Hearse Wheels

I needed buggy wheels for my hearse.  Justin Carriage Works sells them, but at $600 for a set of four (axles and mounting hardware not included), 'twas a little rich for my blood.  I opted for the do-it-yourself approach.  I researched hearse wheels and took measurements off the hearse in front of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.  The dimensions for the back wheels are approximately 47" in diameter by 1 1/2" wide.   The front wheels are somewhat smaller in diameter, about 37".  Both front and back wheels have 16 spokes, however most hearses I've seen have 16 spokes for the back wheels and 12 spokes for the front.

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While the hearse I was building was a nonfunctional display prop, I still wanted the wheels to support the weight of the hearse, and to actually roll to aid in positioning.  The wheels were made from the following material:

2    4' x 8' x 1¼" sheets of plywood

2   5' long by 1" diameter plumbing pipe for the axles

4    12" long by 1½" plumbing pipe

4    1½" pipe tees"

4    1" pipe flanges

4    1½" pipe flanges

4    small plastic flower pots for hubs

Bolts, washers and nuts.

Semi-gloss black latex house paint  (Jeez, who'd want a house that color???)

Gold spray paint for the hubs

I laid out the sheets of plywood on saw horses and drew a 47" and a 37" diameter circle on each sheet.  I made a circle cutting jig for my Sears Craftsman 3½HP Plunging Router (Come see the softer side of Sears) by bolting a 4 foot long aluminum ruler to the router's base.  After donning my safety goggles, I cut the wood circles using the router with a 2" straight cutting bit.

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I then drew the location of the spokes and the rim on each disk.  I made each spoke 1½" wide, which was the thickness of the plywood.   Now came the fun part.  Using a saber saw, I cut out the "negative space" pie shaped wedges.  16 for each wheel.  I then used a ½" quarter round bit in my router and made the spokes look rounded.

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I then bolted a 1" pipe flange in the center of each wheel, and attached the pipe axles.  The wheels and axles were then painted black.

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The axles were attached to the hearse with the supports made from the 1½" tees, 12" pipes and 1½ pipe flanges.

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P0000143.jpg (78921 bytes)  Size difference between front and back hearse wheels

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