All about making axles

FredD Wednesday, 10/4/2023

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Searching around the net as usual and finally found what I was looking for! A way to create actual formed axle ends with wire axles that have the wheels already on them as was done in the factory... you may have already seen this, but if you have not, it is a really great bit of engineering on a hobby scale. It doesn't look terribly complicated, so maybe a future project? It would certainly close the loop on my wheel project!

Axle machine



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Numbskull 10/4/23

That is next level for sure.  This is a bit easier, but not as pretty.  However, still very fast.

  • Yep... I have seen that one as well. It is an interesting idea but I wonder about the "retail wheel and axle" rule. With that unit you can snip off an end and retain a manufactured axle. — FredD
  • Use your best judgement. — Numbskull
  • Thats what my recruiter told me... and look what happened there! lol — FredD
  • I’ve tried this method, but I can’t seem to get enough of an end on the flattened axle to get the wheel to stay on and still roll decently. Any tips on getting it better? — SpyDude
  • Don't worry too much about the retail axle rules, it's not as big of deal as it might suggest. — redlinederby
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dr_dodge 10/4/23

we have one of these in the temp lab

I can't get nice round heads 

and is a super pain in the aztec to redo if you bum the end

the brisket buggy has crimped outers

(hub sticks out like a 1 ton truck)
one or two jewelry crimps to fill the tire recess,
and a last one crimped, and axle crimped as above
the axle had to be made into the rear suspension
no space for a normal stub/tube


  • I love burnt ends. — Numbskull
  • I can understand that... the machine uses a spring loaded round die to shape the end. — FredD
  • and a 3 piece brass die — dr_dodge
  • got it... it definately takes something more to get those factory style ends — FredD
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FredD 10/5/23

Continuing on with axles... I found several sets on new cars that really were problematic so I took a minute to investigate further. I am sure most of you have seen this issue, but I want this thread to include some documentation of these kinds of findings and any before/after pics, etc.

It is no wonder these performed poorly. I do not believe any amount of buffing will save them. As a consequence, the plastic wheels were also destroyed by damaging the front/outside of the thru-hole. Toss and on to the next.


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dr_dodge 10/5/23

the hw patent from 1970

"The construction of the wheel assembly 12 is accomplished by first inserting the vehicle axle 24 through the bearing hole 22 in the tire member and cold heading the end 36 of the axle."

so, the axles are made by cold heading (never heard of this before)



  • Perfect... thanks for sharing that. You saved me a few hours of research time today! — FredD
  • LOve it, thanks — CutRock_R_Marc_D
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FredD 10/5/23

A few more pics of axle ends...

Raw hot wheels axle

Filed end to smooth

First buff with Flitz

New tube style axle and pin without buffing


  • I use a triangle file to back cut like the last pic — dr_dodge
  • then diamond lapping compound on steel — dr_dodge
  • Me too... on the file... but not convinced on the lapping compound. I have used it on other stuff, may have to try it. — FredD
  • Those are pretty good. Axle end pictures, do you mind me asking what you used to achieve them? — Milestone_Racing
  • Thanks, I have a digital camera microscope I got a while ago... not great but does what I need pretty well... I'll post a picture of it down below. — FredD
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SpyDude 10/5/23

Just me, but that first video looks pretty complicated and expensive for making wheel sets for a one-dollar car. Sure, you'll probably get some nice stuff, but how much is that machine and die setup going to set you back? Is it worth it?

  • it certainly isn't for everyone! But I probably have most of it in my junk pile in the barn... — FredD
  • you are as bad as (40 x40 building full of all kinds of crazy crap) — dr_dodge
  • Yeah... my wife says I keep too much crap... she isn't wrong! — FredD
  • @drD: so, in other words, you have a 40’40’ junk drawer? — SpyDude
  • not really, I have a 2/3 acre benchtop, with the 2 (stories) junk drawer — dr_dodge
  • way out of control — dr_dodge
  • Here I am, all happy with myself for being able to open a car without ruining it. — Soapy_Waters_Racing
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FredD 10/6/23

  • I believe the #20 pins are the ones that are a dead-on match with regular Hot Wheels axles. #17's will work, but they are slightly thinner and will allow the wheel to wobble. — SpyDude
  • I need to bring my calipers to Walmart... open a bunch and measure them... do you think they would mind? lol — FredD
  • Lol - it should say on the package what size they are. — SpyDude
  • There you go... always thinking! lol — FredD
  • I just opened some size #20 and they were .74mm... so no truth in advertising! But the size 22 were .89mm so better. — FredD
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FredD 10/9/23

So just trucking on with my axle/wheel testing. So far out of many hot wheels axles checked, they are almost a dead split between .78 and .79mm (my calipers have no capability beyond 2 decimal places after the zero)...

Maisto has a very good record of nearly 100% checked being 1mm dead on.

The Dritz dress pins are a different story... I just opened some size #20 and they were .74mm... so no truth in advertising as they should have been close to .8mm! But the size 22 were .89mm and they say they should be .9mm so very good!

Most of the wheels allow a .8mm music wire to pass without issue. Some holes are much larger but without a proper pin gage set, I do not know the exact hole size... maybe some of you have already done this measurement. If so, I would be interested in knowing what you found!

Most of the problem wheels I have found have run smoothly on the .8mm music wire where they were wobbly on the smaller diameter wires. Some were still wobbly on the .8mm but the .9mm pin would not fit. I will try drilling some of those to fit the larger pin.

Whats my point? Why spend time blazing a trail others have already mashed flat? I don't know... I guess I have too much time on my hands... and don't drink!


  • NCU, (no commie units, aka metric) it's a measurement joke, but I do inches — dr_dodge
  • metric stuff does not convert to SAE — dr_dodge
  • gauge # are SAE, and rounding errors screw things up (in made products) — dr_dodge
  • .8mm = 1/32" = .032" — FredD
  • Americans rarely use ANY kind of standard measurements. "My car weighs as much as two cans of beer and a pack of smokes ...." — SpyDude
  • Well, Chesterfield 101s were just a silly millimeter longer! Damn, I'm old... lol — FredD
  • The only time we use Imperial is when we are working on cars older than 1980 and when we are in the showers after a rugby game talking "inches"....apart from that, everything is metric :-) — EnZedRacing
  • Brings back memories of a few years ago when I researched all this. And yes those dress maker pins sizes didnt line up then either! — CutRock_R_Marc_D
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FredD 10/10/23

<3mm of contact with the axel... that is for a 14.5mm x 6.5mm wheel... thats it... and that is a pretty big wheel! Most are much smaller! So normally probably 2mm or less of contact. That is the target spot for your Graphite. Looking at the picture, the axle head well (to the left), the through hole and the exit "Cone" (to the right) are where the graphite needs to be to lubricate the axle. A very small area indeed...

This wheel was donated by a '70's era funny car. You can see the axle head well has rust in it. Newer wheels should look better, hopefully... ;)

You can see that after years of abuse the exit cone is wallowed out causing a wobbly wheel. New wheels should be crisply drilled and smooth. It would seem to me that to be most effective, the graphite should be applied to the wheels when they are off the car to ensure that complete coverage is made. Obviously not all wheels are ever removed, but it would seem prudent that when they are, graphite the hole then. What is all of your experience telling you? Interested minds want to know!


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dr_dodge 10/10/23


I do this for a living

but don't stop analyzing, is's interesting


  • I used to... retired now! — FredD
  • It is interesting that your chart compares area and not diameter... I generally don't look at that when comparing axle candidates unless I am looking at friction, and then I usually just go with smaller diameter to minimize surface area friction. — FredD
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FredD 10/11/23

This green wheel gave its all for my project... the new style is very different from the old. It has alot more axle contact area... ~6mm vs. ~3mm for about the same diameter wheel. The end cone is elongated and provides better wobble resistance as well as less wheel to chasis friction. The .74mm pin fits easily into the hole but is a little noisey when spun...

A .8mm diameter rod slid into it easily. Much less noise and a smooth roll. Of course that was before cutting in half! lol


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FredD 10/19/23

forming axle ends

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