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TK1430's Mudtrooper build (images fixed)


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Hi all!

I've been lurking off-and-on here for a few years.  In November 2019 I purchased a Plash Palatka with the intention of building a mudtrooper... but real life kind of got in the way for a while.  About a month ago I decided to start the build.  I'm actually nearing completion, but decided to create a build thread here.  The existing build threads have been EXTREMELY helpful, and I thought maybe I might share something that would help the next builder.

I decided that I would 3D print most of the armor, using the files from ** Mudtrooper.co.uk **.  One of my motivations for doing so is that I'm a bit shorter at 5'5", and I know most kits don't really fit anyone under 5'8".  So this way I could scale it to fit.

That said, I didn't want to mess with printing the chest and back in 4 pieces each (to fit on my print bed) and trying to glue them together and reinforce them.  More on that later...

First off, a list of components:
Goggles - 3D printed
Goggle Lens - Replacement welding shield
Goggle serrated buckles - sourced from Ebay
Goggle remaining buckles - 3D printed
Goggle Gasket - Foam
Shoulder Bells - 3D printed
biceps - 3D printed
Helmet and TU - 3D printed
Helmet Chin Cup - Rawlings batting helmet chin cup from Amazon
Helmet Liner - I went with Condor Helmet pads to reduce weight
Shin armor - 3D printed
All belt boxes - 3D printed
Respirator - 3D printed
Respirator Yugo Buckles - real sourced from ebay
Respirator mesh - Bondo self-adhesive Body Patch
Chest/Back Armor - vacuum formed
Hoses - Scuba hoses (as of now anyway, hoping they'll work) from Amazon
Scarf - military scarf sourced from Ebay
Jacket/Pants - Ordered from keeptrooping.com (aka Imperial Boots), awaiting shipment
Upper belt buckle - Metal from super6props on Etsy
Upper belt leather - 2" belt blank from Amazon
helmet discs - metal from BaileyBuildsDesigns on Etsy
Shoulder and shin straps - rubber from PlasticArmsDealer (Andrew McClary) on Etsy
Gloves - Highlander Spec Ops gloves from Ebay
Boots - acquired from a fellow 501st member years ago
Plash Palatka - MyCosplayArmor on etsy (from Russia, purchased in 2019)
Misc strapping from Amazon/Walmart

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The first item I chose to print was the goggles.  



I was pleased with the print, so I progressed to the shoulders and biceps.  Being smaller in stature, I wanted to scale them down to better fit me (I had to trim my TK and TD should bells and biceps down to fit).  So I started at 85% of normal size and did a test print.  I printed the shoulder bell upside down to save time/filament as it wouldn't require as much support.  I knew the exterior surface would look rough this way, but since it was a print to test for size that didn't matter.



I determined that 85% was too small, and decided on 95% for the shoulders.  The biceps however I ended up just scaling the height (so they wouldn't hang past my elbows preventing me from bending my arms) and leaving the diameter the same. So I printed the bells right-side up:  Here you can see how much filament was "wasted" printing the supports:


Using a jacket I have as a stand-in for the muddy jacket to provide the bulk everything needs to fit over, I determined this sizing was about right:


I decided to try a new technique to smooth the 3D prints this time, using UV resin painted over the surface then sanding.  It worked GREAT!  I went from a raw print of a shoulder bell to primer in about an hour.  BUT, WEAR A RESPIRATOR when working with and sanding the UV resin!



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To size the shins to fit, I knew I couldn't just scale the files, because it would make the "slots" for the straps too small.  So I imported the file into Tinkercad, cut about 2" (53mm) out of the middle of it, and put it back together.  I was then able to print it in one piece on my wife's Creality CR-10 by positioning it diagonally on the print bed.



Now for the chest and back armor.  I really didn't want to have to print the armor in pieces and glue it together, then reinforce it.  I just had visions of my armor coming apart in the middle of a troop somewhere.  Lucky for me, my good friends Emily and Michael at Hyperspace Props had acquired Head Shot Props, and had all of the vacform bucks etc.  Now, Hyperspace Props isn't currently producing or selling any armor from the Head Shot Props molds, but I twisted Michael's arm a bit and got him to do a "test pull" of the mudtrooper chest and back as part of the process of learning to use the vacform table.  Ultimately, the pulls were rough.  The bucks weren't really ready, and some of the detail just didn't form well.  So I had some work to do.


First, I needed to tackle the lack of detail on the chest armor.  I went back to the 3D files and digitally cut the recessed detail out to print as a separate piece:


I then cut the poorly-formed detail out of the vacformed chest armor, and glued the 3D printed detail piece behind the hole:


Test-fit before smoothing the printed piece:




You can also see in the above picture that I used a dremel to increase the depth of the recessed area around the flat front of the chest armor... I kind of butchered it but will clean that up more later.

I realized that the raised "box" on the left-hand side (as wearing it) had an inaccurate detail on it that would have to be fixed.  I had to cut the side of the "box" down with a dremel, patch it up with a piece of scrap styrene, fill in the gaps, and paint it smooth.  I then 3D printed the rectangular detail that's supposed to be there and glued it on (but I didn't get a good pic of doing so).






I also installed snaps on the top of the armor at the shoulders.  Borrowing a trick I use on my TK and TD, I use elastic straps INSIDE the armor to help hold at the shoulders.  This puts most of the weight on these straps that are easy to replace vs. putting the weight and strain on the rubber straps that are more costly to replace.
I also use the elastic straps to attach the shoulder bells.


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Now for the back armor.  Again, the details were soft or non-existent, as it was formed doing a "test" vacuumform.  For the "stair-stepped" detail piece in the lower left (as wearing the armor), I did the same thing and cut the detail out of the 3D file, and printed it as it's own piece.  As before, I then cut the poorly-formed piece out of the armor and glued the 3D printed piece in from behind.  Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of that process.

I used some CA glue to glue webbing to the back of the shoulder straps (I originally riveted it which you'll see in some pics):


I then cut slots in the armor at the shoulders for this webbing to pass through.  I sewed some velcro to the webbing, and installed industrial strength velcro inside the back armor for it to adhere to.  Using velcro allows me to break down the armor more to stow in my tote, and it makes it easier to replace the shoulder straps if ever necessary.



I had to add the shoulder wedges for the shoulder straps.  This may be the most difficult thing I've done so far.  I downloaded a 3D print file of the wedges (From Thingiverse IIRC), and printed them.  However, the surface of the back armor isn't flat, so I had to dremel the wedges to get a basic fit.  I then used CA glue to glue them in place, and also filled in with some PETG using my 3D pen (more uses for that later).  I need to go back and do some final smoothing of the area, but they're installed.


For the larger recessed areas, I needed to do something different.  The vacform had pulled down enough that there was a soft edge to the areas that needed to be cut out, and I couldn't get them flat without cutting the square areas too large.  So, I went ahead and cut them too large, and once again went back to the 3D file to rescue me.  Using Windows 3D Builder, I sliced the very back off the armor, and then scaled it down to about 1.5mm thick.  I then printed it to use as a "cover plate" to cover the larger holes I cut in the armor.





I printed the boxes, and glued them to the cover plate with CA glue (CA glue accelerator is amazing!) so that I could put the assembly in as one piece (I had shot one of them with a little paint to see if I could get away with not smoothing the print... nope) 




And with some smoothing of the boxes and a little paint:

Finally, I printed the detail pieces for the recessed boxes as well as the small round detail and installed them.

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When I first loaded the helmet into my 3D printing slicer, it estimated 6 days to print, and almost 2 rolls of filament.   A big reason for this was all of the support needed to hold up the top of the helmet while it printed.  I thought about how my snowtrooper helmet went together, with separate flare and dome pieces.  So I cut the digital file just below the brim, to print the helmet in 2 pieces.  While I was at it, I "modeled in" holes to mount the discs, and small index marks inside at the front and back to assist in aligning the top and bottom.  By printing the "flare" of the helmet upside down, I eliminated the need for any supports for that part of the helmet.  I then printed the dome of the helmet.  Overall, it saved a roll of filament and cut the print time by 3 days!  Thank goodness my wife let me use her CR-10 so the helmet would fit, it wouldn't fit on my little Ender 3!





Look at all that support that will just be thrown out!


It was then a simple matter of gluing the top and bottom of the helmet together.  I used CA glue to get it in place, then "welded" it together on the inside using my 3D pen with the same PETG filament.



After smoothing with UV resin and some sanding, it painted up pretty well.  There are still a few imperfections, but I figure once I get it weathered up they won't really show.
I also printed the Telemetry unit.  I have some minor neck issues and want to keep the helmet as light as possible.  So even though I was given a resin-cast TU, I opted for the 3D printed version.

I then installed the discs, chin strap, and edge trim.


For the interior, I opted to not use the skate/bike helmet and used Condor helmet pads.  They're a bit lighter than the bike helmet, and they velcro in place, so you can take them out and wash them if they get too funky.  I've used them in my TK bucket for years and have been very happy with them.  I know it's not accurate to what's on-screen and not eligible for Specialist, but I'm ok with that.


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There's really not much to say about the goggles.  I printed them, smoothed them with UV resin, and painted them.  I used a replacement welding face shield for the goggle lenses, carefully scoring and breaking it where the angled sides needed to be (I used a template I found on the Facebook mudtrooper builders to cut the lens out).  I then used the same template to cut the foam "gasket" to glue to the goggles (I tried silicone rubber but couldn't get it to stick).  I was able to find some of the correct serrated buckles on Ebay, and 3D printed the rest of the buckles.  Currently, the wider strap is nylon webbing, but I have 1.5" wide elastic coming to replace it, as I don't like how it fits.






Getting the adjuster details to print on my filament printer was tricky.  I ended up cutting the brass-colored piece in half and printing 2 halves vertically.  I highly recommend getting this printed in resin if you can.

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The respirator was a pretty straight-forward build, except I had to cut out the slots in the mouth section.  I'm not sure why the 3D model doesn't have these cut out, but no worries, I have a dremel!



I started by drilling holes at each end of each slot:

Then I cut the slots out with a cutting wheel on the dremel.  OOPS, I got too close in a couple of places and had to fill in the damage!

Once the slots were cut, I cleaned them up with sandpaper and files.  Then I again used UV resin to smooth the print.  
I installed the Bondo screen behind the slots, and also cleaned up the filters and installed the screen in those.  I still need to install the hoses and the hex bolts on the filters (the 3D models didn't print well).



I then installed the straps and buckles.  The "3-part" buckles on the mask are 3D printed, the others are from a Yugoslavian M77 pack from ebay.  Yay for pre-weathered buckles!

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For the upper belt, I purchased a metal Imperial buckle on etsy (the seller had some that were "damaged" which was fine), and a leather belt blank from Amazon.  I used some liquid masking fluid to mask off spots on the buckle to simulate wear, then painted it.  I then assembled the belt, using a chicago screw for the "rivet".


The belt boxes were pretty straight-forward.  I downloaded them from thingiverse, made sure the dimensions matched the CRL, then I printed them, smoothed them and painted them up.  I used some liquid masking fluid to mask off some areas for wear before painting. I'm currently using metal belt clips to hold them on the belts (I printed them with a 2mm thick back, so that there's some "meat" to hold the belt clip screws), but I'm not happy with this solution, as they slide and twist a lot.  I'll probably glue or screw them in place.
Belt Box 3D file: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3386569
Leather belt blank: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087PFPVK6?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details



For the lower belt, my wife sewed 2 1.5" pieces of webbing together for me, using a zigzag pattern.  Then I printed the boxes, smoothed them with UV resin, and painted them up.  Again, I'm currently using metal belt clips to hold them on the belt, but will be replacing this method as they REALLY don't hold well on the webbing.  I sewed some velcro on each end to fasten the belt, but I may put a side-release buckle on it instead, to make it easier to put on.







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Back to the shins.  Of course, after printing I had to attach the knee plate, smooth everything, and paint.  I used CA clue to attach the knee plate, and then reinforced the joint using my 3D pen to "weld" the knee plates on (it's not pretty, but it works).



I originally tried velcro to attach the leg straps, but it just wouldn't hold.  So, borrowing ideas from other build threads here, I used snaps.  I 3D modeled a simple "snap plate" that a snap can recess in, printed 8 of them, then installed the snaps in the plates.  I then CA glued the snap plates in place on the back of the shins, and again reinforced the joint with my 3D pen.  I glued webbing to the rubber straps using CA glue (making sure to score the rubber really well in a cross-hatch pattern with a xacto blade), and installed snaps on the straps. Also, I did end up gluing the buckle end of the straps to the shins using CA glue.  The snap offers a little reinforcement/backup.  One great thing I discoverd is that I can attach the shins to the boots before I put the boots on, and then slip my foot/leg into the boot.  It makes it a tad easier to get dressed.  You can download my snap plate file here: Heavy Duty Snap Plate by jedi5150 - Thingiverse





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For the Plash Palatka, I decided to try fabric spray paint to make it black.  I read a lot about the stripping/dying process, and didn't really want to take that on if I didn't have to.  So after reading through Jafo's build thread and seeing his post about Duplicolor fabric and vinyl paint, I decided to give it a try.  It's going to work, but it's going to take about 8 cans of the stuff to get a decent black on both sides.  I found the paint on Amazon for $3.00/can cheaper than I can buy it locally, so I'm waiting for that to arrive.

One coat half-way:


2 coats on 1 half of one side:

I've been struggling to figure out how I'm going to wear the darned thing.  Being 5'5" tall, it's REALLY HUGE for me.  However, I was recently reading Merkava74's build thread, and came across his diagram for how he folds/sews the Palatka to fit.  I'm going to give that a shot.

Duplicolor Fabric and Vinyl paint - 6 pack: Amazon.com: Dupli-Color HVP106-6 PK Vinyl and Fabric Coating Spray Paint - Flat Black - 11 oz Aerosol Can Pack of 6 : Tools & Home Improvement

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Well at this point I felt it was worth a test fit.  I don't have the jacket and pants from keeptrooping.com yet, so I used a jacket I have to provide the "bulk" of the jacket to make sure everything fits over it.  Obviously I need to work on the fit of the plash palatka and secure the belt boxes, and I'm re-printing the biceps to be a bit larger in diameter (they're a bit too tight). But everything is coming together nicely!




Here are a few things I know I still need to work on:

goggles:    replace wide strap with elastic
plash palatka:    finish dying black
plash palatka:    finalize attachment method and shaping/folding
biceps:    printing larger will need finished and strapping
upper belt:    glue boxes in place
lower belt:    glue boxes in place
lower belt:    buckle on back
respirator:    hoses
back:     install hose connectors
back:    install foam "wings"
back:    install collar
shins:    install some method of keeping them straight


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