Sunday, May 18, 2008

37 Ford Pickup--Fun with "Super Sculpey"

In my research to learn more about the wonderful paints made by Jacquard I found that there is a huge internet culture centered around this stuff called "polymer clay". Apparently artists who buy Jacquard products use it to paint their polymer clay creations.

I haven't read a lot about integrating Sculpey into model car making, but based on how easy it sounded to use, I figure it's being done, and I thought I'd give it a shot.

There are lots of manufacturers out there making polymer clay, but a leader of this burgeoning industry seems to be the folks who make something called "Super Sculpey". That's the product name I kept coming across over and over from people who make jewelry, dance figurines, movie models, military figures and the like.

I bought a hunk from the Polymer Clay Superstore (I liked the name). Super Sculpey comes in a pretty big hunk. Apparently (so far for me anyway) you can store it at room temperature and it won't dry out. It "fires" at 275 degrees, so you don't need a 1500 degree or whatever kiln. It's non toxic (I didn't detect any bad smell or nastiness while working with it, but I wouldn't eat it). But what really caught my eye is that you can sand and drill the stuff--even thin sheets--without it cracking or splitting. Now, that sounds like something I can use.

My first creation was a racing seat. It was really pretty easy to make, and I have no experience with sculpture of any kind. And sure enough I could sand and file it and it held up just fine. What you see here is unpainted but otherwise ready to go. I primed it with Duplicolor primer/sealer and the primer sealed the clay right up; the instructions that came with the clay said to use acrylic hobby paint and I guess the Duplicolor was close enough.

The real problems began when I realized I had to make things bilaterally symmetrical, or at make a mirror image of one object from the other. So for instance I tried to make another "mirror image" of the seat you see here so I could use them side by side. Guess what--it was impossible, for me anyway, with my non-existent sculpting skills.

I guess I could make guides, as the car designers do when creating "old school" mockups of car bodies using clay. Then use these guides to make sure the "sister seat" was a close mirror match to the original. But it seems that would be pretty tricky on such a small scale. So for now this seat is a one of a kind. It could be cast, I guess, but that doesn't help with "mirror image" creations which is something you frequently find on a car.

I did end up making a bolster of sorts for the 37 pickup, and no, it's not bilaterally symmetrical, but it's good enough (I figure no one will be able to notice the seat is about 2 scale inches higher on the passenger side; heck, no one every really looks inside my models at their interiors anyway.) It came out OK, and would have been a whole lot of work to make out of a plastic sheet or brass.

I think polymer clay is really interesting stuff, and I can see why there is a giant Internet culture of artists and hobbyists who go gaa-gaa over the stuff. Sculpey has all sorts of other interesting products, including an interesting looking mold system Now, there has to be a use for that somewhere in the model car world.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

37 Ford Pickup: Vette Engine

One of the many things I'm not very good at is building engines so for this project I thought I'd try to learn how to be a bit better.

The engine is out of a 1:24 Revell Kit--57 Vette Basic Builder. I originally wanted to build the "Fuelie" version of the engine but found the detail and casting on the air cleaner to be sufficiently bad to make me think again--doing a really knock-up job would have been a lot of work. Just modifying the air cleaner portion to look good would have been a lot of work. So I ditched it and used the dual-carb setup that's an option for the engine.

First thing I did was buy and use black "The Detailer". The idea was to wash some black into things like the valve covers and intake manifold to add realism. I have tried mixing my own washes but this stuff is a lot better. Dropping a bit of that on the nicely cast screen on the top of the stacks came out really well and was easy. I treated the value covers and manifold to some "detailer" as well and they too came out looking pretty good.

The real hassle was the spark plug wires and distributer. This is something I always really struggle with and my spark plug wiring never looks very real or very good. This time I got some "PlastiDip" to do the "boots" on the plugs. This is a sort of plastic sheep-dip type spoo that comes in a big can that looks like it held Pringles chips at some point and now found its real purpose in life--a big old Pringles can full of industrial waste.

Seriously, what I found out is that Plastidip is really thick and gooey and nasty but makes a great sort of thick glue/black slop that seems useful for a lot of things (just don't SPILL the stuff!). Not only did it make OK (not great, but OK) boots, but, it served as the glue that held the wiring to the distributor. I don't think the distributor (scratch built), the wiring harnesses (photoetch) the plug wires (wire wrap wire) or the boots (Plastidip) came out perfectly but they are a heck of a lot better than I usually do, I owe this to just using better materials and being more patient at this stage of the build.

While we're on the subject of patience--I am always on the lookout for better "metalizers" than the Alclad II I usually use. It just takes a lot of time to prime the part, spray on the black enamel, fire up the airbrush, and finally squirt on some Alclad. For this build I am checking out Krylon's Foil paints, which I bought at my local hardware store. They weren't cheap--$5 a can--but they went on OK. The gold looks more "metallic" than the silver; the silver might pass for aluminum if you're not too picky. Overall I liked the gold OK, and it might make a good undercoat, along with some pearl flakes, for a candy finish someday.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

37 Ford Pickup--Son of Kit Bash

After thinking about the 29 Ford project I decided that I probably need to spend more time on each project instead of rushing through. So we are back to the same question: what is it that one tries to get out of a hobby? I think in my case, it's just to keep my hands moving so I don't go crazy. But I also want to make sure at the end of the day that I've made whatever I'm doing as good as I's just my upbringing I guess.

For me, buying the kits is the easiest part. It's a cheap hobby compared to some others! For this build up I'm using four kits, mostly, and I think I paid around $60 for the four--I traded some parts for the Vette kit--that's about what my wife paid for a pair of sailing gloves the other day!!! And Ebay/Internet etc. makes it even easier--heck, I don't even have to get in my car anymore to buy anything.

OK about the kits. The 37 pickup is Revell Monogram 85-7627. It's a stock kit, not a 2 in 1 or whatever, so don't expect to find Cragers or chome headers in the kit! The 40 Ford is Monogram 2720. It's 1:24 scale, and I usually stay away from 1:24 because it seems a bit big, but I liked the box art, so there you go. BTW the flathead in the 40 pickup kit is pretty crummy--it has molded on headers for instance and doesn't look very accurate to me. The Vette I got in trade for some Enamel paints. It's Revell 85-0852. Nice kit, but I am not sure how "basic" it is--I wouldn't want to try to tackle this kit as one of my first modelling attempts. Finally the 51 Fleetwood is AMT-Ertl 38274. It's been reissued a bunch of times I believe; I bought this for a chopped 51 Chevy that's been on hold for about a year now.

All you see was done in a few hours. I may not be getting better at building kit bash rods, but I am getting faster! I am planning on using the stock Vette engine--it's not quite in scale but I figure I can get away with it. The body, radiator shell, and pickup bed are all from the 37 kit. The cab should probably be chopped but I am not sure; I keep going back and forth on whether it will look better chopped or not--I usually don't like chopped pickups. The bed was cut up to be shorter--I liked it better that way. The frame and suspensions are from the 40 Ford, and the brake drums are from the 51 Chevy. I don't know where the tires came from--they look AMTish to me--but they were sitting on my bench for about a month and I was too lazy to put them in my big tupperware box-full-o-tires so I used them here. I was going to use the Vette skinnies--which are cool looking wheels/tires, but skinnies end up looking wimpy on this build.

Since the body is heavily channeled I had to chop up the interior. The upper half is from the 37 Ford, while the floorboard is cut out of the '40 pickup and glued to the top. The seat of the 37 becomes part of the floorboard now--a bit slimey but it works--it needs a lot of finishing off, but at this stage I am only mocking up the basics.

The frame was Z'd by cutting the back off, putting some V shaped sprue in, and gluing it back up. I didn't superglue this as I knew was going to have to some moving around of parts while it was setting. I used Tenax 7-R instead, which I am liking more and more as I use it more and more--it's a bit more forgiving than CA glue but dries about as tough. Even though this was a really fast Z job, it came out pretty well.

The firewall was measured and chopped with a saw and then finished up (well, it still has a way to go, really) with a Dremel tool with a 200 grit sanding bit. So this time I am going to try to finesse each part of the build a bit more and have more fun with the paint. There is no reason to rush things that I can think of.

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