Big things with little cars

Greetings LaLD crew. I just wanted to share something that I learned while building customs over the past few months. When doing wheel swaps, I wanted to customize my axles and be able to keep the clean factory tips on both sides. Also, since I work with a lot of older casts that have functional suspension, I didn’t want to glue/epoxy the axle to the base.

So, I did some hunting for materials to make an axle sleeve. By adding a housing/sleeve to the base I can make the axle as wide/thin as I want and not lose the springy suspension that is awesome on a lot of older casts.

Here is a step by step guide for building your own axle housing.

I am going to use this old Yatming Bimmer project as an example.

The wheels were recently sourced off the Mad Manga Batman variant. As you can see... the axles are a bit too long.

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Double flange spring bars are used for watch straps... and they are super cheap! You can purchase a repair kit with a variety of sizes (100+ pieces) on eBay for less than $5.

You can measure the size that you need or just pull different sizes from the kit and compare to the chassis until you get a size that looks like it will work for you. Bear in mind, we are going to be cutting off both ends. So, give yourself a few millimeters to play with.

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My trusty Dremel tool with cut-off bit makes quick work in cutting off the ends of these little pins.

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Cut off the end of each side of the housing. The spring that is inside the housing will push the rest of the spring tip out. If it gets jammed up, you can use a spare hotwheels axle to push the spring and parts out.

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Once you have everything pushed out of the housing, you will have a really nice sturdy axle sleeve to work with. (or exhaust tip if want to add this to the back of a custom... it’s the perfect size)

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Insert the axle housing into the base and make sure everything fits nicely. If you are working with a hotweels base without suspension, you might need to file away a little bit to get it to rest snug. Then you likely will need to glue/epoxy it into place.

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Looking good so far!

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Here’s the wheels I want to add to the Yatming Bimmer.

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Using the same Dremel Cut-off tool. I sliced the axle in half and shaved off about 2 to 3 millimeters off each. That way they will both fit in the housing with and not push each other out.

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Before gluing the axles into the housing... put them on loose and make sure everything looks good! I put the wheels on the Bimmer and found they stuck out a bit more than I wanted. So, I shaved off another 1mm off the ends of the housing and filed down the plastic tips that were on the edges.

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Rock and roll. Now we can glue. I, personally, LOVE to use hot glue. It’s very forgiving. If you screw something up, hot glue peels right off or you can lightly re-heat it. Since it doesn’t have harsh chemicals, it wont mess up your paint job and it’s not entirely permanent. I will leave my heated glue gun (also less than $5 on eBay) on my bench and I’ll just dab the end of the axle in the heated glue in the tip.

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Hot glue solidifies pretty quick. So, usually the axle is stuck in the housing withing seconds. If you are careful enough to not get too much on the wheel, they will roll just like new. If you get a little glue on the wheel, no big deal, just pinch away some of the excess with tweezers and it frees up nicely. Badass straight custom axle:

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I was also lucky to score a bag full of Contact Probes at a yard sale for a dollar. (pictured below) These are typically brass and not steel. I find that these are little higher quality and they come in a variety of thicknesses. Prices for these are all over the place on eBay and I am still trying to figure out which ones are best for Hotwheels axles.

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I cut a contact probe and set it up on the Yatming. Oops! It’s a hair too wide! Well, since the hotglue is so forgiving. I just gently pulled on wheel/axle off, shaved another mm off the housing and put it back on. Easy enough!

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Final result is nice! The cheapy Yatming Chassis has the guideposts for the rear axle too far back. I’ll probably file away some of the plastic and bring the axle closer to the front by a mm or two. But, they are the perfect width now and the suspension works.

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Lines up pretty good! Wait a minute... Did 320i Turbo Rally Bimmer come standard with front and rear leaf spring suspension? Hmmm....

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Thanks for reading! I hope to post more once I figure out the standardized sizing for Contact Probes. I’m still learning the specs for how those are categorized by thickness. For now, watch strap repair kits are a pretty cheap way to make custom axles.

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