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Tool Review
135
Track Assembly Tools
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by: Scott Gentry [ DIDIUMUS ]

introduction

HobbyTrax is a company that makes aluminum tools which assists in the intimidating job of correctly forming plastic individual link (and other types of) tracks for 1/35 tank kits easy and accurate. These tools work great with Dragon "Magic" and DS tracks, Tamiya "rubber band" tracks, and many others.

After buying several of the newer Dragon Stug III series "Smart Kits," as well as a couple of their very nice Panzer III kits, I realized I had a bit of a problem. Either I needed to spend some serious dough for several sets of metal tracks, or I was going to have to assemble and use the nicely detailed, but very intimidating ,"Magic" track individual track links. The primary reason I prefer metal track is that the weight of the metal links sag very realistically and make the model look very lifelike.

the track tool

After requesting help online, a very helpful suggestion was received from Timothy Funnell, who directed me to HobbyTrax. This company makes a series of aluminum track forming tools, or jigs, primarily for German armor subjects. These tools make the process of assembly and forming of tracks much easier and very accurate. I found the appropriate 4 plate set for the Panzer III / Stug III late series, and ordered them. The price was $38.95 for the complete set, which I thought was reasonable, as it was less than one set of aftermarket metal tracks would have cost me. Other sets start as low as $14.95.

The tools came in the mail in less than one week! Having received them, their assembly took all of 5 minutes. You simply take two aluminum plates per side, (they are clearly marked so it is (nearly) impossible to mess them up, insert three screws, washers, and nuts to properly space the plates apart and hold them together. (Insert three screws into one plate, place a washer on each screw in between the two plates that make up each side, then add the second plate, then the nuts, which you finger tighten). The jigs are now ready to use! The shape of the outside of the tools is the exact shape appropriate for the vehicle you are modeling, including any "track sag" between return rollers, etc., and the space between the plates accommodates the guide horns of the tracks.

Once I had them assembled, I did two test runs - one on a set of Tamiya "rubber band" flexible tracks for the Panzer III, and a second test of several links of Dragons' "Magic" tracks links from a Panzer III kit, (these links were the 40 cm solid guide horn type). Rubber band style tracks can be "warmed up" with hot water, placed on the jig and cooled. Once cool they should retain the proper shape.

HobbyTrax has a how-to section which can be found here:

Track and Tool Tips

conclusion

Both track types fit the jigs beautifully and, based upon the outside shape of the tools, will make forming the track properly an absolutely foolproof task to accomplish. I am very satisfied with the design, quality, craftsmanship, and execution of this product.

Very Highly Recommended!

Click here for additional images for this review.

SUMMARY
Highs: Super fast delivery, great design and innovation, good quality materials.
Lows: This is a newer company, so every vehicle type is not currently offered. I hope to see many more in the future.
Verdict: A great tool that is high quality, and EASY to assemble and use. Will save the modeler who previously purchased metal individual link tracks lots of money by using the kit provided tracks or track links!
Percentage Rating
99%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: Hobbytrax
  Suggested Retail: $14.95 - $38.95 per set
  Related Link: Company Website
  PUBLISHED: Feb 24, 2013
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 93.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 99.00%

About Scott Gentry (didiumus)
FROM: UTAH, UNITED STATES

Lover of Cocker Spaniels, shooting, photography, and modeling. I am a builder of armor, aircraft, science fiction, and some naval subjects. I prefer armor, especially 1/48 scale, and getting to that point in life where I have a little more time for hobbies.

Copyright 2019 text by Scott Gentry [ DIDIUMUS ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Thanks for the review. Just one thing, I know some modellers can exagerate track-sag, but in your last photo there is very little sag as the end result? I might get their T-34 sets one day (they have one with sag and one with no sag). Cheers, Christophe
FEB 24, 2013 - 09:31 PM
Useful looking addtion to the market, although I would express the concern that it could work out expensive unless you do a lot of models of a similar subject?
FEB 24, 2013 - 11:29 PM
With regards to track sag, the rubber band tracks pictured were just fitted quickly for photos. I have not yet heated them up to form them to the tools. I think the tool will be more useful for individual link or link and length tracks, but you can do rubber band tracks as well. Jim, agree - not sure I would always get the tool, but if you have several kits, or you have nicely detailed indi link tracks, and don't want to spring for Friul metal tracks, these tools would do the trick. Most modelers have several Panzer III, IV, or Tiger kits....
FEB 25, 2013 - 05:33 AM
I just ordered a set for the early Pz III since I have a ton of those in the stash. Also ordered a set for the M4 to M4A3 VVS. I want to see if I can use them to adjust the length on the DS tracks rather than trying to size them on the kit and breaking off small parts.
MAR 01, 2013 - 05:13 AM
My sets I ordered arrived in the mail today along with a nice thank you note. Man! That was fast. They look really nice and I can't wait to try the Sherman tool on my build for the just Sherman's campaign.
MAR 04, 2013 - 04:43 PM
   

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