So, without further ado, here's the mod that will give the most popular toy soldier truck of all time some serious firepower!
1. Don’t try this with a truck and jeep you aren’t willing to sacrifice.
It’s important that the plastic is still flexible. If your vehicle has grown brittle from age, it may simply break when you attempt to cut pieces or snap them together. (I’ve had that experience with other modifications/repairs.)
Check the axle attachments. If the attachment points are cracked, and you remove the wheels, you may never get them to stay when you try to put them back on.
Check the area where the cab of the truck is connected to the bed for cracks. (This is the weak point of the Tim Mee/PP 2-1/2 ton truck. If your truck is cracked here, you may want to reinforce it before putting any additional stress on it.)
Gently remove the wheels from both vehicles.
Carefully cut the floor out of the jeep cargo area. I wanted to leave the jeep body as intact as possible, so I cut from inside the jeep instead from the bottom, following the inside edge of cargo area walls. Use a box knife or other tool with a very stiff blade to get as straight a cut as possible. Xacto No. 11 and similar blades are too flexible (and too short) and you end up with a wavy edge. (If you don’t care about the jeep, it doesn’t matter how you approach the cut.)
The result should be a square piece of jeep floor with the weapon mount in the center.
Trim the jeep floor to fit between benches in cargo area of truck. Eyeball it first, then measure, because there are variations between versions of the truck and jeep. Mark the edges before you cut. Cut the edges as square as possible. Trim with a smaller knife if necessary. In both examples I did, I oriented the section of jeep floor so that the raised lines were running in the same direction as the ones in the bed of the truck. Visually, it helps the piece blend in and even better, I found that the raised lines make a good guide for cutting the jeep floor to fit. If you cut along the outside (farthest from the weapon mount) edge of the raised line, the fit should be very close.
Verify the diameter of the pin that supports the weapon mount. Mine was about 3/8 inch.
Drill a hole in the same diameter hole in floor of cargo area. You can position it wherever you like; I centered it between the two rear axles.
VERY IMPORTANT: You can skip the next step and friction should hold the weapon in place. You will be able to remove the weapon, and the only modification to your truck will be the hole in the center of the bed. If you want the weapon permanently attached to the truck, continue.
The whole weapon/mount assembly is held in place by a plug on the end of the post that supports the weapon. Many Tim Mee/PP toys these snap-together connectors. (It's a larger version of the pin/hole combo that holds the "canvas" cover on the truck...) Because they’re made of soft plastic, the plug compresses enough for the pin to get through the hole, then expands on the other side so the pin can’t be withdrawn without effort. If you want the weapon to stay in place, and rotate freely, you’ll have to trim some of the plug down to the same diameter as the post. This allows the post to go through the additional thickness of the truck cargo bed (about 1/8 inch) before it snaps into place.
You can use the underside of the jeep floor piece as a guide. I laid the flat of a No. 11 Xacto against the underside of the jeep floor then rotated the pin to mark the cut, then made a second cut about 1/8 inch further towards the end of the pin, then carefully whittled away the material between the two cuts.
If your vehicle is as beat up as mine were, you can freshen them up by trimming a very small amount of plastic away from the rough edges. Soft plastic parts that get worn or abraded develop a ragged edge. I run a No. 11 Xacto along any edges that should be sharp the same way you would to remove the “flash” from a new piece. You end up with a slight bevel, but it usually looks much better than the wavy, ragged edge did. You can also trim an edge square by cutting across the entire thickness of the plastic, but that’s harder to do without significantly altering the proportions of the part and has a higher risk of accidental and irreversible damage.
If your vehicle was painted, gently try to remove any cracked or peeling paint. I don’t recommend using sandpaper on soft plastic, but it will help your final finish to slightly roughen any painted surfaces. One of my trucks was drawn on with permanent marker (?) and parts of the other painted with what appeared to be fingernail polish (!?). I was able to flake most of the nail polish off by bending the plastic until the nail polish cracked and scraping chunks off with the Xacto blade. Soft plastic is slightly porous, so the permanent marker had stained the plastic. I was able to get most, but not all, of the permanent marker off by vigorous rubbing with a cloth dampened in paint thinner.
Wipe all surfaces down with denatured alcohol. That will remove any lingering grease or oil from old paint, magic marker, or your hands. Let dry thoroughly.
Paint entire vehicle with 2 coats of Testors Model Master FS34159 “SAC Bomber Green.” I waited overnight between coats, but that was simply an abundance of caution because it’s been very cold and humid here lately.
Optional: I replaced missing/broken truck wheels. New and used replacement wheels are available from various sources; I got mine from Little Green Men Toys (www.littlegreenmentoys.com).
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)