Making a 16 spoked wire brass wheel 16" in 1/12th Scale
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WeekendMiniaturist

Dear Bill & Bill, Masters of JEDI Metal making, and any other metal making miniaturists...

 

I have some wire spoked Brass Wheels that were made by Stephen Adams Mfg, Cottage Grove, OR. They are 16" scale wheels, that sold for a large $7.75 each.  (Amazing if I could go back in time!)  I would like to learn to make them myself.  I found Elizabeth's post and the corresponding replies about bending brass tubing informative, but these wheels have a turned hub, that accepts an axle, and the rim of the hub is drilled for the brass spokes. (I think I can muddle through this part.) The rim of the wheel is approximately half of a tube, as the wheel accepts a rubber tire that is approximately 1/16" of an inch in diameter.  I have collected and studied every article written in TSC, and other miniature magazines about wheels... the only thing that I am puzzled by is the rim.  Obviously, I can turn a piece of brass to accept the tire, (the inside dimension of the wheel is 1.25" and create an indexing jig to drill the spokes into the rim of the wheel. but is this the recommended process?  Did he have some kind of profile to form the rim?  Did he have some kind of press that when he rolled the brass into some kind of roller, it pressed the brass into the specific shape? If you take a real life bicycle tire off the wheel, that is what my rim looks like.

 

MicroMark has a bending maching; the instructions do not tell you to use annealed brass, but a recent review at Hobby Lobby gave me purchasing options of bendable aluminum, or non-bendable aluminum; perhaps this option is available in brass too.

 

I want to make Heywood Wakefield, period wicker carriages. I only have enough wheels to make two carriages, and then I will run out of wheels, and I don't want to use them until I can figure out how to make them. I like to make things in three.... I am much more comfortable making wheels from wood, but I love these metal wheels they are excellent quality! 

 

Tamra/Indiana

 

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Bill Hudson

Tamra,

Those are my wheels, my design. He used my drawings for his wheels. I sent them to him for an estimate for him to machine the rims and hubs for me as I had way too many orders for wheels and I could not keep up with the orders and still build miniatures and fill commissions.

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PJPickard

I think if one were REALLY set on it you could make all the tooling to make them just like the real ones, roll strip into the rim shape. It would take a fair amount of tooling up to do it but I can see how it would be done. I looked around a bit but did not find a book I recall seeing about bicycle manufacture. If you want to do it that way I'd just mimic how the real ones are made. Without looking it up, but having done a bit of rolling, you need a matching set of rollers to first roll the sectional shape, then another device so you can roll that into the circular rim. This one is more complicated as it has to roll it without deforming the semi circular shape of the cross section.

 

As you say turning them is another option, you will need to make special fixtures to hold it, especially when you get down to the final thickness of the rim. I'd make the ID first, then make a fixture to hold it on the ID and then turn the OD. Like you indicate a form tool of the shape of the rim would be used.

 

Lastly, and I might add I think this is maybe where I would start first...roll a tube into a circle, solder the ends together, then cut it around the diameter until you have your half, or less circular section. This theoretically could be done with pretty much all hand methods. You didn't mention if you have a lathe or not.

 

If you anneal some brass tube you should be able to form at least 1/3 to 1/2 a circle in the diam you are talking about over a wood former disc. Then just take a file are carefully file away half the tube. This should tell you if this method has promise.

 

Do you know about Cerro Bend? It is a low temp(some melt at much less that 212 degrees), you can fill the tube, and then bend it without the tube collapsing. It might be good to have the support of it in the tube for the filing part too.

 

Here is some info on Cerro Bend and tube bending:

http://www.hitechalloys.com/hitechalloys_005.htm

 

The surface tension of the liquid metal might be too high to pour it into a small diam tube, again you'd have to try it. I think Micro Mark sells it.

 

Let us know how you make out.

 

Paul

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WeekendMiniaturist

Oh my goodness Bill H, I am thrilled to discover the origination of the design.  If there is any coveting of miniatures in this house, I wouldn't leave at time of disaster without me mini wheels!  Forget the silver; it is replaceable, I would take my wheels!  I shall carefully study the info presented from both of you.  I do have Fisher Price Lathe, also known as a dremel, and a Jet Midi wood Lathe (adjustable speed), but I've yet to make the investment in a jewelers lathe.

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Bill Hudson

I sent you a private message. I am not sure what you are thinking of when you say jeweler's lathe. A real jeweler's lathe would be nice but if you are going to invest in a small lathe I would suggest Sherline or Taig. Bill R is the TAig person, I got started with Sherline. I'v had both and like both. The Sherline has the better assortment of accessories but you won't need them all any way.

The wheels Steve made were turned on a lathe. He used brass tubing near the size then turned it to the outside diameter and then bored it to the inside diameter. Then he, using a special cutter, cut the tire groove. He machined several of these at a time and then parted (cut off) these rings. He then mounted the rings in a pot chuck and formed one half of the rounded side of the wheel. Then he turned the blank over and formed the other side. I think he drilled the spoke holes before parting the wheel off. He had a combination mill lathe set up he made and could do that. Steve is a fabulous machinist and once we settled our differences he went on to machine many of the tiny parts for casting patterns for my casting of my model RR kits I and my late friend Bill Roy produced. He machined parts in 1/4" to the foot scale that it is hard to believe could be done.

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ElgaKoster

Thank you Bill H for this more in detail explanation, I will definitely refer back to this post in the future if I ever need wheels.

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PJPickard

Bill H,

 

I didn't know you were part of the kits Bill Roy produced, small world...

 

Paul

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Bill Hudson

I have sent you a private message.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Thanks Bill H for the conversion chart for wood.  Do you also have one that indicates if I'm using 26 guage wire  what size drill bit that I need?  I have a drill bit chart metric to fractions, but it doesn't include wire.

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Bill Hudson

I'm sure there are charts that give decimal equivalents to wire gauge. I don't use one I measure the wire. If you are going to work in decimals, it is a good idea to have a dial caliper. I found one that reads in metric and inch. Then you can measure your wire and compare it to the drill.

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Bill Hudson

I found these in an old Machinery's Handbook. Maybe they will be helpful.

post-35-0-05904600-1399955758_thumb.jpeg

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ElgaKoster

Here is an online calculator too, I haven't used it for drilling holes but to find out how big (small) a gauge is in mm when it is mentioned in how to articles. For drilling holes, I think I will go with Bill's suggestion as to actually measure with a calliper, I have found my drill holes at times are just a fraction too small because the wire size was just a tadd bigger than what the chart says.

http://www.rapidtables.com/calc/wire/awg-to-mm.htm

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WeekendMiniaturist

Recently, a local home improvement store, Menard's had an entire line of Vermont American Drill Bits clearance from standard American sizes to size #60, but since I had a set from the woodworking supply store (size 61-80), and the smallest bit Menard's had was size 60, I did not go crazy, but if I had a chart in my purse or tablet, I may have gone on a spending spree for drill bits.  I found this one for our reference... http://microadvances.com/drillchart.htm.  I have looked up wire gauge before, but it was only recently that I wanted to take this a step further for the wheels... and this also has an application for miniaturists who are using wire as spoke material for wicker.  This is great!  I only have an inexpensive pair of digital calipers for measuring wood when I'm planing it, but our youngest son does have a pair of dial calipers to measure the holes, so for the first time, I get to call and ask to borrow one of his tools!  (He had a job working for a screw machine mfg for a while, I wish he were still there - as they had lots of Brown & Sharpe equipment, and I could have had him make my wheels for me.)  

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Wm. R. Robertson

I think the best way to get drill bits is buy good ones through a machinist supply house like MSC, Enco or McMaster Carr. I buy them in packs of a dozen.... There are some sizes you can't have enough and some sizes you only use once in a blue moon.

For smaller holes, like below about .025" I like to use the higher quality ones like titex......

http://www.mscdirect.com/browse/tn/Holemaking/Micro-Drill-Bits?searchterm=Titex+Tools&navid=4294955331+12106217

I have them down to .004", that is a lot smaller than a number 80. Beware, they are expensive and they break easy too.

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WeekendMiniaturist

26 gauge wire = .0181 mm, the website requires I purchase a qty of 10.  (Ouch, these are turning into really expensive wheel....thanks for the warning.)  Yikes I've spent $78.70 in drill bits.  I think I should purchase my wire first so I can measure the wire.  Is this ordinary brass wire that I can purchase as a jewelry supplier, ie Rio Grande or Rings and Things on a round spool?  I do not know if wire has any 'standards' for consistency that is sold in the jewelry market vs. wire that is sold for machining.  I'm thinking the machining folks would require more precise standards then people who are crafting and making cool jewelry. 

 

What kind of gray primer paint do we use for the brass, as my wheels will be painted black... something from the modeling world?  automotive world?  or good ole rustoleum, in the bottle?  .

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Wm. R. Robertson

Yes I would get the wire first. I hate to get wire in a roll because it is a pain to get the curve out, I like to buy pre straighten wire in the packs at a hobby store. Also it tends to be harder, brass is often sold in soft, half-hard and hard. Also be aware there are all different alloys of brass, for machining you 360 or free machining brass, you do not want Navy Brass.

And for the primer, some of the best are what the war gamers use to prime their cast white metal figures.

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Bill Hudson

I use 26 ga hobby wire.  To straighten it out and harden it I unwind about six feet and cut it off.  Clamp one end in a vise and hold the other end with pliers, step back and pull on the wire, stretching it about two inches. The wire will then be straight and hard. The wire diameter will be a tad smaller. The holes in the rim should be slightly oversize and countersunk a bit on the inside.  This is so the solder can encapsulate the wire and the counter sink ail hold extra solder to act as a cap.

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WeekendMiniaturist

 

In greenie's post On 7/28/2018, Bill Hudson said:  What happened to your wheel making tutorial?  

Hi Bill,  if this was asked of me...I have printed your posts from the Scale model horse drawn vehicle forum. I am using your posts as my go to resource of info.   I am still in my self-imposed remedial class of practicing my segmented turnings and I am trying to practice, practice, practice until I can turn accurately to that measured drawing.  

 After I finish this one, and my other projects from GS, I will allow myself the freedom to experiment on the wheels.  I have Gerald Wingrove's book that Mr. Robertson had suggested, too.  I am easily distracted by my 4 generations of family; all living here, and work, but I think I have the supplies.  YOUR wheels will remain on my must- teach- myself- to- do- this- list.  I am committed to the incredible techniques I have had the opportunity to learn from our Guild Instructors and at this point in my miniature endeavors I am holding myself accountable to mastering the new skills that I invested in to learn.  When I make my own wheel, and eventually master the wheel, I will know I have met my goal. 

I am planning to use your instructions... but creating my own fixture and tooling to create those wheels is slow process of accumulating knowledge for me.   Wheels and fixtures needed to create the wheels will be easier for me, when I get the fundamentals down of using my lathe and mill.   Must take care of family first, and it is hard to start something at 10 pm at night, work until 1 am and get up and go to work... so I continue to work at turtle speed and dream.

There are so many beautiful miniatures to make with a lathe, and the duplication efforts were not successful for me so far, so I'm going to stick with the measured segmented method of turning as I know this method gives me the greatest chance of success.  Fundamentals first, then I get to have fun.  I have another idea for my duplication efforts... but I'm delaying that implementation for a while too... 

Should any experienced machinist want to mentor me in the art of creating fixtures, please tempt me!

I want to go back to Guild School and learn new techniques, but I only want to go back when I have a chance of keeping up with my instructor...my turtle pace did not work when I went returned to school in 2016, after the 2015 needlework stand,  and I can't be in denial anymore that I lack skill necessary for the classes I want to take; therefore I am practicing, practicing, practicing, one day of the weekend.  I am close to finishing, the indexing is now giving me fits to the needlework stand.  The good news is that I haven't used my entire piece of rosewood that I purchased when I got home.  It is humbling to admit that I can turn inaccurately really well.  I do understand that the human eye may not see the difference, but since I am using calipers, I KNOW the facts, and I'm not letting myself off easily because I want to learn to do precision work.    I might be at the apprentice stage of a  hobby machinist journey,  and am happy that I understand how to turn to a thousandth of an inch.

I have learned so much in the two years of classes at Guild School.  It was an incredible experience as I understood with 96 hours of class room time, what I wanted to accomplish and what tools I needed to get there.  It was a pivotal moment; a brief glimpse of understanding where I needed to be, and the tools to invest in to get there.

 

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Bill Hudson

Actually Recently ( just a few days ago) Greenie had a tutorial on making wooden spoked wheels for horse drawn vehicles.   I thought it was posted here but now cannot find it. It is a great tutorial if available. Maybe it was on another forum but I have not been able to locate it. 

B

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