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For discussions on tanks, artillery, jeeps, etc.
Tank tracks: differences
mac
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United States
Joined: April 16, 2002
KitMaker: 151 posts
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 10:13 AM UTC
I come from the world of WWII aircraft and am about to build my first armor model: Tamiya's 1/35 M4. On the internet I've sen a lot of discussion concerning different types of tracks included in kits. Can someone briefly describe the differences and advantages/disadvantages of each (or point me to such a resource)? This Tamiya kit has vinyl tracks.

TIA...Kevin
TheGame
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Joined: February 25, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 10:50 AM UTC
Mac I'll try to help with my limited knowledge since I'm still relatively new to the sceen.

The vinyl tracks that comes with the kit seems to be easier to work with but the tracks that you put together link by link are much more realistic looking and they appear more natural on the wheels. I also think they are easier to weather?

I'm sure the guys here who have a tremendous amount of knowledge can expand alot better on this than I can.
Sabot
Joined: December 18, 2001
KitMaker: 12,593 posts
Armorama: 9,068 posts
Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 10:52 AM UTC
I'm assuming you are talking about the material that the tracks are made of as opposed to what pattern of track shoes

Tracks come in basically 4 types. There is the ancient "rubber band" style which is just a large, black rubber band with tread detail. These were mainly used for motorized kits.

Next is the most common vinyl tracks. These are molded out of a soft vinyl material that has to attached at one point by heat melting little pins into holes in the other end. Tamiya kits come with this type of track. These are easy to paint, but sometimes the paint flakes off when you install them. This is usually caused by not washing all the release agent off the vinyl or not using a good primer that "bites" into the vinyl. It is harder to replicate the sag some tracks have; however, most US tanks have "live" track that does not have a natural sag to them.

Relatively new to the scene (last 12-13 years) are the individual track links and link & length tracks. The individual track links are usually well detail, but assembly is tedious to say the least. There is a lot of clean up, sometimes many sink holes and ejector marks. Lining them up while assembling is an art form in themselves, making sure the track blocks are the same distance apart and such while drying. The benefit to this type of track is the detail and you can form the "sag" found in many tracks. Also if your tank is going to be displayed in action, the tracks can be realistically formed around diorama ground as the suspension flexes. They are also of the same material as the rest of the kit and the paint flake problem isn't there. Plus there are usually extra links that can be added to the outside of the tank. AFV Club makes workable single link tracks that need no glue (they assemble just like the actual vehicle).

The link & length are a variation of single link. The flat areas of the track are molded in lengths (areas like the top run, bottom run and the short runs between the road wheels and idler wheel or sprocket). Single links are then used to connect the pieces, and wrap around the sprocket and idler wheel. These are a decent compromise between vinyl and single link, but are unable to be posed "in action".
TheGame
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Joined: February 25, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 11:24 AM UTC
Sabot you have a wealth of knowledge. I am truly amazed.
Can we open up a forum called "Ask Sabot"
KMM
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 01:54 PM UTC
I've found that vinyl tracks are only relatively easy to work with, depending on the model. Some of them go together great, others not so much. Trying to get the long, thin pins through the teeny-tiny holes on Tamiya's Panzer IVD about drove me freakin' insane. I finally ended up just super-gluing them together.

BTW glad to have you aboard the armor bandwagon, Mac. Welcome to the dark-side - Evil Laugh...
CaptainJack
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Joined: March 17, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 07:40 PM UTC
If you arte new to armour, welcome aboard, than you probably are unaware of the variations in track patterns as well. On the Sherman this was epecially an ever on-going session of change and improvement. There are several good books on the subject, but studying wartime photos is also helpful. Cruising the net is another very viable alternative. Be aware that the sherman tracks went from rubber block, through rubber and steel chevron types T80/81, up to I teeth type, and that the length (firefly &M4A4) width of the tracks also changes. Use of "duckbill extenders, and ice grousers add to further confound the permutations. Don't worry, however as we all face these dilemmas together.

You'll normally be safe if you use the assoiciated tracks attached to the kits. If you require further help We are all only a keyboard away. Once again Welcome to the world of real modelling (Ha-Ha)

Captain Jack :-)
avukich
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Joined: April 11, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 08:01 PM UTC
There are two types of single link tracks that haven't been discussed and are the best available. They are the tracks that most of the models that you see in the magazines or at model shows have on them. These tracks are the workable tracks by Modelkasten and Friulmodel. Because they are workable they are extremely realistic and they are also quite easy to work with. I will never use the vinyl tracks again after seeing just how vastly improved my models look with the workable tracks. One disadvantage of the vinyl tracks is that the older kits by Tamiya don't have any track detail on the part of the track that faces the roadwheels and when talking about tanks from any nation other than the US (and in some cases even the US) there is a least a little sag which is difficult at best to achieve with vinyl tracks.

Modelkasten tracks are plastic and have very little cleanup (only need to sand a bit when the link was attached to the sprue as there is no flash). They come with a little jig that you assemble 10 or so links on with little plastic pins. This may sound cumbersome (and I was frightened away for a long time), but it is surprisingly easy and you can get two full track runs done in an evening.

Friulmodel tracks are IMHO the best accessory to come to the hobby since PE. They are single link, white metal, workable tracks. There is hardly any cleanup (every ten links or so you may find a little burr that requires a quick scrap off with your hobby knife). They are pinned together with a piece of wire and a drop of cyano is placed at the end of the wire.

In regards to Sherman tracks though, an American company, RHPS, makes wonderful tracks of all of the different types that are single link and supposedly the most accurate for Shermans.

HTH,
Adam Vukich
BillyBishop
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Ontario, Canada
Joined: March 20, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 09:03 PM UTC
Hehe. I am attempting my first kit with links (after years of vinyl tracks) with a Maquette Panzer 38(t). This Russian made kit was recommended to me. Probably becuae it is a light tank and there are less links in the track

In reading the above posts I can see the positives and negatives associated with linked tracks. I am experiencing more of the negatives than positives - like flash and inconsistent thickness in the links...its almost like they were trying to scrimp on plastic...

As for the Maquette kit in general, it seems typical of what I've read for Eastern European kits. The plastic seems to vary in consistency and there are release marks as well as sink holes (if that is the correct term) but the detail seems decent. I may do a more detailed review/construction article. Sort of a "back to the beach/bench" article since I haven't built much in the past 10 or so years... (which seems to correspond with the general introduction of linked tracks).

MSW

CaptainJack
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Joined: March 17, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 09:19 PM UTC
A couple of considerations before diving head first into icy waters!!

The Model Kasten track sets are often exact in dimensions. This is both good and bad. Good because they are exact, bad because most kits are not perfectly scale accurate; Nearly EVERY SINGLE kit I used them on needed fiddling and spacers added or removed. This being the case you end up with perfect tracks on an imperfect kit (dimensionally speaking that is). However the difference isn't enough to really notice. If such is the case, is it worth the effort? A personal choice. The Friul track sets are indeed good, but the newer typr, while sturise and more robust, are far more time consuming. Additionally, if you decide to fit out yoiur motor pool with Friul tracks you might want to consider in buying an actual vehicel... Well you get the idea. Once again they are good, but a little like caviar, to be consumed with a certain amount of self restraint. Finally, there is an extensive series of resin track length sets on offer from Accurate Armour. These are crisp, easy to use, well priced and highly detailed. I consider them as my first all around selection whenever possible. The appropriate sag is rendered using a heat source, such as a hair dryer. The construction of length type tracks, adds to the overall solidity, and cuts down remarkably on construction time. They do several excellent sets such as the LVT serires, Shermen I3 bar cleat, chevron et al. Stuart series, crusader, and others. Worth a peek.

Captain Jack ...keepin right on Track!
Tiger1
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Joined: February 17, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 10:52 PM UTC
I would like to put my 2 cents in this post, although you guys gave mac enough track information to last him a life time.
Firstly I almost never use vinyl tracks, especially from Italeri and Nichimo. They lack detail on the interior of the track, and are just plain horrible in my opinion. Tamiya's vinyl tracks are a little better, and have good detail in the interior. But I will almost always purchase Model Kasten workable track licks, if they are available for a particular varient that I am building. They are time consuming to put together because of pins that must be glued to each link, but they have realistic sag and have great detail and scale. I will at times use DML/Dragon's individual track links if I am happy with the molding. If you are building American armor, AFV makes good individual track links, and I highly recommend them. Fruilmodel makes great individual track links that are actual metal, so you can weather them with a railroad metal solution, They look great and have a great natural sag. My advice, use what makes you feel comfortable, and what you can afford. Model Kasten and Fruilmodel tracks will
cost you more then the kit at times. Add that to Aber or Eduard ethed brass, and your $30.00 kit is now almost $100.00. :-)
herberta
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Canada
Joined: March 06, 2002
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Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 - 01:04 AM UTC
my 2 cents...

I use indy links on German and Soviet armor ('dead' tracks, dry pins and some sag on the top run) and vinyl tracks on Shermans and armor where you can't see the top run (like a Churchill). Newer vinyl tracks have detail on both sides, and for live tracks they look great when glued in place over the return rollers etc.

So far, I haven't bought MK or Fruilmodel tracks because I'm too cheap to spend more on tracks than I do on a kit!!
mac
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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2002 - 12:28 AM UTC
So what should I use to prime the vinyl tracks? I've only been using acrylic paints - in case that matters.

Thanks
...Kevin
generalzod
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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2002 - 03:41 AM UTC
Mac which M4 kit from Tamiya do u have? If it's the rubber chevron without the extended end connecters(duckbills) they hold paint really good You won't need primer I use superglue for the pins to put them together Also use ONLY acrylics on those tracks I read somewhere that if you use enamels they will eventualy rot It has something to do with the enamels oil base I reccomened Tamiya nato black for the rubber portions of the tracks and road wheels It dries faded
Chad
mac
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Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 05:29 AM UTC
I believe they are the ones without the duckbills, its the M4 "early production" model. I'm proving how much I don't know about armor here. Thanks for the tips!

....Kevin