Jim Bergles Tank Tips
10 Important things to look at when tank building
1 Design your tank with Safety for you and players in mind. A true replica tank looks great! But you wonít see much out of it when trying to drive. Have good vision all the way around your tank. Some fields require 360 deg, Use mirrors if you have to.
2 If you crash and your tank is rolled, you and anybody else should be able to get out, or get pulled out of it from any position it is in. Have multiple exits on opposite sides. Even with good vision a lot of these fields have gullies in them. And you will find them. My home field is a whole new adventure once I got in the tank.
3 If you have a gas or diesel engine make sure your fill spout for the fuel tank and vent go to the outside. If you over fill the tank the excess should flow to the outside away from exhaust area. If you use electric power make sure the batteries are covered to help stop the acid from going airborne if an explosion occurs. And when you hit bumps it will help to keep anything metal from falling on the terminal posts.
4 Make sure there are no sharp edges on the outside of your tank. Players will stick to it like glue if the field allows that type of play. Sand all wood edges to prevent splinters. Everybody and their three sons will becoming up and touching it to have a look. And splinters are a drag.
5 Your exhaust should be in a safe area where a player cannot lean against it or fall against it. Also, it is very important to vent it to the outside of the tank. Thatís a must!!
6 Install a cooling fan for the inside. This helps the motor and anybody who is inside to keep playing. This depends on what type of tank you have. But come August and with the motor running and the gunner and driver doing the best they cannot to not get hit and to drive safely. The temps go up inside. And the last thing we need is a tank crew with heat exhaustion. Or worse passing out.
7 Use a good paintball netting to cover your exits and windows. Everybody who can shoot at you will. Players will try to put paint through every crack they see, I know. The last thing you need is to get hit in the goggles or temples when you are trying to drive. The netting should be held on with something that can be removed if you need to get out. One side of my door net is mounted to the frame. The other three sides I use strong rubber bands to keep them tight. No paint balls have ever broke the bands. If I need to get out in a hurry I can dive right through the nets.
8 Tanks are made for fighting, not for racing. Keep your speed down to 5mph. Know what is in front of you before you go through it. Donít go through a brush pile without a ref checking it out first. Thatís is your spotters job to check it out. If he says go, the players get a kick out of watching a tank run over dead trees or climbing steep hills.
9 Do regular safety inspections before each day of use at a field. Check for fuel leaks, make sure your battery is tight, No cracks in the frame. 6 wheelers need proper tire pressure. Check for holes in the netting that paint balls could go through, check your wheels for tightness. Lights, oil, coolant, kill switch if you so choose to use one. Have extra fuses on hand, spare chains, belts, and a tire, throttle linkage. Players at a big game feel cheated if the tank breaks down and is done for the day. If you get it fixed in a short time they cheer up and actually smile. And some will say thanks for staying in the game.
10 Be nice to players. Donít light them up with paint because you can. Control your fire. And let them make the decisions on which way to go. Offer suggestions if it is your field. But mainly make the player feel like he is in charge. They get a kick out of it. And feel like Patton if they win with the tank on there side. Or the agony of loosing when you had the tank is worse.
Anybody can build a paintball tank. But people who view as a privilege to have one will keep this sport going the right way. I see this as an up and coming event if we do it right. Or it could go the way of the paintball machine gun did and get banned from the fields. Use common sense and donít abuse the ground pounders.
To me driving the tank is like playing the old arcade games. The target shooting one where the bear comes out and when you hit him he stands up and roars and goes the other way. But you only have to hit him once.