Friday, May 12, 2017

These specific rims are known as widowmakers because they exploded with such force

"Split Rim wheels" -- These wheels should be avoided.

This scan from the 1949 Budd Wheel catalog illustrates the dangerous 2-piece "split rim" (also know as the "widow maker") is the Firestone Type RH-5.

 The dominant feature of the RH-5 is the attachment of its halves near the wheel's center line. This connection point has an overlapping raised band around the inside of the wheel. This band will be seen on all types of RH-5 wheels, whether Budd style or traditional drop-center light-truck wheels.

These wheels can be hard to identify because you can’t really see how they are made while assembled. It’s easier to identify them by eliminating the other possible wheel types. They are not "Locking Ring," "2-Piece" or "3-Piece Wheels" because they don’t have an easily identifiable ring or rings on one side (lip) of the wheel.

 They are not singe piece tubeless wheels because they do not have a dropped center (where the tire bead goes to allow you to work it over the rim for installation or removal). RH-5 wheels became popular in the late '40's (with manufacturers...) and were used extensively throughout the '50's and '60's.

They were last available from Budd in 1972 and from Kelsey-Hayes in 1976. Due to their design, they have not aged well.


  1. I used to be tire jockey in the early 70s at my local Citgo , and almost had my head taken of by a split rim from the shop truck .
    when those things go back on sometimes as you fill the tire when the finally seat ,if the ring isn't quite all the way locked they fly off like claymore exploding hated those things

    1. you're lucky to be talking without brain damage... and lucky to have both eyes to look out of! Shit, I was a tire guy for a couple months, and was lucky to never work with old rims. I was only worried once or twice with 60 psi tires and the bead not seating. Damn those pop with force

  2. every tire shop used to have a sturdy cage that the split rims were placed into when they were inflated,

    and Ive seen a couple of incidents where a dumptruck ran over a rock or curb and the split rim ring will go flying
    saw one go flying and stick into the exterior wall of a house.

    glad they dont make those anymore,
    now the road service guys spray ether in the tire and light it to seat the bead.