Sunday, May 13, 2018

1956 Chrysler 300B: Complete (#6 for 2018)

Time to go cruising! I seem to have gone off on a Barge tangent lately. The 354 Hemi in the 300B will overwhelm the Stovebolt 6 in the Belair, but the Hornet's 308 might put up a fight until the disadvantages of a flathead show up at higher revs.

A moderate custom this time: suspension lowered about 2.5" at scale, and steel wheels with Racemaster slicks in the rear. The lovely little baby Moon caps are turned aluminum from the aftermarket.

Moebius kits are very well detailed and will reward an experienced builder, while being easy for a beginner -- everything fits, and the instruction sheet is all pretty clear. That being said, there is some flash and mold part lines are visible. This is unfortunate for new molds. I've got their '69 F100 with a six that I am looking forward to building, as well as another Hudson.

Moebius kits have lots of underhood detail not found in other American kits: transmission dipstick, fender-mounted vacuum tank with hoses leading to manifold and brake booster; heater hoses; detailed decals for air filter housings and power steering reservoir, among others. Detail extends to the chassis where a proper steering box can be found, actually connecting through the firewall to the steering column. 

The 300B is far more elegant than the brutish Three Hundred, and doesn't exhibit the huge fins found on the 300C and subsequent 'Letter' cars. The grille is especially nice, and could even have come from Pininfarina or Scaglietti.

Of course both cars are enooormous by today's standards. And while I haven't driven either, I have driven other barges from the mid-'60s. The word flotation comes to mind ...

So was it therapeutic? Yes, in that it was possible to get something done quick. However, it's not show quality; 'quick' still means 'sloppy' to a certain extent. Back to the more complex stuff next.

Stay tuned!

1956 Chrysler 300B: chassis and interior

In keeping with the therapeutic value, I decided to keep it simple and build it out of the box, with the exception of tires and wheels, and getting the stance right. I also went for a non-standard two-tone paint job which caused some problems.

The suspension has been lowered about 2.5" at scale. Front and rear rims come from the parts bin, probably from a Parts by Parks pack or something similar. The baby moons are turned aluminum bits from Parts by Parks, while the Racemaster slicks are from one of the AMT parts packs. The front tires are from the kit; I may switch to blackwalls before final assembly.

The engine is well detailed, with a transmission dipstick, breather tube, fuel lines joining the carbs and a crude-looking throttle linkage. There will be a vacuum tank with hoses leading to the manifold and brake booster, and a set of heater hoses.

The interior is box stock, although I used a darker shade of tan than specified for the leather seats. A lot of nice detail here, but the steering wheel sits too low and would prevent the driver getting in or out. This is a kit problem as the column lines up with the hole in the floor as it should.

Overall I am pleased with it, even if the paint could have been better. Final assembly next. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

1956 Chrysler 300B: Initial planning

Suffering as I do from a bad case of ADD, and needing a break from the mental effort involved in the highly customised S600/2000 and resin Type C, I decided to tackle Moebius' fine 300B. I've got a '69 300 (from Johan) and one of Moebius' Hudsons, so this will fit right into the Barge category.

In order for it to work as therapy, I'll build it out of box, except for two-tone paint, lowered suspension and (possibly) new tires and rims. And with the distributor in the back, and plug wires running under covers to the plugs in the hemi head, I won't even need to bother wiring it up.

All my stalled projects have one thing in common: the engine and drivetrain are quickly complete, but I get stuck on the bodywork. So I decided to start with the bodywork on this one.

So the first problem arose when Tamiya's white primer started pooling and making little pockets of no coverage, just like there was a lot of solvent or grease on the body in spite of a careful wash in dish soap and thorough rinsing and drying. I cleaned it all up with isopropanol, and went straight to the top coat for the roof, Tamiya TS-7 Racing White.

This also acted funny, but added coats seem to have leveled out. Still it needed a lot of careful sanding between coats before taping the roof up to put on the lower body colour. I am trying to avoid excessive paint build-up or sanding because the very fine Chrysler script on the fenders and hood will quickly disappear otherwise, even though I covered it in Bare Metal Foil prior to painting.

As soon as the white is hard enough, I'll tape it up and paint the lower body using Tamiya AS19, Intermediate US Navy Blue. I like these military colours as they are very '50s; the downside is they are slightly matte. A bit of polishing and some clear usually fixes that. Meanwhile the engine and chassis are coming together, with the only major problem (I hope) being figuring out how to lower the front end.

So was this restful and therapeutic? Not really ...

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Auto-Union Type C: initial planning

When I saw this one on eBay, I just had to buy it. A Type C! The specs are seriously scary: a six-litre V16 with a blower making 520 horsepower, swing axles in back and a pair of trailing arms that look like VW Beetle items up front. (Actually the Beetle front suspension looks like a Type C). It's a brutal device by all accounts, and the kit, by a little known Portuguese fellow named Fernando Pinto, is actually pretty decent.

There is the usual amount of flash to clean up; in fact there are some thin pieces that are barely thicker than the flash and that will therefore be problematic. On the other hand, his habit of embedding wire in plastic is interesting, as in the grille; and the hand-laced wire wheels are very nice.

Primer and some putty to fix gaps and pinholes have been successfully applied and left to sit for a few days. No resin paint horror stories, at least not yet [knock on wood] ... next will be to move on to the silver paint which will cover most of the car. I'll use TS-17 (Flat Aluminum) for engine components, and AS-12 (Bare-Metal Silver) or TS-30 (Silver Leaf) for various parts of the body, in order to try to keep some interest.

It will get parked next to my only other F1 car, the Honda RA272 with the 1.5 litre V12 ... A study in contrasts.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Honda S600: Complete (#5 for 2018)

I'm quite happy with this one, which was built for The New Modelers Club ragtop build-off. As always the finishing could have been cleaner, but as always I am more interested in engineering mules than in show pieces.

I really like the S2000 drivetrain and how it fits. And the fat little pipe should be nice and raucous!

Comparison with the S800 is interesting. A couple of minor differences are now obvious (grille, tail lamps), but the customised bodywork with the extra foot of added width really makes a difference.

Under the hood is where the biggest difference lurks. Well, OK, the S2000 unit doesn't exactly lurk. Looming might be a better term.

Eight hundred cc and just under 80 hp (a very respectable 100 hp per litre), versus 2 litres and 240 hp. My Volvo V60 makes 250 hp, but needs 2.5 litres and a turbo to do so, making the S2000 engine a real outlier. 

It's almost like the difference between 289 and 427 Cobras...

So this has taken a lot of time and effort. Lots of scratch-building and fiddling (and the hood still doesn't quite fit); maybe I need a box-stock build as a break. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Honda S600: bodywork, continued

After sorting out the fenders, next was a bulge in the hood to cover the engine, which really is a lot bigger than the stock 600 cc four leaned over at 45 degrees: the entire inlet manifold and most of the cam cover are out in the breeze.

First step was to cut out enough of a hole that the hood would actually close. I decided to retain the opening hood, although in all the horsing around one of the hinges snapped off. We'll see whether I go for hood pins.

With the scale of the hole well understood, next was to fabricate a bulge by cutting up a resin pro-stock hood I got from one of the vendors at NNL. (Sorry, I don't remember which vendor).

Apologies to the pro street builders out there for carving up a perfectly good cowl induction hood, but as the old saying goes, you will need to break some eggs if you want to make an omelette. A lot of trial and error led to a big bulge which is ready for putty, filing and sanding.

I wanted the air filter sticking out into the airstream. The little recess with the cylindrical streamlined section behind it consists, partly, of one of the headlamp buckets and front fender tops cut off the sacrificial body back when I was widening the bodywork. I am quite pleased with this little bit of reuse and recycle.

The S600 truly is tiny, with the petite S2000 looming over it. I love the baby Cobra look. Wikipedia says the original S600 made 57 horsepower and weighed just 715 kg, for a respectable specific power output of almost 80 hp/t. With 240 horsepower, the S2000 power plant will make a huge difference, even if we assume the modified car weighs another 100 kg. At 815 kg and 295 hp/t, this S600 Super would boast the same specific output as a 1963 289 Cobra (271 horsepower, 916 kg).

Next will be paint and, hopefully, final assembly. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Honda S600: bodywork

There is lots to tell here. The S600 features very clean lines, and the primary objective was to keep it all clean and subtle; on the other hand the tires extend pretty much entirely outside the original body. So some sort of bodywork was going to be needed.

I took the (expensive) option of buying a second kit. I cut the sides off this second body and attached them to the first body with strips of styrene strip and angle. I added just under 5 mm (4.75" at 1:1) per side. Here are photos of the left side in progress.

The rear section has been widened by about 9" at 1:1, so there is now room for two round tail lamps instead of one. I think this keeps the subtle look better than keeping the narrow rear valance with wider fenders either side.

Love that S2000 driveline! A short piece of driveshaft will be needed.

The rear section went OK because the rear panel is essentially flat; in the front, dealing with two headlights took some planning. The goal is one of those lovely falling curves between hood line and fender line that you see in all the best '50's sports cars. I kept the headlight bucket from the grafted-on panel, and filed away the original, inner bucket. Filling the inner side of the fender, next to the hood line, required some 0.060" sheet for strength, followed by 0.010" sheet and putty for the final shape.

Compared to the unmodified S800, the change is subtle, which is what I wanted. Body width went from 59 mm at the midsection (about 56" at full scale) to 68.4 mm (64.5").

The body seam from the grafted-on panels will be foiled as in the original car; the seam from the inner body, which runs along the door tops, was shaved off. Essentially the outer panel consists of off-the-shelf S600 stampings, with the fenders hogged out to allow the car to sit low over the fat little Yokohama tires.

The body is still a bit narrow and is a long way from covering the tires; the rear tires extend 75.5 mm (71" at 1:1) from side to side, while the fronts are 73 mm (69"). So ideally 1:1 flares of about about 2.5" are needed at the front, 3.25" at the rear. I looked at a couple of options. First was an aftermarket transkit to convert a BMW 2002 or 320i to Group 2 sedan racing trim. The parts, from Scale Productions in Germany, are very well done.

These look good, and, unlike most flares designed for really big tires, fit the 16" rims well. However they are big and wide; a lot of filing would be needed. Also the look no longer features the clean and simple lines of the S600. And given the kit came with an air dam that doesn't fit, I decided to move on to other options and preserve the Group 2 kit for other projects. Second option was to use the extra S600 body panels to build out 'Euro-trash' fenders à la Porsche 935.

This is also a brute force approach, where I wanted the brute force look to be limited to the engine compartment -- subtle these are not. So finally, encouraged by folks on Facebook's The New Modeler's Group, I went for the old classic of a thin lip made of 0.010" styrene sheet, backed with some putty.

The tires still stick out about an inch at scale, especially at the rear; this is fine as it preserves the simple S600 lines and makes it look like the muscle underneath is bulging out of its T-shirt. It's looking very much like a miniature Cobra; this makes sense as I've bumped up the power by a factor of over 4.

So with the majority of the bodywork out of the way, things should move along relatively quickly. Just the hood to decide on... most of the engine will stick out unless I come up with some sort of monster bulge or scoop. Here you can see the air cleaner is well clear of the hood and may even be clear of the fender line.

A paper template gives an initial idea of the amount of hood that may need to be cut away. I may skip the hinges and simply go for four hood pins.

So there it is: an S600 widened by almost a foot. I've never seen one in the metal, but what a tiny little thing the original car was! This is coming along very nicely in my humble opinion. There is lots of sanding and primer in my immediate future...