Weeks 17 to 23 of the Panzerfabrik - Panzer IV Build.
This catches us up to April 10th, 2020
Its been awhile since my last post. A lot has happened/changed in the past month as you well know. Its a brave new world co-existing with COVID-19 and the human's reaction to it.
Panzerfabrik (all of us) are still here and healthy... although at a reduced pace since all income has been cut to $0.00 ----- WHAT A BITCH!!! RIGHT?
While building the hull up to this point we have been jumping past the hot rivet situation leaving a bunch of holes and temporarily holding parts in place with bolts and small tack welds.
Its time to start placing hot rivets. I think it is kind of a lost science because I couldn't find anyone who could advise us on the process. We had to figure it out for ourselves.
So... making it up for ourselves we built dies and tools to make it happen. You can see the "experiment" plate. Some success and some failure. The driving force is an intermediate sized air hammer with a modified hammer face.
A key component is the rivet length -"stick-out" so we had to lathe the rivets to fit the thicknesses needed. With a bunch of rivets in hand we heated them with a rosebud and fit them in the hole. Unfortunately it requires some good old fashioned SKILL. uuurrrrgghhh... That means practice. Hit the hammer with the right length of time and pressure and --- woo hoo... a nice tight, rounded head rivet. When everything works right it makes one hell of a connection.
Beautiful !!! As you can guess, this took awhile to do.
The project was at a phase where the devil is in the details. That means slight variance in texture, weld technique and so on. I have traveled extensively in Europe where this panzer restoration art is practiced. Poland, Germany, Czechia and so on. That is where the experience base is. I have made endless observations of the fine nuanced details of restoration and construction.... But the Panzerfabrik crew hasn't. So... Road-Trip! Panzerfabrik crew goes to Europe to learn.
Late February COVID-19 was just starting to kick in so we were racing the clock to get in and out before the doors closed. We barely made it. Less than a week back and the Europe travel ban kicked in and the borders closed over there. A few days later and we would have been stuck restoring Stug III's in Poland.
Of course there was some sightseeing in Germany and in Poland. Can't be all business. Life is more alive at 140 mph on the Autobahn...
And yes, there was the gratuitous T55 ride through the Polish forest.
So now back to business.
This is what we are going for. Big Fat Chrome/Nickel welds. So we had a lesson on welding and prep from the experts at Panzer Farm.
Here are a few shots of a Stug III restoration in the works.
One of the motivators to go to Panzer Farm was to check out the finished "New Made" Panzer IV suspension. We (PF and PF) have been conferring about this development for the last few years. This is my first chance to handle all of the pieces in one place, at one time.
The punch line is.... Its perfect... flawless. Cast and machined using the exact techniques and procedures as the original. Original parts interchange in and out, mixed with the new made pieces. Correct casting numbers and the works.
If you didn't know it... the laufrollenwagen (bogie assembly) is the ticket to the ballgame. If you don't have 8 of these sets......... You don't have a panzer IV. These little darlings are the barrier to Panzer IV building and now there is a solution.
Here is the dude that made it happen. Congratulations Michał !
All of the processes were perfected over the last 3 years with many trials and tribulations. They turned out to be much more difficult than they first looked. Panzer Farm used the latest technology to capture and recreate all the individual pieces. But, when required, they used 1940's technology to make the finished product a perfect match to the original. Undamaged NOS original parts were first 3d scanned and modeled. Molds and dies were machined on the newest precision equipment. After going through a few foundries and after many more tech tweaks the entire process was mastered. The final product is really really something special. Its the real deal.
The reverence part of this post refers to us taking in the history of the artifacts. We visited several museums and collections that allowed us to take in the essence of the vehicles we are reproducing and restoring.
Following is some museum tank porn for your viewing pleasure. Photos Slide to the left.
And then we came home March 7th. Just in time for the apocalypse.
We have stayed active. More later. Your attention span has to be shot by now :-)
Check out Panzer Farm's ad in Milweb for reproduced Panzer IV parts.
https://www.milweb.net/webvert/a4664/98396 Check them out here.