Aliens M577APC Full size build discussion thread

Riceball

Sr Member
This needs to be built with functional turrets, side door and an accurate interior including the odd steering column.

As far as mirrors and the like go, do they need to permanently attached or can they be made to be removable? My thinking is that if they don't need to be permanent then you would attach them when you're driving and then remove them once you've reached your destination and put it on display.
 

Grey

Sr Member
This needs to be built with functional turrets, side door and an accurate interior including the odd steering column.
I don't think that's physically possible since the "interior" of the base vehicle is one big engine and drivetrain.
 

Bugstomper

New Member
As much as i would love to see a full scale M577 APC roam free, i fear that such a project would suffer from prohibitive cost.
That aside lets make a List of the options with pros and cons:

1) Find and modify a Aircraft Tow Tractor like they did for the movie (maybe just any similar vehicle - are there any original Hunslett ATT77 still in existence?):
+ relatively inexpensive (still five figure estimate)
++ existing/working chassis/drivetrain
+ correct (or at least close) dimensions enable good exterior representation of M577
- not legal for regular operation on public roads
- - no real interior (extremely limited, if any...)

2) Build your own custom chassis to M577 specs
+ correct dimensions enable perfect exterior representation of M577
+ usable interior (still more cramped than movie set...)
- - many, many problems to tackle in order to make it a working vehicle (chassis, suspension, transmission, motor...)
- not legal for regular operation on public roads

3) scaled down, road legal custom chassis
+ + you can ride around the 'hood in your dream APC (don't forget the lowrider hydraulics...:cool)
+ easy to travel to conventions etc.
+ good exterior representation (depending on modifications required for conformity - if it needs more windows, it gets problematic)
- - many, many problems to tackle in order to make it a working vehicle (chassis, suspension, transmission, motor...)
- interior very cramped,

4) road legal approximate using an existing chassis
+ easy to travel to conventions etc.
+ you can ride around the 'hood in a cool APC
++ existing/working chassis/drivetrain
- interior will be limited by the chassis used (might still be quite usable)
- exterior will look distinctively different from M577

One more option comes to mind, that hasn't been discussed here yet:

Skip the whole "moving vehicle" part and go for a completely static prop/set piece.
I would suggest to start with a replica of the interior set with just the door area of the exterior (maybe the front as well...)

I'm sure, all those colonial marines here would have a lot of fun with a simulated drop in this environment (no windows anyways...)
I recall a dropship simulator (Cockpit only) being made as well...

You could make it modular (maybe a team project?) so you can bring it to conventions etc (transport should still be easier than for option 1 and 2 above)
Maybe you could even create the interior in a mobile home trailer so it can be towed in one piece where needed...

What else could/should we consider?
 
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Riceball

Sr Member
Another option might be to base it on an existing chassis that's roughly the same dimensions and then add the shell to it, it would probably be an exterior only deal that way. As far as making it street legal, there has to be guidelines and regulations somewhere that talk about making a custom vehicle street legal, specifically I'd be curious to know if removable parts like mirrors, brake lights, & turn signals are legal or do things like that need to be permanently attached. If removable parts are ok then it makes making the APC mockup street legal yet screen accurate that much easier.
 

Bugstomper

New Member
Just some more thoughts
If you want exterior only on a donor vehicle, the size of the wheels is the main criterium.
The huge wheels are most characteristic for the design while other dimensions like wheelbase and width might have more room for adjustment.

Unfortunately there are not that many vehicles with such large wheels and overall low clearance.
Modern airport tugs tend to have a different layout with smaller wheels, cradling the nose landing gear of the aircraft.
Huge wheels are more common on farming or mining equipment but then the chassis is usually taller as well and the steering mechanism is often different.
(The Big Bud 16V-747 has a similar wheelbase - imagine the driver Cab sitting on the roof of the APC...)
Not all of them are street legal either.
While it may not be impossible to find a suitable chassis - it's still going to be quite expensive.

A more practical approach would be to settle for smaller wheels in exchange for more usability.
The chassis of a modern, low-entry bus might actually be the best starting point.
Maybe put (paint) some fake large wheels on the outside.
Bus-To APC Conversion.png
The whole window/roof area will have to be completely remodeled though.
Riceball: I don't think, that it would be a big problem to make "legalising add-ons" removable but i'm really worried about the need for additional windows/viewports as the drivers view is clearly limited to a very narrow angle - mirrors would help much, but nowadays cameras appear to be an acceptable option.
 
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Oddmar

New Member
Hi, my name is Oddmar, and yes, i'm a replica-holic.

I have thought about building a replica M577 APC for years. Most of the things i build are 1:1 scale. Smaller scales don't interest me as much.

With experience in Toyota 4x4 restoration and upgrading, welding and fabrication, some Hollyweird animatronics, Vinyl sign company, video surveillance system design and installation, now RC ground and aerial 'drone' experience...etc., I have a good background for this project.

I'd have to go with the custom frame/ drivetrain solution. It helps that i have most of the equipment to build it.

I am not a purist however. (A Chevy V6 is fine in a Toyota...a kit car made out of foam is fine if it looks like a real car, etc).

I dislike the design of the M577. The driver's steering interface is goofy. The front 20mm gatling turret only has a 120ish degree field of fire. The way the main turret rides along rails down the back is odd and fragile. In my design (a later model APC, the M583 :) I would have the front turret mounted on the roof between the front wheels for a 270ish field of fire, the main turret rise up out of the roof, and extend the rear a bit for another point defense gatling turret facing rearward for at least 200* coverage behind the main turret. Grenade/ flare tubes along the perimeter of the roof, anti-personnel charges along the skirt. Gull-wing side doors, both sides, opening upwards and downwards. Vertical-launch missile tubes in front of the rear wheels. Vertical launch drone tubes in back of the front wheels, for recon and laser targeting for the VLM's. Gunner's console in the front passenger seat where the gatling turret WAS (because the gunner's seat in the illustration is occupying the same space as the mechanism for the left front wheel steering/ suspension). Troop seats between the side doors. Ammo drums and those 4BT Cummings engines where the troop seats are in the illustration.



If you like the above image, save it, as image-hosting sites on the web are fickle.

But if you just HAD to have the M577 LOOK, i understand.

I have completely designed the turret stabilization and fire-control/ gunner's interface systems. From what each button should do to the sequencing relays for the anti-personnel charges. And every other minute thing i could imagine.

As for legal, it depends on what you intend to do with the finished product. Driving it across several states will require it to be a maximum of 102" wide. Registration of a kit-car can be done in Arkansas for $37. It needs to have brakes, working signals, seat belts, etc. The (stock) front 20mm turret would be an unacceptable vision-blocking obstruction. As for turn signals, brake lights and such, simply make them in a housing set in the side of the hull that flips over to hide the light when you are at the convention. Side mirrors can fold into recesses and disappear. Rear view can be by camera/ LCD screen. In my M583 design, all the weapon turrets lower to a hull-down position under covering panels, this would meet the state requirements to have no weapons (real or otherwise) mounted on the vehicle. Might scare the sheeple.

If you intend to haul it to a convention, why not build it in two halves? Tubular chassis with foam/ plastic/ NidaCore skin ( http://www.merrittsupply.com/category/325-nidacore.aspx ) to keep the weight down.The vehicle can then be built 11 feet wide 1:1 scale, the left and right half hauled on separate trailers to the site and reassembled. This is simplified by it's having an electric drive system. It could be a static display but having it able to drive around would be way cool. Imagine taking it to Wasteland Weekend! http://wastelandweekend.com/press/gallery/#prettyPhoto[gallery]/9/
 
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Oddmar

New Member
I just looked up 1.9L VW TDI diesel engines on Ebay and they're going for $800-$1500. Most are low-mileage pulls from Japan. With 54+mpg and 130bhp that would be far more fuel efficient and alot quieter/ lighter than a 4BT.

We could use electric-locking differentials with a driveshaft connecting front and rear, with 1 or 2 forklift (electric) motors driving the shaft, and the engine turning a gen head for power. Deep-cycle batteries could be placed in two rows along either side of the center driveshaft tunnel, for quiet operation. I have a design for a hydraulically-operated variable-height suspension, where coil springs/ shocks would allow for normal suspension travel, and the hydraulic rams would vary the ride height. This would allow high clearance for an off-road environment, low clearance for highway use, and even hull-down for a combat environment to prevent the vehicle from moving or tangos firing under the vehicle.

They make 'turf' tires for tractors used in parks and golf courses that have a smoother, less 'knobby' tread design to keep from tearing up the grass. We could cut away most of the sidewall, use a hot knife to form a new bead in the remaining sidewall, and build/ mill two-piece aluminum rims (similar to Hummer rims) to allow for easy assembly. Pneumatic beadlocks (similar to Staun pneumatic beadlocks) could seat the inner and outer beads onto the rim and allow for limited runflat capability. The shorter sidewall would significantly improve on-road handling while reducing weight.

I would propose building a 1/3 or 1/2 scale APC replica first though, probably out of tubing and XPS foam with 35" tires (for the 1/2 scale), as a prototype to insure proper drivetrain/ suspension fitment. It could be made RC FPV as well. Whaddya think? 5-1/2 feet wide, 15 feet long?

Edited to add: After further thought even 1/2 scale would be excessive for a prototype. 1/4 scale would be about 32 inches wide by 7 feet long? With 20 inch tall lawn tractor tires? That should be sufficient for sizing/ design purposes.
 
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Oddmar

New Member
Getting a little closer to having the shop/ money to do this. I still want to build the dang thing, it's just 17 items down the list.

Hmmmmm...1:1 scale Aliens APC that i can drive around, or a 1:1 scale Millennium Falcon that just sits there, but i could live in....

Just kidding, i'd have a heart attack or stroke trying to build a full-scale Millennium Falcon. :)

I could easily build a 1/4 scale remote-controlled M577 if anyone would want to buy it....?
 

CAMOGLAZE

New Member
The original vehicle was itself a 'scale model', in that the fantasy interior would not fit inside a large airport tow tractor.
If you want to build a replica you have to decide if 1:1 means large enough for the fantasy interior or 1:1 to the movie vehicle. The movie vehicle is too wide for road use, I would propose keeping the width of the vehicle below 100inches by placing the driver at the rear top of the vehicle and the forward control cabin occupied by a large doll (the doll could be animated to look like it was struggling with the controls).
The driver would then look through an aeroscreen about where the roof spotlight is located (keeping the spotlight would help camouflage the driver).
Find the largest wheels you can, build the vehicle on an existing or tubular steel chassis incorporating Oddmar's suggestions. The driver would be on top of the rear mounted engine so controls and wiring would be short. The biggest problem is animating the turret.
The finished vehicle could be driven on roads to an event.
Rather than electric, I'd like it to have a growling diesel, and perhaps some external speakers for playing exciting music.
If you're really keen on an operational interior, build a static display that could be disassembled for transport and hide the mobile version. You close the display and wheel out the mobile replica in the event arena and afterwards reopen the display convincing everyone that the two vehicles are the one.
 

Oddmar

New Member
The original vehicle was itself a 'scale model', in that the fantasy interior would not fit inside a large airport tow tractor.
If you want to build a replica you have to decide if 1:1 means large enough for the fantasy interior or 1:1 to the movie vehicle. The movie vehicle is too wide for road use, I would propose keeping the width of the vehicle below 100inches by placing the driver at the rear top of the vehicle and the forward control cabin occupied by a large doll (the doll could be animated to look like it was struggling with the controls).
The driver would then look through an aeroscreen about where the roof spotlight is located (keeping the spotlight would help camouflage the driver).
Find the largest wheels you can, build the vehicle on an existing or tubular steel chassis incorporating Oddmar's suggestions. The driver would be on top of the rear mounted engine so controls and wiring would be short. The biggest problem is animating the turret.
The finished vehicle could be driven on roads to an event.
The original aircraft tow vehicle weighed 72 tons. They removed 40 tons of lead weights. This still left some huge steel beams running the length of the chassis with engine, hub motors, steering, tires, fuel tank. There was no way they could build an interior. And they rarely do anyway. You should see how chintzy the interior of the Landmaster from Damnation Alley looks.

Having the driver up front has nothing to do with width...look at a Humvee. But yeah, it'd be nice to drive on the roads. We could fudge slightly on width vs length/ height and i doubt anyone would notice. A slightly scaled-down version of the interior could be done that you could still move around in comfortably. It was just easier for them to build it in a studio so they could remove parts to fit the cameras in.
Then again (thinking of a project i've been designing recently) it is possible to make it drive on the roads at 100" wide, then at the event site expand to proper width. Remove panels which are stored inside and bolt them on over the split running down the middle...voila!, picture perfect.

102" is the max road width. With each tire measuring 60" the length of the APC is only 25'. 5-6' in front is plenty of room for a driver. The tow vehicle had no suspension but i have designed an independent adjustable-height suspension system.

Animating the turret will not be a problem. I can easily make it elevate/ traverse...even self-level like a GoPro camera gimbal. I totally hate the way it runs down the back of the vehicle on rails (weak design) but i can build that if you twist my arm.

Being in possession of microcams like the FXT T80 i see no problem with blind spots...like young John Connor asked the T800 (Arnold) driving with the headlights off, "Can you see?", and the reply was, "I see everything".

I also possess software called TurretControl which will make the turret(s) autotrack targets without any operator present.
apccon.jpg
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
Yah. You want to see in a given direction, just stick a camera blister on the shell, and a monitor in the driver pod (ideally, in the same relative location.)

Gotta put in a big cupholder for my coffee cup, tho (holds about a quart.)

We're not planning on using a decomm'd aircraft tug - too much work involved in the thing. Scratchbuild frame and chassis, suspension included, which will probably mass less (as a shell) than a stripped aircraft tug chassis, unbuilt.

That's right - it's been a while, but I'm back. I got "found" because of this project, and ideas are beginning to flow...

WRT the turrets - all of the internal layouts show a jumpseat between the front wheelhouses. I figure him for a gunner, in control of the turrets (or at least the large one) and the rocket pods. (Rocket pods? Yeah, rocket pods. Some images show some four-pack rocket pods mounted in the roof roughly amidships, including those as functioning parts should add to the "WOW!" factor, and will be easier than the aft turret. If pressured, I may even be able to make the rockets themselves functional...)

I'm debating on whether to make it four-wheel steering, this would reduce the individual travel needed for the wheels (cut by roughly half for the same arc, reducing the depth of the wheelhouses and their intrusion into the interior) and, with a little extra work, adding in a "mode valve" that would allow the vehicle to "dog-track" - move laterally left or right while maintaining a forward attitude. (I've always wanted to do that.)

I'm still thinking Dieselectric or hydro, for reasons previously given (and a couple I haven't covered yet.) We're thinking full-size, 1:1 scale.

Oddmar - bear in mind that kerb weight has a lot to do with fuel economy, and I'm fairly sure that this isn't going to have anything to do with the kerb weight of a VolksWagen. Still hammering out materials and construction, but throwing out a low figure of 6,000# doesn't feel wrong. Also, bear in mind that tyre beads are reinforced with several rounds of steel wire - passenger car tyres will often have 10-12 wires reinforcing the bead, truck tyres even more. Just cutting a bead ain't gonna happen - not if you want the tyre to hold pressure (even beadlocks, where the tyre is screwed to the rim flange, still depends on those reinforcing wires.)

CAMOGLAZE - what you're referring to is the "TARDIS Effect" - where it's "bigger on the inside than the outside." This is common when sets are built outside of vehicles they're meant to be inside of. This is something we're well aware of, and we're working on.

@Everyone - I seem to have mislaid my copy of the US Colonial Marines Technical Manual (perils of homelessness, was there for a couple of years. 'S why I disappeared in 2014.) Could someone with the USCMTM and a scanner put the two together and scan anything to do with the M577 for me, please? PM for email address. Also, anyone that has pictures of the M577 that are unlikely to be found online (especially anything that would give detail on internal layout or dimensions) - same deal. Please PM for email, I'd love to have copies. I gots work to do...

JDK
 

Jon Kelley

Active Member
i was lucky enough to pick up a set of blueprints a few years ago, they are in my garage somewhere.

i guess you have access to these already?
Do you still have those blueprints? Can you get them scanned? I never had access to them, and I've lost a lot over the last few years. I'm trying to rebuild information in most areas - I even lost 30 years' worth of notebooks - information synthesis, conclusions drawn, projects built, lessons learned, jobs that failed - and why; a lot of information I can't recreate off the top of my head.
 
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