Wire wheel questions

Wire wheel “tuning” seems to be a dark art and very little information seems to be out there.
I have established that my “new” MWS chrome wires are causing massive vibration problem. I fitted a set of very old “scrap” wires meant for moving my project car around and on a quick round the block test the vibration had virtually disappeared. These old wires had a couple of broken spokes I discovered later but were still 100% better than lovely chrome set.
I have tested the spoke tension on both sets and the old wheels have a “ting” on each spoke apart from the broken ones. (which may have caused the breakage). The new chromes do not “ting” bit more of a dull sound. All the adjusters are free to move and I have tightened spokes to try and get a “ting” but so far no joy. Should they all ting with enough tension (they are not touching each other). I have tried using a centre punch and I get a better ring off the spokes.
Has anyone re spoked their wheels successfully?
I have a dial guage so can check for run out and ovality by mounting on the front wheel bearing with brakes retracted. After tuning the spokes I have measured across the hub and it is central however I cannot easily measure the offset. Using a dial indicator on the wheel rim I have less than 0.5mm of runout.
The advice from MWS is that it is not economic to have the wheels re set so buy a new set. I realise it is time consuming and therefor expensive but I am trying to avoid trashing a lovely looking set of wheels.
I am cognisant of the safety issue but I drive on slow roads not motorways.
For reference I have a full new set of wires in the boxes and they have tighter spokes as they “ting” but the tings are not all the same pitch?? I have not used these on my road car as they are green and the car is Maroon… but it may be my only option.
As for balancing at TYRE DEPOTS - forget it. I supplied the adapter kit but still have massive weights around the chrome wires so have dropped that idea until I have the spokes tuned.

Hello Steve,

I’m running MWS wheels on our MK2 and Dayton wheels on our E-Type. I’ve had Hendrix Wire Wheel in North Carolina, USA true, mount and balance both sets. As part of their mounting / balancing service, they also shave each tire after its mounted to ensure that they are in fact round. They also tag each wheel referencing which corner the wheel should be installed. I don’t know if rotational direction was considered (or not) during balancing but I did notice that the wheels with the least amount of balance weight were specified for the front axle installation and the highest weighted wheel went in the boot to serve as the spare and the other two were installed on the rear axle.

This service transformed both car’s NVH performance. I have zero vibration at any speed. You may want to visit Hendrix’s web site to learn more about their process. Perhaps a tire or two has too much circumferential run-out?

Good luck tracking this down.


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I echo Hendrick Wire Wheels in Greensboro, NC as “the” experts on wire wheels. They have “trued” the wires on my MK2, XK140, and several E-Types for the past 15 years! The difference in smoothness is/was dramatic! Highly recommended as a honest knowlegeable company!



Having a motorcycle wire wheel shop could be a possible option (?) At least the principle is the same and it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

By your use of “motorways” and “tyre” I presume you are not in the US.
Your thought of matching “ting” is correct for identifying loose spokes.
There are many videos on youtube about balancing wire wheels.
Motorcycle shops do it.
I have done it by putting the wheel without tire on a front hub without brakes and the center bearing nut loosened a turn or so. The wheel will turn very easily, and you can identify eccentricity.
Then set up an accurate measuring device on a firm stand, so you can measure concentricity and side runout.
Loosen all spokes one turn.
Then start at the place farthest out from round and turning them in gradually.
Yes it takes a long time. That’s why the shops charge what they do.

I am in Ireland I think there is a flag by my name.
I have been to a “family business” tyre depot who specialise in motorcycles and I got the usual service from a lad who knows better than me. He used the adapter but stuck double rows of weights on the wheels!! I have removed them.
I have spoken to motorcycle specialists who say we are ony set up for bikes not cars.
I have been in touch with wire specialists in UK including the wheel supplier who advise they need the wheels to assess what can be done and that is expensive shipping 2 ways. They advised I could not true a wheel with a dial meter and calipers etc. I have never heard of any tyre shop shaving the tyres to ensure perfect set up! Mostly they are there to throw tyres on wheels and take the money - in my exprience. I got a refund from one outfit in UK who used a tyre lever on my XJ V8 wheels with stainless trims and bent them to hell and calmly gave the car back to me and expected payment. I fortunately saw the guy do the damage but he was not going to admit to it.
I want to learn how to lace and set up spokes but there is a lack of Youtube items on this subject. I found a couple of TV items but they do not instruct only show it briefly being done.
Yesterday I tuned the spokes as best I could (all in tune) and measured the runout and hub distance then fitted one chrome wheel at a time and removed one old scrap wire wheel and test drove it. As I added chrome wheels the vibration got worse. I have three on at the moment.
I will have to remove the tyres again but each time a get a shop to do this I risk them damaging the rims. I have considered fitting my virign rims on the car but they are powder coated and if damaged and still do not balance I am screwed.
I will continue to look for someone here in Ireland that has the ability and desire to do the job correctly.
I will be looking at the front hub as suggested and get it to be freely spinning but I am not convinced I am going to get them good enough going by yesterdays results. Something weired is going on with these wheels. (MWS -Made in India). The tyres are brand new Mitchelins recommended for classic Jaguars.

Isn’t that the line of most shops, “You can’t do anything, bring it to us, we’re the only shop in the world that can do it.”
I look on that as a challenge.

Do a wheel first. The knock-off nut should be on when you do this. Go around tweaking spokes until you get it true. Then check the balance. The heavy spot will swing to the bottom. You may have to add a small weight here.

Then put the tire on. Check the balance again. If you need more weights, it’s because the tire is not perfect.

While in Los Angeles some 30 years ago, a friend had me accompany him to the Borrani wire wheel expert there. I was told he was one of the best in the country, and many people sent him wheels to replace and true from all over the country.
I was expecting a very high end facility, but when I got there is was a very antiquated, run down old gas station.
There was a folding fixture machine in the middle of one of the service bays ( there were only 2) and a single naked light build hanging over the machine.
I met a rather elderly gentleman who was in the process of truing a wheel, and the only tool he was using was a spoke wrench.
No special tools at all! Just him tightening and tapping on the spokes. It was amazing…
I hope these skills have not been lost.

Venice California, I’m guessing.

Steve I went through the same exact journey (I am in Bray). There is nobody in Ireland who can do this. I improved mine using the attached set of instructions from 1987. I couldn’t find the original document anymore so scanned the print out I have.

Took a lot of patience and is a bit of a head wrecker - the article says as much.

I did later on buy new wheels from MWS and they are running fine. I had then balanced by a shop who’s owner I knew and using a set of balancing rings I borrowed. There are lumps of balancing lead. These are I think inevitable. A wheel can be true but once the tyre is on, not balanced.

I tracked down a couple of engineering bulletin from Jaguar. 1.6mm is the manuracturing tolerance for runout and lift.

Sometimes two heads are better than one. If you are not that far away we could meet one place or other and try figuring it out ?


Truing Wire Wheels SIA #101 page220240402_11240832.pdf (285.1 KB)
Truing Wire Wheels SIA #101 page320240402_11251178.pdf (292.2 KB)
Truing Wire Wheels SIA #10120240402_11223320.pdf (282.6 KB)

wheel run out.pdf (110.8 KB)

Thank you Dave for going to this trouble. I am glad in a way that I was not missing something as regards finding a decent shop that can do the job. I do know you exist up there in Dublin and I am way down in Bantry sadly.
I have printed off your docs and will read them later as it is not raining today so I am catching up on outside stuff which has been delayed for best part of 6 months (an Irish problem).
I have bought a set of proper spoke adjusters although a 6mm spanner does work. MWS wheels are sealed so that you do not need inner tubes but supposedly if you adjust the spokes you have to reseal the wheels - which is daft, however I have been fiddling with mine and tyres have not deflated so who knows.
Hope we can get together at some point and talk shop.

Thanls again.

James Wilson @ Borrani Wire Wheel Service, 328 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA
Thorshisper, your recollection is spot on, he was “the guy” back then.
Sadly, James closed up shop several years ago, and his shop is long gone.

If I needed service now, I’d go to Valley Wire Wheel Service in Van Nuys.

Yes, I do believe that was his name!
I hope someone else picked up the torch.