Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Tires and wheels are a popular topic of discussion with scale modelers whether they are building vehicles or aircraft. The aftermarket world has responded with resin alternatives for some of the needs modelers have requested. It could be something such as the correct tire thread pattern or weighted appearance. But what do you do if you have plastic or vinyl tires that aren’t quite what you need? Well, use your scale modeling skill sets and get creative!

In the picture above, I have created three different width tires from one standard kit tire.¬† Many of the fleet owned semi trucks (Big Rigs) are running the fuel efficient Super Singles instead of dual tires and wheels on an axle. Or if you are building a cement truck, they have high floatation tires to allow them to access new construction sites which have softer surfaces to trek across. The “Triple” and “Double” would be perfect for such a project.

Not wanting to waste anything, the sidewalls from the tires I sliced apart to make the double and triple were glued together to make a narrowed tire. If you build such vehicles as those 1930’s and earlier, tires had an appearance as if they were over sized bicycle tires. You can manipulate the tread and sidewall detail by sanding or carefully trimming away with a very sharp hobby knife. I’ve got an early Mack Truck that these are suitable for!

So how do you slice a tire apart to get a nice clean square cut? Well if you are working with vinyl tires as shown here, stuff’em as I described in this post/video. Mount them to a rim using¬† a short piece of wooden dowel that provides a snug match to the inside diameter of the tire’s center. With the tire in place on the dowel, you can mount the dowel into a lathe (best option) or some other fashion that will allow you to rotate it slowly so you can use your hobby knife to carefully slice through the tire inside one of the grooves in the tread pattern or where ever you deem necessary to meet your specific needs.

R/C Car racers have little contraptions that they use to shave tires, you could acquire one of these or make your own. I have a lathe, but I also have taken a piece of dowel about two inches long (in the proper diameter necessary), drilled through the center lengthwise (using a lathe or drill press) to ensure it was exact center. Then inserted a piece of threaded rod (a long bolt will work too) through the hole in the dowel section, using a washer and nut on each end of the dowel to hold the dowel firmly centered in place on threaded rod. I can stick one end into a drill to give me an impromptu lathe.

Two options to make the cut through the tire are hobby knife (as mentioned) or a piece of heavy thread. I’ve shown a couple different applications where using thread as a cutting tool is suitable option. The goal is to slice into and through the tire slowly and as square to 90 degrees as you can to make joining the two piece together with as much contact surface as possible.

Bonding the tire sections together can be done using what ever cement, glue or solvent you prefer to use for the material being bonded. For these vinyl tires I used thin CA (super glue).

I showed you the results I got using vinyl tires, but you can get similar results using plastic or resin tires.


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