Hell of wheels

I’ve already written about the completion of my army, the colour scheme, etc. Now it’s time for me to bitch a little about the GZG Phalanx APCs.

This is not to say they didn’t turn out reasonably well; I just think they could have been more but by the time I finished I was reaching the end of my patience.

The filing was just the first part. After removing most, but certainly not all, of the heinous mold marks, it was time for assembly. I learned my lesson about gluing the wheels on before painting when I did up the GZG truck — don’t. If the wheels are glued on, it’s nearly impossible to paint the chassis properly, and weathering can be a nightmare.

The other, more painful thing I learned was that GZG wheels are cast by Satan. Each wheel is in two pieces, with a rear cap which gets glued onto the axle. That’s fine in principle, but the lead injection point is along the flange of the cap. That means when you cut it off the spruce, there is no flange at that point, only a solid chunk of metal. Each flange has to be laboriously (re)carved of the metal, a task that is significantly harder than the equivalent task in plastic, resin or epoxy. If it’s not carved in, the wheel won’t fit together.

Once the flange was recreated, I discovered that the wheels and covers weren’t actually circular, and only occasionally (maybe once) had corresponding shapes. This meant more filing, until I had finally had enough. No amount of sanding could make the wee bastards fit properly, so I took a brute force approach.

For most of the wheels, I applied some probably unneeded super glue to the wheel, then took some vice-grips and forced the cap into the wheel. I wrapped the assembly in a cloth before doing this to avoid scratching/denting/destroying the wheel. It was the only way I could assemble the wheels without developing a repetitive strain injury from filing. To my surprise, it actually worked, and those caps are never coming off.

The rest of the assembly was pretty straightforward, but I am still not sure why part of the top is cast as separate piece. No amount of sanding will get the top and bottom halves to fit perfectly, and the top and bottom aren’t actually exactly the same size to boot, so you have to use some aesthetic judgement in gluing the halves together. I made them flush at the back, because that looked the most natural, and required the least putty. No doubt I could have done a better job.

Then the priming. . . There were four vehicles, each with six wheels. I used Krylon primer in a spray can to get them ready for painting. Note that the assembled wheels are not flat on any surface, because the hubcaps are round, the caps are round and the wheels are round. This means you need to be very careful applying the spray, or use 24 pieces of poster tack to hold the merciless bastards down.

The pain didn’t end there. The wheels have tires with very deep treads on them, and as I mentioned before, there is a mold line between them. Painting the tires with a brush is nearly impossible, because only a thin brush will fit in, and getting the imperfect surface actually covered in paint is very difficult.

I gave up in frustration and broke out an airbrush to paint the tires. Even with that, getting paint inside the treads was a nightmare. It took me over an hour to airbrush 24 small wheels, and even then there were still pieces the airbrush couldn’t hit, and it wasn’t certain a wash would hide the still shiny bits.

One of the last steps in the model was gluing the finished wheels onto the finished chassis. This is where you discover that the holes in the wheel cap and the axles themselves are also not circular. You may or may not get the orientation and fit that you want, and getting all six wheels to successfully touch the ground simultaneously can be a challenge.

They’re done now, and look like this:

GZG Phalanx APC

They’re heavy enough to kill a small ox, too. Don’t ever drop one on a wooden floor, or you’ll have a serious dent on your hands.

2 Comments

  • Do you think it’s a case of the Phalanx moulds getting old and sloppy or do you think the problem goes back to the original mould making process? I haven’t heard of anyone else having such problems with these models so it may be worth dropping Jon at GZG a line to let him know.

    Regards

    David

  • Kashirigi wrote:

    It’s probably the moulds getting old. If you look at the picture, you can see that one of the raised panels is kind of ragged, exactly in the way a mold degenerates.

    There are other little signs: slightly rounded corners, imperfections, etc.

    I knew the moulds were likely old when I bought them, though. I remember when they came out. . .

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