Wheel Information


Wheel Information

Lets take a closer look as some wheel types possible for customizing:

Free-Wheeling Wheels – By this we mean wheels that are free to spin on the axle shaft itself. Most all Hot Wheels vehicles incorporate this type of axle/wheel combo. The advantage is that these wheel/axle sets are easy to work with and abundant. The disadvantage is that you’re pretty restricted on axle widths unless you dare to attempt Jim’s Axle Shortening Technique posted on this site…

Anchored Wheels – These are wheels that are firmly anchored to an axle. The entire wheel/axle assembly spins (as opposed to just the wheels). These arrangements are somewhat rare, but can be found in a few Racing Champions cars. The advantage is that the wheel can be plucked from the axle allowing the axle to be shortened very easily. Then simply push the wheel back onto the shortened shaft. The disadvantage is that your axle/wheel assembly must be re-attached to the base of your custom in such a way that the entire assembly is allowed to turn (assuming you want the finished car to roll). To learn about some techniques for accomplishing this feat please see Creating and Axle Channel posted on this site.   

Free-Wheeling (not floating) Wheels – This is a somewhat exclusive group. These are wheels that spin on the axle, but that aren’t free to move side-to-side much. Some examples of these would be the Pro Circuit type wheels from Hot Wheels and the Speed Rebel wheels from Johnny Lightning. In fact, most of the Johnny Lightning wheels fall into this category. The advantages and disadvantages are mostly similar to the normal free-wheeling wheels. One big disadvantage however, is the inability to perform Jim’s Axle Shortening Technique on these wheels. Therefore it’s important to acquire a set of these wheels with an axle width matching that of your custom’s base.

Now that we’ve identified the various wheel/axle combinations, lets see how to Remove Axles from the diecast base or Installing Axles; both posted on this site.

Wheel Terms are fairly simple – there are really only a few key references within the hobby:

Real Rider Tires – (Sometimes referred to as RRs) These are traditionally chrome rims inserted in a “real” rubber tire, hence the term “Real Rider”.  Many sources for these from many different manufacturers.

Red Lined Tires –  (Sometimes referred to as RLs) These are traditionally a “starburst” style Chrome rime with a tires embossed with a red line around the sidewall.  These became popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s when Hat Wheels used the term “Redline” to describe their initial line of cars due to their wheels.  Since then a number of manufacturers – including Johnny Lightning – have since released version of the tires that are as good looking, if not better looking then those original pieces.

Black Walls – Tires in which there is no side wall decoration.  The wall is completely black like real car tires.

White Walls – Tires in which there is the side wall is decorated with a thick (sometimes thin) white band.  This is the scale reference corresponding to real life cars as well.

Multiple-Piece Wheel – Wheel and tire combinations that are multiple pieces – two, three or more.  There can be a wheel, hubcap, axle hub, axle and tire in any combination.

Bearing Wheels – Wheels that are connected to the axle with a “bearing” mechanism inside the wheel hub.  This “bearing” is what allows the wheel to spin and is said to increase the speed of the cars in scale racing.

Wheel Sources are actually fairly vast.  Really wheels can be used from any manufacturer depending upon taste and desired look.  More and more varieties are being released on stock cars which really gives the customizer a vast selection.  


Johnny Lightning released these wheel kits especially with the custom market in mind.  Although no longer sold at retail, these can be found on popular auctions site on occasion.   

Mattel has ventured into new wheels with a number of variations over the past year.  One of these, the new PR5, includes silver, gold and purple variations.  

Racing Champions have had a number of great wheels on their cars in the past.  Most of these are Real Rider Styles with chrome rims and real rubber tires.  These are great for customs and worthy of hunting just acquire the wheels/tires.  

Muscle Machines have great wheels although the larger sized are rather “cartoon-ish”.  

Jada has a number of great wheels with Chrome rims and Real Rider Tires, the favorite among customizers being the duplicates of the famed DUBB 20″ rims.   

Any car can be a source of wheels – some of the greatest wheels have been found from none traditional brands in dollar and discount stores.  So never rule out a source.  

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