The Battle in the Badlands was the second foray for the Dreaded T34.
This time out my tank had three new systems installed. These were a
forced air cooling system, an electronic triggered paintball marker,
and a remote video system installed in the turret. In addition,
this was the first time the tank and the TTS track system was tested
in an extremely dusty and a muddy environment.
- Forced Air Cooling
From experience after the first battle I decided that some form of
fan driven cooling system was in order for the T005. After an hours
battling you couldn't touch the EV Warrior motors due to the heat.
I installed two squirrel cage blowers that drew air from the motor
compartment and forced it into the turret where the cooling air would
exit through vents drilled into the cupola hatch and through the
turret/hull interface (a side benefit of forcing air into the turret
is that it made it harder for paint to find its way into the turret
rotate, a problem a had during the first battle). The air intakes
were drilled through the bottom of the hull adjacent to the drive
motors. I put the intakes on the bottom thinking that paint would
not be splashed into the motor compartment (something you need to
think about). I didn't get any paint into the motor compartment but
I did get a lot of dust. I didn't put any filtering material over
the intakes because the environment we battled at last time wasn't
particularly dusty and that was the same site we were going to battle
at again. Plans changed and we ended up in a very dusty environment.
Though the inside of the tank got dusty everything kept working and
my motors were noticeably cooler this time out. I'll be putting
some sort of filter system on the intakes before the next battle.
- Electronic Marker
Probably the most significant and time consuming upgrade to the T005
was the new electronic marker (a model GTVe). My Anvilus mixer
has two auxiliary relay/solenoid drivers and the thought was that
it would be an easy matter to interface the trigger solenoid to
the Anvilus mixer. The first thing I learned is that you cannot
directly trigger the marker solenoid from battery current. To use
the electronic marker I had to maintain the electronic board from
the marker. I interfaced the markers board to the mixer by replacing
the markers trigger microswitch with a small relay that was driven by
the Anvilus mixer. A pushbutton was installed in the transmitter for
a trigger. An electronic trigger gives you a very high rate of fire.
I could easily fire four balls in the time it took some other tanks to
fire one. Obviously the advantage to this is when you get a ranging
shot that hits you can follow quickly with three more shots for the
kill. I really found the high rate of fire good in close-in "strafing"
runs where I would slip past an opponent and quickly finish him off.
Some problems I had with the electronic trigger. It was easy to
empty your magazine and exhaust your CO2 supply very quickly. And the
gun would at times fire without any input from me. Whether this was
from radio interference, the bouncing of the vehicle (e-markers are
built with a hair trigger), or something else, I do not yet know.
Joe Sommer suggested separating the markers trigger board onto its
own power supply which I will do. During the battle, for safety
reasons, I tried to keep the barrel pointing into the ground unless
engaging somebody. Overall I was very impressed with the new marker.
I heard many comments from others about equipping their tanks with
the technology over the winter!
- Remote Video System
I don't have much to say about this. These systems do not appear
to handle shocks very well. Mine and Joe Sommers video systems both
died during the first battle. We never were able to get any footage
this way. Some effective form of shock mounting would be required
for the transmission system and camera to make these system useful.
Shock mounting means space taken up inside the vehicle which is
in short supply already. Additionally, I noticed that my camera
port installed in the cupola always seemed to get hit early in any
engagement which effectively kills the video system.
- Tyng Track System In Dust and Mud
The battlefield was a dry flat area of straw covered dirt with
patches of standing water and mud. During the battle the tanks
kicked up quite a bit of dust. Of course the dust would coat every
part of the tracks and road wheels. I didn't notice any undue drive
wheel slippage due to the dust. The dust did manage to find its way
into the wheel axles. I didn't lock the wheels up or anything like
that but at the end of the day in the shop you could tell that the
road wheels didn't turn as easily. I added some oil for the next
day with a complete tear down and cleaning planned for the winter.
Along with the straw there was a bunch of the twine that was used to
tie the bales of straw together. This twine appeared to affect some
of the tanks but I did not experience any problems with it until at
one point I decided to play in the mud.
At one point during the last battle on Saturday I
did run the T34 through a shallow puddle while attempting to evade
the Hetzer. I would like to say that the T34 blasted through the
muddy pit with no problem whatsoever. Coming out of the puddle
the tracks were wet and full of mud which did not appear to affect
performance to much. I didn't notice any undue drive wheel slippage.
The wet muddy tracks began to collect a bunch of the loose straw which
ended up getting stuck to the inside if the tracks. I still didn't see
any noticeable drop in performance and finished the battle just fine.
After the battle is another story. Joe and myself decided to take our
tanks back into the muddy puddle for some photo ops. We were running
back and forth through the puddle and I even managed to do some turn
in places in the mud. After this the tracks were VERY muddy and caked
with even more straw. The tank was still moving fairly well under its
own power so I decided to show off some more and ran the tank up and
over a bale of straw (some interesting photos were taken of this).
While doing this I managed to get a bunch of that twine entangled
into one of my drive chains which effectively locked that track up.
I had to disassemble my tracks that evening to get everything cleaned
out off them. All in all I think the TTS did extremely well in the
dusty and muddy conditions. The only issue was the twine getting
stuck in a drive chain and I think my tank is the only one with
exposed drive chains so this shouldn't be an issue for anybody else.
I'll avoid mud in the future because it's a pain to get out of the
- Mobility Is Everything
The EV Warriors that were installed
in the Tiger after the previous battle are very nice motors. They
provide an abundance of power that translates into increased speed
and turing capability on the battlefield. The Tiger had no difficulty
navigating around the tough terrain and went an entire weekend without
Of course, nothing is for free. The EVs have some drawbacks that must be
overcome. They consume a large amount of energy, which requires an
appropriate size battery to last through an entire battle without slowing
down. Also, as Steve explained above, you should really plan on cooling them
down for the best performance. I didn't have time to install my cooling
fans before the battle and the motors were screaming for some
relief by the end of the battle. They will definitely be installed before
the next battle.
The EV's thirst for power also requires careful attention to proper wiring.
Early tests of the motors caused the battery connectors to get warm. Although
they might have been OK, I doubled up on the wiring and connectors just to be
sure ... two lengths of 10 gauge wire are better than one. We also installed
high-amp fuses in all of the Tri-Pact vehicles (60+ amps) just in case
something went wrong. None of the fuses blew over the weekend and nor do
we expect them ever to blow ... it's just insurance.
- Suspension or Bust
Another drawback of high-speed and mobility is the wear and tear on the
rest of the vehicle when going over rough terrain. The Tiger went
over bumps and ruts with ease, but the slamming and banging of internal
systems was bone crunching. As it turned out, nothing was broken after
all of the shaking, but it certainly didn't sound that way during the
battle. Fortunately, the track controllers were shock mounted, but
anything that wasn't securely tied down were bounced around quite a bit.
Over the winter, I'll be looking at ways to either add a suspension system
to the hull or shock mount all of the internal systems. (We're not really
sure if a friction drive track will work effectively with suspended
- New Track System
Along with a motor overhaul, the Tiger got a new set of tracks since the
last battle. The new track is a modified Tyng Track System, that uses
molded polyurethane interior treads with two rows of teeth that are
riveted to wooden exterior treads made of oak. The track worked perfectly
all weekend long, despite some heavy abuse, and a close examination
after the battles showed no signs of serious wear. I agree with Steve that
such tracks are performing well so far, but only time and more battling
will thoroughly test them in all conditions.
- More Modifications
Although I felt that the Tiger performed well and had only minor problems
throughout the weekend, I already have a long list of modifications to
improve its performance and maintainability ... a magazine that is
easier to load, replace v-belt by chain, easier track tension system,
motor cooling fans, install larger CO2 bottle, etc. Nothing major, just a
complete rebuild of every system!!!
- Improved Track System
The new and improved Bike Chain Steel Rivets & Washers (BCSRW)
system worked extremely well in the Badlands. The only
rivets that popped were the older aluminum pieces. I did not let the
General (Frank) know that I cranked up the tension for day two. Since
the Pz. IV has been a test of the many new and improved Tri-Pact
engineering systems, I felt that day 2 would be a good test of the
new chain system verus the old. The left track was the new BCSRW
and the right carried the old. By the end of Battle IV, the left had
sustained no rivet problems while the right popped 3 treads in the
final minutes making some turns slightly difficult. The Pz. IV drove
off under it's own power. So if you need a quick set of economical
treads, BCSRW is the way to go.
- Test Hard, Then Harder
One other hint. When testing your systems at home,
make it really, really hard. I ran my tank over and
into all types of obstacles; bricks, split rails, tall
grass, packed and loose gravel. Better to fail at the
house than wasting time in the depot during battle.