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MetroMPG 02-15-2014 12:15 PM

DIY magnetic smooth wheel covers / discs / hub caps in coroplast
8 Attachment(s)
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: :D

Step 9:

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

Only time will tell!

Shortie771 02-15-2014 06:53 PM

Great job, nice to see they worked out for you. Those hard drive magnets are pretty strong neodymium magnets, I once made a very small wind turbine experiment from them. Did you have to break the magnets in half because of the way the poles work on them and out of curiosity, what sort of glue did you use to attach them to the coroplast?

MetroMPG 02-15-2014 07:41 PM

I used a hot glue gun.

I broke the magnets into smaller chunks mostly to increase the number of attachment points and spread them around the wheel. Plus smaller magnets are more likely to stay attached to the disc when pulling it off the wheel, rather than breaking the glue.

I wonder, though... do two halves of a magnet, separated, have the same magical stickiness as a whole one? Hmm...

Cobb 02-15-2014 08:18 PM

No option for the adhesive failing?

MetroMPG 02-15-2014 08:37 PM

Anything's possible!

But I took some extra steps: poked a bunch of tiny holes in the coroplast and forced glue inside the corrugation so it won't easily separate from the plastic. And I encapsulated the magnet pieces in the glue so they can't easily separate from the glue.

jeff88 02-15-2014 09:23 PM


Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 411278)
Sometimes magnets really do save fuel!


I have a bunch of old hard drives, too; just trying to figure out something to do with them, because I don't want to dispose of them and have any "issues". I might just have to try this.

Maybe combine this magnet idea with the t-shirt idea that popped up earlier? :thumbup:

Piwoslaw 02-16-2014 02:05 AM

What type of magnets will stick to my aluminium summer wheels? ;)

Arragonis 02-16-2014 11:45 AM


Originally Posted by Piwoslaw (Post 411361)
What type of magnets will stick to my aluminium summer wheels? ;)

Any ones secured with a roll of Gaffer tape :cool:

Cobb 02-16-2014 01:26 PM

Someone here use sheet metal screws and just screwed them into part of the rim he believed was solid.

My hog of a car fades out under heavy braking to the point I had to go with cross drilled and slotted rotors, so no moon disks for me.


Originally Posted by Piwoslaw (Post 411361)
What type of magnets will stick to my aluminium summer wheels? ;)

MetroMPG 02-18-2014 12:57 PM

Posted a bunch of construction pics in the first thread.

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