Track & Tool Tips

  • HT-021 M4A3E8

    This tool is the first of our line to depart from steel washers. We had to do this to provide enough gap variation to accommodate the variety of track guide horn offerings.

    We have formed DS vinyl with separate guide horns (Ref kit #6354 with track version T80). It should be noted that the guide horns were glued to the flat straight run of DS vinyl with MEK prior to forming in the heated water as prescribed by some of our other tool offerings. If using other adhesives, you should probably make a test run first. During our test, not one horn was lost due to hot water exposure.

    The tool works equally well with link-to-link tracks. We have tested the tool with Dragon Magic track and Tasca link-to-link track. Both track links form up perfectly when used as a form tool gluing the links together.

    Our opinion of the tools value as an assembly tool for Tasca track links was less than favorable. By design, the Tasca links are to be assembled inside out, if you will. You have no benefit of the guide horns being aligned by the tool. I will use the tool to glue form my tracks after bench assembly. Interestingly enough, the link count from Dragon to Tasca varies by 2 links. The Tasca links require 79 and the Dragon require 81. Both form over the tool perfectly.

  • HT-021 M4A3E8 (DRAGON KIT #6183 AND ACADEMY KIT #1373)

    During the testing of our new tool we were able to compare the Academy and Dragon lower hulls with the “easy-eight” suspension . They say a picture is worth a thousand words.





    As you can see the Academy in this case sits a good 2 millimeters lower than the Dragon with link and link track installed. If you look close at the pictures you can see the differences in the approach to assembling the suspension parts from one kit to another. We strive to provide our tools with the most accurate drawings available. In this case the Dragon kit comes the closest to scale drawings.

    Like you we are modelers too. In this case we have Academy kits a plenty. As long as you are aware of these differences you can still use the tool but be aware when assembling your kit of choice. You will have to make adjustments as you go.

    The following pictures show the result of forming Dragon "Magic Track" and DS vinyl when using our track tool HT-021. If you take your time when aligning the magic track you can come up with a very crisp clean line of reveal for your project.

    When using our HT-021 for forming DS vinyl (ref kit # 6354) we glued the horns to the track from a long flat length provided with the kit. It should be noted that no track horns were lost in the hot water due to forming.





  • HT-022 VALENTINE

    This tool is unique. This if the first tool in our lineup that does not need washers. The track design at the guide horns has a generous radius that prevents our traditional approach of using the horns between the three plates. Instead, we have designed the tool to take its form by supporting the links with the plates sandwiched on either side of the center section. Our focus kit for testing was the Miniart line of Valentines.

  • HT-023 Sd.Kfz.250 and Sd.Kfz.10

    This tool has been designed to do double duty. The tool will form link to link tracks for the Dragon series of kits designed around the Sd.Kfz.250. When using the tool in this mode you will have to adjust for the shorter track run as the 250 has one less road wheel as the Sd.Kfz.10. At the time of our testing we did not have the new Dragon Demag kit. But the tool will do both. The number of links required to do a 250 is 37/37 links. You will have to split you track assemblies vertically. This will allow you to form around the drive and the idler.



  • HT-025 251 HALF TRACKS

    This tool is one of our first half tracks tools. Its assembly and use is like the other tools we offer.

    The design of the track links in the Dragon kits are intended to be workable. I must say that I haven't had any luck with that. I placed the links around the tool and then glued them to take the proper form. Remember to leave your track split so that you can get the track over your piece at the time of your choosing. I then placed the pads on the formed track. YOu may want to remove the outboard pins on the pads for ease of assembly. This was my approach. Everyone will probably have a different way to asseble their tracks.

    We have used this tool with varying results on the AFV Club 3 ton half track. We formed the rubberband track that is included with the kit only to find that it doesn't fit around the drive sprocket very well at all. I think this has come to light in our kit reviews. In addition, we had to remove some length from the rubberband track before modling the track around the tool. At this point I decided to see if the spare links on the sprue from my Dragon donor kit (Ref kit #6233) would work. I cleaned the links off of the sprue and they worked just great.

  • HT-026 FERDINAND

    This tool has been designed to accommodate link to link and the DS vinyl tracks. During our testing it came to our attention that the link to link track that comes on the sprue (ref kit # 6126) does not have the proper pitch to go around the drive sprocket. Close examination of the picture will reveal that we used it any way by removing drive sprocket teeth. When we used the Magic Tracks from (ref kit# 6311) they worked perfectly without any modification of the drive.





  • No tools are required in the assembly of all our tools. All fasteners should be finger tight.

  • Finger tight fasteners allow for easy adjustments to the plates when trying different tracks.

  • Gluing link-to-link track on our tools should pose no problem. However, excessive adhesives may melt the styrene to the tool. Should this happen, care should be used when removing your track assembly.

  • Our tools are designed to accommodate any #1 hobby knives that use a collet-style blade holder. The threads for this particular hobby knife are 10-24 English.

  • When using our tools for link-to-link construction, remember to leave yourself an out. In other words, don't trap your track assembly on the tool.

  • Some of the newer vinyl tracks may require link removal for proper tensioning.

  • It is helpful being able to move the drive sprockets and idlers prior to assembling your tracks to your project.

  • Some of the earlier Tamiya® vinyl track that accepts modelers cement as a means to connect the kit provided links together yield better results with our tools if the modeler inserts an additional link. We here at HobbyTrax® have done this and find the results very satisfactory.





  • Tasca Track Tips

    There has been a lot of discussion about how poorly Tasca track reacts to paint,hard to glue,and very delicate. We have used our tools to form these tracks and while they are very delicate they have exhibited excellent forming characteristics, It would be shame to discard such finely detailed rubber band track.

    After we have formed these tracks, we have used automotive spray- can primers giving the formed tracks a liberal coat of primer prior to painting. Just for giggles,we have subjected the tracks to twisting without and primer flaking off. We think that dunking the track in hot water possibly contributes to paint adhesion, a wash if you will.

    The picture below is our example painted and weathered with Floquil enamels.




  • Our Favorite Tools

    As modelers we all have our favorite tools. Below are some of my favorite, use them all the time tools. When it comes to track links having the best tool for the job becomes paramount.

    Track links come in many shapes and sizes. If your lucky enough to have one of the latest kits that include magic track your half way there! If not and your project includes some links that require removal from the sprue then these tips are for you.

    I wish I had a buck for every hour I spent cleaning, drilling and sanding tracks for all of my projects. Hey it's a hobby! It's all good.




    Tools left to right:
    Xuron snips
    Sanding stick w/sanding belt
    Razor saw
    Needle file
    Fowler rule 6”
    Exacto knife w/no. 11 blade

    Depending on how fragile the links are on the sprue, you might be able to snip them with the Xuron snips with minimum clean-up. If the links are of an older design the gates on the sprue will probably be immense. I use my new best friend the razor saw. If you take your time and plan your moves you may very well have no clean-up.

    After you have placed your links on the forming tool, I use my fingers for seeing the links are seated in their respective cogs. I then take my Fowler rule on its edge to see that every thing is aligned to my satisfaction.

    You are ready to start gluing your links. I usually work in small sections using the glue sparingly. Once I have a short section I use my sanding stick. Although this tool is for sanding I have found it to be very helpful in compressing my links and aligning them without putting my finger in the glue.




    This is an example of my links being tamped down after gluing my Panzer III links in place on my recent test of the tool. You can also push your links with this tool.

  • Why four plates on the new Panzer III tool?

    A closer examination of the Panzer III drawings reveals that the left hand side of the tank has a different spacing than the right hand side of the tank. The spacing is dictated because of the torsion bar suspension. Larger tanks also used torsion bar suspension, but we felt it wasn't needed because the tracks larger size and no return rollers. Not as obvious.

    We pondered this dilemma a good long while. What we came up with was to offer both sides of the tank with a form tool. The four plate tool takes this into account for the modeler. Given its higher cost, we thought we would also offer a two plate tool for the adventuresome modeler. The accompanying pictures tell the story. In these two pictures we show the result of both tools.

    The first picture shows the result of the right hand side of the tank with the proper tool and form to reveal an accurate tensioned track. The second picture shows the result if you would not adjust your track in any way to accommodate these differences. In other words, you bought the two plate tool and chose to ignore the slight difference. You can see the difference at the first and last road wheels. There is also a difference at the return rollers, just not as obvious.







  • HT-012 & HT-015 38T Tool Tip

    These particular tools have been designed to accommodate Dragon and Tristar tracks. The tools will work on any track that has been designed for a 38T subject.

    In order to provide a tool that works for all manufactures, we recommend that you insert a few links on the top as well as below the tool in order to set the clamp of the tool against the outside of the track horns. This will make assembling your tracks a lot easier. Remember finger tight on your fasteners.

  • BRONCO TRACK LINKS W/EXTENDED END CONNECTORS

    Many of our customers have more than one tool. Here we see Russ Mills combining two HT-001 Sherman tools to aide in the assembly of individual Sherman track links with extended end connectors.













  • BENCH MODIFICATION TO HT-031

    This picture shows how we super glued two washers to one plate. This leaves the two outboard holes free of washers to clear the guide horns at the drive and idler locations. Testing showed the tool was more stable.





  • HT-047

    We found the detail of the rubber band tracks acceptable in our test Tamiya case. The problem is there is not enough length to get the sag look as exhibited by the gap in the picture. This is more common than you would think. Kit manufacturers have to decide how the tracks will fit their kits. Some provide just enough to have the track fully tensioned others provide excess length allowing the builder to exercise some artistic license. If rubber band tracks are your choice you have options to insert individual links to get the increased length required to get the desired results. We have done this with all manufacturers and found the results very acceptable.













  • HT-046

    Our new tool for the Opel Maultier can help those of us that have a stash of Italeri kits. These pictures show the use of the tool forming the Italeri rubber band tracks. Depending on your budget and interest in the subject matter these older kits can be enhanced with the use of the tool. The last picture shows a direct comparison with the new Dragon kit # 6761.













  • TAMIYA 8 TON KITS

    The older Tamiya kits track are throw backs to the motorization days. Because of this the track is out of scale.




    If you are inclined to use these older vinyl sections they will form dipping them in hot water. A word of caution. These older vinyls take way less heat than the newer vinyls that accept styrene cements.



    We used some super glue at the lap joint. The length of this track is suitable for artistic license which would be our recommend.



    We have dipped a lot of track in our day and these would be very problematic for the novice. Not impossible as the picture shows



    We used Modelkasten to replace the wheels and track links in our older kits in order to move them into the 21st century. Either way this tool will address track forming issues whether old kits or new.



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