The easy way to replace your axles and wheels is by finding a source car that has the same axle/wheels size as the one you're building, but sometimes that doesn't always happen. And sometimes you just want the wheels off one to put on another, simply for aesthetics. Either way, the hunt for axles can be challenging. Thankfully, you can create your own axles that are just the right size with a few extra accessories.
You'll be using hobby tubing as a sheath for existing Hot Wheels axles to create a new complete axle. These custom axle replacements can be made to fit whatever size you need.
What you need
- 1/16" metal tubing. Available in packs at stores like Hobby Lobby.
- Dremel or hobby grinding tool
- Wire cutters or whatever you use to snip axles in half
- JB Kwik or JB Weld
- Clay or putty for temporarily holding things together
We're also assuming you have the original axles you want to use. For the sake of this article, let's assume you have an FTE axle that you want to use in a new build.
Making your own replacement axles
Step 1: Cut your original axle in half. Use cutters or a Dremel if you like. You should also find the wheels you want to use, original or otherwise.
Step 2: Cut/grind to remove the tabs on the chassis you're using. It doesn't take much. You don't want to change the channel where the original axle was sitting.
Step 3: Take the hobby tubing and measure it against the width of the chassis. You want the tubing to be pretty flush with the chassis. Mark the tubing and use your Dremel to cut it at that point. This will be the sheath for your axles.
Step 4: Place your fresh cut axle tube into axle channel on the chassis. Grind, cut, and sand things until you're happy with its size and how it fits. At this point, you can use some clay or putty to hold the tube in place, or use the JB Kwik to make it more permanent...it's up to you and depends how you handle the next step.
Step 5: We need to create two little "windows" in the tube so that you can see the axle inside the tube. Take a Sharpie and mark two points on the tube where the axle will be when inside the tube. Use your Dremel to grind a hole in the tube where those marks are.
Now insert the two axle halves into each end of your axle tube. You should see the axle in the little window hole you grinded out. Pay attention to the amount of "play" that exists between the wheels and the tube sheath. Just like a real car, you don't want too much wobble with your wheels or it can slow you down.
Once you're happy with alignment, add some JB Kwik into the tube window, covering the axle inside. Before it all sets, put the car into an alignment jig or whatever you use to keep things straight. Let the everything dry and you should have a new axle ready to roll.
With some patience and a little luck, you'll have a custom made axle and wheel combo that will be a winner. It's a fickle process. I've gone through these steps many times and I always find something new to try for the next time. Overall, I think it's best to use original, uncut axles if you can find the size you need, but sometimes you just need to go custom.