Well as promised I’m back with the IDF Magach 6B tanks from GHQ to modify them with rare earth magnets which should hold the turrets securely but allow free rotation. Prior to my introduction to these magnets I had always glued the turrets of my tanks. It wasn’t as visually appealing on the game table but it was a much more secure way to store and transport them. Moving every couple of years to various far-flung military assignments that was an important consideration. In fact these tanks had their turrets glued in place before I started this modification. Here’s a cool tip I learned on the GHQ forums – if you use CA glue (crazy glue) you can weaken the bond to separate the turret by placing the miniature in the freezer. It worked very well on these tanks and the Canadian Leopard 2A6AM tanks which will also undergo modification.
The first thing you have to do is decide how you want to employ the magnets. The GHQ forums have several different suggestions. Some place the magnet in the turret peg and glue a piece of ferrous metal under the hull. Some place the magnet under the hull and glue a piece of ferrous metal in the turret pin. Others use magnets in both the hull and the turret. That is the method that I will be using here. As always it is critical to make sure you glue the magnets in place with the proper polar alignment. Another important tip – while the glue for the magnets cure don’t move any other magnets anywhere near the model or it will cause the magnet to flip, fly out or otherwise dislodge itself. Don’t ask how I know this.
To use two magnets I decided to use 3mm x 1mm magnets in place of the turret peg and use 4mm x 1mm magnets under the hull. Why those sizes? Its what I had on hand. Since this is my first attempt there are some lessons learned. For series production I would choose 3mm x 1.5 or 2mm for the turret peg. This would give enough depth of recess in the turret to hold securely while still providing some ‘peg’ to insert in the hole in the hull.
First step is to remove the existing turret peg and drill a shallow hole in its place to recess the magnet in the turret.
If you look close you can see the CA glue residue on the bottom of the turret. I should have been more careful and removed all of it. I learned in the next step that when gluing the magnet in place the CA glue bonds to the residue not the metal and as a result the magnet was not secure and took much longer to cure. Of course cure time might be because I was using crap glue.
With the turret complete its time to work on the hull. The hole for the turret peg has to be bored out to 3mm to accommodate the magnet serving as the turret peg. I use a pin-vise drill with a 3mm Dremmel bit. The Dremmel bit is meant for high speed operation so it doesn’t bite very deep and it takes a while to grab hold and drill into the turret. This is actually a good thing as it gives you a great deal of control on how deep you actually go. Test fit often to ensure the recess is deep enough to hold the magnet but still leave some exposed to act as the turret peg. This is why I would use slightly longer magnets in the future. Here’s the hull drilled out.
On the underside of this particular model there is a small depression around the hole as you can see. Using 4mm magnets they just bridge over this gap to cover the hole but there is limited purchase for the glue. If I had it to do over and I had different magnet sizes I would use 5mm magnets under the hull. The GHQ forum members report great success just gluing a bit of ferrous metal under the hull. I tested a couple of different items but found they were more trouble cutting them down to size than it was worth. Your mileage may vary.
With the glue dry on turret and hull its time to test fit. Turns out I didn’t follow my own advice and one of the turret and hull combos have their magnet poles reversed with respect to the others. The turret and hull match each other but the turret won’t work on the other hulls and vice versa. Maybe I’ll just make it a command tank or something like that.
The magnet to magnet bond is strong enough to lift the miniature by the turret or barrel but I definitely don’t recommend this as standard practice.
Here is the lot of them complete and ready for the paint shop!