Formula one

How to build realistic wheels in 1/20 F1 scale models

   by Jose Antonio Solbes © 2000 Modeler Site



Due to its design, wheels in an F1 (or CART) racing machine are a very important component (from a visual point of view), and they are worth a good super detailing job. In order to achieve that, I'm going to divide this little article in three parts: materials, the wheel itself, and tires.


The materials we need are: drawing paper, paints for the wheels and tires, solder, sewing needles, some .010 brass strips (for balance weights), solder in .022 diam., 3/64" tubing (you can buy hypodermic needles in different diameters at a veterinary shop, they use them for cattle), a #00 brush, one #74 and one 3/64" drills, cyanoacrylate glue, and the "usual" tools, like an X-Acto knife with a #11 blade, an airbrush, and a good dose of patience.


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The first thing to do is drilling a hole for the air valve (#74 drill for 1/20 scale, and 3/64" for 1/12 scale) in the proper location. After that, wash the wheels in soapy water (dishwasher detergent is a good bet), air dry them, and paint them in the appropriate color. Once painted, insert a piece of solder (.022 diam.), for the 1/20 scale, or a 3/64"needle or the 1/12, in the drilled hole, and

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glue it with the cyano. All that's left is to put a little dab of black paint on top of the "valve", to make it look like a cap. You can cut the solder with the X-acto blade, and for the steel tubing you can use a cutting wheel in a MotoTool. To make the balance weights, cut a small strip of brass (the ones from a PE sprue is perfect), "curve2 it a little to conform to the wheel curvature and glue it to the rim using clear coat, so you don't mar the paint. Those blessed with a miniature lathe can make a lot better valves, but not every body is so lucky.


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Serial code and center stripe detail


Tires can take much more detail. They have a center stripe, lot codes (stencilled), and several marks on the side, beginning with the Good Year Eagle logos, everything must be painted, no decals. The ONLY paint to use with tires is white acrylic paint (water based) because it is the only one that dries over this material; you can use Tamiya, Gunze or Polly'S. After washing the tires, you have to mask both sides along the molding line that comes already in the tire (don't sand it), and paint the narrow line. Lay out code numbers in a drawing paper and "punch" dots along the letters and numbers. The full size characters are about 4" tall, so you have to "reduce" them to 3/16" for 1/20, or 5/16" for 1/12 scale. You can find some plastic letter templates, like the ones used in technical drawing, in several sizes. Use a sewing needle to punch small holes, or a #75 bit for 1/12. Codes can be different, although the ones used in '93, '94, and '95 were: RP 449 4N, B19 RP495 N.


Tire labels are made by Wave, but there are other manufacturers, you can get them and the Good Year photoetched stencils from Formula 1  , (Adam Kornacki), I recommend him very much, he is a fellow modeler and friend and has a remarkable service, or maybe from some Japanese company in Internet. You must paint everything using an airbrush. Except for the Good Year Eagle logos, you can paint the rest with a #00 brush in the tire sidewall.

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Till next time, and happy modeling.

Jose Antonio speak about himself

My name is Josť Antonio Solbes, I was born in Zaragoza, Spain, in 1937, and I live in Mexico City since 1952. I began modeling when I was 16, building flying balsa strip planes covered with paper and rubber power, anyone remembers those?, brands like Comet, Berkeley, Scientific, and "not too many more". After those first attempts came the motor powered planes with U-line control, and free flight (I lost several of them, fouling dethermalizers, etc.), and inevitably, I got to radio control, with reed servos (no proportional radios yet). Besides that activity I had some others, like water skiing and racing  motorcycles, cars, racing boats and,at the end of my "career as a racer":go-karts.


I started building plastic models when Tamiya put out the first 1/12 model (Honda F1) back in 1966, since then I've been buying, collecting, and trying to build all their 1/12 series up to the last one (Williams FW14B). I also have almost all of Tamiya's 1/20 scale cars, some more by Revival and a few resin kits by BBR, Studio 27, and Modeller's, (only F1 cars). I'm nuts about super detailing, that's why it
takes me a lot of time to finish one model. Like all of us modelers, I use a lot of materials not intended for modeling use, but worth they weight in gold, like many materials that I get in dental supplies (super thin wires, special tools, pliers of the most strange kinds, acrylic resin pastes and glues), electronic supplies stores (solder in different thickness, fiberglass spaghetti cover to make GREAT mesh hoses), and many others "specially" intended for our hobby, like thin wires that I find on the
street near telephone control boxes, etc., I like to joke now and then. In future issues, if Mario agrees, ( Note of Mario: YES !!!!!!! ) I pretend to show some of my techniques, I think that everyone of us have our own, and all of them are equally valuable so, SHARE THEM WITH ME.

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