Red Dwarf (SWB TJ Wrangler 'mini me')


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If you've been following my various build threads recently, you may be aware I've currently become rather obsessed with Jeeps - having just put the finishing touches to my 2-door JK 'Westworld' overlander; and prior to that I'd stretched a Tamiya YJ Wrangler to 280mm wheelbase to make a T-JL truck cab, complete with a load of junk in the back and Sharon Osbourne driving!

I was particularly pleased with how I'd been able to construct a TJ face on the Tamiya body, and so too was a good friend of mine Simon who has a 1:1 TJ himself:

photo. Being a British ex-pat, he named his Jeep after a crappy sci-fi TV show from the 1990s.

Like me, he'd been a fan of Tamiya's back in the 1980s, and more recently having seen a number of my scale crawler builds over the years, has often commented that he'd love a 'mini-me' version of his own Jeep "One day..." which has ultimately prompted this latest project. Indeed I've actually had it planned out for a while now, but it's only in the past few weeks that I've finally made the decision to amass all the necessary parts, since we're scheduled to meeting up for a long weekend four-wheeling in a couple of weeks' time, and my intention is to present it to him then as a surprise!

So what's the plan?

Originally I'd considered just buying an MST CFX chassis and a Tamiya Wrangler body - a proven and straight-forward combination which in turn ought to minimise any assembly headaches, and free up precious time to concentrate on the customisation and scale detailing to match the 1:1 pictured above... Unfortunately, while those two elements are easy enough to mate together, actually finding the ingredients has proved to be my downfall - it is almost impossible to find just a bare MST CFX chassis kit in stock these days, and I might as well scour for hen's teeth than actually be able to lay my hands on a new [discontinued] Tamiya YJ shell - since all the usual supplies have now dried up...

So that left me with a dilemma... although to be honest, I'd always felt that to truly do this project justice, I really ought to base it on a full metal rolling chassis anyway (including RC4WD scale axles and a high quality transmission), and having built a number of vehicles over the years around the Injora (Gelande/Trailfinder style) 'universal' chassis, was confident I could assemble something which was both robust and more scale accurate than using an off-the-shelf chassis kit (with plastic axles) reasonably quickly - especially as I've just finished two other builds with similar underpinnings.

note. the alternative would be to just buy the RC4WD Trailfinder II SWB chassis kit, which like the MST is specifically designed to mate with the [typical] short wheelbase Tamiya CC-01 bodies and the YJ Wrangler body in particular... However, the Trailfinder chassis is leaf sprung of course, so I'd need to convert it to 4-link/coils, plus I'd be paying for a set of 1.9 wheels and tyres I don't need/want for this specific build - hence going down the tried and trusted custom-build rabbit-hole route instead, factoring that while it was likely to cost a little more money I ought not have loads of left-over parts, and ultimately it ought to end up as close as possible to the 1:1 vehicle too.

I, ain't got no-body...

However, regardless of how dialled-in the underpinnings would turn out to be, there ain't gonna be no TJ at all if there isn't a suitable body-shell to begin with! - and having spent the past couple of months or more scouring ebay for a Tamiya YJ donor (my preferred choice) to no avail, I even began to consider one of those New Bright TJ 'Rubicon' bodies instead - only to find that all those 1/10 size shells seem to have been snapped up too these days!

With my self-imposed deadline looming, there really was only one option left... Those of you who followed my Hopper's HiLux build a couple of years back will recall I used a step-side pick-up bed which I'd purchased from Loops RC, who make pattern parts and their own design hard-bodies too, in proper injection-moulded plastic - none of this print-and-filler-and-prime-and-sand-a-thousand-times 3D printed body panels for me thank you!

Fortunately they also offer their own version of the Tamiya Wrangler body, albeit with a truck-cab roof and flat rear deck, but fundamentally in the traditional wheelbase length (for info. Tamiya say 242mm for their CC-01 Wrangler, but actually the body sits better on a 250mm wheelbase chassis, which is what Loops suggest too), and while the complete body set is expensive (over three times the price of a Tamiya bare shell), it does come complete with all the lamp lenses/buckets, windows, and some nice scale details such as mirrors, wipers, separate hood latches and even an accessory snorkel... Perhaps most importantly for this build, the Loops 'Wrangler Racing Special' body set also comes complete with some separate bolt-on flat/tube style fender flares, which look very similar indeed to the ones Simon has bolted to his 1:1 Jeep! Enough already, here's my money, take it!

It's in the details...

Right, that's a lot of words so far, so let's have another photo shall we?

photo. Simon's Jeep a few years ago - complete with roof-rack, which I will also incorporate into this build.

Currently Simon's Jeep looks pretty much as it does in the first photo at the top of this post - fat BF Goodrich KM2 Mud Terrains on 15" eight-hole alloy wheels, old-school Warn M8000 winch, shorty front bumper (and box-section rear bumper) with recovery shackles, flat fender flares, side bars and a mild lift. All of which ought to be feasible to replicate from off-the shelf parts, with only a little customisation as required...

It is also technically a soft top of course, but for the sake of styrene I'm choosing to ignore that element for the time being, and instead focus on the suggestion of a bikini top by painting the truck-cab roof and door-tops black, and adding a full length aluminium roof-rack (a discontinued RC4WD product, specifically for the Tamiya YJ body), as per the earlier incarnation in the photo directly above.

Ultimately of course it would be nice to fabricate a proper replica Wrangler roll cage and cut the truck-cab roof off and the doors down to half (or even remove them entirely as I've done with Ozzy's YJ Jeep), but that is not really feasible in the time I have available, and ultimately fear it might compromise the overall robustness of the vehicle as a runner, particularly if the roof rack is removed.
And who knows, when life so often imitates art these days, who's to say that Simon won't one day fit a truck-cab top to his 1:1 Jeep too?!

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So let's dive in!

photo. credit-card meltdown... and this pile of parts is still missing the wheels, transmission and steering servo, plus over $200 for the complete body set (including shipping from Czechoslovakia as we speak, fingers crossed!)

A brief run down of the spec (for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing)...

The aluminium solid-rail Chassis is from Injora, and loosely dimensionally based on the RC4WD Gelande/Trailfinder chassis, which means a number of their gearbox mounts and cross members etc. fit in much the same way - plus it has a huge number of pre-drilled holes for jigging the suspension mounts around. I also elected to buy the version with the built-in shock hoops, factoring that the narrow axles I plan on using don't offer a lot of room for the shocks on either side.

Axles - RC4WD K44 front and rear. I prefer this K44 design to their regular Yota II axles, as the pumpkin has even more scale detail (and removable covers) and the front axle comes already fitted with XVD stub-axles, which ought not to bind and break in the same way as regular dog-bones can, and they offer an improved steering angle too. I also purchased the genuine RC4WD 3-link/panhard rod mounts and K44 specific steering linkage for the front axle, and have a spare 4-link mount from a [pattern] Yota 2 rear axle which I'd mounted on leaf-springs on another build.

Suspension - initially I thought I might get away with a set of 80mm Gmade RSD shocks (the same as I've fitted to my own TJ) which I already had spare... however, there is very limited space either side of this chassis for coil-overs when using these narrow K44 axles, so it's going to be better to use internal-spring damper style shocks, even if that isn't quite so 'scale'. Having mocked up the chassis with a series of spare shocks I have, the best option I feel is going to be a mix of 80mm front springs and 90mm rear, although using 90mm bodies at both ends. The links will be custom assembled from my vast array of 6mm diameter rods, set-screws and rod ends - we'll make this work!

Wheels - 1.55 size, 8-hole aluminium, with 5-lug pattern hub cover. Noodling on ebay at the thousands of different wheel designs you can get these days from China (and elsewhere of course), I happened on these Injora alloy wheels which are a pretty faithful replica of the 15" 1:1 wheels Simon has fitted, although his are slightly deeper dished. I've replaced the allen screws with M2 scale lug nuts, and will paint the centre cap black to match the 1:1 wheels. I also bought a set of cheap disc rotor hex hubs, to add further scale detail to the wheels.

Tyres - 1.55 size BF Goodrich KM2 Mud-Terrains - the RC4WD official replica of the actual tyres Simon has on his 1:1 Jeep - result! Note I stuck with 1.55 size wheels and tyres so that the diameter remains modest, and will hopefully fully articulate in the arches without rubbing.

Transmission - recently I've conceded it's worth spending a little extra money on higher quality transmission parts, and personally really like the R3 gearbox and Hammer transfer-case combo from RC4WD. However, these don't come cheap unless one of my favourite ebay sellers is breaking a few RTR kits and selling the parts off individually, and in this instance I took a punt on an Injora transfer case and 'pattern' R3 gearbox from a Chinese ebay seller instead. Let's just say they are not the same as the genuine RC4WD components (cheaper quality hardware, and some detail changes) and did need a bit of fettling to get sorted - although overall the dimensions and quality seems sound enough and they ought to prove a perfectly serviceable alternative in the medium/long term.

I mated the transmission together with some ebay heavy-duty prop-shafts, and a Jazrider shorty (45-55mm) slip-shaft between the gearbox and transfer case - basically replicating what I've done with both my previous Jeep builds, which ended up being good practice to help iron out any issues for this subsequent assembly...

Indeed, I have taken a punt regarding the dimensions (until the body arrives), but overall I've managed to squeeze a 250mm wheelbase onto this chassis (normally intended for a 275-280mm wheelbase, or even more), although as I'll explain in the photo captions, this did require some creative thinking and hopefully I've avoided making too much of a compromise...

photo. Injora chassis (with built-in shock towers) and Boom Racing high-clearance transfer-case mount.

Based on my previous two (270/280mm wheelbase) Jeep builds with this transmission, I knew there was a minimum distance required between the back of the R3 gearbox and the transfer case - and this really is more rearward bias than might be otherwise ideal due to the fact that the Wrangler hood is so short.

photo. this is as far forward as the motor can be mounted, which in turn dictates the location of the transfer case using the shortest (45mm) prop available.

Still, essentially copying the gearbox mounting and front suspension layout of my TJ Wrangler (which uses the same chassis, transmission and body-shell), means half the working-out was already done - and ultimately some shorter rear links and tweaking of the diff angle, allows the stubby rear end to work surprisingly well - on 90mm shocks at least...

photo. experimenting with different shock lengths in an effort maximise rear travel from the otherwise short rear end.

Fortunately the rear K44 axle has a second set of damper/shock mounts below the axle (as well as the usual place on top), which means you can fit 10mm longer shocks without increasing the ride-height at all - nice.

At the front there is only the single set of mounts on top of the axle - and typically you'd use an 80mm shock there to avoid jacking up the front too far. Now that my dedicated internal-spring shocks have arrived, what I've done is essentially copy the droop bias set-up I've used to good effect on the Capra Cornholio - using 90mm shocks all round, but fitted shorter 80mm length springs inside reducing the static ride-height by 10mm at the front, while still allowing the same amount of droop travel as the rear end - which in this installation retains it's 90mm springs.

The result is a chassis which is nice and level, with a low ride-height, while offering the maximum realistic articulation from such a short wheelbase vehicle:

It did take some dialling-in to get to this stage - as you may have noticed from the previous photo with the blue coil-over shocks, because of the short wheel-base coupled with the fixed shock tower locations, the rear shocks have to be mounted behind the axle rather than in front. While that might look a bit odd with the coil-overs perhaps, with the smaller diameter internal-sprung shocks I don't think it's unreasonable, and once the body is fitted you're not really going to notice at all of course.

Prop-er job?

The only real compromise was the length and angle of the rear prop-shaft... time will tell if it blows itself to pieces or not - at crawling speeds it shouldn't be a problem, and I have test run the whole transmission at full speed (by attaching a battery directly to the motor wires) and all seems well balanced enough so far.

Unfortunately this ultra-short rear end means not only is the angle of each UJ rather acute, but because the slip-shaft portion itself is at 45° it means that as the suspension compresses, so does the slip-joint contract more than it might if the prop was more horizontal and moved in more of an arc... Currently it is almost fully compressed at full articulation from side to side, but if you compress both sides of the suspension together (jump!), the prop joint does fully close* before all the travel is used up. Ultimately this compromise is the result of having the transfer-case mounted high enough for decent belly clearance combined with such a short rear prop - being unable to mount the transfer case/gearbox/motor any further forward in the chassis than it is currently due to the length of the hood.

*Edit. during the final chassis tweaking, I've cut another 3mm from the length of the drive shaft outer sleeve, and can confirm it no longer binds either articulating side to side or fully compressed - result!

If I had a little more time, money, and was not hell-bent on using these narrow K44 axles, then one option might be to use a portal axle at the rear - raising the rear diff to reduce the prop-shaft angle, while the overall ride height remains the same... The only issue with that would be having to use correspondingly shorter shocks (or at least shorter springs) on the rear too. A project for another day perhaps?

photo. rear 90mm prop shortened to a stubby 67mm.

I've since taken the decision to angle the nose of the rear diff upwards a few degrees to try and reduce the UJ angles, even though it means the input and output shafts are no longer parallel of course. Again, this would be a clunky solution in a higher speed/higher performance vehicle perhaps, but in what is essentially going to be a slow-speed rock crawler, I feel it's a compromise worth making in an effort to retain the maximum underbelly clearance (by not dropping the transfer case really low to help straighten out the prop angles), and to also to help protect the input shaft to the rear diff by having it more within the bounds of the two lower rear links.

photo. this picture was taken before I rotated the diff nose, and subsequently have used straight rod ends (rather than offset) to lower the axle end of the radius arms a little more to help protect the rear UJ. Despite running significantly smaller diameter tyres than I usually do on my crawlers, the ground clearance is still impressive, and most importantly 'scale' in this instance.

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A few more random details of the build so far...

photo. I was so pleased to finally receive these earlier this week - wonderful scale detail on the BFG tyres, and the wheels are are the closest replica (including the 5-lug pattern) I could find of those on the 1:1 vehicle.

photo. Gmade shorty front bumper (for the GS-01 chassis as I recall), Yeah Racing winch, Warn hook and pull-tag, and red shackles paint-stripped to better replicate those on the 1:1 vehicle. note. I will also fabricate a solenoid control box and mount it above the winch motor as per the 1:1 Warn M8000.

photo. although having a multitude of pre-drilled mounting holes, still more were required... (and Quick-Steel used to repair an initial miscalculation - I blame drilling after midnight!)

Although these chassis are billed as 'universal', it was still necessary to drill some specific holes to mount the RC4WD panhard rod bracket and steering servo posts in the correct orientation for the front axle location, while also keeping in mind the limited under-bonnet space this particular body dictates. Despite slightly miscalculating initially, the end result is the panhard rod and steering drag-link run parallel (to minimise any bump-steer), and nothing touches or binds at full articulation or compression - I'm calling that done!

photo. The battery will mount in the rear of this chassis - under the faux fuel cell which is part of the Loops RC body rear deck.

So that brings things pretty much up to date now... I consider the chassis is 'finished', and I'm confident the body will essentially plop on (when it arrives) without having to adjust any more of the geometry now. I've also already modified the front crossmember to mount the Gmade winch bumper at the correct height and distance forward (again, factoring that it needs to be in the same place as a similar bumper I fitted to the TJ Wrangler to be confident everything will clear) and once the body shell is mounted, the only thing I will still have to do is shorten the rear of the chassis legs and mount the Gmade rear bumper.

Indeed, there really isn't much else I can do at all now until the body arrives - I've already assembled the seats and seat-belts, stripped and repainted the hex-hub disc rotors (it'll be worth it, trust me), and also experimented with some potential body mounts with the intention that the shell is easily removable [four screws] for quick battery changes. Meanwhile the [still to be fabricated once the body arrives] engine bay sides and interior/seat box will remain attached to the chassis - as per my previous TJ Hooker build - the only difference being I intend to mount the battery under the rear deck of this body, allowing both traditional [size] NiMh and Lipo batteries to be used as desired, and simply held in place to the chassis slots with velcro straps.

Fortunately, other than wheelbase and overall length, this vehicle is effectively going to be very similar overall, which means any potential assembly issues should have already been identified and ironed out; and similarly I'll try to keep the underpinnings as simple as possible with all the electronics mounted around the engine bay and bulkhead, with a single connection to the simple lighting loom on the body for the four forward and two rear LEDs - using a mix of Axial buckets at the front, together with the Loops RC Wrangler tail-lamp housings which come with the body kit.

Meanwhile the winch will have a wireless key-fob remote (the controller wired in parallel with the ESC to the main battery connector, as per my most recent 2-door JK update), and in the true spirt of things, I'll be giving this to Simon completely RTR with a battery, charger, Flysky 3 channel radio, and a Hobbywing ESC which can be switched between NiMh and LiPo should he decide to upgrade the batteries in future.

As you might imagine, it's going to be a manic couple of weeks, particularly once the bodywork starts... I just hope I've got everything I need now!

More soon!
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Still waiting for Mr Postman to deliver the body, so in the meantime I thought I'd get on with a few of those 'finishing off' details that you'd usually leave until the end of a build...

photo. alloy wheel hub centres painted black (as per the covers on the 1:1 wheels) and 3mm hex scale lug-nuts from Locked-Up RC on M2 screws. Cheap brake rotor hex-hubs stripped, centres repainted and rotor surface skimmed - that's more work than you'd do to a 1:1 disc!

photo. Yeah Racing winch mounted 180? (with motor on the left side, as per the 1:1 winch) and dressed up with a Warn hook, pull-tag and solenoid box made from an x-acto knife blade container, painted black... the brackets to mount the box to the motor heat-sink are actually a scale seatbelt buckle cut in half - the perfect width to fit between the fins!

I've also hooked up all the electronics and tested everything - we have a runner! - although I'll have to wait until the body arrives before I can fabricate a suitable engine bay and bulkhead to mount everything, and shorten the wiring to suit...

More soon - I hope!


Supporting Member
I was particularly pleased with how I'd been able to construct a TJ face on the Tamiya body, and so too was a good friend of mine Simon who has a 1:1 TJ himself:

photo. Being a British ex-pat, he named his Jeep after a crappy sci-fi TV show from the 1990s.
First off, I've gotta say that I'm a huge fan of your work, and I can't wait to see what you do with this. Your Westworld JK in particular is just awesome!

I usually don't comment much on this forum, cause I'm still a noob and don't have much to offer... but I had to chime in on this thread to say that I love the show Red Dwarf, and you shouldn't be calling it "crappy!" ????

That's all for now. Eagerly anticipating more photos as the build progresses. Thanks in advance for sharing the goodness!


V.I.P. Member
First off, I've gotta say that I'm a huge fan of your work, and I can't wait to see what you do with this. Your Westworld JK in particular is just awesome!

I usually don't comment much on this forum, cause I'm still a noob and don't have much to offer... but I had to chime in on this thread to say that I love the show Red Dwarf, and you shouldn't be calling it "crappy!" ????

That's all for now. Eagerly anticipating more photos as the build progresses. Thanks in advance for sharing the goodness!

Hee hee - thank you for your kind words and enthusiasm ebeowulf17 - I'll do my best to not let you down with this build thread either then!

As for Red Dwarf - yes, that might have come across as unkind perhaps, but mainly due to the low-budget production values that typical UK shows of that era had... the script itself and cast were first class of course! Indeed, part of it's charm was the old-school Blake's 7 and Dr Who style of set design and limited location filming... I'm not sure it would work in the same way if it had the budget of modern US shows like The Orville etc.?

More soon!


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Right, we are back in business!

Well that took a bit longer than I was hoping, but I'm pleased to say the last piece of the puzzle finally arrived this morning - the complete 'Wrangler Racing Special' body-set from Loops RC:

photo. it's going to require some work, but I'm confident it's going to work out well!

As I'd explained previously, having been unable to source a suitable body-shell for this project - I ended up ordering the Loops RC body (all the way from the Czech Republic), as it really is the only way these days to get a 'Tamiya' Wrangler - albeit still with the YJ grill and other detailing of course, being based on that original hard-top body. Fortunately I'd already converted a genuine Tamiya shell into what I consider a pretty successful TJ-L recently, so hopefully building another would now be straightforward enough since all the potential issues ought to now be ironed out...

Having checked all the required parts where there (including their excellent bolt-on rubber fender flares, which look almost exactly like those on the 1:1 Jeep), I offered up the main body-shell, and other than sitting a bit too high initially, found I'd pretty much got the wheelbase bang on for this body, which was a relief.

All I had to do to get the body to sit as low as possible was trim the rear valence down directly underneath the tail-gate - as I've done to both my TJ and YJ too - and in this instance, since I'm retaining the super-short 250mm wheelbase - shorten the overhanging chassis rails and finally mount the rear bumper, using, as it turns out, a pair of Tamiya plastic servo mounts which were the perfect fit between the chassis rails and the holes in the rear face of the bumper - result!

Meanwhile at the front, I simply notched the corners of the grille panel so it sits lower between the chassis rails, and having got the stance pretty much bang-on already, elected to use a set of ebay body mounts - typically used for mounting a Trailfinder cab on an SCX10 chassis for example - again as I'd done with my own TJ build, and drilled the sill panels so that the body mounts with two screws on each side in the usual fashion.

note. I do apologise for not having many photos of today's activities - but it really was just jigging around, including an abortive attempt to mount the rear bumper using the supplied bracket initially (before my revelation noted above!), which involved lot of Dremeling and hacksawing to finally get the rear of the chassis sorted - so I've skipped to the conclusion, not least as you probably appreciate I'm rather up against the clock this week, having only three days left now until this has to be finished, tested and ready to transport!

Having finalised the body height (as low as possible, while still allowing the axles to fully articulate without the tyres rubbing on the fenders), I also felt it was feasible to clock the motor on the transmission [one notch] after all - in an effort to lower the centre of gravity further - which required a small notch to be Dremel'd out of the front driver's side suspension tower so that the motor mounting plate would clear (since this chassis has wider built-in shock towers, rather than the bolt-on kind):

Finally, after drilling and cutting and filling and tweaking all afternoon and into the evening, we were finally getting closer to what I'd envisaged originally:

photo. Ok, so it's not technically a soft-top as per the 1:1 inspiration, but if you squint I feel the truck-cab looks a lot like a bikini top - and more importantly, once the frame style roof-rack is fitted (along with the spare tyre) - the fenders, wheels, tyres, winch, and what will be a TJ grille will make this a pretty close representation of the real thing?

I've already cut a checker-plate panel for the rear deck/tonneau cover, together with some smooth aluminium kick panels for the sills which I'll paint black (as per the 1:1), and you may notice in the photo above that I've fitted a spare tyre inside the wheel cover on the tailgate (it's actually the tyre which came with my 2-door JK body-set which I built most recently) - specifically with the 'Wrangler' lettering showing because, well duh! - and also as a subtle joke because Si doesn't have a full-size spare on his 1:1 Jeep either as I recall ;o)

The other body details I want to include are some sill bars/sliders - again as per the 1:1 vehicle - although in this instance due to time (and budget!) constraints, I've elected to just buy some cheap plastic RC4WD Marlin sliders and will mount those below the body sills for the time being - the idea being that if Simon wants to replace them with some pukka metal ones somewhere down the line, they'll be easy to remove and replace.

photo. Original (Trailfinder length) side bars cut down for shorter wheelbase...

photo. ... pinned with spare axle pins...

photo. ...and glued back together!

And finally for now (as I really have to get some sleep, and crack on again in the morning!), I've also added some metal cleats to the bonnet - again in the same way as I have with my own TJ and the YJ before it - although in this instance there were no moulded parts to remove as the bonnet comes plain on this Loops RC example:

photo. folding windscreen cleats replicated using fine aluminium rod bent with thin-nose pliers, and ultimately will be glued in.

And finally for now - it looks like someone has got a face-pack on!

photo. YJ lamp apertures filled with styrene panel (bonded in from the rear with Araldite epoxy) and Isopon P38 body-filler used to smooth over the headlight and YJ style moulding turn signals... I'll be fitting working lamps in the front of the fenders instead, as per the TJ front end.

More soon! (although maybe not until it's finished... or if I get a moment while the paint is drying perhaps!)
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Taking a quick break to update you all...

Face lift done*:

photo. *I still have to cut the recessed holders for the Axial 18mm lamps I'll be using as headlights, otherwise the front end is now sorted...

And since this is a hard-top with full-height doors, I factored I might as well make the most of the discrepancy and make the side windows slide up and down!

photo. tiny styrene channel used to create window runners.

I've actually done this before, on Ozzy's YJ Jeep - although subsequently I removed the doors completely so this feature is now consigned to the stack of old parts in the corner of the scale garage...

photo. Mk 1 version of the sliding windows - I subsequently incorporated a similar design into Hopper's HiLux, so was now pretty confident I could just replicate the original layout on this latest build.

First of all I cut the supplied windows along the line where the quarter window would meet the main window, then created a back-to-back runner using 2mm wide styrene U channel (factoring the 0.75mm lexan windows would sliding easily enough in the 1mm groove). I created a second single sided runner using more U channel and some 2mm half round (for rigidity), and then superglued these in parallel inside the window frames - note the 'window' here is a spare piece of lexan I cut as a pattern so as not to potentially bugger-up the proper window pieces.

photo. note. I've positioned the bottom rail approximately 5mm higher than having the glass fully lowered, otherwise you'd never be able to pull them up again!

I then braced either side of the runners (including a short brace below where the front quarter window will sit), and also built up the thickness of the door (again using 2mm styrene) so that the door cards can be glued directly on top, providing a suitable gap for the glass to slide up and down inside. It's worth noting that this will be done during the final assembly, as currently the deep lower door rails are not glued on since I need to slide the window glass in first of course.

Right, back to the grindstone...!
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Ok then, rather than sit here watching paint dry, I thought I'd update the thread with a few more photos...

With the body fitted, I was able to work out the dimensions of the interior, using guess-timating and trusty Cardboard Aided Design:

photo. One-piece interior/engine bay/battery box.

This time, I elected to fabricate the whole interior plate as one piece - held in place with just four screws - to aid fitting and any subsequent disassembly for the new owner. The two-seat interior section is similar to that which I'd made (using a mix of 1.5mm and 2mm styrene sheet) for the TJ-L previously, other than I made one compromise for speed and simplicity in having a flat floor throughout the cabin, rather than fabricate dropped footwells - due to the way the body is mounted to the longer body-mount brackets which run almost the length of the cabin... The decision was further justified in having factored that for what is likely to be primarily a runner, it would not be essential to have a full depth interior below the seat bases anyway - and should Simon ever want to incorporate a full-figure driver, then it would be easy enough (if time consuming) to modify the body mounts and drop the footwells 15mm or so as required.

At the front, I've incorporated a simple shelf (hidden bellow the scuttle panel and behind the dash) to mount all the electronics - and since I've no choice packaging-wise to run a shorty 2S Lipo in this build too, have stepped one end of the shelf to fit the 30mm deep Hobbywing 1040 ESC - and once again, either by luck or good judgement, it means the power switch also pokes out perfectly into the drivers-side front wheel-arch for east access - noice!

photo. All the electronics will mount up under the hood - the battery cable [will need extending] running under the cabin floor to the battery under the rear deck.

With the dimensions sorted, the templates were transferred to styrene, and the whole construction tacked with superglue before all the joints being beefed-up with Araldyte 2-part epoxy.

photo. holes [predrilled prior to painting] for mounting seats and gear lever.

photo. test fitting the interior, erm, fittings...

I elected to also fabricate a simple transmission tunnel for between the seats - to add more detail, and also give a better impression of depth - from 1mm styrene, and customised some spare gear and transfer levers I had in my stash.

The seats are genuine Axial Racing ones (billed for the Wraith, but pretty universal of course) and some Team Raffee seat-belts which not only come as a pair but also pre-assembled, rather than the fiddle it is to put-together the individual Yeah Racing version - although those do come with longer harness straps should that be required. Fortunately in this instance, the rear parcel shelf is the perfect height for the seatbelt anchors with these shorter straps - again, using some spare seatbelt buckles I have in my stash of parts.

So that is pretty much where I'm up to - the interior and body is now in the cardboard booth in the garage, primed and drying and almost ready for the colour coats...

photo. one last look before the paint goes on!

Other than the main painting itself - there is still a huge list of jobs, but I'm ploughing through it - all the bodywork trim pieces (rear deck cover, sill kick-plates, interior door cards and mesh grille) which also need to be painted black have been cut out and test-fitted... while the front turn signal and tail-lamp lenses have been coloured with appropriate Tamiya translucent paint.

Fortunately the dash is well-finished enough (in matt black plastic) to not require painting, nor will the seats, steering wheel, wipers, hood latches and not least the black rubber fender flares which are all very will finished from Loops RC. However, Rather than use the rather squiddy size 'Tamiya' shape mirrors they supply as part of the kit, I'll use the larger more contemporary ones I got with my 2-door JK body recently, which more accurately represent the ones Simon has fitted to his 1:1 Jeep anyway - again, no prep required, just a hole drilled in the door and they'll pop right in!

The other thing I've done now that the body and interior has been removed and prepped for painting, is to go through the chassis and thread-lock all the key screws which might feasibly come undone in use - primarily the suspension links and shocks. A good number of the screws are secured with nyloc nuts of course, but where any thread directly into a tapped hole, I've used a dab of blue [semi permanent] thread-lock in an effort to minimise and trail catastrophes... it's worth noting that I've found that metal bottom shock rod-ends are particularly prone to backing out as the suspension continually cycles over rough terrain.

I also took this opportunity to 'pin' all the drive shafts - that is use a single through pin rather than a pair of set-screws, and again used blue thread-lock in an effort to stop those pins backing out. I also trimmed 3mm off the outer sleeve of the shortened rear prop, so that it no longer closes completely even during full compression or side to side articulation - I'm calling that done!

So hopefully I'll be in a position to get some colour coat on a little later this afternoon, then I expect to start the final assembly tomorrow...

Toot toot for now!
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Incredible. Every time you build a jeep it's unique in its own way. I'd love to have a JMo special

Agreed. I missed out on the chance for that a while back, something I do regret. I still have a redundant chassis from an old JMo creation. I will work on it one day, I promise @JMo!


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Hee hee - it has been a manic 24 hours - this was this time last night:

And spoiler alert, I've just finished it, tested it, and boxed it all up ready to leave at 5am tomorrow...

The original inspiration... (note Simon now has BFG KM2 MTs on his 1:1, as per the model)

I had to take a couple of liberties (not least the half-cab rather than a soft top of course), plus the sill kicker-plates don't have the sliders on as I ran out of time (and the plastic ones I'd bought looked shonky in comparison)... but otherwise it's a pretty close replica including, off the top of my head:

Dana 44 axles, alloy eight-hole wheels (with black hubs) and disc rotor hex hubs/scale hardware, BFG KM2 tyres, 2.5" lift (ish) Warn M8000 winch (with separate solenoid box), shorty box bumper from and rear, with a pair of silver shackles on each, larger JK style mirrors, black door tops, roof-rack, spare tyre cover (with Life Is Good logo), skinny spare (as per the 1:1 ;o), flat fender extensions, bonnet latches, Jeep badges on front quarter panels, black metal kicker plates...

Inside I've tried to include as many scale details as I can, and although technically it is not really the same as Simon's TJ, I trust he'll appreciate my poetic licence - I used the Loops RC YJ dash (complete with dial decals, painstaking cut out!), Axial 'Corbeau' bucket seats (similar silhouette to Jeep hi-back seats), plus I've fitted 4-point harnesses, and chrome knobs to the custom-made gear and transfer levers, and included a packet of crisps in the dash cubby!

photo. fortunately because the interior is painted black, it effectively hides the fact the footwells are not full-depth. I also fabricated working sliding up/down side windows and cut door cards to hide the workings.

I've taken dozens of photos before boxing it up, but I don't want to get too ahead of myself - I'll aim to cover the past 24 hours (including a bit of an under-bonnet wiring nightmare which required some styrene surgery to overcome!) in more detail after this weekend - hopefully with plenty of out-door/in-action photos from the desert too!

So for now I'll leave you with this:

photo. Built, not bought... (and in double quick time too!)

Toot toot for now!


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Loved seeing how you built this thing. I'll get some pics to follow up.

Wey hey! - hello there fella!

Looking forward to seeing some of your photos from the weekend, and not least what you get up to with it in future!


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In the meantime, I'll endeavour to wrap-up the finally assembly process - it was a manic 24 hours...

photo. window apertures masked (to avoid overspray marking the inside of the Loops shell, which was rather fortunately already 'finished' in a matt black of course, so wouldn't really require any paint. note - I even elected to leave the hard-top section plain [unpainted] black plastic as I felt it was a good representation of a fibreglass hard-top which had slightly faded from the sun over the years... alternatively if you squint, it could almost be canvas too?

photo. Fabricated trim parts which needed to be painted satin black - sill kick-plates and rear deck cover, mesh grille insert and door-cards to cover the sliding window workings.

photo. YJ grille and wings converted to a TJ front end, including recesses for the 18mm headlight buckets.

photo. I blew over the door-tops and window frames with a matt black paint, before masking and painting the red top coat on the bodywork (note. usually you'd aim to do any black paint at the end as it hides anything underneath, but I factored since the door tops and window frames were so small, they'd be easier to mask that trying to protect the whole [red] body instead).

photo. Tamiya tape for the edges, regular 'household' masking tape for the larger panels

photo. The Loops RC YJ dash kit comes complete with two sets of dial decals - I chose the more subtle black backgrounds, rather than the more bling white dials.

photo. the Loops RC rear lamp housings come in a smoked colour (rather than clear as you can get from CCHand for example), but are very well detailed. I painted the inside of the lenses with Tamiya translucent red (the LEDs on the loom are also red, giving a nice rich colour when illuminated) and the lamp housings Flat black, again to replicate real plastic housings which have faded a bit in the sun over the years.

photo. Initially I was worried the paint I'd chosen (Tamiya TS-8 'Italian Red') might not be a good match, but like a lot of these Tamiya sprays, the trick is to paint in a number of fine layers to build up the colour - which correspondingly means very little drying time is required between coats too.

photo. with the roof and door tops un-masked, it was starting to look very much how I'd hoped! (note that a single can of TS-8 was just enough to paint the whole shell in a deep rich colour - with just a squit or two left in the can for me to touch-in any areas with a fine brush as required).



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With the interior plate painted (Satin black for the interior, Matt black for inside the wheel-arches and the underside), I was able to finally install all the wiring and route the cables as neatly as possible:

photo. initial installation...

Unfortunately, when I then went to test-fit the body, it turned out the mounting screws would just not line up properly with the holes on the chassis mounts... it turns out that while I'd had the foresight to drop the ESC 15mm into the driver's footwell, the Receiver on the other side was just a few mm too high once the leads were plugged in - panic!

There was nothing for it but to attack the freshly painted floorpan with Dr Dremel, and drop that side a similar amount, leaving plenty of room to plug in the Servo and ESC leads (and also the pig-tail for the lights):

photo. needs must... at the 11th hour!

It was actually simple enough to cut a couple of pieces of styrene to form a shelf to mount the Rx lower, and boost all the joints with Araldite in my usual fashion; and while the glue was out, I also glued in the mesh and headlight/turn-signal buckets - the 'Rapid' version of this epoxy setting in about an hour so that I could soon brush-paint over all the joints with flat black for a more professional finish.

I also loosely masked off the corner of the interior and blew over the revised Rx mount with Satin and Flat black to match, and lightly sanded the whole interior to tone down any sheen, and match the existing:

photo. The final electronics installation - good job I didn't shorten those Servo leads after all! note - I've realised that the plastic casing that these wireless winch receivers come in can be easily removed leaving just a tiny circuit-board, which I then shrouded in a length of heat-shrink and attached to the bulkhead with servo tape in the same way as the Rx and ESC.

The final piece of the puzzle before the final assembly and detailing could begin was to slide the lexan side windows into their runners, and glue in the bottom rail and door cards:

photo. 2mm styrene used to stand off the door cards, allowing the windows to slide up and down in their channels.

photo. door-cards and dash installed, and an extension cable for the battery which in this installation is mounted under the rear deck of the body.



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Final assembly

photo. windscreen surround masked and painted with Tamiya 'rubber black'.

photo. Axial light buckets used to replicate TJ headlights and fender turn-signals. note the supplied hood latches need to be [super] glued on, and I also black-washed the various creases in the bodywork to add definition.

photo. the Loops RC body-set includes these well-finished (ie. no need to paint them if you want them black) rubber fender extensions, which are perfect to represent the ones Simon has fitted to his 1:1 Jeep. note the subtile contrast between the unpainted black roof, and flat-black painted door-tops and window frames.

photo. One thing I really wanted to include as a 'scale' detail was a Life is Good decal on the spare tyre cover, as Simon used to have one very similar on his 1:1 - fortunately I found an eBay seller who cut them in different sizes, including this 2" round version - result!

photo. Loops RC include well-detailed rubber wipers as part of the body set, and steering wheel as part of their dash assembly - it's worth nothing that the supplied wipers are a little too long for the Wrangler windscreen however, so I need to cut the blades down on each end, and also shorten the arm of the passenger side wiper so that they fitted and looked correct. The gear levers are custom-assembled with a section of odds-and-sods I have in my stash, while the Axial bucket seats come with Corbeau decals, which I used on the head-rests and seat-belt straps.

The crowning glory of course would be the full-length 'cage' style roof-rack, again very similar in style to the 1:1 one Simon had fitted a while ago (and still has in his garage)... this RC4WD rack [designed specifically for the Tamiya YJ body] is held on using six M2 screws, and can be easily removed if he ever wants to run the vehicle in more of a contemporary 'comp' style - so just like the real thing really!