Wednesday, December 26, 2012

An Aside--53 Vette "Don Yost Style"

As a Christmas gift to myself I bought Don Yost's "Airbrushing Model Cars" DVD....Yost apparently is an old pro who has won top prize at every model car building contest ever held since the beginning of time. This guy has a pretty different take on airbrushing than the direction I have been going.  For one, he uses (exclusively?) enamel paints from Testors, mixed with laquer thinner, and sprayed through an external mix airbrush.  He makes it look easy....

I didn't want to try this different take on airbrushing on my 60 Vette Gasser project since I had invested too much time in customizing and "engineering"--I saw myself melting the plastic with laquer thinner.  Instead I grabbed up a really old AMT 53 Vette kit I bought at a swap meet for $5, prepped the parts, and started spraying!

The result?  Yost's method is fast, quick, easy, and REALLY REALLY WORKS!  

I had this vision of using his method to knock out the entire project in one rainy December day--builds usually take me weeks....and I might have been able to, but the body proved to be a lot of work.....

The engine is box stock and done....

But the body had the same front and rear valance issues as the Toyota 2000GT, and had to be corrected the same way....putty, sand, putty, prime, sand, etc., but I wanted it done fast, fast, fast!

Yost has you spend a lot of time on prep...that makes sense to me....the body for this "proof of concept" build had been painted previously.....I demonstrated to my 8 year old nephew the joys of airbrushing so it was already painted acrylic blue without any prep; I had to strip off most of the old stuff, sand the mold lines, putty in the valances, and respray with German silver, my final goal being a flat white enamel, covered with a couple of shots of two part automotive clear.

I rushed one of the base coats and the paint ran, so now I am letting it gas out and will sand it smooth and try again.

Yost also recommended taping small parts down to the bench with masking tape and then airbrushing each part, flipping it after a quick dry and hitting it again.  This didn't work as well for me since the paint puddled up and made the final surface coverage a bit dicey.  I will stick to my "alligator clip method" I guess.  Nevertheless the Yost DVD is highly recommended; he takes a difficult topic and breaks it down into simple steps that get the job done fast.  To quote or maybe paraphrase him "this isn't rocket science--those guys wouldn't even let me in the door!"  For this hobby that's the right attitude!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

60 Corvette Gasser--Body Work....

Continuing from last time: I am working on a 1:25 scale 1960 Corvette Gasser; this was an old project, started 4 years ago or so, then abandoned due to poor planning.....can I do better this time?

While waiting for some of the chassis mods to dry, I prepared the body for paint....the body for this build came from an early MPC '60 Vette....after the 2008 attempt I salvaged the body and put the remaining parts into the parts box.  But! Four years later I couldn't find some of the trim so I purchased the kit again...

....this kit!!--AMT #31910--figuring it was the same tooling for a lot less dough ($9 US on Ebay). But it's NOT THE SAME KIT AT ALL!  The tooling is completely different....

Ah!  Turns out the above kit, AMT 38595, is the same tooling as the MPC Corvette, at least as far as I can tell, and it's a lot cheaper (The MPC kit, long out of production, is $35 to about $100 on Ebay and elsewhere; the above reissue is maybe $15 on Ebay)

To give you an idea of how different the tooling is, take a look at the bodies side-by-side!  The "red Vette"AMT body is on the right, and IMO is square and poorly proportioned.  The MPC body on the left is long, round and sexy.  Man I love what MPC did back in the day; their sculptors knew how to make things "boss", as my bros and I used to say!!!

So it was all the usual prep work; getting rid of mold lines (there were lots), gluing in the front and rear valances and then removing gaps (total pain as it was on the 2000GT build!) and the usual sand, sand, file, sand, file, rat spam and sand....

This time I tried out a different putty formula to fill the ugly gaps and do basic repairs: "Mr Surfacer" from "Mr. Hobby", imported from the land where the most obsessive craftsmen in the world live: Japan!  This is "liquidy", viscous, runny, downright smelly putty, as if you took a bunch of traditional styrene filler putty and mixed it with a gallon of liquid styrene glue, then bottled it up and sold it, which might be all that Mr. Hobby is doing here....

So how does Mr. Surfacer stack up? Well, he does OK, maybe, but I am not sure I will abandon CA glue for Mr. Hobby/Mr. Surfacer as my gap filler of choice just yet. Mr. Surfacer putty doesn't shrink and is easy to apply, but it pits and cracks a bit. Yes, this rear end still needs a bit of work but that's par for the course!  I will shoot it with primer and take it from there....

Wait a minute! Time to run along and wrap gifts!  So no more time for models today. Have a good holiday folks!

Friday, November 23, 2012

60 Vette Gasser--and Some Random Thoughts....

The Toyota 2000 GT build was box stock and I'm tired of box stock.  Let's build a custom.....When building a custom I have found you first have to "engineer" the build--work exclusively in white plastic and bare metal, without unnecessary attention paid to parts finish or paint.  Failure to plan out the entire build means I waste time finishing, painting, and detailing parts that end up not fitting.  Or getting ruined in the process of trying to glue them into place.  Or just not looking good.  Or all of the above!

My mini-model-manifesto: From about 3 years of trial and error, the following items/systems/assemblies need to be picked out, fabricated, test fitted, and otherwise "engineered" before any real finish work can be done:

  • Which chassis, chassis tub, frame, and front and rear suspensions to use?
  • Which body to use (resin?  Plastic?  Chopped top? Stretched?  Channeled?
  • How will the body mount to the chassis and frame?
  • How will the wheels/tires and rear tire mounts (inner wheels) attach to the front and rear suspension?
  • Figure out how the wheels/tires will clear the wheel wells (if surgery needs to be done to get them to fit, do it before paint!!)
  • Choose an engine block, oil pan, and transmission (then assemble this subsystem to gauge size and fit)
  • Determine how the engine block and transmission will mount to the chassis--fabricate motor mounts if necessary....
  • Choose a cooling system; determine how the radiator will fit into the engine compartment or body....
  • Choose an exhaust system, determine how it will attach to the engine, how it will attach to the frame, and how exhaust will exit the car....
  • How will the suspension parts (front and rear axles/springs/shocks) mount to the frame?
  • Assuming front engine/rear wheel drive, determine the driveshaft length and fabricate or kitbash a driveshaft....
  • Choose the body trim (grill, bumpers, headlights, glass components, headlights, taillights, etc).... 
  • Determine how the trim will attach to the body (i.e., how you'll modify the body to accommodate the trim)?
  • How will the windshield attach to the body?
  • Figure out which interior tub or interior panels to use and modify the body/tub/dash/frame if needed....
  • Which dashboard to use, and how will the dashboard mount into the interior or under the body?
  • How will the steering wheel/steering column will connect to the dashboard?
  • Kitbash or scratch build a firewall, then determine how the firewall will attach to the frame/body/interior....
  • For the firewall, how will all components (exhaust, transmission, anything else penetrating the firewall) fit through?
  • Figure out the overall stance of the build (height/rake)....
  •  If there is a roll cage figure out how it will fit into the interior and clear the body
  • Pick out seats and make sure they fit in the interior and under the roof.

So this time around I am building a 1960 Vette gasser.  I started to build this about 3 years ago but because I didn't follow the steps above the build was a failure....Being that I had just returned to the hobby I had no concept of "engineering" a build and following the necessary steps I mention above; I figured I'd pick out some cool parts and prep and finish each one before final assembly--but it didn't work!  Nothing fit and I had to throw it all away!

The ten thousand dollar question! Can I learn from my mistakes? 

This time: to start, I kitbashed the frame.  It's a combination of an old AMT '53 Vette (#T310601) frame and chassis and the tube frame from Revell/Model King's 50 Austin Gasser 85-2090. 

This was combined to form a gasser/drag I test fitted the front axle from the Austin kit (and found the tie rod would need to be flipped so as not to bang into the motor--glad I am engineering all of this!!!).  I also set the rear springs and shocks from the 53 vette in place along with the quick change rear end from the AMT Double Dragster #AMT 646.

The Chassis is also from the 53 Vette....the wheels and tires I want to use (I may change my mind) are from the Model King Judge 69 GTO FunnyCar goal here is to make sure the front and rear axles line up with the wheel wells....with all this roughed in, it's not too early to mock up the stance......

So far, it's looking pretty good....I used a stack of playing cards to prop up the frame and tape to put the wheels in place.

The frame now has motor mounts...the engine block/tranny is a Pontiac V8 from an AMT parts Pack.  The exhaust system (far right) is entirely scratch built, for me, a first trying to do this with tube styrene  and solder didn't come out too well but I am not done with the finish work yet (on any of this).....some sanding and putty work might save the headers....I have not yet begun to engineer!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Toyota 2000GT FINISHED!!!

Finally!  Done with the MPC Toyota 2000 GT Vintage build!  It's been a heck of a long haul on this one...

I have been back into this hobby for 3-4 years now, off and on, and I have to say this one took all my skills such as they are, and patience such as it is, to pull off the end of this build.  What an ornery kit!  The trim (pretty much off of it!) didn't fit, and I mean, anywhere, not even close, and that's after a lot of careful prep and test fitting; the instructions stunk, the single-atom layer of chrome fell off in the my fingers while handling the parts....

Much cursing and fear and loathing ensued, but, it's done at last.  I have mixed feelings about the result, from some perspectives it looks pretty good, from others, not so good, I especially struggled with the front grille, which absolutely would not sit correctly no matter what I did. I took the back end with its giant ugly body seam seriously, and it came out OK, but not the front--it needed as much or more TLC to pull this off. The front grill had 2 big pins in the back that mounted to nothing--to me this kit must be a re-do of a promo or diecast or something, because some of the parts didn't seem to belong.

What I am coming around to: for box-stock builds like this, you have to have 2 kits, the first of which is "practice" where you check your parts fit and whatnot--probably build up without any paint; the second  is the "real" kit for paint and display.  Now, this 2000 GT kit goes for maybe $100-150 USD if you can find it at all, but if I look at all the time I spent trying to muscle some of the trim into place, a second kit would have been a bargain--is my time worth $1 an hour?  Something like that?

So what did I have to do to get this sucker off the ground?  The knock offs had to be shaved down like 6 scale inches (!!!)  Out of the box, they stuck so far off the sides of the car that it looked like something "Speed Racer" deployed after hitting "B" on his steering wheel.

The wipers basically didn't exist (at all) and had to be scratch built--MPC did include some useless protrusions on the oversized windshield that in some universe might be wiper blades, but not here on planet earth!  There were no front headlights included, unless you wanted to use "lights up" which I didn't; there's another trip to the parts box.

Overall I'm really glad it's done, and now it's on the something that hopefully is a bit more fun--because this one was a giant pain!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Toyota 2000GT--Staying in the Lines.....

Nearing completion of the rare, vintage, and way frustrating MPC Toyota 2000GT....going back to the body work, this is going to be my first white paint job on a model car--ever--since I was like 6 years old. It turns out white color coats are trickier to apply then I thought.

I sprayed the 2000GT body, hood etc. with some Duplicolor white primer in anticipation of applying a decanted Duplicolor white lacquer.  Good news is I never got to the lacquer!  The primer looks good as-is. The off-white tone--a sort of calming eggshell--looks about right. What the heck, just clear coat the primer and I'm done.  Right? (Right??) But not so fast...colored all white the dinky Toyota looks pale and the door lines, headlight covers and so on need to stand out....

The hobby mag forums say: take some wash and flow it all the gaps and you're done, but I figured it wouldn't be that easy, and I was right.  I got a white GTO body from my junk box, sprayed some white primer, dug into the lines you see here with the back of a #11 X-acto blade, and tried to run some India ink wash in there and it looked, well, really, really crappy.  The lines came out uneven, it was hard to keep the wash "in the gap", and so on.  The magazines made this look easy!

After some trial and error--again, I am glad I am using the same GTO body from the junk box and not the rare 2000GT to figure this out--acrylic semigloss black, with a lot of expensive Tamiya thinner, seemed to work best. Here, I didn't deepen the lines enough before applying the acrylic wash and thus it looks uneven.  But the combination of acrylic paint and high end acrylic thinner, applied as a wash, seems to do the trick.

India ink was a bust (just looked awful!), as was Testors black enamel (couldn't get the wash to flow evenly). Acrylic with Windex (ran everywhere, bubbled up!) was a big miss. Making the door lines even in depth, cutting them really deep, and cleaning them out thoroughly seems to be key to success here. And obviously I have to use enamel or lacquer as base coat, or the acrylic thinner used in the wash will destroy the color coat.

So here's what I have so far.  It's still not perfect--but what is. You can see some sanding issues at the rear that still need to be cleaned up, and a bit of door wasn't cleared out properly, but that can be fixed...maybe....depending on how much more time I can spend on this. Even with these flaws, the body looks 1000% better than before any wash was applied.

I think with some more #2000 sandpaper work and then some automotive clear this is going to look pretty good. The wash adds a subtle but critical depth to the white color coat. Then the question becomes, how to I paint the molded-in top and dash semi-flat black, while the rest is gloss white. I have done a few two-tones but never part gloss and part flat. I have to think about this!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

MPC Toyota 2000GT--Vintage 1:25 kit--Chassis and Suspension

Still working away on an MPC Toyota 2000 GT kit.  This kit has never been reissued and is rare and hard to find.....

Last time the body prep work was driving me crazy so I turned my attention to the chassis/suspension assemblies.  It turns out that's not been much easier....

Here's a copy of the chassis section of the instruction sheet...I haven't been back into this hobby that long, but nevertheless, I see something like this and I know it's going to be a very long evening trying to build this up......a combination of the amount of delicate parts and the fragility of the suspension is going to make this part of the build tricky!!!

To make things worse--the instructions SUCK!  There are mistakes all over, and/or instances of things being extremely vague.  For instance--take a look at part  #18 above. I ask: where does the L brace facing us attach?  I had to guess that it attaches to part 22, the driveshaft cover--not sure but that's where I glued the damn thing--and it didn't line up quite right so that might not be it....and did I mention that driveshaft was like 2 scale feet too short?  Or did I not mount the motor correctly?  Hard to say from these instructions.  It's baffling that a kit that seems to have been so carefully mastered could have such poor instructions....I had to ask myself: what was MPC thinking?  And of course I can't go out and buy 3 of these kits (I could but it'd cost several hundred dollars) to "try things out". 

So here's what I came up with....

As you can see the rear lower A-frame looks out of I said, I never could figure out how the rear end went together, but at least the wheels are reasonably straight, the model is going to sit flat, and everything seems sturdy.  I ended up needing some 5 minute epoxy to get some of it to stay glued down but at the end of the day things weren't too terrible. I still have to glue in the exhaust pipes (parts 23 and 25) and note that they go at the very end of part #24, not in the middle, the way the instructions show things.

The engine is a pretty simple affair but doesn't look all that bad once dropped into the chassis.  Again, the un-retouched macro photos tell no lies!

Much fear and loathing--but this could have been a lot worse. And now it's on the interior....more fun!  And the body!  It's not going away!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Toyota Vintage 2000 GT--My Summer of Discontent!

Still building a rare 1:25 scale Toyota 2000GT roadster.  News from the bench is not good.

Another month gone--and this time I have an excuse for not spending more time at the bench--namely this build was driving me crazy and I had to take about 3 weeks off!

As I said a few posts ago, I didn't want a seam running down the rear of the body, so I glued the bottom pan to the body before paint.  The 1:1 car doesn't have a seam here, and my build won't either!  Right??  Now, I have to seal the gap!  And it's proving tricky!  To the point where it's driving me crazy!

A year or two ago I might have left the seam looking like this--in other words, like the surface of the moon, but not any longer.  The macro photo reveals all evils! Now every build has to be better right? What you see here is after a fair amount of work puttying, CA gluing and sanding, and it still has a long long way to go. And sadly I don't have a picture of it but, I feel the body work used to look better than this--that the more sanding and scrubbing I do the worse it gets!

Now is that any way to do professional gap sealing work?  I don't think so!  The macro shot reveals all!!!

As they say about Ron Jeremy--The butt end is even worse!  And that's a macro shot you really DON'T want to see! Seriously--well somewhat--the snail trails you see are CA glue, Plastic weld, and Tamiya putty, which I guess I didn't get off there fast enough, now it seems the glues and putties and plastic are sanding off at different rates, and it's looking worse and worse instead of better and better.

The only cure I see here is very careful sanding with a 800ish grit wet and dry sandpaper, being careful not to remove details if possible, followed by primer, followed by more sanding, finer and finer grits--dr gradus ad parnassum.  So the body is going to look like it got sandblasted with extreme prejudice--not much I can do about that at this point.  No one ever said this was easy, and it isn't.

The question is, will it drive me crazy?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vintage Toyota 2000GT--Fast and Clean?

Continuing from last post--still too busy at work, always, having completed a labor intensive project on the East Coast and now, finally, I am back at home for awhile (I hope). Glad it's done, now it's time to get back to things that don't make any the pursuit of silly but fun hobbies.....

Still working on the vintage MPC 1:25 scale Toyota 2000GT. As far as I can tell, this kit is old, was never reissued, and is thus quite rare, which of course means if I lose a part or screw up I can't go buy another kit (easily, anyway).

I have decided on a box-stock build and for this project, I am trying to focus on the ever-elusive "clean build" without spending the next three years pondering and fussing endlessly over every part.

So in that spirit am I building carefully? As always: no!!! Not careful enough anyway....I noticed after painting the chassis that the engine didn't fit as well as it did during test fit, and then realized I put the oil pan on backwards! I had to carefully cut the multi-piece block apart, flip it, and re-glue the pan. Now it's ready to be cleaned before repaint. Good news is, the engine is going to make it....

After cleaning, priming, and clipping all parts that needed to be painted (except the body) I airbrush all parts that needed the same "finish". This seems an obvious way to save time, but until recently I often wasn't doing this. For this run, I am using Alclad2 on suspension parts.....

To get some variety I am painting other "metalized" parts with acrylic crafts paint through a single action Iwata SAR airbrush--crafts paints cost a fraction of Alclad's prices and in my limited experience, give a nice contrast to the Alclad look.

To make sure I don't spill, scrape, or otherwise destroy painted parts I store like parts in small plastic takes time to bag everything up, but it takes more time to repaint something that gets dropped, soiled, or crushed!

To wrap it up for this post--how did the embossing powder fake-carpet look after paint? Great! Next up--body paint. White finish--can't wait....

Friday, July 6, 2012

Toyota 2000GT: Paint and Carpets....

I have been out of town but now I'm's July already....still working on a vintage build--MPC Toyota 2000GT....

Since I have so little time to build I need to make the process as efficient as possible. Building has become routine: clean up parts after fully or partially removing them from the sprues, then use alligator clips poked into foam rubber to prime and paint.

When I am done I have a bunch of parts, some painted enamel black, ready for Alclad metalizer. I will spray everything at once. It's much faster than painting part by part as I go.

Getting the interior to look good is always important, but since this is a convertible, doubly so! Good looking carpets make good looking interiors, and scale carpeting remains a challenge for me. A hobby mag recently mentioned using embossing powders to simulate carpeting, so I thought I'd give it a try--I bought some ZING powder online, along with 2 embossing pens.

Initial results were promising. The embossing pen lays down a thin layer of glue, so I could make "fingers" that run besides the seats (which would have difficult with white glue and "fuzzy fur"). For thicker "carpet touches" I found that adding Testors liquid cement and more powder did the trick. After the glue dried I used a heat gun to melt the powder in place. I discovered it was easy to over-do the heat gun action and melt the powder too much; it took a bit of practice to get things to look realistic.

Here's a "before" pix of the rear deck. This surface will form the floor of the trunk. Without texture it looks pretty crappy.

A thick shot of Zing powder really helped. This was a triple dose followed by pouring (!) some Future acrylic sealer on top. Being that this was a rare and hard to replace kit, I should have practiced more on spares before trying out something new, but what the hell.

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