Saturday, March 28, 2009

69 Charger 500--Disaster Strikes!

I was counting the days before the 69 Charger "Vintage MPC" build was done--but no longer. It's been one of the saddest days during the brief rebirth of this stupid hobby, and the bad news is that I've lost the otherwise great paint to some sort of issue with the clearcoat process.

As I said last time I was painting the body with MCW Hemi Orange, and it was looking good--in fact, the smoothest and most orange-peel free paint job I had yet done. There were a few chips in the engine compartment from the hood being test fitted, but otherwise, it was looking very good.

The problems began when I applied about the fourth coat of Krylon Crystal Clear. It's acrylic coating, so the label says, and I would assume that that means there should be little or no interaction with the underlying lacquer paint. Adding to this false sense of security: I have this used same clear coat over many Duplicolor Lacquer finishes without incident. And it was OK for the first 3 coats. So it should be OK to use over MCW lacquer every time, right?

Wrong. During clear coat pass number four a huge series of bubbles and orange peel welts welled up on the passenger side roof.

I tried to wet sand the bad spot with 2000 sandpaper--figuring maybe the extreme orange peel could be fixed with polish somehow. To make a long story short the entire paint job, all the way down to the primer and beyond, came up when I tried to sand it. So I had a catastrophic failure of paint adhesion here. What you see here is what's left--the paint literally got stripped down to the raw plastic.

I have no idea what happened or why, but I had already applied the bare metal foil--which came out pretty well, the Keith Marks decals (didn't do a perfect job, but it was going to be good enough) and painted in the side turn signals. In other words, in addition to the paint itself, there was a lot of time and effort put into this part of the build before disaster struck.

This is a major setback--I am now thinking I am going to have to strip the paint and start the entire paint process over--I can't see any other way to save this thing.

One thing for sure: I am going to do more research as to what sort of clearcoat works best over MCW paints and not assume every acrylic will be inert over every lacquer.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

'69 Charger 500--MCW Paint

After a few weeks of humid and wet weather things are finally clearing up. I figured I could try the paint on the 69 Charger 500 model without too much fear of the humidity causing the paint to "cloud over".

As I said last time, after some online research it seems that an outfit called Model Car World is where all the serious builders go to get their factory-perfect colors. Their website has an almost bewildering choice of paints....I played it safe and chose Hemi Orange since most of the 1:1 photos I have are of a red/orange Charger 500, so I figure this color to be accurate.

It took a few weeks to get the paint, but when the bottles arrived I was happy....the Hemi Orange looked perfect when compared to photos of 1:1 69 Chargers.

My standard rig for painting bodies is a Testors "Clear Blue" compressor, which is on loan from a friend, and a Badger Model 200 airbrush. I have to give the loaner back so I bought an expensive compressor but it hasn't arrived yet--next paint job though we'll see if the added advantage of a moisture trap and adjustable output help.

The Badger Model 200 is single action, so it's not a good choice for anything tricky, but for painting bodies it gets the job done, and is relatively easy to use and clean compared to my double action airbrush.

I was surprised that the MCW paint is hobby lacquer--I assumed it was acrylic based but it isn't. It is prethinned, and for me the paint went on perfectly without any sort of thinning or futzing necessary--just load up the brush and shoot. After each coat I ran a bowl of lacquer thinner (Ace's cheapo high-test lacquer thinner--I have read that I need "quality" lacquer thinners for good results, but so far I haven't seen any difference--and besides, I am just using it to clean things, not to thin the paint). After 2 color coats I broke down the airbrush for a quick clean, then reassembled and kept spraying. I had no issues with clogging, which I attribute to the paint being correctly thinned and repetitive cleaning of the brush.

I applied 6 color coats--the MCW site says not to use mist coats, so I didn't. I let each color coat dry for about 10 minutes then lightly sanded out any imperfections with dry 1200 grit sandpaper. It's always a bit scary to scratch a freshly applied coat, but I have found that lightly dry sanding between lacquer color coats doesn't hurt anything. The paint has surprisingly small amounts of orange peel, compared to say Duplicolor or even Tamiya lacquer, and it self-healed surprising well, spreading itself around and "deblotching" to a certain degree. Another thing I learned (or "re-learned"--I already discovered this but had already forgotten....): that for ALL spray painting, ALWAYS start the spray stroke while NOT pointing the can or airbrush directly at the subject you're painting! This seems rudimentary--since that first shot almost always leaves runs and blobs of paint--but somehow I always find myself forgotting this simple rule.

In spite of some minor issues along the way, the result is, so far, the best/smoothest paint job I've done yet. Some of the paint in the engine compartment chipped a bit when I test fitted the hood, but I can probably touch this up without too much trouble. And the orange does look like the right orange. Yes indeed--MCW rules!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

69 Charger 500--More from the Mopar Basement

The wife has been out of town for 5 weeks so that should make a perfect month to build, right? But for some reason I can't drag myself down the basement very often. Maybe I'm missing her too much?

So when I do make it to the basement I have been working prepping the body of an MPC "Vintage" 69 Charger 500....and it turns out the body needs a lot of work. Along with the older tooling comes sink marks, mold lines, and various bugaboos that need repair and TLC. Newer kits have these problems too, in my limited experience, but not as much as I am seeing here. Fixing up minor sink marks isn't hard but is time consuming. To get rid of the sink marks I used Tamiya Basic putty, followed by wet sanding with 600 grit, then a second coat of putty followed by 1200 grit. That seems to leave things flat and pit-free.

Only after dropping on the primer can I start too see more little problems. There are still a couple of sink marks on the hood that I missed the first time around, and of the 3 Ertl Charger kits I got for this project this hood was the best one! I glooped on a bit more putty after I grafted on the hood mounting "hardware" from the Revell Daytona Kit #85-2824. To thin out the putty a bit--making it flow better into the sink marks--I applied Testors Liquid cement right over the freshly applied putty. Right now the hood opens fine without having to alter the already modified interior/firewall/dashboard. I got lucky on this, since I decided I would put the hinges into place and prime them, and only then figure out how to make the hood swing open. This sort of pre-planning is critical usually; I just went for it and it worked.

I still have to put in some support towards the front of the hood so it doesn't sag, but that shouldn't be too difficult.

I wanted to find some "dog dish" wheels for this build, since they look great on the 1:1 reference photos, but I couldn't find any online so I gave up and went back to the kit's wheels.

I don't know if I like these older kits better than the new ones. On older kits there are far fewer parts, which makes assembly easier but painting harder. The exhaust/differential/springs has to be masked and painted with different metallics and flats to give me the look I want....

It will be body-paint-time before too long....after some research, it seems that MCW is the place to go to get good matches for 1:1 manufacturer's paint. Their prices are reasonable--$12 for 2 fl ounces of Hemi Orange seems like a fair price to me and to my eyes the color looks perfect.

The last problem is decals. Turns out the decals supplied with the MPC kit aren't correct--the 1:1 stripe goes over the rear side lights and what MPC supplied doesn't. This left me in a quandry--do I try to make "correct" decals myself? Do I use the MPC decals that look OK but that I know are almost certainly "wrong"? Making the replacement decals myself is beyond what I am skilled enough to do, probably, and if I use "wrong" ones it will bother me every time I see the finished model. So what to do?

Turns out there is a guy named Keith Marks who makes an aftermarket decal set for the Charger 500 that looks perfect. I dropped him an email to see if he can sell me some and haven't heard back yet. I hope he's still out there!!!

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