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One of the biggest finishing touches for most WWII Jeep restorations is the installation of combat rims. While the initial 20,000 Jeeps rolled out on solid rims, all of the Jeeps thereafter, had “combat rims.” The Kelsey Hayes Wheel Company made these rims for the duration of the war.

Developed in 1941, the idea of a combat rim was that in a combat situation, any GI could quickly remove a tire from a rim just by deflating the tire and unbolting eight bolts. A metal band called a “beadlock” was also added. This acted as a sort of “run flat,” allowing a Jeep with a punctured tire to run for an additional 40+ miles.

Changing split rim 27th Regiment. Korea, 8 August 1950.

Changing split rim, 27th Regiment. Korea, 8 August 1950. 

It is difficult to find original combat rims in good shape that are safe enough to use. Prices for good, usable, and restorable combat rims have skyrocketed in the last few years. That, coupled with the questionable safety of 75+ year old rims has seen many restorers turn to modern reproductions.

Many of the vendors advertised in this magazine sell reproduction combat rims that are pretty much indistinguishable from the originals.

This article will utilize modern reproduction combat rims to demonstrate how to safely mount tires. However, if you are fortunate enough to find restorable, original combat rims that are safe to use, the same steps apply.

BEFORE WE BEGIN WORK ON OUR RIMS AND TIRES

One part of a combat rim that hasn’t been carried forward to the modern era are the beadlocks. These metal bands protect the inner tube of the tire from being pinched between the two halves of the rim and, as mentioned, lock the beads of the tire in place. Therefore, when the tire goes flat, the tire itself will not slip off the combat rim, thus allowing occupants to still drive.

But, since we don’t have Panzer tanks breathing down our necks anymore, beadlocks are no longer necessary. As a result, no one has reproduced them.

Originals are often rusted and in bad shape, causing restorers to cut them off. It is still vitally important, however, to make sure the tube does not get pinched by the rim, so today we use a “flap” — essentially a rubber version of the beadlock.

So, now that we’re caught up on combat rims, let’s say you have a brand-new reproduction set of rims delivered along with new 6.00x16 tires, tubes, and flaps. How do you put them all together?

Installing tires onto combat rims might seem like a bit of a daunting task, but it’s quite easy. But, if you follow these illustrated steps, you’ll have five (don’t forget the spare!) combat rims ready to mount on your Jeep! 

MATERIALS NEEDED

Before you get started, you will need the following: a bike tire pump, torque rachet with a 3/4” socket (deep version helps), blanket or flat cardboard box, baby powder, dish soap, and Permatex Anti-Seize (optional.) Don’t forget the combat rims (with bolts and nuts), 6.00x16 tires, tire flaps, TR-15 tubes, valve stem protectors, and valve caps.

Before you get started, you will need the following: a bike tire pump, torque rachet with a 3/4” socket (deep version helps), blanket or flat cardboard box, baby powder, dish soap, and Permatex Anti-Seize (optional.) Don’t forget the combat rims (with bolts and nuts), 6.00x16 tires, tire flaps, TR-15 tubes, valve stem protectors, and valve caps. 

Let’s Begin!

Assuming you have modern rubber tire flaps with the offset hole (standard for 6.00x16 military tires), you might need to make some modifications. Often, they are slightly too thick around the valve hole. For me, it helped to increase the hole size just slightly. I used Dremel tool to shave some of the rubber in a concave shape around the hole to about a three-inch circumference.

Assuming you have modern rubber tire flaps with the offset hole (standard for 6.00x16 military tires), you might need to make some modifications. Often, they are slightly too thick around the valve hole. For me, it helped to increase the hole size just slightly. I used Dremel tool to shave some of the rubber in a concave shape around the hole to about a three-inch circumference. 

Push the tube’s valve through the flap as much as you can. Then put on your valve stem protector. If done correctly, there should be a little bit of a gap between the protector and the flap when the protector is screwed on all the way.

Push the tube’s valve through the flap as much as you can. Then put on your valve stem protector. If done correctly, there should be a little bit of a gap between the protector and the flap when the protector is screwed on all the way.

Give the tube about eight small pumps with the tire pump until it just starts to inflate. This will help you handle the tube as you stuff it into the tire. Now, cover the tube with baby powder. This also helps the tube slide into place without sticking.

Give the tube about eight small pumps with the tire pump until it just starts to inflate. This will help you handle the tube as you stuff it into the tire. Now, cover the tube with baby powder. This also helps the tube slide into place without sticking.

With the tube inside the tire, now comes the hard part — the flap. Locate the valve hole on the flap. Notice that it is offset to one side. Make sure that aligns with how you have the valve on the tube. Put the valve stem through the flap hole and lock it in place with the valve stem protector. This will stop the valve from slipping out of the flap.

With the tube inside the tire, now comes the hard part — the flap. Locate the valve hole on the flap. Notice that it is offset to one side. Make sure that aligns with how you have the valve on the tube. Put the valve stem through the flap hole and lock it in place with the valve stem protector. This will stop the valve from slipping out of the flap.

Assuming you have modern rubber tire flaps with the offset hole (standard for 6.00x16 military tires), you might need to make some modifications. Often, they are slightly too thick around the valve hole. For me, it helped to increase the hole size just slightly. I used Dremel tool to shave some of the rubber in a concave shape around the hole to about a three-inch circumference.

With the tube inside the tire, now comes the hard part — the flap. Locate the valve hole on the flap. Notice that it is offset to one side. Make sure that aligns with how you have the valve on the tube. Put the valve stem through the flap hole and lock it in place with the valve stem protector. This will stop the valve from slipping out of the flap.

Start to tuck in the flap by wrapping it around the tube in a U-shape. This takes time to do, and it will fight with you because it needs to be fully tucked into the tire for it to correctly fit. I found that starting at the valve and working my way around helped a great deal. With the flap in place, completely remove the air from the tire (press on the tire to help deflate it). Pump the tube back up another eight to 10 pumps. This allows it to conform to the tire and the flap. It will also remove any kinks. Remove the valve stem protector.

Start to tuck in the flap by wrapping it around the tube in a U-shape. This takes time to do, and it will fight with you because it needs to be fully tucked into the tire for it to correctly fit. I found that starting at the valve and working my way around helped a great deal.

With the flap in place, completely remove the air from the tire (press on the tire to help deflate it). Pump the tube back up another eight to 10 pumps. This allows it to conform to the tire and the flap. It will also remove any kinks. Remove the valve stem protector. 

Since I don’t plan on taking these Combat Rims apart for many years, I decided to put a good coat of Permatex Anti-Seize on both halves so they will not rust together over time. Since the rims are both primed and painted with several coats of paint, this isn’t necessary, but can’t hurt either and might save you in the future!

Since I don’t plan on taking these Combat Rims apart for many years, I decided to put a good coat of Permatex Anti-Seize on both halves so they will not rust together over time. Since the rims are both primed and painted with several coats of paint, this isn’t necessary, but can’t hurt either and might save you in the future!

Place the outer side of the Combat Rim (the bolt side with the valve hole) onto the tire. When putting the Combat Rim sides together, be careful to make sure the four tabs on the inside (bolt hole) half are aligned with the four notches on the outside (bolt) half.

Place the outer side of the Combat Rim (the bolt side with the valve hole) onto the tire. When putting the Combat Rim sides together, be careful to make sure the four tabs on the inside (bolt hole) half are aligned with the four notches on the outside (bolt) half.

Pull the valve through the hole on the Combat Rim half and lock it again in place with the valve stem protector screwed in all the way. Don’t be alarmed if the rim doesn’t full sit into the tire; that’s okay.

Pull the valve through the hole on the Combat Rim half and lock it again in place with the valve stem protector screwed in all the way. Don’t be alarmed if the rim doesn’t full sit into the tire; that’s okay.

Lightly coat the area of the tires where the rims will engage (the bead) with dish soap diluted with water. This will help the rubber slide into place as you install the Combat Rim halves and pump up the tire at the end. Holding the half of the Combat Rim and the tire together, flip the tire over to the other side so the bolt threads are pointed up.

Lightly coat the area of the tires where the rims will engage (the bead) with dish soap diluted with water. This will help the rubber slide into place as you install the Combat Rim halves and pump up the tire at the end. Holding the half of the Combat Rim and the tire together, flip the tire over to the other side so the bolt threads are pointed up.

Put the other half of the Combat Rim on the tire, aligning the bolt threads with the holes in the rim and the notches as mentioned earlier. The bolt threads will only protrude a little bit, and some will protrude through more than others. Screw the nuts onto the bolts and hand tighten them. You may have to press on this half of the rim to get the nuts started.

Put the other half of the Combat Rim on the tire, aligning the bolt threads with the holes in the rim and the notches as mentioned earlier. The bolt threads will only protrude a little bit, and some will protrude through more than others. Screw the nuts onto the bolts and hand tighten them. You may have to press on this half of the rim to get the nuts started.

Tighten the nuts in an equal cross pattern, making sure to apply an even amount of torque to each nut. Start with any nut and torque it to 10 foot-pounds, then move diagonally across and do the same. Go across again and do the next nut until you have them all at 10 foot-pounds. Then, increase the torque to 25 and repeat on all nuts, then 40 foot-pounds and repeat until tight. You should end up with between 65-70 foot-pounds of torque on each nut. Note that doing this will probably mess up the OD Green paint where the nuts contact the rim, so some paint touch ups will be required.

Tighten the nuts in an equal cross pattern, making sure to apply an even amount of torque to each nut. Start with any nut and torque it to 10 foot-pounds, then move diagonally across and do the same. Go across again and do the next nut until you have them all at 10 foot-pounds. Then, increase the torque to 25 and repeat on all nuts, then 40 foot-pounds and repeat until tight. You should end up with between 65-70 foot-pounds of torque on each nut. Note that doing this will probably mess up the OD Green paint where the nuts contact the rim, so some paint touch ups will be required.

Now flip over the tire and you’ll see that the tire still hasn’t settled into the Combat Rim. That’s okay. Release the air once again and pump it up, this time 20-30 pumps. You’ll start to see the tire ‘slide’ into place as you do this. (Thanks soapy water!)

Now flip over the tire and you’ll see that the tire still hasn’t settled into the Combat Rim. That’s okay. Release the air once again and pump it up, this time 20-30 pumps. You’ll start to see the tire ‘slide’ into place as you do this. (Thanks soapy water!)

The tire won’t fully be in place until you fill the tire with 30 PSI. It will then conform beautifully to the Combat Rims! Don’t be alarmed if the tire audibly pops into place.

The tire won’t fully be in place until you fill the tire with 30 PSI. It will then conform beautifully to the Combat Rims! Don’t be alarmed if the tire audibly pops into place.

Now put a Schrader ‘screw type’ valve cap (painted or non-painted, your choice) onto the valve to complete the correct wartime look, and you have a complete Combat Rim/tire assembly ready to put on a Jeep! Repeat everything four more times and you have mastered the art of Combat Rim and tire installation!

Now put a Schrader ‘screw type’ valve cap (painted or non-painted, your choice) onto the valve to complete the correct wartime look, and you have a complete Combat Rim/tire assembly ready to put on a Jeep! Repeat everything four more times and you have mastered the art of Combat Rim and tire installation!

Combat Rims add an amazing finishing detail to any World War 2 Jeep.

Combat Rims add an amazing finishing detail to any WWII Jeep. 

Download easy-to-use shop instructions

Download easy-to-use shop instructions HERE

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