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Bus Discussion => Bus Topics ( click here for quick start! ) => Topic started by: John316 on September 22, 2008, 05:33:56 PM

Title: Wheels
Post by: John316 on September 22, 2008, 05:33:56 PM
Tom C,

Why do you recommend going with aluminum wheels? We have steel on ours and they seem to work fine. I was just curious about your philosophy on this. Anybody have thoughts?

Also what about tire brands. We have Michilans on our steers and Firestones on our drives (I know, not the most desirable but when they need to be changed we will put another brand on) and BF Goodrich on our tags. Thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

God bless,


Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: jjrbus on September 22, 2008, 06:12:34 PM
 aluminum wheels are used because the heat dissipating coefficient characteristics of aluminum are far greater than steel. The heat dissipation and less weight also are important factors in improved braking and of course greater fuel economy.
 Those are the facts they use to justify buying them, the real reason is they look sooo coooool  ;D

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: belfert on September 22, 2008, 06:14:27 PM
Less rotating mass means more MPG in theory.  Most busnuts are unlikely to ever drive enough miles to justify aluminum wheels on MPG basis alone.

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: Ray D on September 22, 2008, 06:17:16 PM
Being lighter you also get a better ride with aluminum.

Ray D

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: John316 on September 22, 2008, 06:32:28 PM
I forgot to ask, do you need longer studs for aluminum wheels or are they just plug and play with the original studs.

And what are some of the cons of the aluminum wheels?

God bless,


Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: Bob Gil on September 23, 2008, 12:48:01 AM
Yes it is possible that you might need longer studs for them, that is if the ones you already have are not long enough.

In trucking they push them because of the lighter wheel letting the truck haul more payload.

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: Sam 4106 on September 23, 2008, 07:00:56 AM
Hi Guys,
You say aluminum wheels are lighter. How much lighter? I have asked this question many times and have never received a definitive answer. Everyone seems to just guess at an answer of anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds difference. Can anyone give an authoritative answer? Let's compare 8.25 X 22.5 wheels. Steel weighs ______, and aluminum weighs ______.
Thanks, Sam 4106

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: Len Silva on September 23, 2008, 07:17:02 AM
I have noticed that the city buses in Saint Pete all run aluminum wheels.  I assume there must be an economic advantage.

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: belfert on September 23, 2008, 08:21:59 AM
Our local transit provider got a batch of Gillig hybrid transits last year and I noticed the other day they have aluminum wheels.  They have been receiving more hybrid buses from Gillig, but these have a new design on the front and steel wheels this time.

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: TomC on September 23, 2008, 08:44:06 AM
22.5 x 8.25" aluminum wheels are about 35lbs lighter then steel.  When you have 18 of them, that's an extra 630lb of load capacity to make more money.  On our buses, all the previously stated is true, less rotating mass, better heat dissipation, less unsprung weight for a better ride (I noticed a better ride when I switched-less pounding).
Disadvantages-more expensive, can crack if you kiss a curb (don't ask why I know this), needs to be polished 2 or 3 times a year-although there are permanent shine wheels now available.
There is nothing wrong with steel wheels-especially if painted nicely.  I just prefer them because of the look, ride, and heat dissipation.  And because they are made from one piece of aluminum (rather then the welded steel) they are naturally better balanced from the start then steel.  Good Luck, TomC

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: Busted Knuckle on September 23, 2008, 08:59:13 AM
Well as for an exact weight difference I can't help ya! But about half!
Now as for all the hoopla about better fuel mileage, braking, ride, etc. Yes I'm sure it's true to some degree!
But in my HONEST opinion (and yes I even had to own up to it to DAD before he'd let me put them on our buses)the main and best reason to go aluminum is that they polish up and really make the truck/bus look really sharp! (remember before WE got into buses, I had trucks!)

 And dad would ALWAYS tell me "now son all that chrome, won't get ya HOME!" and my response was always "no, but I'll sure look good sit'n on the side of the road!" LOL! JMHO FWIW ;D  BK  ;D

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: John316 on October 08, 2008, 06:27:45 PM
Thanks for the replies. You all answered my question. Sorry for the delay we have been in Canada for the last little while.

God bless,


Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: buswarrior on October 09, 2008, 06:09:09 PM
In a fleet application, where the wheels will see quite a few sets of tires before they are done...

steel wheels need paint. paint costs money and has to be put on properly by someone who knows what they are doing, too much paint on the mating and fastening surfaces can lead to wheel fasteners loosening...

aluminum wheels are more expensive, but then don't need paint, and as noted, make some more payload available, if you can gross the truck out to take advantage of the weight savings.

Appearance won't impress shareholders... have a look at who is running what going down the road.

If it makes money in their calculations, the corporate fleets are running aluminum, otherwise, it's steel.

GREAT CARE needs to be taken by a busnut in search for used rims of both types, but especially for aluminum, as it's harder to look at them and decide if they are safe to use.

You need to get the manufacturer's measurements to be sure you aren't buying a worn out aluminum rim, primarily in the wheel fastener area. I know that Accuride has some plastic go/no go gauges that you put through the fastener holes to check for the depth of the metal and the angles of the chamfers.

Steel rims, a little easier as you can see out of round holes, and wear at the mating/fastener surfaces.

Money saved on wheels might not be...

happy coaching!

Title: Re: Wheels
Post by: BJ on October 09, 2008, 08:35:09 PM
 ;)  Chances are very good that you will need longer wheel studs. stock steel wheels are not as thick as aluminum. don't be foolish and use the stock short studs your life is worth more than that. :-\