Thursday, June 28, 2018

Project Thundering Lightning: planning

Some time ago I got my hands on a Model King kit called Allison Thunderland, a '67 Thunderbird with an Allison engine in it. Of course I wanted the engine, not the Bird; the Allison was used in the P38 Lightning in WWII, and became a hit with a subset of the hot rod crowd in the early '50s.

Lately I acquired a '62 Thunderbird and it occurs to me that the Allison would fit right in there, in a mid-engine, cab-forward design replicating my earlier Project Starliner. So welcome to Project Thundering Lightning!

First was to design a cockpit to fit between the front wheel arches in the '62 where the 390 used to go. I rummaged through the boneyard and came up with a cockpit from a Dodge Stealth. (Years ago I cut up several of these Dodges, taking out the twin-turbo V6 for a range of hot rods, so the boneyard is full of bits from these AMT kits.)

The Starliner had a two-seater cockpit but this is not realistic at 1:1 because it leads to a very cramped footwell. The Lightning will therefore be a single-seater. The Dodge cockpit had a big slice taken out of it to fit in the available space (25 scale inches between the chassis rails). Note the vestigial rear seat from the Dodge will be removed once the firewall is in place.

I am now getting to the point where I will need to start cutting up T-bird bits. The radiator shroud will have to come off the body, and the cowl will need to be cut open to allow the seat to sit far enough back. An oblong opening in the hood. extending into the cowl, will be needed to fit the cockpit before the hood can be glued in permanently.

On the chassis, the engine crossmember will have to come out; the forward crossmember under the radiator will stay for structural reasons and the cockpit floor will get notched to fit. Finally the instrument binnacle will be retained from the T-bird but will have to be cut away from the rest of the dash. 

Stay tuned! the hacking and slashing has only just begun.

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