Dad Builds Frickin’ Tank For His Son

We gotta love hacker Dads and Moms for being so awesome. Sooner or later, their kids get to play with some amazing toy that every other kid on the block is jealous of. [Meanwhile in the Garage aka MWiG] is one of those super hacker Dads who built a frickin’ Tank for his son (video, embedded below.). But it’s so much fun driving that beast around that we suspect Dad is going to be piloting it a lot more than the kid. The tank features metal tracks, differential steering, a rotating turret, periscopes and a functional paintball gun with camera targeting.

Building a tank, even if it’s a mini replica, needs an engine with a decent amount of torque. [MWiG] first tried reviving an old ATV engine, but it did nothing more than sputter and die. It went to the scrap heap after donating its rear transmission and axle. [MWiG] managed to get an old Piaggio scooter with a 250cc / 22 hp engine. The scooter gave up its engine, electricals and the instrument cluster before being scrapped. Looking at the final build, and the amount of metal used, we are left wondering how the puny 22 hp engine manages to drive the tank. We guess it’s the right amount of gearing for the win.

[MWiG] has a lot of experience, and a well equipped workshop with all the right kind of tools to pull off this project. Even so, the build is not without a few hiccups along the way, such as broken drills and bent axle shafts that required  rework. The tank chassis is progressively built up by welding a series of square section steel pipe frames. The scooter engine connects to the rear differential via a chain drive. He added a pair of clutches on each wheel to allow differential steering, as well as a pair of disk brakes. The two clutches are actuated using left and right foot pedals and an elaborate system of rigid levers and flexible rod ends. Each of the twelve non-drive wheels, six on each side, have independent spring suspension. The track drive wheel assembly and tensioning system is nothing short of artwork. He fabricated the drive wheel sprockets from bar stock.

Next part of his build focuses on the rotating turret, mounting and articulation of the paintball gun and attaching the camera and LCD screen for targeting. We have to envy a hacker who has a battle tank scrapyard in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, a visit there does not yield any periscopes as he anticipated, so [MWiG] custom fabricates six periscopes using polycarbonate sheets and glass mirror pieces. The tracks are painstakingly fabricated using steel C-channel pieces, lengths of bar stock, and steel cable rubber conveyor belting pieces, all bolted together. It’s amazing to see the amount of hard work he puts in to fabricate the tracks.

He had to replace a misplaced immobilizer and a faulty injector before the tank could be rolled out for its first test drive. He also swapped the soft, short suspension springs with stiffer, longer ones to prevent the tank from bottoming out due to its weight. Finally, he added a couple of idler support wheels to prevent the tank tracks from sagging. He then disassembled the whole vehicle for cleaning, degreasing, painting and pop riveted the aluminum chequer plate paneling. His idea of using a projector to trace out the logo on the side of the tank turret is pretty brilliant. Finally, it was time to tweak the camera for precise targeting of the paintball gun and the tank was ready to roll.

As a bonus side project, he modified a flatbed trailer to transport the mini tank, building some ramps and a nice manual winch to load and unload the tank. After some target practise in the backyard, father and son set off to put the tank through its paces in an isolated field. We have to admit – this is one seriously epic project and it would be fun to be in the drivers seat.

[Meanwhile in the Garage] is a pretty prolific hacker churning out some great projects over the years. Check out this Rotary Valve Engine That Smokes the Competition and this DIY Enclosed Motorcycle To Keep You Dry In The Rain.

25 thoughts on “Dad Builds Frickin’ Tank For His Son

  1. Say NO Tor Tanks!
    I Like Meanwhile in the Garage very much. I am respected His skills but i don’t like tanks.
    Maybe because my grandfather died in one.

    And it’s one tank for one child only. An Explorer vehicle for two better four childreen to bei a team that was i Like for.

    A few streets from our company lives a young man, now. Grandmother russian, mother ukrainish think about such young people they don’t need more tanks in the life.

    Great metal Work great idea top construct a vehicle great skills, but the wrong thing at the wrong time.

    Many greetings from germany

    1. I agree with what you said, a tank for one person is just stupid, it would be better to have space for 3 so that one child can be the gunner, the second the driver, and the third communicates with HQ via radio, otherwise your kid is going to get downed by other kids of the block, who surely have more modern tanks.

  2. When I was a kid my father got me my own roller coaster. Well, sort of. It was a “Mighty Mouse” portable roller coaster for a carnival. It came apart and fit onto 4 flatbed trailers. Each car only held 2 people. Dad got it for free from a farmer where it sat rusting in the field. He hauled it home and we spent a year rebuilding and refurbishing it during which I learned a LOT of repair and fabrication techniques from him. Eventually we got it running quite well and I and the other neighborhood kids enjoyed the heck of it for several more years. Once we got tired of it, he sold it. Mom wanted it out of the back yard anyway!

  3. More accurately “dad gets paid lots of money to build “tank” through World of Tanks sponsorship deal”. I doubt the son was involved in the decision making in any way and is just an excuse. Probably wont get to drive it much either.

  4. Reminds me of the Bumper Tanks at Action Park. Skid-steer tracks, tennis-ball compressed air cannon, large enough for an adult but drivable by a kid, durable enough and slow enough that you could bang them into each other. Arena had additional coin-operated guns around the sides, behind plex, that spectators could shoot at the tanks… and of course the tanks could shoot back at the spectators (well at the plex in front of them) as well as at each other. Worth spending some time on. (Action Park was a pile of lawsuits waiting to happen, between the alpine slides and waterslides and so on, but it was _fun_, darn it.)

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