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M.L. Toys
KidsWheels
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KidsWheels
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User avatar
By Rufledt
#143508
I'm starting to learn metal fabrication, and it was suggested that i needed a project to help focus my learning efforts. I have acquired such a project car, and here it is:

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It's a completely thrashed Power Wheels Jeep Wrangler. Given I have a toddler and a very small baby at the moment, it's about Power Wheels time. It's plastic, however. I want to learn how to make things out of metal. I think you see where this is going.

The plan is to make a new body to look like a Willy's CJ2A, such as this here:

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That's my friend's Willys, and he has TONS of pictures of it (insert joke here). He's always working on 3D models of them to put into driving games as mods, so he knows the details inside and out. The idea is I won't have to work on complex curve shapes and excessive detail work that is above my current lack of skill level, but i will still have to design, cut, bend, and attach metal together by the end of this. Hopefully the small size and simple shapes will help keep this from becoming overwhelming, and if i finish by spring, it will be a nice toy for the kids to enjoy for the next few years.

I'm also making the progress into videos, because I find that I enjoy doing that just as much as the building itself. Almost. Here it is:

https://youtu.be/aadP9oCNyCI

Anyways, the point i am at now is deep in Cardboard Aided Design. I got some posterboard/heavy cardstock kind of paper and i'm building away. For those of you who have used this stuff to design, are there any tricks i should know? So far i'm trying to build shapes with flanges to attach them together once i get a welder (or i suppose rivets or screws would also work).

I have only 'made' the engine bay section, the 'firewall' section, and some of the body, but only 'assembled' the engine bay area (battery bay):

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One of those pieces isn't a pattern piece, it's just holding things square. on the bottom there i made a square tube. I think im going to use square tubing for reinforcement/a frame kind of structure. These plastic tubs are surprisingly not that sturdy looking, and this one has some stress lines in it from my 2 nephews riding it together.

I don't know if you can see this in the picture, but these are some of my measurements:

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clearly not drawn to scale though I did do a little better approximation in the cardboard and i'm fairly happy with the results. No numbers on the back because I haven't worked on that part at all yet, but there isn't as much change from plastic to metal in that area.

I don't think i'm going to add the roof or light bar back on, but i do want a fold down windshield. Still hammering out the details on the body first, however.

I used 22ga for the one piece (battery tray) i made already, but that was more due to simply not having any other steel around. I plan to reinforce a little bit with the square tubing, but it's not going to be a body-on-frame or anything. This is more important for the front I think because i'm not going to radically alter the rear tub so much. I'm currently just planning on cutting the fender flares out and covering the stuff up with steel, so the plastic tub (and likely the seat, and interior floor) will remain and offer the support they are intended for.

Still planning, obviously, and any pointers or ideas are greatly appreciated.
User avatar
By Rufledt
#143514
Part two! Moving forward with the model of the front end. Here's part 2 of the video:

https://youtu.be/3RX6TokR8Jk

Now some details of the model so far. Here's a shot of the front end model as it currently is:

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Its roughly in the correct place, the front of the cardboard is right at the front of the front fenders. The difference being that the wrangler grill is behind the front of the fenders, while the willys model is flush. Neither includes the front bumper, to be added later.

Here's the current grill piece:

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That includes a flange around the top that hasn't been bent down, but you can see the bend line. This is roughly similar to the low-hood CJ2A grill. While the dimensions are obviously "adjusted" for powerwheels size, i tried to line certain things up (like the fenders in relation to headlights, turn signals in visually accurate locations). The only thing I might change here is the very bottom. The grill slats on this are about as tall as the 7 grill slats are wide, though the real one is wider than it is tall. I might raise the bottom location up 3/4" and use the bottom 3/4" as a flange to attach it to that 3/4" box tubing below it. The box tubing there is wider than i intend it to be, that was just the length of the full sheet of paper i was using.

Speaking of box tubing:

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This model so far uses 3 pieces of it. They are not the only ones i plan to use when building this front end, but they are the 3 most important ones to keep the cardboard model stiff and square. The reason i haven't put more in is because getting 3/4" box tubing to be square and correct is surprisingly time consuming in paper..

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This shot shows the large dash piece. I used one large piece of poster board for this, the front back and curved part on top are all connected. They are attached underneath by flanges all around, as i plan to do when it comes time for metal. As you can see, some of the flanges that will need curving have been cut, while others haven't. That's because i tended to cut up the copy of the 'nice' pattern, not the actual nice pattern i intend to use for laying out the metal cuts. All of this is subject to change, but i like it so far. The cuts and folds give me an idea where i need to stretch and shrink the metal when the time comes.

Mounting is going to be interesting, but here's a shot of the front of the tub post-frontectomy:

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I had to cut away quite a bit of the sides because of the willys' inward curving sides. I may have cut away more than i needed to, but i still have the interior part of the tub intact and the main reference point for locating the metal front on the plastic body. (to see where i point at what that is, watch the video. i can point better than i can explain in words)

Now attaching will be interesting. I left the 'bracing' that was between the interior part of the tub and the front. It doesn't go very far down, but it was obviously enough for the original powerwheels jeep. I'm thinking i might use it somehow, but i also might run some square tubing from the bottom of the battery box to the bottom of the tub. More weight means more reinforcement needed.

I'm still worried about leaving enough flex to keep the wheels planted, but if i let the rear end be more twisty it might compensate for stiffening up the front, right? I'm going to cut all the fender flares off the back which might allow more twist.

In the video i mentioned maybe doing a body drop do aid in ease of entry. I think that would be possible in the rear, but since i lowered the bottom of the battery box and thus need to lower the top of the steering rack, i'm not sure i have any more room to lower the front. I don't need a nose-up stance. The other option is a small step like on this actual Willys Jeep which i think i might go with. The step would be convenient and also visually accurate, so that's nice.
By 6772owner
#143524
This is awesome, I applaud you for the creativity on this build. I cant wait to see more progress!
User avatar
By Rufledt
#143583
Progress! First there's a video, but photos and details below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFQkV4eyljo

Ok picture time.

Here's how I removed the flares:

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It's pretty straightforward. The thin kerf of the pull saw allowed me to zip right through the flare almost flush against the body of the jeep. The remaining nub left in some places was easily removable with a block plane, actually. That was before i took the blade out to use as a tape cutter. The lights came off with screws.

I also had to trim down the front of the tub to clear the model. I don't think i removed too much stiffening structure, but the front of the tub is getting noticeably flimsier.

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I also notched out the tub a little to fit the box tubing in the model. The model had the bracing mostly to keep it stiff, but i think i'm keeping the tubing locations that were there (all 3 of them) and adding a little more later. These might be good mounting points later, as well.

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It mounts pretty nicely now.

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though the front is getting droopier. The more i move the paper model around, the less stiff it is.

To make the back, i used the combination square to mark where the axle lines up with the body:

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I then used sketchup to work out some details:

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and mounting:

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The top of the body in the rear is exactly the top of the body of the jeep tub. That was shockingly not planned in the least. I expected to be 1" above it. Oh well, it worked out! The wheel well also lined up nicely with the tire location. I was worried about too much fender gap, but i'm totally ok with the way it looks.

This pattern will change a bit:

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Basically, i'm going to raise the bottom up by 3/4 to make a flange on the bottom, but also to shape it a bit more accurately.

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There's the actual jeep grill, you can see the grill slats make a shape that's wider than it is wide, and my pattern does not. The actual jeep guy says it's fine, but the obsessive guy (me) says it needs adjustment. also another flange on the bottom can't hurt.

Here's the steering mechanism:

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Looks quite simple actually. I'm pretty sure the metal bits come off by removing the 2 plastic nobs and the metal clips underneath:

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This is part that might need to change slightly:

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It depends on clearance and the angle the steering rod will have to go up and the length so it can be used by a 3 year old in the driver's seat. We will see how that works later. I'm going to get the front worked out and mounted before i figure out the steering. I mean, how hard can it be?
User avatar
By toycrusher
#143586
Keep it up! Truly original 8-)
User avatar
By Rufledt
#143949
I'm still alive, but life has conspired to keep me from working as quickly as i would like. I've just been cutting things, but I did make a video of it if you are interested:

https://youtu.be/B9FemMAzeHw

And now some pictures:

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I laid the sheet on the ground and cut big chunks (as measured out by the patterns) using my electric snips. I had to put the board under the panel to raise it off the ground so the snips would go through without the blade bouncing off the concrete.

Because the snips take a 1/4" wide strip out instead of just cutting, i had to leave a decent gap:

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Then tape the pattern on the top, and mark it out:

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Cutting it out was mostly the electric snips for straight lines, then hand snips for everything else. I had to take it pretty slow, one or two pieces a day, but it is mostly cut out. I think the only things left to cut are the rear pieces.

I didn't take a picture because i have only 2 hands, but in the video you can see me marking the panels with a scratch all and a mallet to form 'dents' to guide future bending. The small dings are actually seen on both sides of the metal which is kinda neat. It was a major light clicking on in my head when i saw someone doing it.

Stack waiting for bending:

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I had an idea to use one of these springs:

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to make a replica of this:

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It's mostly done already! a coiled piece of sheet isn't quite like a spring, but it's just an idea i had that might make a fun ornament or something.

Lately i've been taking a tangent to work on metal casting to compliment the metal fabrication. I'm even more beginner at casting, but i have a stack of aluminum ingots and even some copper ingots. The copper is tough let me tell you, that stuff needs some serious heat!

I think i might try to cast some detail pieces in aluminum like the hood clips or maybe the gas cap or tail lights, stuff like that. I'd really like to make a custom gas cap thing with a polished aluminum cover that opens and doubles as a charging jack, but that's probably getting ahead of myself.
User avatar
By Tythejeepman
#143964
Excellent work I've l only redone a 90s jeep, modern red jeep like the one you have and am working on a duramax saw blade power wheels design that will be totally different with some company prototype designs ! I just have aquired a 1986 big foot though which has got me jumping to the ceiling to work on it!
User avatar
By Rufledt
#143970
Thanks! This is certainly fun to work on!

I love those old power wheels. I still have my old jeep from around 1990. The engine cover, doors, trunk, whole deal seems much more detailed and well built than this newer one. Then again this was destroyed and missing parts when I got it, so it's hardly a fair comparison.

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