This page outlines some basics about early V8 Ford wheels and brake drums, and the compatibility of early Ford welded wire spoke wheels and later V8 hydraulic brake drums.
Ford produced welded wire spoke wheels at their Hamilton, Ohio plant during the Model T, A, B and early V8 era. The inside of the rim is typically stamped "Ham"
Kelsey-Hayes also was a production supplier of welded wire spoke wheels to Ford and many are stamped "K-H" on the hub center stamping.
Adjustable (not welded) bent spoke wire wheels are aftermarket, not original Ford. Many adjustable spoke wheels were made by Kelsey-Hayes with a similar appearance to the stock wheel.
Many of these adjustable spoke wheels have 40 spokes compared to a stock welded wheel which had 32 spokes. They typically have the original appearance hub centers and the stock hub cap will fit them.
1932 used 18 inch welded wire spoke wheels with five mounting holes on a 5-1/2 inch bolt circle.
1933-34 used 17 inch welded wire spoke wheels with five mounting holes on a 5-1/2 inch bolt circle.
1935 used 16 inch welded wire spoke wheels with five mounting holes on a 5-1/2 inch bolt circle.
For reference, 1936-39 used 16 inch welded steel wheels with five mounting holes on a 10-1/4 inch bolt circle. This is often called a 'wide five' wheel.
All 1932-35 Ford wire spoke wheels matched a cast support and locator tab on the brake drum casting, just radially inboard of the lug stud. This is important for wheel location and support on the original drums.
1931 cast drums are 11 inch cast with a single rib on the outside diameter. They have five 1/2-20 studs on a 5-1/2 inch bolt circle.
1932-34 drums are similar to 1931, but are 12 inch cast with a single rib on the outside diameter. They have five 1/2-20 studs on a 5-1/2 inch bolt circle.
1935 drums are 12 inch cast and had multiple grooves on the outer diameter and a wider shoe surface than the 1932-34 drum. They also have five 1/2-20 studs on a 5-1/2 inch bolt circle.
1936 drums are 12 inch and had multiple grooves on the outer diameter and also had wider shoe surfaces the same as the 1935 drum. They have five 1/2-20 studs on a 10-1/4 inch bolt circle.
1937-39 drums are 12 inch and had even wider shoe surfaces than the 1935-36 drums. They have five 1/2-20 studs on a 10-1/4 inch bolt circle and are the only drums which can directly interchange between mechanical and hydraulic brakes on 1937-39.
1940-41 drums are 12 inch diameter with the five 1/2-20 studs on 5-1/2 inch bolt circle and had the hub mounted inside the drum. The drum is usually a full steel stamping with cast iron 'bonded' inside where the shoes contact. Many replacements were solid cast iron with no steel component.
1946-48 used 12 inch drums with the five 1/2-20 studs on 5-1/2 inch bolt circle and had the hub mounted outside the drum. The drum is usually a steel plate with the cast iron shoe surface cast to the center plate as shown in the pic.
The following pic shows the detail of the 1946-48 brake drum style which is mounted to the inside of the hub. There are two varieties of this drum, and one will mount to 1932-35 welded wire spoke wheels directly with no adaptor and no problems.
This style drum will fit the 1932-35 Ford wire wheel correctly without adapters if the offset is 1-3/8 rather than 1-1/2 inches. Both drum styles exist. The pic shows how the 1-3/8 inch dimension is measured. It is from the outer hub face to the sheet metal surface.
It will also be necessary to break off any balance weights spot welded to the drum in the recess and braze them back on just beyond their original radial location. This will keep them from interfering with the wheel hub.
It is important that the offset between the stud hub flange and the drum sheetmetal be 1-3/8 inch as shown in the pic. Some of these style drums have a 1-1/2 inch offset and the wire wheel center will not properly seat to that drum without an adaptor.