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.