I apologize for not being here as often as I would like to but I have gone back to the earlier posted weekly updates to check on everyones progress. I really enjoy viewing all of your work as it is very inspirational and helps keep me focused on building. Most of the projects that have been posted here are truly works of art. Keep up the excellent work and creativity. Well, here is my latest update.
1) With a square ruler and Squadrons scribing tool a series of grooves were made across the width of the road wheel side of the track face. Each of the scribed lines is started between the V shaped portions of the track links outside edge. A faint scribed line was made down the center of the length of the track links to be used as a guide in placing the track guide horns.
2) A medium grit sanding stick was used to remove and smooth the raised plastic left by the scribing tool. A gentle scrubbing with a small piece of Scotch-Brite followed this.
3) The track guide horns were made from .015 T X .040 W (0.381 mm X 1.016 mm) styrene strip cut to a length of .043 (1.092 mm) long. Held length wise with a pair of flat nosed tweezers one end of each of the track guide horns were dipped in liquid cement, that had been placed in a metal tin, and carefully placed on the scribed center line of each track link. The liquid cement evaporates quickly so youll need to keep adding more cement to the tin as you work, I used a No. 2 paint brush for this task.
4) When eight track guide horns had been placed on the track links a set of calibers were use to align them before proceeding with another set of eight until all of the track links had a track guide horn fitted to each of them. The tip for the technique on using a set of calibers to align the track guide horns with the track links comes from Alex Clarks book Small-Scale Armour Modeling as does the inspiration for even attempting to add the guide horns to the track links in the first place, he makes it look so easy and as I found out while going through the process of doing the same for these tracks, it is!
5) To assure that the spacing between each of the track guide horns was at least correct I inverted a section of track links and placed the open cutouts for the drive wheel sprocket teeth over the guide horns to make any necessary adjustments before the cement has time to cure.
6) When I was satisfied that the guide horns were evenly spaced I applied Tamiyas Extra Thin liquid cement between the guide horns and track links on each side of the guide horns. The cement was allowed to cure overnight before proceeding with the next steps.
7) Using a triangular jewelers file I slightly beveled the top corners of each of the guide horns.
8) A medium grit sanding stick was used to knock down and smooth out the fuzzy bunnies left on the guide horns from filing.
9) To round off and create a slight bevel nearest the top edge of the guide horns on the side surfaces I used the same medium grit sanding stick but slightly angled the sanding stick as I sanded.
10) Finally a gentle scrubbing with Scotch-Brite to polish and smooth out the top corner edges of the guide horns.
Several sections of track links, those running along the top, did not receive guide horns, as they would not be seen once the bazooka shields are fitted. Only a partial amount of guide horns were place on one of the top track link sections as I have planned on leaving one of the bazooka shields off the model.
The single shield that wont be getting fixed to the model is the right rear bazooka shield so I placed the top section of track links with the guide horns on that side (indicated with red arrow). I also did not place two of the separate individual track links on either of the drive wheels (circled in red). This will not be noticed once the mudguards are in place with the bazooka shields. The kit only includes enough individual track links to complete the track runs with two pieces left over for use on the turret sides. I would like to model this vehicle with two spare links up front on the lower glacis plate and two links on each side of the turret base, so without having to go and cast these links I now have the quantity that I will need. Hihi!
Track sag on the Merkava is very minimal to non-existent on these vehicles, at least from the photographs that I have seen, but I wanted to add a small degree of track sag to the vehicle that Im attempting to model here so I think that a slightly warn look from use during the hard fought armored battles of the Lebanon campaign would not be out of place. Although once the bazooka plates are fitted, with the exception of the right rear plate, youll not be able to notice this feature anyway.
This is as far as I have gotten on the project to date. But Im happy with the results and can now move on to the upper hull.