Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making a Toy WW1 Tank (Part 2)

I edited the tank image down to just the side view using MS Office Picture Manager but obviously, you can use any image manipulation software or the photocopier of your choice. I then resized it using PowerPoint because it gives a very easy inches scale to follow. (I used the profile I found on http://www.the-blueprints.com/ but I'm not showing it as part of the template I'll include in Part 3. As cheap as I am, I not willing to take other people's work and pass it off as my own.)

I decided to use some IKEA bed slats that I had been given by a friend. (These are not to be confused with the IKEA bed slats my in-laws gave me...) The slats are 3/4" thick and 2 5/8" wide. I cut two pieces about 9" long and then "sandwiched" both pieces together using double sided tape. I sprayed one side with spray adhesive, let it sit for about five minutes and then applied the image. (By letting it set up for a few minutes, it makes it easier to remove the paper later.) Then... off to the bandsaw and the belt sander!

If you can't get the cuts to be a smooth as you like either because of inexperience or having not the right blade; don't despair. Try and make "relief" cuts perpendicular to your main cuts. You can always smooth things later (especially if you have a wicked cool belt sander.)
These are the finished tracks. I drilled two 5/16" holes along the bottom that will hold the axles for the wheels. The holes are 2" apart on center and 5/16" on center from the bottom. (Did I mention how wicked cool belt sanders are?)

I cut the hull out of one piece of 2x3 (which we all know is really 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" grrrrrr). I had a general idea of what I wanted the shape to be, so I just drew it directly on the wood. Again, I'm not trying to make a scale model. I'm trying to make a recognizable toy. The picture above shows the axle holes already drilled, but actually I test fitted my hull against one side of the track to be sure my axle holes were in the right place before I drilled those holes.

Looking at historic photographs and line drawings gave me the general layout I was looking for.After cutting out the general shape, I test fitted it and cut the wheel wells.

I drilled a 3/16" hole right in the center of the front cabin of the hull (facing forward) about 1/4 deep. This will hold a dowel that will be the hull machine gun. You could make the dowel 1/8" but it might be a little fragile for how it is going to be played with. Besides, I've seen some pictures and documentation that said this machine gun was sometimes a "Lewis Gun" which had an oversized cooling sleeve around the barrel.(Hey, I thought you said you said you weren't trying to make a scale model and that you were just trying to make a toy... - QUITE VOICES! I have to use my History degree every once in awhile!!!)

Okay. Let's test fit it and see how we are doing. I took some 1/4" dowels and slipped 1 1/4" in wheels on them. These will go inside the tank body so that they can't be seen from the outside. (By the way, some of the wheels marked as 1 1/4" at craft stores are simply not that size at all. A reliable source for the correct size wheels is http://www.craftparts.com

Grab the double face tape and then line everything up, give it squeeze and see if it rolls.

The space is going to be tight for the "clacker' I want to place between the wheels, but we can still give it a try.It rolls well and is starting to take on the classic tank look I'm shooting for.

So far, so good.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Making a Toy WW1 Tank (Part 1)

The origins of toys I make generally fall in three categories:
  • Builds from online plans or more likely books I've collected.
  • Trying to mimic a folk toy I've come across.
  • Just making them up as I go. (The ever popular "proof of concept")

I've made several toy tanks over the last couple of years. I think the best one I made was a WW2 M3 (also known as a Lee tank) that I made for the son of a friend of mine. It clearly fell into the third category. (It was built before I figured out the digital camera, so that is why the picture looks like it was taken in a Tunisian sandstorm.)

Well, my friend is coming back to the US this summer after being stationed in South Korea, so what better way to say welcome home to him and his son than with another tank?

So, let the "let's just start making this up as we go" process commence. We already have the idea - a tank. But what kind? I know that I'm not making a scale model. What I'm trying to do is make a toy that has the look of a tank and is fun to play with.

About a year ago I stumbled across the Homer McNeil Wooden Toy Collection at the Ames Historical Society's site. I was blown away because during the 1940s Mr. McNeil made toys for his children out of food crates and office equipment (which sounded strangely familiar.) It really struck a chord with me that his kids held on to the toys for all these years. They were obviously made with love and meant a lot to his kids. If you get a chance, click on the link above and give it a look. It is well worth it.

One of the toys is this "WW2 Tank." Now, it really isn't a model of a particular tank, but you can tell just by looking at it that a) it is indeed a tank and b) that it is meant to be played with. It is a toy. Those are some of the qualities that I want to try and get.

The trapezoid lozenge look to the tracks is really reminiscent of a British WW1 tank. It is a really distinctive feature of those tanks. Another interesting thing about those tanks is that they didn't have a turret on top of the tank, but rather had their main armament in "sponsons" mounted on the sides of the tanks. Besides actually being a naval term, I think that this gives them a "land battleship" appearance. It also led to "male" and "female" models of the tanks. The males had six pounder cannons in the sponsons and the females mounted machine guns in those positions. (And yes, they built some with male AND female sponsons on either sides of the same tank, but I'm gonna take the high ground here and for once in my life not make a smart-alecky comment about it.)

Okay. So I'm decided on a WW1 British tank. I'll make it a male tank so it will have guns that can be aimed on both sides. I think it will have a good retro look. I'm also thinking about having some sort of clacker attached to the underneath of the tank to make a clacking noise as it is pushed across the floor. (Because as we all know, "The tracks on the tank go 'clack, clack, clack', ...'clack, clack, clack')

So, like I said, I'm not trying to make a scale model, but I do want it to be recognizable. So I need the general proportions and I need to decide on the scale I am going to build. I recently came across a site that I highly recommend  - http://www.the-blueprints.com/. The Blueprints site contains THOUSANDS of line drawings like the one below. This drawing gives me a pattern that I can use to cut out the logenze shaped tracks and gives me the proportions I need.

The images can easily be resized to the scale I want.

Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


About Me

My Photo
Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.