Mek Big Gun 1

Scratch Build Tank Tracks — Mini Monday 37

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week we’ll look at how to scratch build tank tracks for your Orks, Adeptus Mechanicus, or that home-made Baneblade you always wanted to make.

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Why Scratch Build Tank Tracks?

There are a lot of options when putting together a mini, especially these days. I’m making a Mek Gun, so I could buy Games Workshop’s official Warhammer 40K miniature kit, buy parts from a custom parts store, find a model to 3D print, modify a WWII field gun kit, or scratch-build it. So why choose scratch building?

  1. It takes more time to get the same sort of end result you’d expect from anything made professionally, but it’s very rewarding when you do.
  2. Scratch building will teach you so much more about kitbashing, miniature conversion, and model making because it forces you to use that squishy organ between your ears in new ways.
  3. It’s a great way to create miniatures that just don’t exist, or that are too expensive.

For me, I simply wanted to know that I could do it. I love the Grot Tanks I’ve seen the community creating, so making a tracked Big Gun seemed like a good challenge.

Let’s Build It!

Scratch Build Tank Tracks 1
Read-side view of the wheels, track base, and track plates.

Here’s my process:

  1. Use pipes to form the basic shape of the treads and hull. Use thicker pipes as the main wheels, with small wheels as the guide wheels. Glue them together with supports (that black bar in the picture above connects the top three pipes).
  2. Glue sections of pipes over and inside these pipes to build up the wheel hub’s shape. I used lots of dead pen and marker tubes for this part.
  3. Add extra detail, such as shock absorbers. See Adding Springs below.
  4. Glue strips of thick craft foam around the wheels. You can find adhesive craft foam to make this a little easier.
  5. Cut rectangles of cardboard and glue them onto the foam. My strips were about 8 mm by 5 mm, bent two-thirds of their length to hide the craft foam. Glue a few of these on, then let them dry, otherwise it gets tricky trying to stop everything moving around as you work.
Scratch Build Tank Tracks 2
View of the left side of the scratch built tank tracks.

Adding Springs

You can add shock absorbers by putting a spring over a pipe that runs between two of the pipes that form the wheels. Details like these really bring the mini together.

Scratch Build Tank Tracks Spring

Here’s the final mini, bar some extra details and the gun crew.

Mek Big Gun 1

I hope that inspires you to scratch build some of your own machines for the tabletop.

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