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Old 02-15-2014, 12:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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DIY magnetic smooth wheel covers / discs / hub caps in coroplast

I put a different set of 14 inch winter wheels/tires on the Flea this winter:

Unfortunately, I somehow lost my plastic hubcaps that fit these wheels. (Either I'm crazy and lost them inside my own garage, or someone -- who is also crazy -- stole 3 of the set.)

The least expensive plastic wheel covers in the local parts store are $19 each (plus tax). And the junk yard is currently buried under several feet of snow. So, DIY it is!

We've had numerous threads of magnetic attachment not working out -- wheel covers falling off (eg. when subjected to pot hole impacts or sudden pressure/wind changes from passing cars on the freeway).

Too stubborn to learn from others' experience (and having a supply of dead hard drives on hand) I decided to take a shot at it.

These are dished coroplast discs with 16 chunks of hard drive magnets glued around edge.

Trial by fire (ice)

Went snowboarding yesterday in a snow storm! (Great conditions!)

The test disc went ~270 km / 168 mi. including speeds up to ~100 km/h (apparent wind speed more like ~115 km/h / 72 mph), in moderate traffic, including half at lower speeds in a full-on snow storm, and a quite bumpy/pot holey road close to the hill.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the disc made the trip there. And equally pleased to see it arrive home!

So I'm forging ahead with making a full set. Sometimes magnets really do save fuel!


About 20-25 minutes per disc.

Step 1:

Measure & scribe the outline of the wheel cover. Cut it out.

Step 2:

Optional: I heated the oven to 300 F and put the coroplast on an appropriatedly shaped glass dish to give the coro a bit of convex shape (had to weigh it down while it cooled to hold said shape).

Careful doing this... 300 is close to where the coro starts to melt. Ask me how I know this.

Dished disc:

Step 3:

Warm up the hot glue gun, collect hard drive magnets (I snapped them into thirds or quarters depending on original size).

Step 4:

Attach magnets. (Not shown: I punctured the coroplast several times beneath each magnet so the glue could get inside the layers and make a better bond.

You may need to check magnet position in advance for clearance around wheel weights.

I tried to encapsulate the magnets to give them a stronger bond to the disc.

Steps 6-8:

Cut hole for valve stem.

Decorate / paint (optional).

Install on car.

I always admired the psychadelic discs on the Anal Probe:

Step 9:

Lose disc(s) on highway and wish you'd modified a set of proper hubcaps instead?

Only time will tell!

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