Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Building a T-21 Light Repeating Blaster from EVA Foam

I've been in the process of prepping my T-21 build.  I see a big consideration for this BFG is weight.  I've been trying to brainstorm what might be good ways to lighten the load of the blaster.  The lighter it is, the more likely I'll bring it out trooping. 

What's a T-21?  It's a Big Freaking Gun, and it's totally badass.  Who wouldn't want to carry one of these?!

A Sandtrooper carrying a T-21 Light Repeating Blaster
Last year I scored some 4x8 sheets of high density EVA foam in various thicknesses from 1cm to 10cm thick.  I've been following Kamui Cosplay for a while now, and I've been (kind of) hoarding gathering foam for various costume projects.  I'm thinking that it would be quite possible to create the stock of the T-21 out of EVA foam instead of wood.  I could reinforce the center of it with a piece of aluminum tube (repurposed from a set of old golf clubs).  Last year I made a very strong sword with  EVA foam and aluminum tube in the middle, and it can take (and give) quite a beating!

If it can be done, an EVA foam stock would make the BFG a lot lighter, methinks.  I haven't seen that anyone has attempted this yet.  I asked the troopers over at www.whitearmor.net about this, and one person mentioned that weight distribution, not just weight itself, could be an issue. Making the stock of EVA foam and keeping the typical PVC tubing for the barrel would make the blaster pretty barrel-heavy.  Hmm.  I hadn't considered that issue before.

So this got me thinking about the PVC barrel.  In some of the T-21 builds I've read, I've seen people mention that if they could find a lighter PVC barrel component, they would take it.  The off-the-shelf stuff (schedule 40) is heavy.  Mainly I'm talking about the 3" and 2.5" pipes.  If I could find lighter sections of PVC, then a foam stock built from high-density EVA foam should work balance-wise.

Let it be known that in my area, the only PVC pipe I can find nearby in stores is schedule 40.  A little driving out of my area, and I found schedule 40 cell core PVC pipe at Lowes.  This is lighter than solid schedule 40, but I thought I could do better.  Some calling around to local hardware stores, and I found an Ace Hardware (about 20 minutes away) that was happy to special order a 10' length of 3" schedule 30 pipe for me.  At just $6 (including tax, free ship to store), it was worth buying if only to look at it.

And whaddya know...  the 3" schedule 30 pipe is super light- much lighter than the cell core PVC of the same diameter!  And it's the perfect size!

Next I decided to do some online searching for 2.5" schedule 30 pipe.  This is an odd size that I can't seem to find locally, either.  Lucky for me though, I located a length of 2.5" schedule 30 pipe online via Home Depot.  I should have that here in a few days.

I've got a spOOL68 resin kit for the T-21 on the way, but I think I'm also going to have a go at building the detail stuff in EVA foam as well.  I could always build two blasters- one from foam, and one from wood, and see which one I prefer.  (I wouldn't need two T-21's, so I could always sell the other.  :) )

And with that, the EVA foam T-21 build begins.  First thing was to print out Pandatrooper's full size template, and tape it all together so I know what I'm getting into.

You can see one of the rolled up sheets of EVA foam along with the schedule 30 PVC pipe there on the right.  I've got more than enough material to make at least three T-21 blasters!

Then I made a few print outs of Jax's (over at the MEPD) Parts Breakdown template.  Instead of making my parts out of wood, I'll cut them out of foam in 3/8" and 1/4" thicknesses.  

I am super excited to get this build going.  Fingers crossed that I can maintain momentum.  

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