M3A4 Handcart Restoration Log - Tires
Date Written: 2/21/2008
Author: Chris Guska
As part of my M3a4 Handcart restoration, and fellow unit member Steve’s parallel restoration – we had a discussion about tires. Since we are restoring the carts to “as new” condition – repairing the bodywork, sourcing and reattaching missing parts, sandblasting and repainting, the tires really should be “as new”. It would be really silly to have a brand new factory fresh looking cart, with weather checked, 60 year old tires on it. The argument is tempered by the fact that “reproduction” tires are not made. There are modern equivalent tires of the same style that are the correct size and type, but are not “exact reproductions”.
Once again, Craig Johnson’s www.handcartz.com proved to be an invaluable reference of original wartime photos as well as modern photos of restored and un-restored carts.
I conducted a search on the net to try and find various options for replacing our original tires with modern production tires. My search turned up two different options, but I was unsure of the details. After talking with Craig – thanks again for your help! – he pointed me in several different directions as to his experiences with tires. Based on his recommendation, I purchased a set of Rib Implement tires that I will be detailing below.
M3a4 Handcart tires are 4.00x12 tube type tires. 4.00 x12 was a common agricultural tire size during the 1940’s and the wheels were of a commonly manufactured type. The tire patterns were designed and most suited for Agricultural use. The most common tires, from the photos that I have examined, appear to be a Rib Implement type and a Cleated Tractor type.
There are current production Rib Implement Agricultural tires available from Carlisle and Titan. The Carlisle tires are I-1 Agricultural Rib Implement, 4.00x12. The Carlisle tires are available from
In addition to the Agricultural tires, 4.00x12 was used on some motor-scooters. These tire types were designed for road use – and the patterns are significantly different than that of the agricultural type. There was a diamond / waffle pattern tire, as well as a pattern very much like you would see on civilian automobiles.
The Diamond / Waffle pattern tires are available from Coker tire. The Coker tires are “Coker Scooter Tires Antique Tire 400-12” black wall, part number 50625. The tires are available from http://www.hotrodhanks.com as well as http://www.performanceplustire.com/
From the surviving carts – as well as war time photos, the most common tire types appear to be the Rib Implement type and the Chevron/Cleated Tractor type. The diamond/waffle pattern scooter tires are third most common, and the civilian pattern being least common.
Based off Craig’s recommendation and my brief research – I decided to check out a pair of tires and tubes from TM Tractor Supply - http://www.tmtractor.com/new/tc/067fp.htm - Carlisle I-1 Rib Implement tractor tires. The tires list for $38.00. The corresponding tubes http://www.tmtractor.com/new/tc/635fp.htm list for $10.00.
The subtotal for the two tires and tubes was $96.00. Shipping from TM Tractor Supply in New York to me in Ohio was $11.49 for FedEx ground. The total out the door was $107.49
I ordered the tires on the morning of 2/15/2008, got shipping notification that afternoon, and received them via FedEx on 2/19/2008.
Side by side of the Carlisle I-1 on the left, and the original Firestone Rib Implement on the right.
Comparison of the Firestone Rib Implement (original) to the Carlisle I-1
Tire size and rating comparison
Made in the USA text:
Tread pattern comparison:
Carlisle I-1 Tire
Original Firestone tube:
New Inner tube:
The Carlisle I-1 Agricultural Implement tires are a similar style to the Firestone Rib Implement tires. They are not “reproductions” nor were they patterned off of an “original pattern”. The Carlisle’s are very serviceable rib implement agricultural tires. The text content on the tires is significantly different but the font and style of the text is of the period. Several manufacturers made rib implement tires, so there is significant room for variation in styles and text content.
Normally I’d be tearing details like these apart. The tires are significantly different – they are “in the style of” but not “reproductions” – so my expectations are significantly lower.
Considering the definitive lack of options, these tires are acceptable until something else better comes along. The Carlisle I-1 Agricultural Implement tires are a representative example in the style of the most common type of tire used on the M3a4 Handcart.
The decision is to either use and tear up original tires in the field, or use modern production tires that are not perfect copies of an original example. I’ve decided to sell the originals so that they can be preserved and displayed on a cart that will not see the rigorous use that my cart will. My cart will mount these tires or the Coker diamond pattern tires depending on Steve’s decision on his restoration and choice of tires.
For more details of both the original Firestone Rib Implement tires and the current production Carlisle I-1’s, check out the supplemental galleries.
I plan on purchasing a pair of the Coker diamond / waffle tread scooter tires for evaluation at a future time.
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