It's often the seemingly simple tasks in modelling that can prove deceptively tricky to get right. A case in point is "weighted" wheels: how often have you struggled to file a truly flat bottom on a tyre? If you're like me, the result is often uneven.
Chad Bowser has come up with a very neat tool that solves the problem at a stroke. Like all the best ideas, it's simple enough - once you've thought of it. Essentially, the Scale Aircraft Wheel Sander consists of an L-shaped base-plate onto which attaches a spring-loaded clamp. You insert a wheel into the clamp with the section of the tyre to be sanded flat protruding, and the clamp holds the wheel solidly as you move it back and forth on a piece of 320 grit wet & dry paper taped to a flat surface. The result - after a few passes, you have a perfectly flat bottom to the tyre.
The Aircraft Wheel Sander is beautifully produced from smoothed and polished aluminium with steel and brass fittings. It feels very solid - a real custom-made tool, and there's no reason it shouldn't last for an entire lifetime's modelling.
Of course, not all aircraft wheels are mounted perpendicular to the ground - the Bf 109's are a classic example - and the CB Model Products sander copes with this easily because the clamp can pivot on the base-plate and lock at the desired angle. The beauty of using the sander is that it allows multiple wheels to be sanded with the flat spot at precisely the same angle. (Note: At first I thought the clamp would inevitably protrude below the base-plate when set at anything other than 90°, but Chad has thought of this and allowed a little slack in the mounting holes to keep the clamp clear of the sanding surface.)
A detailed sheet of instructions accompany the sander, and it's definitely worth reading through these a couple of times before you get started. The sander comes with a small bag of accessories. These include a selection of rubber O-rings which are used to cushion and protect any protruding hub details as you tighten the clamp. There's a small sheet of suitable grade sandpaper so you don't have to rummage through your stock before you can use the tool, and the last items are a nice touch to allow you to practise without risking the real wheels from your latest build - a couple of white styrene blanks.
Despite the inclusion of the styrene blanks, I threw caution to the wind and tried a real resin wheel for my test piece. The sander proved simple to use and the result was both excellent and really quick - it only took a few passes to finish the job, because there was no need to keep stopping to check progress - you could be confident that the finished wheel would be precisely flat.
The maximum size of wheel that can be sanded is approximately 2.5 cm in diameter and about 1cm thick. This translates roughly to a WW2 fighter wheels in 1:32, and those of a good-sized "twin" in 1:48. Of course, the sander is equally suitable for sanding ground vehicle tyres, and the wheel of trucks etc. are no problem in 1:48, but CB Model Products may want to consider producing a larger sander to cope with the wheels for 1:35 vehicles and largescale bombers. There's definitely a potentially wider market for the sander beyond aircraft models alone.
CB Model Products' Scale Aircraft Wheel Sander is a very neat solution for an everyday modelling task, producing precise "weighted" wheels quickly and easily. Recommended.
To order the sander, contact Chad Bowser direct at: CB Model Products.
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