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Old May 29, 2012, 04:50 PM
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Gulf Breeze, FL
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Making Depron Wheels

Since this topic comes up frequently when folks are looking for specific size wheels, I thought I'd outline how I did the Nieuport wheels:

Tools: Dremel with #402 mandrel and #409 Cut-off wheels, compass/circle cutter, Xacto knife, sanding sticks, UHU Por, and black marker.

Materials: Depron (or balsa), wire, aluminum tube.

1. On appropriately thick Depron (or balsa) draw a circle of the wheel size desired. For Pete's Nieuport, the wheel diameter is 36mm, and I used 3mm Depron. Mark the center (if you haven't used a compass) and trim the circle slightly larger than drawn - no need to be precise. Also mark the tire inner edge (a 2mm mark will suffice).

2. Mount the Depron disc to the mandrel by sandwiching it between cutting discs - this provides support for the Depron and keeps it positioned level.

3. Spin the Depron disc against a sanding stick to get the right diameter wheel, and to round the edges. Sanding sticks of various grades are cheap at beauty supply stores like Sally's.

4. While the disc is spinning you'll be able to see the marked line that indicates the inside of the tire (the spinning will make it appear to be a circle). Carefully hold the sharp tip of an angled Xacto blade against this line to carve a small depression in the foam, mimicking the tire roundness. Finish the curvature with a sanding stick. Do NOT go very deep with the Xacto, since when you do the other side, you stand a chance of creating a separate tire and hub! (Yes, I have)

5. Hold a black broad Sharpie (an oxymoron) against the tire portion to start coloring, then remove the disc from the Dremel, turn it over, and repeat the tire forming process, and finishing the coloring.

6. Next step is to add a wheel bearing (?) for the axle. For models the size of Pete's Nieuport, I use a small (1/2") section of 1/16" OD aluminum tube Super Glued to the center, with even lengths of tube showing on either side. Slow-cure thick CA (foam safe) allows plenty of time to set the tube perpendicular to the wheel. The 1/16" tube spins freely around .028" wire axles.

7. Last step is to add wheel covers - either flat or "cone" shaped. Print, cut, color the edges with pastels, and mount. To make a cone shaped cover, print the cover slightly larger than the hub, remove a small pie shaped section, tape together, and mount (I use a little Elmer's or Uhu Por along the edges of the covers). Finish by using the cut-off wheel to trim the aluminum tube flush with the wheel covers (or to the length desired).

Here's the above process in two raw videos to produce a rough demo wheel.

Making Depron Wheels I (3 min 35 sec)


Making Depron Wheels II (1 min 45 sec)


Weathering such as mud, dust, etc can be done with pastels (that's why my hands are dirty in the video).

The only drawback to these light wheels is that they don't provide any weight up front where it's needed in WWI planes...right, Pete?

Gene K
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Old May 29, 2012, 06:06 PM
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Excellent Gene! You're becoming the how to video guy, very cool.

Pete
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Old May 30, 2012, 03:27 PM
edi
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Very instructive again. Being a smartass I would just like to point out that wheel tires were light grey (or yellowish light brown) at that time, not black. The idea of adding soot to the rubber to make it more sturdy (and to withstand UV light better) is something that came later.
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Old May 30, 2012, 05:55 PM
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edi,

Thanks, you may be right but how do you explain all those real WWI birds in various museums ? They have black tires. It may have depended on the year.

Also a lot of period reference pictures seem to disagree too. Seems maybe more German aircraft had gray not sure on that either. This may take more research but I have seen both.

Last year I was at the RAF museum in Hendon at the WWI area and both were on the planes there, Google the Sopwith Triplane at Hendon. Also the DC AIr & Space has both. The Sopwith is one of only two real ones in the world today. I think they would have gone out of their way to be sure all was right even down to the rubber color./type.

Pete
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Old May 31, 2012, 02:23 PM
edi
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Firstly, most of the planes in museums aren't originals and they don't have original tires.

The period reference pictures don't help much either because if you have e.g. a yellowish tire it will show up as pitch-black due to those old films (I think "orthocromatic" is the term). And in some sources the tire material is even referred to as "white rubber".

When I was still a reseller for aerodromerc I made a point of providing grey tire material so I thought I'd add these thoughts here. Most people won't notice anyway
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Old Jun 01, 2012, 03:02 PM
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Thanks edi,

I did some checking on Aerodrome and I do agree a gray seems to be a better color choice. What was more interesting is some German Albatros and training aircraft used wood tires/wheels painted black to save the better ones for the front line.

Also early Nieuports such as the 11 do apear to have lighter colored tires in most period pictures of this version. Later Nieuport period pic's 16 and up apear to have darker tires on some. Perhaps carbon may have been added.

My NP-11 will have a darken shade of gray with some weathering. Colors were also effected by the soils/ground they flew off and landed on.

Pete
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Old Jun 01, 2012, 05:35 PM
edi
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Thanks for checking. I hadn't heard about wood tires. Sounds very interesting.
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Old Jun 01, 2012, 11:42 PM
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regarding tire colors: interesting to see the new Parkzone albatros DVa has gray tires!

Pete, since your tires are the "wrong color" I'll sacrifice and take this Nieuport off your hands so youdon't have to suffer any unpleasantness
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Old Jun 02, 2012, 02:15 AM
edi
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I've just learned from wikipedia that the first experiments with carbon black as an addition to reinforce rubber (mainly for abrasive resistance, not UV resistance as I had thought) had already been done in 1910, so significantly earlier than I had thought. (Somehow I think that I recall that Dunlop started doing it in 1917 and that it took some more years to become current practice for aircraft wheels.)
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Old Jun 02, 2012, 06:50 AM
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To me I still think there were both as on some period pic's there are those that are lighter looking in color and those that are dark. On some you can see the white lettering on the darker tire. I also think and realize it may depend on light on the plane when the picture was taken and the year.

For the early NP-11 more period pictures seem to indicate a lighter color tire. So that is what I will change this, Gene's and mine to.


I hate masking.... Hope to get some paint on it today before an indoor fly-in tomorrow.

Pete
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Old Jun 02, 2012, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edi View Post
...I made a point of providing grey tire material so I thought I'd add these thoughts here. Most people won't notice anyway
edi (sorry, I don't know your name),

I noticed, and I really appreciate your pointing out the color variations of WWI aircraft tires. Trying to understand that subject is a little easier than deciphering lozenge colors. Opinions (and tires) range from white, to various shades of gray, to brown, to various shads of black (vice gray)...with pink thrown in.

Based on what you suggested, I'll now paint my WWI tires various shades of gray and weather them appropriately as Pete suggested.

Thanks,

Gene K
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Old Jun 02, 2012, 09:56 AM
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Next Project

Here's the start of my next one to hand over to Pete to get flying - Fokker D.VII flown by Leutnant Rudolph Stark: http://ecardmodels.com/fokker-dviioa...cl-p-1289.html .

As opposed to the black tires in the card model, I'll use gray as edi suggested and as shown in the attached profile.

And to stay on topic (somewhat) :

Fokker DVII and Nieuport 24 (0 min 27 sec)


Gene K
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Old Jun 02, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Very cool stuff as usual Gene...

Well I added the wind screen and got some paint down, I messed up as it's too yellowish and not brown enough maybe I'll try some oils rubbed on later.

Tires are dark gray washed...

Lots to do yet.

Pete
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Old Jun 02, 2012, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtflyr View Post
I messed up as it's too yellowish and not brown enough maybe I'll try some oils rubbed on later.
Pete,

It looks terrific!

If you don't mind, leave the color as it is and don't add any more markings. There were lots of yellow Nieuport 11s, so I'll work up some tissue decals and make another scheme, like the one attached.

Gene K
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Old Jun 02, 2012, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtflyr View Post
Tires are dark gray washed...
Talk about tires, Pete once said to me, "...it would be cool if you could do a center disc out of 1/32 ply with the a small pin hole center, that way it would add a little extra weight and strength so it could be drilled out to whatever sleeve you want to use. Let me know what you think. Your wheels if you can believe it are too light ."

Pete,

First, my Dremel needs a .065" hole to mount the wheel blank, so I can't make a "pinhole". However, you can drill out the plywood disc, insert a circular filler, and then drill that to your desired/required sleeve size.

Second, 1/32 is pretty thin....but strong. (I've not had a problem with the Depron wheels not being strong enough, have you?)

So, by the numbers:

- a 1/32 ply disc of .73" diameter = .7g
- a 3mm Depron disc of the same diameter = .2g
- a finished Depron wheel of that diameter = .4g
- a large rubber O Ring to fit over the ply disc = 1.3g

.......so

if you used an O Ring, plus three 1/32 discs (the middle one being smaller so as to provide a groove for the O Ring), and finish it with heavy paper wheel covers, and use a 1/16 brass (vice Aluminum) sleeve, the total weight of that wheel would be ~ 3.6g, a 9x increase over my Depron wheel.

Can you drill a pinhole in a Silver Dollar?

And all these years I've been trying to make things lighter....

Gene K
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