Dad Builds Frickin’ Tank For His Son

Dad Builds Frickin’ Tank For His Son

We gotta love hacker Dads and Moms for being so awesome. Sooner or later, their kids get to play with some amazing toy that every other kid on the block is jealous of. [Meanwhile in the Garage aka MWiG] is one of those super hacker Dads who built a frickin’ Tank for his son (video, embedded below.). But it’s so much fun driving that beast around that we suspect Dad is going to be piloting it a lot more than the kid. The tank features metal tracks, differential steering, a rotating turret, periscopes and a functional paintball gun with camera targeting.

Building a tank, even if it’s a mini replica, needs an engine with a decent amount of torque. [MWiG] first tried reviving an old ATV engine, but it did nothing more than sputter and die. It went to the scrap heap after donating its rear transmission and axle. [MWiG] managed to get an old Piaggio scooter with a 250cc / 22 hp engine. The scooter gave up its engine, electricals and the instrument cluster before being scrapped. Looking at the final build, and the amount of metal used, we are left wondering how the puny 22 hp engine manages to drive the tank. We guess it’s the right amount of gearing for the win.

[MWiG] has a lot of experience, and a well equipped workshop with all the right kind of tools to pull off this project. Even so, the build is not without a few hiccups along the way, such as broken drills and bent axle shafts that required  rework. The tank chassis is progressively built up by welding a series of square section steel pipe frames. The scooter engine connects to the rear differential via a chain drive. He added a pair of clutches on each wheel to allow differential steering, as well as a pair of disk brakes. The two clutches are actuated using left and right foot pedals and an elaborate system of rigid levers and flexible rod ends. Each of the twelve non-drive wheels, six on each side, have independent spring suspension. The track drive wheel assembly and tensioning system is nothing short of artwork. He fabricated the drive wheel sprockets from bar stock.

Next part of his build focuses on the rotating turret, mounting and articulation of the paintball gun and attaching the camera and LCD screen for targeting. We have to envy a hacker who has a battle tank scrapyard in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, a visit there does not yield any periscopes as he anticipated, so [MWiG] custom fabricates six periscopes using polycarbonate sheets and glass mirror pieces. The tracks are painstakingly fabricated using steel C-channel pieces, lengths of bar stock, and steel cable rubber conveyor belting pieces, all bolted together. It’s amazing to see the amount of hard work he puts in to fabricate the tracks.

He had to replace a misplaced immobilizer and a faulty injector before the tank could be rolled out for its first test drive. He also swapped the soft, short suspension springs with stiffer, longer ones to prevent the tank from bottoming out due to its weight. Finally, he added a couple of idler support wheels to prevent the tank tracks from sagging. He then disassembled the whole vehicle for cleaning, degreasing, painting and pop riveted the aluminum chequer plate paneling. His idea of using a projector to trace out the logo on the side of the tank turret is pretty brilliant. Finally, it was time to tweak the camera for precise targeting of the paintball gun and the tank was ready to roll.

As a bonus side project, he modified a flatbed trailer to transport the mini tank, building some ramps and a nice manual winch to load and unload the tank. After some target practise in the backyard, father and son set off to put the tank through its paces in an isolated field. We have to admit – this is one seriously epic project and it would be fun to be in the drivers seat.

[Meanwhile in the Garage] is a pretty prolific hacker churning out some great projects over the years. Check out this Rotary Valve Engine That Smokes the Competition and this DIY Enclosed Motorcycle To Keep You Dry In The Rain.

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