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Friul or Modelkasten?

Friul or Modelkasten?
Often the question asked in the forums is “What’s better, the Friul tracks or the Modelkasten ones?” This isn’t that easy to answer but I will try to explain the advantages and disadvantages here.
The metal tracks (from Friul) are very easy to assemble, just like the modelkasten plastic ones. However, the main differences are that the Friul tracks are connected to each with a wire in much the same way as real ones, and the Modelkasten ones are glued together using two end connectors. I will try to explain now how I assemble the metal Friuls.

1. First it is necessary to check all the links. Note: The left and the right tracks links are in two separate plastic bags.
2. The links need to be checked for flash (which is very rare) and this can be removed with a hobby knife. Sometimes it is necessary to drill out the holes the wire goes through, I usually use a 0.5 mm drill to do the job. You only have to do it on one side because it isn’t necessary to drill out the whole link. This is the reason why the left and right tracks are separated.
3. Wash the tracks in a warm water with a bit of cleaning detergent, as sometimes they may have some mould release agent left over.
4. Cut the wire into pieces a few mm' longer than the links themselves (use eye protection for this, I cannot stress this enough!), so that when you put them through the links they will extend a few mm outside the edges.
5. Put a small drop of superglue on the end of the connectors. Once this is dry you can remove the remainder of the wire.
6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you have the desired length of track.

On the metal tracks there is very rarely any flash, but once you’ve connected the links to each other you may find some. What I usually do when the tracks are finished is sand the flash with a file or such to give them a rougher surface, making it easier for paint to stick.

Advantages and Disadvantages
I will try to point out advantages and disadvantages, but these are a matter of personal taste. Other people will always have their own personal preferences.

The main difference is the fact that the Modelkasten are made from plastic, and the Friuls from white metal. I see it as a big advantage that the Friuls have a natural sag because of their weight. The Modelkasten tracks, being made from plastic, weigh a lot less, so they need to have the sag imparted to them, also you must be careful with the Modelkasten tracks, as I’ve found that if you put too much glue on the end connectors, they may not bend properly.

Applying washes:
In my experience with Modelkasten, I have found that if I put too much wash (oil based) on them, the tracks can become very fragile indeed, in other words, the tracks can break up and become useless. This does not happen with the Friul ones because of their metal construction.

The price of aftermarket tracks are actually very close to each other despite the different materials used to construct them. The Friuls cost approximately 29.75 euros and Modelkasten prices are vary between 24 and 34 euros, depending on size and quantity in the pack.

Personal Choice
My preference is firmly with the Friuls, mainly because they are less fragile than the Modelkasten ones, at least as far as applying washes go, but also because of their solidness and their weight. Sometimes there are also two drive sprockets provided to replace the original kit parts due to fit issues. I really would recommend that you try out both aftermarket producers at some time, just to form your own personal opinion. Have fun!
  • Fruilmodel Tracks
  • Fruilmodel Tracks
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  • Fruilmodel Tracks

About the Author

About Jurjen Zuijdendorp (Jurjen)

Hi! My name is Jurjen Zuijdendorp from Groningen, Netherlands. I started building models when I was a kid and my main interest today is Soviet/Russian modern armour. I studied Human Geography and spatial planning and currently working as an assistent project manager at the spatial planning departmen...


Nice article, Jurjen
JAN 07, 2006 - 01:55 AM
Sounds like the model kasten are not even taking the time to look at what with most of the recent sets comiong out with good indiviaual links in plastic included. I still can't justify spending more on a track set than I do on the kit, so I will forever be relegated to what comes with the kit, which I personally find more than adequate for my needs
JAN 09, 2006 - 03:03 AM
I prefer Modelkasten over Friul. Faster to clean up than re- drill all the holes and cut wire/plastic rod to the apropriate length. And they sag the same way as Friuls do, because gravity also works with plastic. Believe me, I have the Friul and the Modelkasten tracks for the T-55, there´s no differendce in the way they sag. I don´t know, why this rumor always comes up that Friuls sag better? 1kg of plastic weighs the same amount as 1kg of white metal. Thomas
JAN 09, 2006 - 06:16 PM
Hi Thomas, What I tried to explain that if you apply too much glue on the endconnectors of the modelkasten tracks. And the glue sets before you positioned the tracks on the tank, it can be difficult then to re-position them with a sag. That's why I prefer the Fruil ones. But that's just personal. A kg plastic = a kg white metal....true, but a 25 centimeter track of plastic has not the same weight as a 25 centimeter of white metal. Cheers! Jurjen
JAN 09, 2006 - 07:11 PM
I have built both tracks several time and I have to say both have its advantages and disadvantages. My opinion: (comparing to the same type of tracks) Advantage MK is more accurate and clear in detail MK is cheaper Fruil is more sturdier and have a good weight quality Fruil (new version) is easier to build Disadvantage MK is extremely fragile MK is more complicated to build (panther have 5 parts to one link) Fruil is more expensive Fruil (old version) is also fragile and hard to build At the end of the day I prefer Fruil just because its easier to build and the details are very nice. However, I will not wrtie off MK product because some of my best models are built with MK tracks. WC
JAN 10, 2006 - 06:09 AM
So far I have built several sets of Fruils (panther, tiger 2, Elefant and currently working on sherman brit chevrons) and 2 sets of MK (Cromwell and Panzer II). I agree with the comments that the MK are probably more accurate as far them being fragile I agree but neither set (and they were pretty delicate) broken on me. I did however keep the oil washes away from them. The Fruil Sherman tracks are ... umm interesting to assemble. So far I am not sure I like them will see once I have a run assembled if they look right because I think in the case of the Sherman they are going to have sag I don't want (live track on Shermans doesn't appear to sag noticably in most photos I see) due to the weight. Also having to drill out every single link is tedious. My next project is a Tiger 1 (Tamiya kit not the DML one) and I have a set of MK in the closet so I will be using those. Should be interesting to see how those stack up against the Fruils for the Elefant and Tiger 2 for assembly and looks.
JAN 10, 2006 - 08:34 PM
I am lucky enough to have a friend who prefers the MK track, so he buys Frui for me in trade for all the sets I collected. One advantage with the Frui track is the quantity. One set of Panther tracks has enough extra links to cover the turret sides with track. On a tank like the T-34, the weight of the Frui makes it slump over the road wheels easier. Both types look very nice finished.
JAN 19, 2006 - 07:41 AM
I think that the article is well done giving both opinions to us beginners. What I would like to see is the easiest option that is the most accurate... Not necessarily either of these two tracks... Cheers, MSW
FEB 01, 2006 - 03:49 AM
I have tried to used DML indies on my Elefant and then tried the Fruil tracks. Very little work to get them assembled, hardest part was figuring out a technique for the assembly. but now I have no problem with them. The Fuil will weigh more per inch than any plastic ones. Hardest part on the Ferdinands was adjusting the idler so the track hung correctly, since DML designed the idler so it could be adjusted.
FEB 01, 2006 - 08:15 AM
I agree! One thing I might add is sometimes there is too much "play" or "space" between links in the Friul tracks which can make them unrealistic. I just wish MK made their pins a bit differently, maybe making them longer or even turned metal (but that would be expensive) to give more strength to the assembled runs? Cheers, Christophe
FEB 17, 2006 - 03:47 AM