Radio Flyer Wagon Wheel Upgrade

This project began with me stating "I'll be damned if I pay $25 per wheel for an upgrade from Radio Flyer!".

And down the rabbit hole I went!

Materials Needed/Used:

  • Beer
  • Mallet
  • 10 inch pneumatic tires 
  • WD-40
  • More Beer
  • 5/8 (Outer Diameter) 7/16 (Inner Diameter) Vinyl tubing 
  • 7/16 Push Nuts
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Razor blade
  • 1/2 inch PVC

The short of it: Remove old tires, use the vinyl tubing as a spacer to fit the 10 tires onto a 7/16 axle.

The Breakdown:

Removing the old tires is easy.  You can break the push nuts off or save them by twisting them as if you are unscrewing them.  Saving them could save you the time of locating new ones and it one less thing to track down.

Old & new Push Nut

~1/2 inch space where old spacer attached

Spacer & Tire removed from back

Once they are off you can start dealing with the mispaired axle size and tire bore.  Although on the Radio Flyer website they are listed as 1/2 inch axles for this model, they are not 1/2 inch but 7/16.  If you then measure most tire bores, you will discover they are generally 5/8.  And if you are really good at math, you might realize 5/8 is not the same as 7/16.  Kudos.

Axle size

Rear Axle

I tried searching for spacers, and failed.  The best I could find was some vinyl tubing with the correct inner and outer sizes.  However, I knew it would be a tight fit it I got the exact size.   A smaller size might work as well and be easier. Hindsight right.

After some amazing calculations and beers, I arrived at the spacer sizes I need to keep the new larger wheels from rubbing.  I came up with PVC spacers the measured 3/4 inch for the back axle and 3/8 for the front axle.  There is room for error and room for play, but mileage may vary.

This next part requires equal parts WD-40 and Beer.  Getting the vinyl spacer into wheel bore and then onto the axle.  I cut vinyl tubing to about 2 5/8 inches.  In order to make this tight squeeze a little easier, I beveled the inside and outside of the tubing, and then sprayed everything with WD-40.  Be sure to place your 3/4 PVC spaces on the axles first before getting the tire on.  The WD-40 made it easier to slide the tubing into the wheel bore, and then by spraying the axle, it helped to slide the tire+tubing.
Inserting tubing first

3/4 PVC spacer with ~2 5/8 rear axle

Rear axle with tubing and spacer

Rear axle vinyl tubing removed

While the back tires when on like a prophylactic in Amsterdam, the front was not as easy.  First, this model of Radio Flyer has the two independent front axles.  So you will have to either use something to brace it, or build a wedge to keep it from spinning,  I went the hard route and just held it with my hands.  Again, make sure you put on the 3/8 PVC spacers first.  Secondly, there is not alot of play room on this axle and it has a flare that held a washer in place for the other wheels.  It took a little work but I was able to get enough of the wheel on with enough tubing.
Front Axle with Flare

One tire on front axle 
Front axle with tubing

It is worth mentioning, that is you use this method, you may not need the 3/8 PVC spaces on the front.  The fit is fairly tight.

Now, to make it nice an trim, take a razor blade and carefully trim off any excess vinyl tubing.  Do be cautious on this step as you are cutting in an unusual position.

Now place you push nuts back on and you are ready to cruise!

Be Aware:  These tires work great off-road.  I'm not going back.  However, if you mainly use your wagon on the street, be warned.  On the street, I've noticed that the front axles will get into a tug of war and cause a synced wobble. Not sure it has to do more with alignment, or just the fact that the front are free.  Sticking a child in the front may put enough weight down to fix the issue.

And that's it. Not too bad for an off-road wagon.  If all else fails, you can always put back on the old wheels.  Good luck out there, and if you have any tips to share, be sure to leave them in the comments.  Thanks again!


  1. Nice post and thanks. You saved me some time.
    My radio flyer was just slightly different and had the same wheels as the front. To make the rear tires fit I had to get a longer axle bar.
    To make the front ones rotate 360 I bent the axle so it stood up straighter but still had the axle offset so it turned in the desired direction.
    Also added one more washer on the bottom side. Works perfect.

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  4. Thanks! While Shiner Oktoberfest is a great choice, I'm doing this in June. I would suggest the Lime Sea Salt from Shiner or Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus. If you can find the Cactus Shiner, also a great choice. Being June, one will also need decidedly more refreshment than in October. The wing nuts are. a. bitch. Not sure if there's a trick to that but I used pliers, profanity, and brute force. Still took a while. Otherwise, great tutorial!

  5. I just finished my upgrade.
    I have the big storage bag option on mine so the rear spacers are actually the mount to the bag So I trimmed that to fit the tires on and put the read caps on to look stock and the front I drilled a hole at the end for a pin to hold the tires on. It still has the inner washer to hold it on as well.
    I took your idea and made it my own and it worked.
    The only thing I'm going to change is the tightness on the rim. I'm going to get a different size spacers on the axle. They have some play but can be better so I will tighten it up.

  6. I did this on my grandstand wagon and the front wheels wobble. Any suggestions?


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