Author Topic: M274 -ton 44 Utility Platform Truck (Glencoe 1/15th scale) What-If  (Read 146 times)

Online Jeffry Fontaine

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Original title: Horribly Warped Kit Parts.--jjf


My infatuation with this vehicle started at a very early age thanks to the old U.S. Army propaganda series on television that I used to enjoy watching as a young kit while living in Panama back in the early sixties.  I always thought the concept of such a versatile vehicle was a great idea that the Army managed to acquire and put to good use in helping the infantry move around while carrying the heavier loads and keeping everything "mobile" or so I thought.  In later years and having discussions with people that used to operate these marvelous little vehicles I learned that they were a real maintenance nightmare and not something that could be relied upon to get your stuff from point A to point B.  That being said, I still like the vehicle and the idea behind what it was supposed to do in helping the soldier carry the heavy things. 

Wikipedia link:  > M274 -ton 44 Utility Platform Truck

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Original post:
I was on a quest some time ago for a 1:15th scale Glenco M274 Mechanical Mule kit.  Found several at a reasonable price.  Was not overly concerned with the accuracy as I wanted to experiment with a bit of kit-bashing and a dash of scale-o-rama.  So the recoilless rifle bits and other parts not useful to the project were removed and I was left with the flat platform of the M274 Mule.  Much to my dismay, every kit had the same problem, the platform was horribly warped and not just in one plane, it was as if the thing had been pulled from the molds, tossed at the wall before falling to the floor in a rather crumpled heap of green styrene. 

Adding to this problem is that each of the M274 platforms had a guard rail molded to the platform that was also subjected to the deformities of the platform.  I gave up on the whole thing for a time and put the parts away in a time-out as I focused on other more easily to keep my interest things to do. 

This week I decided to revisit the project/problem.  I decided to just cut away the guard railings on the M274 platform and be rid of it.  It could easily be replaced with something else later if I were to have any success in fixing the multi-dimensional warping of the part. 

My last foray into using thermal therapy to unwarp a part was an internal frame from a 1:48th scale C-130 Hercules.  I had the good fortune of having a chunk of flat steel that was about 6.0" X 6.0" square that I heated up on a stove burner and then placed that warped C-130 part on top of it with a weight on top of that to hold it down.  While that effort resulted in a part that was no longer warped the Glenco M274 Mule platform was a lot larger and solid unlike the Italeri C-130 part that had a framework to allow the heat to dissipate more thoroughly.  Also the steel was not available this time so I opted to use a large Corning Ware pie/torte plate as the working surface with a bit of boiling water inside and the part placed under the plate on a glass cutting board.  The effort was further enhanced with a pot of boiling water placed inside of the pie/torte plate to concentrate the heat directly over the M274 Mule platform to keep it warmer for a longer period of time before it cooled down to room temperature.  I heat-treated two of the M274 platforms under the Corning Ware plate and had some success but it took three evolution's of boiling water to finally see a visible success to the point that the warpage is now minimized. 

What little warpage that is left in the parts can hopefully be further minimized during assembly, otherwise it will mean more heat treatment until morale improves...
« Last Edit: March 18, 2023, 06:20:10 AM by Jeffry Fontaine »
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Horribly warped kit parts.
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2017, 04:25:57 PM »
Yikes! :o
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Offline finsrin

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Re: Horribly warped kit parts.
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2017, 03:39:43 PM »
Have same kit somewhere in depths of armor stash.  When found, must check for that "feature"
Did find Glencoe Jupiter C to be warped beyond trying to deal with it.

Online Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: Horribly warped kit parts.
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2017, 01:31:18 AM »
Not sure if the warping problem is due to the age of the molds or just shoddy production technique.  The original plan was to scale-o-rama the 1:15th scale Mule into a 1:35th scale cargo truck with all of the features of the M274 Mule for the driver in 1:35th scale. 
"Every day we hear about new studies 'revealing' what should have been obvious to sentient beings for generations; 'Research shows wolverines don't like to be teased" -- Jonah Goldberg

Online Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: M274 -ton 44 Utility Platform Truck (Glencoe 1/15th scale) What-If
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2023, 06:18:54 AM »
After a long break from this project I picked up where I had left off on the ancient Glencoe 1/15th scale M274 Mule and decided it was time to start over on the build.  I destroyed the work I had done previously since the chassis frame was warped beyond repair.  This set of frames was also repaired previously when one of the frames broke.  During repairs the parts may have been reattached at an odd angle which contributed to the whole warping problem later encountered.  I removed the cross members and frame from the cargo platform then started removing all of the obstructions from the bottom of the cargo platform to get a flat scrap of plastic.  No idea what to do with it but it was something to take my mind off of the failure to get any further with the construction of the Mule. 

My next attempt has been a little smoother since the frame is now attached to the cargo platform and it is still warped (new parts by the way, I have about six of these damned things) but the warping is not as severe now that the frame/chassis is holding the cargo platform to a better shape.  With that done I let the whole thing dry under some weight overnight and took a look at it last night and it was worth the wait as it appears to be a strong assembly now that all points are attached to the underside of the cargo platform.  I was not aware of the very "Toy-Like" steering features on this kit until now.  The All-Wheel" steering feature requires a linkage between the front and rear axles that includes an extended portion that juts out the front of the Mule so you can turn all wheels at the same time.  A straight pull forward and back feature that is very clunky and primitive and resembles nothing like the actual features on the real M274 Mule.  I assembled the steering linkage to get an idea of what it does without having to glue it all in place.  Thankfully the axles attach to the frame tight enough to allow you to set the Mule right side up or upside down without much issue.  Now that I know what I am dealing with I will remove the portion of the one link so that it is not sticking out the front of the vehicle and glue all of the axles in place. 

Some of the other improvements I have been trying to apply to the Glencoe Mule include fitting a battery box to the underside of the cargo platform to imply that the vehicle has an actual electrical system to allow the engine to be started with something other than a rope.  Not needing an actual starter motor helps but space between the tires is critical since the fuel tank occupies the one side this leaves the opposite side as the only space or spot available on the underside of the cargo platform.  The other realization that came up while fiddling with this is that the what-if vehicle needs some kind of steering control that is not mechanically linked since this is a what-if I am leaning towards some kind of electro-hydraulic-mechanical feature that relies on some control boxes at the front and rear axles with some hoses and wires to reflect this feature.  Trying to create an actual linkage for a mechanical connection is beyond my abilities and imagination at this point not to mention my patience. 

Images to be added at a later date. 

***Edit to change subject title--jjf
« Last Edit: March 18, 2023, 06:21:16 AM by Jeffry Fontaine »
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Offline Buzzbomb

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Re: M274 -ton 44 Utility Platform Truck (Glencoe 1/15th scale) What-If
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2023, 05:20:31 PM »
It will still probably build as well as an ICM truck that has the chassis down to components that require the builder to get it straight and square.