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Pat Leblanc's take on the Lunar Rover


Pat is one of those rare MMM collectors that is never satisfied with the toys produced by Mattel. He marries his desire for toys more closely modeled after real space projects, with a desire to be inventive, to create new items for Matt and his pals. Below is another remarkable adaptationa of available Mattel parts, repurposed into something new and unique: the Lunar Rover!

From Pat:
When a cheap, non-working Astro Trac (AT) came up on E-bay, I decided to bid on it thinking I might restore it. When a second cheap AT went up for bids a few weeks later, I started thinking about the Lunar Rovers (LR) used on Apollo's 15, 16 and 17. The front ends of the two vehicles are similar. But to build a LR using AT parts, I'd need two AT's because the LR front and rear ends are identical. The LR was also a two-seater. Well here was my chance to try making a Matt-sized Lunar Rover.


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Diagrams and the Real Deal
After winning the second AT, I went to the Internet to get technical information. I found a dimensioned three-view sketch that would allow me to scale my rover. I also got some good views of the real thing on the moon. I wanted to use as much of the AT's as possible and decided on the wheels, fenders, seats and control console. The antenna would come from a ReconoJet. To simplify things, I also decided against trying to motorize it (for now).

The LR is actually pretty simple: four wheels and two seats on a relatively flat chassis. To get the proper scale, I made the finished length 9" and the finished width 8" (adjusted for the smaller diameter and greater width of the AT's wheels).

I removed the front ends from the AT bodies and pulled the wheels off. Using my bandsaw, I cut the front ends down the middle (each fender/wheel would be attached to a corner of the chassis). I also separated the seats from the AT bodies and the control consoles from the seats.



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Planning and Dissembly
I trimmed the front end halves leaving the fenders and the axle bearings and painted the fenders red. I bought a 1/8" steel rod for the new longer front and rear axles. I cut the chassis from 0.1" thick plexiglass and painted the underside white. In order to stabilize the seats, I attached 1/2" x 1/2" aluminum angles to the bottom of each. I also used pieces of aluminum angle to finish and stenghten the edges of the chassis.

After separating the control consoles from the seats I was left with holes in the front of the seats and an irregular shape on the back of the console column. I used a thin styrene sheet to cover the holes in the seats and to restore the back of the console column.



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Lunar Rover Finished Views
I mounted the major components on the chassis. I used a wooden dowel to extend the ReconoJet antenna mount and painted the antenna gold.

Now that all of the major components were completed, it was a matter of how much detail to include (the chassis looked kind of plain). I added strips of sand paper to the area in front of the seats. I also added wooden blocks covered in silver metallic tape. The camera is made of wooden blocks and dowels painted gold. Finally, I bent coat hangers to create a storage "bin" for the rear of the LR.

The finished Rover rolls well with two astronauts. Overall, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Now I just need some moon rocks for the trunk.






All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial is Copyright © 1997-2017 John Eaton or Pat LeBlanc. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here or Pat LeBlanc by clicking here.


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