Sunday, 28 March 2010

Zagato Arches

The Zagato is rapidly approaching the finish line. At long last. The shortening of the body at the rear has made a massive difference and it now looks very much like the short, stubby, ugly toad it should be. The bootlid line needed to be moved forward along with the rearward window line and the front screen has been altered to give it more rake. The filler caps have been set into the rear wings and with a touch more fettling will look ok. They really did take some doing!
The final addition to the completed shape is the flares to the rear wheel arches. It seems only the competition cars had this feature and although I prefer the car without them, I think they're going to be added anyway. I think they spoil the shape of the rear wings somewhat, but if they should be there, then they're going to be there.

Hopefully the artwork can be completed for the photo etched stuff this week. I need to make templates for the window surrounds so that everything is trimmed as it should be. Litho plate will be used for these templates as it's so easy and quick to shape. I'm looking forward to seeing it finished off and painted. As this is one of my own creations totally from scratch, I might throw a party when it's done. You're all invited of course! Graham.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Have added a few more details to Mikes Monza today. All a bit fiddly, but I eventually managed to attach headlamp covers and bonnet release ring-pulls (you can just about make them out in the photos). Almost ready for a final dust off and polish in preparation for its April outing in Colchester at the Tendring track.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

18" wheels. Number one test.....

At long last things seem to be going rather well, not that there have been any disasters to date.

My efforts at mass production have paid off with the 18" forming tools being completed, the first etches pressed and the first 'rigged up' demo wheel completed.

Pressing had one hic-cup which was expected, and a surprise, which like all surprises, was not. I had hoped that the stainless frets would stretch their spokes, but once more the centre ring split. I believe the term is hairline fracture, you can see it, but no light shows through. The surprise was the inner etch. As expected it failed to shape properly on the tool made to it, but when put on the tool for outer spokes (greater angle) came out spot on, no breaks.

I can only guess that there are no weak points and the etch comes to the conclusion that it is beat, and will just have to stretch a little.

Needless to say, the brass etches came out fine, and it is these which feature in the wheel below.

The wheel nut of course is wrong for an Aston (this is LM14) but right for an SS Jag for example.
Wheel rim edges were not flanged much back then, but rolled. These rims, for practical purposes need to be 50% oversize.
The intention is to make a full set of wheels for LM14, probably using the brass etches.
Perhaps the first of the Alfa wheels will appear next week, though playing with the cross laced etches will get the better of me.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

On Saturday August 20th 1955, Mike Hawthorn, partnered by Alfonso de Portago, drove a Scuderia Ferrari Monza 750 in the Goodwood 9 Hour Race. After a very successful practice, in which Mike secured pole position for the Le Mans type start, he set an early pace and recorded a new Goodwood sports car lap record of 1m 34.8sec (91.14mph) in the process. However, despite his heroic efforts, and following numerous problems with the gearbox, the 750s rear axle broke shortly after De Portago took over from Hawthorn. The team retired the car at 9.33pm on the 219th lap whilst in 3rd place.

My model has been built using an unpainted MMK resin shell. I’ve removed a few ‘body’ extensions and smoothed things down a bit to represent the number 6 car raced at Goodwood. It was also missing a few ‘accessories’ (I didn’t purchase it as a kit), but I’ve managed to gather most bits from my spares box. I’ll be entering it in the April Tendring Tourist Trophy Sports Car event; therefore running gear will be based upon PCS chassis components as required by the regulations. The wheels are the very well made PCS wire examples and the bodywork is finished in several coats of Halfords Sunburst Red. Mike himself is made from a cocktail of various body bits, again all from the spares box.
Apologies to anyone who has already read my little narrative on Slotforum, but I always like to add a peice of historical background to the model making. So just in case you havent already seen it, here it is!

Thank you for taking the time to look and read!


And the best photo of DB5c so far. The tonneau is made from obechi and filler, with a couple of heavy coats of red oxide primer. Once the paint had dried, I just buffed it up a little by rubbing it with my finger. Simple, but quite effective. Graham.

Pressing times....

A period of experimentation on 15" wheels.

The stainless wheel etches obviously vary a fair bit. One of todays efforts for the first time broke a spoke, so I now have failures in 3 different areas using the same tool and method, that is, spoke failure, fracture of the inner ring (which is trying to expand) and deformation of the outer ring (which is trying to contract). None of course cause any problem, since the fractures are so small and the distorted rim is modest, and out of sight.

As an aside, it was interesting to note that the edges of the brass etches were much cleaner, and of course just one tiny nick creates a weak point.

The brass etches form perfectly

There has been much changing of angles of tools which is a very labourious process, mainly because my lathe (old Myford) has two operating modes. Normal, where the quick change tool post can be used with its' nice easy tool height adjustment, or abnormal, which is required to make the forming tool angles, where an adaptor plate is required and the quick change post can rarely be used.

The 18" tools are nearing completion, partly because I have three Astons which need them, LM14 in post Le Mans stripped and supercharged form, CMC 614 in a similar state, and a 1935 Le Mans private entry.

Pictures over the weekend?


Friday, 19 March 2010

And a bit more again on wheels

A few pictures.
These are the etches I hope to fit into wheels. Top left are the experimental parts, the left two etches for some of the meatier cars, the right hand ones for the humble MGB. The two larger diameter etches will have the outer rings removed to permit the spokes to be threaded through the other etch, thus gaining cross laced wheels. I had a play with a pair of 14" MGB etches, these show promise. I'm not so sure about the 15" ones, we will have to see.
Bottom left are the etches for 18" wheels, bottom right the 15" wheels, the more densly packed etches being for the inner spokes. Note that where the crossed spokes meet the rim, gaps exists. These gaps are filled by the outer spokes. The lacing patterns are correct for Dunlop wheels, as indeed are the experimental etches.

Top right are the 19" Alfa Romeo etches. The Borrani wheels used at the time had two different spoke patterns, this being the more common. These will be interesting and I'm still not decided exactly how I will make these wheels....

Below are a few press tools. The parts on the top are the components of a tool to dish the large Penelope Pitlane etches which I will use on my SSKL. The centre part is the female former which is lightly recessed to locate the etch, the centre spigot being to help giude the male former (to left) and also to keep the etch true. To the right is the clamp ring, the main purpose of which is to clamp the outer ring of the etch in order to avoid distortion, though it is made to help guide the male former.

The tool at the bottom is a new double ended one which will be for the 15" etches. The tools take only a short time to actually make, but setting up takes a bit longer. Thus tools for the 18" and 19" etches must be made whilst the set-up is there.

Below is a standard 15" wheel which shows the layout well. It is actally for an early Austin Healey, though pretty well standard for all cars fitted with the type of wheel. inner spokes are at an approx. 5 degree angle, though outer spokes are more extreme at approx. 15 degrees. The only wheels I have seen with dished spokes are Slot Classic, I'm sure most are just flat.

As will be seen the spokes are all toward the outer face of the wheel, indeed they are actually outside the wheel well, a situation dictated by the need to have the wheel bearings pretty central.

I reckon I can get a king pin in as shown....


Thursday, 18 March 2010

More on wheels.

If only I could drop everything, which includes eating, sleeping etc.
The long awaited etches arrived today so the next month of spare time will be spent on wheels, a boring situation for most except those with a positive interest. No pictures today, but then there is little to show at present.
I have had made 15" x 48 spoke etches primarily for the Healey I am working on, but also for the MGAs and Lotus Elite which lurk in the cupboard. 18" x 60 spoke wheels are primarily for 30's Astons, but suit others like the SS100. 19" x 60 three row Alfa Romeo wheels are for a future project, whilst the etch sheets include an experimental section devoted to cross laced wheels, 14" x 60 spoke for MGBs and 15" 72 spoke for Jag, Cobra etc. Etches have been made in brass and stainless steel.
Initial work will be involved with making forming tools. There are those who simply want wire wheels, no accuracy required, but since half of the cars I have owned have been so equipped, I am used to looking at items of the correct form. Yes, slot car wheels are small, but fussy folk like me need things to be right. Thus dished spokes are essential.
The greatest worry has been the possibility of fractures of the etches when formed into the conical shape, though happily a jury rigged press tool has formed a 15" wheel without fractures, this tool being made to modify the spokes from their original flat form to an angle of about 15 degrees. A separate tool will be needed for each etch type.
Each tool consists of 3 main parts (in steel). A male and female former, together with a clamping ring to keep the outer ring flat, as its' natural tendancy is to buckle when the spokes are being stretched. The ring is held by six clamping screws, whilst the two formers are aligned by a spindle which also centralising the etch itself.
The experimental department has already been fiddled with, with a pair of 14" etches having been 'played with'. With a simple wheel, where perhaps spokes from inner and outer parts of the hub both anchor at the side of the rim, the spoke angles are typically (for the 15") 5 degres for inner and 15 degrees for outer. If the spokes actually cross, the angle will be increased, thus the MGB wheels will be at the most extreme angles used. With the cross laced wheels however, this is no great problem. I am confident that the etch from inner hub to outer rim will form OK, with the clamping ring playing its part, whilst the etch from hub outer to the centre of the rim has no outer rim and is to be threaded through the other spoke layer. It works! Unfortunately I feel it would be wise to make a former tool for this etch as well....
If time permits, a few pictures tomorrow...

Friday, 12 March 2010


Further fettling on the DB5c. The hard and soft tops along with the toneau are all pretty much there in form, although I can't help but think that they're all a little oversize compared with the rest of the car. The wing lines are really pleasing now, giving a lovely flowing shape.
The shutline for the bootlid was cut by hand using a no. 11 Swann Moreton scalpel blade, copious amounts of filler primer and lots of patience. The rear lamp treatment is very similar to the DB4, but with a slight twist. Where the panel wraps round the lamp cluster, there is a very slight cut off witht he result that the lower of the three lamps is more exposed than the top one.
I wondered seriously as to whether or not I could achieve this, but after applying a couple of heavy coats of primer/filler and leaving it to dry completely, I did manage to slice a little off with a new blade and dress it a little with a touch of 400 wet and dry.

The front bumper needs a little attention at each end to make it follow the contours of the bodywork and to enable it to sit level.

I'm not toally convinced I have my angles correct for the A posts. The should lean in at 72 degrees and lean back at 55. Measuring these angles on the car is very difficult, so I guess i'll have to get them as close as I can by eye.

The oil cooler scoop and brake cooling ducts need to be added to the front valance in much the same way as the DB4. Door shut lines to finish off along with the side vent and flash.
The next challenge is the interior. Mk2 seats to come along soon along with the finished dash, door cards and transmission tunnel. Should be interesting.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


As lovely as the Zagato was, there was one aspect of it that just did'nt look right. I tend to take a lot of photographs as a shape progresses and in the case of the Zagato, i've probably taken more. I guess as i'm not so familiar with the shape as I am with the Touring bodied cars, that it would take longer. Add the fact that all nineteen Zagato DB4 GTs were different in detail then I suppose problems would crop up.

After gazing at it for hours it became obvious that something major was wrong. But I could'nt put my finger on it. The only way to suss it was to take measurements and check that all the reference points were in the right positions. Out came the trusty calipers and I measured everything again. And there it was. For some reason the length had gained 3mm from somewhere. And it was all at the rear of the car. The boot was just too big, too long, which did'nt allow the roofline to terminate where it should.

So after some fairly brutal treatment using 120 grade wet and dry, the majority of the material was removed. But it really was'nt a simple case of taking off balsa/filler and refinishing. If the rearward point of the model was 3mm too far back, that would mean the rear window was also too far back. So the lower edge of the rear window was moved forward by 1.5mm along with the boot shutline. Phew!
The results can be seen in the photographs. It's noticeably shorter. The roofline now drops away the way it should, giving that overall stubby shape. There's nothing sleek or aerodynamic about a Zagato!
In addtion to the shortening of the body as a whole, the windscreen lower line was moved forward around 1.5mm and the profile altered to suit. This has resulted in the screen being at a lower rake and improving the shape further. A little more work in this area will have it looking pretty much spot on. The only decision left to make now is whether or not to add the flares to the rear wheel arches. Personally I prefer it without. I think it spoils the shape of the rear wing, but this would indicate that it would be a road car as it appears only the competition cars had this feature. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Healey 3000

I've always had a soft spot for Healeys as my dad worked on them in the fifties. Healey bodies were assembled by Jensen in West Bromwich along with a few other subcontracted models. The early ones were all beaten by hand and today command ridiculous money. If you can find one.

There's nothing really special about this model, other than it being one of the early Scalextric models. It went quite well in its day and if I remember correctly, was a proper slider!

This one I inherited from an old chap around twenty years ago. His son had fled the nest many years before and after clearing out his loft, he presented me with this very fine specimen.

I keep it in it's original box and it rarely sees the light of day. So, I gave it a bit of a dust and a clean, popped on some wire wheels and took a few pics.
I'm glad I did as I think it looks quite cute.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Aston Martins, pre-war.

A decision I made many years ago made me go for a Frazer Nash rather than an Aston. I have been a pre-war Aston enthusiast for appoaching 40 years. The 'Nash is long gone, just little Astons remain, until of course Martin does his TT Replica.

The first image shows those in progress at the moment. The chassis and body on the left are actually a rebuild of the first 'Ulster' I made a few years back. One of the good, or bad things about Matchbox plastic is its' reluctance to be stuck by polystyrene adhesive. I strip paint from polystyrene using old/used brake fluid, proper vegetarian stuff, not the silicon. It also makes a good effort at dissolving/de-stabilising polystyrene adhesive, thus when I stripped the paint off, the body pretty well became dismantled. The centre and right hand cars are new builds, the centre one to be in stripped form, the left hand will have road attire.

The Matchbox Aston is one of a small number of cars for which I have gone to the effort of making a special chassis. The front axle is lightly sprung and carried the front mudguards/wings on road equipped cars.

The Matchbox model is of an Ulster, though can be adapted to represent works racers which were not actually Ulsters. The Ulster is an official copy of a works racer.

The model in the pictures is the last car I completed. A Le Mans car from 1934 driven by A C Bertelli and is one of my 'part way' stages in improving the model.

The general shpe is fine except for the radiator which is too narrow and the curved sides to the bonnet which just didn't exist. Modifications include moving and slightly modifying the fuel fillers, removing the external radiator stoneguard, fitting valences to the mudguards, replacing the 'Brooklands' silencer with a correct Aston Martin example and fittinga correct pattern mesh screen made from nickel silver sheet, with correct flyscreen attached. A few other mods besides...
It is hoped that the latest models will have etched wheels with the correct spoke pattern held on by the correct pattern spinners/knock-on nuts. They seem to be taking an age....

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Another Hardtop and some MGs.

Another long term project started some 4 years ago, it keeps getting delayed because I keep losing the hardtop, usually finding it somewhere 'safe' and 'easy to remember'.

The right hand car which is actually nearing completion is inspired by the car belonging to a friend from way back, an ex-Le Mans 1965 MGB. I like the car as it is now, not with the awful droop snoot which it raced with, thus this model will be built as a Marathon de la Route car. Probably.

The centre car is the beginnings of a Sebring MGC, or to use its' correct designation, MGC GTS.

The left hand car is simply a body on which to make the 'Special Tuning' spoiler, an extra fitted to most racing B/C/V8 cars today, and will probably end up as an open top racer.

The 'works' hardtop is made from styrene sheet cut into 3mm strips, then built up over the original Airfix hood, basically using the original part as a jig.

The old Airfix model was pretty dire from the day it came out, but is basically correct. The more recent the moulding, the worse they are, so goodness knows what the latest ones are like.

The body sides below the trim strip and the front valence have a fair bit of filling, then a new trim strip is fitted. The paint is basic Humbrol, the trim strip is covered in aluminium foil, the headlamps and radiator grille are from John at Classic Slot.

The chassis half hard 16g aluminium and will have a modified Airfix steering unit fitted.

That makes 8 so far. I think there are rather more than 12 to go......


Monday, 1 March 2010


More work on the convertible over the weekend. The idea of offering a model with interchangeable parts was quite appealing, but getting everything to fit correctly and in the right place took some fathoming out. In the end I settled on building on a base that fitted inside the car. The base sits on two ledges that run along the inside of the doors. The base is made up from three layers of obechi, with a slot running lengthwise. The winscreen former is fixed to a tongue which slides into the slot, thus keeping it at the correct angle. On top of the base are fixed two upright supports to carry both hard and soft tops. As long as these two items can be held in place, then the shaping can take place. The hardtop is the easier of the two as it's a fairly simple shape, but the soft top is much more demanding. The taughtness and slack of the fabric needs to be pretty convincing and i'm not totally sure i've captured it yet. Further work methinks. Graham.