M24 Chaffee (Bronco) 1/35 Scale Build #4 – Small Details…Many, and a Useful Track Trick.

Sometimes I build myself into an impasse. “Well, gee…how the aerial intercourse am I going to do that?!” Most times, rather than sit here and rock back and forth (at my age, that time is quickly approaching anyway…why rush the matter?), I’ll hare off and do other things. Unless I’m right at the end of the build when the Ohgawdammit moment shows up (y’know, like after having painted something that took me a couple of years to build and then having the decals flip me off), there’s generally many other things I can do while I figure out what to do about the Ohgawdammit moment.

That’s what this post is…my rocking back and forth substitute(s).

Dry-fitting showed me that the transmission/differential was too narrow. To fix that I determined what the measurements were (about .060″ per side), punched out a couple of discs from scrap, and then glued them in place:

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One of the things I noticed about Bronco’s individual track links is that they’re very refined and detailed. Maybe they’re a bit too refined (unlike myself) and detailed; I broke a few while assembling two 74-piece tracks. A crazy friend from England suggested Fruilmodel’s metal tracks. If you go this route, don’t buy them directly from Fruilmodel. They’re expensive. But you can find them quite reasonably priced on eBay, which is where I got these:

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If you go this route, check the track shoes carefully. Sometimes they’re “handed”; one set goes on one side, the other on, well, the other. The M24 tracks aren’t handed, but now you know. They’re also not as difficult to assemble as I’d heard. I used my Panavise as the assembly jig and did them in sections of five and then joined the sections:

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The person who suggested these to me (THANK you, Al!) also informed me of a very handy item, track burnishing liquid. I ordered some and stayed relatively busy awaiting its arrival.

Sometimes in spite of all attempts to keep it from happening, bubbles end up in a cast resin part. I had been considering just recasting them. But I’m a parsimonious git. The minimum quantity of resin that I can mix is an ounce. Doesn’t sound like a large quantity until I only need to recast a few small parts. That annoys my parsimonious side. When I discovered a few small parts that had bubbles that were too large to ignore, this time I tried something I learned on a previous build (Gemini Capsule); plug the hole with plastic.

The bubble in the separate part is easy to see. If you look closely at the part still on the pouring block, you can see a light spot in the shadow. That’s the other bubble:

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It’s easier to fit a plug into a square hole than a randomly curved one. So the first step is to open up the bubble hole and square the socket. The second step is to fill that opened and squared gap with plastic and a generous amount of super glue:

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Superglue hardens the longer it sits. So that I don’t have HARD superglue and soft plastic and resin bordering it and run the risk of the superglue holding up to sandpaper better than plastic or resin does, once the superglue is hard enough to work (gave them about an hour), I start trimming the plugs until they’re flush:

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Since the parts weren’t usable as they were, I had nothing to lose by trying to fix them…and I didn’t waste a large amount of resin to fix a small problem. I did the same to the binocular case:

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With the parts plugged, it was time to put some of them in place. The first parts I plugged are supports for the upper hull where the turret sits. I taped the upper hull in placed and then diddled mightily until the supports fit where they (relatively) go. I used denatured alcohol to strip away the paint I’d added prematurely and glued all four of them to just the lower hull:

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With the transmission/differential adjusted for fit, I added the other parts that go with it. Experience has shown me that really small parts are easier to align and stay glued better when they’re pinned. The two holes on the trans/diff will match 24awg copper wire pins:

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And now it’s ready for paint:

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The two seats in the front of US WWII tanks, for the driver and co-driver (aka bow gunner, loader, ammo mule) adjust. They’d raise upward so the crew members could ride with their heads out (of the hatch…where else they may keep their heads isn’t mine to fix) or drop quickly down into the hull and under cover (as much as “cover” can be used describing something as obvious as a sodding tank). I’d never modeled a seat in the up position, and I’ve not noticed that anyone else had. When one can cast one’s own parts (parsimonious or not), a certain ballseyness shows up. “Well, let’s try this. If I totally bitch it up, I’ll just pour another one.” (And then whine about having to waste resin.)

The first step required me to cut apart the adjustment arms of one of the seats (which I’ll probably use in the driver’s position). Once cut apart, I QUICKLY realized that with only two hands, there was no way I’d be able to hold these small and difficult to grasp parts AND assemble them. I drilled out the arms and their mounts to the seat (the white plastic) and added pins to the base:

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I needed something to be referenced physically (ad fancy way of saying “get something to stay in place so I could work the Damned Things) so I used double-sided tape to attach the base to the workbench:

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If you compare the gray arms of the seats in the first photo above, something I failed to do, you’ll notice that the arms aren’t positioned the same way on the arms I’d cut apart. One of the arms is correct (the left one) and the other is reversed (the other left one). What I also failed to notice was that I taped the base down front-to-back. Yes…this turned and bit me in short order. But these errors didn’t get noticed at the time and I glued the Damned Thing together all cocked up (the blurry seat in the background is correct):

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This was when the Boys in the Back proved they existed. Several hours later, after dinner and a movie, I was in bed reading when out of nowhere I had AN URGE: “Get up and check the fornicating seat!” That’s when I realized that I’d put things together backwards: the base and one of the support arms. Earlier I’d mentioned that superglue sets up hard over time. There was NO way I was going to go back to bed with these very delicate parts glued together incorrectly and let that glue cure overnight…

An hour later the parts were correct and myself and the Boys in the Back could rest for the night:

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Just because a wound is self-inflicted doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

The hatch hinge mechanisms were different with the M24’s front hatches than previous US tanks (turret hatches were typical simple hinged affairs). Once unlatched, there was a lever inside that the crew member pulled down to raise the hatch a few inches and then used to rotate the hatch away from the opening. Verlinden added the housing for the hinge mechanism, he didn’t provide the lever. Also, the hinge mechanism was vertical relative to the tank overall but not perpendicular to the upper hull; the area where it mounts isn’t level. These hinge mechanisms only fit one way. I wanted them to be (mostly) centered on the opening in the hull so I used a circle template of the required diameter to delineate their locations:

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There are also slots in the hinge mechanism that I had to add (“easier” to see to the right side of the right part below):

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I used stretched sprue to make the lever and I dipped one end repeatedly into a puddle of superglue to build up accretions resembling knobs:

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The M24 didn’t have a turret basket. There were three people in that turret; commander, gunner, and loader. Their respective seats were attached to the turret so they didn’t have to scramble as the turret rotated (well…I assume there was a degree of scrambling for the loader…there were no provisions in the turret for ready-rounds to be mounted, the rounds were instead kept in water-jacketed bins in the floor). There was a pedestal affixed to the floor that supported a box with various turret controls and there was an steel arm that allowed the control box mounted on the pedestal to rotate with the turret. There were tubular guards mounted to the top of the control box so that someone’s size 11 didn’t kick something that shouldn’t be kicked. The ones shown below were made from solder…which I decided were too thick so I redid them with a thinner solder. I didn’t take a picture, however, so you’ll have to put up with a photo of the wrong sized one:

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The pedestal had the shroud to protect the wiring conduit that I mistakenly cut off, thinking it was part of the pouring block. I replaced it with styrene:

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When the turret gets added to the hull, I’ve no idea how I can make the control box rotate with the turret and still allow the turret to be removed. I’m hoping the BitB come up with a clever (defined as effective and simple) solution, but I’m prepared to not have that feature.

Mounted on the hull behind the driver is a prominent feature the AM set didn’t provide. It’s an oil can with a hand pump and metal hose. What wasn’t provided had to be made:

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I used solder to make the metal hose:

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I used lead foil to make the mounting bracket:

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Between the noise of the machine itself and the sound of its guns firing, I can’t imagine it was easy to converse at a time when the crew needed to converse. Tanks had an “interphone.” No…that’s not analog phone sex, we’d call it an “intercom” today (the interphone, not the phone sex). The AM set didn’t provide the microphones so I made them (though only three are shown, I went back and made two more so that each crew position had it’s mic). I started using discs punched out of styrene (.015″ for the earpiece) and used .035″ rod as the earphone and some .025″ styrene rod as the handle:

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Double sided tape allowed me to hold the tiny parts in place as I stacked and glued the rest of the pieces:

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Attaching the wires to these things is going to be a challenge.

In the process of making the microphones, I realized that the co-driver’s mic (and probably the driver’s as well) hung from a support under the upper front hull that neither the kit nor AM provided. So I used card stock to make a template (the gray part is the vent blower):

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I traced the shape onto .030″ styrene and glued them in place:

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The area was populated by making a switch box that fit underneath the driver’s ceiling light, adding it along with the co-driver’s ceiling light and then added wiring conduits of .020″ and .015″ solder with lead foil strips as mounting brackets for the conduits:

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And then I added all the other conduits:

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Then I realized that given the location of these conduits, nobody’s likely to ever see them. ::rolls eyeballs::

There are other conduits and a junction box that needed to be added to the engine compartment (and these will be easier to see). I drilled a spare resin junction box to accept . 015″ and .020″ solder and glued the box in place after scraping paint away for a good bond:

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Then it was a matter of running the lines and adding the mounting brackets (lead foil again):

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Small parts require special handling and forethought. How does one paint parts that a gnat’s sneeze would blow off the bench and into oblivion? I do that by getting a handle on things. Literally. It starts by very careful drilling holes into resin parts to add styrene rod through later on. Before later on, though, I can stick toothpicks (CAREFULLY) into the holes I drilled to allow them to be handled for painting:

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Finally the rocking back and forth got so pronounced that I started getting motion sickness. Fine. Fine. I’ll deal with the sodding Ohgawdammit thing…painting the engines…something I wasn’t at all looking forward to attempting.

In very small space(s), after painting them flat black for pre-shading, I had to paint each engine with OD Green overall, semi-gloss black on the generators and water lines, rubber black on the spark plug wires and water line mounts as well as two hoses connecting the radiators to the water lines, custom mixed copper for the carburetors, and finally rusted iron on the exhaust manifolds (which I dry-brushed on to control the paint laid down and not over painting the top of the engine). So the hell with it. I did (and note the now-painted oil box, too):

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A few days prior, the burnishing liquid arrived so I decided it was a good time (or at least not a bad time) to test drive the burnishing liquid and get the basic track color on.

This is the stuff:

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It gets diluted 50% with water. The water where I live is very hard so rather than use it from the tap, I used distilled water. I emptied the contents of the bottle into a plastic tray and then used the bottle to measure the water and mixed it well:

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Any references I’ve read regarding Fruilmodel’s tracks and burnishing liquids (not just this brand’s) stress washing the track shoes thoroughly before attempting any coating, so I did. References stated that the tracks should be immersed and then bubbles knocked and/or shaken away from the surface so that the liquid gets into all the crevices. I used an old toothbrush and the task was surprisingly tedious. I found it easier to wash and de-bubble assembled tracks instead of individual track shoes:

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After a few minutes, I took one of the tracks out and checked it (forgetting that I was going to have to de-bubble it again):

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In checking the tracks, I saw the areas that just didn’t change color. There were no bubbles and I have no idea why they didn’t color. I KNOW I scrubbed the metal thoroughly. Others using this and similar products have had the same results. Okay…looks like parts of these tracks will be caked with dirt or mud! References also state that the time parts are soaked alters the look, obviously tending towards darker with more time immersed. I decided that four hours gave me the look I wanted (though there was one YouTube video where one builder left his tracks in 12-13 hours):

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I LIKE IT!

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