5 works well in both 7:00×17 and 7:50×17 tires. Should be available at most tire stores.
Add to previous note: These tubes come with a metal valve stem. Black heat shrink tubing appplied to the stem makes it look like rubber.
I had problems for a long time with both our 1601 and 1247 that both use 750-17 tires. I tried tubes from Coker and Lucas with many failures after a few hundred miles. Along the way I went to a succesion of tire shops trying to find knowledge. A couple failures were valve related, but most were splits of varying size longitudinally along the tubes as George had. On the 1247 it had brand new tires and tubes installed by Frank just before I bought the car, but I don’t know what source he used for tubes.
A friend finally steered me to the right shop and the right guy.
Before driving to Williamstown we put all new tubes in the 1601 using 16 inch truck tubes as George mentioned. This was suggested by an 80+ old timer in a largely commercial tire business for 60 years…his grandkids now run the day to day. He also introduced me to these marvelous plastic flange bushings that come in different sizes to prevent vale stem cracks from stems not matching wheel holes. We’ve put on over 4,000 miles since with not a single failure.
His advice was simple and is applicable to all sizes: Always go down in size if the tube has ANY potential to acquire small folds when being installed. And always keep the pressure up to at least 40 lbs!
Use the 16″ truck tubes and the plastic flange bushings on your 1247. I’m anxious to see the results of all your efforts on the road!”
I have used 7:00×16 inner tubes for many years in the 7:00×17 tires on my ’35 prior to using the radial truck tubes I mentioned earlier. They worked fine.
When installing tubes put a liberal coating of soap stone powder or if you can’t find that talcum powder in the casing to cut down heat from friction.
Some tires have a wide bead probably because they are made with truck casings. This bead extends beyond the inner edge of the rim and in time will cut the inside of the inner tube causing failure. Check the width of the bead on your tires compared to the width of the step of the rim where the bead rests.
Thanks Guys your thoughts are just what I needed. I am going to try and post a photo of my 1933 as it looks now. Hope this works. Thanks again Doug Vogel
I agree with all said so far, but I’m gonna throw a monkey wrench in, just to be nit-picky. If you want a 100-point show car (as opposed to a driver) especially at a non-Pierce event (there is nothing mentioned about valve stems in the PAS judging manual, so they are up to judge’s discretion), you may want metal threaded valve stems, with tall nickel plated dust covers, as shown in most Pierce factory photos (’35 Silver Arrow attached – covers barely visible). I have had them on my ’33 for many years, and they can be applied to any tube, although their use is just one more thing that has to be done correctly to be reliable. I believe Coker has the correct style. My two cents. Your ’33 looks gorgeous.
Bob, Thanks for the tip . I went to the coker web site but only found short chrome valve stems. How long are the ones on your car? I had never thought about valve stems but old style would look much better. Doug
Coker lists the parts on page 40 of their catalog.
The 2.5″ covers are E-90500, the reducer nuts are F-90501.
(The stem numbers (with small diameter threaded top and larger diameter threaded bottom) are not shown.)
Another option is “faux” covers for rubber stems – their number 90902.
I have not tried them.