How to build balsa wheel spats

8:42 AM giovanni 0 Comments


I have been looking everywhere for a decent pair of wheel spats (wheel pants for the guys on the other side of the pond) to fit my scratch build Ugly Stick (article on that soon).
Needless to say that shipping is a deal breaker for us Europeans, and I was quite reluctant in spending more in shipping than in articles I wanted.
Or, if the item is in Europe, it is out of stock, or the wrong size, or there is some other problem which prevented me to go ahead with the order.

This is why I decided to build myself a set of wheel spats to fit exactly the wheels I needed, in the colour and shape I needed...at a cost of about $1.50.

Let's see how:



I used multiple layers of 5mm balsa (3 to be precise) onto which I overlaid a rough hand sketch of the desired shape and dimensions of the wheel.


To get to the desired thickness I glued 3 layers of 5mm balsa, 1 layer of 3mm balsa on each side and finally another 2mm layer of hard balsa on each side, without the cutout section for the wheels. These will be the external sides.


Here you can see the layer progression, I left the spat overnight under some books to let the glue to cure.


Next morning is for the tedious (for some, at least) task of sanding the spat. Take your time here, you want to do a smooth job.


Once the shape is obtained, I covered it with some lightweight spackle


And sanded that too to make it super smooth


Here I had two choices: turn the spat into a plug for glassing, or cover it. The first case would have been the best probably, I would end up with two equal spats, very light, and I wouldn't have had to make a second one.
Fact is, I don't have any supply for glassing, I instead have some covering and an iron, so I went for the second option. :)

I started with the bottom and top sheets, proceeding with the sides, as you would normally do for a fuselage.

It has been a little tricky given the highly curved form, but I am very satisfied with the result, now onto the second one!