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How To Get Wide Whitewalls On A Budget

October 2001 - When I got the Benroy teardrop, it had old rusty chrome spoke wheels and dry 600x14 truck tires on it. Definitely not safe for the long haul. I wanted something more appropriate but didn't want to go crazy spending a ton of money. My original plan was to use matching wheels from the PT Cruiser but they wouldn't work without adapters and the fenders aren't big enough.

Since the trailer uses a standard Ford/Mopar 5 on 4 1/2" bolt pattern, I looked to see what kind of wheels I would need in order to be able to use baby moon hub caps. They don't make caps small enough to fit a Mopar wheel so I had to go with a Ford. I scrounged around in the junk yard and found a matching pair of 14 x 5 1/2" steel wheels in decent shape from a Granada. I cleaned them up and repainted them gloss black.

The trim rings came from Bob Drake Reproductions in Oregon. They are very well made and really make a difference, they have many sizes available and a couple styles. I went with the earlier ribbed style. The new baby moon hub caps came from Ebay.

I wanted wide whitewall tires but didn't want to spend a lot of money to buy reproduction ones so I employed an old street rodder trick and got regular P195-75R14 steel radials from Discount Tire and had the whitewalls "buffed". This is an interesting process that I'm not sure many tire shops do anymore. Basically what they do is shave the black part of the tire away to expose the white inner layer. They tell me it can be done on almost any tire except Michelins. The first picture at right shows the tire before having the whitewalls cut and the second and third are the same tire after. The process does not harm the integrity of the tire if it is done right.

You might have to touch up the whitewalls afterward with some whitewall paint. Mine came out pretty good. They were done at Welch's Tire in San Diego (3724 Main St., 619-234-1271). If you're doing new tires, don't have them mounted as the process is done to the tire off the rim. They sell new tires there as well. The whitewall buffing will void your tire warranty but for the low total price it doesn't matter to me. The wheels cost $12.95 each and tires at $22.50 each plus mounting and balancing. The whitewall buffing was $14.00 per tire. Trim Rings were $22.50 each and the hubcaps cost less than $10.00 each. In the end, a fully dressed wheel and tire cost under $100.00. Not a bad deal for a vintage look while having a modern radial. The same size wide whitewall tire alone from Coker Tire costs $135.00 each.

I've had a lot of questions about whitewall buffing since I first posted this information. Seems to be a service that is hard to find across the country. I will probably be visiting Welch's again to get some tires done for the 1947 Ken-Skill and I'll see if I can get some pictures of the machine and more information on how it works.

I believe this is the type of machine used:
Whitewaller Machine Whitewaller Machine

Before Whitewall Buffing
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After Whitewall Buffing
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