The Adjustable Suspension Cable-Ties Hack
Today it gives me great pleasure to bring you a brilliant hack to create adjustable leaf spring type suspension using nothing more than cable ties (zip-ties) and some ingenuity. But this isn’t my ingenuity btw – oh no, I am definitely not clever enough to come up with this one.
Karan Loliyekar (@KTechCustomShop) is the genius behind this hack and has kindly agreed to share this with the My Custom Hotwheels Community. Well he would if I’d stop carrying on and just let him begin!…Ahem, OK getting out of the way
Leaf Spring Suspension Guide by K.Loliyekar
Right! So i’ve got many requests from a lot of customizers asking for a tutorial for my custom 6×6 suspension system after watching my 6×6 Ford raptor custom in action, As such I decided to take the time to write this tutorial for members of the MCH community and all aspiring customizers. On with the show then…
A hot wheels diecast car (disassembled preferably) , a couple of zip ties, ear swabs or ear buds( we will use their stem to make custom “Sleeves” for the axles), Super glue and all the other respective tools. (see here for a list of the standard tools required for customising)
Step 1 – Adjustable Suspension Setup
So first what we’re gonna do is take the interior piece of the vehicle (In this case a Dodge Ram) and cut off the supports for the axles as shown below. This is done so that the supports don’t hinder the movement of the axles and so that there is a lot of space for the axles when they go up and down. You can also file down the ends of the supports as i have done to give the ends a smooth and clean finish.
Step 2 – Adjustable Suspension Setup
Next, we take the base of the vehicle and saw off the front and the rear portion of the base so that all that we are left with is the middle portion as shown in the photos. This part of the base shall be the main component on which our cable tie “Leaves” shall be anchored on. You may again file and sand the edges for a clean look if desired.
Step 3 – Wheel & Axle Setup
We now move onto the wheels, now as we are building a 6×6 vehicle in this tutorial we have three axles here which will be again named as axle 1, axle 2 and axle 3, although if you plan to build a 4×4 you shall select two axles.. Now we need to build the sleeves for the axles, so we take the ear swabs and cut off the cotton swabs at both ends until we are left with the stems.
Now take any one of the axles and push out the wheels on both ends until they reach the stoppers at the ends. Carefully measure the distance between the two wheels and cut the stems accordingly to the appropriate length as shown above(Keep in mind that the sleeve length should be cut 1 mm shorter than the actual measured length so that the wheels have space to spin freely). Once this is done its time to get the hobby knife out and slice one side of the “sleeve” open so that we can insert the axles into it.
Once the axles are inserted into the sleeves, press the sleeve once so that the axles won’t slide out easily. If you’re having trouble in getting the slit to open up we can use long nose pliers to gently force the sleeve open for the axle to slide in (as shown below)
Step 4 – Building Suspension Components
Ok so its time to build the suspension components now. For axle 1 and axle 2 we are going to fasten just one zip tie in the centre of each of the axles and for axle 3 we are going to use two zip ties, both fastened at the end of each side of the sleeve.
This is done so that the leaves of axle 2 can move in between axle 3’s leaves. Also please take note that the zip ties need to be fastened in such a way that the flexible tape section no longer can be pulled and they are fully locked at the maximum limit. This also in turn will hold the sleeve shut and the axle wont slide out of the sleeve.
Now we have to cut the flexible tape sections to the appropriate lengths. The length of leaf spring of axle 1 should be say 1mm or 2mm longer than the length from the middle of the base to the first edge of the front wheel arch of the particular model you’re working with. Similarly, the length of the leaf of axle 2 is measured and cut (2 mm longer than the length from the middle of the base to the rear edge of the rear wheel arch). The length of the leaves for axle 3 shall be decided upon later when Axle 3 is mounted on the base. (use images below as your main guide)
Step 5 – Assembling Your Suspension
Assembly time! We start by taking Axle 2 and gluing its leaf 2mm away from the centre of the base (that’s why the extra 2mm length). You may refer to the photos for a better understanding.
Now once Axle 2 is glued, we want to stick both the leaves of Axle 3 on to the base. To decide an appropriate length, place the rear wheels about 1mm or 0.5 mm away from the wheels on Axle 2 (refer photos) and make sure that the front edges of the leaves of the Axle 3 are again 1-2 mm in front of the starting edge of the leaf of Axle 2.
Once the appropriate length is found cut off the excess portion of both the leaves of Axle 3 and glue ’em to the base as shown in the photo.
Now we need to make four wedges from the remaining pieces of the cable tie tape sections. they can be again 1 mm or 2mm in length.
Now we need to lift the leaves from the base to give them that springy nature, we start by wedging two pieces in the the between the leaves and the base of Axle 3, this will will them a lift. Push the wedges forward until the leaves of Axle 3 touch the sleeve of Axle 2 and glue them in place.
Now take another wedge and push it in between the leaf of Axle 2 and the base and make sure that the wedge should be 0.5 to 1 mm in front of the wedges of Axle 3 (refer Photos).
Now take Axle 1 and glue its rear edge over the leaf of Axle 2 (refer to photos) . It should be glued on to the portion of the leaf of Axle 2 where the wedge is.
Now take the last piece of plastic bit and wedge it similarly the way we did for Axle’s 2 and 3. This will give lift to Axle 1. Do not worry if the axles are having different levels of lift. Once the Die-cast body is mounted atop the chassis the height of leaves will all equalize when they come in contact with the ground surface and under the influence of the weight of the body of the car. (I know this part is a little confusing so please refer to the photos,for a more detailed description of process)
You may also choose to refinforce the look and overall feel of your underbody suspension with additional supports (in this instance I am using paperclips merely for example)
Step 6 – Mounting Body to Suspension System
OK! you may now mount the body of the respective model you wish to use and add all other kinds of mods and parts you may wish to add , in this case i have used a Dodge Ram, although if you wish to use another model.
I have also mounted a Datsun 610 wagon body for demo purposes, the possibilities are endless. you can customise the assembly by adding stuff like a subframe that i’ve made out of paperclips too to the base as you shall see in the photos.
Thanks and Credit
Karan: – “I would like to give credit to instagram user @Tacitrainbows for his help, my suspension system is inspired by his albeit with a few refinements and modifications of my own.
And on behalf of every reader and MCH member I would like to send a huge thank you and appreciative high five to Karan for taking time out of his valuable day to impart some of his customizing wisdom on us. – You’re a champion mate, thank you!
Make sure you follow Karan on Instagram under the handle @KTechCustomShop