Saturday, May 30, 2009

69 Charger Part Deux--The "Scrapper Mentality" Lives.....

After my on again, off again struggle building a "factory accurate" model of the rare 1969 Dodge Charger 500, it was time for a change. But what about all the left over parts? I had a big box full--some from the original "Vintage Charger 500 MPC Kit", others from the spare Vintage MPC kit, bits from an AMT/ERTL Charger Daytona, plus a donor Revell Charger R/T Donor kit....yep, I had a lot of '69 Charger parts on hand!!!

I would normally just throw these into my parts bins. But! Frustrated with how long the stock build went, I realized it was time to build a "scrapper."

So what is a "scrapper"? Back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth my brothers and I would gather in the family basement, collect any scrap parts we had left over from whatever we were building, mix in things cannibalized from models we wanted to get rid of, add parts from what I recall was a truly amazing parts box of bizarre model car goodies, and build something up fast, fast, fast that was cool, cool, cool. Usually our end result was something with big rear tires and a big V8 motor, with blower of course, the product of the "Inner Hot Wheels" mentality common to many 10 to 12 year old boys.

I realized I hadn't built anything like this in many a decade, and that much of my inexplicable return to model car building is attempt to recapture innocent and simpler times. So a scrapper it must be.

My adult take on the Dodge redeux is a bit more refined, a tiny bit anyway, and maybe that's not so good, but, like it or not, I couldn't bring myself to only use scrap parts for the I started to craft parts from scratch like the inner fender wells and radiator for my Dodge Scrapper about 4 days ago.

The stock interior tub would never due ("too wimpy" my older brother would say back in 1968, as he hacked the crap up out of whatever he was working on with his dremel tool), so I sawed out the guts of the tub and put in a scratch built floor and brass plate where the back seat was.

Man that firewall has got to go too. "Too wimpy"!!! I made a template for a new more macho firewall from card stock and transferred it to .010 plastic. Most gluing was done with CA (which we never had back in the day) and Tenax 7R type plastic weld (ditto). The bolts--bolts never look wimpy--were small styrene rod shoved through 000 type drilled holes and cut off with a sprue cutter. Yes it's more refined, but at least everything was done fast, fast, fast.

The dashboard also got de-wimpified. It has a way to go but the basics are starting to shape up. I could try to Master-Modellerize this scratch build, but that's not the scrapper mentality. It's getting close as-is.

The chassis is one piece, as the Charger is older tooling and a lot of the details are molded in. Thankfully it doesn't have the exhaust molded in, as that would take a lot of time to neatly remove.

This is the Dodge Hemi block I should have used on the Stock build, very nicely tooled, it comes from the....

....extremely cool Revell 1967 Charger kit #85-7669. There are all sorts of good parts in this kit for anyone building a 60's era Hemi Dodge. And that's the good thing about building an adult scrapper--now I have $15 in my pocket to impulsively buy kits like this one at the local hobby store. Back then it was $2 a kit, but it might as well have been $1000, since I almost never had money to buy that kit I really needed....and yes, I miss those rainy days in the basement with my brothers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

69 Charger 500--Finished at Last!!!

At Last!! It's time to wrap up the "MPC Charger 500" Vintage Build! It defies belief that what should have been a simple 2-3 week project turned into 5 months of spills, accidents, and glue blobs! This was the most jinked build I have ever done....wrecking the paint with the wrong clearcoat turned out to just be the beginning of my problems....

One of the main issues was that the front grille simply didn't fit into the body provided--the body was too wide for the "Coronet" grille. When I was trying to repair this I carelessly glooped some G-S Hypo Cement on to drivers side front fender. Out came the isopropyl to remove it right? BAD IDEA! The alcohol ate through a bit of the Future Floor Polish clearcoat! Now one of the front fenders is less shiny then the other....and you can see the yucky shim I ended up putting next to the front grill/bumper to hold it to the body. There are other drips and runs here and there with the clearcoat if you look carefully. I guess I didn't have the energy to spend more weeks on getting the clearcoat and polish just right. Oh well.

I am going to display this build "hood up" since the engine compartment ended up looking pretty good. But the engine had its fair share of issues as well. For instance, I had a heck of a time getting the "426 Hemi" decal onto the air cleaner. I ended up buying 4 sets from Keith Marks Graphics and that's a good thing, because it took 4 of the Hemi decals to get the air cleaner looking OK. And I learned something else: when applying decals on engine parts, put the decal on when the part AFTER it is in place, not before. Doh! I ended up doing a good job getting decal #3 onto the air cleaner, only to destoy it when I put the aircleaner on the engine.

As long as we're talking engines--I spent a fair amount of time trying to "modernize" the old-school tooling of the hemi, and, the air cleaner was treated with Alclad to make it look chrome. Turns out none of this was necessary--Revell has a much better tooled Dodge Hemi (with a great looking Hemi-style chrome air cleaner) in the 67 Dodge Charger 426 Kit, # 85-7669. Lesson learned: before spending a lot of time on modifying something, make I need make sure it isn't already out there in "box stock" form! As it is the air cleaner looks like it is a plastic bit painted silver!!!

The rear bumper didn't fit either--I ended up having to carve out the rear valance, push the bumper in place(no glue needed; it was a tight squeeze) and then touch up aroud the bumper with hemi orange MCW paint....I know I've said this before, but I need to spend more time test fitting before I paint. I assumed the rear bumper would fit--it looked like it would...but "when you assume".....

In spite of all the issues I had with this build, it's not a bad looking build, and IMO the MPC tooling of the body looks more "long and lean" than some more current offerings, like the "Revell Muscle!" Dodge Charger from Revell #85-2824.

So I am thinking, what next?

I am tempted to jettison the whole "muscle car accurate build" thing and go back to hot rods, which can pretty much be built anyway I want. But there is a lot to be learned from builds like this, so I think a few more are in store, soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

69 Charger 500--MCW Lacquer Finish, Back to Square One

One thing about a hobby Blog, you can tell how long you've been working on a project by when you started the first Blog entry about it. For this given build, it's been way, way too long. What I naively thought would be a few weeks on an almost box stock "vintage" build has turned into more than five months (!!!) of hard work and much fear and loathing. Part of it because of travel, part because of the holidays, part because of a destroyed paint job....

Ah yes, destroyed paint. As I said a few weeks ago, due to an incompatible clearcoat, my MCW lacquer paint job was ruined; the 69 Charger body had to be stripped of paint using EasyOff Oven Cleaner, and I had to start over with the paint and body prep from square one. After several days in a Tupperware tub the old paint finally came off, but I also found that some of the putty repairs I made to sinkmarks and whatnot came off too and had to be redone, like on the hood.

It almost got me to abandon the project--all the careful work I did filling this and that casting imperfection were gone along with the paint. So I did the putty work over, as well as the Keith Marks decals, the Bare Metal Foil, the MCW paint.

Did I do as good a job the 2nd time? Nope.

MCW clearcoat was what I was going to use to seal up the lacquer color but I didn't like the way it looked after a few coats--it didn't go on smooth, in fact quite the opposite, and was not shiny at all. Not sure what happened--what I did wrong--wrong settings in my airbrush? Wrong pressure on my new compressor? Don't know....I ended up sanding it down, putting on a few more color coats of MCW Hemi Orange and calling it a day for color coats.

I was going to use Tamiya TS13 lacquer clearcoat, but after much reading online about Tamiya clearcoats, I figured there was a chance the lacquer on lacquer could destroy the decals (maybe), crack and craze and split after 6 months of drying(maybe) and even react adversely with the MCW lacquer color coats (maybe). In the end I resorted to "Future Floor Polish" Acrylic covering, which is a trusty standby that I have used a few times for other builds such as the Texas Old School Rod.

I have never seen it react badly with any paint, provided the color coat was really, really dry. I brushed on a thick coat (Brushing looks better to me than airbrushing--it's self levelling and brushing gets a nice heavy coat) and after 8 hours put on a second coat. Now I can see the end of the tunnel on this build! But I said that before!

So here's what I have so far. Have I been here before? Yes. has it all been worth it? Maybe. I do this to relax and get my mind off of other things. But that doesn't account for my wife yelling at me for getting EasyOff on the lawn, or having to buy paint and decals (again) and redoing the body prep work (again) and priming and painting (again) and clearcoating (again). But is it fun? Does it make me happy? Yes, building these silly bits out of plastic and metal, that mean so little in the grand scheme of things, still does that.

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