steam bending/wagon wheel

I have a friend who would like to restore a set of very old wagon wheels.
Wheels have steel bands outside.
Looks like original had one piece of wood bent in the inside of steel.
Approx. size of wood insert 3X3
Spokes went into mortises cut in rim wood.
Hub of wheel is still usable but spokes need to be re-done.
I have steamed some wood but this not this length.
What would be the best wood to use and will it spring back enough to hold on the steel ?
Approx time of steaming ?
I plan on using a 4" PVC pipe end capped and a 5 gal steel gas can ( No it's not been used for fuel) with gas cooker to boil water and hoses to take the steam to the PVC.
Any help would be much appreciated and "Thanks to all in advance."
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OH SH.. Wheels are about 4 ft in dia.

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Lee,
Look again. Normal wagon wheel wooden rims were made in sections, usually 2 sections per wheel. The sections were called felloes. The steel rim was measured, welded or riveted, heated cherry red to expand it and installed while hot to shrink onto the wood when it was quenched.
Here is a place that makes wheel parts: http://www.firstshotphoto.com/catspokes&.htm
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Hmmm looks like it's WAY out of mf league.Blacksmith?? lol

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Lee wrote:

preferred wood, but the US species has little in common other than it burns with a bright flame when green You have to have a jig and it is usual for it to be a semi circle and you need two. The jointing methods vary but a 20 degree spike held by pegs is normal in Europe, the butt joint is normal in the USA. When you steam the wood and stretch around the jig, you have to clamp it in place every two inches. After one month you remove the clamps and if the wood is not holding shape, you steam it again and wait two months.
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If you are still considering this job after reading the previous posts, you will need to learn something of the art of the wheelwright. For instance: since you already have the tyres (rims), you will have to reverse design the size of the felloes with the following in mind: -the tyre will grow about 1/8" per foot of diameter when heated to about 750 degrees F, which is about the temp needed to put in on. -The felloes need to be sized so the tyre won't fit when cold, so the tyre's shrinking will tighten up (tie, hence "tyre") the whole wheel together and, along with the "dish" you have already planned for, set itn "just right" for its intended use. -These dimensions come from a lot of practice, and depend upon every variable you can imagine. -Tyre bolts were often, if not always used to keep the tyre (you call it the rim) fastened to the felloes (usually pronounced "fellies").
I give you a lot of credit for attempting this task. I once helped put tyres onto a set of circus wagon wheels for a "Hippopotamus Wagon". Each rear tyre wieghed about 350 pounds (the front ones were somewhat lighter). The wheelwright had to make new wheels to fit the old tyres, as you do. This is a lot tougher than making the wheel first then measuring the circumference and making the tyre to fit. Anyway, unless you do the same sort of wheel over and over, it's a crap shoot as to whether everything is going to come out alright. It did in this case.
New to this newsgroup, Pete Stanaitis -------------------------
Lee wrote:

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