Friulmodel 1:35 Scale Track Set No. ATL-105
Review by Terry Ashley
Friulmodel recently released this set of LVT tracks with replacement idler and drive sprockets that can be used with any of the Italeri LTV series of kits to address that particular issue.
The set consists of 290 white metal links and the usual coil of wire to cut up for the track pins as well as the metal drive and idler sprockets to replace the kit sprockets. As mentioned given the complicated nature of the LVT track this sets takes a bit more assembly than your average set of workable tracks and Friulmodel also include a couple of cast track jigs to aid in the track assembly thankfully.
Dimensionally the actual LVT track links are 14.25inch or 36.2cm wide which equals 10.3mm in 1:35 scale with these links measuring 11mm wide to be very slightly wide.
Each track link is made up of two segments, the larger link with the rounded W(or M depending on your viewpoint) sea paddles and the smaller joining section, there is a fair bit of cleanup required with a couple of small pour burs and some fine metal flash about the links. The small openings in the sides of the links also has some fine flash to be removed with a sharp #11 blade.
The drive sprockets also have some fine flash and casting burs to trim and you have to take care not to damage the small teeth in the process. Dimensionally the links and sprockets match available data and 1:35 plans well with any discrepancy being very minor.
The track pin holes are mostly open but you will need to use a 0.5mm drill bit to check all are clear of any obstruction and again only a small portion of the links required actual re-drilling of some holes, you need to take care with the holes in the larger links as you can't actually position the drill bit at 90 degrees due to the inside position of the holes.
Detail on the links is well done with well defined details that include the four small bolt heads on each of the track segments and the openings in the sides of each link segment as mentioned.
There are two jigs sections and you can glue these together for a longer jig or use just the shorter jig and you firstly lay a larger link in the jig indentations and then position the smaller section similarly while inserting the links into one another. Once positioned you then insert (using stout tweezers) one of the 2.5mm pins into each side of the links, as you can't redrill the holes you may need to the move the links about a little until the holes are fully aligned for the pins to slip into place.
After fitting the two track pins secure with a dab of thick cyanoacrylate on the end of the pin so it won't come loose and then insert the next track link into the jig and repeat the process, the indentations in the jig make sure you insert the right link segment as well as getting the larger link with the paddles the right way around as you are working from the plain inside of the tracks.
As mentioned the assembly is quite fiddley and more time consuming than normal links but once you get into a rhythm track runs soon come together. The assembled track runs are extremely robust being metal and articulate freely but make sure you glue each pin end securely in place as they are on the inside of the track runs and hard to get at once fitted to the kit should one come loose. Also being so short they will pop out easily if they do come unglued so it's important to make sure they don't.
The drive sprocket halves fit together easily, just ensure the teeth on each sprocket disc are aligned evenly and it's best to use a thicker cyanoacrylate as this allows a few seconds for adjustment before curing.
The metal track fits perfectly to the metal sprockets as you would expect for again easy fitting which is a blessing after the additional time needed for the track assembly.
There is one issue when fitting the tracks in that you have to trim part of the top return roller mountings to allow the track to fit over the rollers correctly. As the kit vinyl track don't have the correct depth this isn't a problem with them but the metal tracks won't sit over the rollers until modified. The small instruction sheet included with the track set has a sectional diagram of the return roller and mounting showing the amount of plastic that has to be trimmed and from where on the mountings and this makes the modifications easier.
The assembled links are robust and articulate very well and certainly improve the appearance of the kit once fitted and are worth the assembly effort for the final result.
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