How to Unglue and Remove RC Tires
I cannot throw anything away if there’s nothing wrong with it or if I can reuse it. Or maybe even repurpose it. In most cases when it comes to my RC wheels, the tires may be worn but the foam insert and the wheel can be used again. I just put some new tires on them. Just like your vehicle you use to get around in, would you throw away the wheels just because the tires are worn? No way, you’d just go to the tire shop and get new tires put on those same wheels. In my eyes, there’s no difference with RC wheels. I’m going to talk about a few methods of removing the tires from the wheels of an RC vehicle.
First method I will start with is the boiling method. I use a big stewing pot and fill it with enough water to submerge the tire. I heat the water just enough to where it is not too uncomfortably hot for my hands. I place the tire in the warm water and I squeeze it with both hands until they are firm. I want to get as much air out of the foam as I can while allowing the foam to soak up the water. This will help with getting the water soaked foam just as hot inside as it will be outside when I boil the water. The reason for this is, considering there will be glue on both sides of the bead we want to deactivate that glue adhering the tire to the wheel from the inside of the bead. Now if you didn’t use foam on the inside of your tires then just squeeze till the tire has sucked in enough of the warm water. Once I’m satisfied that the tire has soaked up as much water as it can, I turn up the heat and allow for the water to come to a boil. I allow the tire to boil for about 30 to 40 minutes. Be sure to monitor your water level, as it will evaporate. You don’t want to be left with a cooked tire sticking to the bottom of your pot and smelling up the house. When the time is up, I use a pair of tongs to remove the wheel from the boiling water and a pair of thick rubber gloves to protect my hands from the very hot wheel while handling it. I then proceed to peel away the beads, separating the tire from the wheel. What you’ll find is that the glue has become brittle and allows the tire to pop off the rim. Be careful when removing the tire from the wheel as the plastic wheel will be soft due to the heat and may warp from aggressive handling. I usually simply wait for the wheel to cool. You might experience that the tire may not separate easily. In this case just place the tire back in the water and allow it to boil in the water a little longer and then try again. You may want to wait for the tire to cool a little bit if it’s too hot to handle and to avoid possible warping. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes form any water that may splash up into your face. This method dissolves 99.9% of the glue. There’s practically no glue left behind. The wheels are ready to be re-used immediately after a simple cleaning.
Second method I will talk about is the baking method. This method is fairly simple. But first, you have to make sure that there is a way for the expanding air to escape from the tire, otherwise the tire will explode. For this you start with pre-heating the oven to 325. Then you place the tires on a disposable cookie sheet and place them in the middle tray of the oven. Allow the tires to bake for about 15mins. Once the 15 minutes have lapsed, you’ll want to use a pair of oven mitts because the tires as well as the tray will of course be hot to remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Now you’ll proceed to break the bead by peeling the tires from the wheel. Again, you’ll want to try and be careful when trying to separate the tire from the wheel as the wheel will be hot and soft and may warp from aggressive handling. That’s the baking method. This method smells extremely bad due to the heated rubber tire. Just about toxic. I don’t like this method at all.
Third method is soaking with Acetone. Again for safety you’ll want to use eye protection as well as rubber gloves. I recommend the thick Blue non-latex gloves. A small bucket or container would be ideal for the Acetone. Just big enough to accommodate one tire. You’ll want to use just enough acetone to get the job done. As in the boiling method if you have foam beneath the tire you’ll want to soak up the Acetone so that it will reach and deactivate the glue on the inner bead. However, I wouldn’t recommend submersing the entire wheel into the Acetone because it’s essentially a waste. Although this method takes longer, I would recommend just enough acetone to submerse one bead of the wheel at a time after squeezing the air out and soaking. Once your satisfied that the foam within the tires have absorbed enough acetone and there is no or at least very little air in the tire you can then place a cover over your container so as to help keep the Acetone from evaporating too quickly. Then you’ll allow the wheel to soak overnight or at least for 8 hours. Now, this method does not work with all wheels. I’ve discovered that some of the more inexpensive wheels on the market will actually dissolve in the acetone. So, with that said you’ll want to test the acetone method before you possibly ruin your set of wheels.
I prefer the boiling method, with the use of Acetone to clean up any remaining glue from the wheels of my Radio Control vehicles.