Dick Fisher's reproduction Bendix wheels look great on restored antiques, but finding an authentic looking smooth tire can be difficult. Hans Gautschi, in Beinwil-am-See, Switzerland, sent us photos of how he made his own smoothies for his Hatz project:
The tires for 16" wheels are the same size as a Harley, so treaded tires are readily available. Hans tried several different tire brands. The first several tries resulted in tires that didn't rotate evenly. Hans has had success with the Shinko E240 tire, which results in a 25" diameter that weights 11 lbs when smooth. Hans says:
I mounted the tire on an ordinary aluminum motorcycle rim to which I fitted an axle to mount it in a big lathe. Then it took me about 3 hours per tire to cut most of the thread down with a special HSS tool while turning it at the lowest possible rpm, which was 300/min. The tool is like a Stanley chisel, only with a steeper angle and a curved edge.
I quickly found out that it was necessary to sharpen the tool after a short time of use. The cutting angle of the tool seems to be important! Position so you can get off long filaments of rubber (like spaghetti). When down to the last 1/16" of tread it became hard to remove more. It seems that the rubber there is harder.
Then I took a belt sander (#40 grit) and worked against the rotation by just holding it on the tire and following along the section of the tire. Always stop and check if the amount of thread is equal over the whole tire. I found out that it was not even at all places, so I took a disk sander with #60 grid paper and sanded the whole surface for an even tread. Then again with the belt sander and again with the disc sander. When you just see a few marks of the thread, smooth it out with wet sanding fine paper (gradually up to #240).
I hope the tire lives for at least 5 years (if we don’t crash the Hatz in the first flight!)