Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Improving my Wilesco traction engine's wheels

The biggest fan of Wilesco toy steam engines would have to admit that their traction engine's wheels are not particularly attractive or realistic. (Yes I know it's a toy, not a scale model.)

Wilesco toy traction engine kit

A popular way to improve the appearance of the rear wheels is to replace the pressed steel spokes with complete Mamod traction engine wheels. Mamod wheels are castings that look a lot better but can't be used directly as they're too small. Fitting them inside the Wilesco rims gets round this problem.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

I bought a pair of old Mamod wheels on eBay. Their paint was in poor condition so I stripped them back to bare metal. The Mamod wheel's centre hole is ¼" diameter (6.35mm) compared to 5mm on the Wilesco. I cut two lengths of 6mm OD (5.1mm ID) brass tube and wound them in three layers of thin aluminium tape to make snugly fitting adaptor bushes.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

I bought a custom length axle with brass hubcaps from CJW Steam Ltd and made shorter replacements for the Wilesco brass spacers using some more of the 6mm brass tube. I then assembled everything to make sure it all fitted and that the clutch would still engage and disengage correctly.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

The next job was to prime and paint the Mamod wheels. I used an etching primer spray followed by two brush coats of Humbrol red gloss enamel.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

While the paint was drying I removed the Wilesco rims from their pressed steel spokes. I found a suitable size tin of paint to support the inner part of the wheel (with a bit of old T-shirt for padding) while I gently eased the rim off with a hammer and bit of wood.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

The Mamod wheels are several millimetres smaller than the Wilesco rim's inner diameter so I put a spiral drive belt (as used to drive toy steam engine accessories) around each wheel to make them a better fit. I then glued the wheels inside the rims with epoxy resin adhesive.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

Finally I filled the gap between Mamod wheel and Wilesco rim with some Milliput and, once it had set, painted it and touched up some other damage to my earlier paintwork.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

I'm very pleased with the final result. You'll notice I've also doubled the number of spokes on the front wheels. This is done by removing one of the pressed steel centres from the rim and then replacing it with a 30° offset. I also gave the front wheels a coat of the same red paint as their original colour is a slightly more orange shade of red.

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