How to mount a tire
by Dave Toppin - 5-06

In this article I will try to attempt to describe how to mount a solid rubber tire on a high wheel bicycle or hard tired safety using  a Wiedman type tiring device, a practice in use since probably the 1970’s by various people with excellent results.  Actual mounting takes time and practice, and things happen that can be frustrating, not to mention dangerous!  Remember, persistence is the only talent. As with everything this carries some risk and antique bicycles can be dangerous in their own right, there is the danger of you losing the tire with potential bodily harm or death, proceed at your own risk.  The author assumes no risk or liability for any attempts anyone may make to mount a tire, you use this information at your own risk.  That being said, I have never lost a tire using this procedure, but your mileage may vary! 

OK,  let’s get started.  Here is the layout of most of the tools I use. Silicone Spray,  MAPP gas torch, silver solder, flux,  vice grips, craftsman all purpose cutters, side cutters, short lengths of tire rubber so I can easily determine the correct tire size, and finally a ratchet to crank the wire tight.

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Here’s the silver solder and flux I use, got it at a welding supply place. 

You will also have to have your tire and wire ready, you need to order diameter of wheel x 3.15 plus 2 feet , and I use 12 gauge galvanized wire, which you can get at most hardware stores.  You can order the tire from Ray Rittenhouse in IN, you might want to give yourself a few weeks lead time so you can make sure you have your tire the day of your project!

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Here’s the Wiedman tire machine, made by my dad about 20 years ago.  Notice the set screws at the bottom of the machine, these are what pinches the wire when you get it tight, you need to make sure that the screw has a good hold on the wire.  I generally give the wire a few cranks on one side and then tighten up the corresponding screw to secure one side of the wire for the rest of the process, working the rest of the process from the other side.  Which reminds me, make sure you do your tiring in an area where you can spin the wheel around in case you need to work on it from the other side.  

Here’s the wire I use.  I know some people use larger diameter, but so many people have used this for so many years, without problems, I don’t see a need for something more exotic and expensive.  Plus the thicker wire would be much harder to push through.

Here’s the wire beginning to go into the tire.  I liberally spray silicone into the hole before I start the wire, and it helps to round off the end of the wire with a file before sticking it in the hole.  I generally put the tire in a vise and straighten it out as much as possible to make the wire  go through as easily as possible.  One you have it sticking out the other end of the tire about 12”,  cut off the other end and leave about a foot on that side too.  


The patient here is a later (1890 or so) 53”, yes, 53” Victor Light Roadster.  I chose 7/8 tire, but with this bike, you could use ¾.  The Victors were kind of in between .  I feel 7/8 offers the rim more protection in this case I also cleaned the rims VERY well and cut down the spokes that were sticking out with a die grinder.  Old Victor tires are an incredible pain to get off. Contact me if you want some tips on that one.

 Lets get the tire on the rim, you need to wrap the tire around the rim and cut the tire 2” longer for every 10” of wheel diameter, so a 50” wheel would need an extra 10” .  I usually cut it maybe an inch longer so I have room to square the ends of the rubber on the side of a grinding wheel so the joint looks good.  This is not absolutely necessary, but it makes a cleaner looking joint.  I can get the cuts pretty good with the Craftsman cutters, so I can get away without the grinding if necessary.  

Here’s the tire machine mounted on the wheel, ready to start tightening.  Notice the tie wraps I use to keep the tire from getting away.  If you use them, don’t make them too tight or it won’t let the tire move when it needs to.  Put the wires through the pulling bolts, tighten up the set screws, but not too tight, you want the wire to be able to move.  Start cranking on one side, go three or four revolutions, and tighten the corresponding set screw  (the one on the other side!)  to bind the wire.  Start cranking the other side making sure the tire stays on the rim.  It’s easy to crank and find out the tire is now too small for the rim, and you have to back it off.  When you get it tight, very tight, crank down the other set screw and get ready to cut the wire.

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Here’s the wire tight and ready to cut solder.  Notice one side is broken, I cranked too much here, good think I had the set screw pretty tight.  By the way, I use the vise grips to stiffen the fingers of the machine.  It makes it easier to crank the set screws down tight, with much less chance of wire slippage and disaster.


The wire is now cut; I pull the excess wire away so I have more room to work.  This was cut with a pair of side cutters or dikes, but I’ve used hacksaw blades in a straight holder many times too.  Side cutters are easier if you have a pair that fits.  Take a small bladed screw driver and push the wires together and make them lie side by side. Clean the wire ends with emery cloth, sand paper, wire brush (Dremel will work nice here), apply flux and braze with silver solder and MAPP gas (my preference) you could use oxy acetelyne and a small tip also.  

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Here is the finished product.  I clean the silversolder joint with a spray bottle and water and then remove the machine.  The joint should start to close on its own, if it doesn’t,  give it a little help by pushing it into each other.  Put your bike back together and enjoy your new tires!

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