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Tip of the Month: Fill tires with silicone caulk

RELATED TOPICS: TIRES | SILICONE
Hollow tires look great in a diorama, but can cause a problem when you're trying to fit them on a set of rims that aren't quite the right size. Colin Fletcher sent in a great solution. It requires patience and more than a little finesse, but the results are worth the effort. Here’s Colin: 

“Some hollow tires in older kits do not fit the rims, and sometime when I parts-swap, the rims are a sloppy fit to the chosen tires. I thought if they were only filled with air they would work, so I tried filling them with paper and cotton batting. That didn’t work; you couldn’t really get them full, or the stuffing showed.

“Then I discovered silicone caulking. I made a ‘rim’ from two slightly small ring-type wheel backs. I drilled a hole big enough for the caulking tube’s nozzle, put the tire on the rim, and filled it through the hole, turning the ‘rim’ as I go.

“NOTE: Before filling the tire with caulk, I coated the outside with Vaseline. If any silicone squirts out of the tire, the caulk won’t stick.

“I let the tire dry fully. This takes a few days, because no air gets in to assist in the process. I popped the tire off the ‘rim’, carefully trimmed the excess caulk with a sharp knife, and cleaned off the Vaseline with dish soap. The resulting tire holds firmly to the rim, and even appears to be pressurized. 

“Make two or four ‘rims’ all the same, as drying time is long, and you don’t want to wait weeks for the tires to be done! Simple and effective, and the tires look great on your finished model!”

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