As I write this, it’s the day after we hosted Thanksgiving for 30 people and it’s 15 degrees out. Any thought of today being the day that I drive the Lama has vanished along with reasonable temperatures, my energy level, and my waistline. So, instead, I’m going to address something I’d brushed over in an earlier column.
A few months back, I mentioned that I’d installed 14″ E30 basketweave wheels on Bertha. Like the earlier E30 bottlecap wheels, these are a flawless fit on a 2002. However, if you mount E30 ‘weaves on a tii, you will be surprised by an odd issue: The wheels fit fine, and the center caps twist-lock in place on the rear wheels without issue, but on the front wheels, the center caps don’t fit over the dust caps on a tii’s hubs. On a standard 2002, it’s fine, but a tii has a different front hub with a larger dust cap that’s simply too big for the inside circumference of the basketweave’s center cap to fit around. I’d first encountered this issue when I put basketweaves on Kugel, my Chamonix ’72 tii, but had forgotten all about it. Bertha is not a tii, but she wears tii front struts, and thus when I went to mount the center caps on the ‘weaves, I had a surprise that took me a little while to recognize.
So what do you do? Fortunately, the remedy is simple. You buy a set of aftermarket trailer dust caps that, instead of being cylindrical in shape, have a beveled outer edge. The diameter of the hub that the dust cap is pressed into is 47mm. If you search online for “47mm trailer dust cap,” you’ll find the beveled ones. They’re made by a company named Avonride and have a large raised “A” in the center. For reasons that are unclear to me, they are readily available in England, but not in the United States. You can usually find them on British eBay, or on any number of British trailer supply sites. Even with international shipping, they’re cheap. I got mine from www.tauntontrailers.co.uk. Shipped, the pair was under twenty bucks.
When they arrive, if you pry the old dust caps out of the hubs and bang these in, you might not immediately notice that there’s still a problem. While the caps do have the beveled outer edge, they don’t seat correctly in the hub bore. This makes the ends of the caps stick out too far.
The effect of this is that, when you put the wheel on and try to install the center cap, it’ll hit the dust cap and won’t securely lock down. You can twist-lock the cap onto the wheel and force it, but the twist-lock tabs are plastic, fragile even under the best of conditions, and the center cap is almost sure to fall off.
If you compare the original dust cap with the Avonride, you can see that the Avonride is about the same overall height as the original cap, but too much of that height is below the seating lip.
So you need to cut some metal off the bottom of the new dust caps. Using the tool of your choice, be it a hacksaw, Sawzall, Dremel tool with a cutting wheel, or a belt sander, you need to take off approximately half of the portion below the seating lip so the seating height of the Avonride cap is about the same as the original cap.
It doesn’t need to be millimeter-exact; you just want the end product to be a beveled cap that has approximately the same height to the seating lip as the original cap.
Bang it into the hub’s bore, test-fit the wheel and its center cap, and you’re good.
Would that all problems with cars (and in life) were so easily solvable. —Rob Siegel
Rob’s new book, Just Needs a Recharge: The Hack MechanicTM Guide to Vintage Air Conditioning, is available here on Amazon. His previous book Ran When Parked is available here. Or you can order personally inscribed copies of all of his books through Rob’s website: www.robsiegel.com.