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Motorized Cat Trac Project

Burnin' Rubber!!!!

One of the most active contributors to the Major Matt Mason customization group, Toby Denham gives a step-by-step how-to on motorizing a Cat Trac. This was originally published on two of the Major Matt Mason email distribution lists. To join, click here.

Motorized Cat Trac Project - Part 1 - Overview
If you ever wondered what to do with Cat Tracs that may have damaged tracks, cut 'em up and modify 'em. Below is a photo of a Cat Trac that had a place on the tracks that was melted away. However, the body was in great condition. So I cut the tracks off and made a "for real" Cat Trac. It goes forward, climbs small obstacles and, with the flick of the lever, spins around and goes in the other direction. Matt thinks it's a real GAS. How do I know? He told me so, of course!

I put a great deal of work into the assembly of this vehicle so it would look like it was made by Mattel. I am very satisfied with the results. And even though it wasn't made by Mattel, it's still SWELL.

- Toby

For all those who wanted more details of the construction of the remote controll Cat Trac, here is the first phase. Shown in the attached photo, are the various components already fabricated and ready for assembly. I will give a brief description of each component.

First order of business is removing the tracks from the Cat Trac body. This is done by detaching the end retaining clips and folding the tracks up so they are sticking straight out from the body. Using a sharp exacto knife, a cut is made along the folding seam. This is fairly simple since the plastic is very thin at this seam. Nevertheless, care must be taken in order to make a clean and neat cut.

The motor and track unit with remote controller is an item taken from another toy. When I started planning this project, I was prepared to build a track unit from scratch. However, I happened to find this toy called "Land Fighter Power Tracks" which had a track unit that was absolutely perfect for this project. As it turned out, every aspect of the track unit was "just right" from the length and width to the configuration of the motor housing (which made it relatively easy to mount the Cat Trac body).

There IS one problem though with this unit. The toy it comes from is either no longer being manufactured or is no longer being distributed to toy stores in my area. I am having a difficult time finding them. As of now, I have enough to make three Cat Tracs.

The other pieces in the photo are the components that make up the chassis. These are made from Styrene plastic modeling material that can be purchased at any good hobby shop. For this project, I used sheet styrene 1/16 of an inch thick to make the base or "floor", the front mounting bracket and the skid plate. For the rear mounting flange I used a 1/4 inch square strip (cut to 1" length). The two chassis rails are cut from 1/4 inch angle strips.

The remaining two small items in the photo are the rear mounting screw and nylon washer.

In the next phase (to be submitted in another e-mail), I will show the completed chassis / body unit. So stay tuned. Also, if there are any comments, questions or suggestions (or even any snide remarks), please send them to me.

It is my hope that sharing this project will stimulate others to start a similar project. Projects like these are a good way to utilize damaged or somewhat less desirable Matt Mason accessories. In other words, take junk and make neat, fun stuff to enhance your Matt collection.


All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content is copyright 1997-2001 John Eaton or Toby Dehnam. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here or Toby Denham by clicking here.

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