Had to plasma cut off the fake rubber leaving behind what was to be the new base for the wheel

Return Roller Upgrade

After George AFB event the baby was in need of some tender loving care.  It had been awhile since we paid much attention to mechanical maintenance.  First order of business was to upgrade the return rollers.

When the rollers were originally made I didn’t know how to cost-effectively add rubber to a wheel.  We simulated rubber wheels with steel.  It took a lifetime of grinding to make them look like rubber return rollers.

The spindles we used weren’t heavy enough and we have bent and broken off return rollers.  The wheels being steel transferred every track shoe’s vibration right into the bearings and spindles.  The time came to upgrade and fix this problem.

We removed the return rollers and plasma cut off the steel wheel.

Had to plasma cut off the fake rubber leaving behind what was to be the new base for the wheel.  The plasma put enough heat into the wheel that there was distortion.

The machine shop turned the remainder (hub) to take out the heat distortion that resulted. Here are the rollers as they headed to the rubber laminating shop.

Had to upgrade the return rollers. Added solid rubber wheels.

Time for a road trip.  Jessica and I drove the blank wheels to Riverside, CA where there is a rubber shop that will laminate raw rubber onto a wheel.  Their primary business is forklifts but they were able to lay up the rubber and vulcanize it on our blank wheel.

Now with the rubber added the wheel will absorb much of the vibration and hopefully save bearings.

We needed to replace the old spindles with heavier duty ones.  We are limited on clearances with the hubs so we could only go up one more step in strength.  I would have like to take it further but there just wasn’t room for a larger hub.

Mark using a puller to remove the old spindles. These were never heavy duty enough.

So with the old spindles removed, we could add the thicker replacements.

Welding in the bigger spindles.  These also took new hubs with bigger bearings.


One on, 5 more to go. New spindles, hubs, bearings and freshly rubberized return roller wheels

Now the rubber will take most of the vibration and go easier on the bearings and spindles.  We also replaced the track pads with brand new rubber pads.  German panzer track didn’t have rubber pads but we use M113 track so we can drive on roads and concrete.  Without the pads we would be stuck to the great off-road..

We had to get this done pronto to be ready for a contract at the Los Angele Convention center.