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Wire wheels, stage four...

7650 Views 21 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  PeterSussex
Next bit, or, a bit in between bit depending on the way things are viewed.

In between because this is in effect the last part of what I might term my first varied efforts regarding etches, prototypes and design work, whilst the parts to complete are also to be used on what might be described as the 'second series'.

For new observers, a brief recap.

After an initial thread about two years ago where it was found that no scale or even slightly accurate wheels were available, I decided to make my own. Some folk are of course very pleased with what is available (Cartrix, Fly, PCS etc) but I, and a growing number of others are not.
Thus my design and manufacture of a very small number of wheel sets initally for 1950's Austin Healey, Triumph TR and MG. This venture was not just 'a wire wheel for a '50's sports car, it was a particular wheel for a range of sports cars. 15" scale diameter, side laced 48 spoke pattern with 16 spokes on the outer layer and 32 spokes on the inner. No hap-hazard criss cross, but an effort to replicate the original. The picture below shows the wheelon a Triumph TR4, the correct wheel fitment for this car.

It is suggested to those who might be interested that this is a 1950/early 60's wheel fitment. They may look ok on other cars, but are certainly notcorrect fora Healey 300 MK III or an MGC. Unfortunately, they are the closest available.

Shortly after was introduced the 18"x 60 spoke wheel as fitted to (in particular) the 1 1/2 litre Astons of the early 30's together with the late 30's SS100. The picture shows such a wheel fitted to an Aston Martin.

Any low volume product will be expensive and it must be admitted that these items are not cheap. Those who buy Parkins bitter from Sainsburys will not be interested, those who go for the Speckled hen and other bottled beers might take note!

The in between bit. Alfa wheels. The etches were made earlier this year, but I could not justify having the rims done until costs on the other wheels were covered. A weak moment caused me to order up the parts for 19" wheels, intended for the available 8C 2300 wheels, these parts will also apply to the Alfa 8C2900, though the etches for the latter are still pending.

Old hat. sets are now here, not as smoothly as I would like. The picture below shows both the kit together with two partly asembled wheels.

More complex then previous wheels, these wheels include two spacers and an additional etch above the previous contents which is why alas, the cost is greater. A close up of the partially assembled wheels is shown below.

Intentions are to supply wheels with 3/32 fitting with threaded boss including 2mm grub screw, with an option of 1/16 plain fitting.

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Well Peter, such craftsmanship would be wasted on the sort of builds I can put together, but wow, they are just so beautiful. I love to see the closeups (oh dear, it sounds so pervy - I must get out more!). Thanks for posting, and keep up your great work.

Stunning work!
Please let us know as and when these wheels will be available.
regards Bill.
Bill, the 15" and 18" Dunlops are available now.

I have a few 15" sets remaining, but when these go, from my point of view that will be it. They are however already available from GP Miniatures. My costs on these particular wheels are now covered, thus this part of the project has been passed on except for the odd special, an example being a set for fitment to 1/8" threaded axles.

A batch of eight sets of 18" wheels has just been completed.

With all these bits, slight hiccups have occurred with the 19" Borrani wheels being no exception. Hopefully all will be sorted out in the next couple of days after which I'll be putting a set together and they will no doubt appear on this thread.

Please PM if interested.

Frank, I tried to PM but you message service is disabled?

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Progress is made.

As many folk will know, especially the older ones, it is always best to do things for yourself if you want them right. Those same folk will also admit that such action can take a lot of time...

Two jobs shopped out conflicted dimension wise, with either etches oversize or rims undersize. Both producers feeling their products were to dimension, your truly mad e jig and machined 0.002" off each etch to settle the situation. THIS is why it is perhaps not a viable commercial project? Whatever, things are now in full swing.

Formed etches in full swing, with the forming tools to the left. Problems have been encountered with the outer etches where the spokes must undergo much stretching. a projected re-design of the forming tools should hopefully overcome the problem.

The image below shows two progressions of production wheels, one in Alocrom finish, a treatment to improve paint adhesion, the other in primer.

Better photo's in due course.

As per originals, all my wheels fitted to cars are painted. Except for a number of rather expensive cars from the mid-50's to this wheels' demise in the mid 60's, all wire wheels were painted.

It is hoped that those who have requested these wheels will have them in early January after which I will take a break until the second, and alas potentially the last batch of wheels will be made.


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A bit more progress made, a few better photos too.

Below is the new wheel in bare metal. This is built up from production parts and might be described as a test build.

The next stage was primer.

The grey shows up the detail quite well. Typical spoke width is around 0.007". Inconsistant etching has caused a few hiccups on the way.

The image below shows the component parts of one wheel, front or rear. Two fittings have been made. One is made to suit a 3/32" axle and has a 2.5mm x 8mm dia boss at the rear, and is supplied with a 2mm grubscrew, the other has a plain 1/16" hole, 'brake drum' detail and is intended for front axle fitting using Loctite or a preferred adhesive.

Right to left are wheel centre, inner etch, spacer, centre etch, spacer and hub, outer etch and finally the wheel rim. One reason these wheels do not come at PCS prices.

Assembly follows the same lines as earlier wheels and has already been covered at some time in the past, though spoke alignment is worthy of a few words. This is illustrated with a set of pictures. Apologies for the quality of number two!

Below is the inner etch. The spokes run from the inner hub to the inner rim of the wheel.

Next would come a spacer, but this has been omitted. The next etch, the centre one runs from the inner hub to the wheel well, thus it may be noted that the outer rim on this is a little wider than that of the inner etch. The spoke pattern is identical, though the dimensions are slightly different.

It may be noted that the spokes do in fact line up, in that the left hand inner spokes line up with the right hand centre spokes and vice-versa.

The centres of these two spokes are together, the outers would have the spacer between.
The last etch, the outer one, runs from the outer hub to the well. These spokes again follow the same pattern, but seem quite different due to the diameters of the inner and outer hubs. The hub is fitted between the middle of this etch and the middle of the centre etch, and again a spacer keeps the two outer rings apart.

The alignment of these spokes on the rim is equally spaced between the position of the other two etches.

Hopefully, not too complicated.

One of the reasons that this series of wheels look right is that the spokes are not only in a conical pattern, unlike most, but that pattern is pretty accurate, unlike all.

It is hoped that things will continue to develop. One small detail which I wanted to address was the hubs. A look at most vintage inner hubs will show them to be conical, thus a compromise hub has been made.

It may be noted that there is a small step at the outer end of this hub. This is where the outer etch is located. There is a similar step at the inner end, which locates in the middle of the centre etch.
This is the area where some problems have occurred. Clearances. A clearance of about a thou is totally thrown if both machining and etching dimensions vary. They did.

There are those who quite rightly will suggest that there is no need for such close limits, but in my mind is of course the old 'see through' wheels, a part of the project I hope to advance a little in the coming month.

The occasional enquiry comes through whereby folk request a set of wheels. The wheels I make are specific types, I do not make generic types.

This latest wheel is in profile a close to scale 19" diameter 60 spoke Borrani wheel. It is 5mm wide (too wide) in order that tyres may be obtained.
It is correct for some of the later 6C 1750 Alfas, early 8C 2300 Alfas and without doubt other cars (especially Italian ones) of the period.

Please PM if interested, at time of typing there are 9 sets left.

They will of course look good on any period car, but please ask with any wheels if a more suitable type is available. So, faced with a question 'are these wheels ok for my 8C 2900, the answer is that they are the closest you will find, but wait a few months and the correct ones will be available will be with us.

The next big step is those ol' see through wire. K3 Magnette, MGTC, A7 including Mrs Jo-jo etc.

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Hi Andi, yes you are alas correct, nothing for Early Birds, though you should see an Auto Union, courtesty of Jon in the concours, with a set of my wheels. Judge the wheels and make a comment.

Production unfortunately depends on sales, which from my point of view is great, as sales are not more than modest and I don't have to rush around, though of course from the point of view of the enthusiast waiting for a set of wheels, it is another matter.

A big investment, for me, has just been made on the latest 19" wheels. As a rule I reckon to recover half of the costs before I will cough up for more parts. The situation thus exists whereby I simply won't pay out for the next etches to be completed, or indeed the rims, until costs are at least part covered for the previous lot.

If any eccentric member wishes to invest £1500 with no expected profit, we could progress faster! This will limit widths mind you, lets make it an even £3K.

The Vanwall wheels appeal, but as with so many cars, the wheels vary. Could you post a picture of what you hope for?

Thanks, Peter
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Wow Peter, is that really how much those wheels cost to make?

You truly are devoted!

I was musing over how much my Vanwall cost and couldn't get above about 250 euro and that's only 'cos i've had to buy EVERYTHING, now I have lots of materials left over.....

Keep doing it man, i'll stick to the PCS wheels for now and if you ever........ I'll buy some!!


Andi, £3,000 would pay for the lot!

I have only paid out about £1400 so far, with perhaps £1000 recovered in sales.

The latest bill came to just under £400 and I reckon on recovering half of that before I go onto the next stage.

Planned production is thus;

Alfa (early) wheels now here. I must now sell £200 of wheels to cover the forthcoming etched parts and some new castings.

The new etches include later Alfa (2900 etc) wheel spokes which use the same rims etc as the early type. I will sell some of these which will pay for an alternative wheel centre for the 19" wheels for Mercedes GP etc. I'll sell a few of these, which will pay for some new 18" rims/centres.

I will then be able to make up kits for Alfetta, P3 and Talbot Lago. Sales of these will pay for the next stage, 16" for a variety of cars.

The 16" will pay for some 21" rims/centres for 20's/early 30's cars.

The last stage will be alternative rim widths. Then I'll stop.

Apart from the first wheels, where I had about £750 tied up in parts, my deficit has not been more than about £450, so no, I'm not that devoted....

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Hi all.
Received two sets of these fine wheels yesterday. The quality is top draw, superbly finished. Assembly looks straight forward, anyone who has built up the alloy etched spoke Ninco ProRace wheels or the Le Mans Minature Bugatti wheels will have no problem with Peter's offerings.
For the serious scale scratch builder, these wheels are a 'must have' item.
Cheers Bill.
A few weeks back I bought the Auto Union D Type wheels from Peter, and echoing Bills comments these are absolute top quality. When I first heard of Peters work a year back or so, I was skeptical, especially when you consider the share that PCS and Penelope Pitlane have, but now having got a set of the finished wheels they really do blow anything else out of the water. These are a quality item and will undoubtedly improve the look of my Auto Union build for Early Birds

Everyone at some point must buy a set of these, I know I certainly will be getting a few more sets!

I think these wheels could be improved by having narrower spokes. Despite the big advance over other available wheels, a finer spoke would look so much more delicate. 1/43rd static manufacturers did it, thus proving that a stainless or brass etch could be finer. They also used two tangential discs crossed at the front for a better degree of texture and depth. All that on a wheel, maybe 3mm wide.
Of course, they didn't have to transmit driving power via spokes. That's why slot race wheels will never look so good.

And before anyone asks, yes I have made them that way, for a 1/24th Bentley. The spokes were 4 thou thick and wide, four discs, crossed and then painted.

Just to show what I meant, I was lucky to find these today while looking for something else, (ain't that always the way)?

Here is a set of etches I did for the 1/24th scale Derby Bentley. Note how the spokes are relatively finer in width. Consequently they painted well to make the spokes look rounded.
They are in 0.14millimetre stainless. The spokes have ended up at 0.16, so almost maintaining the etchers' 1.2 times the thickness rule, but of course, if you start with a thinner sheet, you can have a narrower spoke. You can then also have a double disc of spokes at the front of the wheel, where it is most noticeable. The tangential discs are put on as a pair with one turned over, so the front spokes have a depth of "3-Dness" about it,which I think is the most important effect to suggest correct lacing.

Also, just to show that you can in fact get away with narrower lines than the thickness of the etch, here is a fret I had made for a 1/12th scale model of a Riva Aquarama Special speedboat. Included on the fret are the spoke units for a Bluemell's Brooklands steering wheel as used on a Thames Slipper Launch. The individual wires are much narrower than the thickness of the fret. They are bound together by the badge section and the ends only. They were all soldered to a hub and rim in a jig, then nickel plated. I have several of these frets, so it wasn't a happy chance.

The artwork for all my phot-etchings is done with a pencil, a draughting pen and photo-copier. It's cut, glued down and in those days used be copied on a repro camera at my local printer's, who'd do me two negs, emulsion side down, to modify with red tape and ink for the front and back artwork and send off, camera ready for the etchers, thus saving the outrageous "graphic tooling" charge they now make.

I know nothing of how the computerised artwork is done, but I continue to do artwork for etching and decals with a pen. Most etchers will still accept it.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks for the replies. I think most who receive a set of wheels are rather pleased with them, the remainder being delighted. I honestly think they are the best around but would be happy if someone made something better!

Martin, regarding the spoke width, we covered this on an earlier thread did we not? At the time it was pointed out that with the 0.006" material and the particular manufacturers recommendation of a minimum 30% added for minimum width. From my point of view, at the time, I should have preferred something thinner. I now know that material of 0.002" is available, though have only seen it for sale, not as an option supplied by a photo etching company.

My views have however changed. I feel that for anything mobile, a more robust part is required. Scale spokes are perfect for a static model to be tucked away under a clear cover, but not quite apt for anything likely to be handled or used on a track, however carefully. The etches are quite delicate anyway, particularly in their softened state. Anything sold as a kit must be relatively durable, or it will gain a reputation as something to be avoided.

The Bentley etches are nice. This seems to be a popular way of doing things in 1/24 scale, the pic below showing some Japanese wheels for a Ferrari.

This method of construction was not used, since as mentioned very early on and updated occasionally, my wheels are to be used in a manner whereby the spokes transmit the power. The 3D effect would be nice, indeed Slot Classic use half etched spokes to good effect to give this impression. A look at the picture above shows the inner spokes to use the same idea.

Thanks for the comments.

Progress again on drawing new wheels, as the last kits are made up and so it is back to the AutoCAD again. With a recent decision to do no new wheel types after the present collection is finished, the previously reduced number of wheel types is now increasing again.

Drawing has three stages. The first bit is the planning, working out how many spokes there are, where they start, and where they go to. This takes all the time, the calculater overheats and the swearwords get used up long before their sell by date. I thus end up with a Lowry picture of a wheel. The next stage is giving the various parts of the etches width, which is almost just mechanical. The last bit is layout. just copying master drawings and putting them where they are needed.

I'm just over half done on part one drawing wise. Drawings are set up for 21" to include early and late Bentley and Delage 1.5GP. These types were used on a variety of other circa 1930 cars.
19" are set up for Mercedes GP, Alfa 8C 2900, MG K3 and Mrs Jo-jo. Part done are racing A7, MG J4 and for the Matchbox model, MG TC.
18", Talbot-Lago are done, Alfetta half done and P3 just started.
16", Aston Martin DB2/3, HRG and Borrani (one type) done, XK 120/C Type Jag and an alternate Borrani started.
15", not originally intended as other wheels look similar, but a pair of front/rear Borrani wheels to suit Ferrari 275P (etc) and particularly Maserati Tipo 151/3 is planned.

I regret (in some respects) and am delighted (in others) to say that the original series are all but sold out. It is unlikely that the 15" will be available for some time once gone as this will involve more turned parts. A year perhaps? The others may be repeateda little earlier.

I hope I have replied to all email or message enquiries. If not, please mail again.

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Peter, your wheels are the best available currently, for sure. But they are hardly a production item, since your posts constantly speak of how few, rather than how many will be made and possibly sold. It is true, of course, that high end stuff for scratchbuilders is not taken up to any profitable degree. Heaven knows I have realised that with FPF models.
I just thought they could be better with slightly narrower spokes and the "crossed-over" style of construction, which works perfectly well on 32nd as well as the 24th ones I happened to have as an example. 3.5 thou material was obviously available to me in stainless as that's what the Bentley wheels were made with.
So far, your wheels are solid, so any intention to make the spokes transmit power was not clear. Do you think they would really take the knocks and speed without running eccentrically?
Good luck with that one.

Hi, Peter,

the 19´´-wheels arrived today. The best-looking slotcar-wire wheels I have ever seen! Thank you very much!

Kind regards, Taffy
Frank, I look forward to seeing the completed Aston Martin. This model seems quite popular and all the examples I have seen on the Forum have been to a high standard. Your thread on the car you are building is a welcome 'Scratch Building' topic.

Taffy, I'm glad the wheels met your expectations. They were supplied 'pre-assembled' because I was concerned about how well these parts fit together. They were of course fine but I did not wish to take any risks.

A few members have expressed a wish for wheels to suit the Alfa Romeo Bimotore, however, it is unlikely that the correct wheels will be made for this car. According to my information the front wheels were 20" and the rear wheels were 21". Whilst I do intend to make some 21" wheels, there are no plans to produce 20" wheels at present.

The inclusion of a small number of etches to suit the Bimotore is not a problem, the problem is the turned parts, which are only worth making for numbers of 100+. If there are members who wish to make their own rims to suit, I will add some Bimotore spokes to the present etch sheet.

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