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Author Topic: Spoked wheels tutorial  (Read 1582 times)
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g_kandylakis
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« on: July 03, 2018, 12:32:20 PM »

Ok, to begin with, I am deliberately posting it here, hoping that the forum administratos decide where it is properly suited to be.

I could not find a clear place, so since it is mainly for indoor scale models...

Please feeel fre to move it wherever you feel like, and delete these first sentences...
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A few years ago I posted a short tutorial thread in SFA about some methods on how to make spoked wheels. With SFA gone, a large volume of information like this has been lost, probably forever.

While recently writing in another forum about spoked wheels and trying to explain a possible way to make them, I thought about re-posting the tutorial here, with the hope that it might be helpful for someone in the future...

I am not claiming originality or that it is the best/only way to make spoked wheels, but it sure is a successful way. THe wheels described are best suited for indoor scale models, but they can also work outdoors, even if more sensitive.

I am not sure I am going to include a lot of text, a short description and plenty of photographs wil hopefully do. If there is anything missing or questions, just ask in the end. Or add any additional suggestions, methods or whatever you see fit. It will not do harm to have this all together somewhere...

The basic concept involves making two wheel halves out of balsa, using a jig to position thread for spokes and glueing the halves together. There is also a wheel axle of course...

We start with a sketch or a drawing of the projected wheel, to define the basic dimensions. The example being from my Grahame White Lizzie.
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g_kandylakis
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2018, 12:37:34 PM »

In order to make the wheel halves, the simplest way is to use a rotary cutter, or better two, set at the inner and outer diameter of the wheel, so you do not have to readjust the one for every cut. (I have managed to own three in the end, but a very useful tool).

Notice the little ply piece glued in the middle, serves as a better center for having coaxial cuts.

After cutting, one has to sand the section to a semi-circular one. It can be done by hand, but is tedious and not too accurate. But still, it is possible.

Last picture shows a result that can be achieved, even with simple hand shaping and sanding. They look battereed enough, but is because of the flying, or rathere the long taxying of a stuborn model...
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g_kandylakis
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2018, 12:46:03 PM »

Second possibility, one I used for many years, is to shape the halves on a rotary tool, such as a Dremel or a Proxxon, using a controur template.

My initial, very primitive setup was a simple battery operated can motor. On the motor a simple mandrel was glued and on it the balsa pieces to be turned.

The template was nothing more than a shaped ply piece glued to a brass tube.

The brass tube slides over the mandrel, so it is centered and with the motor running, pushed against the balsa disk, slowly forming a profile. Use of needle files or sanding tools can help rough form the outline. The template takes care of the fine forming. If you dope the finished part, while still on the mandrel, let dry and make another pass, you get a nice smooth surface.
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 12:49:17 PM »

Following with interest, George.
Even though I have my 'own' methods, it's good to see both the similar methods and those that differ  Smiley
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g_kandylakis
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 12:53:05 PM »

A more advanced setup involves the rotary tool held on a base. Years ago I bought a (rather expensive then and now) X-Y table, so I could make a temporary lathe. A propere lathe will work much better of course, if one has access to it.

Again a template, in this case a carbon blade, has been shaped with a grinding disk to the desired outline and using the X-Y table, was used to make 8 nearly identical disks.

My experience has been that it is best not to mess too much with the disk thickness while shaping, just go oversize.
When finished with the contour, it is very easy, using simple jigs, to cut and sand everything to the desired thickness = tyre thickness/2
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 01:01:00 PM »

With the wheel halves done, the other missing component is the wheel axle.

Metal tubing of suitable diameter is an obvious choice. For small peanuts I have also used tissue rolled tubes, for lightness.

I have recently become a great fan of Albion Alloys LTD tubing, available in a variety of diameters, up to 0,5x0,3mm !!! Of course, anything will do, if you get the inner and outer diameter you need.

Small ply (or plastic, or whatever) disks are glued to each end of the tubing, as flanges. Note here, and in the initial drawing, that the axle length is made oversize, the extra will be sanded after final assembly. Prior to that, I have often had difficulty with spoke thread simply jumping over the tubing, before glue was applied. this will become clearer later...

Again nothing special is needed for the disks, just a center axle and bigger tubes that serve as guides for cutting and sanding to a round shape. Any other method will do, if you can think of it, in order to get the end part, this is just a suggestion, which works well, however (for me, that is...).
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« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 03:00:01 PM by g_kandylakis » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 01:12:52 PM »

And now we come to the assembly jig.

Simply a flat piece, with a jig layout drawing glued on it (CA stains for a really quick and dirty job...).

A sample drawing for a jig is attached, of course you can draw your own with desired diameters and spoke number...

A couple of balsa disks are glued in the middle, in oder to lift the plane of the wheel and allow the axle, which anyway extends, to sit on the jig.

Purpose here is to have everything symmetic, unless of course you are making something like a Sopwith Camel wheel with no covers, which was not symmetric.

Also necessary is a center pin, a steel wire of the same diameter as the inside of the wheel axle and small balsa pieces to make sure the wheel disks sit centered on the base disks.
No need to stress out that the pin must be completelz perpendicular to the base plane, or you get a wobbly rotating wheel as a result.

Placed between spoke lines, so as not to interfere with them. A slight sanding - trimming may be required, until a wheel disk can properly fit, not too loose and not too tight...

Nothing strange so far, I hope...
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« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 03:05:07 PM by g_kandylakis » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 01:23:30 PM »

A wheel half is placed in the jig, an axle too, held in possition with a piece of rubber eraser.

Pins are added for the routing of the bottom spokes, and you start routing thread for the one side.

These are the purple pins. Next photos show T-pins, too many of them, left over from the previous wheel created. They do not have to be removed, as long as you do not get confused by the extra ones.

Thread is routed and aligned with the line below. You have to look completely perpendicular to the plane, to have the proper position.

regarding material, it is a matter of choice... I use fine polyamide thread, extremely smooth and strong. Silk thread is also possible, or whatever else you can find, depending on the wheel size and loads expected. Remember, they have to be well glueable too (word is correct or too greek?).

It is very crucial to have the thread under proper and equal tension, a matter of getting the feel of it... Also, you can glue or tack-glue it to the wheel disk,in order to get some stability.
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« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 03:02:25 PM by g_kandylakis » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2018, 01:34:58 PM »

As I said before, no originality is claimed, but I should also have mentioned I got the main technique from Beno Sabel of Germany many years ago. Many will remember his beautiful pioneer designs from the 70s and 80s...

Back on track, after the one side is done, the second one, the upper spokes, follows. This one is much quicker, plus the spokes are mostly in the air, so they are automatically aligned due to the thread tension.

Again, the art here is to apply the same amount of tension, so that it equals in the end to that of the bottom spokes (symmetry...)

With all spokes in place, it is time for glueing together. Using your favorite glue, preferably not a very fast drying one, apply it to the wheel halves and put the second one in place. Over it some more balsa disks in order to clear the extending axle height, and finally some weight to keep the wheel halves in contact while the glue dries. When dry, you simple remove the weight, cut the spokes and slowly lift from the jig. It is very probable that some glue migt have spilled over to the jig centering tabs. Of course, they could be waxed or made of non stick material, so that would not be an issue.

No need to cut the spokes flush at this point, it can be easier done when the wheel is free.
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 01:37:51 PM »

Extra coats of glue or dope can be added at the external seam. the internal is not so easy, because of the spokes, but also possible.

Like most things, the more time you spent, the better results you get.
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 01:41:53 PM »

Last step, bringing the axle to its correct length...

Prior to that, it is assumed that you have applied glue to the axle flanges, in order to stick the spokes permanently. You have to push the thread as close as possible to the flange.

Then, it is a matter of decision or design, how much extra axle length you want. a simple space made of ply or brass or any kind of sheet, with a hole for the axis, forms a perfect jig for accurate sanding to length.

So, that should be it, as far as wheel construction is concerned.
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2018, 01:49:47 PM »

Last and necessary step, of course, is painting...

Again, prior to that, the smoother the balsa surface, the better the end result. I coat and sand 3-4 times in order to get rid of the balsa grain.

Anything goes for paints, enamel, acrylic or what you like best. Spraying or airbrushing is best, especially for the silver spokes and wheel rim. the tyre can be painted with a brush.

I paint the tyre first, as a matter of fact, I overpaint the rim as well.

A simple turned disk ackts as a mask, for spaying the rim and spokes, protecting the already painted tyre surface. A piece of rubber foam takes care of overspray for the underside.
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« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 03:06:41 PM by g_kandylakis » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2018, 01:57:13 PM »

So, here we have the finished wheels...

Four were needed for the Lizzie, they turned out pretty similar and strong enough for normal flying, i.e. not excesive crash shocks.

I have never tested them to destruction to see how well the hold. They do. But there have been failures in cases of a vertical dive to the ground. The model did not look much better either...

So, I hope this will be helpful and I will gladly see more input.

Russ has also posted his version at some point, here or in SFA (?).

There is also the other option, a more advanced and more controversial one, using 3D printed parts, as done on my Avro F. I am thinking of combining the two, using printed parts for rims and balsa for tyres.

My "dream" is to once manage to make tyres out of silicon rubber, in order to get elasticity exactly where you need it. I might do it for the Sikorsky, to see how it comes out. A mold will be needed, plus an inside collapsible core. Some CAD work for the future... As if there not enough things to do...


George
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2018, 02:00:48 PM »

Not a bad idea at all...

I got a PM from Lurker, suggesting a printable PDF version for better reference use. I will gladly do it, perhaps tomorrow. The Administrators will have to upload it when I am done, or I will try and see what happens...



Now it is time for more serious things, time to watch football!

Go England, Go Colombia !!! Easy when you are neutral... Grin

George

PS, just went over it again (half time...) and corrected some spelling errors. For some still remaining, my apologies.
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2018, 05:10:06 PM »

Now it is time for more serious things, time to watch football!

Go England, Go Colombia !!! Easy when you are neutral... Grin

George

PS, just went over it again (half time...) and corrected some spelling errors. For some still remaining, my apologies.

Phew!  That was close...

Germany home, England win a penalty shoot out - whatever next!

On Aeroplane matters, a very nice guide and Lurks suggestion is a good one...

Andrew
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2018, 05:17:46 PM »

Phew!  That was close...

More than close  Smiley
It doesn't get much closer...
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2018, 05:23:20 PM »

 Grin Grin Grin

Isn’t the modern world amazing in some ways.  We are miles and miles apart and yet a shared experience...

Andrew
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2018, 05:27:20 PM »

Yes, Eng ... ger .... land! ...as some might say.

What happened to Greece this year, George?
Is Theo Zagorakis still playing?  Wink He was a popular player at Leicester  Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2018, 06:06:32 PM »

Yes indeed Andrew, amazing. Equally amazing to be able to see someone realtime during a conversation on a mobile phone, in, say South America or Asia... And more is sure to come.

Russ, he was very popular in Greece too. No, retired many years ago. Do not laugh, he is currently a MP in the European Parliament...

Greece? Well, second in Group phase behind Belgium, lost playoff chance against Croatia, so considering how these teams are doing at the WC, not so bad...  Grin

Going back in time, this day in 2004 we won the European Championship  Shocked

Next time...

George
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2018, 06:59:07 PM »

Quote
Going back in time, this day in 2004 we won the European Championship  Shocked

A popular win ... I for one cheered them along  Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2018, 07:07:05 PM »

Yes indeed Andrew, amazing. Equally amazing to be able to see someone realtime during a conversation on a mobile phone, in, say South America or Asia... And more is sure to come.

George

Yes, my dad was very ill in Mauritius recently (he had to have a heart by-pass out there after collapsing on holiday) and the WhatsApp video phone was amazing, I managed to keep him sane by talking to him and seeing him every day.

Good news’s is that He is home safe and sound now after 6 weeks...

Sorry to distort your thread but I had to say that.

Andrew

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« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2018, 02:43:04 AM »

Is there some sort of football thing going on?? 22 Overpaid cretins running about a bit and feigning injuries is not for me...!

Dan.
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« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2018, 07:48:30 AM »

Is there some sort of football thing going on?? 22 Overpaid cretins running about a bit and feigning injuries is not for me...!

Dan.
Football/Soccer is a gentlemen game played by "animals", and rugby is a game for "animals" played by gentlemen  Wink Grin

George: Sorry for hijacking your thread. Found it VERY instructive!!!  Grin Grin
PS: PDF! PDF! PDF!  Grin
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« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2018, 08:20:05 AM »

Big thanks from me too, George, for this excellent and fascinating tutorial of your methods. Very timely too as I think my next scale model will have spokies.
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« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2018, 11:47:16 AM »

Not a bad idea at all...

I got a PM from Lurker, suggesting a printable PDF version for better reference use. I will gladly do it, perhaps tomorrow.

Reading this now, I cannot help but laugh, looking at my optimism. Or maybe "tomorrow" has a different meaning to me...

Anyway, much later than tomorrow, a month later, I finally managed to edit the above posts to a printable pdf tutorial, as suggested by the Lurker.

I have tried to upload it to the plans gallery, with no success. I cannot see if I do something wrong, I do not get any error messages. Is it supposed to get uploaded automatically, or does so eone release it once uploaded? Anyway, I'll send a pm to Ratz asking for advice. Unless someone can help from here...

It is a pfd file with 25 pages and 4,something Mbs.

George
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