(The Mike Payne way)

Faced with the problem of finding some wheels slim enough to use with spats on the Chorus Gull, I decided to have a go at making my own.

At the British Electric Flight Association Technical Workshop in September 2001, Mike Payne gave a fascinating talk on some of the techniques he uses on his scale models. This included the subject of wheels and he passed a couple of examples round the audience. I remembered being most impressed with these but couldn't recall too much of the detail of how they were made, so I dropped Mike a line and received the following reply:

The hub is from 1/2" or 1/4" balsa with a 1/2" diameter 1/8" ply disc either side to hold a brass tube bearing. This is about 1 1/2" diameter. I make a 1/64 ply tube the length of the wheel - 3/4", you will need to wrap it round a former just over twice and glue together. Fit the balsa hub inside. The tyre is a lamination of foam from a sleeping mat. This needs to be a high density foam - look for a yellow Karimoor or a blue from Milletts, they do 3 types a 1yr, 2yr and 3yr, you will need the 3yr mat. This can be stuck together with Evostick, a hole cut with a bandsaw - well undersize, the outside is roughly cut. Assemble on the hub, put a screw through and fix in a drill. Spin up and sand with coarse abrasive to shape.

This picture shows my first attempt. It departs from Mike's description in three ways:

  • The foam I used came from a kneeling mat. This is a bit thicker than the sleeping mats and so I used only two laminations, instead of the three that Mike usually uses to get a tyre width of 3/4".
  • I hadn't got any brass tube of the right diameter, but I did find two nylon bushes which were a good running fit on the wire axles, so I used these instead.
  • Because my nylon bushes were only 3/8" long, I used 1/4" balsa for the hub with 1/16" ply discs glued on the side to support the bushes.

These wheels worked okay but, on the third flight, I landed a bit crabwise and broke one of them. On inspection, the balsa hub had split, so I made up another pair of hubs, still of 1/4" balsa but this time with full diameter 1/16" ply facings instead of the rather minimal ply 'washers' you can see in the picture. I was able to fit these hubs into the rims without removing the tyres and I have had no further problems.

For further details, please feel free to use the Mail Me button or click here to e-mail Mike.

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