Make Tracks!
by: Bob Lester


In this article I will describe the steps I used to build the tracks on a German SturmpanzerIV Brummbar (by Dragon; 1:35).

The method used can be applied to build tracks for any tank that comes with Individually Linked Tracks.

Basic Training:
I start building the tracks with a tank that has been built up to the point that the chassis has the road wheels, return rollers and the idler glued on, but the drive sprocket is not glued on because that would interfere with putting the track on or taking it off.

The first and most time-consuming part of building tracks is just taking the pieces off the tree and sanding them. 80% of the time it takes to build the tracks for one tank is spent cutting and sanding the pieces of track.

I keep all my pieces in and organizer, it helps keep them all together and dust free.

I use Model Master cement, the glue applicator is a needle which is extremely useful, I find this glue is perfect for tracks because it dries fast enough so that the tracks will not fall apart when you try to work with them, but the tracks will still be malleable enough to bend them a bit.

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Copyright ©2002 - Text and Photos by Bob Lester (Sohcahtoa) All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

Part 1 : Picking Up The Pieces

I build my tracks by making small sub sections of 5 to 10 track links, which I then join together. I build these sections by first laying out the pieces I am going to use (figure 1.1).

I put a dab of glue in each of the grooves in the track (the red lines show where I apply the glue), and then add another track link into the one I just applied glue to. I find that instead of sliding the new link in, pushing it down from the top works better. I then repeat this until I have a section of 5 links (figures 1.2, 1.3, 1.4).

Now to make the track totally flat I put my file (any flat stick or ruler would do) across all the links and press down on it (figure 1.5).

Part 2 : Track over Drive Wheel

Now I let the section sit for about1 min to let the glue dry a little. Once Iím happy itís dry a bit and will not fall apart I place it on the tank's drive sprocket (figure 2.1).

Then I bend it around the sprocket and let it dry for about 1 hour (figure 2.2).

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Copyright ©2002 - Text and Photos by Bob Lester (Sohcahtoa) All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

figure 1.1

figure 1.2

figure 1.3

figure 1.4

figure 1.5

figure 2.1

figure 2.2

Part 3 : Adding more Track

Once that is dry, I build another flat section of track about 10 links long (figure 3.1). I take the dried section off the sprocket and glue the new section to it. I let it sit for about 1 min. You can see in the picture how I used a bottle of paint to help hold up the curved dry section (figure 3.2).

Then I put the track back on the sprocket and put the sprocket with the track on it on the model (figure 3.3).

Then I bend the track however I want it (figure 3.4).

I let that sit for 1 hour before I continue. When it's dry I make another section of track 10 links long and add it to the already dried tracks, the same way as mentioned above.

Part 4 : Extending Track from Drive Wheel to Road Wheels

I like to build the top section of a track first but here I built the section that finishes the track on the sprocket and goes under the road wheels first (figure 4.1). This helps to hold the drive sprocket in place (figure 4.2 and 4.3).

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Copyright ©2002 - Text and Photos by Bob Lester (Sohcahtoa) All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

figure 3.1

figure 3.2

figure 3.3

figure 3.4

figure 4.1

figure 4.2

figure 4.3

Part 5 : Continuing With Top Track-Half

Here I just put a new section of track on (1) which I let sit for 1 min, then I put the track on the tank, but found that I made the new section just a little short (2), so I added 2 more links so it could rest on the return roller (3) (figure 5.1, 5.2, 5.3).

Here is another section of newly added track drying for a second before being add to the model (figure 5.4).

Now its on the model (figure 5.5).

Part 6 : Wrapping It Around The Idler Wheel

See Figures 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3.

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Copyright ©2002 - Text and Photos by Bob Lester (Sohcahtoa) All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

figure 5.1

figure 5.2

figure 5.3

figure 5.4

figure 5.5

figure 6.1

figure 6.2

figure 6.3

Part 7 : Bridging The Gap

Now the track is almost done, except for a few links at the bottom (figure 7.1). I always finish at the bottom on purpose because sometimes you get fitting problems at this stage. Sometimes adding an extra link is too much and makes the tracks look loose and sometimes taking one away makes them too short (figure 7.2).

If this happens there will be ugly gaps between the links, so itís better to have it at the bottom than somewhere more visible.

Part 8 : Trial And Error

Here I just had to guess how many links would finish the track (figure 8.1). I tried 4 (figure 8.2), but found when I put the track on the model it was too short and the newly glued links broke apart (figure 8.3). This is ok at this stage, I just took the track back off and added one more link. This fixed the problem.

Painting and Conclusion

Painting the tracks is simple compared to all the other parts of the construction. If you followed the instructions carefully you should be able to get the entire built track off the model, which makes for easy painting and detailing. For German tracks I use Tamiyaís XF-64 Red Brown, which best matches the colour they would have been during WW2. The paint is applied with an airbrush at a fairly high psi. Once the tracks are painted I give them a wash using red oil paint followed by another wash with brown oil paint. I have found that to get the best results I apply the wash and then tap the whole track a few times on a hard surface. This works well to remove any of the excess wash. Once thatís all done I do some dry-brushing to all raised areas. The amount of dry-brushing depends on what particular model you are doing and your personal preference.

Voila - I am done!

It doesn't take long to build Individually Linked Tracks.

This track (one side; the other side I completed earlier) took about two hours to complete; drying time considered, it took about 12 hours.

Copyright ©2002 - Text and Photos by Bob Lester (Sohcahtoa) All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

figure 7.1

figure 7.2

figure 8.1

figure 8.2

figure 8.3

finished project

This article comes from Armorama