Friday, August 18, 2017

Chrysler 300: Final touches

It's still summer and there are still plenty of things to keep me away from the bench, including some paying customers who want me to do work for them. The income will be useful if only because later in the fall, there may be a large home renovation project that will likely require I pack everything up and move out for a month or so. This will further delay model building progress, but should lead to a better work space. I have already packed up about half the unbuilt stash of kits. Perhaps I'll document the new space as it arises.

But meanwhile I thought I'd post the latest on the 300, namely the addition of a couple of aluminum air cleaners from Parts by Parks (part #3007). They're a bit tall, and I had to trim down the carbs as well as carve out a couple of dish-shaped recesses in the hood to get it all to fit, but the result is better than the naked and poorly detailed 4 barrel units. If it was a gas guzzler on one carb, two should be a real fun setup.

Still a lovely big brute.

Next I should probably detail under the hood a little better, a challenge given it is too late to wire up the distributor... anyway I am counting on all of you to keep on modeling, and I will get back to this as soon as possible.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Chrysler 300: Steel wheels rule

I've been away from the bench and this blog since late June, and I'll be away again in early August for over a week, so there hasn't been a lot of progress, and there might not be much further progress for another few weeks. (It's summer here in Canada and we're all out running around out in the fresh air, getting over the cabin fever. Isn't there a TV show where they keep saying 'Winter is coming' ...)

Anyway I thought I should clean up a few items that are almost done, starting with the Chrysler 300, and reassure my legions of faithful readers that I am still active. The main question was rims.

In the end I went for steel rims, painted red in contrast to the gunmetal grey of the body. (Thanks to Frank of the Model Car List for the suggestion around contrasting colour). The tires are the excellent Goodyear L60-15 Polyglas from the new AMT parts pack. These are a bit lower and a lot wider than the unlabeled tires on the kit, and as a result look a lot better.


So this was a box-stock build except for the ride height and the tires. Overall, what a lovely big brute. And I gather from Hemmings News that 1:1 versions can be had pretty cheap, too! Not that I want to have to buy gas for one.

Friday, June 23, 2017

BRE 240 Z: Chassis

A push got the engine and suspension installed, and the interior completed. Like the 510, the engine includes flexible piping for the remote oil filter, cooler, and catch tank. They are a bit of a struggle to get it in once the engine is in place, so connecting hoses to the engine before installing is a good idea. Furthermore, the suggested hose lengths in the instructions are too long (which I suppose is better than too short).

Speaking of installing the engine, the location is a bit hit and miss. The crossmember under the transmission doesn't connect to a dowel or other positive location method, so you need to guess where it goes. The rear suspension is similarly vague.

Both suspension units are fragile and getting the tires and wheels in place without too much flex is a challenge. Unfortunately I managed to snap off the left rear hub. Some drilling and pinning will be needed once the glue all sets.

The overall struggles with fit of the mechanical bits was a bit disappointing, and in retrospect I got tied up in problem solving when I should have spent more time removing the ejector pin marks which are quite visible under the hood.

All in all, it is like the 510: a bit finicky but very well detailed. A beginner will be frustrated by this kit, but patience and some mid-level skills will be rewarded.

I had hoped to get this completed today, which would have brought the completion ratio (number of finished kits divided by total kits) to 33.5%; unfortunately the broken hub put a stop to that plan. Next will be finishing the body and final assembly; this won't happen for a while as I plan to be away from the bench for a few weeks. Have a great summer!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mosquito: Fuselage assembly complete

After couple of hours of fussing and fidgeting and stressing, the fuselage halves are now mated and glued.

Overall an excellent fit, and the tail fin rotates as it should.

This will sit wrapped in rubber bands, probably for a few weeks if not a month or two, before I am able to get back to it. Completing the fuselage is a bit of a milestone, after 42 steps and 18 pages; next are the wing and tailplane assemblies (steps 43 to 68) and the motors (steps 69 to 100, repeated twice).

The kit is very detailed and perhaps the only beef so far, apart from a few ejector pin marks in locations where no one will see them, is the fact that some of the more fragile bits are attached via substantial sprues, so cutting them off risks breaking the part.

Another complaint might be that some items should go together in a different sequence. I discovered that steps 223 and 224 probably should take place before the fuselage halves are glued together, especially if paint will need to be scraped off an inaccessible surface on the fuselage to take parts 10L and 75L. I have done this, but I am concerned that the cockpit door (steps 226 and 227) will be a challenge now that the inner hinges are inaccessible. In any case it is well advised to read the manual through, not just at the beginning but as you go along to see how the current subassembly will be incorporated in the larger build.

In spite of these minor concerns, this is a very well done kit and will reward an advanced modeler. 

Mosquito: cockpit complete

I've been away from this kit for some time, because it is at a friend's house and progress means finding time to work on it while visiting. A push got the cockpit complete and installed in the left side (port?) fuselage half.

The pilot is jammed in pretty tight, and the navigator/gunner/bomber sits in slightly behind him because the cockpit is too narrow to sit two side by side.

It all looks pretty good, even the wiring harness that broke when I cut it off the sprue.

This shot shows the forward bulkhead in place ahead of the instrument panel. Arguably much of this will be obscured once it is all complete, much like the wiring on a 917 motor ...

The instructions have step 5, joining all the cockpit floor sections together at 90 degree angles, followed by a long series of steps to put in seats and controls.

Step 38 then consists of inserting the completed cockpit into the fuselage half as a unit. I figured this was a recipe for disaster, given the poor fitting of the various floor pieces (no way to mechanically lock in the 90 degree angles), and the resulting high probability of misalignment arising at some point in the process, so I completed all the intermediate assembly steps (6 through 37) on the individual cockpit flooring pieces, then inserted them one at a time into the fuselage. This requires test-fitting everything, then working quickly once the glue is on the first piece, but it all seems to be positive at this point.

This last shot shows the second fuselage half test-fitted to the first. This is pinned at several locations and it all looks good, but I think a large assortment of rubber bands will be needed to get it all to hold together once the glue is on it. Not unlike the original Mosquito assembly procedure -- glue the two halves together in a jig. So I'll need to drop by an office supply store to get rubber bands, and paint one or two more small bits to go inside the fuselage, then it all gets glued up and I can move on to the next major subassembly, namely the wing. Progress is being made!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chrysler 300: Wheels are a critical choice

The 300 always was a bit of a brute. Charming, sleek and handsome, but still a brute. Sort of a Klingon warbird to the Ford Starliner's feel-good Enterprise. With this in mind I started looking for alternatives to the tall, skinny 7.5" cross-plies in the kit.

I found a set of Goodyear Eagle P255/45 ZR17 tires in the parts bin. These are nice and wide, and are also a bit smaller in terms of overall diameter than the unlabeled tires in the Jo-Han kit. As a result they lower the car a bit more (about another inch at scale).

Stance and height are both good -- it all looks to be a bit of a tail-dragger which is fine. Next is to choose between mags and NASCAR steel rims. (Note the colour still comes across as slate green in the photos, although it is really more of a neutral grey.)

So: black steel rims to emphasise the brute qualities; classy mags for a brute overlaid with a charming veneer. Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Chrysler 300: on to the chassis

These old kits sure are fast builds if you don't spend hours sanding and polishing the body. Here I lowered the chassis by the simple expedient of cutting the spacers (beige blocks in the photo) through which the axle shafts fit, so that they sit as high as possible in the frame. I seem to recall that some older AMT kits offered a couple of axle locating blocks corresponding to different ride heights-- a very simple way to proceed, if not entirely replicating what you might do at 1:1.

The result is a decent stance, taking advantage of the ample room inside the fenders.

On the other hand, the narrow track is no good. The stock tires, barely 7.5 inches wide at scale, give the car something of the look of a pregnant skateboard. Significantly wider tires will be needed. I've got some 11 inch NASCAR rims that just need the right tires; Plan B is a nice set of 15" Cragar mags, with 10 to 12 inch wide, 60 or 70 series tires. The parts bin and the aftermarket will come in handy here.

Finally the body got a mix of bare metal foil and dry-brushed chrome paint on the various emblems, followed by a coat of clear. (The basic Tamiya paint is meant for military use and is relatively flat.) It's all looking pretty good at this point. Ready for launch, Captain!

Speaking of launches, I assembled the 440 cubic inch motor with the optional dual-carb setup. The 375 horsepower mill was more than adequate to motivate the 4200+ lb curb weight by dint of huge amounts of torque -- 480 foot pounds to be exact. I can only imagine what a decent set of headers and a free-flow exhaust would accomplish.

Unfortunately the kit does not offer an air cleaner for this dual-carb set up, leaving the poorly detailed carbs out in the open for all to see. I'll have a look into the parts bin where I expect to find an oval air cleaner from a Thunderbird 390 TriPower setup. A Ford component on a Mopar? You are right to proclaim this as heretic, but I haven't built a lot of Mopar kits, and the parts bin is thus lacking. Anyone have a spare air cleaner from a Cuda?

Overall a pretty simple kit under the skin, but the body is very well done. Highly recommended if you can find one for a decent price.

Chrysler 300: Paint

While the 240 Z is not stalled, I found a decent copy of Jo-Han's 1968 Chrysler 300 on eBay, which is proving to be a distraction.

I've always liked the looks of the various full-sized late-60's coupes, such as the Ford Starliner, Pontiac Parisienne and Chrysler 300. They are probably the most wasteful use of a couple of tonnes of steel one could imagine in terms of use of space, but the shapes are hard to ignore, and while there is a lot of chrome at either end, there is not a lot on the flanks. So I have been watching for some time, and the opportunity to grab one of these big brutes in decent shape turned up recently.

The '65-'66 models were also good looking, especially compared to the phenomenally ugly '63-'65 editions, but the unusual C-pillar in the '67-'68 makes it stand out.

Typically for kits of the period, detail is low, with rear suspension and exhaust molded into one piece with the chassis, but the body is straight and there is very little damage from bits rattling around in the box over the years. All it needed was cleaning up of the mold part lines and filling of two small sinkholes in the trunk lid; so far there are no obvious scratches or gouges (although the glass looks to be a bit scratched up).

The kit comes with quite nice custom front and rear roll pans as shown on the box cover art, but I suspect I'll build it stock. The only change will be to find a decent set of Cragar or similar period mags, and sit it all as low as possible. The solid axles that push through the engine block are well suited to lowering, fortunately.

As for colour, there are a lot of photos of stock versions out there, but few, apart from the wagons, have taken advantage of the opportunities available with the scalloped side panel. (Now the wagons are good-looking barges -- I wonder is there a resin body out there?) The best looking ones have vinyl roofs in a contrasting colour, for instance a white roof over dark blue or green metal. A lighter colour on the roof tends to reduce the emphasis on the C-pillar, but that is a defining feature of the car.

In the end I decided to go for a solid colour, and settled on Tamiya TS-4, German Grey, which surprisingly looks a little slate-coloured in the picture.

Next will be to highlight all the emblems and script, which are very well detailed. Perhaps I'll give Bare Metal Foil another try.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mosquito: more cockpit details

Yes, it has been a while since I posted on this topic -- February, to be exact. I have a range of excuses which I won't bother listing because you probably won't believe me.

I got around to the instrument panel which uses an interesting approach to gauges.

The panel consists of a styrene piece full of holes, and a clear piece with little raised divots that fit snugly into the holes. The idea is that you put the decals for the different gauges on the raised divots, then insert the whole thing through the styrene piece.

The only problem is that the decals can get caught on the styrene piece as they go in, and get turned on their sides. So this all took longer than hoped for as I rescued a bunch of poorly stuck decals. The decal glue being weak, a dab of Micro Krystal Klear helped settle them all down. Miraculously, only one actually got lost, and I'll see about finding something from the parts bin.

The challenges notwithstanding, this seems like a nice approach and I can't help wondering why the mainstream styrene car kits don't use something like this. Even better would be a single decal with all the gauges, on a flat backing, and with a thinner overlay -- putting on 21 individual decals sure is time consuming, and getting them all to line up is a challenge.

Next: a second instrument panel needs to be completed; this one goes on the inside of the fuselage at right angles to the main panel, and has to go in before the cockpit assembly all goes in. This also has a handful of decals on a clear backing plate. It also includes a wiring harness which broke when I tried to clip it off the tree, so some superglue will likely be needed once it is time to install it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bonjour les Français!

(Note to English speakers: 44% of my page reads came from France in the last month. Gotta speak to the customers! More English posts will come, so sit tight.)

Bon, je regarde les statistiques, et mes lecteurs proviennent largement de France.

Figure 1: Rally and EU road cars (and an Impala)
Depuis le tout début de ce blogue en février 2014, les français représentent en moyenne 21% de mes chers lecteurs fidèles. Parmi mes autres chers lecteurs fidèles: les lecteurs des É.-U. (23%), de la Russie (!) (18%) et du Canada (17.5%).

Figure 2: Le Mans
Parfait. Je ne sais pas ce que veulent les Russes, mais bon. Je ne me plains pas.

Figure 3: Customs and hot rods
Par contre, pour le mois dernier, le pourcentage de lecteurs français remonte à 42%.

Figure 4. Trucks, Trucks, Trucks
Alors qu'est-ce que vous voulez, vous, les Français, quand vous lisez un blogue comme celui-ci? Je serais très heureuz de dédier à vos intérêts, de temps en temps, des contributions au bloque. Voitures françaises? kits de compagnies françaises (Heller, Profl 24)? kits de voitures Le Mans ou rallye? J'ouvre le dialogue: Communiquez avec moi par le truchement du bouton 'Comments' (pour des commentaires qui pourraient devenir publiques) ou par courriel pour des conversations privées: tbrowne.mtl (a) Je ferai de mon mieux pour vous répondre, en privé ou en publique.

Figure 5. The Japanese collection (and a couple of flat heads)
Vivement la conversation! J'attends vos commentaires.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

BRE 240 Z: engine

Back in November 2016, I completed the BRE Datsun 510, which had been sitting around since February 2016. The verdict: A challenging but very detailed kit that would frustrate a beginner but reward a more experienced builder. Also back in February 2016, I completed the paint for the BRE Datsun 240 Z, which has been sitting on the shelf all this time.

I had been planning to complete both together but other projects intervened.

So time to hop to it and get the engine and chassis done. As with the 510, I decided to wire up the engine. The distributor grows out of the front cover on the left side of the engine, and is poorly positioned for any serious poking around, so I used an 8-cylinder distributor from Preston's Parts (with two wires trimmed off). Careful drilling of the front cover, after cutting off the stock distributor, is needed.

The plugs are well molded and can be used with the little boots available as part of distributor kits from Preston, Detail Master, Model Car Garage or others, but I have never had much luck with these, so I cut off the plugs and drilled through into the head instead, inserting the leads into the heads as far as necessary. If you drill clean through into the cavity inside the engine block, you don't have to worry about trimming wires to the correct length only to make them too short.

The Nissan 240Z OHC script on the cam cover can be brought out with a bit of gentle sandpaper after putting on a coat of gloss black, but is not as clear as in some other engines I have built.

The carbs come with a one-piece throttle linkage (a nice touch) and with holes predrilled for fuel lines, so I went for it.

One important point: the kit comes with bits for a street version of the 240 Z (which I don't recall seeing); so the plated reproduction of a stock exhaust manifold is not needed.

Next will be various chassis and interior bits. So far this is an excellent kit without excessive frustration if you build it straight out of the box, but offering opportunities to build in more detail if you feel like it. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 19, 2017

917 K Gulf Oil: Complete

OK, enough with the trucks, back to the good stuff. The 917 just needed final assembly.

But first I spent a fair bit of time with a polishing kit to try to get rid of the orange peel in the paint. I got a lot of it out, but it's tedious; plus I wound up going through to the primer in a couple of places. So the lesson is: avoid orange peel in the first place.

So the paint is a bit sloppy, and this is certainly an area where I could be doing better going forward. Decals went on OK, glass went in OK (the white Micro Krystal Klear glue still shows here as it hasn't completely set).

The HRM motor sits in there nicely, taking up over half the wheelbase. What a monster. I've ordered another motor to build up as a separate display unit. (The Fujimi motor is very basic and takes advantage of the fact it is all hidden once assembled.)

Comparison with the 956 is interesting. Water cooling is a big difference. The 917 managed about 100 hp per litre on air cooling alone. There is an upper limit to this, however, due to the fact that heat transfer coefficients from an aluminum head to air are at least one order of magnitude less than to a liquid. So you need huge surface area in the form of finned cylinders and liners, or you use liquid cooling and move the finned area elsewhere, such as into the door frames as seen here in the 956. The radiator surface area needed in the 956 is substantial, and this is just for the heads -- the 956 motor still had a big fan for the cylinder liners. Of course in a 956, there is something like 600 hp from substantially less than 3 litres, so more than double the specific power of the 917.

All in all a good kit, the HRM motor is an excellent addition, and I probably could have been a bit tidier with it all. Lessons learned will serve for the other four 917 kits on the shelf ... Completion ratio is now a whopping 33%.

Dodge L700 Complete

The L700 is now complete. Final assembly took longer than expected with lots of little problems to solve in the last stages.

What a fussy kit! Loads of things don't fit, the instructions are vague and poorly drawn, and I could go on. I'll skip most of it and just mention the most frustrating problem, which was the front wheels. With a 7/64" hole, they are supposed to fit over a 5/64" axle shaft. This required making a pair of sleeves from styrene rod and drilling the wheels out to 1/8".

The doors fit reasonably well, which is good because this is a traditional problem with this kit. The cab hinges operate well, although the cab is clearly a bit crooked, due to the hinge mounting blocks not fitting quite the same on both sides.

The engine was pretty low on detail, but the big gearbox looks fine. The steep driveshaft angle is due to the short wheelbase and one has to wonder about universal joint life in the real world.

Anyway it's done. It's an interesting shape and will sit nicely on the shelf with the Freightliner. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the license plates, which came from my boneyard, are Minnesota 1960, which is not possible given it's a 1969 model, but what the heck. Next will be to decide on a trailer; the Little Red Wagon trailer is ugly but I might hijack it if I can find a copy of the Italeri 20' shipping container at a reasonable price. Decals for a haulage company would then be needed.

The completion ratio has now moved from 32.1% to 32.6%. Among the trucks on the bench in various stages of progress are the Ford LN 8000 where I am trying to find a mid-50s Ford COE cab, a Freightliner chassis with an Allison V12 in it, and a Mitsubishi Fuso tractor that goes with the car carrier I finished some number of years ago. Loads of other stuff, too. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dodge L700 assembly part I

Progress is being made. The doors have been hung and are not too bad in terms of fit. I built this kit as a teenager and remember fighting with the fit of the doors.

It was still not easy 45+ years later. There is a lot of trial and error required because nothing is pinned or doweled, and because the instruction sheet is a paragon of obfuscation. Rear view mirrors are a case in point. Glue it in wrong and you are in trouble. (Same goes for the A100 pickup).

At this point, however, the doors seem to fit, and the cab slides over the interior OK, so maybe all is well.

The chassis is essentially complete. One major challenge was that the rear axle, which is one of the few items pinned to its mating part (the springs), sits much too far forward, and the driveshaft is too short. Either I put the axle in backwards (not possible, really) or I put the springs on backwards (unlikely, given the picture, which admittedly is pretty poor). We'll see how it all fits once the rest of it goes together.

It certainly deserves the 'cab-forward' moniker -- perhaps the stance is a little too aggressive, but it looks good. (The forward positioning of the rear axle isn't helping the stance any.)

Final assembly will be tomorrow once the coat of clear sets, but I can tell you right away that this is not really a kit for beginners -- the amount of fiddling about which is required is well beyond the usual AMT or Revell kit. This applies to the A100 pickup truck as well. Still, it provides a model of an iconic '60s cab-forward design, and so is worth it if this sort of thing is of interest. And once the doors are on, it is nice to be able to show off the interior.