Date: Mon Aug  3, 1998

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Part 11

Part 11 ** Various comments on individual link tank tracks (long). [Q] What should I know about individual link tank tracs? [A] (Bruce Burden 9/95) I am working on individual links for an Opel Maultier at the moment, and have a few comments for individual track links. Oh, and the Opel Maultier track links are the same as the Pz I links. I would strongly suggest you get the Pz I track links from Model Kasten - there are more links in the Pz I package, and the cost is identical. I have separated all the track links from the sprue, cleaned them, then painted them Floquil rust. I am now dry fitting the links into two tracks to dry-brush the insides of the guide teeth with Humbrol natural steel. I will then dry-brush with a very light coat of Floquil bright silver. A friend of mine uses "Sobo"(?) craft glue to tack the tracks together for fitting to the vehicle. With the advent of the Kasten pinnable track, and the metal links from Italy (I forget the name) for the Tiger I, Panther and Pz III/IV, assembly is much easier. Anyway, once the positioning was complete, he super-glued the tracks in the final position. I plan to do much the same, as the Kasten track seems to be able to hold itself together quite well without glue. And, since they are painted, styrene cement is out of the question. [A] (Don Crawford Jr. 9/95) I have noticed a few posts on Usenet from people who have questions on how to install and paint individual tracks on tracked military vehicles (ie. tanks). I thought I'd pass on for inclusion in the FAQ, my methods of installing these "nasty little buggers". There is no hard and fast rule on how to easily install "indi-links". Its is entirely dependant on the vehicle, the kit construction and fit. Prior to construction, look at the vehicle and plan out a path of attack on how to fit the components together. Look at whether there are side skirts, the hull fits tightly to the deck or will have to be glued, whether the road wheels are double or single and whether or not the wheels have to be glued on or held on with poly caps. Some modellers prefer to install the tracks, after painting with superglue. If this works for you, then so be it. I personally find this method is very risky as you have one chance to get it right with out damaging the finished model. As well, the superglue joints have an inherent problem of becoming weak over time. I personally prefer to install the tracks during construction with styrene cement because it allows for adjustments, proper fitting and much stronger welded joint. Problem is painting them and that's where the planning comes in place. Most vehicles should be able to be assembled so as to allow removal of a track/wheel assemble for painting. If the vehicle has sideskirts, either leave them of or if possible, cement to the vehicle deck (again a good strong joint) for later installation when the deck is mated to the hull after painting. First I clean all the links, road wheels, idlers and sprockets. Spend time here as many modellers spend hours building the vehicle and only a short time on properly doing the tracks. Next, I dry fit the road wheels to the vehicle and hold in place using "stick-em" putty. If the vehicle has double road wheels like on modern MBT's, I do not glue the outer wheels to the inner until after final painting. Any return rollers are dry fitted as well using the same method. Now I begin to assemble the tracks. First I make up links of about 5-10 individual pieces and install them on the sprockets and idlers. A tip when assembling the sprocket is to use a link to set the width and shim as required for a good fit. The idlers and sprockets are then reattached to the vehicles. Next I make up length of tracks to span from the idler to the sprocket on the top. If the vehicle is like the W.W.II Tigers or Modern Soviet T55's, make sure to make up the length so as to allow for to customary track sag. If the kit has what I call a "link and length", your work is already done for you. Another tip, be flexible when assembling "link and length". I have yet to find one that goes together in the exact sequence as show in the instructions. Back to the length of track. Apply cement to the wheels or return rollers that make contact with the tracks. Using shims, hold in place the top track length. I use spring shims made of a piece of styrene (about 15-20 thous) about 1/2" wide, by 3" long and when folded in half, will provide just enough spring to force the tracks down on the wheels when wedged between the assembly and the vehicle deck or hull protrusions. A make sure a good fit is had at the idlers and sprockets. While the top is setting, build another length for the bottom. If the tracks don't quite fit, cut down a link so as to make a perfect fit. Hide the cut link under a road wheel. Attach to the vehicle the same as before, make final adjustments and weight down with weights (full paint bottles work great). Let set over night. Make sure when building you allow enough time to do at least one complete side prior to the cement setting. With Tamiya cement, you have about a 20-30min working time before the cement sets to the point there is no longer any flexibility. Don't glue the length together, go to bed and come back in the morning. During one of my projects, we had a power failure and in order to finish this delicate task before the glue set, I finished installing the tracks by flashlight! Do the other side exactly the same way. Make sure tracks are going right direction. Always check to see if the vehicle sits flat and on all wheels. Remember you are building a scale representation of a armoured vehicle weighing upwards of 70 tons, and they do not float in mid air in real life. No light should show under any portion of the track when sitting on its base. After both sides are finished, allow to set for a day. Once set, because we dry fitted and only tacked in place, we can now carefully remove the entire assembly for painting. It the vehicle is like Modern MBT's with return rollers, like the Abrams, little styrene supports should be installed so as to keep the tracks for crushing while handling. If its like the T55 for example, the tracks will be firmly glued to the top of the road wheels. The entire assembly will be surprisingly strong. Now they can be painted and weathered and reinstalled onto the vehicle after painting. You'll have to be careful reinstalling as a light adjustment will have to be made to align the wheels to the axles and then gently pushed on completely. If the wheels are doubled, you can now install the painted outer wheels to the inner wheels. All in all, "indi-links" make for a far more realistic model. Especially when used in dioramas on destroyed vehicles, tanks with thrown tracks or sprung tracks over uneven terrain. Try doing that with rubber bands! They are very versatile and after a bit of practice and planning, very easy to install. Remember each vehicle is slightly different so some adjustment to the assembling of them may be required.
rec.models.scale FAQ, part 12

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