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Tamiya M551 Sheridan trials course and drive review

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Tamiya M551 Sheridan trials course and drive review

Old 02-08-2020, 08:01 PM
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Fsttanks
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Default Tamiya M551 Sheridan trials course and drive review

Soon to follow over the next few days will be my “off road trials course and driving review” of the Tamiya M551 Sheridan. I will touch on a few building tweaks I added, but this thread will not focus on the entire build as that has been well covered by a few other threads.

Below are few teasers photos taken during the testing. I have also posted photos and a few short video clips of the testing on my Instagram @ fsttanks so if you want some entertainment check them out over there.

For those asking this Tamiya Sheridan was done in a Desert “Shield/Storm” inspired theme.








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Old 02-08-2020, 11:59 PM
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Nice job!
Old 02-09-2020, 12:42 PM
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PART 1.

My Tamiya M551 Sheridan project was started as two fold. First was to build the Sheridan the second was to measure and check parts fit for an upcoming XM551 turret testbed tank, a XM551 turret mated to a M41 lower hull. Fitting up the Tamiya M551 turret to a HL M41 upper hull showed the to be a good overall fit and with some simple scratch building of a turret plate to bolt onto the HL turret gear ring would be an easy hour of work to complete (see below photos). With all the parts being available through Tamiya's web site for about $160 I look forward to building it in a few months.

Full discloser about the Tamiya Sheridan being tested. Largely it is stock with a few exception. Those being the placement and size of the battery, smaller speaker, the addition of a internal commanders cupola basket, more modern smoke launchers, rear stowage bin, and a rear commanders cupola shield. Only one, the battery due to its size and placement has any effect on performance. The battery is a heavy 8.4volt 7 cell 4200 MaH that is positioned centrally & longitudinally on the forward bottom portion of the hull pan parallel to the 1st-3rd road wheels. This provides for a far superior weight balance and lower center of gravity vs the stock Tamiya battery placement rearward sitting across and high on the hull above the 4th road wheel. To make this work I did not use the Tamiya hull speaker box and instead used a smaller speaker placed forward in the hull running along side the battery. Sound quality would be hard to distinguish to all but the most discerning ears.

The building of the Tamiya M551 Sheridan was the typical easy Tamiya style with no real surprises....that is with two exception folks should be aware of and I am surprised have not been mentioned, at least not that I have read or seen. The most critical are the motor shafts and pinion gears. The motor shafts lack a milled in flat spot on them for the very small allen screw to press flat and tightly too. Without the flat spot the allen screw with slip in very short order and the shaft will just turn inside the pinion gear. I would highly recommend filing a flat spot on the motor shafts for better allen screw and pinion gear hold.

The second is the commanders MG, hatches, shields and the "ring" they are assembled on (not the cupola with the view ports). The "ring assembly" (see below photos) is to be removed when the IR receiver is installed according to the instructions. Ok makes sense so they do not block incoming IR beams, but there is no system included with the kit that secures them back onto the cupola if one just wants them attached while simply driving the tank around, the movement of the tank cause them to fall off. This was not acceptable so I built a "turret basket" out of styrene plastic and attached it to the "ring assembly". The basket slides down through the copula and into the turret. It is long enough to add just enough tension and hold "ring assembly" in place while driving even the roughest terrain (as you will see later), yet easy enough to simple slide out when I want to install the IR receiver.

That covers the changes made to the stock kit. Below are a few photo related to PART 1. Next up in PART 2 I will start into the driving review. In the mean time if you wish to see some of the short video clips of the testing please visit my Instagram Fsttanks


XM551 turret on M41 hull fitment test.


XM551 turret on M41 hull fitment test.

XM551 turret fitment test to M41 hull. As you can see the turret and hull rings are a reasonably good fit.


Ring assembly basket.


Ring assembly basket looking down into the commanders hatch.


Ring assembly basket.


A quick fun photo from the trials test course. Lots more to follow shortly.....





Old 02-10-2020, 05:37 AM
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Looking good Frank.
Old 02-11-2020, 12:23 PM
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PART 2: Drive testing

I think it is important to point out the Spectrum DX8 radio system used for the testing. Although this system allows for a fair amount of customization that would surely effect the handling feel of the Sheridan, I made sure it was set to the most basic and simple settings in order to get a good base line assessment of the overall stock Tamiya Sheridan electronics, motors and gearboxes.

Driving the Tamiya M551 Sheridan was a bit of a let down! YES a let down, but in a good way! Why.....well because it was just too DANG easy and simple. It attacked all the obstacles on my trials course like it was a 1/10 R/C rock crawler truck vs the small 1/16 scale tank that it is. The Sheridan simply put all my other Tamiya (or Tamiya electronic equipped tanks) to SHAME at the ease at which it was able to be driven over each obstacle. Now that's saying a lot given the high standards of performance I demand of my tanks for handling rough, hard and technical terrain driving I place on them, as those that know me personally or those that have seen my tanks perform some crazy stunts can attest too. I build tanks to be driven hard and expect to get every dollar paid into them back in performance and entertainment. The Tamiya Sheridan is starting out on a good foot in these areas. That is not to say it is perfect, it is NOT and has room for improvements.

The Tamiya M551 Sheridan is an exceptionally mechanically quiet running tank (tested with sound turned off) and drives very smoothly over flat hard or soft sand/dirt surfaces. Its suspension however is in my opinion ridiculously over sprung (stiff) for this extremely light weight tank. To give you an idea of the weight, the Sheridan is about half the weight of the similar size Tamiya M4 and about as light as an all plastic Heng Long T34. Why is this important? The unsprung tank weight vs suspension stiffness does not allow the road wheels to articulate easily up and down and thus does not conform the wheels and tracks to terrain contours well. At slow speeds on rough uneven terrain the suspension does not flex well and the Sheridan does not drive as smoothly and effortlessly as it could otherwise(this can be seen clearly in the test videos). At high scale speeds ~40 mph over slightly moderate uneven terrain the Sheridan becomes rather bouncy in its driving performance. Not as bad as the Tamiya Abrams, but because of the Sheridans small size it sadly looks more toylike. I will be addressing some this issue with the addition of more weight being added to the forward 2/3 of the hull. This will most likely make the Sheridan a little unbalanced in the front, but I have found weight forward is often better then weight in the rear on tanks for high speed performance and rough uneven terrain.

Discloser note: An comment I wrote last summer about the suspension being pleasantly soft in performance after a short driving session with another Sheridan was right yet wrong and I wanted to point that out. That assessment was made while driving in flat packed and soft silty sand in which the stiffness could not be clearly seen.

The new Tamiya Sheridan DMD T11 control unit is so far proving quite a solid improvement in my opinion over the older 'two piece" DMD/MFU systems used in Tamiya's "WWII tanks". Smoother power curves, turn performance and ease of use (once you read the manual). It has more option for customizing the tanks performance then the older "two piece" DMD/MFUs. One in particular is the choice between "standard power" and "high power" settings which provides increased power for turning, similar to the setting the Tamiya Abrams and Type 10 tanks have. I tested the "high power" setting during the review and found it did help somewhat, but overall was not needed even in fine silty sand/dirt, mostly because I am running an 8.4v battery that already delivers more power to the motors vs the recommended 7.2v batteries.

IN SUMMERY:

Negatives. I found the Tamiya M551 Sheridan to have only one real issue, being over sprung. With a little added weight this can be somewhat address and should improve overall off road smoothness and track to ground pressure for even better grip.

Positives. The Sheridan is a rather quick tank with a scale "top end" speed (on a hard flat surface) of ~40mph (at 8.4volts). It is proving easy to maneuver in tight rough terrain, throttle control is excellent and it can slowly creep forward/back or sprint to top speed with ease. I suspect given its small size and easy handling characteristics it will prove to be both a good IR battle tank and a fun tank to put on demonstrations with. The DMD T11 control system is a solid improvement over the older "two piece" DMD/MFUs and should make for a great upgrade replacement control system for non Tamiya tanks (~$250 complete system and all wires).

Below are photos from the testing. Short videos clips of the testing can be see on my Instagram @fsttanks. This includes the video of the ROLL OVER....LoL


M551 Sheridan on "rock climb" obstacle...Yes it drove right up and over the rocks. See Instagram video.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan on ditch crossing obstacle. See Instagram video.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan on ditch crossing obstacle


Tamiya M551 Sheridan climbing out of trench.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan on "step climb break over" obstacle.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan on "step climb break over" obstacle.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan on "rock climb" obstacle.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan on "40 degree side slope" obstacle. Hard to see the angle in the photo.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan making neutral/pivot turn while on "40 degree side slope" obstacle. Hard to see the angle in the photo.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan on "off chamber" rock obstacle heading for a bad moment! See Instagram video.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan ROLLING OVER!!! See Instagram video.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan climbing dirt berm and heading down into "L trench" obstacle. Notice the lack of any suspension articulation cause by overly stiff springs.


Tamiya M551 Sheridan dropping down into "L trench" obstacle.


Nothing special in this photo I just liked it and wanted to share it.














Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-11-2020 at 03:37 PM.
Old 02-14-2020, 05:48 PM
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This is what can happen if you are a little heavy handed with the throttle when making turns in soft sprocket packing dirt. The Sheridan tracks are not as strong as other Tamiya modern tank tracks. It seems they have the same issues that the German WWII plastic track have.

Best to stock up on a few sets of spare links when you buy a Sheridan. I am thankful I did....



Broke track in terrain it should have been able to easily handle.


Notice the split on the right side of the link.
Old 02-14-2020, 09:33 PM
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Nice review. Any info you can share on what you did to modernize the Sheridan would be appreciated.
Old 02-14-2020, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ksoc View Post
Nice review. Any info you can share on what you did to modernize the Sheridan would be appreciated.
I did not really do anything to represent modernization updates. I did use some “historic nods” to the Sheridan’s service history in “kitting” it out. The paint theme is Desert Shield/Storm inspired, the T72 style rear turret stowage bin represents the simulated ones used during its service at the National Training Center as an OPFOR tank, the rear deck stowage rack and supplies were seen often on Sheridans serving in Vietnam and finally the commanders cupola rear “bullet” shield as seen throughout its service life.

Mechanically I left everything stock except for the afore posted. I was going to add more weight to help the suspension work better and enhance overall grip, but after today’s track mishap I don’t think the tracks are strong enough to handle the added stress this would place on them.

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-15-2020 at 12:16 AM.
Old 02-15-2020, 04:08 AM
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I'd like to see how your battery/speaker arrangement turned out. It IS a little high center of gravity and the batteries I have the wire is a thicker gauge which interferes with the door operation.

(and how about those poorly made tracks and the cheap idler wheel?)
Old 02-15-2020, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Panther F View Post
I'd like to see how your battery/speaker arrangement turned out. It IS a little high center of gravity and the batteries I have the wire is a thicker gauge which interferes with the door operation.

(and how about those poorly made tracks and the cheap idler wheel?)
Pictured below is how I arranged the battery for better all around CG balance. It is held in place with black RVT which holds it tight and has the side effect of also reducing hull vibration/echoing caused by the motors and gearboxes.

The speakers is a small HL parts bin left over. It is attached using black RVT which again acts to greatly dampen the hallow echoey sound typical of HL speakers and puts it close to on par clarity wise with the stock speaker/box to about 60% max volume. Which is too loud for my taste anyways so it works for me.

Yes the front idler wheel is a disappointing both in design and material used. I suspect I will be breaking them sooner rather then later. The track I was hoping for more, but planned for it to have issues. It is grippy and works very well across a wide spectrum of surfaces but is too lightly constructed to exploit its full potential. Even with these weak points the Sheridan if driven with some caution is a very capable little tank. It is just not as tough as other tanks in the Tamiya line.

Not noted prior in my review I did add a small hole in the side access plate that allows me to turn the tank on and off without having to remove the plate each time. I included photos of this below.



Battery and speakers position in lower hull. There have been NO issues with turret control wire interference and the turret maintains perfect 360 rotation capabilities.


Battery lines are just long enough to be accessible for charging.


I added a small hole in the battery/control access plate to allow me to turn the tank on and off without have to repeatedly remove the access plate. On a “green” tank it would be far less noticeable.


I use a small wire tool slid through the hole to push the on/off button.

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-15-2020 at 02:06 PM.
Old 02-16-2020, 04:54 AM
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Those look great, thanks for sharing! The speaker box and location of the battery is crazy but reasonable if it's just a floor crawler.
Old 02-16-2020, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Panther F View Post
Those look great, thanks for sharing! The speaker box and location of the battery is crazy but reasonable if it's just a floor crawler.
I have to agree the Tamiya stock battery and speaker location don’t lend themselves to performance beyond flat surfaces. Still the Sheridan is a descent r/c tank and with a bit of caution and understanding of its weaknesses, can make short work of tough terrain when driven accordingly. Hopefully other Sheridan owners and prospective buyers will gleam something from this thread that will save them from a “roll over” or breaking some track links.

Old 02-16-2020, 09:50 PM
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The front idler of the Sheridan looks quite exposed - is there any signs of material fatigue or warping after the rock crawling session?
Old 02-16-2020, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cleong View Post
The front idler of the Sheridan looks quite exposed - is there any signs of material fatigue or warping after the rock crawling session?
The front idler wheels are holding up so far. How long they hold up is still in question. Out of caution I already bought a spare sprue set. What is wearing fast are the tracks. In roughly two hours of running they have broken once and have stretched to the point where they started “de tracking” on any hard over turn or off camber obstacle. Shortly before writing this I had to adjust the idlers two notches forward to bring the track back to where they were when first installed. Next time I adjust the track tension I will have to enough slack to remove a link and set the idlers back a notch.

The rock crawling is not hard on the idler wheels because they are not “bashed” into the rocks they are more less gently driven up to the rock faces and positioned against the rock prior to powering up. Rock crawling “tanks” is not so much about power it is more about track grip. I have short videos of the “rock testing” posted on my Instagram @ fsttanks. If you have a chance feel free to check them out.
Old 02-17-2020, 07:50 AM
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Man, nobody can torture a tank like you! I baby all my builds but I think I will grab some extra track links or tracks and idler wheel sprue.

MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE someone will make some metal upgrades if Tamiya sells enough of these things, but sadly they cater to the largest market which by sheer sales volume is Heng Long, Taigen/Torro, Mato......all the Tamiya upgrades seem to be drying up everywhere.
Old 02-17-2020, 09:08 AM
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Didn't you guys feel that during the build you found the plastic was kinda soft? And the road wheels... flimsy and unstable? I haven't finished mine but after experiencing the front idler wheel I became disinterested and set it aside for the winter. Painting on the rubber tires was an insult after seeing all of this. If THIS doesn't give me an excuse to buy a printer nothing will.

And at least Tamiya could have supplied 2 magnets to hold the rear sprocket caps on! I mean, they used magnets on everything else. So I went and bought a hundred off eBay for just those 2 caps. LOL

I still love that an RC Sheridan is on my bench but Tamiya did disappoint me. Remember their Panther deal with the barrel/mantlet and sprocket/track debacle?
Old 02-17-2020, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Panther F View Post
Didn't you guys feel that during the build you found the plastic was kinda soft? And the road wheels... flimsy and unstable? I haven't finished mine but after experiencing the front idler wheel I became disinterested and set it aside for the winter. Painting on the rubber tires was an insult after seeing all of this. If THIS doesn't give me an excuse to buy a printer nothing will.

And at least Tamiya could have supplied 2 magnets to hold the rear sprocket caps on! I mean, they used magnets on everything else. So I went and bought a hundred off eBay for just those 2 caps. LOL

I still love that an RC Sheridan is on my bench but Tamiya did disappoint me. Remember their Panther deal with the barrel/mantlet and sprocket/track debacle?
I wasn't totally pissed about the plastic idler, until I noticed it wasn't even ABS but rather PS.....this tank will forever be a shelf queen and only driven on smooth surfaces. Otherwise this is a super cool little AFV, also I just got the photo etch set today so I will be making it even more delicate once the anti-rpg fence is installed.

I was also very clear in my build videos about the lack of damn rubber tires.....so annoying.
Old 02-17-2020, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Panther F View Post
Didn't you guys feel that during the build you found the plastic was kinda soft? And the road wheels... flimsy and unstable? I haven't finished mine but after experiencing the front idler wheel I became disinterested and set it aside for the winter. Painting on the rubber tires was an insult after seeing all of this. If THIS doesn't give me an excuse to buy a printer nothing will.

And at least Tamiya could have supplied 2 magnets to hold the rear sprocket caps on! I mean, they used magnets on everything else. So I went and bought a hundred off eBay for just those 2 caps. LOL

I still love that an RC Sheridan is on my bench but Tamiya did disappoint me. Remember their Panther deal with the barrel/mantlet and sprocket/track debacle?

All valid points. I think Tamiya took the entire “light tank” theme to heart when they designed this model and cut corners to keep the weight down. I did not mention in my review another issue I had during an early build test run because it happen well before the tank was finished. I got a rock stuck between two wheel halves and while on my “brake over” test obstacle checking balance I kind of punched the throttle causing the tank to launch forward then slam down hard, which in turn caused the stuck rock to split the road wheel plastic apart. I was able to repair the wheel but ended up replacing it with a new one. The spare wheel on the front of the tank was the one I broke.
Old 02-17-2020, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by pitstain View Post
I wasn't totally pissed about the plastic idler, until I noticed it wasn't even ABS but rather PS.....this tank will forever be a shelf queen and only driven on smooth surfaces. Otherwise this is a super cool little AFV, also I just got the photo etch set today so I will be making it even more delicate once the anti-rpg fence is installed.

I was also very clear in my build videos about the lack of damn rubber tires.....so annoying.
The front idlers not being ABS is a material weak point. I will be keeping a eye on them and reporting back any issues I experience with them. Personally I am more upset about the track. It’s just too weak to be run as hard as the tank is easily capable of. Knowing how weak they are I would never recommend running the Sheridan on the “high power” setting off road. That is just asking to damage a track.

I really like the looks of the Sheridan in its modern desert paint, it fits in well next to the Abrams and T72s for the late Cold War / modern era. I just wish it was as durable. Sadly mine too might become more of shelf queen for all but city or flat terrain IR battle events.

Oh and I enjoyed your build video it saved me time in a few areas during construction.

Last edited by Fsttanks; 02-17-2020 at 02:33 PM.
Old 02-17-2020, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Fsttanks View Post
The front idlers not being ABS is a material weak point. I will be keeping a eye on them and reporting back any issues I experience with them. Personally I am more upset about the track. It’s just too weak to be run as hard as the tank is easily capable of. Knowing how weak they are I would ever recommend running the Sheridan on the “high power” setting off road. That is just asking to damage a track.

I really like the looks of the Sheridan in its modern desert paint, it fits in well next to the Abrams and T72s for the late Cold War / modern era. I just wish it was as durable. Sadly mine too might become more of shelf queen for all but city or flat terrain IR battle events.

Oh and I enjoyed your build video it saved me time in a few areas during construction.
Glad my videos helped, we can collectively start lobbying DKLM, Hobby Summit (ebay guys), Kenny Kong, etc. types to see if they are willing to make tracks and idlers, tracks are really just one single casting and a rubber pad over and over, front idlers should be a fairly straightforward casting process as well. hell if I had the time and a smelter and good drill press or mill I could likely copy the factory parts in Zinc/pot metal, though I am sure YOU would manage to break them...LOL
Old 02-17-2020, 01:15 PM
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Default Opinion.

Good looking Desert Sheridan and a readable, interesting operation report. Thank you all for the Sheridan feedback, good stuff. Opinion: Tamiya has dumbed down kit parts and or poorly engineered aspects of these later kits. All this is disappointing as the sources for after market improvement parts are not as plentiful as in the past. Not sure if all this is just a new challenge for the Tamiya RC Tank Kit modeler or it means that the new guard running Tamiya are just really bad at what they are trying to do?

So far, I have held off buying and assembling the Tamiya Sheridan rc kit, because the kit release photos suggested the model was pretty delicate. Also, it is diminutive, a little infantry support tank, which was not of interest a year ago. The model kit did not appear robust either, but that is OK, not all armored vehicle models need to be outdoor terrain running infrared fighters. Model art shelf queens are great soul food for the builder and collector too.

Yes, I remember the Tamiya Panther and Jagdpanther rc kit Parts issues that Panther F mentions. My initial release Tamiya Panther kit tracks were weirdly soft and pliable (think Gummy Bears), a completely defective track set that shipped anyway. Daryl Turner, ETO Armor and Impact, at the time, all supplied good fix parts: transmission brace, metal elevation arms, hull deck guide brace, working drive sprockets, mantlet bearing spacer or a new metal mantlet with a perfect fit and metal tracks that ran true. Plus, the DT Jagdpanther Metal trunnion kit fix. All these parts helped to resolve both models running issues by replacing the poorly engineered Tamiya Kit parts.

The last three Tamiya rc tank kits that I have assembled; the Type 10; Jagdpanzer Lang and Abrams; all lack the inherent robust kit capabilities found in the better engineered earlier kits. Some issues are easily repairable such as poorly soldered component wiring; but these 3 kits also include lighter gauge wires that feel flimsy; brittle plastic controller sockets and component plugs that do not fit well and or can be impossible to disconnect (Abrams). The road wheel suspension springs in the Lang are to short and fail as they do in the Pz4J; plus the naked board in the Type 10 turret is a quality downgrade.

Last edited by Pcomm1.v2; 02-17-2020 at 08:42 PM.
Old 02-18-2020, 03:43 AM
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They didn't even get the correct dimensions on the IR bulb installation, compared to their bulb holder. That was an oversight.

Originally Posted by pitstain View Post
I just got the photo etch set today so I will be making it even more delicate once the anti-rpg fence is installed.
Is this a separate piece or part? I wasn't aware it was available yet!?
Old 02-18-2020, 07:50 AM
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Ref the IR bulb. I use a higher power bulb with slightly smaller dimensions so it was worse. I went ahead and made an IR bulb holder that positions the bulb deeper in the sighting port, not almost sticking out the front of the sighting port like Tamiya had it set up. Fortunately there is good amount room in the mantle to work with.
Old 02-18-2020, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Fsttanks View Post
Ref the IR bulb. I use a higher power bulb with slightly smaller dimensions so it was worse. I went ahead and made an IR bulb holder that positions the bulb deeper in the sighting port, not almost sticking out the front of the sighting port like Tamiya had it set up. Fortunately there is good amount room in the mantle to work with.
Yep, you're right. Yours does look great!
Old 02-18-2020, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Panther F View Post
They didn't even get the correct dimensions on the IR bulb installation, compared to their bulb holder. That was an oversight.



Is this a separate piece or part? I wasn't aware it was available yet!?
Axel's has them, Tamiya USA may be months from getting any, but with Axel's the shipping is quite pricey. https://www.axels-modellbau-shop.de/...idan-1-16.html

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