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  • Tire Cleaning Blocks


    Tire Cleaning Blocks

    Today, 11:24 AM

    A couple of months ago I built a tire cleaning block for the 1/32nd scale cars I race in the IHSR series. The IHSR rules allow tire cleaning between heats, and most racers do that job before every heat, but they do it manually.

    (I should point out that IHSR races are run on routed MDF tracks, and no tire glue is allowed. The tracks are typically cleaned before race events. Despite that, tires get dirty quickly. I'm not really sure why, but it's a fact.)

    My tire cleaning block was powered. It was cut out of plywood and used an old handkerchief as the material for cleaning the tires. There was a short slot for the car's guide, and two brass contact strips for the pickups. Two 9-volt batteries were wired in parallel to those contact strips, with the voltage reversed so the car's tires would turn backwards. (Why backwards? The car is more stable that way.)

    The idea was that I could spray tire cleaning fluid onto the handkerchief, put the car in place and let the tires run backwards against the cloth, cleaning any debris off the tires.

    I used that block at the last two races, and I was gratified how well and how quickly it cleaned the tires. Oh yes, and how well my cars cornered.

    Unsurprisingly, my tire cleaning block attracted attention. At one race a competitor, who was having an awful time with his car asked if I would clean his tires on my block. I did that, and the change in his car's performance was remarkable. That also got noticed.

    It became obvious I had something I could sell.

    Over a period of about 3 weeks I worked on developing a production version of my tire cleaning block. I won't go into all the changes. Let's just say over seven major revisions I made the block easier to produce, added useful features and improved the quality.

    So let me show you what the production version looks like...

    Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_2641.jpg Views:	0 Size:	1.17 MB ID:	30432Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_2638.jpg Views:	0 Size:	1.22 MB ID:	30433Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_2640.jpg Views:	0 Size:	1.21 MB ID:	30434

    The block itself is printed on an Ender 3 Pro 3D printer in PLA plastic. The tire cleaning fabric is now microfiber cloth. It is held in place by Velcro hook tape -- microfiber cloth sticks to it just like the normal Velcro loop tape. The microfiber cloth swatch is 3 x 3 inches and is easily replaced. (They get dirty fast! But then, that's where the dirt is supposed to go.)

    The brass contact strips and two 9-volt batteries are the same, but the batteries are neatly stowed under the block, held in place by O-rings used like rubber bands. There is also storage for a pair of spare batteries.

    A black urethane insulator comes with, to keep the contact strips from accidentally shorting out and draining the batteries during storage. That insulator snaps into the guide slot. It is well retained, but easily removed.

    There is a loop molded into the front of the block where you can attach a carabiner or a lanyard, so you can wear the block rather than having to carry it. A carabiner can hook onto a pant belt loop nicely. A lanyard lets you wear it around your neck.

    It is not real obvious in the first photo, but the blocks are logo'd "Bianchi Specialties". Not "HO RacePro". Do I need to explain the name change?

    As I said, the tire cleaning blocks are 3D printed. It takes 15 hours to print just one, so I can't crank them out very fast. Fortunately the printer can run all day unattended, so my actual labor hours are rather modest.

    For now I am hoping to do a small business providing these blocks to individuals. I've already sold two.

    If you have an interest, please send me a private message. Use the "Messages" tab at the top right of this page.

    Maybe sometime in future, if the volume justifies it, I could develop a mass-production version. At that point I'd be looking to sell them through a distributor to retailers.

    TBD

    Ed Bianchi


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    Last edited by HO RacePro; April 5, 2020, 02:45 PM.
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