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Bus wheels - 14"/15"/16"
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EverettB Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:26 pm    Post subject: Bus wheels - 14"/15"/16" Reply with quote

This thread is for discussion of stock wheels used on VW Buses. Corrections or additions are welcome.

There were 2 manufacturers that supplied early 16" and 15" wheels to VW, Kronprinz (KPZ) and Lemmerz. Sometime in the 1960s, VW took over all production of wheels and the wheels no longer carried a KPZ or Lemmerz manufacturer stamp.

Barndoor Buses, 1950 through February, 1955 used 16" wheels, size 16x3.50. They are unslotted. Some people refer this style as "smoothie" due to the smooth ring outside the center hub, although the term "smoothie" more typically refers to Beetle 15" wheels.
1954 wheel photo:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

There are several variations of Barndoor Bus wheels, the primary difference being riveted versus welded wheels, where either rivets or welds were used to secure the center hub to the outside wheel. There are also some variations in regards to the area around the valve stem, where some wheels have a recessed impression around the valve stem. If anyone knows the exact details, please add to this thread and I will update this area.

Standard valve stem area:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Valve stem recess:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Beginning March 1, 1955, chassis # 20-117902, VW Buses used a slotted 15" wheel, size 15x4.50. There are also 2 styles of wheel, standard and "crowsfoot". Crowsfoot refers to the 3 raised areas around each lug nut hole on the face of the center hub, which resemble a crow's foot. Sometime in the 1960s, VW took over all production of wheels. VW produced only standard wheels.

Standard wheel:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Standard wheels were manufacturer by KPZ and later VW.

Crowsfoot wheel:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Crowsfoot wheels were manufacturer by Lemmerz and are typically stamped on the inner wheel portion as well:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Text is:
DIN 4 1/2Kx15-A Lemmerz 4 59

On December 19, 1963, chassis # 1222026 (August 5, 1963, chassis # 1145427 for 1 ton models), VW went to a 14" wheel, size 14x5.00. The wheel was still slotted but the slots were smaller.
Photos:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Other points of interest:
There are 15" wheels dated both before 3/55 and after 1964. Due to production lead times, 15" wheels had to begin production in early 1955 to be ready by March 1st. 15" wheels dated after 1964 are dealer replacement stock to replace damaged or otherwise unusable wheels.
Example of 1966-dated 15" dealer replacement wheels (New Old Stock):
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Original wheel diameter/width and bias ply tire sizes:
16" wheels - 16"x3.50" - 5.50x16 tires
15" wheels - 15"x4.50" - 6.40x15 tires - closest radial is 175R15 - most people use 205/75R15
14" wheels - 14"x5.00" - 7.00x14 tires - closest radial is 185R14 - most people use 195/75R14 or 205/70R14

Note that the wheel diameter is measurement where the tire rides, the "tire bead" so if you measure the outer lip of the wheel, it is approximately 1" wider. 15" wheels measure 16" and so on.

The original 15" tire size was, according to the VW shop manual:
3/4 ton (small nut) models came with a 6.40-15 tire, having a diameter of 27.16", +/- .24".

The 14" wheel with a 7.00x14 tire had a diameter of 26.22", +/- .24"

Wheel bolts:
Size M14x1.5
Torque 12.0mkg (87 ft. lbs.)

Wheel offsets (47.5mm):
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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Last edited by EverettB on Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:48 am; edited 13 times in total
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Split 1
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Australia all buses came with 15 inch wheels from 55 till end of production in 67.

Dave
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Split 1 wrote:
In Australia all buses came with 15 inch wheels from 55 till end of production in 67.

Thanks for the addition.

Are these CKD kits or German-built Buses?
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splitpile
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 64 Australian container van came with the original 15 inch wheels
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cant find any differences between split and bay (to '70) 14's.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

are there any differences in the hubcap clips used throughout the years?

aside from commercial/deluxe hubcap finishes, are there any differences in the hubcaps themselves during production?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also read date stamps were stamped in different places and some rims have 2 date stamps. Can you clarify where the real date stamp is located ? I read this in a crowsfeet thread.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am sure all the Aussie ones were built here from 55, mostley CKD but then all Australian from early 60's but all had 15's, not including barndoors which were made here in 54 from CKD and 299 were produced.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:33 pm    Post subject: Aussie Wheels Reply with quote

The date stamps on the ausie ones were also located the inside of the rim (you have to take the tyre off to see it) and had 15X4.50.K.ROK near the date and a circle with an A and T within it. I have rims dated 1960 and 1967 showing this.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lemmerz aka Crowsfoot wheels are backspaced 1/4" more than KPZ and the slot appears larger. Good wheels for those running a 2" narrowed front beam. Clears the step in the inner dogleg better.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Split 1 wrote:
In Australia all buses came with 15 inch wheels from 55 till end of production in 67.


Same in South Africa for local CKD assembly.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NAES wrote:
Lemmerz aka Crowsfoot wheels are backspaced 1/4" more than KPZ and the slot appears larger. Good wheels for those running a 2" narrowed front beam. Clears the step in the inner dogleg better.


I recently measured one of each and found a difference of only 1/16". I don't recall what the date stamps were, maybe there was an early/late production difference. I will check tomorrow.

OK, I did some measuring. A 5/59 crowsfoot I have measures 4 1/2" plus from the surface where it mounts against the drum to the very outer edge of the wheel lip. A 4/60 non-crowsfoot measures 4 11/16". So the difference is barely over 1/8". I also measured a 5/63 non-crowsfoot and it was the same as the 4/60. I did not have easy access to another crowsfoot with a different date.
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Last edited by cdennisg on Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

miscreantgnomie wrote:
I also read date stamps were stamped in different places and some rims have 2 date stamps. Can you clarify where the real date stamp is located ? I read this in a crowsfeet thread.

All the rims I have seen have the date stamped on the face. Early crowsfoot wheels have a stamp in a larger font. For example, 1957.

Some wheels also have a date marking inside the wheel itself, which would be hidden when the tire is mounted.

I consider the "real" date stamp to be the one on the face.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sled wrote:
are there any differences in the hubcap clips used throughout the years?

I have not noticed any.

sled wrote:
aside from commercial/deluxe hubcap finishes, are there any differences in the hubcaps themselves during production?

There are some minor differences but nothing immediately noticeable. For instance, some hubcaps have a number and letter marking on the outside edge but some do not. I don't know if this is a production date stamp and, if so, how to decode it.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EverettB wrote:
sled wrote:
aside from commercial/deluxe hubcap finishes, are there any differences in the hubcaps themselves during production?

There are some minor differences but nothing immediately noticeable. For instance, some hubcaps have a number and letter marking on the outside edge but some do not. I don't know if this is a production date stamp and, if so, how to decode it.

I believe that the code in the rim of the cap is a lot code. if a car has all original hubcaps, the codes should usually match. I recently found a couple wolfsburg bus era (pre mid-'56) caps that had consecutive codes.

mid'-56 and earlier had painted VW stampings that matched the lower color of the bus. after that, they were black until '63ish when they got rid of the painted stampings.

earlier caps have a matte finish in the center, and later caps have a smooth finish. look at your reflection in the centers to tell the difference. I believe that the change is in the late '50s, but I am not sure. I am not sure if it is a strictly chronological change or if both styles were supplied together for some time. all the body color painted caps seem to be the matte style, and about most of my black painted caps are the matte style. I also have many that have no painted stampings that are the matte style, but it could be that they were originally painted. paint generally does not stick to chrome all that well.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EverettB wrote:
sled wrote:
are there any differences in the hubcap clips used throughout the years?

I have not noticed any.



baywindow 14's have longer clips, at least that's how I could tell the differance at a swap meet
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have several og rims off og 14" '67 and '65 busses with no dates.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Picked up this Kronprinz (KPZ) 7.53 16" wheel at OCTO, it has the valve stem recess:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=488173
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=488172
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=488171
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=488170

It has no date stamp on the face, which is really weird. The only date stamp is inside the rim:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought this was the best place to post my rookie question.

I need to know what size thebnuts/bolts? are on the standard wide five wheels of a split bus.

I'm leaving in the morning to do some recon on my 'barn find' split and wanna buy a breaker bar and socket to get the wheels off...
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The socket size is 19mm. 3/4" works, too.
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