Spare Tire Carrier

The new wire wheels necessitate a modification to Bridget’s spare tire carrier. That’s because the Triumph hubs we’re using have a different bolt pattern than the VW—4×4.5 inches instead of 4×130 millimeters. I also had to scare-up another knock-off hub. Things got complicated.

The BCW spare carrier is rather elegant, as replica TDs go: it features tubular struts that are very similar to the original (just spaced a few inches wider). These are bridged by a piece of flat steel that has been bent to fit around the hump in Bridget’s “gas tank” (actually the engine cover). The tire mounts to the flat steel, which is hinged to the tubular strut on the right side and also pivots on its single, beefy attachment bolt. This allows the tire and its carrier to swing easily away when working on the engine. On the left it’s got a pair of Delrin sockets which catch on a pair of ball-shaped knobs. It’s secure, but easy to unlatch in a hurry, and it covers up the hump pretty well.

The spare is affixed by a pair of bolts that have been welded from the back to the flat steel. Since I’ve owned the car I don’t recall ever once loosening the lug nuts on those. I guess it’s about time.

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Here’s the carrier. The previous owner spaced the wheel out about a half inch with some plywood. I ground the welds on the bolts off and popped them out.

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Here’s the new carrier hub. One of our club members gave me this, including a good two-eared knock-off. It’s not the same as the Triumph hubs I’m using on the car, but the splines fit the wheels just fine.

Looks a little big though, huh?

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No matter! I gamely drilled a couple of new holes, passed a few bolts though, tightened the nuts on the back and had…

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a perfectly reasonable modded spare tire carrier. Cake.

Then I took a closer look.

As we know from previous posts, the wire wheels are offset a bit further out than the VW steelies. That alone would tend to make the wire spare stand off the back deck an extra inch or so.

But that’s only if I used one of the Triumph hubs, which are designed to bolt flush with the brake drum. Most British wire wheel hubs—this spare carrier included, it seems—are made to fit inside the brake drums. They bolt to the axles and…well, suffice it to say: they push the actual wire wheels out even further than the Triumph hubs.IMG_7948.JPG

See the height difference?

So that’s easy: mount it behind the carrier.IMG_7950.JPG

A bit of sawing, some drilling, a couple snips on the oversized hub, etc. and so-forth, and

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This got the wire wheel down about as snug as the steel wheel it’s replacing. I was psyched! Then I looked at this:real TD spare carrier.jpg

Oh crap. Look how tight that is. The tire is resting on the steel tubes. Mine sits off the tubes about five inches. On this blue beauty, the back of the spare tire is in front of the bumper. Mine is on top of the bumper, more behind it than in front. I could do better!

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And there’s two hours of metal cutting and bending. The plan now is to tack-weld a little, flush-mount the hub and test-fit, hoping to squeeze the tire down another inch or two so it’s flush with the engine cover-fake-gas-tank-bulge. If it works, I’ll gusset the new spare carrier, transfer the hardware and paint it up. It seems like it will be a few pounds lighter than the original too.

If it doesn’t work I’ll just put the original one back on.

This is fun, right?

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About stuntmidget

I'm a poor mechanic and general wisenheimer. I love old cars and the stories behind them, true or not.
This entry was posted in Fixes, Improvements and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Spare Tire Carrier

  1. Oh, it’s amazing how one project can snowball. It is looking good, though.

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