Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mitsubishi Delica: Chassis complete

I am quite pleased with the way this has turned out so far, given the pace at which I've been moving. A slower pace might have avoided a couple of sloppy bits, one or two of which I will mention below.

The front axles, unfortunately, are well hidden under splash shields which also include the lower A-arms, so all the work done to showcase the front driven axles didn't contribute much. Nonetheless, I know it's there.

One issue with both kits was that the left side upper A-arm, which is molded in a piece with a chassis cross member and the right side A-arm, was cracked and bent. I suspect the piece got held up on ejection from the mold, and the bend stayed in the piece because it was probably still hot enough for the styrene to stay flexible. Getting it all to settle down required some cutting and filing.

Of course without a tie-rod joining them, it is possible to pose the two steering axles pointing in opposite directions ...

A shot of the cab sitting on the chassis give the overall effect. The ride height is unchanged from the standard kit. When you see one on the road, you'll notice how tall and narrow it is -- I'd be worried about it tipping if crossing a steep side-slope.

One challenge was getting 8 wheels to all ride at the same height, and it seems the rearmost axle sits a bit high and doesn't touch the ground, or perhaps the third axle sits too low and needs to sit further up into the chassis. This is unrelated to the slight upturn in the body seen at the back, which I may try to fix before final assembly.

The paint scheme will depend on what I am going to pair it with. The Honda F1 fits but the exhaust pipe needs to poke through the back window into the crew cab.

The Civic is a surprisingly poor fit. The Delica is claimed to be 1/24; the Civic is a Tamiya kit and I would have thought it was also 1/24. The model has a wheelbase of 98 mm; compared to data on Wikipedia (2388 mm), this works out to 1 in 24.4, not as far out as I would expect. Maybe the Delica is off scale; Wikipedia provides a range of wheelbases for this model, so it isn't really easy to compare.

The 510, being a Revell kit, is probably 1/25 which is why it is a borderline fit. If it were 1/24 it would probably be too big.

The S800, a Tamiya 1/24 kit, looks to be the best fit at this point, so yellow with red trim it is. Stay tuned for more!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mosquito: Cockpit and bulkheads

On reading the Haynes manual a little more carefully, I realize that fuselage bulkheads were also assembled of various wooden bits, not aluminum as I stated in the last post. The book has a fascinating section on construction methods, types of wood used and so on.

With the exception of the fin and rear section, which were added later at 1:1, the 1/24 fuselage shows how the plane was made in two halves which were then glued longitudinally once all the cabling, wiring and hydraulics had been put in place. This sped up assembly significantly, as crawling through bulkheads to do all this after gluing the fuselage halves together would have been much more time-consuming. A whole lot of innovation was going on here!

One concern flagged in the IPMS article is that some of these bits essentially are butted together, then glued, with instructions to hold them at 90 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster, in my view, especially since these subassemblies get a lot of other bits glued to them before they get fitted to the cabin. The probability the joints will be weakened is quite high. I will see if I can assemble all the little platforms separately, then glue them into their slots in the fuselage at the same time as I glue them together, rather than completing step 5 (shown below) first.

It is also worth ensuring all bits actually fit in the little slots, as I found one that doesn't quite work. Some careful pruning with an X-Acto knife will be needed. The photos show the cockpit floor, with the leather-covered slot for the rudder, fitting into the front of the fuselage.

Of course all this wood means that very few airframes have survived intact, and those that are intact probably can't be made airworthy due to rot in places where you can't go in and have a look, or cut out and replace a piece. Fortunately there is a fellow in New Zealand who has made new molds from scratch, and is now in a position to make you a Mossie fuselage, wing and other wooden bits such as the tailplane and fin.

This is relevant because there is some uncertainty around colour for the interior. Humbrol specifies #78, cockpit green, which looks dark compared to pictures of new fuselages from New Zealand. (Of course period pictures are largely black and white and so don't help much). In the end I settled for Tamiya's AS 29, Gray Green, as a starting point, and sprayed a range of bits. A couple of small subassemblies also got glued up, such as the pilot's seat.

I also sprayed the fuselage interior where it will be visible after assembly.

The colour looks pale but I like it and I think I'll stick with it. Separately the instrument panel, which is very detailed and includes a clear piece that pokes through the instruments (what a great idea! let's see this from the Round 2 and Tamiya people) will be flat black.

Progress is being made. And the Haynes manual is a fascinating reference summary.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mitsubishi Delica: chassis and interior

The usual January flu bug has me grounded, which is always good for modeling.

The stretched Delica chassis, like the body, is essentially made up of three parts: the middle section, including the second steering axle and the third axle, comes intact from Kit 1 but with front and rear overhangs cut off. The first steering axle and the fourth drive axle are cut from Kit 2.

The two chassis obviously came with two molded-in engines. I wanted to keep the forward one, but it was going to interfere with #2 axle, so the engine will reside between axles #2 and #3, giving it a mid-engine designation. There will be a big hole to fill where the forward engine once resided.

Careful measurement was required to decide where to cut the interior sections. With two front axles to cover, I decided to use two front cabin sections back to back. Given there is no engine, the front middle hump can be trimmed down to allow for a third middle seat, while the back middle hump will need to be built up to cover the 'engine'. So the back will have two rear-facing seats, and the front three forward seats.

Finally a short section from the rear of one of the interiors closes the cabin off at the back.

Sheet and square section styrene tubing are used to brace it all and keep it straight. Next: prime and detail the chassis and interior. All the big pieces fit well and it's all coming together nicely.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mitsubishi Delica: Major cuts complete

So the major hacking and slashing is done. The bed sides have been braced with styrene flat bar stock, and body sections have been joined using thin sheet glued on the inside of the lap-style joints.

A piece of flat sheet has been roughly cut to fit as a bed surface, and will serve to strengthen all this once glued in place, at which point it can be trimmed to fit.

The little S800 is a perfect fit. I will consider a rack above the S800 hood for spare tires and the like.

Now the hard work of puttying the joints begins. Years ago I converted an F150 to a 4X6 platform; that project was a success from a technical perspective but maybe I was a bit sloppy on the finishing touches. I'll see if I can do better this time :)


The F150 also suffered from excessive rear overhang, in my view, which won't be a problem with the Delica. (The chopped 3-window coupe in the picture features another mid-mounted V6 from AMT's Dodge Stealth kit.)

Montreal Auto Show 1:1 scale

Here is an eclectic selection of pics from the Montreal Auto Show, on this week. First up: a $233,000 car (plus taxes).

Next, the trunk of a $233,000 car (plus taxes). Do you figure an airline-compliant roll-on bag fits in there?

Looks like Toyota is angling for the George Jetson market with this one. I wonder if it flies.

Nissan offers this new approach to the Sport Urban Vehicle (SUV). C3PO is perched on the roof and scans for traffic jams ahead, the torpedoes serve to clear a way through said traffic jams, and the thrusters get you through before the local constabulary has time to react. I want one.

The VW stand was pretty sparse, almost as if they pulled a bunch of models at the last minute ... oh wait, they did pull a bunch of models at the last minute. My bad.

My fave was the luscious new Volvo V90. Given the poor availability of the weaponry on the Nissan SUV above, I want one of these. I am not sure what people have against a proper luxury wagon, as opposed to a brutal tank-like SUV that you need a ladder, or at least a motorised step plate, to get into. BMW still offers a Touring version of the 3-series, but the 5-series wagon, along with the various Audi (A6, A4) and Mercedes (E and S-class) wagons available in Europe, are all missing in action here, replaced with X5s, ML 350s and Q5s. The Audi A4 Allroad is close but manages to look like a wannabe SUV, and has less room inside than my current V60. Audi once offered the RS6 in wagon form, and Volvo offered a Polestar version of the V60 ... why not an M5, E63 AMG or RS7 wagon? Yee haw! and it will carry groceries too, not to mention fitting in underground parking lots.

I drove 2 hours this morning through freezing rain to get to the show, and I took full advantage of the best new feature since the heated seat: the electrically heated windscreen. This wonderful feature on my V60 kept the freezing slop from freezing on the windshield. What a wonderful invention; this is an absolute must-have in your next car if you live in a Northern climate. And the AWD kept the whole package on the straight and narrow.

The only real flaw I could see in the V90 is the minuscule little doorway for passing skis through the rear seat. Not only is it small, but it is raised off the cargo floor, so your skis will be balancing there, bobbing up and down like a see-saw. I am not sure what they were thinking there; the rear seat in the V60 works much better. Also the venerable turbocharged 2.5 litre 5 cylinder motor, which makes a decent 250 hp and is tough as old boots, has been replaced with a 2.0 litre 4 with both a turbo and a supercharger. I bought my V60 partly on the basis of testimonials from a large number of colleagues who have put over 300,000 km on their 2.5s. Making 316 hp, the numbers for the new engine are good, but reliability will be a question mark at those kinds of specific power levels.

Finally for the techies: Two turbo V6 motors on display, from Cadillac and Infiniti, both featured turbos bolted directly to the cylinder head with no separate exhaust manifold. (The photo shows the Caddy). The ducting from exhaust valves to the turbo flange is all cast in the head. I am guessing this extra complexity keeps heat where it is needed: in the cylinder head (to minimize unburned hydrocarbons and maximise fuel economy) and in the turbo (to maximise pressure drop and thus power). Downside: no sexy bundles of pipes, and presumably the middle cylinder benefits from a shorter path.

So there you have it. Yes, there were oodles of econoboxes, hordes of SUVs and a few muscle cars, but nothing unusual. Except maybe this Audi A1.5, apparently sponsored by a local scrapyard.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mitsubishi Delica: planning stage

So I've got these two curbside kits (from Aoshima) of the Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon 4WD Super Exceed. Yes, really. From now on it will simply be the Delica. These are occasionally sighted around Vancouver as a Japanese import with right-hand drive. They are tall, narrow, tippy little things, with lots of room per square foot of roadway occupied; mechanically there is a noisy little 4 cylinder and a jacked-up 4WD chassis. I couldn't resist the opportunity to cut them up and build an 8X8 crew cab with a platform suitable for carrying the Honda S800 racer that I've already got. So fresh off the Jimney, I got out the saw blades.

First, however, I did a little planning using photos and the old-fashioned technique, literally, of cutting and pasting. (You younger folks may want to ask your Dad about 'scissors' and 'Scotch tape'. I believe the modern version is called 'photoshopping').

I came up with two versions: one with a central section from Kit 1, augmented with the ends from Kit 2; this would be about 20' at scale. The second involved splicing in the middle door from Kit 2, which would make 23' total length. I decided on the 20' version as this is plenty for the Honda to park on the rear deck while still allowing a cab of almost 10'. The picture below shows the 20' version done up as a van.

An initial design had two cabs back to back which would have been cute, but perhaps impractical... I eventually decided to go with a classic crew cab shape.

After deciding how to minimise number of cuts while maintaining some reasonable level of dimensional integrity in the various components, initial cutting went well. Here Kit 1 has gotten the chop and the rear body panel has become the cab back wall, while Kit 2 watches nervously from the back.

Next up: slice off the lower section of Kit 2. I followed the upper edge of the side molding as a convenient marker. The 54 tpi blade came in handy as did the jeweller's saw with an 0.008" wire blade.

Taping everything together reveals a few spots where putty will be needed, but overall the mockup looks good. I may hijack the front door panels from Kit 2 and use them for the opposite-side rear doors on Kit 1; the rear passengers will be sitting on a wheel well and will therefore be facing backwards, so the raised window sill will be needed to cover the roll-down window. Overall seating should be 5 people, two in front either side of the engine, and three facing back. There may be room for a couple of forward-facing jump seats, to be determined.

Of course getting chassis and interiors to line up will require some planning; but as it is a curbside, I won't bother with an engine, and the axles may or may not actually be connected to a driveshaft.

Stay tuned for more gory modeling tales. There is something cathartic about slicing stuff up...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mosquito: Background information

As an old car mechanic, my first step on getting my hands on something obscure to (re)build is to get hold of suitable manuals. (A mechanic of old cars, or an old mechanic? No comment). In the absence of actual period manuals for the Mossie and the Merlin, I turned, as I often have in the past, to the aftermarket.

While these Haynes manuals are a little short on actual specs, such as cylinder head bolt torques or big end clearances, they do give a very nice overview of the subjects.

The Merlin is well known but its level of advancement is perhaps less so. With lots of aluminum castings and 4-valve SOHC heads, the Merlin presages modern automotive applications. In particular the bore:stroke ratio is decidedly modern at 0.90, compared to the classic Jaguar 3.4 at 0.78. (The Jag 4.2 got its added displacement from a bore increase, bringing the ratio to 0.87). One wonders why the British were so resistant to oversquare motors when Ferrari had been building the classic 3-litre at a ratio of 1.24, and beating the C and D-Types mercilessly as a result. The run of Jag successes at Le Mans in the 1950's was mainly due to Enzo being leery of disc brakes, because the Jags certainly couldn't keep up with the Ferrari 250s on the straights. And once Enzo adopted IRS and discs, it was pretty much all over for Jag.

Now that I have ticked off all the Jag fans out there, on to the Mosquito and the revolutionary plywood construction methods involved.

I haven't digested the whole thing yet, but some initial impressions are revealing.

The fuselage was built in two long halves, of balsa wood sandwiched between two layers of Canadian birch. Glues were similar to the ones still in use today, namely urea formaldehyde formulations. Total wall thickness was only 7/16"! Of course load bearing points were reinforced, and it seems the internal bulkheads were aluminum. The construction method allowed all the wiring, hydraulics and control bits to be put in before the two halves were glued and screwed together.

Wings and tail were also wood, with wooden spars covered with a plywood sheet. The wing was built as a single big piece, and is modeled this way in the Airfix kit. The completed fuselage was lowered onto the wing, the two pieces glued and screwed together, and the whole thing covered with fabric and airplane dope to seal it.

One big advantage of this approach was that precious reserves of aluminum were stretched, but another was that a large number of British furniture makers and coach builders could make the basic structure, freeing up existing metalworking industries for other war-time uses. Although I don't have numbers at the moment, presumably the power to weight ratio was better than similar all-metal planes, contributing to the Mossie's reputation for speed and manoeuverability.

Stay tuned, there is more to come, starting with the actual first gluing of parts.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Suzuki Jimney: Completed

So the first kit completed for 2017 is a quick-and-dirty kitbash, involving a 1.9 litre Opel 4-cylinder with a scratch-built intake manifold designed to take a blower from the parts bin, all shoehorned into a Hasegawa curbside kit of a Suzuki Jimney mini 4X4. Why an Opel 1.9, you ask? Mainly because this was the only 4 cylinder I had available. A Honda VTEC motor would perhaps have been more appropriate, had there been one handy. Plan B would have been to cut a V8 in half, leading to either a V4 or a slant 4. Maybe the next one...

As the kit was curbside, this required removing the hood and fabricating a firewall from sheet styrene. The header tank, heater motor ductwork and master cylinder all came from the parts bin. Plug wires and cable ties came from a Model Car Garage package, also from the parts bin.

I also cut up a side pipe for the exhaust. The sewer-pipe diameter is probably overkill for the 1.9, even with a blower, but it looks fine, and exits on the passenger side (the cab is right-hand drive). The wheels and Goodyear Wrangler AT truck tires also came from the parts bin, as the stock wheels were weeny little things. (The spare, attached to the rear door, is stock). They complement the extra ride height nicely.

Years ago I shoehorned a complete 3-litre twin-turbo V6 and drivetrain from a Dodge Stealth into another Suzuki, this one a Samurai. Also AWD, the purpose here was a street cruiser and pro-stock machine, with mid-engine setup, blanked-off headlamps and cut-back windshield. The body also got a pretty serious section, and the cockpit got moved forward a substantial amount to clear the turbos. It looks good next to the jacked-up, go-anywhere Jimney. I just need to get the dust off it...

Ideally the Samurai needs bigger fender flares; technically it works but the body section is probably too aggressive for replication at 1:1; as well the cockpit was moved forward without stretching the wheelbase, so legroom around the pedals is non-existent. 

In any case the Jimney is a neat addition to the Japanese shelf. So what's next: back to the serious stuff, or more kitbashing? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Suzuki Jimney hot rod: Chassis

I've been away from this for a while, but made progress today on the chassis and engine installation.

The Jimney comes with two suspension choices: normal and lifted. With the oil pan from the Opel 1.9 intruding into space occupied by the front axle, I had to go for a third option: extra lifted. The big truck tires and steel wheels, from the parts bin, will fit much better in the wheel wells than the weeny little things in the kit. Maybe I can find some dog dish hubcaps.

The supercharger fits nicely, and the engine now has plug wires from Model Car Garage. Let's assume 300 HP from the blown 1.9; the Jimney has decals proclaiming the presence of a turbo, but given the base engine is only 660 cc, it is unlikely to be much over 100 HP. Let's hope the transfer case can take it!

The front of the engine compartment may even have room for a radiator and header tank ahead of the blower drive. I'll have to scratch build a firewall; there is no point in putting in a master cylinder as it will be hidden by the blower (the dash is set up for right-hand drive). The only remaining item is an exhaust pipe; I found a laker-type sidepipe in the parts bin that will fit nicely along the left side rocker panel once it is all in place -- just a bit of cutting needed to make it fit.

Paint scheme at this point is glossy orange on the lower body, with flat black above. Wheels will probably be flat black as well. Stay tuned.