MUDFLAPS AREN'T JUST FOR SHELF QUEENS
Problem: You'd like your Tiger tanks to be wearing mudflaps, but know that they'll break... or worse, you've already broken them. The fact is, the mudflaps project from the rear end of the tank, and when you back into something immoveable (or pick up the tank wrong), something has to give! With stock Heng Long flaps, the thin molded plastic hinge pin will break. If you drill through the hinge and replace the hinge pin with a metal pin, the mudflap hinge arm will break. The solution isn't to buy full metal mudflaps since that might just break something else. The system needs something to give, but not break.Solution for stock plastic mudflaps
I'd already drilled through the hinge to install a hinge pin, but that might not be necessary*; however, I think it works better that way. The idea is to make notches (with the Dremel, blade, or file) in the back of the flap hinge, at the ends of each hinge section, connecting to the hole drilled through the hinge for the pin (which we're not using). Feed the elastic through the flap hinge and run the ends through the notches. (The notches will help conceal the thread, since they're on the back; the thread won't be visible coming out the ends of the hinge segment.) Drill small holes in the rear panel corresponding to where the threads exit. Thread the ends through the holes. Glue the ends to the hull. You want to have as long a length of thread as possible since this will distribute the stretching over a longer area.
*If you don't drill through the hinge, you can probably glue the thread ends to the notches, but the join won't be as secure, each length of thread will be shorter, and each thread will have to be adjusted separately so that the mudflap hangs right.
You can now push your mud flaps inward without stressing or breaking any of the plastic parts.
Disclaimer: I was making this up as I went along so I wasn't concerned about doing a neat job!
Solution for metal replacement mudflaps:
I'd already destroyed my plastic mudflaps, bought metal ones, but realized that they weren't the solution since something had to give, and I didn't want it to be the rear plate. Rather than shelve the parts, I came up with this solution.The idea is the same, but the approach is different because the hinge pins are part of the casting, and you probably want to avoid cutting them off and drilling through metal. Instead, remove the original plastic hinge sections attached to the hull (I'll call 'em "stays") as cleanly as you can-- hopefully, they're still intact. You'll use those instead of the metal ones that come with the flaps since it's much easier to drill holes through plastic. You'll need to heat the hinge stay's fingers and bend them around the mudflap hinge pin, to close the gap: You don't want the mudflap dropping out of the hinge stay. (You can use a lighter, quickly, and form them with your fingers. Wear gloves or use a pushing tool if you've got a low pain threshold.) Drill holes through the hinge stay and hull at either end, as if you were going to be mounting them to the hull with the bolts. Actually, you are-- but you'll cut the spring into segments just long enough to put on the bolt between the hull and the nut. Use washers if you've got 'em, but they aren't necessary and will use a small amount of the spring's compression travel. As usual, use threadlock on the nuts.
Ideally, you can now push your mud flaps slightly inward, and the plastic stays will pull away from the hull without breaking. This is a much stiffer tension than the first method, but should be sufficient to keep things from breaking.
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