Street Rod Life

SRL on the Road: New tires, No Brakes


We asked our staff and contributors about their own road trip experiences and gathered some of their favorite memories from the road…and maybe a few they’d just as soon forget about. Today’s entry is from our contributor Louis Kimery.

Louis Kimery, Contributor 

I dragged my ’55 Chevy out for a run to Tunica, Mississippi, for the annual Delta River Cruzin’ Show. My old Chevy had received a fair amount of attention during the last few years with a totally new engine/trans combo, a fresh aluminum radiator, and power disc brakes. The tires, however, were the same ones that were on it when it went into hibernation more than 10 years ago.

I didn’t want any tire-related issues to manifest while on the road, so I opted to replace the now semi-rusty chrome wheels and aging rubber with a freshened up set of 15×7 Chevy rally wheels and some new tires. I planned on the same size tires, and the only difference between the old wheels and the new rallys was a 1/4-inch more back spacing. You would think that extra spacing would be a good thing. Wrong.

The new boots and rally wheels looked great, I topped them off with a fresh set of beauty rings and used center caps. The shoebox was looking good and driving like new…until the brakes went out about halfway through my roughly 50-mile journey.

It seems the extra 1/4-inch of backspace caused the back side of the rim to rub against the front brake hoses while making turns. Within 30 miles of driving, both front hoses were split, and stopping was nearly impossible. Thanks to slow-moving, heavy traffic, and judicious use of the emergency brake, I was able to roll into a nearby repair shop.

It was an unexpected hit to my wallet, but not a hit to any other cars, and I eventually made it to the show. Chalk this one up in the live-and-learn file.

Advice: Check your car out before hitting the road — especially anything that spins, turns, or moves.