Questions About Your Imperial's Wheel Rims


Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Wheels & Tires  -> Rims

Question from Norm (1955):

I'm interested in what width rim will fir on my '55 Imperial, can anyone confirm or deny that 7" will fit? I have an opportunity for some nice wires but I'd like to know for sure before buying.

Reply from Russell:

There is more to consider than just the width of the wheel. You have to also consider the offset of the wheel. Considering the same tire diameter, or height, the more offset the wheel has the closer to the fender the outside of the tire will be in a turn. However, the less the offset, the closer to the frame and fender apron the tire will be. Then there is the leverage against the suspension springs. The more offset, the more weight equivalent there is to the springs. This causes the vehicle to sit a little lower than before and will need to have the front end realigned to compensate.

Then there is the tire pressure. Considering the same size tire on a wider wheel, you will need to run a little higher pressure to keep the tires from wearing on the edges, as with lower pressure with wider tires on standard wheels to keep them from wearing down the middle of the tread. I think the wires would look good on there but there is a little more to consider first. Just do a little more research with someone who knows tire/wheel specs.

Question from Allan (1964):

I have a '64 Imperial. I recently had a set of 4 235x75x15 WSW radials installed. One of the tires that I replaced had an inner tube! The tire shop told me that the three other rims seem to be of the tubeless type. They based this on the fact that these tires all held air without inner tubes. To make a long story short, the forth rim is either bent or cracked. The tire will not hold air for more than three days. My questions are as follows: are these indeed tubeless rims? Is there a modern replacement for this rim? I am thinking of truck rims? If this is not feasible, who can I turn to for an original?


From Tony:

Are you sure the problem is at the rim? Have you dipped the wheel and tyre in a bath to see where the air is leaking?

There is a tendancy for these old wheels to leak from the joints where the the two halves were pressed together. I know because I have just dealt with the same problem. There is no need to replace the wheel unless it is bent. A good welder can weld the joints where they leak for a few dollars.To maintain good balance it is best to have the entire joint welded all round the wheel.

From Richard:

I had the same problem with one of the rims on my '66. From what I've been told the radials flex more then bais tires which cause stress on the rims because of the weight of the car. This can cause a hair line crack, and it will not hole air very long. The solution is to just replace the rim.

From George:

Had the same problem with my '64. Imperial. All the rims/tires were tubeless. One tire would not hold air for more than a couple days. When I purchased new tires the shop used a wire wheel on the bead area of the rim where the tire seals. They then took a wax like substance, which they had in a 5 gallon bucket and applied it to the newly cleaned bead area.

From Paul:

Bob at Imperial Heaven can supply you with a replacement rim. They are tubeless.

Just for the record, I have never had an original Imperial rim crack due to stress from radial tires. I have had leaky tires due to a poor seal around the mounting bead. I also had a rim that had rusted due to someone (I think it was me) using "FIX A FLAT". That stuff will destroy the inside of the rim if left in too long. If you have to use it, have the tire fixed or replaced right away.

The inner tube was installed because it was determined that it was necessary by a previous owner. They apparently already had gone through everything that you would go through to solve this problem. Most likely, you will have to also install a tube, or replace the rim. The best option is to replace the rim.

From Bill:

I have had several rims develop the hairline cracks Tony speaks of. I live in Washington, and tried to have someone weld the seam as the rim itself was fine, but I was repeatedly told that this was illegal in WA state. Illegal in most states, except, oddly enough, California. I have since bought extra rims for the future, and learned long ago not to throw out the leaking rim. I do know an older gentleman who re-did my rear springs, and I mentioned it to him. He told me about the law, and then said to drop the rim off, and he would see what he could do. I plan on buying the Chrysler Wire rim knockoffs from Coker in the future for my Crown Convertible, but for now get another rim. One problem with used rims is that most have a good amount of surface rust on them by this time, and unless you have another car to drive, which I don't, you don't have the luxury to take the car to a wheel place like Foster's here in Seattle to have them redone, and made to look like new. Also, if you have a good rim, and you have it blasted to get rid of the rust, you run the risk of creating a crack in the seam. I still plan on having my rims redone at Foster's, but would be without the car for a week, and Foster's said I would have to drop the rims off, they can't keep the car, which creates another problem.

The joys of owning an old car, and a rare car too, such as Imperial is much like coming from a dysfunctional home, you learn how to live your life crisis to crisis, always on the edge, never knowing what to expect next, or when. Owning a relatively new car with few problems, and ample parts, and resources takes that edge away, and can seem boring in comparison. This is assuming you drive your Imperial daily, and don't have a trailer queen condition car. Ok, so maybe I should not write analogies for a living!

When the trials & tribulations of upkeep on your classic outweigh the pleasure of even driving your Imperial to the store, maybe it is time to get a Minivan. So far, that has not been the case with my '66.

This page last updated October 12, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club