Sunday, March 27, 2011

66 Nova--Stance Part II

I was in Patagonia, South America, for 2+ weeks, taking endless pictures in one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Surrounded by nature, I still thought from time to time about model cars--I have to admit it. I am not sure why I suffer, but I suffer happily....

Before the trip I started building a "Not a Project" 66 Nova--a quick and easy build that hopefully will avoid months spent fretting over how to do everything just right.

After being gone for 3 weeks it was good to see the project with fresh eyes. Yep, the box-stock stance is too high in, I had to "engineer" a way to fix this.

First, I got rid of the stock axle bits that came box stock and jammed in some tube styrene....and glued the dickens out of it (I will clean it up later....)

Then I put some more tube in, to strenghten the first joint. I will do further reinforcing once I get a stance I like.

After getting one side the way I wanted, I measured everything and repeated the process for the other side.

....when this was all done the mock up still looked too high in the front. So I decided to get even more slimey. Getting inner wheels out of the parts box, I mocked up a wheel where the axle entrance was not centered, to quickly drop the front end further.

This dropped the front of the model another 1/8" or so--maybe 3+ inches on a 1:1 car. On a different day I might have done something more involved to allow the front wheels to still be "poseable" but what the heck, I am just trying to have fun here.

OK here's what I get during mock-up now, after the slimey styrene-and-off-centered-wheel work. To me, this is a good look.

....not as high as an original box stock build, but not totally "slammed" either; an over-slammed front gave the car an too-modern look that I wanted to avoid. Best of all, what might have taken 4-5 evenings to engineer "totally clean" was glued up in about 30 minutes. No one will be wiser but me (and you!). I won't tell anyone if you don't.

Friday, March 4, 2011

66 Nova--Setting the Stance

For the past week or so I've been working on a 1:25 scale AMT Nova #636. The goal is to keep things in the realm of "Not a Project"--nothing custom, nothing fancy, rather, a simple and relaxing build.

Unfortunately, AMT never makes things too easy, and this kit is no exception. A lot of the problematic areas I've seen with their kits pop up here. For one: the "steerable" front is fragile; intuitively I don't see it holding up the weight of the model. In this case, each front wheel is supported by a small spindle that is in extreme danger of falling off and/or breaking.

To (try to) fix this, I glued the dickens out of the top A-frame (using sytrene glue, CA, and plastic weld). Then I did the same to the lower supporting axle assembly in an effort to "sandwich" each spindle in place. Finally I glued the seam between the frame and the inner wheel well, again with CA, normal glue, and plastic weld. When this was done and dry, I shot the entire axle assembly with primer/sealer. The result isn't very "clean", due to the amount of glue I had to use, but inside the wheel well, painted flat black, no one will notice.

Another issue: in my experience, AMT engines never sit quite right on their motor mounts. I am seeing that here; the motor is not sitting flat, nor straight, when nestled into the engine compartment. I will have to tweak the block and motor mounts to fix this. This is why I test fit--I would be unable to sort this out once the engine is painted.

(By the way, no photos yet, but I have a strong suspicion the exhaust system won't fit and will have to be reworked, and the front and rear bumpers and grilles will have to be modified to fit without large seams being visible....just a guess, but on most other AMT kits I have built to date this has been the case.)

The stance--the way the model rides on its front and rear axles, wheels and tires, is key to the model looking good versus looking like a load. I have learned that AMT kits sometimes have poor attention paid to "stance" while the kit is being mastered. Fixing the ride height before paint is critical to the final model looking good.

This Nova kit is no exception--but, as this is "not a project", I wanted to keep things easy. To start, I taped the rear axle in place and added the cool, huge rear slicks. The back end looks great--so far so good.

On the front end, the "stock" ride height looked so bad that I didn't bother photographing it. Basically the front rode higher than the rear, and that's not a look I wanted.

To fix this, one option is to really cheat--just epoxy the fronts into the wheel wells.

This is the lowest ride possible in the front. Looks good I guess, but steering is pretty much impossible.

Here, I turned the front spindles over 180 degrees so the ride height is lowered by about 1/8" (real inches, not scale). This is probably what I will end up using; this is a good look, and I could see the 1:1 car having a ride height like this.

OK, this slightly lowered front is probably what I will end up using. But looking over the photos, the super-low front end appeals to the ten-year-old in me. It's not a slam dunk! I am going to go out of town for a bit so when I come back I can review this, and maybe the decision will be easy. Right now, at this very moment, the ten year old in me is winning out! Who cares if the 1:1 car can't steer! This isn't a 1:1 car!

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