Monday, December 29, 2014

956 front clip progress

I built up the body contours below the headlights with thin styrene sheet and a quick coat of primer. I also opened up a hatch for engine access, mainly to allow the chassis to sit properly -- previously it was getting hung up on the tops of the coil-overs. At some point this will need to be sorted out, but meanwhile the stance is excellent.

The primer shows up the sloppy filler which is due to The Granddaughter appearing unexpectedly at the door just as I was spooning it on. (Yes, yes, she was with Mom and Pop, they don't let her out on her own yet, she's only 18. Months, that is.) So of course I dropped everything, closing the workshop door to keep her away from the knives and chemicals. Some sanding and cleanup will be needed as a result, at least to get it to my usual level of perfection (which is somewhere cleaner than 'rat rod' but nowhere near 'concours'). 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The 956 Pickup gets a new front clip

Rather than deal with the finicky little details on the Lotus Europa, like windows, headlights and door handles, that can ruin weeks of effort, I decided to figure out how to build up front fenders for the 956 Pickup, given the extreme differences in track between the 956 and the Type 2. Then I remembered the orphan 935 body, and concluded that the 935 front clip might be just right.

So out came the saw. Next, some measurements showed the 935 is a bit narrower than the width necessary to cover the tires on the 956 (about 6 mm at scale), so I carved out a hole 6 mm narrower in the 935 clip, then cut the clip in half.

Later I'll splice in some styrene to fill the gap in the front once both sides are a good fit. It's all looking pretty good if I do say so myself ... the clip even parallels the curve of the body molding on the upper part of the door as it drops to the front. Some filing and shaping remain, to get the clip to fit better, and to carve out round holes for the VW headlights which are now partially hidden. I'll worry about minor details like doors later.

I've always wondered why you would put an air dam and aero sills on a mini-van, but in this case I think it's justified by the 600+ bhp motor lurking under the deck. On the other hand it is looking less and less like a Type 2 ...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tidying up the display cabinet

In a bid to improve the look of the display cabinets by completing half-finished projects, and incidentally to stretch the break from the 908, I've been tackling incomplete stuff on the shelf. First up: Tamiya's Lotus Europa, which only needed the dashboard and the body completed.

When I worked in the garage, we had a couple of customers with Elans with the same Lotus Twin Cam motor, basically a converted 1600 cc Cortina motor. I could get into an Elan, especially if the top was down, but I once had a chance to sit in an Europa and really could not get into the car. My safety shoes were too big for the foot well, and I had to bend my head sideways to get in under the roof. I guess there is some truth to the old story about Colin designing his cars for short people such as himself. You don't get into an Europa, you put it on, and if you are 6 feet tall like me, it's a couple of sizes too small.

The classic backbone chassis served through the later Elite and Esprit models, and even made it into the DeLorean which Chapman agreed to design. One of our customers picked up a DeLorean at auction at the Port of New York following the bankruptcy, when the American importer was being forced to pay for his unsold stock. On paper, it looked a lot like an early 911: aluminum 2.7 litre 6-cylinder out back, 5 speed transaxle, 4-wheel discs. Surprisingly, it did not drive like a Lotus, or an early 911, but rather like a heavy, ponderous tank. From an engineering perspective, it was a real piece of crap. However, according to the owner, a tall, handsome, muscular young fellow with blond hair and piercing blue eyes, it was quite effective at picking up women. Apparently it was an even better crumpet-attractor than his other car, a burgundy Series 3 E-Type convertible with chrome wire wheels and luscious light brown leather upholstery. I could just see him pulling up on the bar strip on a Friday evening and opening the stainless steel gullwing doors (which were on hydraulic struts so they opened slowly, which was great for dramatic effect as the young Adonis climbed out, but left plenty of time for the rain to get in and soak your good suit). Anyway we made plenty of money fixing the endemic engineering problems over the one or two summers he had it, while the Jag languished in the garage. By then, prices for DeLoreans had gone through the roof and he traded it for a lightly-used 911 Carrera RS, the one with the 2.7 fuel injected engine and the fat rear fenders. Less effective on the bar strip, perhaps, but a much better car.

So anyway the Europa is almost complete. I messed up the gold pinstripe decals which are very thin and easily rolled up into a sticky mess, so I may just go with the plain black paint, complete with (again) some orange peel. On the other hand, I managed the window surrounds with a bottle of Testors silver paint, a very fine 000-scale brush and a steady hand, instead of the bare metal foil I tried on the Alpine. I find that succeeding at this kind of fine work is like playing pool: I need a glass of a good Chardonnay to loosen up, but I start getting sloppy about half-way through the second glass. It's a fine line.

Business travel and family time will limit progress over the next couple of weeks, but once the Europa is complete, I intend to tackle one of the Profil 24 resin kits I have been collecting. I've had the Audi S1 for some time now, perhaps that will be the first.

Originally posted 24 November 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Japanese are coming! New kits on the shelf

Tomorrow being Remembrance Day (a paid holiday for us), I took today off to make up a 4-day weekend. I dropped in on the local model kit wholesaler and wandered around looking at what he had on the shelf. Of course I wound up picking up a few things ...

The most interesting purchase is a Fujimi kit of a Nissan Fairlady Z 432R (a hot version of the Datsun 240Z, to us Westerners). Now Fujimi kits frequently have no engine detail, and (unless the Japanese text on the box provides this information), you will not know this until you take it home and open the box. This can be frustrating, and as a result I tend to stay away from Fujimi kits unless they are of really obscure cars that I really want. However the box art showed a nice picture of a straight 6 equipped with what appears to be a full set of double-barrel side-draft 45 mm Webers (probably Japanese copies), so I bought the kit.

On opening it, the first thing I noticed was plenty of bits to build up a lovely twin-cam 6. Then I noticed the body has the hood molded in place! So you spend a lot of time detailing the motor, then you can't show it off? This is a first for me. So it seems the panel scribe and saw will see some use here, unfortunately...

I also picked up a pair of Nissan Skylines, both from Tamiya. The first is the original 2000 GT-R from 1970, complete with fender flares, wing and another lovely little 2-litre twin-cam 6. This will replace an earlier Fujimi kit of the same car, which had no motor detail. The second is the 1990 version with a 2.6 litre twin-turbo inline 6, decked out in club racing trim. Both are typical Tamiya kits with plenty of detail. And you can open the hoods on both of them ...

So it was Nissan Day at the model car shop. Combined with a couple of earlier purchases, such as Pete Brock's Datsun 510 Trans-Am car (actually another Nissan), a Honda Civic racer with no engine, and a resin Toyota Celica Group B rally car from Profil 24, the Japanese road car contingent is growing, and joins my NSX dragster with (horrors) a blown Ford big block motor in place of the poorly detailed V6. Note all the neat scoops and vents I built in the flanks, roof and front trunk; on the other hand the cockpit had to get shoved forward something like a foot at scale for all those cubic inches to fit, so a normal-sized driver probably couldn't get into it if it were built at 1:1, unless he were moved to the middle of the cockpit.

I've even got a couple of those silly Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon 4WD Super Exceed 7-seater microvans that you see on the street in Vancouver (no engine detail; kit from Aoshima). We were crammed into something similar in China when we visited the Great Wall at Badaling, and what a gutless little thing it was as it ground up the long slopes out of Beijing, especially with 6 porky Westerners on board (the Chinese driver was probably 115 lb soaking wet). Anyway with a name like Delica Star Wagon 4WD Super Exceed, there rightfully should be some serious kit-bashing in the works for these, no decisions yet but stay tuned.

Yes, yes, I've got way more kits than I can possibly build in a reasonable time while still allowing time, say over the course of this winter, for other things (such as this blog, or maybe the family). I passed that point years ago; the 908 alone will keep me busy all winter if I am not careful. However retirement beckons (eventually) at which point there will be lots of time, and all these obscure kits will be unavailable. And as for the expense, well, hey, it's way cheaper than drinking, smoking, gambling and hanging around in bars. Not that I've ever considered any of these as an alternative activity, I'm just making a rhetorical point here.

Originally posted 10 November 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

956 rolling chassis

A good solid push (painting, assembly) means we now have a rolling chassis, which allowed the first real test-fit of the body.

Not unexpectedly there are some problems, mainly the front wheels which are going to require a larger radius cut out of the lower doors to fit. Also the front track is wider than I expected, so perhaps there will be a need for fenders to cover the wheels.

However the stance is still good and it will be even lower once the body isn't hung up on the top of the front tires -- the gap between the air splitter and the body will close up at that point.

Finally, for some reason, the Testor's #1208 light blue continues to look more like a sea-grey on my computer screen, but is quite nice in the real world. I'd say it's not a perfect replica of the Gulf Oil blue, but it will do, and Testor's orange is just right.

Time for a break, as the blue will have to set for a few days before I can do any major handling of it.

Originally posted 9 November 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Back to the 956 pickup for a break

Needing a break from the fussy 908 kit, I decided to make some progress on the 956 pickup. 

It's looking good: the stance sure is wicked in-the-weeds at this point. A top chop is probably not even needed. The radiused front fenders will cut into the cockpit but this should not be a problem.Some sanding of the putty, along with some sheet styrene work and a couple of coats of primer, gets it to here:

Downside: it's all a bit sloppy but hey, it's a chophouse effort so that's OK. Next: finishing the chassis and interior, making it all fit, then final exterior finishing.

For something similar at 1:1 scale, check out The site's in German but the photos and videos are a riot, for example Note the photo gallery: they cut the thing in half lengthwise and widened it by splicing in what looks like a foot of sheet metal. The pictures aren't clear but it looks like it had a chop as well, the fore-and-aft section added to the roof would imply this was the case.

All in all, my approach (cutting up 1/24 kits) is cheaper and faster, although arguably I'll never hammer around the Nurburgring in one of the kits.

Originally posted 8 November 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

MFH's 908/03: Dashboard and cockpit

I found a red tail lamp in the spare parts box with a locating pin that was just a bit bigger (0.0625") than the warning lamp that got away (0.055"). I cut the pin off the lamp, filed it down and rounded it off, then drilled an enormous hole in the dash to make it fit. Overall it worked out well. The photo below, taken through my 4X desktop glass, and with the 3X optical zoom on the camera at maximum, shows the result which is not perfect with this magnification but will pass muster. I am going to leave the gauge as it is; I won't tell if you don't ... can you tell which gauge is the problem? and which warning light got replaced?

Looking closely at the front subframe so far, made as it is of flexible white metal struts held together with cyanoacrylate glue, I realize that it is a bit of a crooked glue bomb, with tubes not lining up so well, and with dried CA glue in a faint sheen across many of the painted bits. A bit depressing to be sure, but OK for a first try of these multi-media kits - even the best builders had to start somewhere, I assume. So I take a breath and press on regardless, knowing that it should still look pretty good in the display case without the 4X glass to highlight all the little screw-ups.

First, though, I have to take a cotton swab drenched in acetone to pick out the worst glue blobs, while staying away from the joints which are weak enough as it is. One big lesson here is that I need to figure out how to apply the CA stuff more neatly and efficiently. Cleanliness is another issue; I washed all the bits in dish soap before starting, but maybe acetone would have been a better choice, at least for the white metal, to get rid of all the mold release chemicals.

Next I mounted the two inner fender splash panels, fortunately nicely cast of resin so dimensionally they are, or should be fine - the filing and shaping necessary to get them to fit arises because the structure behind them is not where it all should be. (Kudos if you can spot the problems in the picture below, again taken through the 4X glass). The glue here is 2-part epoxy, given that most of the joints are resin to resin.

Next is to tidy up some of the paint and install the dashboard and steering wheel. While the paint sets, I've dug out the various bits that attach to the cockpit floor and rear bulkhead and started on the prepping and painting. The next picture shows all the little bits that will go into the cockpit: clockwise from top you will see coils in a vice, relays already mounted to the bulkhead, gearshift linkage, steering wheel, seats and the battery box (white box already mounted to the floor). Two of the relays on the bulkhead sit in little heat sinks made of photo-etched sheet; I guess they expect you to lose a couple of the fins as there are 12 little fins on the sheet but only 8 are required ... I skipped this after 30 minutes unsuccessfully trying to get the fins to stand up in the frame. What is missing now is a couple of decals (Bosch labels on the coils for instance) and the seatbelts before I can button up the cockpit.

As I was cleaning up, out of habit I had a look through the various minuscule bits of scarf, shavings and filings on my desk before sweeping it all into the garbage, and lo and behold, there was the missing warning lamp that got away ... turns out Mr. Carpet didn't get it after all. At times like this, I long for my old friend polystyrene, with reasonably large bits on tidy, numbered sprues.

I'll be away on business for another week, so expect no further progress for a while.

Originally posted 2 November 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

MFH's 908/03: Paint and other progress, sort of

Prior to leaving for a week-long business trip, I decided to respray the 908 body panels with Testor's light blue, which I think is closer to the classic Gulf Oil blue. It's still a bit of a slate grey shade compared to the digital pictures I have, which show a pale blue with little grey,  but in the absence of an airbrush, it will have to do. (MFH recommends 9 parts sky blue to 1 part white). There will be plenty of time to revisit this as I don't see body panels coming together anytime soon.

I also made some progress on the dashboard, although this was a bit of a comedy of errors. One of the 4 clear plastic divots that serve as warning lights pinged out of my tweezers and got eaten by Mr. Carpet, while the larger of the decals for the dials cracked and split. The missing warning light is immediately visible, while you have to squint to see the problem with the decal. Nonetheless I may dig through the parts bins for substitutes for both items, as the cockpit will be quite visible.

On my return, family activities kept me busy for most of the week, and not much more has been accomplished. And since I am going away on business again next week, I suspect it will be a while yet before anything further gets done. Stay tuned...

Originally posted 30 October 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ever wonder where polystyrene comes from?

Recently I come across information about the styrene monomer from which polystyrene is made. It turns out that styrene, like almost everything in the petrochemical industry, comes from a mix of ethylene, which comes from ethane, and benzene, which comes from hexane. And ethane and hexane both come from petroleum. Let's look at each in turn.

Ethane is a simple hydrocarbon with 2 carbons and a full slate of 8 hydrogen atoms:

The picture illustrates carbon's gregarious nature; it likes to have 4 friends. Hydrogen is a little more stand-offish and really only wants one friend. So ethane has two carbons, each of which has three hydrogen atoms and the other carbon atom as friends. Chemists write this as C2H6.

However it turns out that you can't do much with ethane as it stands, except maybe mix it with propane (C3H8) to make a fuel for the barbeque (which is of course an excellent thing to use it for, and which therefore merits it a mention as one of my favourite molecules, especially when accompanied by an ethanol-enhanced beverage). But if we take advantage of the fact that carbon can decide to be really, really BFF with another carbon atom and make what is called a double bond, we can strip off two of the hydrogen atoms in ethane to make ethylene, C2H4:

Here each carbon has two hydrogen friends, and the remaining two friends are taken care of through the BFF, double-bond relation with the other carbon, which counts for two friends.

Next is hexane. If ethane consists of two carbon atoms and a full complement of hydrogen, hexane consists of six carbon atoms and the usual full complement of hydrogen atoms, in this case fourteen (C6H14):

Now comes the really interesting part. It turns out that you can bend hexane around into a hexagon, creating three double bonds and eliminating most of the hydrogen atoms, thusly:

You will note that each carbon atom has four connections: one to a hydrogen atom, one to a carbon atom, and two to a second carbon atom (its BFF). This molecule is known as benzene, C6H6. Now drawing this is a complicated business, and some smart fellow (probably an engineer, being busy people they like shortcuts) decided that you could represent the benzene ring much more simply, thusly:

Now here comes the fun part: by replacing one of the hydrogen atoms around the ring with a link to an ethylene molecule, you get ethenyl-benzene, a.k.a. the styrene monomer (C8H8):

Now I have brought up the word "monomer", which means one ('mono') unit ('mer'); string a bunch of these together and you get a polymer, in this case polystyrene which is made up of a large number of styrene monomer units.

So there you go: from black gooey crude to a clear, hard plastic material that melts at fairly high temperatures and that has excellent stiffness and hardness while being easy to mold or shape into all kinds of interesting things, like for instance a 1/24 scale model of the Mini that won the Monte Carlo Rallye in 1967, driven by Paddy Hopkirk.

Originally posted 18 October 2014, update 21 January 2015

Monday, October 13, 2014

MFH's 908/03: Front frame assembly

I took the holiday Monday as an opportunity to make some progress, again with the goal of having some success stories as a morale-booster.

The front frame, like the structure around the engine, is a bunch of struts and A-frames made of spun-cast white metal, with little dowels meant to fit into equally little sockets. White metal being soft, all of these can easily be bent, after which they will not line up. It is also easy to shear off a dowel if pushing a little too hard. So the trick is to gently get it all to line up dry, then hold it with one hand while dribbling some fast cyanoacrylate glue (3-second Crazy Glue) into the seams. This can be sloppy, and it is critical to have some acetone handy for when you get too much glue in there and either make a big blob, or glue your fingers to each other and/or the model, or both. (Guys, I hate to say this, but the best source of acetone is nail polish remover ... so man up, grit your teeth, and drop by the cosmetics counter of your local drugstore where you should ask for the plain, non-scented variety. They will give you a 250 mL bottle which should last you just about forever, so you won't be needing to do this every week. While you're at it, load up on Q-Tips or cotton swabs so you can control where the acetone actually goes.)

Today's activities included painting and assembling the two brake fluid bottles and the fire extinguisher. I did not have the heart to try making brake fluid hoses connecting the bottles to the master cylinders which were installed last winter; even with my 4X desk glass, this is getting into detail that I really can't make out very well.

Following that, I installed the four remaining structural components of the front frame, along with the rack & pinion and front anti-roll bar. Last came the oil cooler and hoses running under the passenger seat to the rear. The picture shows the front frame, floor pan and engine, with the seat loosely in position, but this is just for show, they are far from being ready to glue together.

Next: inner fenders and dashboard, steering and front suspension, and cockpit bits like the battery, ignition coils and sundry other little gubbinses  prior to attaching this all to the engine and rear frame assembly. The instruction sheet has 28 steps; I've completed Steps 1 and 2 (front frame), and most of 8 through 13 (engine, transmission and rear frame), so I'm at maybe 30% complete.

Finally I am concerned that the Tamiya blue is just a bit too dark; the last photo shows the Tamiya colour compared with Testor's light blue. I may just respray with Testor's, to be decided; it is not as grey as it looks on screen (or at least on my screen).

Separately there has been some minor progress on the 956 pickup. Clearance for the 956 front wheels requires opening up the front fenders, which will cut into the cabin. I applied a light coat of primer today; once this is dry, sanding and filing to take down the rough spots will begin. The goal is the same Gulf Oil colour scheme as the 908...

Originally posted 13 October 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

MFH's Porsche 908/03: time to get started again

I stopped work on the 908 in the spring, partly because the weather was warm and it was time to get out of the house, but also because I was getting frustrated with some of the very fine detail, such as throttle return springs and plug wiring, which are proving to be at the very edge of my modeling skills.

In the photo, you can just see the throttle return spring, dangling from its bracket on the throttle slide at about #3 cylinder. This is particularly frustrating as the spring has the eyelets at both ends in the same plane, but the installation requires them at 90 degrees; as the spring is made of high quality spring steel, I can't just bend it. Alternate solutions will need to be dreamed up.

Not wanting to get stuck at this level, I've decided to do something where progress can be seen in a hurry: painting the body.

Finding the right blue in a rattle can was the first step. (I don't use an airbrush, because it is an added complexity, although I may wind up changing my mind on this if I ever start spending significant amounts of time on modeling, i.e. when I retire). Testor's has two shades of blue, one which strikes me as too dark (1211, the colour I used for the Alpine A110) and the other too light (1208), while Tamiya's TS-23 seems just right. Accordingly I started with two light coats of Tamiya primer which went on nice and smooth, followed by two of the blue. Right now it looks a little bold (the Gulf blue was probably diluted with a bit of white), but we'll see as it dries. Certainly the finish looks good, no orange peel or runs.

 The usual patience is now required while this all hardens, say a week. Meanwhile I dug out all the bits for the front subframe and began getting reacquainted with them. This led to a long session with the #70 drill to clear out some of the socket joints, which will be followed by a session with the nail files to sharpen up the dowels that are supposed to fit in these sockets. There is also a fair bit of scarf on the various tubes to be cleaned up, as the spun-cast white metal moulds are not perfect. (Of course most of this is only visible with my desk-stand 4X magnifying glass). Zen, baby, Zen ... all this to ensure that the crazy glue will flow nicely into the various joints, and that subsequent components will fit.

Originally posted 12 October 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

There are models and then there are Models...MFH Porsche 908/03

In August 2013 I ordered a 1/24 scale kit of the Porsche 908/03, in the 1970 Targa Florio winning #12 livery driven by Brian Redman and Jo Siffert.
The kit was provided by the Japanese firm Model Factory Hiro and sold in North America by Island Collectibles, There were several reasons for laying out the money for this: 
  • I’ll want to start building it when I retire;
  • It will be unavailable by then and I will be kicking myself for not ordering it sooner;
  • It’s a proper little go-cart, enhanced by the 3-litre F1-based 4-cam flat 8, and belongs in every collection.
There are probably more kits out there than 1:1 cars, Porsche having built fewer than 20 of them. It seems Jerry Seinfeld owns the 1:1 Redman/Siffert car ... here’s hoping he's looking after it. Kit details here:

So anyway I will get around to completing the 956 pickup and sundry other styrene kits as outlined in previous posts, and I certainly intend to tackle the range of resin kits sitting on the shelf, but I would like to make some progress on the 908 over the coming winter. As a starting point, this blog entry summarizes the work to date and thus the starting point for work beginning this fall.
First impression on taking delivery of the kit in mid-September 2013 was the large number of bits, many of them spun-cast white metal, none of them with any identifying labels. Sorting out the little baggies was time consuming, getting suspension bits in one bin and chassis bits in another. There is tremendous detail here, and clearly lots of fine work will be required to make the bits all fit, unlike Tamiya or AMT styrene kits where it's almost paint-by-numbers.

Interesting that the car is about the same size as a Lotus 7 ... the 380 PS motor in the 908/03 is, however, somewhat hairier than the Cortina 1.6 litre pushrod unit, even though the latter puts out something like 90 HP with its pair of Webers.

I tackled the engine first. This began with 3 hours spent drilling out holes in the cylinder heads for oil drain pipes from the upper (inlet) cam box to the lower (exhaust) cam box and thence back to the sump. These drain pipes were to be made from 5 mm lengths of 0.5 mm wire (supplied). More drilling was required for 0.4 mm spark plug wires (they are twin plug heads, so 16 plugs) and matching holes in the distributor, all using my pin vise and number drills in the #74 to #78 range. I can see that the distributor wiring will be challenging... I am also impressed at how flexible a #78 drill (0.016” or 0.4 mm diameter) can be without breaking.
Another two hours was spent cleaning up part lines and various doweled joints around the engine. Following this I glued up the crankcase and the left and right cylinder banks. 

Separately the floor pan, gas tank pods and forward subframe came together. The photo shows a typical Porsche floor-mounted pedal assembly and two hydraulic cylinders, all bolted to an aluminum tube frame with fibreglass floor pan. Given what I have seen of early 911s, I assume these are both brake cylinders, with the clutch being cable-operated. Space frame components to be added next will include a pair of hydraulic fluid cylinders and the associated tubing. I won’t identify the spots where I have screwed up, up to you to find them.


Two steps forward, one back ... Next I assembled the fan shroud and air intake systems. The kit did not include belts for the fan or alternator, so I scratch-built these. I drilled the holes in the stacks for the injectors, and started getting myself ready, psychologically, for the challenge of wiring up the distributor. Unfortunately, while trying to clean up accumulated paint in the spark plug holes, I broke my #78 drill bit in one of said holes. The bit being hardened steel, and the head being white metal, it seemed it was pretty well stuck there. However, using a tapered diamond tip bit in the Dremel to put a slight dish in the end of the broken bit, I was able to push the bit further into the head with the tip of my awl. (Good thing I had originally drilled all the plug holes clean through the heads). So there should now be room to poke the plug wire through. 
Of course this meant identifying a supplier of #78 bits, as most suppliers provide this as part of a set of drills from #80 to #61. Micro-Mark came to the rescue here:

I can also whine about how the regular handling means paint is getting rubbed off, especially at sharp edges, but even with the screw-ups, this is one of my better efforts to date, and the mistakes are really only visible with the 4X magnifying glass. Again I will award major brownie points if you can identify the worst screw-ups.

Next I put on the oil filter, an unidentified gubbins driven off the rear of the left side inlet camshaft, the fuel injection pump, an oil feed tube from said oil filter to said injection pump, and the 8 velocity stacks. I assembling and painted the spaghetti-maze of the exhaust system (it's set up as a pair of flat-4's end-to-end, is this the last vestige of the VW heritage?), and drilled and tapped the M1.4x0.30 hole in the front cover that will take one of the screws holding the motor to the chassis.

And this is where things ground to a halt, in early January 2014. I spent some time in February and March 2014 moving furniture and hammering on nails, and discovered that while these activities improved my core strength, they destroyed the fine motor skills necessary for this level of modeling. Then spring came along and I got the bike out ... see my separate blog on this topic.
Meanwhile I ordered a kit of the fearsome 1970 Porsche 917K from the same supplier, also because I didn't want it to be sold out when I finally get around to building it. If the 908/03, with its 3-litre flat 8, was the weapon of choice on twisty tracks such as the Targa Florio or Nurburgring, the 917, with its monster 4.5 litre flat 12, was well suited to high-speed tracks like Daytona or Le Mans. The next generation of Le Mans cars, culminating in the unbeatable 956 and 962, involved plenty of aero bits; the 908 and 917 were the last of the old-school racers built with little or no understanding of the importance of an aero undertray, and the drivers of these cars were certainly heroes in taking these little hot rods out on to the Mulsanne at 250+ k/h with all that front end lift. Ooof -- I know I'd be lifting off across that little hump on the Mulsanne.
The version I ordered replicates the 917K as driven by Redman and Siffert,  and which also now belongs to Seinfeld ... clearly he has good taste in classic cars. Redman and Siffert didn’t win Le Mans in 1970 (a 917 operated by the Salzburg AG team won), but the car carries the same classic Gulf Oil colours as their Targa Florio-winning 908/03, so there is a link between the two cars.
Stay tuned as the cooler weather starts and the opportunities to get out and ride the bike become fewer.
Originally posted 1 October 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

956 pickup: more progress

At this point the body is essentially complete, with putty filling some of the gaps. The chassis has been shortened, and narrowed ahead of the heat exchangers and turbos to match the width of the VW Type 2 body. The only remaining step is to trim the front of the 956 chassis to fit under the front bumper, or alternatively to cut away the lower edge of the Type 2 front pan to accommodate the 956 aero lip.

The 956 cockpit currently serves to reinforce the splice where the chassis was shortened, but could be removed to make a storage locker between the two air intakes. To be decided. The Type 2 cockpit will include the 956 seat and dashboard. One possible challenge will be fitting the front wheels under the Type 2 fenders; to be verified.

In the engine compartment, the plenum chambers above the air intakes to the motor just fit under the deck, but the inboard coil springs and shock absorbers do not. So the options are scratch building some other form of springing, or poking the suspension units through the deck. To be decided.

The putty is drying, and activities related to career and family will keep me busy for the next week or two, so progress may be slow from here.

Originally posted 23 August 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

956 pickup: Work in progress

The critical difference between the VW Type 2 pickup and the Porsche 956 is the width of the bodywork, the latter being 264 mm wider (11 mm at 1/24 scale). The extra width, apart for providing cover for the wide tires, is taken up by turbochargers and assorted radiators and intercoolers, which live in the space between the air inlets (in the doors) and outlets (over the rear tires).

So the first step was to cut out the air inlets from the 956 doors and socket them into the sides of the Type 2 body. Damage to the 956 body can be seen in the back of the photo, where the roof had to be removed first. I'm committed now ... Note the right side air inlet is now on the left, and vice versa; as well they have been rotated 90 degrees so they take air from the side of the vehicle, not over the top of the front fenders and hood as in the 956.

The left side worked out nicely but maybe too deeply inset to match up with the rear deck, as shown in the next pictures. Here the fenders from the 956 rear deck were inset into the top of the Type 2 cargo bed. Some sheet fabrication will be needed, as well as some putty, to smooth it all over, but it is beginning to take shape: A Type 2 with wide rear fenders and a sloping deck leading to a wing.

Once the right side air inlet has been installed, the next step will be to scratch-build bodywork to join up the air inlets with the deck, and to remove excess Type 2 bodywork from underneath so that there is room for the 956 rear chassis, engine and drivetrain. Finally engine access will be via a square access hatch in the Type 2 cargo bed, which  I can't cut out yet as the amount of material already removed has weakened everything; I'll need to glue the new fenders to the body and add some bracing underneath so it all holds together.

Eagle eyes will note the Porsche 935 body sitting in the background. I decided not to cut this up as it brings in a third body-chassis pair to line up.

Progress is being made; watch this space, especially if the weather continues wet and cool.

Originally posted 16 August 2014