Saturday, April 25, 2009

69 Charger 500--Still Being Stripped--So in the Meantime....Starbird Chevy!!!

I've been on the road again and the bad news is that the 69 Charger body, whose lacquer paint was destroyed by using an incompatible clearcoat, still isn't stripped. I've now applied 3 coats of Easy-Off, and for the most part the stripper is working. What started as a relatively easy almost box stock build has turned into the project that won't end.

Like everything else on the Charger 500 build, the paint stripping is going slowly! Nothing much happened after the first 2 coats of Easy Off. After coat 3, to my surprise, the paint didn't flake off; instead the Easy Off seemed to attack whatever binds the paint to the plastic. About 90% of the paint peeled off like a skin off a grape. Whatever works I guess. But there is still 10% that refuses to come off, so I just started Easy Off coat 4 last night.

So as not to sit around and "watch paint dry" (actually, watch paint be removed) it's on to another project I had shelved. As I said last time, one of the backburner projects I'm working on now is an attempt to marry a 55 Chevy with a Bubble Top custom, in the hopes to come up with some sort of scale Darryl Starbird type custom.

The 55 Chevy donor is an AMT body that "lost out" to the Revell 55 Chevy in the 55 Chevy Gasser build. I didn't like the roofline on the AMT body so it seemed like a good candidate for a roof conversion.

The bubbletop donor kit is the AMT Silhouette #38450. This is a kit that I built at least 3 times as a kid--always liked it.

I didn't do the greatest job marrying the plastic together, and there were big holes that I filled with strip styrene and CA glue/baking soda. Next I went against common wisdom--that you should use as little putty as possible--and covered the whole thing with Evercoat Eurosoft. So as you can see, the body is lousy with putty--putty on nearly every surface--putty everywhere.

Eurosoft is great stuff for what we do. I think it was made for filling plastic bumpers on 1:1 cars, but it's great heavy-duty putty for scale applications as well: it mixes up fast, dries fast, sticks to plastic like no one's business, and is easily filed and sanded without chipping off.

Next I attacked the putty-laden body with 150 grit sandpaper and a 200 grit Dremel wheel, to get the really big chunks off. Then I sanded using 400 grit wet and dry and the "foam block technique". This left some pits and ruts--using 400 grit on putty seems to usually do this.

To fill in the ruts I applied Tamiya basic putty and, once on the body, painted over the putty blobs with Testor's liquid cement. Like the Eurosoft putty application, this totally stunk up the house, and I imagine is toxic as all get out, so I wore a respirator when applying this, and you should too, if you ever work with these materials.

The last secret weapon in this is Duplicolor Filler-Primer. This is sort of like super thin putty you can spray all over the body, filling in minor scratches and whatnot. I wouldn't spray it on a body with details that need to be preserved, but for this sort of project it's perfect. After the putty and liquid cement was sanded out, I put on a heavy coat, to the point where it ran. It's OK, it needs to be sanded anyway.

So here's what I have so far. This is after 1 round of Evercoat, 1 round of putty and 1 really thick coat of Duplicolor filler, with plenty of 150 and 400 grit sanding between and after. I have a custom body that's not looking too bad. It's not done obviously, but at this point it looks to me like the body is going to make it to a chassis someday. It was so rough looking after the initial Evercoat application I wasn't sure if it was going to make it this far!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

69 Charger 500--Still on Hold

I have been out of town for the past 2 weeks on business....I thought I could visit some cool hobby shops while on the East Coast but no dice. In the meantime, the 69 Charger project was languishing back here in California.

As I said last time, a clearcoat disaster means I have to strip the paint off the 69 Charger 500 and start over. After a bit of research I have found that Easy Off Oven Cleaner is supposed to be a good bet....but does it remove lacquer? Maybe and maybe not, but I'm on day 3 and the 3rd application of this stinky stuff and so far not a lot of paint has come off. I have also heard dot-3 brake fluid (Dot-2 is best but isn't made anymore) works as well. If the Easy Off continues to be Not-So-Easy-Off I may need to resort to Brake Fluid next.

So while the Charger body is sitting in Tupperware getting stink-i-fied by Easy Off, I figured it'd be a good time to take an inventory of other projects I've been working on that are on hold now. First up is a 5 window 32 Ford that was chopped; the rear section is from a 36 Ford 1/24th scale; and the headlights are from the AMT Wagon Rod #30087 which I bought off Ebay for something like $3. I chopped the headlights right off the Wagon Rod's fenders and epoxied them to what you see here. I have a chassis already built for it, and am debating a using a Buick Nailhead engine versus something kitbashed from various Revell Packs. Sanding it was taking forever, so I shelved it, but now that I've learned the trick of making a sanding block out of foam rubber I'm back in business.

Second up is a project inspired by the cool stuff done by Bill Stillwagon; a 51 Chevy curbside that's been made into a hardtop. If you want to see an awesome builder, go to his site--his stuff is the coolest! Anyway, the 51 Chevy was shelved because I wasn't sure how get the sanding done. A chassis/wheel setup is already built for this; I was going to put some sort of cool engine in but couldn't get the hinged hood to sit right so it's going to be a curbside.

My most ambitious project to date--this is pretty experimental for me--is a marriage between an AMT 55 Chevy body and the AMT Silhouette #38450. This is a sort of oil-and-water amalgam of different kits and as you can see is made up of way too much Evercoat polyester putty. No idea if it will ever come out, but I thought it'd be good practice to see how far I can stretch the polyester putty thing.

Finally the 6" chop on a 32 Ford Sedan. This is the "Orange Crate" look. I have already finished a 32 Sedan chopped dragster, but I thought it'd be fun to revisit the Orange Crate idea for a street car or maybe a salt flats racer. Not sure where this is going yet, and the chop is a bit fragile, so this one will be a lot of work to finish up.

It's tempting to jettison the 69 charger since the loss of the paint, but, I want to stay focused. The 69 Charger has made me realize that I like customizing a lot more than making knock offs of "showroom model" type cars, even though I love old Mopars. But there is only so much time, and many ideas to chase down--I was going to build 3 stock Mopars--the Charger 500, a Roadrunner, and a '71 Charger R/T, but at this point that seems unlikely. The next build will probably be another custom of some sort.

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