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Walker Evans Beadlock Maintenance

I have had my Walker Evans BLs 4 years and have found them to be an outstanding wheel. However, like anything else, they do need some care and maintenance. That said the following is a short course on this requirement and in general apply to almost any BL.

Tools you will need

Remove all tires

Remove all the BL nuts

BL removed, pull tire forward

Buffed out spokes

Buffed out the insides

Lots of cleaning and buffing

"Gap" to keep an eye on

Install 45 degree valve stems

Cleaned and buffed up

Maintenance:

First, I got Cowboy off the ground and onto a set of jack stands [my HOA loved this, so much they even sent me a letter]. 

I then removed the wheels and let the air out while I gathered some basic tools to work on them. After all the air had fizzled out, I removed the bead rings using a crisscross method. The BLR [Bead Lock Ring] itself is quite soft as compared to the wheel; this allows it to mold to the tire somewhat. Additionally the way the WE BLR fits, there is a slight degree of spring in the BLR. I also wanted to install new Grade-8 Zinc-Gold bolts for strength and corrosion resistance. 

Over the past year and a half the inside rim has gotten gunked up from all the balances and unlike a rolling stone gathered a bunch of road crud. That and I wanted to give a bit of a polish to the rims to get some of the trail scratches out.

TIP on bolting on the Bead Lock Ring: 

I will not use ANY product to lube with that does not evaporate.  Its an old habit dating back to my drag racing days.  Lubes can and will allow the rim to spin inside the tire.  Not likely on a Jeep and bead locks BUT low enough gears, locker, jammed tire and enough torque can do funny things.  Like I said, just habit.

With 24-32 bolts to snug down you have a full time job ahead of you.  X32 if you try to follow the typical 'star' pattern of snugging them down.  But alas, there is few tricks to speed up the process and works equally as well.

1)  Mount your tire/wheel so as you can spin it around.  On an axle or a shop stool.

2)  Hand start about 4 bolts at the compass points (N,S,E,W).  Now using a air wrench if you have one:  Start at a point somewhere on the ring that you can identify.  On my Walker Evans there is a WE stamp I can work from.

a)  Using your air tool or ratchet wrench start a bolt at every other hole, when you get back to the starting point then fill in the remainder of holes with bolts.  You now have ALL the holes with bolts and started

b)  You are now going to tighten bolts in a 'every other bolt fashion, then every other bolt again'  like I stated in 'a' above.

KEY POINT:  You will WATCH the GAP between the ring and the wheel and slowly close it and your work your way around.  Doing it this way and you save the headache of trying to do the 'star'...which can be a bit hard to follow with 32 bolts.

c)  A you close the gap between ring and wheel and they just touch all the way around.  Grab your torque wrench and torque specs.  If you do not KNOW what the specs are then contact the wheel maker and ask.  Failure to do so could result in pulling out inserts or stripping threads.  (generally around 20 lbs +/- but its different for every wheel maker)

KEY POINT:  In order to get accurate torque reading you need to have clean threads and bolts.  I clean mine with WD 40, its leaves very little residue and adds only a modicum of lubricity.  Too much lube can lead to the bolts slowly coming loose.

TIP:  After you have done this you will want to put you tires/wheels thru some cold/hot cycles to insure a good seat and then recheck the bolts for proper torque.

I do not recommend using thread locker.

Tools:

-  Corded 1/2” drill for the buffing

-  Brass wheel to remove crud and weight tape

-  Polishing wheels to clean and polish

-  Tube of Flitz metal polish

-  Red Loctite used to secure the nuts on the new 45-degree valve stems

-  Wide flat blade screwdriver to lever the front bead onto the wheel shoulder

-  File to dress up chips and dents on the edges of the wheel rim

Cost:

-  $5 per wheel for Goodyear to break the back bead

-  $7.50 for a tube of Flitz

-  $20 for assorted brass and cloth polishing wheels

Time:

-  Allow about 2 hours per wheel for remove, clean and install

-  Should be done about every 2 years as a minimum 

Because you the reader have asked:

1)  I have put approx 45k miles/4 years on the WE wheels.  I drive to/from Moab 1 or 2 times per year and it is approx 450 miles each way.  I also drive to Texas often and that is a 1350 mi one way trip.  My jeep is a DD and sees plenty of miles. 

2)  I am running BFG KM2 tires with NO weights, they balanced up PERFECT (also sez a LOT about the BFG tires) 

3)  I have NEVER had a bolt come loose and when I do a recheck it is RARE than any bolts need tightening 

4)  No funny wobbles or out of round. IMO these are some of the best wheels on the market today, they are of the highest quality, do not leak (like many BLs do) and have provided great and near maintenance free service for the past 4 years. I recommend them without hesitation  

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