Saturday, May 30, 2015

Summer doldrums, 300 SL

It being summer in the northern hemisphere, all us daylight-deprived Canadians are hanging out on the deck with a couple of cold ones well into the night, taking advantage of those long summer twilights that you don't get further south. (I suspect Minnesotans and others from the northern Mid-West states probably feel the same way).  During the day we are madly running around hiking, canoeing, biking, running and participating in all kinds of other sports where we can actually go outside without having to put on a parka and three pairs of socks. So indoor activities, such as modeling, tend to grind to a halt until the flying, freezing slop returns in October or November.

That doesn't mean that the credit card needs to grind to a halt. The latest addition is Tamiya's excellent Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The complex tubular chassis is very well done, in what seems to be a more flexible and less brittle styrene formulation than I am used to; it's a shame that it isn't really visible once the car is complete, in spite of the clear undercarriage. I am tempted to build and exhibit the chassis separately from the body, which will require covering up the gearbox and differential which are hollow and not meant to be viewed from above. 

For the mid-50's, the 300 SL is an interesting mix of old and new. The straight six, with overhead cam and fuel injection, is state of the art for its time, except for the siamesed exhaust ports for cylinders 1, 2, 5 and 6. The suspension, while independent all around, is by swing axles at the rear, and not even MB's novel low-pivot swing-axle. This was used on the later 280 SL and the big sedans up to and including the classic 300 SEL 6.3. The picture below is a good shot of the low-pivot system, which actually works surprisingly well, and which thus represents the triumph of detailed, focused German engineering over a single bad design decision made at the outset. Sort of like the 911 with its engine hung out the back.

Mercedes didn't switch to a proper independent rear until 1968 with the smaller 280, and 1972 with the 450 S-class.

With 70 kits either incomplete (about 10) or unstarted (about 60), many of them very challenging builds requiring much custom work, I figure I've got enough work for about a year and a half if I work at it 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, with two weeks off at Christmas. The career, however, is already taking up 2000+ hours a year, so clearly this will only get going for real once I retire.

Not that I am complaining; the career brings in cash that allows me to buy obscure stuff, not to mention new IKEA shelves to put it all on. If my boss is reading: Hooray for the career!

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