Lowering certain Tamiya kits, the easy way!
Lowering certain Tamiya kits, the easy way!
Lowering a model car may sometimes be a headache as it involves lots of thinking, cutting, gluing and testing. But with certain Tamiya kits, this headache can be saved since there's an easy procedure you can follow, which will leave your steering working and the wheels rotating freely too! The idea behind this concept is to simply glue the disc brakes at a higher position than originally intended to. For this to be possible though, the disc brakes need to be of the type where you insert the poly caps directly inside them, and not inside the wheel hub that attaches to the chassis. An example of such disc brakes, are the ones found on the Tamiya Skylines, as shown below on my Tamiya Nismo R34 Z-tune.
This is the original ride height of the Tamiya Nismo Z-tune. It's not sitting very high and looks realistic compared with how a real Z-tune looks, however some more lowering never hurts, right? So, let's see how this easy procedure is done...
As I've said earlier, the concept is to attach the disc brakes at a higher position. So the first thing we must do is to smooth down the hubs where the disc brakes are attached to. On the hub, you can see the guide part which helps you attach the disc brakes in the right place. This must go, so that the disc brakes could be glued on a flat surface. Picture above shows the front hubs
And these are the rear hubs. Same procedure applies here. Marked inside the red circle above is the original disc brake guide that needs to be sanded down. Once again, to be able to carry out this procedure the disc brakes need to be of the type where you insert the poly caps inside them, not inside the hub. If the poly caps are inserted inside the hubs, you won't have the guides seen above and you can't just glue the brakes at a higher position since the rim shafts will not align with the poly caps
Here are both the front and rear hubs sanded down with the guide parts removed. It is important to obtain a smooth surface by sanding off any excess pieces on the hub surface which may have been left there after cutting the guides. If not removed properly, these would cause the disc brake to glue at an angle and make an unwanted camber when attaching the wheel in the new position. If there is any paint on the hub surface, remove this too since it would weaken the strength of the glue
Next, insert the poly caps inside the disc brakes. These are necessary to hold the disc brakes inside the rims in the next step
Now, insert the disc brakes all the way inside the rims. These would hold well in place because of the poly caps. It's very important that each rim's shaft does not stick out more than the disc brake or else this would touch with the hub surface. If they stick out, like they did on my Z-tune, mark the excess length and carefully cut it out using an appropriate tool. In my case, I have used a top cutters and then carefully sanded the edge clean. Be very careful as the shaft may be brittle, and you really don't want it to snatch at the edge inside the rim! Above is a picture showing the shafts cut out in line with the disc brake
At this stage we're ready to attach the disc brakes at the desired height. First be sure to have the body attached to the chassis
Now everything's ready to attach the brakes to the hubs, so make an amount of super glue over the edge of the disc brake and onto the hub. I prefer using super glue over plastic cement because it makes a stronger bond when dry. Next attach the disc brake to the hub at the desired height. For the exact height, I usually take a reference on the tire markings. For example, I like to take the brand marking of the tire as reference where I align this with the wheel arch. Take note of the brake caliper position and make sure that the wheel is in the centre of the arch. Above picture shows my wheels attached
Leave to dry for the maximum time allowed for the glue used. At this stage, I like to remove the wheels and add a layer of super glue around the brakes and hub. Some people tend to skip this but it gives a stronger bond. Therefore, hold the disc brake in place using a modelling tweezers inserted from between the rim spokes and slowly pull out the wheels as shown
Once the wheels are out, add a layer of super glue around the disc brake. The above picture is just for reference. To add an extra layer of glue, I use a toothpick dipped in glue and then transfer it to the hub making a stronger bond between the parts
With the disc brakes attached, everything's ready for the final assembly. As you can see in the picture above, the steering still works perfectly since this procedure doesn't interfere with it and once the rims are attached, all of the four wheels still rotate freely (unless you've dropped it a considerable amount and now the tires are touching with the inner part of the arches!)
And lastly, above picture shows my Z-tune with its new lowered look. Definitely better looking than before and worth every minute of the hour this procedure takes to do. I have successfully used this method to lower other Tamiya Skylines together with the Supra VI, however I couldn't use it to lower my Evolution VI since the poly caps attach inside the hubs, not brakes
And to end the tutorial, above are two pictures of the Z-tune on the garage diorama with the new lowered height
I really hope this tutorial helps other modellers lower their Tamiya kits. It's an old tutorial I already had on my older site but I edited several paragraphs to better explain the procedures needed to be taken. Feel free to sign the guestbook or visit our facebook page should any of the procedures not be clear enough for you. Enjoy modelling!