To me, gluing tires is about as much fun as going in the backyard and picking up Buster poo. For a few of you, it's a Zen-like experience that's very calming. To you, I say NUTZ! Over time, and watching the pros glue tires, I've discovered ways to prep tires and rims to make the art of gluing tires easier. Since that boss editor of mine has asked me to share what I've learned, I'm biting the bullet and heading out to the shop to give you tips on wheel gluing and prep. But first, let me do my other favorite thing and head out to the backyard!

Words: Brian Skinner
Issue 144 (November 2007)

1. The first step in ultimate wheel bonding is to remove the "mold release" compound from the tires and wheels. To do this, take a clean shop rag, spray some contact cleaner on the rag, then wipe the surface areas that will be glued (the tire bead and wheel lip.)

2. Some tires from the factory will have flashing left from the mold that needs to be removed. This can be accomplished by using your body scissors to cut the inside lip of the bead area. Cutting the bead area is also used to pull the sidewalls in on the rim. This helps prevent the tire sidewall from hanging over the rim and also helps keep the tire from ripping away from it. I've been told that you can use this technique to alter the sidewall performance which will in turn help it to roll more or give the tire better compression characteristics... but that's another story.

3. To further increase the bonding of your tires, rough up the tire bead and rim lip with your Dremel. Use a medium grit sanding barrel. This helps the CA glue to penetrate the surface better and adheres to the pores of the material where it likes to be.

4. Now that we have all of the prep out of the way, insert your tire foams and mount your tires to the rim. While the tire is off the rim, I suggest you punch two 3mm holes in the tires so that they can breathe. This also allows dirt and water to escape through the holes, since the centrifugal force pulls this stuff to the outside of the wheel. This is a race tip and you can use it or not. Let's move on to the strapping games.

This section is about banding or strapping the tire to the rim. The point here is to compress the tire to the rim so that the CA glue can get a good bind. You want the bead of the tire to be flush with the rim with no gaps, and it's best to have some compression on the tire to get it to seat well. Of course, this is done by strapping the tire to the rim. There are many ideas and products to help with this procedure. Losi has a glue kit that includes the Losi glue and wide rubber bands to band your tires. Panther Products probably has the best thing on the market with their Panther Glue Bands, and then there are assorted items like electrical tape, adjustable rubber lid straps, Velcro, and, of course, your hands. My favorite two methods are the Panther bands and electrical tape.

Only one step! This part is easy. Take your preferred banding and strap it to the outside edge of the tire as the photo suggests. Check to see that the entire bead is set flush to the rim, then start the gluing process. Here are a couple of tips: Before you glue the tire, peel back the bead and let go to see if the bead goes back to the rim lip. If not, you'll need to apply more tension to the band. Next, make sure the tire bead is pressed all the way into the lip area of the rim. This ensures that the bead is seated and will help keep the bead from hanging out past the rim. This reduces unnecessary pressure on the bead during use and it also looks cleaner.

This is the electrical tape method. I currently use this method as it allows me to easily adjust the tension to set the bead. It's also convenient when you're on the road at events.

The old rubber band trick. This is probably the most-used method for gluing tires, and it works great. You can buy bulk rubber bands at any office supply store, or buy the Losi tire glue kit that comes with rubber bands.This is simple, yet effective.

My Inspector Gadget method is with this rubber adjust strap. I use these at home since they are bulky and hard to take on the road, but they're a lot of fun to use in the shop.

This is where the rubber meets the plastic, and once you start gluing you're committed.. By now you should have everything prepped and ready for gluing. There are two ways to go about thisówell, three, if you count how the factory girls do it in China. The most efficient and common method is a glue bottle with a wick. The application wick allows for deeper penetration and acts like a brush to wipe the CA into the bead area. This is the technique we will use.

1. At this point I should mention that you'll need four to eight glue bands to do this efficiently. I like to do my wheels in sets of four, so get four wheels mounted and ready for gluing. Now set them up with the back sides facing up and install the glue bands on all four wheels. If you're wondering why you should start on the back of the wheels, this is to let you warm up and get in the groove of gluing. By the time you get to the front of the wheels, you'll be laying down the good beads and your face side of the wheel will look nice and clean. How else do you think we get those perfect-looking wheels in our test reviews?

2. Next, let's apply the glue. First, prime your CA bottle and get the tip of the wick wet with a little CA. Next, grab your wheel and lightly open a gap with your fingers ... just enough to let the applicator tip fit in. Now slide the tip into the gap about halfway in and slide the wick to the end of the open gap. You can normally do about three quarters of an inch at a time. If necessary, squeeze a little CA out as you move the wick along the open bead area. The goal is to have a thin film of CA in the gap area. Take the tip out and move your finger to the area adjacent to where you just glued, then repeat the process all the way around. This should take no more than a minute and you'll need to do it quickly before the glue sets.

Another method is to fill the gap you are gluing with CA and let it run down the bead area. Just tilt the wheel so that gravity pulls the glue down the bead, then use your hand to pull the tire slightly away from the rim as it feeds down the bead. Be careful, though. It may appear as though you're getting a good bond this way, but sometimes the CA glues just the outside edge. I would use this technique after you have some gluing experience. Better safe than sorry!

Here's a tip for you ... figuratively and literally! A lot of the CA bottles come with a little straw on the side, and we use it to get the CA into the bead area, just like the photos show in the gluing section. Cut a quarter inch section off the straw and make sure the ends are open, then insert the straw halfway into the applicator tip and you're ready for business. There are wick caps sold separately at hobby shops that you can use on CA bottles that don't come with the straw, and they are very useful. Another thing to consider is that CA glue comes in three thicknesses: thin, medium, and thick. It seems that most pros use medium and it works the best for tire gluing. Thin CA is easy to use but sets quickly, so you really need to be proficient in gluing tires to use it.

3. If there's excess glue after you're done, quickly take a used rag and wipe it off neatly so that the tire looks good. This will also help the glue dry faster and more evenly. Now put the wheel aside, move on to the next wheel, and repeat this three more times. Once you have finished gluing all of the backs, start on the front side of the first wheel you glued and repeat the process.

4. With the tires glued, let them dry for ten to fifteen minutes, then remove the glue bands and let the tires relax for a few minutes. By now they should be ready to use and a spot check is needed. This is like quality control for your work, so be thorough. Visually look at your beads and make sure they're bonded well. In areas that you think might be bad, grab the edge of the tire with your hand and tug on it to see how it holds, or press back on the sidewall to see if the bead pops loose. If it comes loose, re-band the tire and spot glue the area. If your tires pass QC, then mount them up and go roost the track!

I've been to China and have seen how the factories glue the RTR tires, and it's amazing how fast the workers glue tires. I've mostly seen girls working on the tire gluing line and that might have something to do with the speed, but the technique is a little different. If you have to glue a few sets of tires, this might be the ticket to use. It's the same procedure we just went through, but you don't need straps or a glue bottle. What you do need is a cap with CA in it and a toothpick. Use thin CA, dip the toothpick into the cap, and apply to the bead as we did above. This method is fast, and the toothpick lays a nice even layer of glue. Since the toothpick is ridged and pointed, you can stick it in the bead area and slide it around rather quickly.

There are several ways you can use bands to strap the tires down, but I prefer the Panther Bands or electrical tape when I'm on the road. At home I like to use the adjustable band tool because I have more time and it allows me to get a good squeeze on the tires. The choice is yours, and is here for your consideration.

Having well-glued tires is essential for any RC car activity. Nothing is more frustrating than your wheel coming unglued. By perfecting these tips on preparation and gluing you will have wheels that stay glued. But don't worry, even the seasoned veteran has a bad day. Once I saw a major factory driver lose all four tires at a world's event. It happens, and it seems to run in spurts. I can go a whole season and not have trouble, and then two or three times in a row, I can't seem to keep a tire on to save my life! If Derek lets me, next month I'll show you how to take your rims off and use them again. I'm sure the manufacturers don't want you to know this little secret!