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big den

Wonky Wheels

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It seems almost impossible to buy a slot car equipped with plastic wheels that doesn't have at least one wheel that is 'out of round', 'off centre' or suffering from some other defect that prevents the wheels from running truly on the track. For some reason, intentional or unintentional, it seems more likely that a defective wheel will be fitted to the rear axle where an adverse effect on performance and handling will be most noticeable.


Hardly any brand is exempt from this criticism ... at present I am trying to set up Carrera Mustang and Ford Torino, a Fly Daytona prototype, a Ninco Ford Sierra and a Pioneer Mustang, among others. The quality of the cars in regard to general appearance and detail is outstanding so why is it that one of the most critical factors affecting performance (the 'trueness' of the wheels) is so poor in many slot cars.


So my question to fellow enthusiasts is "Does anyone have tips on how to repair or refurbish plastic wheels so that they will run as truly as their aluminium counterparts?"


Some might suggest retro-fitting with aluminium items. As well as being expensive this can at times being impractical as it relies on being able to buy wheels of the correct size and acquiring wheel inserts that maintain the appearance of the original wheels.


Suggestions would be welcome.

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Hi Big Den,

In just about every car that I've purchased in the past 5 years, if fitted with plastic wheels - there has been at least one if not more which simply don't run true.

The exception has been Slot-it front wheels, which I have found to be quite good - not perfect, but quite good.

If you want performance, you simply have to get wheels and tyres trued up... trying to run a model with wheels which either don't track or wobble probably costs seconds overall in events...

Unless you already have one, I highly recommend a tyre truer... the more elaborate ones will allow you to hone down plastic wheels prior to gluing tyres on and then truing up the tyres as well... trying to true up a tyre which is on a wonky wheel is almost a total waste of time and effort.


The issue seems to be mainly with manufacturers who continue to use axles with splines.. wheels almost never go on either straight or true...


And, for as much pain as it is to tell you - the only real way that you can be assured is to replace the axle with a straight one to length and fit wheels and tyres to suit.

The good news, is that if you are prepared to commit a bit of time and effort into it - you can use the supplied wheels as inserts.. whether you want to opt for plastic replacements or alloy is something you will have to consider... I would highly recommend alloy for the rear wheels though.


Yes, no good news I'm afraid - and I fully appreciate that you have to carefully consider just what you want from your models...


We spend a lot of time tuning our chassis and getting the gear mesh/float out of models to gain extra tenths of a second.. it sort of goes without saying, almost none of that will be of any advantage unless you get your wheels and tyres to run true...

Wheels which have been fitted to splined axles seldom fit nicely onto straight axles.... the issue being the speed at which these are fitted in production.. for all intents and purposes, most on the assembly line see our precious slot cars merely as "toys"...


I would be interested to learn if you have any "Slot-it" cars yet... if so - I would be shocked to learn that you have had issue with the running of any wheels on one.. all mine, a total of about 30 cars - have had excellent wheel and tyre fitting thus far..


hope some of this helps,




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Flamin' heck Rosco,


How are we supposed to add anything helpful when you covered the whole thing so well....... :D :D :D

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Thank you for your replies so far everyone, particular Rosco for your comprehensive analysis.


I don't have a 'professional' tyre truer and living in a compact unit in a retirement village means that I don't really have the room for too much in the way of workshop equipment.


Slot.It cars? Yes I have quite a few, mainly Group C Le Mans cars, but also have a Ferrari 312PB and a Calibra DTM which will be raced later in the year with the Hobart Miniature Car Club group.


The rules for some of the classes raced by that group specify that original plastic wheels are to be used, and luckily for me the wheels on my late model Scalextric BTCC MG and Audi GT3 have been very 'true'.


No such luck with my Cooper T51 which seems to be modeled on the car that the late, great Sir Jack may have run into a culvert at Zandvoort or somewhere judging by the hopelessly deformed front wheel. Trying to change wheels on this model is a massive engineering exercise as the running gear is enclosed within the complex suspension detail.


Similarly one rear wheel of my rally Escort is so far out of line that it rubs on the bodywork as it rotates and I wonder whether it would even be suitable for running on a home track where the magnet effect can often overcome mis-alignment of wheels. It is ironic that I have been able to replace the standard Minilite (?) wheels with 50-year old Formula Junior wheels of similar design. Which begs the question "Why aren't modern wheel production methods better than those of the 1960s?"



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Hi all,

I have just picked up a new Slot it Nissan R 390 with flat 6 and angle winder configuration.

The front rims are shot , straight out of the box.

Looks to be a casting issue. The hub is not true to the boss the axle is pushed into.

I will put the solid rears onto the front and place air rides on the back. Chase inserts.

Another $20 to the cost of the car

Off we go

See if we can tune this one up. New chassis looks to be OK.



Try Harder, if you dont fail your not trying hard enough

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I have suffered from so many plastic wheels over the years either being out of round split hubs, buckled not glued together properly, and those one's that have splined axles shoved into them have been the worst, that i have given up on them.

If i buy any car now and it has plastic wheels on i automatically fit alloys , ok more expensive but at least i have wheels that are good and i can take them of as they have grub screws with ease.

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haven't had too many issues with wonky wheels, had a Pioneer mustang that the wheels fell off (early model issue), but once glued on held ok. The worst was a bent front axle on my WRP rally Audi, bounced along like crazy, couldn't find a new axle as we had to use original wheels so I just straightend as best I could with a hammer.

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Thanks to all you 'Forumites' for your feedback.


In the last couple of months I have bought quite a few 'new old stock' Ninco axle and wheels sets and curiously they all seem to be fairly 'true'.

Makes you wonder why the ones fitted to cars are often 'wonky'.

But of course the drawback with Ninco running gear is that the 2.5 mm axle diameter is not exactly interchangeable with the 3/32 size used by most brands. It will enable me to get some of my Ninco cars performing better.


As Pespi62 commented some class rules specify original equipment so replacement aluminium wheels aren't an option.


There are a couple of methods I have used in the past to repair wonky wheels. By using old Cox gear hubs from 1:24 cars, sleeving them with 3/32 ID brass tubing and glueing the plastic rims to the the hubs I have been able to make up one or two sets of fairly true wheels. And at one stage I did consider using 'axle stoppers' as hubs that could be glued to plastic rims that had been drilled out slightly to correct the wonk factor.


One Northern Tasmanian club regularly drill out plastic hubs to 3 mm ID and then use Plafit equipment (axles, bearings and gears) but this can significantly add to the total cost of a car.



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