Reply To: '68 Merc Park Lane Wire Wheel Covers
Paul & Xenia Ferris
I recently had a similar experience after a brake job on my Cyclone that turned out to be the socket that had decided to stay behind, and then fall off.
I checked with the master parts book and illustrations and I see several wire wheel covers that were offered in 68. I don’t believe that anyone was doing anything special back then yet as far as attachment is concerned. On our 84 Cougar there is a place to remove the plastic center cap and there is a detent where a small screwdriver can go to do this. Once that is off you see a special nut that you must remove in the center that will allow you to remove the wheel cover after that. This was done to deter theft, but I do not believe that this was being done back in 68. I know when I worked at the local dealership back in the late 70’s the Thunderbirds came with some very nice wire wheel covers and there was no lock mechanism on those.
I am going to go on the assumption that you have never pulled a wheel cover off before and do my best to describe the steps necessary as best I can.
In my experience, the heaver and nicer a wheel cover is, the more and tighter gripping teeth it has. Your wire cover will probably take a little more effort than a regular one. The cover should come off with the end of the jack handle or a very large screwdriver. The idea is to pry it off from the edge. You will want to take your time and try to avoid working with the very edge of the cover. Some of the nicer ones have lips that bend easily. You’ll want to pry a little deeper than at the lip. Sometimes it is easier to twist the tool to get things moving. Once you get some movement, move the pry tool you are using an inch or so around the perimeter and try there. Typically, there is a little bit of noise involved when the cover moves. After you repeat this process a few times it will get easer and eventually the cover will pop off. You will want to be ready to catch it so that it doesn’t get scratched by impacting the ground.
Installation is fairly simple. You wedge in one side of the cover and gently pound the edge back on. I like to start with the side that has the valve stem to make certain that it aligns and is through the cover. The best tool for this job is a rubber mallet. In the old days I used to use the heal of my palm but as I got older I realized that a mallet is much cheaper to replace or fix. Here again, you will want to avoid the very edge of the lip and focus your efforts more towards the last bend of the cover to avoid bending the lip. Sometimes as you work around the edge, where you started will come loose and you will have to start over. But with some patience it doesn’t take that long. You will know when you are done when the edge is the same distance all around and no longer moves. Also, the cover will tend to “Ring” when you hit it everywhere you do. While it moves it will make much less noise.
I hope this helps! Good Luck!