Friday, June 23, 2017

BRE 240 Z: Chassis

A push got the engine and suspension installed, and the interior completed. Like the 510, the engine includes flexible piping for the remote oil filter, cooler, and catch tank. They are a bit of a struggle to get it in once the engine is in place, so connecting hoses to the engine before installing is a good idea. Furthermore, the suggested hose lengths in the instructions are too long (which I suppose is better than too short).

Speaking of installing the engine, the location is a bit hit and miss. The crossmember under the transmission doesn't connect to a dowel or other positive location method, so you need to guess where it goes. The rear suspension is similarly vague.

Both suspension units are fragile and getting the tires and wheels in place without too much flex is a challenge. Unfortunately I managed to snap off the left rear hub. Some drilling and pinning will be needed once the glue all sets.

The overall struggles with fit of the mechanical bits was a bit disappointing, and in retrospect I got tied up in problem solving when I should have spent more time removing the ejector pin marks which are quite visible under the hood.

All in all, it is like the 510: a bit finicky but very well detailed. A beginner will be frustrated by this kit, but patience and some mid-level skills will be rewarded.

I had hoped to get this completed today, which would have brought the completion ratio (number of finished kits divided by total kits) to 33.5%; unfortunately the broken hub put a stop to that plan. Next will be finishing the body and final assembly; this won't happen for a while as I plan to be away from the bench for a few weeks. Have a great summer!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mosquito: Fuselage assembly complete

After couple of hours of fussing and fidgeting and stressing, the fuselage halves are now mated and glued.

Overall an excellent fit, and the tail fin rotates as it should.

This will sit wrapped in rubber bands, probably for a few weeks if not a month or two, before I am able to get back to it. Completing the fuselage is a bit of a milestone, after 42 steps and 18 pages; next are the wing and tailplane assemblies (steps 43 to 68) and the motors (steps 69 to 100, repeated twice).

The kit is very detailed and perhaps the only beef so far, apart from a few ejector pin marks in locations where no one will see them, is the fact that some of the more fragile bits are attached via substantial sprues, so cutting them off risks breaking the part.

Another complaint might be that some items should go together in a different sequence. I discovered that steps 223 and 224 probably should take place before the fuselage halves are glued together, especially if paint will need to be scraped off an inaccessible surface on the fuselage to take parts 10L and 75L. I have done this, but I am concerned that the cockpit door (steps 226 and 227) will be a challenge now that the inner hinges are inaccessible. In any case it is well advised to read the manual through, not just at the beginning but as you go along to see how the current subassembly will be incorporated in the larger build.

In spite of these minor concerns, this is a very well done kit and will reward an advanced modeler. 

Mosquito: cockpit complete

I've been away from this kit for some time, because it is at a friend's house and progress means finding time to work on it while visiting. A push got the cockpit complete and installed in the right side (starboard?) fuselage half.

The pilot is jammed in pretty tight, and the navigator/gunner/bomber sits in slightly behind him because the cockpit is too narrow to sit two side by side.

It all looks pretty good, even the wiring harness that broke when I cut it off the sprue.

This shot shows the forward bulkhead in place ahead of the instrument panel. Arguably much of this will be obscured once it is all complete, much like the wiring on a 917 motor ...

The instructions have step 5, joining all the cockpit floor sections together at 90 degree angles, followed by a long series of steps to put in seats and controls.

Step 38 then consists of inserting the completed cockpit into the fuselage half as a unit. I figured this was a recipe for disaster, given the poor fitting of the various floor pieces (no way to mechanically lock in the 90 degree angles), and the resulting high probability of misalignment arising at some point in the process, so I completed all the intermediate assembly steps (6 through 37) on the individual cockpit flooring pieces, then inserted them one at a time into the fuselage. This requires test-fitting everything, then working quickly once the glue is on the first piece, but it all seems to be positive at this point.

This last shot shows the second fuselage half test-fitted to the first. This is pinned at several locations and it all looks good, but I think a large assortment of rubber bands will be needed to get it all to hold together once the glue is on it. Not unlike the original Mosquito assembly procedure -- glue the two halves together in a jig. So I'll need to drop by an office supply store to get rubber bands, and paint one or two more small bits to go inside the fuselage, then it all gets glued up and I can move on to the next major subassembly, namely the wing. Progress is being made!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chrysler 300: Wheels are a critical choice

The 300 always was a bit of a brute. Charming, sleek and handsome, but still a brute. Sort of a Klingon warbird to the Ford Starliner's feel-good Enterprise. With this in mind I started looking for alternatives to the tall, skinny 7.5" cross-plies in the kit.

I found a set of Goodyear Eagle P255/45 ZR17 tires in the parts bin. These are nice and wide, and are also a bit smaller in terms of overall diameter than the unlabeled tires in the Jo-Han kit. As a result they lower the car a bit more (about another inch at scale).

Stance and height are both good -- it all looks to be a bit of a tail-dragger which is fine. Next is to choose between mags and NASCAR steel rims. (Note the colour still comes across as slate green in the photos, although it is really more of a neutral grey.)

So: black steel rims to emphasise the brute qualities; classy mags for a brute overlaid with a charming veneer. Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Chrysler 300: on to the chassis

These old kits sure are fast builds if you don't spend hours sanding and polishing the body. Here I lowered the chassis by the simple expedient of cutting the spacers (beige blocks in the photo) through which the axle shafts fit, so that they sit as high as possible in the frame. I seem to recall that some older AMT kits offered a couple of axle locating blocks corresponding to different ride heights-- a very simple way to proceed, if not entirely replicating what you might do at 1:1.

The result is a decent stance, taking advantage of the ample room inside the fenders.

On the other hand, the narrow track is no good. The stock tires, barely 7.5 inches wide at scale, give the car something of the look of a pregnant skateboard. Significantly wider tires will be needed. I've got some 11 inch NASCAR rims that just need the right tires; Plan B is a nice set of 15" Cragar mags, with 10 to 12 inch wide, 60 or 70 series tires. The parts bin and the aftermarket will come in handy here.

Finally the body got a mix of bare metal foil and dry-brushed chrome paint on the various emblems, followed by a coat of clear. (The basic Tamiya paint is meant for military use and is relatively flat.) It's all looking pretty good at this point. Ready for launch, Captain!

Speaking of launches, I assembled the 440 cubic inch motor with the optional dual-carb setup. The 375 horsepower mill was more than adequate to motivate the 4200+ lb curb weight by dint of huge amounts of torque -- 480 foot pounds to be exact. I can only imagine what a decent set of headers and a free-flow exhaust would accomplish.

Unfortunately the kit does not offer an air cleaner for this dual-carb set up, leaving the poorly detailed carbs out in the open for all to see. I'll have a look into the parts bin where I expect to find an oval air cleaner from a Thunderbird 390 TriPower setup. A Ford component on a Mopar? You are right to proclaim this as heretic, but I haven't built a lot of Mopar kits, and the parts bin is thus lacking. Anyone have a spare air cleaner from a Cuda?

Overall a pretty simple kit under the skin, but the body is very well done. Highly recommended if you can find one for a decent price.

Chrysler 300: Paint

While the 240 Z is not stalled, I found a decent copy of Jo-Han's 1968 Chrysler 300 on eBay, which is proving to be a distraction.

I've always liked the looks of the various full-sized late-60's coupes, such as the Ford Starliner, Pontiac Parisienne and Chrysler 300. They are probably the most wasteful use of a couple of tonnes of steel one could imagine in terms of use of space, but the shapes are hard to ignore, and while there is a lot of chrome at either end, there is not a lot on the flanks. So I have been watching for some time, and the opportunity to grab one of these big brutes in decent shape turned up recently.

The '65-'66 models were also good looking, especially compared to the phenomenally ugly '63-'65 editions, but the unusual C-pillar in the '67-'68 makes it stand out.

Typically for kits of the period, detail is low, with rear suspension and exhaust molded into one piece with the chassis, but the body is straight and there is very little damage from bits rattling around in the box over the years. All it needed was cleaning up of the mold part lines and filling of two small sinkholes in the trunk lid; so far there are no obvious scratches or gouges (although the glass looks to be a bit scratched up).

The kit comes with quite nice custom front and rear roll pans as shown on the box cover art, but I suspect I'll build it stock. The only change will be to find a decent set of Cragar or similar period mags, and sit it all as low as possible. The solid axles that push through the engine block are well suited to lowering, fortunately.

As for colour, there are a lot of photos of stock versions out there, but few, apart from the wagons, have taken advantage of the opportunities available with the scalloped side panel. (Now the wagons are good-looking barges -- I wonder is there a resin body out there?) The best looking ones have vinyl roofs in a contrasting colour, for instance a white roof over dark blue or green metal. A lighter colour on the roof tends to reduce the emphasis on the C-pillar, but that is a defining feature of the car.

In the end I decided to go for a solid colour, and settled on Tamiya TS-4, German Grey, which surprisingly looks a little slate-coloured in the picture.

Next will be to highlight all the emblems and script, which are very well detailed. Perhaps I'll give Bare Metal Foil another try.