M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build

Postby lmcq11 » Sun May 24, 2020 11:59 pm

Hi,

Here is the start of my new build. As I am waiting for parts to complete and paint the Tpz-1, I might as well enjoy the nice weather and do some outside model building to enjoy my pandemic confinement.

Before starting a build, It is important to read and review material in order to create a connection between the builder and the model. It makes the build a lot more interesting when you understand its working and history. Many guys were not happy that Tamiya issued the Sheridan. As for me, I was extremely please to see something new and cold war era with lots of opportunity for a build. I find the Sheridan to be a good looking vehicle. Ok, it is not heavy and the gun is short but it is 152mm...

The build will be based on the new 1/16 Tamiya M551 Sheridan light tank in a Vietnam war setting. As usual in Vietnam, the crews adapted, improvised and modified their vehicle to their needs. Below is an example with Acav shield and no search light.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


This is obviously the picture that Tamiya used as inspiration for its latest M551. I have studied most Vietnam photos available on the web and I am only seeing the RPG mesh shield on the 25th infantry division vehicles. Each units had their own customization. I do not think the mesh make the model good looking so I will not use it anyway.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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The history of the Sheridan is directly linked to its M81E1 Rifled 152 mm Gun/Missile Launcher. Also used on the M60A2, but in a turret that was not as good looking as the Sheridan. There are 2 versions of the gun, early M81 and late M81E1, with a much different look.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Use of the Sheridan in Vietnam is associated with its 152mm Beehive canister ammo that contained 10,000 metal flechettes per rounds. Whole waves of attacking Viet Cong could be massacred with a couple of rounds.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Example of the flechettes

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The effects of the Beehive round could be devastating when used against infantry in close range.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Many M551 carried a secondary turret machine gun for the gunner, such as this M60 on a M2 Browning mount. Notice the turret rack at the rear.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Here is an extra M2 .50 cal. Also seen is the turret rack filled with ammo. The interior of the vehicle was small and could not carry much storage inside.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Good view of the M113 style ACAV shield.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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This is it, let's start the build.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Continuing on following post
Last edited by lmcq11 on Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby lmcq11 » Mon May 25, 2020 12:28 am

Instead of spending about $1000 with tax and shipping for the RC version, I purchased the Static version for less than $300 at Axel's. Other than the electronics and gears, it has all the custom metal parts to make it fully RC at a much lower cost. My goal is to build it below $500. As I have lots of RC models, I do not need to purchase a new control board with every tank, it would be madness so I will reuse a Clark TK60 I have.

The model will have the following features
- Clark TK-60 control board
- Mato 5.0 gearbox
- HL turret rotation
- Main gun servo elevation, servo recoil, flash and sound
- Secondary Mg flash and sound
- Head lights
- Tail lights

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


It has pre-assembled, nice quality plastic tracks with rubber pads, a luxury.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The superb metal barrel is the Late version.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Now, the first thing to engineer is the motorization. The M551 has a small sprocket with a small shaft. A regular Heng Long shaft cannot be used at all.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Thankfully, the Tamiya metal shaft that fits the sprocket is provided with the static kit. It must be reused on a gearbox.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


A Mato 5.0 gearbox will be used. These are quite inexpensive for the quality. I paid less than $70 at Matomart during their regular holiday sales, with free shipping. Contrary to HL gears, the Mato gearbox has screws allowing the shaft to be easily disassembled and modified, and supported by flanged ball bearings. The regular Mato shaft needs to be replaced by the Tamiya M551 shown at the bottom.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


A small issue is that the shaft is shorter and does not reach the other ball bearing. The gap is shown here. They both are 5mm shafts for the gearbox, but the Mato shaft section that connects to the sprocket is about 1mm larger in diameter than the Tamiya.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Unless the builder has access to a metal grinding solution that can produce strait results (which i don't), plan B is an extension of the Tamiya shaft using a 5mm thick brass tube has been created and simply inserted in the ball bearing with some pressure. It is solidly in place.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


It is the gear itself that will link the two shaft components together, it makes a perfect joint at exactly the right location. The screw is connected to the main shaft driving the sprocket, the other shaft is just there to maintain balance.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


New screw anchor holes are created. It is critical to take the right measurement.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Continuing on following post
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Postby lmcq11 » Mon May 25, 2020 12:43 am

And here we have a Mato M551 Sheridan gearbox...

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Construction of the main hull and suspension goes very well, no story here. I am not following instructions and leaving small items for later.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


I think the road wheels need ball bearings to replace the plastic ones provided by Tamiya. Recommended. I will get the size.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


One major disappointed are the molded-in fake dampers provided by Tamiya. I checked the full RC version and it is the same thing. At the price Tamiya is selling this kit, it should have a real dampers.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Two modified Mato gearbox are made ready to mount on the chassis.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


They only need a 2mm plasticard cushion to be at exactly at the right height for the sprocket holes.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The gearbox are installed with crews going through the plasticard and anchored on the metal bottom hull. I am lucky that the contour of the Mato gearbox shape and base seem to go around the Tamiya rear suspension point. This is luck...

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The gearbox are solidly lined up against the plastic part of the fake dampers for a perfect width match of the sprockets with the tracks.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Lots of space is provided for the upper hull, no height issue here. I could have used the smaller Panzer III Mato gearbox if height had been an issue.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Here is the lower hull with full suspension, road wheels, tracks and gearbox. Looking very good. The build is going surprisingly well and fast.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Regards, Louis
Last edited by lmcq11 on Mon May 25, 2020 1:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby BarryC » Mon May 25, 2020 1:01 am

Hi Louis,

I'll be watching, my build is still pending. :thumbup:

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Postby c.rainford73 » Mon May 25, 2020 1:18 am

Louis love the creativity you have displayed. Very nice job
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Postby Ad Lav » Mon May 25, 2020 10:07 am

Great start Louis.

We’re all hankering for a British tank from Tamiya, which I why we groaned at the M551, as nice as it is.
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Postby Max-U52 » Mon May 25, 2020 11:10 am

Great stuff as always, Louis. Couldn't you have milled another flat on the mato shaft and used that? Is there any other difference between the mato and tamiya shafts?
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Postby lmcq11 » Mon May 25, 2020 12:39 pm

Hi, thank you !

Max-U52 wrote:Couldn't you have milled another flat on the mato shaft and used that? Is there any other difference between the mato and tamiya shafts?

Yeah, that was plan A. But the Mato shaft diameter at the sprocket is about 1mm bigger than the Tamiya as you can see below. It would have been an all around milling job to make it fit the sprocket perfectly centered, and do it twice. Maybe if I had a lathe and knew how to use it, it would have been real simple. But with my 2 metal hand files and some drill bits, the task was daunting. From previous experience, I saw that the slightest imperfection in the shaft/sprocket integration makes the sprocket rotate with a visible wobble. Plan B is what I did but only because the M551 is a light aluminum chassis with plastic tracks. The pressure on the gears is low and the Mato gearbox is really tight and powerful so I think it will work very well. It took me 1 hour to adapt the two gearbox. I would not have done this on a heavy tank chassis with metal tracks.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Postby Max-U52 » Mon May 25, 2020 4:55 pm

I think your solution is innovative and practical. For future reference, postage for something like this isn't bad if you can use a padded mailer, and i do have a lathe, and a mill, and a multitude of grinders at my disposal and i frequently do stuff for guys at no charge, so if you have a need for machine work in the future just sing out and we'll see if we can get things sorted out. I still don't own a Tamiya tank, but if i ever do build one I can see myself modifying the shafts so i can get better gears in there, no matter what the tank. Gear boxes that will fit Tamiya sprockets just might be a handy thing to have. With most olf the gearboxes from Imex you can easily swap shafts, and they really only come in two different configs, so maybe I'll make up a set or two just as an experiment. Time permitting, of course, and we all know how time seems to be so limited when it comes to important stuff like our tanks! :haha: :haha:

Do you think we'll see metal tracks for the Sheridan? When I was a kid I had a matchbox size Sheridan and it was a favorite, so my first Tammy tank just might be a 551. Well, probably the second tammy kit. I still want to build an E8 for my first Tamiya outing. Someday ...
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Postby lmcq11 » Tue May 26, 2020 3:47 am

Max-U52 wrote:Do you think we'll see metal tracks for the Sheridan? When I was a kid I had a matchbox size Sheridan and it was a favorite,

Thank you for the information. I would not recommend metal tracks on the Tamiya Sheridan. I do not find the suspension to be strong enough for it. The suspension springs are also weak and would not support more weight. The model really miss its front and rear dampers that Tamiya did not take the time to properly design. Can't believe they sell this RC tank for 1000$ and provide fake dampers. Even the cheap 50$ RC buggies have functional ones.

Like you, one of my first tank was a Sheridan, the Airfix 1/72 Sheridan back in the 70s. Great little model. Still is.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Here is the inside of the upper hull.

Tamiya provides a gizmo ball bearing turret rotation. Individual bearings are loosely placed in a socket. I personally found the design to be lacking in solidity. Anyone looking at this picture can imagine what can happen next.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The ball bearing are then held in place by the rotation dented wheel placed on top, held with 3 screws. I previously removed the small Tamiya dents to make room for a standard Heng Long rotation wheel to be placed on top.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


And what was to happen of course did happen. While pressing against the main wheel to glue the Heng Long rotation on top, the whole thing suddenly snapped out of the upper hull, spreading the ball bearings all over the place. I never found 2 of them, Tamiya providing only one spare. It still works ok but I do not like the concept. It does not feel like the ball bearing are actually turning inside. Rotation is provided by a Heng Long unit installed on a custom base.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


View of the top where the base of the turret will come sit. As you can see, the standard Heng Long rotation wheel is a perfect match to the size of the turret ring.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


A simple $2 RC LED kit can be used for head and tail lights, here the tail lights.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Tamiya provided the tail light in clear plastic, a questionable decision as it does not really help with the painting at all.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The headlights are excellent, empty so that it can be provided with LEDs inside. I reused some LEDs from an WPL pick up with the lens flattened and then polished, the resistor will be placed inside the hull later. I wish Tamiya could sell these headlights separately for my other builds. Notice (in red) that Tamiya provides a clear part that can be installed inside the headlights with the LED connected from under. But I preferred to have my LEDs directly illuminating the front of the tank instead of relying on reflection through the clear part. For sure, it is simpler to use the Tamiya clear parts.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Overview of the interior of the upper hull, about $20 of added material for turret rotation and lights.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build

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Postby mcevoyi » Tue May 26, 2020 8:20 pm

Hi all

Love this build !!!!!
and some clever and simple engineering to solve a problem with the gearbox shaftes
I really wish mato would make ..replacement gearboxes form all the tamiya tanks
Woundee why thsy don't because there's certainly a large market for them ?

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Postby lmcq11 » Wed May 27, 2020 3:28 am

mcevoyi wrote:I really wish mato would make ..replacement gearboxes form all the tamiya tanks Woundee why thsy don't because there's certainly a large market for them ?

Agree, maybe Max-U52 could make and sell these on eBay.

Here is the finished chassis built as per instructions, minus a few items left for later after painting. It is a fast build, just a few of hours over 3 days. Let's have a walk around of the good and bad things.

Front view. The model looks good. A clear plastic window is provided for the hole in front of the driver's pit. This is to allow the driver to see in front of him when the flotation system is raised. The issue is that it also allow us to see right through to the hull interior bottom... what the hell... That view will need to be blocked by a plasticard sheet simulating the hull armor under the window.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The model is equipped with a strong metal track adjuster. Very nice indeed but the adjustments is slow because you have to unscrew most of the bolt to make an adjustment, and then screw it back, half a turn at a time. That fake little damper on top of it looks a bit ridiculous, glued to the metal hull and hanging by itself without connecting to the track adjuster.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The driver's hatch as a nice cast metal texture.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


As reported by Barry, the flotation cover is molded right on the armor, with no ability to easily raise or remove it. This is unforgivable, specially when the 1/35 Tamiya kit has a nice separate part for it. The Tamiya kit has very soft plastic which make it difficult to modify. The slightest touch of a knife on this plastic creates a deep scratch that is difficult to eliminate. Sanding is also an issue on this plastic, very difficult to polish. I won't touch it and I will deal with it with paint and weathering to make it less obvious.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Right view. With the gearbox installed and no counter weight at the front, the model is a bit rear heavy. The suspension is really lacking its dampers, and I have not given up on trying something here, still thinking about it. At least, the rear spring will have to be made more powerful. On the RC version, Tamiya has the battery installed at the back, which is probably a bad idea. I will install mine at the front to help balance the model a bit.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


I have not installed the hub cap yet because I am planning to replace the provided fake plastic bearings below by real metal ones. The wheels do not roll very well with these. If my calculations are right, the model roadwheels requires 40 ball bearings with 5mm center, 8mm wide and 2.5mm thick (5x8x2.5) available on eBay or Amazon for about 15-30$ depending on quality, It might take a while before I get them. More can be purchased for those who also want real bearings on the suspension but it is not as critical as the roadwheels.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Engine grills are molded fixed. It would have been nice to see them mounted on real hinges. The photo-etched grills that go on top have not been installed yet to avoid damage during the build.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Somehow, the upper hull is 1mm too short compared to the lower hull. I do not see where I could have made a mistake, everything was installed pretty tight and as per instructions. The gap will need to be filled with a plasticard strip. Or maybe caused by an issue I have seen at the front. Need further investigations.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Left view.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The mud guard prevents the tip of the front lower hull from lining up correctly with the upper hull. Need to check to confirm with references first on how to fix this. Maybe I am positioning the upper hull too much at the front, creating that gap at the back.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Postby lmcq11 » Wed May 27, 2020 3:29 am

Despite its shortcomings and a design that cut quite a few corners, it is really a good looking Sheridan hull.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Next step, the turret.

regards, Louis
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Postby Harry Serpent » Wed May 27, 2020 10:30 am

The mud guard Do, prevent the top hull from sitting properly. With a little time and care you can get a perfect fit.

Image
I have almost completed My M551 and it runs absolutely fine. Your comments regarding the Turret rotation are unjustified it runs smooth and fast as it should do.

My M551 has seen action at Southwest model show at Bovy, And was run for about 4 hrs a day and preformed flawless,my assessment of the New Tamiya Radio, gearboxes
and electronics, is Tamiya are back on top and are well a head of the competition. :thumbup:
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Postby BarryC » Thu May 28, 2020 12:15 am

Looking good thus far Louis!

Here's how I handled the "gap" between the upper and the front of the lower allowing me to keep the fit at the back tight.

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;)
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Postby B_Man » Thu May 28, 2020 12:45 am

lmcq11 wrote:
mcevoyi wrote:I really wish mato would make ..replacement gearboxes form all the tamiya tanks Woundee why thsy don't because there's certainly a large market for them ?

Agree, maybe Max-U52 could make and sell these on eBay.


A replacement drive shaft for the PDSGB gearbox that fits Tamiya tanks would be relatively simple to do and would probably sell well. I know I'm not the only person who has contacted DKLM about them but last time I checked they still don't have any plans to make them. It would make converting the Tamiya static kits much easier.
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Postby lmcq11 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:43 am

Harry Serpent wrote:My M551 has seen action at Southwest model show at Bovy, And was run for about 4 hrs a day and preformed flawless,my assessment of the New Tamiya Radio, gearboxesand electronics, is Tamiya are back on top and are well a head of the competition.

Thank you Harry Serpent for the feedback. When I look at what could make the $500 price difference between the full option and the static version, it is pretty clear that the fabulous DMD T-11 control unit is the main factor. The rest of the equipment is pretty much standard stuff.

BarryC wrote:Here's how I handled the "gap" between the upper and the front of the lower allowing me to keep the fit at the back tight.

That's great, thank you Barry. I am thinking about a metal strip to make the plastic frontal armor side tips stronger. Mine always want to bend towards the outside.

Continuing with the build.

My model is rear heavy. Not sure if it is because the Mato gearbox is heavier than the Tamiya gearbox or the springs on the static version are lighter. The springs do seem to be the same when I look at the specs of the full option so something is wrong somewhere. In any cases, I do not like to see my tank rear heavy, nor I am I fan of the fake dampers. So I decided to do something about it. The real tank has dampers, its not for nothing.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


I figured that whatever the results I could achieve, losing the look and feel of this part would not be a great loss to the model.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


I eliminated the fake molded-in rear dampers, sanding them with the Dremel with a angle towards the outside so that the new damper tip would meet the center of the roadwheel attachment point. Its not possible to remove more material to make it like the real Sheridan damper because the gearbox wall is just behind.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


I earlier cannibalized a WPL pickup in my junkyard for various parts for build. A junkyard is very important to a builder. It is now the donor for two of its dampers.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The original at the top is reduced in size to fit the allocated space on the Sheridan, providing about 10mm of compression. It's not a lot but enough. It is sanded flat on the other side so that it can be glued to its new base, keeping enough material so that the spring is not exposed, other than at the very top. The top part needs to be thin so that it does not touch the tracks.

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To keep things simple and solid, the new damper is glued where the old one was, aligned with the center of the roadwheel and the angle of the suspension arm swing.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


An connector is made, replacing the shorter bolt that was keeping the roadwheel in place on the suspension arm. It is important that the nut be solidly placed against the suspension arm, so that the damper attachment is kept loose for good flexibility.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


View of the connection between the damper and the suspension arm. The nut is under the WPL damper cap and is not visible here.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


It is not obvious that the fake damper was replaced by a working one. The idea for a working damper is not for the look but for its utility.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


The reworked WPL damper provides just enough pressure to give the suspension a boost and position the rear suspension arm where it should rest, keeping the model strait. I am happy with the results. No need to make front dampers.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build
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Postby lmcq11 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:53 am

I was curious about the situation inside the turret and decided to start it tonight so that i could order any needed parts asap. Shipping is so slow these days.

I was pleased when i noticed that the static version comes with the main parts for the gun recoil and elevation. So, I just need to order two standard servos size 40x20x37 and create a push rod to have gun recoil and elevation at an expense of about $25. And then some LEDs for main gun and Coax Mg flash. It's too simple...

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Elevation pivot has nice ball bearings. Notice the window and attachment point of the barrel to the recoil servo arm, provided.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Need to wait for the servos to push further on the turret interior.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


I am extremely pleased with the details and cast texture of the mantlet. Tamiya at its best.

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1/16 RC M551 M-551 Sheridan Vietnam build


Regards, Louis

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Postby Harry Serpent » Thu May 28, 2020 12:09 pm

This may be of useful due out any time now :thumbup: :thumbup:

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Postby lmcq11 » Thu May 28, 2020 1:00 pm

Harry Serpent wrote:This may be of useful due out any time now

Oh, thank you ! Your information prompted me to go check out the Voyager website, there is a couple of other items for the Sheridan.

First, I wanted to compare the Voyager grills with the ones provided by Tamiya. I have not installed them yet but the difference I can see is that the Voyager grills are designed to fix inside the Tamiya frame, while Tamiya grill have a frame of their own and are probably meant to sit on top on the plastic ones. I will need to check that.

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M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build


No doubt that the Voyager grills compare well to the real thing.

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M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build


Also notice the set contains a part for the gun rifling. That's interesting.

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M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build
Capture18.JPG (51.65 KiB) Viewed 577 times


The Tamiya inner sides of the roadwheel are not good looking, and it shows from outside close up.

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M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build
Capture15a.JPG (86.65 KiB) Viewed 577 times


Voyager offers a set to fix that.

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M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build
Capture15.JPG (64.37 KiB) Viewed 577 times


I've also seem these ammo boxes. They look good but must take a lot of effort to build.

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M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build


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M551 Sheridan Airborne light tank - Vietnam - build
Capture16.JPG (53.56 KiB) Viewed 577 times


Thanks, Louis

lmcq11
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