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As with a full size car, the quality of the tyres on a slot car has a huge impact on the car’s performance and lap time. Original Scalextric rubber tyres will become hard as they get older and this will reduce the amount of grip that the car has to the surface of the track.
Prevention is better than cure and there are a number of things that can be done to stop the tyres going hard in the first place; such as storing the car out of direct sunlight, or somewhere where the temperature doesn’t vary too greatly.
If you have or buy a car with hard tyres the simplest solution is to replace them. If a car has cost you £5 though, it seems a sin to spend another £5 on tyres. Surely there must be ways to restore the tyres that are already on it?
Today I’m going to be talking you through my method of bringing old tyres back to life with the help of this Formula 1 car I brought at a swap meet, probably about a year ago, which simply doesn’t have enough grip.
The first thing you’ll want to do is lightly sand off the hand surface of the tyre to soft rubber below. To do this, wrap a piece of 1200 grit sandpaper around a nice, flat sanding block. Put power to the motor so the rear wheels of the car spin, then lightly hold your sand paper and block against the tyre to take the top layer of rubber off.
Be sure to use your sanding block and maintain even pressure across the tyre so you don’t end up with a misshapen tyre. You’re only taking the very top layer of rubber off, but at this scale small discrepancies can make a big difference!
Numerous companies make proper tyre truing machines to give you a perfect result but these are pretty expensive. If you would like to take a look at one, here is a link to a tyre truer on Pendle Slot Racing: Hudy Professional Tyre Truer
Next you’ll want to add oil to the tyres to soften the rubber. There are special tyre oils that you can buy, such as this NSR oil from Top Slots N Trains: NSR Tires Oil however there are numerous other chemicals you can use to soften the tyres which you are more likely to have around the house such as 3 in 1 oil, WD40 and lighter fluid. Personally, I’ve found 3 in 1 oil to be the best.
Add a little oil to your tyre and rub it in with your thumb and finger. Allow it to soak in. This can only take minutes but I like to leave it an hour.
Finally, you’ll want to remove any remaining impurities from the tyre. To do this, get some duct tape and fold a bit over so the sticky side is facing up, like so.
Roll the tyres across the tape. I normally start on the left of the tape and roll the car across to the right. I do this multiple times to make sure the whole tyre has been cleaned.
Now your tyres should be nice and sticky and ready to go again!
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By Richard Francis