Six Things You Must Know Before Purchasing "Restored" Truespoke® Wire Wheels
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
This brand new wire wheel and cap actually sell for less money than "restored" versions being sold online and at your local swap meets and other venues not connected with the Truespoke® factory.
Here at Truespoke® Wire Wheels, we have restored wheels for customers for decades. However, if you are first thinking about having wheels restored or you are considering purchasing a used set of wheels that claim to have been restored by an unknown seller, it is important that you be aware of the facts stated in this blog post.
One example is the 50-spoke Truespokekebranded wheels. Although we have restored other brands of wire wheels before, such as Daytons, Zeniths, McLeans, Borrani, Skylarks, Kelsey Hayes, and Dunlops, the scope of this article will focus on our own branded Truespoke® wire wheels.
Not all wheels are capable of restoration and should only be used for display or yard art.
It is not hard to find vendors selling “restored” Truespoke® Wire Wheels. Facebook and Instagram are chock-full of these self-proclaimed, restoration specialists. Swap meets, Craigslist and eBay often have restored Truespokes® offered for sale as well.
Keep in mind that Truespoke® has been building wheels for almost 50 years now. This being the case, it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell when any particular set of wheels was originally made or how much use the wheels have had.
Nobody, other than an original owner, can tell you how many miles were driven on used Truespoke® wheels, what types of abuse they have suffered (potholes or jumping as examples), or what weather conditions the wheels were exposed to. Some old wheels may have only a few thousand miles of use and other wheels could have over 100,000 miles or even more on them! A large portion of Truespoke® Wire Wheels in the Cragar® and Weld Racing® era were used on daily drivers, racking up thousands of miles per year.
The biggest concern with wheels slated to be restored is the rust condition. We have seen rust so bad on some wheels, that it looks like the wheels were dredged off the bottom of the ocean. Sadly, instead of placing these cream puff junk wheels in the trash dumpster where they belong, we know that there are some wheel builders who will simply polish and re-plate the parts as though they were made from fresh steel. Even using severe polishing methods to grind off the corrosion, causing the metal in the hub to be dangerously thin.
We also have seen wheels that have stud holes that have been oblonged or ruined due to loose lug nuts, over-tightening, or running the wheels without proper spacers. There are some sellers of low integrity that will palm these wheels off as high-quality restorations, when in fact, they are ticking time bombs. Corrosion, embrittlement, metal fatigue, out of round, out of balance and cracking conditions are all serious issues, that a responsible wheel builder would reject the wheels as being unfit for restoration. That often is NOT the case.
Above: This is a vintage Truespoke® hub that was brought into our workshop for restoration and we rejected it. Hubs in this condition or worse are often used by some restoration sellers by simply polishing and chrome-plating over the corroded material.
Above: This hub is not suitable for restoration. Does the consumer know for sure what condition the hubs were in before they were "restored"? Unless you like collecting antiques, these vintage hubs have no reason to be used on any vehicle that is driven.
Lack of safety testing is a serious risk
At Truespoke® Wire Wheels, we have done a lot of safety testing on our wheels to make sure they are safe for our customers. We learned from our testing how to build wire wheels better and we verified the load capacity. We also had salt-testing performed on our chrome plating to verify the durability of our chrome. On top of the independent laboratory safety testing that has been performed, we also have something money couldn’t buy, namely, nearly fifty years of building wire wheels and obtaining validation from satisfied customers that our wheels performed as they should and exceeded their expectations. This amount of feedback is crucial to have and helps us to continually improve upon our wheels.
Unfortunately, for the unaware, the restoration wheels being sold online or on the black market, to our knowledge, have not gone through any safety testing whatsoever. How well will a nearly 50-year-old wheel stand up to the demands of today’s intended use by the consumer?
Mystery Solved! Where do the parts come from that are sold as "restorations" by some vendors?
To be in the restoration trade, you must have a source for vintage Truespoke® components, especially the center hub. Truespoke® NEVER sells any of our wheel components to wheel builders to use in their ”restorations”. Any customer that has purchased our wire wheels since 1974 would not part with them if they were in good condition. Truespoke® Wire Wheels in good condition don’t need to be junked and discarded only to be later resurrected as a source for restoration sellers to feed on.
Original Truespoke® Wire Wheels hold their value and in many cases are handed down from generation to generation or from friend to friend. We would submit that the only vintage Truespoke® parts that a restoration vendor can lay their hands on are ones that the former owner had no use for or were in rusty or end-stage condition.
To be able to find parts to build the “restored” wire wheels, the builder can only obtain them from these sources:
Junked or Discarded Wheels. You have to be a scavenger to find our old wheels. There are a lot of them in scrap yards, swap meets, social media, or other sources where wheels in poor condition are basically dumped. Thousands of sets were built in the ’80s by Cragar® Wheels. As the wheels degrade and decompose, they become targets for vendors to obtain and resurrect as "restorations" even though the parts have entirely outlived their useful life.
Counterfeit Wheels. We have seen Truespoke® Wire Wheels that were represented as being restorations that were in fact imitations of poor quality, not restored, but basically, new fake rims from China. The Trueclassic® and Trueray® style wheels are widely faked by counterfeiters (a Federal Crime).
Black Market. In 2008, over 400 of our Truespoke® hubs were stolen from one of our suppliers. From time to time, customers have contacted us over a warranty issue or to purchase parts and we determined that their set was made from hubs that were part of the 2008 stolen merchandise incident. Knowingly receiving stolen property is also a crime.
Above: The backside of a vintage Truespoke® wheel hub. It is impossible to tell what year and how much usage this hub has had. It is anybody's guess.
Truespoke® Wire Wheels Built Before 2000 Did Not Use Modern Engineering and Construction Techniques.
When Truespoke® Wire Wheels were first introduced for sale in 1974, they were groundbreaking with their unique styling and methods of construction. However, after the year 2000, there were many changes made to the Truespoke® wheels with the goal of making a stronger, safer, 50-spoke, and smoother running wheel. Most of the changes were made with the guidance of the Cragar® Wheel Company and we even had the support and intelligence of the original designer and engineer of the wheels.
One example is the 50 spoke Truespoke® wheel. From 1974 to 2000, vintage hubs were constructed from three separate pieces of stamped steel that were welded together by hand, (not robots or computers), to form the hub. It was an artisan, hand-crafted part with crude-looking, welds and thin material.
Above: This is how the post-2000 Truespoke hub looks. Single-drill bolt pattern and stamped logo.
The modern Truespoke® hub is crafted from one piece of forged-cast steel. The degree of precision in the manufacturing of the modern Truespoke® hub far exceeds the early 1974-2000 hubs. The photo below shows a comparison between the crudely welded early version and the current style hub.
The pre-year 2000 Truespoke® hubs have a “uni-lug” or universal type bolt pattern. This system worked well as a matter of convenience for manufacturing purposes and also for the consumer who might want to use the same wheels on two different makes of cars. Cragar® Wheel Company had over 20 years of experience with the early style hubs and what Cragar® learned, was that some owners were not using the proper style of washers or lug nuts, which would lead to the stud holes becoming oblonged and in extreme cases, the hubs actually cracking. Vibration issues were also a concern with the uni-lug system. The vintage hubs also did not have the Truespoke® trademarked logo or serial numbers as they do now.
One of the most important changes made in the year 2000, was increasing the thickness of the steel used in our hubs. The photo below shows a comparison of the vintage hubs compared to the sturdier, modern Truespoke® hubs. CNC milling is also used on the current hubs to create perfectly angled spoke holes. The spoke heads are now counter-sunk for additional strength. A new system for attaching the spinners and center caps has been engineered to make sure that those parts do not fall off. No case can be stated to prove that a pre-year 2000 Truespoke® hub is better than the modern version from an engineering and safety standpoint.
Above: The hub on the right shows the crude-looking welding employed on the pre-2000 Truespoke® hubs. The modern hub is a precision component that looks as good as the front side.
Restoration Wheels Sold by Most Vendors Suffer From Low-Quality Polishing and Plating
New Truespoke® wheels start out with fresh steel, not rusted, brittle, or worn-out parts. Craftsman quality, jewelry-like polishing and plating are performed on all of our wheels. We don’t have to conceal cracks and flaws and try to repair cavities dug into the steel from advanced rust like the restoration vendors often have to do. To get rid of rust, high amounts of polishing are required, that lead to the wheel being extremely thin as rust and metal are polished out.
Truespoke® wheels use expensive, copper, nickel, and chrome plating. This is the finest chrome plating that money can buy. In most cases, the restoration vendors cut corners by eliminating the copper layer and also failing to remove all flaws and polishing marks. Some examples we have seen do not even deserve to be called second-quality.
Although the Truespoke® company offers restoration services, we often reject most wheels brought to us due to their poor condition. Some vendors rather than turning down business, would instead perform a restoration without stripping all of the chrome plating down to the bare steel and exposing hidden rust.
We have seen some older wheels that suffered from latent rust that had eaten completely through the metal, leaving a hole! You cannot expect to have a show-quality wheel restored out of a wheel that belonged in a dumpster. Using a terminally rusty hub to serve as a foundation for a restored wire wheel is like finding a rusted-out car frame and building your show car on top of it.
Above: Before and After photos of a rare Avanti wire wheel, restored by Truespoke®.
Above: This million-dollar Cobra rides on wire wheels restored by Truespoke®
How can you tell if the seller of “restored” Truespoke® Wire Wheels is a trustworthy vendor?
There are some reputable vendors in the world that sell quality, restored, Truespoke® Wire Wheels. We are not saying that anybody other than Truespoke® who sells restored Truespoke® brand wire wheels should be under suspicion or that the wheels they restore are inferior. However, here are some points you must be aware of if you decide to purchase any so called, "restoration Truespoke® wheels:
A) Do the wheels come with a written warranty?
B) Does the seller have pictures or any information about the condition of the wheels he is selling you before they were restored? Does the seller have even a clue as to what year the wheel was built or how many thousands of miles of use it had covered prior to being restored?
C) Has the seller ever performed any safety testing on a restored Truespoke® Wire Wheel before to determine the load rating or strength of the wheel?
D) What qualifications does the seller have to even hold themselves out as a wire wheel craftsman?
E) Did the seller actually perform the restoration themselves or are they just acting as a middle-man for somebody else? A phantom wheel builder, whose identity you will never learn.
F) Is the seller a real company or are you buying from somebody who works out of their garage or has to meet you in a parking lot or other remote location?
G) Did you receive a written receipt for your purchase or did you have to pay cash without any paper trail to protect yourself in the event of a problem?
H) Did the seller collect taxes as required by law?
I) Does the seller have liability insurance in the event there is a failure leading to injury or property damage?
J) Did the seller include licensed Truespoke® accessories such as spinners, medallions, or logos?
K) Can the seller tell you what their source was for the supposedly original parts used in the restoration? Were they obtained from a prior owner, swap meet, or even the black market?
L) Are you paying the same or more from the seller than when you would have paid for the real thing with a full warranty from Truespoke®?
M) Are you sure the wheels have even one part that was ever made by Truespoke®? How can the seller guarantee this and how can you verify it?
Above: This hub is cracking. When parts get to be nearly 50 years old and driven for thousands of miles, metal may fatigue and fail.
The restoration of a wire wheel is a serious business. Truespoke® parts being used can be nearly fifty years old and have been subjected to severe abuse including rusting, embrittlement, cracking, and out of round or out of balance conditions. There are some consumers who think that the oldest versions of our wheels are somehow better in the sense that the old wheel builders and materials used, despite severe wear and tear are better than the latest versions. Other than collecting antique wheels, putting a nearly fifty-year-old wheel on your car and hoping for a great outcome, comes with consequences and risks.
Buying expensive wheels online from total strangers without any warranty or paperwork is a risk that we don’t think people should be willing to take. This is why we tell people to accept no imitations and insist on the real thing.
If you are passionate about having your vintage Truespoke® wire wheels restored, there is nobody on the scene that has the experience and capabilities that Truespoke® has. Would you take your Ferrari to a Toyota dealer for refurbishment?
With Truespoke®, you will receive an honest opinion if your wheels are capable of being safely restored. Wheels we undertake to restore will be treated like jewelry. Most of the wheels we restore have unique qualities about them such as a different spoke count or spoke pattern, unusual offsets, or rare wheel styles.
Some of our restoration customers place high sentimental value on their wheels. We have restored wheels that were generations old, handed down from a grandfather to a grandson, or used on a famous show car or even shown on TV or in a movie. Since high-quality, restoration work often costs the same or more than new wheels, it is hard to make a money-saving argument for restoration vs. buying new wheels.
Truespoke® Wire Wheels have earned an elite reputation over nearly five decades of hard work. In this crazy world we live in, there are people that want to cash in and trade on our good name rather than creating their own unique wheels or using their own name instead of our Truespoke® name. These vendors may palm off their Truespoke® wheels even when they are not.
Some restoration sellers are able to make their wheels a very profitable enterprise because they do not have the responsibilities that a company like ours has that complies with all laws we have to face. These sellers of “restored” Truespokes®” oftentimes do not pay taxes, carry liability insurance, pay employees worker’s compensation or other benefits or comply with local, state, and Federal laws that govern manufacturers. Avoiding these responsibilities allows these vendors to make a generous profit.
Thank you for reading this article and being True to Truespoke®.
Never hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments.
- Team Truespoke®
Truespoke® since 1974 are America's favorite wire wheels.
As used by both the enthusiast and professional car builders.