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Machining Wheel Castings

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Nick Clarke 324/04/2021 17:26:57
1253 forum posts
50 photos

Here are the front and back of a small wheel casting.

The back of the casting will need to be recessed to open up the spokes. Stan Bray in one of his books suggests that this used to be done like this in the past.

How much extra care do I need to take to avoid chipping the spokes as they come clear and the cut becomes intermittent? - and while normally I would use a tipped tool would I be better with HSS or a combination of carbide to begin and switch to HSS after the skin has been removed to avoid chipping the tool tip?


Robin Dufton24/04/2021 21:59:50
34 forum posts
10 photos

Buy an insert for cast iron. There is a specific ISO code for it, K.

You can look up a suitable insert on any of the manufacturers websites and get one for £5-6. Machining cast iron I've always used round inserts although I'd guess you don't have a tool for round inserts.

Edited By Robin Dufton on 24/04/2021 22:00:08

Phil H125/04/2021 09:33:22
397 forum posts
46 photos


For my last set of wheels (about 4 1/2" diameter), I used tungsten for the backs and the tips were fine - no problem when 'breaking through' but they did have a significant round nose and were the brazed tip style. The castings were very old and had significant hard patches on the front of the wheels but they were fine when I had to use a thin HSS tool for cutting the groove between the tyres and counter balance weights.

Phil H

Zan25/04/2021 10:07:03
282 forum posts
19 photos

Ugh. That’s one bad casting

OldMetaller25/04/2021 12:39:47
193 forum posts
24 photos

Hi Nick, I've just finished turning the wheel castings for my next loco, in 1/2" scale they are 2&3/4" diameter and from Walsall Industries. They came with the solid back you have on yours, which I'd never encountered before. I used a carbide tipped tool and just took it steady when I thought I was close to breaking through. I noticed that as the cut became intermittent the sound changed. There were no problems, but I was a bit shocked when I realised how little allowance there was for thickness- I'd very nearly 'overshot the platform', as The Master used to say.


wheel turning 2.jpg

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