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I've always been impressed by Tamiya tractor trucks, but to be honest, I've never had much interest in them.  The first one I saw in the flesh was a few years ago, when a mate's wife brought her custom-painted King Hauler along to a local bash and ran it around carefully on the tarmac.  I didn't really see the point: it couldn't go fast, it was too delicate to do anything serious with, and it wasn't the same scale as the 1:10 cars we were running at the time, so it looked out of place and oddly small (despite being rather big, with its chromed tanker trailer following it along).

Trucks have always been a niche interest in Tamiya's line-up so they don't really get seen much at all, but I had a proper intro to them when I went to a local model expo and saw the South West RC Truckers club with their fancy rigs and their portable layout and their 1:14 scale fuel station.  Pretty neat, I thought, if a little geeky.

But that was some time ago, and an RC truck was always somewhere between unattainable nirvana and pointless money pit.  Until the end of last year, when I started to think about my collection and my future in RC, and what I'd really like to build before a family comes along and takes away all my spare time and cash.  I figured I'd justify a big sum on something really special.  I didn't want a tank, I considered a full-option F350 High Lift with the MFC-02, but then realised I already have too many scale crawler projects and the Tamiya won't crawl anything like as well as the SCX-10 that gets all the trail-bound runtime.  I looked at a high-spec buggy (another pointless shelf queen, or wasted bashing around the local gravel patch), a high-spec touring chassis (which would be hidden under yet another Japanese body badly-painted in street colours), or even something wild and fun and indestructible from Traxxas - which would be like all my runners: fun once, then boring, until I can get myself to another bash a million miles from home just so I can play with other people.

I had a look at what the local driving options were for a tractor truck, and noticed the South West RC Truckers club meets less than an hour's drive from my place, every month, almost without fail.  They're a long-standing club with a solid member base and aren't about to disappear any time soon, unlike little casual groups that tend to come and go with the seasons, can't play in bad weather, and spend half the day looking for an empty car park to play in.

So that settled it!  I wasn't going to rush out and buy anything there and then, but I was going to keep my eye open for the right truck at the right price.  If one came up, I'd jump on it.

To be continued...

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Well, wouldn't you know, a MAN TGX came up for trade on Tamiyaclub just a few days later.  NIB and untouched, it was exactly what I wanted: just like new, but less expensive.  It was the 6x4 model, which really stood out over the "poverty-spec" 4x2, and despite being a euro truck, it seemed to have loads of presence.  The only problem was that it was a full-option model - not a bare truck kit.  I have nothing against the full-option kit, I just didn't want to have to justify that much expense.

But, when I added up the cost of a 4ch radio against a new from shop TGX, it started to make a bit more sense.  I did some rapid calculations on my personal accounting spreadsheet, looked at some accruals accounts that haven't been touched in years, and figured I could afford it.  I'd not long bought myself a new motorcycle and committed to an expensive camper conversion on my van, so this shouldn't have been justifiable at all, but I did it anyway.  A deal was done, moneys were transferred and this was delivered to my office a week later.

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IMG_20151203_101458039_zpscolze9y5.jpg

IMG_20151203_101720529_zpsvaooiian.jpg

 

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At which point, it promptly went up into the workshop loft along with all my other NIBs, unfinished projects, old bodies and untouched parts.  Finally, over the Christmas break, I figured I had the time to get started, so it came down to my studio and the box got opened.

Then the wife saw it.  Now, if you've been reading the words, you'll remember that I was having some deliberations over my future with RC, and this has involved some conversations with the wife over how I wasn't enjoying my collection and was confused about what I should keep and sell, and how I should display things, and how it's all got so disjointed that it just seems to be a bunch of random cars rather than a well thought-out collection.  And, quite understandably, she couldn't get her head around why I'd bought it.

"I just wanted to build one, I doubt I'll be able to afford one this time next year." Was all I could say.  I could sense a "you can't afford it now and you could have put that money into the family planning pot" reply, but she bit her tongue and left me to it.  For a week after, the big orange truck on the big black box got disapproving looks every time she came into my studio, along with the odd grumble of "I still don't get that."  After that, I couldn't bring myself to tell her how much I paid for it...  I suppose, in some small way, this took a bit of the magic away: my delightful purchase was now tainted with doubt, regret and confusion.  I couldn't even get my money back on it, because I'd already started the first steps.  Well, there was nothing for it but to crack on with the build...

 

I'm not one for taking photos of every step, nor documenting each part of the build.  Suffice to say, it started as a sheer joy.  Lots of metal parts, lots of complex plastic, more parts trees than I'd ever seen in one place before, and several manuals to refer to while I made sure the wiring was all in the right place for the MFC.  Amazing!  And then I turned the page, and...   Wait, I need to paint that part.  But it's a chassis part!  But I need to paint it.  Oh, I need to paint that part too.  And that one.  Wait...  Oh, I see, I have to paint everything from now on...

 

I'm sure for many people this isn't a problem, but for me it is.  I don't have the patience for all the prepping and cleaning, nor for waiting for coats to dry between paint.  To make things easier, my wife made me a spray booth in our workshop using an old plywood worktop that she'd made, complete with a high-level shelf to store all my paint tins, surrounded by three cheap shower curtains to stop dust getting in and overspray getting out onto the 1:1 Mini, the motorcycles and all the other workshop tools.  But in the depths of winter, it's real hard to get enough heat in the spray booth to get the paint to stick.  Even with a set of halogen lamps on for ten minutes, all it does is sets up a convection cycle that draws in cold, damp air from beyond the curtains and deposits it on any hard surface: mostly, the thing being painted.

Furthermore, the wife uses the workshop for wood turning and general carpentry, so it's always full of dust.  Every spraying session begins with wetting the surfaces in the spray booth and dragging a sacrificial cloth over them to try to stop my projects getting covered in dust during spraying.

So I figured I'd put the project on hold for a while, or at least, move real slow while taking the chance to paint on the few warm, dry days we got at the end of winter.

 

To be continued...

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Then my wife decided she wanted to repaint our hall and landing, and she decided to smooth down the plaster walls with an electric sander.  And she decided not to close my studio door before she started.  Cue everything - everything - being coated in a thick layer of plaster dust.  My TGX box, which had been left open for easy access to all the trees; my half-built TGX chassis; my shelves of cars, my vintage Korg synthesizer, my two-week old computer keyboard, my laptop, my audio mixer, my two month old carpet...  Everything was caked.  It's been a few months now and lots of dusting and the place still looks like it was abandoned.  Running a hand over the (new) carpet raises a cloud of dust.  Cleaning down the TGX chassis took an age, cleaning the parts for painting took longer.  But, in some way, it prompted me to get back to the truck.  Despite time off here and there to finish other quick projects, I'd never quite packed it all up and put it away.  It was still there, staring at me, begging to be finished.  I'd been to three truckers meets without a truck and I was desperate to get driving on their layout.

So I got busy with the 2500 grit and the soapy sponge, I got everything prepped and taken to the spray booth, the weather was improving so I could spray more often, and soon enough, almost all the chassis and other little parts in black were done.  I split my RC time between assembling what was painted and painting what wasn't.  The build became a mission, one that went on week after week, taking up much of my spare time, half-way between sheer unbridled joy at how involved it was and how much more there was still to come, and utter frustration at how long it would be before I could actually drive it.

Then I checked the calendar to work out when the next meet was.  It fall on my holiday.  Oh.  And the one after that is the Iconic Revival.  Oh.  And the one after that is cancelled because it's the Thornbury Model Expo and the club will be displaying there, and I've put my name down to go.  So that means a) I won't get to drive on a layout until August and 2) my first drive on a proper layout, with other trucks, will be at a public model expo where lots of people are watching and there's lots of expensive trucks and trailers to get damaged...  Oh.

A quick scout around found another event taking place on 18th June, three days before my holiday, in Bournemouth.  A bit of a trek, but some familiar faces have got their names down to attend.  That became my new goal: get the truck ready for the Bournemouth meet.  Oh, and get a trailer, and get it built.  Plus, to justify going to a truck meet three days before my holiday, make sure I'm all packed and all the pre-holiday admin is done too.

 

So, basically, the last two weeks have been full-time chaos: spraying in the garage every morning (while it's been warm and dry), assembling and prepping in the evening, and even three days of building a Hercules Hobby 40-foot container trailer in the back of my car during lunchbreaks.  Crazy.  I fitted the shell on Tuesday morning, after finishing assembly of all its sub-components the previous night.  No sooner was it fitted (a fiddly task indeed), than I realised I hadn't plugged in any of the front lights or set up any of the features.  Oh.  So yesterday morning it all came off again while I plugged in the lights, then it went back on.  Then last night it came off again while I set the trims on the MFC, then it went back on.  Then it came off again because I bought a trailer wiring kit and hadn't plugged it into the MFC, then went back on.  Then it almost came off again when I couldn't get the nuts for the trailer wiring plug onto the screws.  That's a real fiddly shell!

Then the front bumper went on, the wiring got pulled away and strapped down, and for the first time, it went for a proper drive around the studio floor.

It works :D

from this:

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to this:

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IMG_20160615_195848380_zpsby3jvmf0.jpg

IMG_20160615_195904362_zpsuzxdtcpt.jpg

and it only took 5 months :D

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A few bits were missing in the last shots - rear light lenses (now fitted), some stickers (now added), and number plates which I will make myself.  I also unplugged the vibration unit because it drove me insane.

Future plans:

  • Build the 40ft container ready for Saturday's event
  • Run at Saturday's event and make sure everything is happy
  • Pull off the shell again and tidy up all the wiring, remove the vibration unit entirely
  • Maybe replace the MFC-01 with an MFC-03 for more appropriate sounds (then either justify a US truck or sell the MFC-01)
  • Consider adding some paint details to various areas and adding a haulage company name
  • Rebuild the 40ft trailer into a race support trailer, with one half being an office/workshop/tool store/breakout area and the other being a loading ramp
  • Build my NIB MAN race truck in the same livery as the rig and strap it onto the loading ramp
  • Impress all with my mastery of building skills and creativity and receive kudos and respect from all who witness my race truck pit setup :D

That's all for now folks - will update here later with trailer pics :)

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What most people here do is lock it into first. I don't know if you've driven it already, but do NOT turn in third. It will tip right over. Also, there is a mod that flips the drag link on the front axle around for more steering lock. Might be something worthwhile to look into.

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Nice one excellent I'm still building my first truck the MB Actros 6x4 I'm enjoying it can't wait till its done and get a trailer 

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Nice looking truck ! like the colour too.... I have just finished the pre painted red MAN single axle this week.

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Looks great! Don't think you are the first person to take the body off to change something, It is a regular occurrence. I have built every truck of mine differently from the last.

It is always a learning curve and it makes each subsequent build different even though the chassis' are similar.

Did you put a lower turn motor in it? I would recommend a 55t for outside the house or a 80t for venues like above.

After you have done a few drives you will want to change more stuff to make it your own anyways, it is the nature of the beast :)

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I've got a Carson Poison truck motor, I think it's 80T.  It's nice and slow in 1st gear, although I've only driven around my studio floor.  Really excited about the truck meet tomorrow.

I'll try to get the trailer finished off tonight, if not I'll end up finishing it at the venue tomorrow!  It's been thrown together unpainted, as I want to get a feel for it before I work out what to tear apart and remake.  I doubt I'll have my pit support trailer finished for the big event in August, unless I make it out of carboard boxes :P 

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So I finished the HH trailer on Friday night, not a bad build for a budget non-Tamiya trailer, fairly impressive piece of kit.  Instructions not quite as clear as Tamiya and missing details in some places, just plain wrong in others, but the parts themselves are very well made, includes full bearings (even though manual says plastic bushes) and proper wheels and tyres (unlike other budget brands where you get a moulded plastic wheel & tyre combo which offers no grip), proper leaf springs and alu friction dampers with spring assisters.  Also includes notes specifically relating to the Tamiya trailer light kit in the instructions, which fits the chassis with no mods required.

And then yesterday I went to Bournemouth for the Dorset & Hampshire RC Trucks & Transport meet!

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My TGX and trailer can be seen in the middle of the layout here:

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Got some great advice on fitting an interior and tidying up the MFC wiring, got some ideas for how to make my trailer and also met an old friend who I haven't seen since a Tamiyaclub bash way back in 2007! :D 

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Yeah most of the HH is a direct clone of the Tamiya stuff... trucks/trailers etc, hence the lights etc. 

Awesome to hear the guys were helpful and made you feel so welcome, it really is an awesome niche of the hobby to get into, there is so much you can do to these trucks! :D

I would be interested to know what the layout road is made of? Ply/mdf and whats the black stuff, felt? I would like to price up some stuff to start my own portable layout... so any info would be greatly appreciated B)

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Looks a great layout there the club has.

is it a big club with many members.

The trailer suits your truck also

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@berman the layout is made from I think MDF (it might be ply but that seems expensive), the roads are all painted on.  It looks like it's made in sized chunks so it can be rearranged into various different layouts.  There's a lot of scenery both custom-made and adapted from toys.  Lots of work has gone into the loading yards and the builder's merchant warehouse.  I had a lot of fun reversing my trailer into the loading yard.  If only I had motorised support legs (oh, and a wireless setup for the trailer lights!) then I could have practiced hitching up and unhitching too.

The green bits are made of some kind of wiry green plastic, it might be a form of astroturf or just green felt.

I also had my first introduction to Servonaut sound and light systems - they're very impressive.  One member showed me over his custom wiring setup and all the crazy things he could automate.  I didn't felt it gave much over the Tamiya MFC but the sounds were way better, I wish my MFC had sounds like that...

@topforcein It was a fairly quiet day, I think there were less than 20 of us, lots of people left their apologies for not being able to make it along - apparently last meet they had 60 people, I was told people daren't take their trucks off the layout in case they lost their parking space!  It's only their second time at the venue so things are probably still settling in.

:)

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17 hours ago, Mad Ax said:

@berman the layout is made from I think MDF (it might be ply but that seems expensive), the roads are all painted on.  It looks like it's made in sized chunks so it can be rearranged into various different layouts.  There's a lot of scenery both custom-made and adapted from toys.  Lots of work has gone into the loading yards and the builder's merchant warehouse.  I had a lot of fun reversing my trailer into the loading yard.  If only I had motorised support legs (oh, and a wireless setup for the trailer lights!) then I could have practiced hitching up and unhitching too.

The green bits are made of some kind of wiry green plastic, it might be a form of astroturf or just green felt.

I also had my first introduction to Servonaut sound and light systems - they're very impressive.  One member showed me over his custom wiring setup and all the crazy things he could automate.  I didn't felt it gave much over the Tamiya MFC but the sounds were way better, I wish my MFC had sounds like that...

Thanks for that. Yeah just pricing up some mdf now, seems the way to go, fhe sheets are twice as long as the are wide so cutting them in half would produce perfect squares and yeah painting corners on some, and straights on other would produce a basic layout. I am thinking approx 5m x 10m with some little add ons to start with.

You can get the motorised legs and an OB1/MFC for wireless lighting etc.

Servonaut is good, but really expensive for what it is. You have a V8 sound and a Euro 6cyl sound, and everyone and his dog has the V8 sound so although it is ok, you all end up sounding the same like all the MFC guys anyway. Yes it has some great ancilleries, but you end up buying add on units to get them. Which is more $$$. A Servonaut basic setup is twice the cost of a MFC and you still have to buy LED's whereas the MFC is all inclusive. The Servonaut is a bit smaller, but then when you add a M20 and ML4 etc it isn't  much smaller.

I am not knocking it, it is a good unit, but you have to weigh up the benefits vs cost. Have a look at the Beier USM RC-2, a fully programmable unit, record and write your own sounds etc, any function on any button and half the price of a MFC. I love mine, and I haven't even skimmed the ice with it's capabilities.

 

 

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I think the sheets at the club are about 1m x 2m, some are smaller at 1m x 1m.  You can see on the layout where some roads are designed to have junctions coming into them and some aren't, I guess swapping these around gives you the facility to make a layout up as you go along.  I don't know how the truck club does it but my local race club has a book of different possible track layouts drawn up on graph paper so they can very quickly choose a track to run.  I expect you could have a lot of fun making up layout options using little cardboard templates of your track :D parts

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Yeah one of the sheets sets I was looking at was 6mm thick, @ 2440mm x 1220mm so if I cut them in half I would have perfect squares for the common straights and 90 degree corners, and a T intersection or 3. :)

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Been a bit quiet on the truck front for a while, but I went to the local model expo near Bristol a few weeks back and got some motivation up to do something special.

Originally I'd bought a Hercules Hobby container trailer as the basis for making a low loader, but I've realised it's not the right starting point.  The wheels are too big and the chassis is a flat top type - it could probably be done by flipping the axles upside down to lower the ride height, fitting smaller wheels and making custom chassis rails, but it's a lot of work on what is a very good-looking and not-too-cheap piece of hardware.

I don't really like it as it is because I slapped it together quick without paint, but I can tidy it up later.

So, in the mean time, what can I use to make a race trailer?  The simplest answer is a 1:16 Bruder low-loader.  There's quite a few already-extended examples on ebay, from £105 up to £200, but none have done exactly what I want to do, so I've just hit BIN on an unused trailer from a Bruder enthusiast, as well as a kingpin designed to fit the Bruder chassis.  I decided it was worth the extra £5 over a universal kingpin just for ease of fitting.

I detect a few nights in the workshop with a hacksaw and a tape measure as I construct something long enough for a race trailer :)

 

Watch this space as a project unfolds...

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5 hours ago, Mad Ax said:

Been a bit quiet on the truck front for a while, but I went to the local model expo near Bristol a few weeks back and got some motivation up to do something special.

Originally I'd bought a Hercules Hobby container trailer as the basis for making a low loader, but I've realised it's not the right starting point.  The wheels are too big and the chassis is a flat top type - it could probably be done by flipping the axles upside down to lower the ride height, fitting smaller wheels and making custom chassis rails, but it's a lot of work on what is a very good-looking and not-too-cheap piece of hardware.

I don't really like it as it is because I slapped it together quick without paint, but I can tidy it up later.

So, in the mean time, what can I use to make a race trailer?  The simplest answer is a 1:16 Bruder low-loader.  There's quite a few already-extended examples on ebay, from £105 up to £200, but none have done exactly what I want to do, so I've just hit BIN on an unused trailer from a Bruder enthusiast, as well as a kingpin designed to fit the Bruder chassis.  I decided it was worth the extra £5 over a universal kingpin just for ease of fitting.

I detect a few nights in the workshop with a hacksaw and a tape measure as I construct something long enough for a race trailer :)

 

Watch this space as a project unfolds...

I've 2 steel chassis rails left over from my 1st attempt on the war rig trailer. 1.35m long, 25mm tall, 1.5mm thick. Let me know if you're interested ......

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Thanks for the offer MI, I've looked up extending the Bruder chassis and it can be done with easily available alu section, but if I decide to chop up the HH chassis at a later date then that may be just the thing :)

I've still got millions of other custom projects on the go but for some reason I'm hugely excited about this one - possibly because all the "hard work" has already been done loads before by other people, so I know this is going to work, but I still get to be massively creative with my own design on the race rig body and interior.

I wonder if it'll arrive today :P 

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Bruder trailer and Tamiya kingpin arrived yesterday - didn't grab any pics as I was a bit busy.  Will be popping out to a metal stockists at lunch to try to get the hardware I need for lengthening.  Not sure how much time I'll be able to dedicate to this build but hopefully at least the basic lengthening of the trailer should happen fairly fast.

I may need to get creative with the deck width too as I tested with a Tamiya Supra shell last night and it's quite wide.  The MAN race truck wheels might be sitting a little past the edge of the stock trailer's moulded load area.  I'll know better once I've built the MAN truck, I might start doing that at the next truck meet if I don't get time to do it sooner :)

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Ok so the metal stockists didn't have the metal I need.  Furthermore, they tell me I can't get the metal I need because nobody makes it in that size.  Bit odd since the site I found is UK-based and is very clear about what is required.

No bother - managed to find some online suppliers that will get me as close to where I need as possible, only downside is paying for and waiting for shipping.  This build almost doubled in cost once I'd ordered the necessary metal and screws.

Probably won't be picking this up until next week, now.

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OK - so the low-loader trailer was coming along nicely right up until the early delivery of our new baby daughter 4 weeks ago.  Getting heavily involved in hacking up plastic is a little more than I can manage right now, so instead I'm focusing on some smaller, easier jobs on the TGX.

Firstly - I was getting more and more annoyed with the idea that I had a European truck with a US sound module in it.  I looked at various options - Servonaut, Beier, etc - but it was a lot of cost to switch from the MFU to something offering the same functionality.  So, in a fit of random spending, and after watching comparison videos over and over again on Youtube, I hit BIN on a new MFU-03.  It arrived a couple of weeks back and it's been sat in my workshop under a pile of other stuff.

I figured the 03 is a direct swap for the 01 (at least wiring-wise), so there's no need to rip the truck apart to change all the LEDs.  I can just swap the units over.  Then I've got a whole box of new LEDs and MFU-01 that I can use on a US truck, if I ever have the time and budget to make one.

(True story: I want to build a cool-looking US truck for my little girl to drive when she's older.  I'm not sure if I should nab a King Hauler now while there is still stock at the old prices and shelve it for best part of a decade, or wait until she's actually old enough to drive it!)

The other main thing I dislike about the TGX is the lack of space for the MFU when using an interior.  My attempts to hide it at the back of the cab haven't worked.  So, I figured what I really needed was a cabinet mounted somewhere on the chassis to put it in.

Hunting around on Google Images, I found a few photos of tractor trucks with big generators mounted behind the cab.  This makes perfect sense: after all, this is supposed to be a race support tractor towing a pit trailer and a racing lorry.  Why wouldn't you want a nice powerful electric generator on your pit cab, to power all the lights, heavy power tools and heating for your pit mechanics?

Getting the size right has been tricky, too big and it looks awkward, too small and nothing fits.  It's also been slow-going as I'm having to work the build in between changing nappies, doing night feeds, soothing a crying baby, writing a novel and going to work.  Here's what I've done so far:

IMG_20170309_131432527_HDR_zpsyud70lzj.j

IMG_20170309_133544396_HDR_zpsrhibzuav.j

 

Admittedly that's not much, but it's a step in the right direction.  Scale will become apparent when I have the end caps on and I can rest it on the TGX chassis for photos, maybe later this weekend :)

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