Posts Tagged ‘What am I doing?


Another Truck-Cat Update

I should have numbered these….

I built a slider bar for the back of the chassis, to prevent tearing up the body, when the truck drops off of things. I built it to extend past where the bumper will be, and kick up at the end to come up behind the bumper. That kick at the end, gives me a place to attach a couple of D-ring tabs from Mad Dog RC. To those, I bolted some King Kong mini tow shackles, from RC4WD.


Continue reading ‘Another Truck-Cat Update’


Small Transformers Review

Because, I’m reviewing small Transformers. 😉


I’ve gotten a few of the current Legends class TFs, lately. These are rapidly becoming my favorite size class. This will be covering Powerglide, Windcharger, and Bombshell from the Combiner Wars sub-line.


3_legends1 3_legends2

Alternate modes are all fairly solid. Powerglide’s is the weakest, but he’s also a triple changer. He has a gun mode, that I’ll touch on later.

Continue reading ‘Small Transformers Review’


I’m Still Here

No pictures, this time through. I just felt the need to post something. Real life kind of hit me upside the head, so I’ve not felt like working on much of anything, for last month or so. Most of my energy has gone towards expanding my comic into a couple of side comics. Comic Press is kind of clumsy, with multi-comic sites, and converting the site over to a network was a massive pain. Nothing ever seems to work the way it’s supposed to.


I’m back to working on the RC truck-cat thing, however slowly. Just trying to get the body painted, right now. Spent a few hours last night replacing the brake pads on the thing with new ones cut from a Formica sample. (Matte finished travertine, it was all Lowe’s had in the sample rack.) I’m hoping the more slippery surface will help tame the steering. The super thick diff oil has helped, but stainless steel pads on stainless steel disks lack finesse. The steering goes abruptly from wide, gradual turn to a snap turn with one track locked up.


I guess, there’s a reason differential breaking fell out of favor on full-sized tracked vehicles. I have ideas in my head involving cut down crawler axles driven by two 55 or 80 turn motors. But, lets not go there.


Still Truckin’

What’s this? Three posts in one month? Almost in a single week!? Madness! This post is back to my RC truck thing, and it’s really long, so I’ll use the “read more” break tag thing, which I just discovered in the tool bar. Continue reading ‘Still Truckin’’


Swerve’s Angels



Been meaning to take this picture, for nearly a month. These TFs are all fairly current, depending on how well your local store stocks. (mine seems to do so, only begrudgingly) Left to right, across the back we have Chromia, Windblade, and Arcee. The guy with the goofy grin is Swerve.


WARNING: Somehow, this post turned into mini reviews of the figures in the picture.

I like swerve, a lot more than I should. His transformation isn’t very involved; not only does he not have ankles, he doesn’t even have a swivel joint in his legs; the range of motion in his shoulders is restricted by his sculpt, and his pickup truck mode has a bed full of robot legs. I’m also more of a fan of blue, than red. And yet, I really like this guy. He’s kind of fun, and he’s got gobs of personality. It’s not just his silly smirk. His overall build and proportions just seem to ooze personality. He’s got body language, just standing there. His truck mode looks good, too.


Chromia and Arcee are pretty good too. Well articulated, with good proportions, and nicely involved transformations. Arcee is supposed to be based on the one from the current comic books from IDW, but her head is very much modeled on the 80s cartoon character. In fact, she pretty much looks like she walked right out of the animated movie. The only real fault I have with her, is a QC issue on mine. The wrap around part on the driver’s side of her windshield is missing. It looks like the mold didn’t fill all the way. I’ll probably make a new one, out of Lexan. My current radio control project has left me with plenty of it. (RC for Arcee?) OH! Her elbows have a near human range of motion. The bend so far, she can get her wrists very close to her shoulders. This with a single hinge, and no compromise to the sculpt to allow for it. It’s not even necessary for her transformation.


Not much to say about Chromia, other than I like her. Her vehicle mode is a bit odd. Looks like it’s based on the motorcycle guy from the Technobots, back in the day, with a little old school Tron light-cycle thrown in for good measure. Robot mode looks good, though there is a bit of back kibble; mostly just a wheel and canopy. Not as bad as Arcee, who wears most of her vehicle mode on her back. Despite having narrower shoulders than Arcee, Chromia is a little more imposing looking, with her bulkier, armored looking forearms and lower legs. And, I really dig her color scheme.


Windblade…. Y’know, I want to like her. She looks great in robot mode, and her vehicle mode’s not too bad. It’s the obvious robot shins and feet on the back of a jet that throw me off. I love that she’s a V/STOL. Thrust was always the one Decepti-jet that I really wanted, when I was a kid. Windblade has a similar lifting fan setup going on. It’s too bad that she’s a floppy mess. Sometimes, her vehicle mode will peg together just right, but often things just don’t quite line up. The entire front of her torso is hinged at the waist, and that hinge is pretty loose. It doesn’t peg into anything, and her arms are connected to it. It makes keeping her robot mode together interesting. The same piece is the bottom of her jet mode, but her arms keep it in place. If, you can get them tucked in where they go. She also doesn’t stand up very well. She has tiny feet, and instead of heel spurs like the other gals have, Windblade has stiletto heels. The heels fold into the feet for vehicle mode, and their hinges aren’t very tight. This leads to some balance issues. I just find handling her to be really annoying. The functional scabbard, with it’s multiple locations to peg into her robot mode is pretty boss, though.


BUMP! ….er

Since Christmas, I’ve been modifying a Tamiya F350 High-Lift body to fit the chassis of my Blizzard/truck thing from the last post. It most likely wouldn’t have taken so long, but I’ve been making a lot of changes, including cutting out most of the bed, as well as shortening said bed. Then there’s various holes in the body that had to be patched up. All of that is for another post.


For the last fifteen years, I’ve had a Clodzilla twin tube front bumper/brush guard on the chassis. It’s primary purpose to help prevent any hard direct hits to the drive sprockets. However, I had it mounted on some scraps of metal I’d found lying around, from the last people that owned this house, and couple bits of aluminum sheet I’d had left over. The whole thing was kind of ghetto, and the factory equipped P clamps that came with the bumper just don’t help. The hardware I’d used to hold everything together was grossly over-sized, meaning I couldn’t get enough in to keep things stable. A good smack or two on the bottom of the bumper would leave it leaning forward, there was just no tightening it up enough to stop it.


I’ve had enough, and I wanted a new bumper mount that actually holds the thing in place, and looks like at least a couple of fucks were given in its construction. The new one is made from aluminum angle. Four small pieces of ½”x½” and two small pieces of 1/2″x3/4″ angle stock from local home destruction center. (Why is there code for ½ and ¼ but not for 3/4? It’s fractist!)


The 1/2×3/4″ stuff was used, mainly to let me use the holes I’d already drilled for the old setup. Due to the slope of the front of the chassis, I had to cut it at an odd angle, to get it to hold the rest of the rig horizontal. The old one angled down; I didn’t want that on the new one. The asymmetrical angle was cut with the short legs pointing forward. The longer legs were needed to reach the existing mounting holes, and since there was to be no more than 1¼” between chassis and the bumper, there wasn’t really enough room for the longer legs. These are effectively mounting brackets. Two 1¼” long pieces of the symmetrical angle were bolted to the brackets, with the horizontal side on top, and towards the inside. Had I attached them with the horizontal side on the bottom and towards the outside, I could have bolted the bumper directly to them, and saved myself some work. I didn’t do that, for two reasons. One, I don’t like the way it would look, two I want those top surfaces for mounting other things. Eventually, I want to put a winch on this sucker. For now, I’m bolting on a pair of tow hooks I got from RC4WD. Two small ½” pieces of angle are bolted to the inside of the longer pieces, with their horizontal side on the bottom and outside. These are what the bumper is bolted onto.




The bumper sits a little bit higher than it used it, but is still low enough to protect the drive sprockets from most things the truck can’t simply climb over. The new mount is solid, with no fear of anything pivoting. And, it looks so much nicer.


That said, I’m going to remake the long side pieces. I screwed up mounting those tow hooks, leaving a hole and a few divots on the tops of those rails. Since part of the reason behind this rebuild was to have something that didn’t look like it was kludged together from scraps, I’m replacing those. They’re not hard parts to make, and the angle stock I used was like three feet long. I’m using less than four inches, here.


From Crap I Had Lying Around

WARNING: This is the one where I get long winded.


The RC bug has bitten me again. I dusted off my long neglected truck, and I’ve been running it around on some fallen branches I should probably pick up. Using them for crawling is more fun. I call this a truck, but I should clarify. The “truck” is actually a Kyosho Blizzard EV. This is a 1/12 scale snowcat, I’ve got a 1/10 scale truck body on. I bought it to drive in the snow, forgetting that I hate the cold. This version of the Blizzard didn’t come with a plow, though the current one does. Plowless, I found the stock snowcat body kind of boring. So, I stuck a truck body on it. It was never the body that had drawn me to it. I have a life long fascination with tracked vehicles. I just wanted a tracked chassis that I could put a body l Liked on it.


That’s an old picture, from probably around 2000, or so.


Bit of history on this particular vehicle, because it’s my blog, and I’ll ramble if I want to. Feel free to skip to the next paragraph, if you really don’t care. In the late 90s, the venerable Blizzard DX received a massive overhaul. The twin electric motors and their gearboxes, each driving one track were gone. They were replaced with a central differential, with a disk brake on either side. The brakes slow or stop the tracks for steering. This was done to run the model off a gas engine. This version was called the Nitro Blizzard. The Blizzard EV is basically an electric conversion of the Nitro Blizzard. Yeah. An electric conversion of gas redesign of an electric RC. The nice thing is, it uses a standard 540 size motor. Most 1/10 and 1/12 scale electric RC models use this size. There’s a huge variety of them available. Adjusting the track tension is a bit of a pain, due to Kyosho’s love affair with phillips head screws, when everybody else is using allen head hardware. This isn’t too bad, but there’s a chain on each side running from the differential, to the track drive sprockets. These are nigh impossible to properly tension. The only way to loosen and tighten the hardware is to take one side of the chassis off, so you can get a proper angle on the phillips head screw. The other part that the screw tightens into is a smooth round piece of steel. There’s nothing to get a hold of! Seems they fixed this design flaw in the mid 2000s, with the release of the Blizzard DF300. The sprocket axle now ends in a hex head, instead of holding the sprocket on with an E clip. (Hobby grade RCs are riddled with these hateful devices.) Instead of the phillips head screws, there’s a machined aluminum bar, and long grub screws thread into each end. The axles tighten down onto those. These parts are drop in replacements for my EV. So much easier to adjust things, now. The current Blizzard SR uses the system, despite the return to twin motors. (The old DX didn’t use these.) I bought my EV, new in 1999.


With the days getting shorter, I wanted some lights on the truck. I don’t want to do anything permanent, because I have eyes towards dressing it up more like a scale trail truck. If you don’t know what those are, go look them up on YouTube. I find them fascinating, especially when run slowly, like a real truck. Check out Bill Feely’s Extreme Hagglunds, and the Peak Adventure van-cat, before you call me for not being scale. My preferred truck body, is a late 90s/early 2000s Ford Super Duty. That’s what the current body on it is, but I want to go with sort of stealth body mounting. You can’t really patch holes in Lexan bodies. Unfortunately, Parma no longer makes this body. Tamiya makes a styrene “hard body” of it, but that’s expensive. Especially after getting two shells, to splice together, and turn Tamiya’s regular cab long bed body into an extended cab short bed.  JConcepts makes a current style Super Duty that appears to be close to 1/12 scale, and should look spectacular on this chassis. I plan full lights, for whatever body I put on it. Anyway, since I’m planning to replace this body, before too long, so I really didn’t want to spend much money on adding lights to it. The old Clodzilla front bumper I’ve got on the chassis is perfect for bolting some lights to. I can just use the existing bolts that hold it together, then remove things later, when I have the new body ready to install.


Anyway, like I said. I didn’t want to spend money on something that’s intended to be temporary. So, I looked around my stockpiles of assorted junk. Turned out, I had everything I needed. If it wasn’t for the chronic allergies and asthma, I would totally win the apocalypse. Yeah, probably not. (for the record, I actually managed to spell “apocalypse” right on the first try)



I only have a four cell AA battery holder, and that’s about twice what you want for LEDs. Sure, they’ll be brighter, for while. Right up until they burn out. I cut the battery bay out of a busted up remote from an old cable box. Electrical tape and a piece of scrap styrene keep the batteries from bouncing out. Initially, I had batteries in that had just been lying around. I think I pulled them out of a Transformers toy. (friggen automated sound effects….) Messing around with things, I accidentally dead shorted the system, and drained the batteries in short order. The switch is a spare from a package I bought for my model train layout. (It’s true. I collect hobbies) The bracket it’s mounted to is cut from the battery door of the same broken remote that provided the battery holder. The wires are from some old computer case fans, that had died. I tend to clip the wires, before I toss them. The LEDs are from a flashlight I’d managed to break. (I liked that flashlight. 😦 ) I pulled five LEDs out of it, because one stopped working between testing and desoldering from the board. The light buckets are actually LED mounts from an old set of solar-powered exterior accent lights. Some asshole ran one over with his truck. I’ve always hoped that the broken glass gave him a flat tire. Anyway, despite having the little mounting boxes from three of those lights, I can only find the LEDs from one of them. That’s two LEDs, I needed four. That’s where the broken flashlight came in.

truck5 truck8

(That leather patch is supposed to be a splash guard to keep water off the speed control. Theoretically, I would remove it when I’m not running in the wet. That’s the theory….)


I used some styrene tube and sheet to close in the backs of the light buckets. The insides of the buckets were lined with chrome Monokote trim strip, for reflectivity and light blocking. The trim strip on the outside is mostly just to dress it up, and hide the mismatched plastic. Lenses were cut from clear plastic taken from packaging. The brackets holding the buckets to the brush guard are aluminum sheet. I’ve already hammered a skid plate out of the stuff, and I plan to make a new bumper mount from it. The current mount is kind of ghetto. I covered the brackets with electrical tape on the back sides, with a second layer down where the screws are. That, and bending the brackets slightly away from the sides of the guard will hopefully keep the brackets from scuffing the guard uprights. I attached the brackets to the buckets with 3M automotive plastic and emblem adhesive. I wanted to make sure the buckets never fell off. I think I used Shoe Goo to glue the lenses on. Might have been the 3m glue. I forget.



The combination of the narrow boxes, and being mounted vertically, they throw fairly narrow beams of light. Still, it nice to have, when it’s getting dark out.



I’ve realized that I have enough lights to add lit headlights and tail lights. I’ll have to make buckets for those. I’ll turn these current lights on their sides, and set them into the bumper. I’m probably just going to let the headlights shine through the sticker, so they’ll just be decorative. I’ll have to see how hard it is to make the light buckets fit all the curves of the body.



December 2019
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