Thursday, January 28, 2016

1:24 versus 1:25 scale

It is interesting to compare the BRE Datsun 240Z from Revell, in 1:25 scale, with the Fujimi Nissan Fairlady Z 432R, at 1:24 scale. I suppose it should be obvious but putting the two bodies side by side shows the significance of the difference, about 3 mm at scale on the wheelbase. No wonder tires don't always fit across platforms!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mercedes 190 SL bodywork

I taped together the individual body parts making up the Mercedes-Benz 190 body, in order to keep it all relatively straight while the glue holding the right side components together sets. (The right side gets assembled, then glued to the chassis, then the left side is attached -- a recipe for disaster if not planned for). Once the glue had set, I sprayed it all with Testor's red. This revealed some fairly major sinkholes in the body sides, so next will be primer, putty, sanding, more primer and red paint, followed by touch ups such as chrome trim and a coat of clear. So from this:

... to this (see my separate post on the BRE Datsuns):

So by the simple expedient of starting three kits, I have shifted the number of unstarted kits below 50%. An accounting trick, you say? Well, I say it's all in the definition: Complete or ongoing 67 kits (48.6%); not started 67 kits; balance unopened, on order or basically stalled forever (4 kits). And with a bit of effort, there is a Mazda 787B and a Nissan GT-R that really just need glass to be complete. Perhaps I should focus ...

BRE Datsuns: paint progress

The BRE Datsuns benefited from a session with 2000 grit paper under running water, followed by some touch up paint and a coat of Testor's clear. This having all worked out reasonably well, next is the decals and some touch-up such as wipers and window surrounds before a final coat of clear.

While waiting for things to dry, I had a look through the 510 instruction manual. The kit includes some rubber tubing and instructions on using it to assemble a full dry-sump lubrication system, so I decided to add a distributor made from some plug wiring and two bits of brass tube of 1.0 and 1.5 mm OD respectively.

This went reasonably well, but again I noticed how prices have increased: my older bottle of CA glue, which had dried out and had to be thrown out, had a $4.99 price tag on it; the new one was $8.49. Now I happen to know that we are in a period of low interest rates (returns for my pension plan providing plenty of evidence of this fact) so I don't understand why paints and glues have gone up by 50% or 100% over the last year or two.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BRE Datsuns: painting woes continue

So I got a decent coat of white, in the sense that the pigment actually stayed on the car rather than running off in a puddle, on both the 510 and the 240Z. Then I taped them up and sprayed the tops red, all prior to heading out of town for the weekend. I used Testor's this time, using well-shaken, new cans soaked in a warm water bath prior to spraying, but the orange peel in the white is still atrocious. (The red isn't too bad). I sense some fine grit sandpaper in my future.

One other point: It seems to me that rattle cans have gotten very expensive. A can of Tamiya primer and two Testor's cans (red and white) came to well over $30 at the Local Hobby Shop, even before sales taxes. So figuring out how to put the stuff on properly becomes even more important as prices climb. Maybe it's time to start looking into air brushes, which is something I have wanted to avoid as being yet another skill that needs to be mastered, that requires lots of expensive gubbinses, and that will degrade if not practiced regularly. Any thoughts from My Faithful Readers? Assuming I have any? Hello? Anyone out there? Use the comment button, I won't publish the comment if you don't want me too.

Hobby shops, continued

Continuing my plan to encourage hobby shops wherever they might be, I dropped in on The Hobby Centre in Ottawa today (

Tucked in behind a Costco in a small strip mall on the south side, they support a keen community with weekly workshops; today the workshop focused on painting military figurines, but they are also tackling things like 3D printing (which has the potential to completely revolutionise this hobby once the resolution and plastic quality improve).

I picked up an obscure old Revell kit of a Mercedes-Benz 190 SL. When I was a kid, I knew an older gent with one of these and recall fondly getting a ride in it one summer evening with the top down. The kit is of the old-school variety where all the parts, including tires, are molded in colour styrene (in this case red), and where the body is assembled from an assortment of parts rather than being a one-piece molding as today. The amount of flash is substantial, and at least one dowel (joining the left side body structure to the engine bay) has already sheared off due to being completely embedded in flash. So a complex and challenging build.

The Revell part number is 00009, and the box proclaims it is a reissue with only 5000 examples made. Mr Google will tell you that 00009 was reissued about 5 years ago, and that 00008 was a nuclear sub. Most of the other reissues in this series were aircraft or ships; I am not sure what possessed them to make the 190 SL, a nice but unprepossessing roadster, the only car. (Release 00014 was a Rolls-Royce in 1:32 scale). I picked it up in part because of the recollection of the ride as a boy, but also to park it next to the 300 SL from Tamiya that is not advancing.

Separately I picked up a couple of AMT reissues at Udisco in Montreal last week. The Volkswagen Scirocco comes with some nice racer bits (although the fender flares look a little overdone); the Opel GT also comes with a range of bits for stock, street or drag. Being reissues of older kits, both use metal axles and include less than stellar chassis detail, but, like the 190 SL, feature small 4-cylinder motors. (The Opel has an optional Buick V6). I've got nothing against Chevy small-blocks, but after a while it's nice to tackle something different. 

Finally I ordered a resin kit of the 1969 Porsche 917LH that didn't win at Le Mans, from Profil 24. I now have three 917 kits, from three different kit makers: the 1969 which I haven't received yet; the devilishly complex 1970 917K from Model Factory Hiro, and the 1971 917K from Fujimi with the more detailed engine from Historic Racing Miniatures.

So the score this week is New Additions 4; Newly Completed Models 0. My completion rate having dipped below 40%, perhaps I had better stop writing and start modeling...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Auto show highlights (1:1 scale)

My son and I did our annual bit of male bonding at the auto show this week. Maybe it’s just me, but boy are new cars ugly. BMW still makes good looking cars, having gotten rid of the Bangle Butt (the ugly trunk treatment of the 7-series a few years back), and Mercedes builds decent looking cars with a few odd wrinkles and minor mishaps here and there, but everything else looks like a cranky kid with a bad case of ADHD has carved random gouges, grooves, wrinkles and lumps into the sides of most cars. Grilles are especially ugly today; even Audi is starting to ruin their simple and classic trademark grille. Finally the rear of the new Civic Coupe is an abomination. Civic Coupes used to be beautiful examples of minimalist elegance. I will spare you a photo; if you should be so unlucky as to see one, and you probably will soon enough on a street near you, be sure you look away quickly to avoid fits of nausea or apoplexy. 
Best in show, in my view, was a ‘51 Lincoln Capri that had been very nicely tidied up: moderate top chop, lowered but not aggressively so, tastefully dechromed and decluttered, and with lovely period hubcaps and whitewalls. Luscious.

Next up would be the latest Bentley Continental which is still a muscular, coherent and understated shape but with lots of presence. Partly it's big, of course, but the shapes all work wonderfully and mimic the immediate post-war Continental very nicely. The colour of the particular specimen on exhibit was not to my liking, but nothing can ruin that gorgeous shape, except maybe loads of carbon add-on aero bits which thankfully were not in evidence this year.
Once again Volvo was absent; I still like the shape of my V60, plus the 2.5 litre turbo motor and AWD work wonders together in fresh snow. I believe the AWD system defaults to FWD, engaging the rear wheels only when it detects slip, but prodding the throttle in fresh snow will bring the back out smartly and can lead to a lovely throttle-controlled drift just like my '72 Chevelle used to, even with four new Michelin ice tires. (Being young and foolish at the time, I typically ran vintage Baldini tires on the Chevelle). The inner hooligan is still alive and well, thank you very much.
Finally Porsche showed a 919, stuck in a back corner behind an SUV. I say 'a' 919 as the windows were opaque; it may very well have been a mockup for show only. The aerodynamics of Le Mans cars have shifted drastically in the last decade, and perhaps I need to look for a decent model of something newer than my most recent one, the Audi R10 Diesel. Finding one with full mechanical detail, however, will not be easy.
Perhaps predictably, my son preferred the Pagani Huayra with full carbon fibre bodywork. My good friend Mr Google prices this at €1,198,000, or just shy of two million of our massively undervalued Canadian dollars. What a flashy bit of bling. If someone gave it to me, I'd sell it and get the Lincoln, which was parked right next to it.

Winter has finally come to this part of the country, so there may be time for some building at 1:24 or 1:25 scale. Stay tuned!