Affordable forged alloy wheels for 35s - an experiment

psrivats

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For those that have tried to find the "right" wheels for 35s, especially for use with locking hubs, you know the struggle.

By "right" I mean the optimal combination of diameter, width, backspacing and bolt pattern that have been proven to work well by those in the know. Recently, I started specifically looking for wheels with a very specific combination of parameters (17x7.5, 4" bs, 5x5.5) with a center bore large enough (4.25") to fit the Yukon hubs. After enormous amounts of time looking at existing aftermarket wheels, I could not find single alloy wheel that matched all those specs. I found some steel options and some alloy wheels that were close enough, but I would be compromising on more than 1 specification, which was a no go for me.

So I did the next sane thing anyone would do and called around companies in the US to see if there was anyone that could help make a wheel like that and the answer was mostly different versions of "no". Out of curiosity, I looked at the prices for forged alloy wheels since some of the companies offered some size customization (Trail Ready, Forgeline ..) and the costs were crazy high. I don't know if they were always this high, but close to 2k per wheel seemed very expensive.

Still not wanting to give up, I then explored some of the Chinese websites to see if there was anything available from overseas. The reasons were two fold, we already know where most of the aftermarket wheel options are sourced from, and second, the quality of items from overseas is mostly as how you demand it. You want cheap crap, you can get it, you want high quality stuff, you can get that too, everything for the right cost from the right supplier.

So after a bunch more research and dilly-dallying, I decided to take an experimental plunge to get a set of custom wheels (forged 6061) made with the specs I had in mind. I don't know if anyone has tried this previously on this forum, but I could not find anything online and sometimes one just has to take a chance. The cost for the entire set is just a bit over what companies want here for a single wheel. I don't know if that is too good to be true, but I was curious enough to try and find out.

Below are a rendering the wheels I chose.


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Here is a photoshop that I did to see how the wheels would look on a TJ.

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Here is the wheel in production.

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I will not have the wheels in hand for another month or two, but I will come back here and post an update when I do have them.

Caveat emptor - I could get lucky or this could be a stupid way to throw away money, or somewhere in-between. For those that want to try it, it's all on you to do the needed research and make choices that seem right to you. I just wanted to share the option that I found for those of you that care enough about stuff like this and willing go into rabbit holes. If you try this and it goes sideways, don't come yell at me :)
 
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Moabs are my all time favorite wheel for a TJ, but these look way better than I anticipated. Can't wait to see them on your jeep.

I like them too but you well know how important the other specs are.

These remind me of old school steelies which I have a soft spot for, except that they are forged alloy (i.e if they really come out to be that!). I can live with the looks :)

It is amazing how much the wheel alter the look of the vehicle.
 
I like the looks of those a LOT and have considered and researched this exact dilemma trying to decide whether to get the small or large hub kit.

I *thought* I'd settled on the 5x4.5 kit because I can make my current wheels work by swapping for slightly longer studs and using a 1/4" spacer. But it kicks the 17" wheel can down the road without much of a solution for it and it will itch in my brain forever knowing that if I ever want new wheels I'll be limited by having to find them in backspacing that supports two different WMS and spacer arrangements.
 
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I'm very interested in this experiment as well. I've been looking for a viable option as well, that gets me back to a 5 x 4.5 (vs the JK wheels I'm running), has 4" of backspacing, and is 17" diameter with around an 8" width. They are not out there in the mass market. Like you said, Trail Ready will whip up a set of semi-custom wheels for you...but holy buckets, they are expensive.
 
I'm very interested in this experiment as well. I've been looking for a viable option as well, that gets me back to a 5 x 4.5 (vs the JK wheels I'm running), has 4" of backspacing, and is 17" diameter with around an 8" width. They are not out there in the mass market. Like you said, Trail Ready will whip up a set of semi-custom wheels for you...but holy buckets, they are expensive.

Exactly, you think there are more choices till you go actually try to find one. Trail Ready is in Oregon, btw. I have only heard good things so called to discuss .. and I was speechless when they told me the cost. Like everything, prices have gone up. I remember they would do a wheel for ~800 each back in the pre-pandemic days, now it is nearly twice that.

I will make sure to post the outcome on this thread. I just wanted to put the information/option out there if folks wants to do some exploration.
 
Like everything, prices have gone up. I remember they would do a wheel for ~800 each back in the pre-pandemic days, now it is nearly twice that.

I've been lucky with this so far... a bunch of upgrades I did on my "I want to overland on 33s" build ended up making me money to offset getting into the rock crawling build. Though my wife is still sometimes bitter about the piles in the garage I need to deal with...
 
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I *thought* I'd settled on the 5x4.5 kit because I can make my current wheels work by swapping for slightly longer studs and using a 1/4" spacer.
That slightly longer stud is not as easy as you think. Your best bet is to take the bearing hubs and get them drilled and tapped to 1/2-20, and then run screw in 1/2-20 wheel studs. You'll need to drill the rotors in a new matching pattern with 1/2" clearance holes. However, running a 1/4" stacked spacer on top of that hub flange is just asking for trouble. They already don't like to play nicely and care must be taken when putting the wheel on that you don't dislodge them out of the small recess they need to engage.

Here is a pic of the challenge involved in finding longer studs that have the high knurl. The one on the right is a very oddball stud and one of the few we've found with longer threads. The issue is the head is very large and I'm not even sure it will fit next to the hub snout inside the rotor. I know it would have to have one side of the head ground flat even if it did clear. If you look at the rest of them, even though they vary in length somewhat, the useable thread length does not vary much.

DSC00302.JPG
 
That slightly longer stud is not as easy as you think. Your best bet is to take the bearing hubs and get them drilled and tapped to 1/2-20, and then run screw in 1/2-20 wheel studs. You'll need to drill the rotors in a new matching pattern with 1/2" clearance holes. However, running a 1/4" stacked spacer on top of that hub flange is just asking for trouble. They already don't like to play nicely and care must be taken when putting the wheel on that you don't dislodge them out of the small recess they need to engage.

Here is a pic of the challenge involved in finding longer studs that have the high knurl. The one on the right is a very oddball stud and one of the few we've found with longer threads. The issue is the head is very large and I'm not even sure it will fit next to the hub snout inside the rotor. I know it would have to have one side of the head ground flat even if it did clear. If you look at the rest of them, even though they vary in length somewhat, the useable thread length does not vary much.

View attachment 435572

Well that sucks. I think we've interacted on this topic before but probably more briefly and though I knew it took some work, my perception of it wasn't that bad.

Alternative (while keeping my current wheels) is running backspacing equivalent to 5.25" minus whatever the WMS moves by. I'm currently at 5.25 minus 1.25 spacer and I'm not excited about what turning radius I would have left pulling them in another quarter to half an inch. Tires touch swayloc even with two washers. These cooper stts seem to have a really wide tread.

More likely alternative is just waiting until I need new tires and doing the 5.5 kit with wheels all at once.
 
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I did not even know this existed. That would work, though second guessing the spacer thing altogether based on Blaine's input above.

The ET lugnuts are not without their own issues that need to be paid attention to. If the countersink for conical area of the lugnut is close to the WMS on the back side of the rim, it is very easy to torque the lugnut down and have the extended nose bottom out on the rotor and then the rim is not tight. We've seen that several times and it is always bad. The second thing is we've had to drill out the holes in the rim to get enough clearance for the extended section to fit nicely in the holes for the wheel studs. Just stuff to not ignore.
 
More likely alternative is just waiting until I need new tires and doing the 5.5 kit with wheels all at once.
The 5.5 kit is not much if any better. The studs pictured above are for both kits. There are minor differences is shoulder diameters and knurl diameters but essentially, the same limitations affect both when trying to find longer studs. We've had the flanges on more 5.5 kits drilled and tapped than we have for the smaller kit.
 
The 5.5 kit is not much if any better. The studs pictured above are for both kits. There are minor differences is shoulder diameters and knurl diameters but essentially, the same limitations affect both when trying to find longer studs. We've had the flanges on more 5.5 kits drilled and tapped than we have for the smaller kit.

Yeah, with 5.5 I would just get wheels that work as is since I'd need new ones anyway; quite possibly something like what this thread is about; and not mess with lug weirdness.