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Using aluminum foil for treadplate

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Here's a tutorlal on making the foil treadplate.  I was asked about it in the build of the Autocar U-7144.

100_0277.thumb.JPG.5c81d66c12d16f2c334642532b5d39c0.JPGYou will need the following materials and tools to get it done.  A scrap piece of plastic treadplate and a piece of aluminum foil and the part you want to apply the foil to.  Also a pencil with a soft eraser, CA or other adhesive that will stick to the foil, a new Xacto blade and a pair of small scissors.  In the photo above is a small piece of plastic sheet with some strip stock applied to the edges where the foil will be placed.  There is also a scrap piece of Don Mills Models plastic treadplate that is approximately 0.050" thick.


The foil is placed over the plastic treadplate for embossing.  Align one edge of the foil with the treadplate pattern and lightly press it down to hold it in position.


Using the eraser on the end of the pencil, press it onto the foil rolling the eraser as you press down.  Follow this process along until you have made an impression that is larger than what you need.  Be sure to firmly hold the foil in place or the impressions will become distorted.   Go over the impressions with the eraser to be sure that all areas are well embossed.


Gently lift the foil away and coat the underside liberally with CA or epoxy.  Be careful not to bend or distort the foil and place the part to be covered on the foil making sure that it is aligned with the treadplate image.  Let the adhesive fill in all of the indentations in the foil.  It will help in retaining the treadplate of the foil when it sets.


After the adhesive has set so that the top surface of the foil is secure, gently fold the foil over the edge of the plastic on the long side.  Be sure that there is adhesive under the foil and let it fully cure.   After it is cured cut the foil adjacent to the corner and fold the foil over on the adjoining side.


Do the same thing with the CA here and let it cure well.  Check the corner to be sure that it is well covered with the foil.  Don't worry about the excess foil until all of the adhesive has cured to the touch.


The last step is to take the Xacto blade and plunge it into the excess foil from the front somewhere other than at the end.  Let the blade to the slicing of the excess foil against the plastic.  Slice away the excess foil in each direction, being careful at the corner.  Check to be sure that the foil has not lifted away from the plastic.  The results will look something like the foil used in the following projects that have been done.

The first is a USN FFN-3 International airport crash truck.  The rear step and running board was done using this technique for the edges.  Actual treadplate was used in this case for the top surface but the procedure for the edges as described above.  Embossed foil was also used for the plate on top of the rear fenders.


In the next photo of the CCKW regular treadplate was again used for the top surface of the running board but foil was used for the edge.  Sometimes the edge can be a little rough.  If needed it can be filed smooth with a fine file, but care needs to be taken not to ruin the raised portion of the pattern.


The last example shows the technique used in several places on this Emergency One pumper.  It was also used on the top of the cab.  Since the foil is very thin it is very useful in this type of application.  Try inserting a piece of plastic treadplate in its place.  Probably impossible, the surface will not be curved, and the edges will be crudely defined.



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I started doing this way back in the early '80's.  Interesting enough, those models that I built back them still look great today.  One thing I also did is to use the foil shiny side up for a polished aluminum look on some custom big rigs.  I used thinned Elmer's glue as the adhesive.



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That is a clever and inexpensive way to get very believable l results, but to me the embossing process using an eraser seems a bit tedious.  I wonder if  a sandwich could be made of the plastic treadplate, foil  and some semi-soft rubber material could be placed between 2 stiff metal or wood plates, placed in a vise, then tighten the jaws to "stamp" the aluminum onto the plastic treadplate?   I have a sheet of EDPM rubber material leftover from a rubber roof installation.  It is a sheet of rubber about 1/16" thick.  I think that would work really well in this application.

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Another way of keeping the dimples is once removed from the master sheet is to use a liquid glue like Elmer's to fill in the dimples. once dry it is easier to work with and not damage the dimples. I use a spray contact cement to then adhere the foil to the project.


I use the large deck floor from the AMT ALF ladder chief kit to get foiled deck plate. All of this Seagrave was done with this method.


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When I did this, I had purchased a3.5"X10" pierce of tread plate material (a resin casting) from Jim Etter at American Industrial Models.  It was perfect for this purpose, but was way too thick for use on the model trucks and fire apparatus.  I also bought the cheapest (thinnest) store brand aluminum foil which was easier to form compared to the heavy duty Reynolds Wrap the wife had in the kitchen.  Thinned Elmers glue was the go to adhesive.


2007 rt rr.jpg

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