There are many different ways to perform the wheel swaps and there are many resources/guides online that can teach you as well.
I will outline 2 methods specific to Vancity Diecast wheels; a drill-less method, and the method including a drill.
Please take a look over these two methods before you start swapping your wheels and see if either these methods work for you.
The drill-less method is ideal for test-fitting wheels and you do not have to drill out the rivets holding the car together. It also uses minimal tools.
However, there is a risk of damaging the wheels during installation if excess force is used, there will be more play/wobble, difficult for car to roll.
The method including a drill is what most customizers are familiar with. More equipment, in this case a drill, is required. The swap process takes longer as there are more steps to complete.
The benefit is that you will have a better swap. It will be easier to form the axles, and there is less risk of damage to the wheels if this method is done properly. There should be less wobble/play compared to the drill-less method, and the car should be able to roll easier.
There will be two sections for this guide:
1. the drill-less method
2. including a drill
1. The Drill-less Method
For today’s lesson, I have decided to work on one of my favorite mainline castings released for 2019. This Jaguar XE SV Project 8 has amazing body lines and paint color. To be honest, this casting has some pretty nice standard wheels from the factory. I felt like the wheels were a little too dark for such a bright colored car so let’s throw some new wheels!
The wheel of choice I had for this model would be the “Superstar” deep dish concave mesh-style wheels! I thought this set would compliment the car’s sporty and luxurious nature. Included in each set of Vancity Diecast wheels are 4 wheels, with 4 rubber tires already attached, and two loose axle rods.
These axle rods should be similar in diameter to the original Hot Wheels axles, so there should be no issue fitting them through the car. However unlike standard Hot Wheels axles, these are not as rigid. The axles that are included with my custom wheel sets have some flexibility to them which means they can be bent by hand. These axles are used and included because they can be crimped easily to close off the ends.
If the axles are slightly warped/bent in the package, you can straighten them out by hand or follow this quick video guide here.
The weapons of choice for this project are some side cutters and pliers! The small side cutters are used to snap off the original wheels from the axles, the larger side cutters are used for trimming the axle rods, and the pliers are used to help fit the axles into the wheels and will also be used to crimp the ends.
The first step of course is to take the original wheels off. I am using my small side cutters which fit into the small space behind the wheels. With enough pressure the axles should snap off. If you are doing this, please cover both wheels with your fingers otherwise the wheels will go flying all over the room when the axle is snapped!
Here is what you should be left with.
The next step is to prepare the axles. You will need your side cutters for this process. You need to cut ONE END of each axle at about a 45 degree angle or greater. The sharper you can get the point, the easier it will be for you later on. The cut end will be used to feed the axle through the wheels.
Next we will prepare the opposite end of each axle. Here I will use my pliers to crimp and flatten out the end of the axle by pressing down on the flat part of the pliers. By flattening out this end, the width actually gets larger and it prevents the wheels from sliding off this end. If you have access to a hammer and a punch, you can punch out the end instead of using pliers. As long as this end of the axle is fairly “mushroomed”, you should be good to go for the next step.
The next step is feeding each axle through the wheels. Feed each axle (pointy/cut end first) through the face of each wheel.
The crimped end of the axle should stop the rest of the axle from sliding through!
Next we will feed the axle through the car. There may be a lot of excess axle length material so we will address that first.
Now we will try to temporary place the other wheels on the opposite side of the axle. Hold the car in one hand as shown in the photo below. Place the wheel on the end of the axle, and using your thumb rotate it around while putting a bit of downward pressure in order to feed the axle through the hole. Kind of like using a lighter. As you spin the wheel, the axle may remove some excess material.
If the axle drops down to the bottom, you can hold that end with pliers using your other hand.
If you are having a hard time pushing the axle through the other wheel, take everything off and make the pointy/cut end even SHARPER!
If you have successfully fed the axle through the other end, make note of the excess axle length. Leaving this will result in too much play/movement. You will need trim off this amount slightly. Make sure the axle is fed enough through the other side as you will need to crimp that side later as well before taking measurement to do the cut.
After you have an idea of how much to trim off the axle, remove the wheels from the car. Trim off the pointy/cut end. After you have trimmed a small amount, cut that end at an angle to make it sharp and pointy again.
We are almost done! Feed the axle and wheel through the car again. Use the same step as earlier when you put the car in your hand and attached the other wheel by spinning it with your thumb.
Make your axle end more sharper/pointy if you have a hard time feeding the axle through!!
Once the axle has been successfully fed through the other side, it will be a fairly snug fit. Use your pliers to crimp the other end of the axle to close everything off. Do this for both the front and rear of course.
You do not have to crimp this end if you are planning on taking the wheels off.
OPTIONAL STEP: If your chosen casting has a lot of wheel gap, the benefit of these flexible axles is that you can press down on the car gently to “lower” the car and add some negative camber. It may not roll properly however if you plan on doing this.
After all that, your wheel swap should be complete! If you followed all the steps properly, the wheels should fit nice and snug on the vehicle. Admire your hard work! You can also take this time to manipulate the tires. The tires by design are not meant to fully cover the width of the wheel so you can slide its position closer or further away from the face for either a stretched or square look.
There are things to keep in mind before trying this swap method.
- Your car will not roll freely The tires may come in contact with the body which increases resistance and prevents rolling. For additional clearance you would of course need to drill out the base and shave off the inner fenders/wheel wells. The axles will fit very snug to the wheels, so if you wanted it to roll easier you will need a drill to enlarge the hole.
- There may still be play and when the car rolls it may appear wobbly. This is due to the fact that the axles are not rigid and may be slightly bent during the process of the swap. The more excess axle length there is the greatly the appearance of the wobble; it is harder to trim the axle down to proper size with this method.
- This swap process is meant more for test fitting purposes so you can quickly see how the wheels look on a car.
- There is a higher chance of damaging the wheels if too much force is used to push the axle through the wheels. Once again, avoid using this method for thin-spoke wheels as the risk of damage is a lot higher until you are very comfortable using this method.
If you don’t have access to a power drill, I definitely recommend you look into purchasing one as it is a good investment in the long run. You’ll be able to drill out the rivets and perform cleaner swaps down the line. A budget drill kit is available here which is a good choice for beginners.
If you don’t plan on having the car roll around, but rather have the car as is for display purposes or photo taking, this wheel swap method is ideal for you!
If you have access to a drill, definitely consider doing the second wheel swap method which I will outline below.
2. Wheel Swap with a Drill
This method is for people who have access to a drill. If you have experience with wheel swaps and have already done some, you may already have all the required tools/materials required. With the axles I have included, this method will result in a better swap as you are able to adjust the axle lengths easier and it is easier to crimp the ends which results in less play/wobble.
Materials Required (you can purchase these from a local hardware store, or click on the links to purchase from Amazon):
– power drill
– 9/64″ drill bit
– micro drill bit (0.9mm)
– small side cutters
– small flathead screwdriver or awl pointed screwdriver
– optional: hammer and punch
– optional: gorilla glue or superglue
The first thing you have to do is of course to drill out the rivets from the car. This is where you use a 9/64″ drill bit, and carefully drill the head of the rivets off from the bottom of the vehicle. Once the heads of the rivets have been drilled off, use a small flathead screwdriver to pry the base from the body of the vehicle. There will be some resistance when you try to pry off the base from the body, if it is too difficult to separate the two drill a little bit more into the rivet.
Once you have the casting opened up, you will notice the wheels and axles are being held in by small tabs. Use a small flathead screwdriver or use an awl pointed screwdriver to loosen up these tabs. If the base is made of metal, it will be harder to loosen the tabs so you can optionally drill it out with a different drill bit. Once the tabs are loosened/removed, you can take out the original wheels/axles.
You should be left with something like this below afterwards. You’ll need your sidecutters, pliers, drill with a 0.9mm drill bit, and the new set of wheels. For this demonstration I will be swapping over my TE37 style deep dish wheels on a Nissan Skyline R34 mainline.
We need to start forming the axles. Similar to the first method, you will need to crimp the ends. I use the flat part of my pliers to crimp off one end of the axle slightly. If you have a hammer and punch you are welcome to use that as well. Crimp down one side of each axle.
The ends should look like this afterwards:
Next we will take our drill with a 0.9mm drill bit attached. We need to give additional clearance to the wheels so the axle shaft slides easier into them. 0.9mm will also allow the wheels to rotate around the axle a lot more easier letting our casting roll better. Drill through the rear of the wheels.
Next we can slide in the axle through the wheel, with the crimped end preventing the axle from going all the way through.
Place the axle into the body of the car and push the other wheel onto the other side of the axle. Take a note of the excess axle length, we will need to trim that down little by little.
Once the axle is trimmed down a little, we will need to crimp off that end of the axle to prevent the wheels from coming off.
Once that is done, test fit the assembly on the base of the car again. If there is still too much excess axle length, just crimp down a little more from the end and then you can use your sidecutters to trim off the excess.
Once you have the axle to the desired length, you can secure the assembly by pushing down on the tabs to lock it in place.
If you ended up cutting the tabs, you can use some superglue or any other method to secure the axle to the base of the vehicle.
Repeat the steps again to attach the wheels to the other side of the car.
If you want to greatly reduce wheel wobble, put a dab of gorilla glue/superglue where the prongs hold the axles in place and let it dry. This reduces the axle moving around.
Once that is done, you can put the rest of the car back together. From experience the car snaps back into place. Optionally you can prevent the car from coming apart through the use of small screws or put some superglue where the rivet heads are. Once that is done, you can clean up the rest of the vehicle and admire your hard work.
Additional wheel swap suggestions:
Experienced customizers can resort to using stronger wire, such as stainless steel. Vancity Diecast wheels can accommodate 0.8mm diameter or roughly 20 gauge wire. Drilling the wheels with a 0.9mm bit will allow the wheels to rotate easier on the axle. Using stronger and/or even thicker wires will result in less play/wobble overall.
That concludes the wheel swapping guide with the two methods. Please review these methods before you begin swapping over your Vancity Diecast wheels.
If possible, we recommend the second method with the drill as the end result comes out a lot better!
If you have any additonal questions, feel free to get in touch with us. Thank you!