How to glue tires is what we could consider a classic. It used to be an absolutely essential RC skill, but pre-mounted or pre-glued tires took this task off many people’s to-do list. I don’t think too many people missed it, but now that short course is the dominant segment and just about every short course truck released uses its own offset, gluing tires is coming back in fashion, so to speak. To get the rim, insert and tire combo you want, you’ll often have to be able to glue up some tires on your own. This article isn’t just for short course truck racers. Read on and learn the tricks to keeping the rubber on the rims for any RC truck.
To Clean or Not to Clean
Until somewhat recently, I presumed everyone with some experience believed that prep was an essentially part of the tire-gluing process. I was surprised when I heard a veteran and very fast racer say that he didn’t believe cleaning the tires’ bead before gluing was necessary. This racer even claimed that skipping the prep was actually better and had witnessed a pro racer who used window cleaner to pre-clean. That pro was said to have tire after tire come unglued. Hence, prep was bad and going dirty was good. This is somewhat faulty logic since the its most likely residue from the glass cleaner that’s causing the problem. The moral of the story is use the right cleaner, not no cleaner. And, the right cleaner is ordinary rubbing alcohol. This will remove any release agent left over on tires and rims from the molding process and then completely evaporate.
Now that you’re hopefully convinced that cleaning the tires and rims before gluing is a good idea, you’ll need to know how. It’s really simple. Soak a rag or paper towel with rubbing alcohol and wipe the rims bead area first. Make sure you clean the outer edge. Next, wipe down each tire’s bead while rotating the paper towel so that you are using a clean piece as much as possible. You should notice the towel picks up a lot of residue. The last part of prep is to remove any flashing from the bead area of the tires using body scissors. Any large pieces of flashing could prevent the tire from seating perfectly down on the rim.
You wouldn’t think a subject like tire gluing could be controversial, but like cleaning or not cleaning, there is great debate on how to vent. The debate is between venting the tire or rim. Traditionally venting the rim has been the most common, but some racers have favored venting the tire so that as it spins, dirt that got in the tire would get flung out the hole. That’s the theory. This really doesn’t work. While some dirt will spin to the outside, it gets spread out and very little, if any, will find its way out the vent hole. Take apart an old tire that’s been run in dirty conditions and you’ll find the entire foam coated with a fine layer of dirt. The new trend among racers is to put the vent hole off the centerline of the tire so that as the tire expands, the hole isn’t grabbing dirt. But, weren’t racers putting the hole in the tire so that as it spun dirt would get flung out? If the hole is off to the side, there’s no chance that dirt will get spun out. Bottom line: just vent the rim. In fact, if your rim has vent holes in it already, enlarge them up body reamer or drill. It is a good idea to put a sticker or piece of electrical tape over the vent holes while cleaning the tires to keep water out. Note that when the tires are vented, they can’t be sealed during washing. If you insist on venting the tires and not the rims, a cheap leather hole punch works best for this.
It is highly recommended that you use a rubber band around the tire to hold it in place and tight to the rim while the glue dries. If you’re gluing larger tires such as those for a monster truck or truggy, you can use electrical tape or something similar tape wrapped around the tire.
The key to a strong and clean-looking glue job is taking your time. Well, that is key, but the other key element is using the right glue. First, use only hobby-specific CA and know that all hobby-grade CA is created equal. Some simply perform better than others. Losi and AKA offer CA glues that have proven to be exceptional. When gluing, mount the tire on the rim and make sure it is perfectly seated. Simply peel back a small part of the tire to expose a small amount the bead area of the rim and carefully squeeze in a drop of glue. Do this around the rim in a star-like pattern.
After you have glued both sides and have checked for any weak spots, grab a lint-free towel, drop a drop of glue on the seam where the tire meets the rims and quickly spread it around with the towel over your finger. This will make for a clean looking finished product and a strong bond.
> Use high quality hobby-grade glue
> Use a rubber band on each side of the tire
> Glue small spots at a time and use a small amount of glue
> Vent the rims, not the tires
About the Author: Matt has over 25 years of experience in RC and has worked professionally in media for over a decade. Matt enjoys everything from racing to rock crawling to bashing, and he believes RC should be all about having fun. Matt is as at home covering a world championship in an exotic country as he is showing a new hobbyist how to set gear mesh. His desire to share the hobby with as many people as possible inspired him to create RC Truck Stop and RCTruckStop.com.