Improving my Wilesco traction engine’s wheels

The biggest fan of Wilesco toy steam engines would have to admit that their traction engine’s wheels are not particularly attractive or realistic. (Yes I know it’s a toy, not a scale model.)

Wilesco toy traction engine kit

A popular way to improve the appearance of the rear wheels is to replace the pressed steel spokes with complete Mamod traction engine wheels. Mamod wheels are castings that look a lot better but can’t be used directly as they’re too small. Fitting them inside the Wilesco rims gets round this problem.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

I bought a pair of old Mamod wheels on eBay. Their paint was in poor condition so I stripped them back to bare metal. The Mamod wheel’s centre hole is ¼” diameter (6.35mm) compared to 5mm on the Wilesco. I cut two lengths of 6mm OD (5.1mm ID) brass tube and wound them in three layers of thin aluminium tape to make snugly fitting adaptor bushes.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

I bought a custom length axle with brass hubcaps from CJW Steam Ltd and made shorter replacements for the Wilesco brass spacers using some more of the 6mm brass tube. I then assembled everything to make sure it all fitted and that the clutch would still engage and disengage correctly.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

The next job was to prime and paint the Mamod wheels. I used an etching primer spray followed by two brush coats of Humbrol red gloss enamel.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

While the paint was drying I removed the Wilesco rims from their pressed steel spokes. I found a suitable size tin of paint to support the inner part of the wheel (with a bit of old T-shirt for padding) while I gently eased the rim off with a hammer and bit of wood.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

The Mamod wheels are several millimetres smaller than the Wilesco rim’s inner diameter so I put a spiral drive belt (as used to drive toy steam engine accessories) around each wheel to make them a better fit. I then glued the wheels inside the rims with epoxy resin adhesive.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

Finally I filled the gap between Mamod wheel and Wilesco rim with some Milliput and, once it had set, painted it and touched up some other damage to my earlier paintwork.

Improving the Wilesco traction engine wheels

I’m very pleased with the final result. You’ll notice I’ve also doubled the number of spokes on the front wheels. This is done by removing one of the pressed steel centres from the rim and then replacing it with a 30° offset. I also gave the front wheels a coat of the same red paint as their original colour is a slightly more orange shade of red.

2 thoughts on “Improving my Wilesco traction engine’s wheels”

  1. Hi :0), I’m a newish collector and modeler of small live steam being Mamod and Wilesco and at the moment I’m rebuilding a Wilesco D365 ‘OLD SMOKEY’ roller. Mamod rear wheel castings into Wilesco rear wheel rims is already completed but I’m a little confused in respect of fitting a new axle? I’ve read the new axle from CJW Steam section on your 2016 Wilesco traction engine wheel exchange and it’s the reference to spacers and so on that confuses me. I know it’s an old article but it’s the only one that I have found to help me and why there are no up to date articles on this Wilesco modeling subject I don’t know so any help you can offer me will be useful, regards Mike.

    Reply
    • The spacers I’m referring to are short lengths of 6 mm diameter brass tube that slide over the axle between fire box and wheel to keep the wheel in the right place. Replacing the wheels with ones that have wider hubs requires shorter spacers. Your roller obviously has wider wheel rims than my traction engine so I assume it has longer spacers, or maybe Wilesco do something different to position the wheels. I’ve not had a roller so I don’t know how they’re made.

      Reply

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