Friday, December 26, 2008

55 Chevy Gasser--We Have a Roller

It's the day after Christmas and I'm off work so it means a little more time to work on the 55 Chevy Gasser build. I have been told in the 1:1 world when the custom builder gets the frame/wheels/tires/axles all in order the project becomes a "roller".

Since the last post I've pretty much finished the chassis' basics. The front "skinny" tires came from Revell/Model King's 51 Henry J #85-2036 while the rears came from Revell Thames Panel truck #7609. The wheels are from a Revell Parts pack C1142 that I got off Ebay--expensive, but worth it--these are really cool wheels!

As I said last time, the radiator was from the junk box, I think originally from a Monogram 1:24 pickup. I scratch built the radiator plumbing by bending styrene rod and "pinning" the end of it (by "pinning" I mean drilling a small hole and putting a smaller diameter rod in, then drilling a mating hole where the hose needs to attach; sort of made it like a snap-together). I ended up having to further modify the exhaust headers as the way I had it before didn't allow the front wheels to be posed. Good thing to test fit! The hose clamps were simulated with some chrome 3M tape I got from Walmart.

Speaking of test fitting here's how things are looking with the body in place. I am leaning toward not using the hood at all--since enough work has been done on the engine that I want it displayed all the time.

So the question is: what color to paint this? I was thinking about some sort of radical candy thing, but, in the end I am going to experiment with an all-Tamiya finish, which I know some other modelers swear by, and it's something I've never tried.

Over the holiday break I went with my family to the local train store and stocked up on some more Floquil paints. The more I use these the more I like them! Using a flat Floquil color and then adding more Floquil flat clear on top is a good way to get realistic finishes; the gun metal and graphite paints are a good complement to the Tamiya colors with the same name. It goes on smooth and evenly, and doesn't stink too much. It's a bit pricey but worth it. Overall Floquil paints are highly recommended.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

55 Chevy--"Engineering" for a Cleaner Build

We're approaching the holidays and what better way to mentally prepare for the in-law onslaught then to get some quiet bench time. This month I'm trying to wrap up a highly customized 1:25 '55 Chevy Gasser I started a few weeks ago; I feel if I make a good push I'll be ready for final paint and assembly before too long.

I've found in the year or so since I returned to this hobby that I need to "engineer" my custom parts before paint and assembly and have a working plan to get everything to fit together before I do a lot of gluing. Once my plan is in place, only then should I do a final prep of the parts, paint, and assemble.

The fit of the exhaust headers is something I have struggled with on past builds. It's easy to mess up a good engine compartment build with headers that don't fit quite right. The 55 Chevy Gasser build is tricky in this regard because there is very little room to pass the "drag ready" headers out of the engine compartment without being blocked by a body panel, a frame rail, the front wheels, or whatever. The headers I ended up using are from the AMT/Ertl 55 Chevy kit #31931 (after many attempts to use others from different kits and my parts box). After a lot of test fitting and trial and error I decided to cut in two the headers I was going to use and reglue them to point the exhaust downward rather than out the side of the body. Looking at pictures of 60's era gassers, this look was pretty common so I am happy with this decision.

I have had serious fit issues in past customs with the radiator--this is something I don't think about until the end of the build, and then I usually make a mess trying to get something into an already-painted engine compartment. In this case, the radiators from the two primary kits I am "marrying together" for the build, Revell's 55 Chevy # 85-2069 and Revell/Model King's 51 Henry J Gasser # 85-2036, didn't give me the right look. I ended up going to the parts box and finding a radiator from a 1:24 pickup; then, I scratchbuilt the radiator tank using styrene strip. To get this to easily mount to the frame I "pinned" the part--drilled small holes in the radiator and frame and then glued in small-diameter styrene rods so the part could be installed as if it were from a snap kit.

I continue to find lots of uses for the "Samestuff" or "Tenax7R" or "Pro Weld" type glue, but I am finding limitations: you can't use it as a replacement for regular styrene glue--it works best when the glue is applied on the outside of the finished part and allowed to flow in and fill the joint you're trying to glue. Some of the rear suspension work I glued up with Tenax popped off during this photo shoot. It's back to Devcon Epoxy for this sort of thing.

Overall the build isn't looking too bad; I still have to figure out how to join the wheels/tires to the axles and what I am going to do about the front grille. The interior is going to be simple and the seats and roll bars are fitting OK. I am still not sure how to get the steering column in there, as the dash is scratchbuilt.

Painting of course is a lot of work but I look forward to it--it's one of the most relaxing parts of the hobby. Beyond that the final assembly should be fairly straightforward.

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