Saturday, 3 July 2010

Wheels, the first lot finished....

It has taken about 18 months of sometimes manic work to reach this stage. 18 months? What stage?

In January last year I posted a thread on SF asking about the availability of reasonably accurate wire wheels, only to find that there were absolutely none available. 32 spoke plastic mouldings (even the Austin Seven wheels had 36 spokes), several etched spoke wheels with 'flat etches' which have never been used on the real thing, plus a few brave attempts which were closer, but still far to inaccurate for me. So, I decided to make my own.

The following month I started looking into photo etching, machining and casting, with immediate surprise as to the potential cost. I decided therefore that the only practical action was to make a large quantity, thereby achieving reduced cost, but with the gamble that I could sell the balance. The prototypes were made using wheel etches kindly donated by Steve Ward of Penelope Pitlane, with many sets of 'test' wheels made to try out different methods of construction. I eventually settled on a two part rim, with the wheel centre being a sleeve in the rim, clamping the outer rings of the etches between the two wheel halves. The etches, as per full sized practice, must be slightly conical, and thus would have a spacer between the two, viewed as the wire wheel hub.

The last part of the equation was the wheel nuts. These were made in in steel with the intention of casting them in whitemetal.

The first big leap was a crash revision course on AutoCAD starting late November, resulting in finished drawings early in January. The order was made, the etches arrived in February.

Since the etches had to be conical, it was simple enough to make up a set of presses, and after some experimentation, perfectly formed etches were possible without actually separating the etches. The process was slow, so more time was spent developing a faster process, which cut down the time to an acceptable level.

During this time the wheel nut masters were sent off, and within a month a large number of castings arrived. The quality was debatable, with the result that all the wheel nuts I supply are machined, thus the nice shiny finish.

The last bit was the machined parts, two piece wheels and spacers. Once the etches were made, the order was made for wheels and spacers. These arrived last week, thus all parts were available.

Below are the results. Some of the earlier etch pressings were not wasted, but used to produce ready to fit wheels. The main problem had been deformation of the etch outer ring, requiring extra work to ensure a decent fit in the wheel, so, I put in the extra work, and the result is shown below.

Not a 'posed' picture, these are a set of the wheels I painted and built up, the top ones being disc braked, the bottoms drums, and yes, they are left and right handed. The wheel rims/flanges are about as close as one could go, and I feel they are the best representation of the 15" Dunlop made for sale. Well, I would, wouldn't I? Below is an image which is hopefully a little more helpful, if not so pretty.

Hopefully the image is fairly obvious. Coned etches top left, finished wheels bottom left, whilst top right are wheel turnings, and bottom right hubs/spacers and wheel nuts.

Kits and ready made are now available. prseagerthomas@btinternet for details.

These are of course of a scale diameter. Below is an image of such a wheel fitted to a Triumph TR4, which hopefully shows up the 3D effect a little better.

And last of all is the first of the 18" Dunlops, shown on an SS100 Jaguar. Not yet ready but if there are needs, there are ways.

And here is the first set finished.


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