"OK TC" - Land Rover D90 Truck-Cab scale crawler

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Hi everyone, I thought I'd check back in now that winter is fast approaching (being in Wales, it's like it never went away to be honest...)

I've been taking a break from the RC stuff over the summer, although I did take the opportunity to thin-out my collection a little, and I'm pleased to see some old favourites are happy in their new homes!

I also realise that Photobucket has done the dirty on us, and while most of my photos still seem to show in build threads for the time being, it is only a matter of time until they disappear - and with over 800 pictures (as I recall) it is going to be a huge task to replace them all in my build-threads here on Tamiya Club, so have decided to use a new host service going forward, starting with this build...


Following on from my 'Desmond [the 2.2]' crawler project that I built last winter (using a copy of a Trailfinder/Gelande chassis and some other Chinese sourced transmission parts) that was topped off with a narrowed Toyota HiLux shell, I thought I'd turn my attention to another one of those scale-trail/crawler stalwarts, the almost ubiquitous Land Rover Defender.

Now I have to say, I've never been a huge fan of the 1:1 Defender - they just seem so badly screwed together and forever breaking down - but I admit I do have a soft spot for the truck-cab shape Ninety (this is probably subliminal conditioning currently living in Wales of course ;o), so thought I'd have a go at building something that is genuinely 'scale' in appearance and function.

First of all, the [mechanical] donor for this build is actually going to be Lisa's Cage-crawler, which is currently sitting dormant in a box in the US, and is essentially the same set of axles/suspension*/electronics that I used for Desmond - albeit without the four-wheel-steering.

*Subsequently I replaced the original Mad-Gear suspension links with custom rods and ball-joints to optimise the layout/wheelbase when using the SCX10 transmission skid-plate on my own build, but here the original components are going to work well I feel.

So the plan with this build is to try and retain the axles/wheels/suspension links and motor/electronics from the Mad-Gear box-chassis, and mate them to the Trailfinder/Gelande chassis, along with a new central transfer case and planetary gearbox - to more accurately represent a 1:1 vehicle.

With the motor/gearbox and electronics all mounted under the bonnet (hood), this in turn ought to allow for a full interior to be fitted - a la the Gelande, and sure enough, the pattern/copy Defender 90 bodies that you find on eBay come complete with a surprisingly good quality interior moulding - for the cab at least (the rear seats are a bit shonky).

So with my PayPal account depleted if not exactly empty, I began to assemble the chassis - and guestimated where the axles ought to be to correspond with the Ninety's wheelbase.


photo. All metal chassis/transmission and my left-over suspension arms.



photo. this is the Defender 90 body on top of my HiLux (my body-shell is so narrow it is actually inside the Defender itself!)


Clearly there was a current disparity between my Toyota and the Defender's wheelbase - especially if I wanted to retain the 2.2 size wheels and tyres (which I very much do), so the suspension would need some jiggling if I was to retain the rear panel and bumper/crossmember which I wanted to help maintain the maximum scale appearance.

I will cut a long story short, but basically, after borrowing the front axle from Desmond, I was able to arrange the original Mad-Gear suspension links in such a way that they are properly triangulated and do not bind, and position the rear axle in the centre of the rear wheel-arch (which will need a lot of trimming of course), while the front axle is slightly forward, maximising approach angle and turning radius.



photo. I also took the opportunity to chop the original CSW (County Station Wagon) shell into an 'extra' cab pick up - in much the same way as the winch-challenge guys do to 1:1 vehicles.



photo. Mocking up the wheelbase with some spare tyres.



photo. A lot closer to the final dimensions - note. front wings had to be removed to allow the huge tyres (approx. 47" in 1:1 scale size!) to fit, and the headlights will be repositioned in the front grille panel.


The original coil-over shocks have been replaced with scale internal-sprung scale dampers (100mm length) and I've also been able to incorporate a chassis-mounted steering servo as a further aid to scale realism.



photo. Rear bulkhead constructed (to mate with shortened interior panel), and battery locates out of sight (I will probably cover it with a pair of sand ladders mounted horizontally), while still easy to access/remove for recharging.



photo. Fabricated inner wheel-arches at the front to hide motor and electronics - note interior bulkhead/footwells will be painted to match body too, these are a suprisingly realistic shape as per the 1:1.



photo. Interior floor had to be modified to clear chassis, since the body is mounted slightly lower than the traditional Gelande mounting position. I have a scale can of pop and a map for the centre cubby pocket too!



photo. Interior is surprisingly authentic - even moreso with a layer of dust (after I'd been sanding!)



photo. Rear load-bed. I also wanted a fully functioning rear pick-up deck (for loads of scale junk), so constructed box wheel-arches from plasticard (albeit slightly higher than a 1:1 vehicle would have due to the lower body and huge tyres), and doubled up the thickness of the tailgate and rear panels to more accurately represent a real vehicle.




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part 2. Painting.

As you might imagine, to enhance the scale appearance further, I will be employing various weathering techniques - not least the salt trick to represent corrosion and rust*

*now I know some fans will say "But Defenders are aluminium!", and of course the majority of the body panels are... but the true aficionados will know that the bulkhead and hinges etc. are steel - hence the sparing use of rust coloured paint as a base on those components.



photo. This is always the fun part - deciding where the deterioration and corrosion ought to go... but not knowing exactly how it will look until all the salt is washed off further down the line.


photo. bulkhead and vents/hinges are typical areas of corrosion on a 1:1 Defender.


I've then blown over the whole body in an aluminium colour, and will add salt again before the primer and top [colour] coat, so that the inevitable 'corrosion' will show through - in places all the way down to the bare and oxidised metal.



But using this metal [aluminium-ish] colour spray as the base layer, once the subsequent layers of grey primer and then the top-coat are added (again with salt used in various places between each layer), the effect ought to be chipped paint over primer, and in places both the paint and primer removed to reveal the bare 'aluminium' underneath. This will then be weathered with a white/dusty wash to represent oxidisation.

While this won't be quite as nail-y as some of the other examples in my showroom perhaps, it ought to be very authentic as an old Defender that has been chopped around into a rock-crawer/extreme-trail machine.


More soon as they say!


Jenny x



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Nice start Jenny - not sure it's going to keep you busy for many winter nights though at the rate you are going !


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20 hours ago, Percymon said:

Nice start Jenny - not sure it's going to keep you busy for many winter nights though at the rate you are going !



Hee hee, thanks Percymon - I'm actually trying to do as much as I can over the next couple of weeks, since I want to take the painted/finished body & chassis back to the USA with me when I visit in November, and will finish off the final assembly there once I get my hands on the donor vehicle.




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Right, it's been a manic few days in the paint-shop... and ultimately the kitchen floor, since it was just too cold and damp outside to paint properly...

First of all, I thought I'd see how Willy fits in the interior of the Land Rover:


...surprisingly well as it turns out, although technically his torso is about 20mm too short for the seat-belts to be in the proper position, and really his legs ought to be proportionally longer too, but I think a Wild Willy figure could make the basis of a great scale driver.


So with that, it was back to the body-shell:


photo. I invested in some genuine Land Rover Arles blue (1990-97 Defender), and some Land Rover Ivory for the roof. Unfortunately, I fear the paint-shop mixed the blue a touch too dark, although that is possibly a result of being sprayed on a much smaller surface, and compounded by the poor lighting.



photo. I used the salt trick to create a distressed and blistered/peeling finish to the paintwork. Rust is appropriate on the steel bulkhead of course.



photo. Salt was also used on the main bodywork too - the idea here is that the paint has worn away in high wear areas such as the door frames and rear capping edges of the pick-up bed.

Once the salt had been agitated and washed away, the result was pretty effective I thought!



As I mentioned previously, on the main aluminium body panels, the idea was to have the paint rubbed and blistered to reveal the 'aluminium' underneath, plus some areas of primer - while those components that are steel such as the door hinges and the cappings to the rear pick-up bed would have traces of rust too.




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part 3. Body detailing.

The body kit comes with some great extra detailing features, as well as being moulded to a high standard anyway - but I wanted to put my own twist on some of those components too.


photo. the bulkhead needed a little filling here and there, so I elected to finish it with a dusting of primer - as if the owner had made some welding repairs and painted over just those areas to protect them.



photo. Because the original front wings had to be removed to allow the huge tyres to articulate, I elected to reposition the headlamps in what was the original radiator grille. I actually trimmed the flanges and set them flush (glued in with Araldyte from behind) so that the lenses and surrounds wouldn't sit too proud of the body.



photo. The kit headlights come in multiple parts - the main lenses have the side light lenses moulded in, the indicators are separate, and they are then fitted into the headlight masks (originally chrome) which I painted matt black. note. I originally rusted the surrounds too, then realised that they tend to be plastic on the 1:1 vehicles, so repainted them plain black while leaving a few pock-marks to represent stone damage over the years.



photo. While the headlight buckets are chromed plastic, I also fitted a strip of aluminium tape behind the side light and indicator lenses as a reflector (rather than the blue plastic).



photo. Painting in the window rubbers. I used an initial coat of matt black acrylic, followed by a coat of Tamiya's own 'rubber black'.



photo. Initially I also painted the sunroof surround black in a similar way (although I'd chosen to replace the supplied glass sunroof with a solid panel already), but was not really happy with the way it looked - so took the sanding wheel to it...



photo. ...and ultimately filled it and repainted it as a solid 'commercial' Land Rover roof instead.


Having temporarily refitted the interior and the body to the chassis (complete with my scratch-built inner wheel-arches), I felt it was starting to take shape at last:


photo. Note. these wheels are tyres are only for the mock-up. The finished model will have the matt black wheels from Lisa's cage-crawler fitted.





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part 4. Interior detailing.

The body kit comes complete with a really detailed interior, and personally I feel no need to paint the main door panels, dash or seats - since the textured black plastic finish is already pretty realistic to the 1:1 components.

However, since I'd had to modify the floor/footwells to fit over the chassis rails (having lowered the body approx. 10mm from the original position), then I would need to address the current white plasticard...



photo. Taking a leaf out of the 1:1 Land Rover handbook, some scale checker-plate would make the perfect interior floor.



photo. Aluminium self-adhesive tape was used to cover the plastic checker-plate, plus the vertical sections of the new transmission tunnel.



photo. Checker-plate was used for all the horizontal surfaces.



photo. The end result is pretty authentic I thought?



photo. I also elected to utilise the kit-supplied dash panel sticker (just the instruments), as I felt this was realistic enough without trying to scratch-build my own dials (these days my eye-sight isn't what it was ;o)



photo. View through the rear window. I have left the glass out of this section so that a GoPro camera could be fitted in the rear load-bay, for those ultra-realistic scale driving videos ;o)



photo. ...and of course the finishing touch is a scale can of Pepsi and an Ordnance Survey map of Welsh green-lanes!




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part 5. More scale details...

With the basic body and interior finished, I wanted to add a couple more modifications to add further authenticity to the build.



photo. I'd already fabricated some inner wheel-arch boxes (I will also fabricate a removable floor panel, complete with scale accessories), and felt some more scale checker-plate would be appropriate here too.



photo. Panels cut from thin plastic checker-plate, then real aluminium [tape] applied - it's like magic!



photo. The initial tape finish is quite bright, so I find sanding with 800 grit wet&dry helps to add some scale tarnishing to the aluminium.



photo. Sanded, and glued in place.



Now I am aware that if this was a genuine scale build then there is a distinct lack of cooling for the engine, since the headlights now cover the original radiator location... While a 1:1 rock-crawler might employ a rear mounted radiator behind the cab bulkhead [for example], I thought I'd try something a bit different - a pair of side mounted radiators inside each inner wheel-arch:


photo. Marking the inside of the inner wheel-arches.



photo. Drilling and cutting (before sanding to finish).



photo. Creating mesh covers for the radiator apertures. (note. plasticard 'radiator' panels will be painted black to blank-out the engine bay behind). The aluminium mesh is pushed into the recess with the base of a craft knife to give it more of a 3D shape.



photo. a splash of paint before assembly.



photo. super-glue to hold the mesh in place...



photo. ...before the black blanking panels are Araldyte'd on.



photo. Yep, I'm pretty pleased with that!


More soon.


Jenny x


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Just a few more scale details:


photo. Headlight grilles fitted to main lamp lenses - these are the [plain] covers you get with the Axial accessory lamp set - and a perfect fit once the tabs are trimmed from the rear.


photo. Scale number plates fro DimensionRC - excellent! (I know D reg [1987] vehicles should technically have white and yellow plates, but Lisa preferred the black/silver version, as do I).


Rear load bed


photo. mocking up the rear bed initially - the idea here is that the battery can be inserted and removed with the deck in place, and the aperture will be covered by a pair of sand ladders.



photo. supergluing together, template used to keep things square.



photo. test fitting (note. battery will be secured using velcro to a bar between the rear shock mounts).



photo. ...and hidden completely from view with a pair of scale sand ladders mounted horizontally across the wheel-arches.



photo. bracket made from a cut-down steering rod end (the only Tamiya part so far in this build!) - what's it for?



photo. ...a pivoting rear work lamp of course! Load bay painted, and authentic Military-drab sand ladders that Willy got from an 'Army Surplus' sale!

More soon!

Jenny x



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Thank you for your kind words everyone!

I've basically done as much as I can to the body (and chassis) now here in the UK, and everything has been boxed up ready for my trip to the US at the end of next week...

Once I get my hands on Lisa's cage crawler and remove the necessary parts (axles, wheels & tyres, motor, electronics and prop-shafts) then I'll start the final build and finish off a few of the other scale details - such as fitting the wing-mirrors and securing the load bay accessories etc.

I can't wait to see it rollin' on it's new set of wheels!


More soon!

Jenny x


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Just a handful of little finishing details before heading off to the US tomorrow...


photo. First of all, while I love the flush Axial round tail lamps, I thought it would be more authentic to use the kit Lucas style lenses, mounted to the Axial housings. 



photo. Rather than use body posts and R clips (like I did on the STUMPkamper) which might have looked a bit too RC, I've used M3 bolts and wing-nuts as spinners to secure the sand ladders.

And finally...


photo. I knew something was missing, so last night set about scratch-building a sliding latch that will be mounted inside the cut-down rear tailgate... this was fabricated from pieces of styrene, and a chopped-up & bent Tamiya steering rod. note. The spring section is replicated by using a length of self-tapping screw!

More soon, once I have the Cage Crawler apart!

Jenny xx 

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Part 6. Donor chassis strip-down

Ok, so I landed safely in California, and spent some time yesterday (Sunday) pulling things apart, and putting them back together in a slightly different format:


photo. First up, time to super-glue the tailgate latch in position!



photo. Then pull the Cage Crawler to pieces - the top/cage and accessories all came off easily enough, and you can see its going to be a very different style of chassis/vehicle now - with nothing like the original axle articulation of the box-chassis and [45°] angled shocks.



photo. Once the axles were removed, the lower radius arm mounts needed slightly modifying (as per my own crawler).



photo. New single mount on the left, original double mount (that the shock fitted between) on the right.



photo. Both axles modded, and new steering gear fitted.



photo. The other components from the original Mad-Gear Cliff I plan to use: 70T motor, prop-shafts, speed controller and 2.4Ghz receiver, and metal-geared steering servo (plus the wheels and tyres, not shown).



photo. Steering servo now chassis mounted (rather than on the axle as per original & Cage Crawler) - this was necessary as the motor will be mounted in the engine bay directly above the axle...



photo. Motor mounted to planetary gearbox (thread-lock used), and shortened Mad-Gear prop shaft to connect to the mid-mounted transfer case.



photo. Motor in postion, with steering servo (note servo arm is rotated 180° to connect to the revised linkage).



photo. On both it's axles at last! note. plenty of space in engine bay to mount electronics either side of motor itself.



photo. Speed controller battery wires needed to be extended to reach battery behind cab bulkhead, and battery connector location between chassis rails means car can be charged without removing the battery. note. wiring for vehicle lights can be easily connected/disconnected to the receiver when removing the body-shell.


So what does it look like?


photo. On it's wheels at last! - original Mad-Gear 2.2 rims with bead-locks painted black. Weights have already been added inside wheels.



photo. GoPro shot through the interior.



photo. Fire extinguisher (from Cage Crawler) mounted on dash.



photo. Plenty of accessories to position - it's like a doll's house on wheels!


Initial driving impressions...

So how does it drive you might ask?

Slowly is the answer. Really slowly - less that half the speed of my own crawler that uses a centrally mounted [SCX10 style] gearbox instead...

Turns out the 70 turn motor is much too slow for the planetary gearbox ratio, although the torque is correspondingly phenomenal as you might imagine! So I've ordered a 35T motor to see how that goes - particularly as I do want to try and retain as much torque as possible since this is quite a heavy machine now.

The other issue was that in shortening the plastic prop-shaft for the rear end, it turns out the splines are really sticky towards the end and don't slide freely (cheap original parts), so I've also ordered a pair of metal prop-shafts (again similar to those fitted to my own crawler), which also ought to handle the torque loading much better than the plastic UJs of the current props too. So for the moment, it's actually only running in front-wheel drive ;o)

There was also a lot of sag on the front end particularly (once the motor/gearbox and electronics were mounted), so I've moved the front shocks forward one hole on the chassis mounts - so they are now essentially vertical, and corrispondingly support the weight a little better. The rear end is amazingly supple, and the vehicle really walks over obstacles without the body lurching much at all - it is very realistic!

So while the suspension is basically dialled in now, I'm just waiting on the new motor and props - then we can get this bad boy outside at last!

More soon!

Jenny xx

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Nice work Jenny 

nice details and a great write up.

Now for some action pictures - we need to see some California sunshine 

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On 31 October 2017 at 2:25 AM, Percymon said:

Now for some action pictures - we need to see some California sunshine 

Just a couple of posed shots for now (although I did drive it around the garden in front-wheel-drive too ;o)




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Great job on this Land Rover! I have just finished reading a few more of your builds too... All of them are super inspiring! 

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I am really happy to see another fantastic JennyMo build :) Your attention to detail and creativity, as always, have come through with this gem!

Looking forward to the videos now...

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part 7. Icing the cake.

So as I mentioned above, once built up, there were a few issues that needed addressing - primarily the gearing being far too low with the stock 70T motor, and the cheap plastic prop-shafts that wouldn't slide properly once shortened.

I also wanted to add just a few final touches to the scale detailing, it's amazing what you can find on eBay these days!



photo. new parts arrived thick and fast.



photo. I'd ordered a pair of 90-115mm prop-shafts - the correct length for the longer of the two (front), but the rear would need to be shortened by 10mm.



photo. much better, and much stronger too of course.



photo. one issue I'd noticed once the shell was together was that the white LEDs for the rear lamps were too bright, making the lenses pink rather than red. I bought some Tamiya translucent red paint and coated the LEDs (plus the inside of the lenses too) making things much more realistic.



photo. I also felt that some shock boots would make the internally sprung dampers look even more realistic - these are the RC4WD ones.



photo. another scale detail I wanted to include was a central towing-eye/shackle for recovery.



photo. the supplied M2 screws were a little too short to secure with the supplied nuts, so I recessed the crossmember using a 3/16ths drill (yes, I'm in the US again aren't I...)



photo. I like that!



photo. The original [Mad Gear Cliff] 70T motor was replaced with a 35T version from RC4WD - only $10 on eBay, and is still really torquey but offers a far better higher speed running too.



photo. I've saved my favourite 'accessory' 'til last! - these scale badges (from China) are actually metal, and very authentic!



photo. unfortunately I felt the LAND ROVER lettering was a little too large and garish for my taste and the style of this build (it would have been better if they were black perhaps?) so I ultimately left them off.



photo. rear moulded 'badge' on the body sanded down so metal plate fits flush.


What does it look like all together then?









Time to get it out on the rocks and dirty!




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Just a couple more refinements - basically a dab of black paint and some additional weathering... and it's time to put this tatty blue box into my showroom at last!


photo. crossmember/shackle screws/bolts blacked out.



photo. aluminium mesh radiator grilles also blacked out.



photo. load-bed accessories added (and super-glued in!)

More photos in my showroom!


Jenny x

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OK, just a quick update to this project...

part 8. Behind the wheel.

While I spent a lot of time getting a number of scale details [what I considered] 'right' during this build, one glaring omission was an actual pilot for this beast!

I've never been overly impressed with the articulated 'doll' figures that some people use in scale crawler builds - either they are either [typically] a little too small for the scale, or their pose doesn't look natural...*

*That said, I may experiment with a suitable 7" figure and some body filler for the Cage Racer build.


Fortunately, if you read back to the beginning of this thread you'll see that a Wild Willy driver actually fits in the seat of the Defender rather well - and I was all set to make an open face version for this truck, when Lisa pointed out [quite correctly I might add] that he doesn't need to be wearing a helmet of any kind really, and that a race suit (although oily overalls is apt for any Land Rover owner) isn't really ideal either.


So I had an idea... although I'm sure some of you will consider it sacrilege [due to the scarcity of these figures these days] - but how about a more casual 'Willy' with a scale head?



One option would have been to just remove Jack's head, and fit it to the Wild Willy body (and carve the race-suit/belts to replicate more casual attire) - that way, I could also fit a Wild Willy helmet to the Osbourne body and still have a stand up Jack Willy figure... However, once I'd removed his legs, the whole upper torso turned out to be pretty much the perfect fit for what I had in mind, and would need minimal sculpting and painting.

Of course he wasn't going to sit properly without some pretty drastic surgery - a complete leg and foot transplant as it turned out:



Hey, that kind of works!


photo. Jack's left arm/hand also lines up perfectly with the steering wheel, while his bent elbow is perfect for a casual lean out of the driver's window!



photo. so while his new 'skinny jeans' and boots got a coat of paint, I also thought he could do with a little weathering, plus a chin-job (note. to help with the pain, you can see he rolled himself a dooby ;o)



photo. "Dude - those are my pants!"



photo. back in the driving seat, waiting for the glue to dry...



photo. still waiting... looks like he's got a delivery too!



photo. touching in the paint prior to final fitting (he also lit that dooby ;o)



photo. gratuitous crotch-shot!



photo. securing interior and lighting wires with duct-tape.



photo. ready to go!


I'll do my best to get you some outside action photos soon!

Jenny x



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