Sunday, August 23, 2009

Casting Continued--the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The quest to build more Mopars remains on hold
....I'm waiting for our UPS guy to deliver Resin parts for the 71 Roadrunner project and vinyl textured paint for the '69 Superbee.....

As I said last time, I've never tried to recreate a vinyl roof before, and I didn't want to try this out on an expensive resin body, so I got a '69 Revell Superbee that I'm building box-stock to learn more about creating a fake vinyl top. I've painted the body already with Model Car World #6955, "Seafoam Turp. Metallic" purchased for the Charger 500 project but never used until now....

I masked off everything but the roof....the brightwork had to be masked as well, I figure, since Bare Metal Foil reveals every little bump and pit and would look terrible covering scale vinyl. Ironically I used Bare Metal foil as the mask for the eventual application of--Bare Metal Foil! Overall this vinyl top thing is a mystery; I have no idea how this is going to look, but that's what $12 box-stock builds are for, for me anyway: trying out new things.

In the meantime I've been messing with more resin casting. Last week I bought a starter kit from Alumilite and have spent a lot of this weekend playing around with it, casting more Halibrand wheels and a bunch of valve covers.

For the wheels: I found a few deep rear 5 spoke Halibrands in my parts box. I always have loved these wheels, but each was missing its mate, and one of them had a pretty big chip taken out of the rim. I repaired the rim by stripping the chrome with 91% isopropyl alcohol, then using Plastic Weld, tube styrene, and a file to replace the missing chunk. But what about its mate? We need 2 wheels Scotty!!

Casting ahead warp factor nine!!!

What I've found:

First and foremost, mix the resin components really carefully! Or else the resin never quite cures and you end up with wheels that looked chewed by a dog!

Also: make sure to deform the mold right after pouring the resin to allow the resin to flow down into all the creases and crevices.

And let the part cure in the mold a long time--a few hours, at least--it takes the rims of the wheels a lot longer to cure than the rest....I was taking the part out of the mold, but the rim was staying behind, which of course is not good....letting the cast wheel sit in the mold for a few hours seems to fix this.

Another trick: glue the original part down to the bottom of the mold box--if not it will literally float--then the cast part will not be able to be extracted from the mold.

And....small round salsa containers, from the "para llevar" counter at the local Mexican joint, make great mold boxes for small one piece molds.

Putting the mold in the microwave and using baby powder to get rid of air bubbles, before the pour, didn't make a lot of different I could see, at least so far. The Alumilite site says to do this, but I couldn't see any difference, and occasionally the baby powder would deform the piece. As long as I could pop air bubbles with a toothpick before the resin hardened I was OK, for the most part. What air bubbles were left--and there usually weren't a lot--didn't seem that hard to fill with superglue.

As far as the wheels, I had about 50/50 results--meaning I could keep about half of what I cast, which isn't too bad for a newbie at this. The takeaway: I could repair an original wheel and then cast a mate, and then use both on a build! Cool!

For the valve covers I went into my parts box and got every "cool" valve cover I could find--and a cool Thunderbird air cleaner to boot. We're talking the Caddie valve covers that say "Cadillac", Dodge Red Ram, Weiand, Ford Cobra, and so on--the nifty covers the kit manufacturers don't include these days because they don't want to pay GM or whoever an (even huger) licensing fee.

I whipped up a quickie mold box out of .015 plastic sheet, CA glue, and polymer clay.

The results were really good! I had about 90% keepers for the 3 rounds. The parts, other than needing to have flash trimmed off, look every bit as good as the originals. These would go for $3-5 or more per pair (!!!) from one of the aftermarket resin places. For me, it was about 50 cents worth of resin and about 1/2 hour of my time to make a lifetime supply of them!!!!

I did try some 2 part molds this week as well, but it was a complete disaster. More on that next time. Overall, casting is easier than I thought, at least for simple things, and going forward I see it changing the way I approach a lot of the builds I do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Roadrunner on Hold--so in the Meantime.....

After a lot of sitting around staring at the 1:25 MPC 71 Roadrunner MPC body I have decided that it's going to be too much work to modify the body and front grille/bumper to suit my needs. I love MPC, I really do, but this body just doesn't get it done--it is too far from the spirit of the 1:1 car, so I'm not going to use it for the '71 Roadrunner build.

I'm not giving up; I have ordered some resin parts from Modelhaus and Bandit Resins to get the '71 Roadrunner build now I'm waiting for the parts to show up, then decide what to do next.

In the meantime I have been building a "box stock" '69 Superbee in 1:24 scale...Revell 85-2363....I don't normally work in this scale so it makes it more likely I will stick to a stock build--and I need to build box stock now and then to see if my basic skills are improving. Also I wanted to practice creating a vinyl roof, having never tried that before. This kit serves as a better test bed for this than a $45 resin body.

Things are progressing OK on the Superbee but I remain a bit unchallenged by a stock build and find myself at times a bit bored and impatient. I also see an awful lot of really, really good scale muscle car builds all over the place; the hobby forums are full of them, with one Revell 1:24 69 Superbee build better than the next. It seems some of the very best builders build lots of muscle cars. It's a bit intimidating.

However, I'm doing everything I can to keep boredom and intimidation out of my hobby life, so it's on to other things while I figure out what to do about the MPC Roadrunner situation.

So....I have been reading up on casting resin parts. As with so many other things these days, the Internet makes it all easy. Like the crazy world of polymer clays crafts: there is an entire Internet universe devoted to all aspects of casting--and this casting universe is totally and completely nuts. You can spend your entire life doing nothing but casting or for that matter just reading about casting; and of course being able to cast small and large items has 1001 uses to almost every hobby or craft as well as many professions.

So what am I waiting for? I got a "starter" resin casting kit from Alumilite and plucked some random parts out of the parts box to get some casting practice.

The Alumilite starter kit has everything needed to, well, get started. To do my first single mold casts I followed the how-to directions on the Aluminite site, combined with some reading on various casting forums.

For mold boxes I used some scrap plastic I had lying around; I didn't cover the seams very well on one of the mold boxes but thankfully not too much Silicon spoo bubbled out.

So here are the 2 pieces cast so far. The Halibrand type front wheel came out a lot better than I expected; I lost the master cylinder but the vacuum boost part came out really well. Overall, I did a lot better than I thought I would for a first effort--it was really pretty easy.

Next up: a two part mold--casting a turbocharger from a CART racer, a rare part that would be very useful for custom builds. Step one is to mold the "back" of the part, then flip the mold box, remove the clay, and create the mold for the front. Exactly how I am going to cut holes to get the resin down into this two part mold escapes me now, but maybe I will figure it out. Overall casting with 2 part molds looks to me to be exponentially more difficult, so I'm really not expecting much the first time out.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Aftermarket Vendor List!!!

I am always forgetting where to find what in aftermarket land. Here is a running list of who I've used and what I know about them.



Neat stuff, Good and helpful service
What they have: Excellent and realistic wheels/tires for musclecars and stocks, dioramma making stuff, "accessories" like scale burgers and doughnuts, hard to find resin goodies. Decals.

Scale Decals!
Decals for historic and current drag cars and race cars (Gassers, dragsters, stockcars, etc) Some model kits, Black Gold brand paints, Competition resin Bodies and accessories. tools.

Custom waterslide decals made to customer's needs

Australian but I have gotten stuff from them shipped in the US. Hot rod parts, bodies for European cars, stuff you can't find anywhere else.

Good source for photoetch. Other places sell MCG too. Discounts available if you're on their mailing list.
Photoetch; flocking; wiring; plumbing. Resin parts for things like flatheads and old engines.

Really good prewired distributors, valve covers, wheels/tires.

Great source of motorsports resin bodies and conversions.
Resin bodies and parts; Slixx decals

Huge selection of Resin parts and bodies, mostly hot rods and oldies. Good prices.

Engine parts: metal and resin: valve covers, funny car engines, magnetos, distibutors, oil pans. etc.

Resin Bodies and parts for old dragsters, gassers, and salt flat racers...interesting stuff.

Great one stop shop; fast service
Most of Model Car Garage (Photo etch, resin parts), Detail Master's stuff (Engine details in resin, wire), Ross Gibson engines, Scale Repros stuff (turned aluminum parts, racing engines, good selection of valve covers; air cleaners, oil pans; distributors, trannies) Detail Master stuff (AN fittings, wiring, turned aluminum)

Strada Sports:
Another one stop shop for aftermarket (as well as hard to find kits)
Emphasis on Motor Cycle and F1 type building: Shabo Transfer letting; Evergreen and plastruct plastic; KS metal, Ross Gibson engines, Jimmy Flintstone Resin, some Rep and Minitures of Maryland (F1 type stuff, not hot rod stuff), Model Car Specialities

Another One stop shop: They are best known for their own AN fittings and small resin parts, but they also carry: House of Kolor, Slixx, Ross Gibson Engines, Shabo lettering, BareMetal Foil, lots of others. Pricey, and constantly out of stock on some stuff they don't mfgr, it seems to me, but the AN fittings are cool....

Great selection of Resin bodies (mostly hot rods, oldies, customs) at very reasonable prices.

50s era resin bodies: Fords, Chevys, Hudson, Desoto, Etc.

Engine detail parts, tubing/wiring, Distributors, Magnetos, braided lines/AN fittings

Resin hoods, some valve covers, some wheels, some 60's era Gassers.

Prewired Distributors, Trannies, Valve covers, wheels, performance parts

Resin Funny Car Bodies, Gassers, Transkits, rivet decals\

Resin: Unusual engines

Resin Bodies, parts, conversions.

RESIN Bodies (1:24 and 1:32) of old race cars (Lotus,McClaren,Indy Cars, etc). Cool!

Resin Bodies, parts from the major mfgr's recast.

Huge assortment of spare parts cast from promos.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

71 Plymouth Roadrunner--Caution--Vintage Build Ahead!!!

Welcome back!! Chargers are done!! On to the next build!

I started this one while waiting for the Charger "Scrap Parts" build to dry....Bought on Ebay for about $45, it's a 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner as you can see. I always liked 71 Roadrunners and as far as I know this tooling hasn't been reissued in a really long time--say in the past 15-20 years? So it's a vintage kit....there's a common Revell 1971 (72?)GTX 1:24 kit around, but I don't build in 1:24 generally so here we are.

A few weeks ago I began working on the engine compartment, but the hood never really fit right, so sadly due to time constraints it's going to have the hood glued shut. But worse: to me the MPC 1:25 the body looks very little like the 1:1 car, as evident from the box art photo of the "actual model" compared to 1:1 pix I see on the web, like this cool 71 owned by the great Richard Carpenter. I mean come on--does the box art photo really look like a 71 Roadrunner? The stance is close but not quite right, and the general squareness of the 1:25 stock build makes it look like, well, I don't know what, but not a 71 Roadrunner.

Another big issue is the chrome grille/bumper that came with the 71 MPC kit. The bumper is the wrong shape and the headlights are too small and incorrectly positioned. So I got a 71 NASCAR Roadrunner resin body from Competition Resins and stole the bumper/grille off that--that's the whiteish thing on the bottom of the photo. To me, the resin bumper looks more like the 1:1 bumper, which is good! I am going to have to do some surgery this still, for sure, but it'll be easier than scratchbuilding the whole thing or trying to hack up the MPC bumper/grille to make it look better. To this end I am going to try to make a resin copy of of the resin copy...I don't want to work on the original if possible--it was expensive....and then see what I can do....this will be my first attempt at casting....we will see how it comes out.

So here's what I have so far. With the resin grille in place it looks decent--doesn't have some of the sexy organic lines of the 1:1 car but it's close. I took a file to the really sharp edges to the fenders....add some cool wheels/tires, a 70's era beam-me-up-Scotty-interior, etc., and we'll have a pretty good looking car...hopefully!

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