Monday, March 30, 2009

Off the Bench #3 - 67 Impala

Here is my 67 Impala that I just finished a few days ago... This is a special kit as it is the first kit that I bought after Franna and I got together... I have been working on this kit off and on for over eight years. It has been built in a couple of different configurations and this is the third color that it has been. Hard to tell in the photos, but it has nearly every hose and wire on the engine. This is also the first time I have ever scratch-built the linkage for the carburetor including the tiny little return spring that I hand wrapped. I'll try and get a better photo of it. All of these photos will "biggify" if you click on them. This might turn into part of a diorama in the future as I have future plans to make a 67 Impala drag car with a trailer... Need something to pull the trailer :)
Enjoy !!!
So, without further ado, here are the photos:

Monday, March 23, 2009

OTB Teaser...

Hmmm, I have been so busy working on the Impala that it is mostly done and I haven't even posted any teaser photos of it yet... I started yesterday on the next one in my stash - a 90-ish S-10 Blazer... That one will also be a mild custom as I am going to replicate my own little white truck that is waiting patiently for me to put a new engine in it... Maybe winter will go away at some point in time and I can start planning to get that done. I have decided that I am too old and too fat to be laying out in the snow and the rain putting a new engine in ANYTHING... :) I helped Jennifer work on the wiring for the lights on her car a few weeks ago and it reminded me of how much I don't miss bending and twisting to get up under the dash while trying to keep my knees out of the gravel and rain from running into everywhere... Anyway, here is the teaser photo for the Impala (it does biggify if you are interested) and I will make you wait a day or two before I get the rest of them posted and write it all up :) Franna has already told me that my background sucks, and I need to figure out a better way to do lighting... Open to suggestions :) Enjoy !!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Off the Bench #2 - Mercedes SLK 230

Welcome to the second installment of my "Off the Bench" series. This time, the model that I am going to talk about is the 1/24th scale Mercedes SLK made by the Japanese company, Tamiya. Last year, when the price of gas got so bad, I started looking for something different to drive as my Suburban, gets something around 12 miles per gallon. I looked at all the typical choices, but decided that if I was going to buy another car, at least I was going to buy something that was fun, while still economical. I eventually narrowed my choices down to two, the Mercedes SLK 230 with a 2.3 liter, four cylinder engine, 5 speed transmission, hardtop convertible, and the Mazda MX 5 Miata with a 1.8 liter, four cylinder engine, 5 speed transmission and a soft top convertible top. Both of these cars looked fun to drive ( I have driven a Miata before, and can tell you that it IS fun to drive), while still getting over 30 miles per gallon. I found multiple examples of both in the under $15K range that I set for myself. I ultimately abandoned getting another vehicle as I was never able to convince my wife that it was economically feasible, so I just suffered through $160+ fill-ups on the 'Burb once or twice a week. And then the price of gas came back down and totally ruined any chance I had to convince her :) During my search, I also bought a model of each car (Man, I love eBay :)) and what started out as a "stock" build ended up becoming something much different. I used the term "Euro-Tuner" when I described it at the March meeting of my model car club.
Tuner is the name given to the modified import cars (usually Japanese) that are so popular with kids today. Once I decided that I was going for the "tuner" look, I knew that I would need to make several modifications to the kit to achieve the look that I was after. The real car has a plastic cladding (covering) down each side that covers the bottom 3 or 4 inches of the door and the rocker panels below. It also goes around the front and rear on the lower portions of the bumper coverings. This cladding is to protect the car from damage from rocks and road hazards. However, I didn't like the look of it on the model (or the real car, for that matter) as it just looks like semi-gloss black plastic pieces added to the car (which is basically what it is...), so I spent quite a bit of time sanding it all off, smoothing the body, re-scribing the door lines and getting rid of mold seams. The next thing that I did was to add the front air dam and the lower wing on the rear. Since I was after a sleek look, both of these modifications were filled with putty and sanded smooth before painting. Once done, they looked like they were part of the car. Once all the body work was done to my satisfaction, I primed the body, and then painted it with Dupli-Color brand paint. They have a series called "Metal Specks" that has larger metalflake pieces in it than their regular metalflake paint. One of the most popular colors that the real car comes in is silver, so I decided to step it up and used the Metal Specks silver. The same kit that had the air dam and a few other parts that I used, also had some cool red body side decals. They were too long for this kit, but I cut them down and put them on each side of the body after modification (I think they turned out pretty nice). I followed this with 5 coats of clear to "bury" the flake and cover the decals so that it could be polished smooth. I then set it aside to let it gas out for several weeks before polishing.
I turned my attention next to building the chassis. Well, actually, the chassis was easy as I built it entirely stock,except for two small changes.
First, since tuners are known for the large exhaust tips (and loud mufflers), I modified the kit muffler by adding a larger diameter piece of polished aluminum tubing. The other thing that I did was add an aftermarket set of wheels and tires from a company called "XS Tuning". They came with the gorgeous aluminum finish just as shown so I didn't have to do anything to them at all. Well, actually, I did have to buy them twice. When I was working with the first set, I dropped one of them on the floor and Thomas, in his haste to help me out, picked it up and broke two of the spokes with his teeth :)...
Once the chassis was done and set aside, that left only the interior to do. Since this is a convertible, the interior becomes much more important to do neatly as it is more visible than it would be if one was looking in through small scale window openings. I was looking for something else one day at the hobby shop I go to and found an aftermarket tuner kit from Aoshima that had a whole bunch of neat stuff in it. The thing that sold me the most was that it had some VERY nice scale Recaro seats. It also had the top wing, extra gauges, two NOS bottles, two steering wheels and a few other little odds and ends. After finding that kit, I decided that I would give the Mercedes a race car-inspired interior. I started with the seats and added racing harnesses. The straps are made from 8 millimeter (6 or 7 mm would simulate a normal seat belt, racing belts are wider) strips of the same surgical tape that I made the window net for the Mustang from. The buckles and assorted parts are actually photo-etched aluminum pieces from Arrowhead Aluminum Accessories (AAA). I bent them as needed to replicate real hardware and installed them on the tape belts, after I had painted them flat red. The blue bottle between the seats is a NOS bottle. NOS stands for Nitrous Oxide Systems, a company that markets these systems for cars. In a real car, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is injected into the engine just after the carburetor or fuel injectors and gives a serious horsepower boost. It can be tempermental at times, although when it is tempermental it is usually obvious by all the pieces and parts falling out the bottom of the engine :) It is possible to get systems that provide upwards of 250 horsepower at the touch of a button. These systems are very popular with drag racers and street racers, including tuners. Typically, this system would be in the trunk or backseat, but I put it where it is to add a little more detail to help tell the story of this model. Early on, I named the car "Bottle Baby" so it became important to have the bottle in plain sight to help with figuring out why it was named that. And just a quick FYI, the model is not quite done yet as I am going to make custom license plate decals for it (BOTL BABY) as well. I carried the racing theme to the dash as well. I added several extra gauges and switches to give it that racy look. If you look close, you will see two small red bumps on the steering wheel. Those simulate the switches that one would press to fire off the solenoids in the nitrous oxide system. It is very important to have the car under control when you add an instant horsepower boost, so many folks put the NOS switches right on the steering wheel so they can have both hands on the wheel when the system is activated. I also made a roll bar across the entire car instead of the little roll-over hoops that the real car has. That added to the race look, but it also gave me a place that I could attach the shoulder harnesses to :) Final assembly was simply a matter of gluing the major assemblies together and sitting back to enjoy the result. Well, I know that I do :) I'll post another photo or two once I get the license plates installed, but other than that I am calling this one done.
No teaser this time as my next model is not to the point of ready to divulge anything more than to tell you that it will be a 1967 Impala street machine. Sorry, I seem to have trouble building stuff stock...