Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A 304S Mercdes-Benz Roadster with spoked wheels

Earlier this year I wrote about The Mystery of the Wheels, having just discovered that there really could be a version of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster with wire ('spoked') wheels. I couldn't see me ever finding one or, if I did, at a price I could afford and so I made one.

I had a very nice base model that happened to come along and that gave me the initial idea. In theory it seems pretty simple: swap the wheels and it's done. In practice, it wasn't that simple at all. Firstly, to remove the wheels you have to file down one end of each axle. I have done something similar with the Rover 2000 re-builds but, in those cases, the axles and wheels have been taken off whatever they came on and it's easy to get a clean run with the file with nothing nearby to get damaged. In this case, I wanted to keep the car as original as possible and certainly didn't want to remove the base so it was much, much harder. The axles are quite narrow so there is neither much sticking out to get the file onto nor is there much space to move the file because the bodywork is so close. Initially I tried to avoid damaging the very nice clean smooth wheels that the model came with but I did have to give up on preserving a couple of them and, as it was, it took several hours of gently filing away to get the wheels free.

Secondly, try as hard as I might, I could not see how the suspension worked and my first attempts at pushing an axle back through so that the car still had suspension on that axle were hopeless. Maybe - sometimes - one wheel seemed firm but the other side was very weak and so it went on for ages. Eventually, purely by luck, I got the rear axle in place and both sides were nice and firm like they should be on this model. It was another hour before I could get the front axle in a similar position! When it did, finally, seem to be in the right place I have no idea what I did to achieve that. I am guessing that there is some thin metal that the axles needs to go beneath but it is my no means obvious or simple to do!

Anyway, it's nearly complete now. I just need to add a small blob to end of the axles that were filed down to prevent the wheel coming off. It looks pretty good, though, and, with the real thing being either almost impossible to find or way too expensive if you do find one, here is a quite smart alternative that does not involve ruining any other model. The wire wheels came off a truly wrecked Ferrari Berlinetta so no loss there.

Now, I should try doing this with a soft top version - but I may be more careful about how I remove the axle next time!

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