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Alfa Romeo Spider Gran Touring by Grant - Pocher - Scale 1:8 - Finished


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Posted (edited)

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I had never heard of the Pocher range of model car kits until a fellow modeller on MSW (Moonbug) took a diversion from building ships to building one of these (actually a Rolls Royce). After following his build, I knew I had to have one of these kits. After much searching online, I came across someone in Sydney selling the Pocher Alfa. The price seemed quite fair but he advertised “pick up only” – these kits are in large, quite heavy boxes so clearly he did not want to deal with packing and posting. As it happened, I was due to be travelling to Sydney the next weekend and would be quite close to his proximity. I told him I would definitely like to buy subject to physical inspection.

 

That weekend, my wife and I drove to Sydney and I visited the seller. He turned out to be a very nice old chap who had not one, but several of these kits to sell. He had bought four of them when his four boys were very young, with the intention of presenting them a finished model on each of their 21st birthdays. The youngest son was now 48 and three of the models had not even been started, including this one. Everything was still in the original sealed bags inside the box, so that was good enough for me. As I was leaving, he asked if I’d be interested in his Rolls Royce Sedanca Coupe as well. I politely declined, fearing what the Admiral might say. Anyway, as we were driving away, I cautiously mentioned to my wife the latter part of the conversation and to my great surprise, she asked if I’d like the second kit as a Christmas present. Needless to say, we turned around and bought the second kit as well.

 

That was in October 2016. I finally got around to making a start on this model in late February 2020.

 

 

Anyone who is familiar with these Pocher kits will know that they are famous for two things: the amazing level of detail they provide, and the equally amazing poor quality control and parts fit. Furthermore, the instruction manuals are little more than a series of exploded parts views. Having done a lot of research I came across a guy in the US by the name of Paul Koo, who has made a series of detailed instruction manuals for all of the Pocher classic car range. His DVD contains very thorough step-by-step instructions that forewarn you of all of the “problems” with each kit, and how to remedy these, BEFORE you find out the hard way. The DVDs also contain hundreds of photos showing everything from parts identification, to assembly sequences, and even how to pack the parts back into the box. There are also many reference photos from actual cars still in existence. On top of that, he carries an extensive range of spare parts that he has collected from partial models over the years. If you’re missing a part, chances are Paul can provide it. He is also an extremely nice and helpful fellow with whom it is a pleasure to do business. So much so, that I have subsequently added another two kits to my stash…….

 

What’s in the box?

 

A lot! There is so much packed into this kit, that Paul’s DVD contains 68 photos to help identify the various bags of metal parts and all of the plastic sprues. Here are a few photos from the DVD to show the contents by “layer” within the very large box. These are essential if you are to have any hope of getting everything back in the box again!

 

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 Not showing above are the two wing panels that are hidden under the final piece of cardboard at the front of the box in the last picture above.

 

Continued in the next post...

Edited by gjdale
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The Engine Block

 

For this entire build, the basic sequence is to test fit the parts for each build step, adjust the fit, then disassemble, paint and re-assemble. However, before I could even start on the test fitting, I found that I had to address some significant defects in the main engine block. Whether caused by mishandling at some stage, or just through age and the plastic becoming brittle, I found a large chunk taken out from one end of one half of the engine block. There was also a significant amount of clean-up required.

 

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I was able to repair this using some Milliput epoxy putty. I also used some Tamiya white putty to fill some of the mold marks.

 

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There is very little glue used in the construction of these models. A lot of the parts are screwed together using some very small screws. However, the holes in the plastic are invariably too small and are prone to cracking if forced. On the engine block and the component parts all of the screw holes were first drilled out using a 1.2mm drill and then tapped by screwing in the screw by itself first. This puts a thread into the plastic and makes it significantly easier to assemble. Additionally, a lot of screw holes are misaligned and needed to be moved or otherwise modified. Thank goodness for Paul’s instructions here – he identifies every single one of these misalignments and shows photographs of how to adjust the fit. Once this had been done, all of the component parts could then be disassembled in preparation for painting. There were a few components that made up into sub-assemblies that were able to be glued together prior to painting, however most were stripped back down to individual parts. Here are the parts ready for painting.

 

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I’ll be breaking out the airbrush for this project, so I decided to take a diversion and build a collapsible spray booth so that I could spray inside. As I’m using Vallejo acrylic paints, I don’t need to worry about ventilation, so the booth is just to protect from overspray. It is built of poster board and “hinged” with a tape similar to duct tape, so that the whole thing will fold flat for storage is as light as a feather. In use, it fits on a small portable table that sits at 90-degrees to my main workspace, so it is quite convenient. The top of the spray booth can also be folded back to allow more light on the work surface.

 

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I’m using Vallejo Metal Colour for painting these parts and Vallejo specifies a gloss black primer coat for these. So here are the parts with a coat of primer. The stand is something I picked up from Hobby Zone. It is actually a box construction. The top with the holes comes off and then the “arms” (10 of them supplied) are all stored within the box when not in use. The arms are a stiff but flexible plastic with an alligator clip at the end. It’s quite a neat little set up.

 

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Continued in the next post....

 

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The main engine block in the street variant of this car was aluminium with a cast iron cylinder head. I sprayed the majority of the engine components with Vallejo Dull Aluminium and then went back and hand painted the simulated bolt heads with Vallejo Gun Metal. The main block was sprayed with a two-tone effect using Dull Aluminium and Black for the cylinder head. Everything was then given a coat of Metal Varnish to finish. Here are a few photos to show the overall painting, along with some close ups of the various components.

 

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These components are now ready for assembly. 

 

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Porchers were well known as the absolute top of the line back in their day, and they still are very close to the top today... They can be a struggle to build, but with care and patience they build into a model that better than anything else out there.... Pretty pricey today, if you can find one unstarted....

 

And this is a Pocher classic, 1/8th scale beauty......

 

I'll be sitting in here......

 

I have one Pocher in my collection, (the Fiat) I don't figure I will ever build her, she's way too intimidating.....  

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Hi Grant,

 

Nice to see a familiar name here.....even though it is the 'orphan' area......🙂

 

You may not recall but we had communicated on some different projects a number of years ago. (2013 or so.)

 

Anyway, I have yet to open the box for the kit you are building, which I had purchased about the same time I acquired the MB 540K roadster kit.

 

Needless to say, I will be a regular follower of you project! 

 

My MB540K kit is a partial completion....life interrupted....but before it was mothballed, I had found Paul Koo and ordered his CD's and some other tools he has for the kits.

 

My current lockdown project is the US Frigate Confederacy kit that also dates back to 2013 or so.

 

I shall be in the front row watching your progress!

 

Regards,

 

Jim

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Hello Grant,

 

Wonderful build that you are starting here. I happen to also have the exact same model that I bought a few years ago, when they were still affordable. I love Alfa Romeo cars. I only built one wheel of that incredible kit.... 😞

I will be following your build with a lot of interest and maybe it will rekindle my desire to move my kit forward.

 

In addition to the DVD that you obtained, there is a company in the USA that specializes in after market parts for Pocher kits: https://www.modelmotorcars.com/

 

They have an incredible selection of parts and their gallery and models presented are absolutely fantastic: https://www.modelmotorcars.com/museum/

 

Looking forward to seeing your progress. Take your time and do not rush the process.... 🙂

 

Yves

Edited by yvesvidal
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Hi Jim,

 

Yes I do indeed recall our conversations of a few years back. Nice to hear from you and welcome along for the ride. Interesting that you have the MB 540K Roadster kit. I was considering that one but opted instead for the “Rumble Seat” version, which I am acquiring through Paul Koo.

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Hi Yves and welcome to the build. I hope this will rekindle your desire to build your own kit. Thanks for the tip on Model Motorcars, though I had already found them back when I was researching. I may have already purchased or two items from them.......😎😎😎

 

And don’t worry, I won’t be rushing this one. Heck, it took me more than three years just to open the box! 😉 Seriously though, the posts above represent about six weeks work on and off.

 

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Grant, I will definitely be following your build log.  I have the Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 1931 that I purchased from K-Mart in the late seventies for under $20.  I completed the engine and wheels and it has been stored ever since.  I have always hoped to finish this model.  If I ever get back to this model, I know that I will have to redo those assemblies as the paints and aftermarket materials are so much more advanced than what was available in the 70's.

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Thanks OC and Ryland - welcome aboard.

 

Ryalnd, you should definitely dig your Monza kit out again. Again, if you get hold of one of Paul Koo’s DVDs, you will find it a lot easier to finish your model. Seems there are quite a few Pocher kits lurking in people’s cupboards here on MSW - lets see if we can get some resurrected.

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Engine Block Assembly

 

Assembly begins by attaching the external components to each side of the engine block. Here is the right side, showing the carburettor, supercharger, water pump and water pipes. 

 

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The trickiest part of this assembly was the water pipes. There are two horizontal “arms”, and a vertical “Y-piece” connected to each other with short lengths of rubber hose. The lengths of the solid components had to be adjusted as they were all too long to fit together in the space. The kit-provided rubber hose was so old that it had turned solid and brittle, so this was replaced by some aftermarket plastic tubing from Model Motorcars. The hose clamps were simulated by small strips of aluminium tape.

 

Here is the left side showing the generator, side cover, horn and starter motor, along with two oil filler caps.

 

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The horn is made up of three components – two brass pieces joined by a plastic “elbow”. For consistency, I painted all three parts the same colour (Vallego Metal Colour Gold). The generator was one of those parts where the fit was so bad that the mounting holes on the engine block had to moved during the pre-fitting. The oil filler caps also required their repository openings significantly adjusting.

 

Once the main external components were fitted, the crankshaft could be made up.

 

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The individual parts were designed to snap/press fit together, although they needed a fair bit of adjustment to get them to fit. The main linkages were glued once joined linkages, being careful not to interfere with the movement of the connecting rods. The piston heads are simply set in place with an internal pin that goes through a hole in the con rod. The whole assembly could then be placed carefully in the left half of the engine block.

 

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The individual metal cylinders were then carefully set in place. It’s important to get these the right way up so that they sit properly in place and allow the engine block to seat securely around them.

 

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The right hand side of the engine block was then carefully placed on top, and the four retaining screws put in place, while standing on my head, rubbing my tummy and holding my tongue at just the right angle!!! I found that even with the screws nipped up securely, there was still a tendency for the top of the engine block to pull away each side at one end, so I provided some extra assistance in the form of a small amount of CA glue at that spot and clamped it gently overnight.

 

Here are a few pictures of the engine block as one unit.

 

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In the second picture you can see the tops of some of the pistons within their cylinders.

 

The front end piece was also added at this stage.

 

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And if you turn the crankshaft, you can watch the pistons moving up and down within the cylinders. Cool……

 

The inlet manifold could now be fitted. It had to wait until the two engine halves were together so that the centre retaining screw wasn’t obstructed. Of course, if you were just following the kit diagrams, you wouldn’t work this out until it was too late. Thankfully, Paul Koo’s instructions not only alert you to this, but also advise on a modification to how the inlet manifold joins the top of the supercharger to make it possible to fit at this stage. So here it is in place.

 

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The exhaust manifolds were temporarily fitted for the photo shoot, but won’t get permanently fitted until much later, when the rest of the exhaust system is installed.

 

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Finally, the bottom water pipe was fitted. This was a bit tricky as the pipe needed to be bent to shape in order to fit properly without interfering with other components at a later stage. A sticker was also attached at this point. It’s one of those extra touches that add that little bit of extra realism.

 

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I just have the engine bottom pan to install now before commencing work on the Engine Head.

 

 

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I cut my modelling teeth on these models. I'm afraid to start another one, though; they seem like such a mountain of work now. I will be following this vicariously, thanks! Paul's DVDs are excellent but expect surprises anyway as the molds seem to have been made of wood; each model is a little different! 

 

 

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Great engine work, Grant!  I will confess at this point that the rod/piston/cylinder parts for my 540K were so badly formed I opted to build the engine without some of the internals....

 

At the time, I was going to be the only one to know that.

 

Since you've done such a fantastic job I felt obligated to recognize your excellence and my lack of patience/skill to accomplish what you have.

 

Fantastic job!

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Pocher, Rivarossi and Protar (all Italian companies more or less linked) in the 70's liked to create plastic models with working internals.

I remember assembling a Moto Guzzi 500 4 in-line cylinders which had all engine parts moving and connected to the rear wheel, through a transmission shaft.

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What a terrific kit it was. I wish I could rebuild it today, but these kits are almost impossible to find and cost an arm and a leg.

 

Yves

 

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Grant, looks great!  I just picked up this kit and the Paul Koos DVD a month ago off eBay - this is one of the nicest of the Pocher kits, though I heard the fit issues are greater than the 8C-2300.  I also have the Fiat and the Rolls Royce Torpedo Cabriolet.  I'm probably a few years from starting as I'm learning to airbrush and have a stash of kits to get my skill level up to do this justice.  By then, I'll have a good tutorial on how to build this kit judging by your excellent progress thus far :)

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Mike,

 

Use spray cans. The parts are huge and nothing needs the fine work of spray painting. For the steel parts, you can spray different colours of grey, black, and silver from different distances and you'll get all kinds of interesting finishes. If you want rust, use putty with a little colour mixed in and then use a bristle brush to create the surface effect. These are great kits but don't get yourself down a rabbit hole for nothing. 

 

As for the big surfaces, you need to fit, prime, fare and adjust, fit, prime, adjust, fit, paint, adjust, paint, adjust, paint, paint again, paint again, paint again, compound (don't get close to the edges), polish, polish, polish, polish (from 2000 up to 8000 grit sandpaper), wax, wax again, and then final wax. Simple. 

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Mike,

 

Thanks for dropping by. Nice to know there are a few more Pochers out there in MSW land. I also have two Rolls (the 1932 Sedanca Coupe and the 1934 Torpedo “Star of India”), with a Mercedes “Rumble Seat” on the way soon. Glad to hear you’ve got Paul Koo’s DVD - I certainly wouldn’t have gotten this far without it - they are that good! Best advice I can give you is to do a thorough parts/inventory check using Paul’s parts inventory photos and if you find any missing parts (quite likely, even with a “factory sealed” kit) contact Paul directly as he will likely be able to provide the missing part(s).

 

As for airbrushing, I’m a relative novice but am not having too much trouble. I’ve learnt the secret is to find the “just right” combination of air pressure and paint flow for the particular paint you are using. I’ve been having some good success with the Vallejo Metal Colour series so far.

 

My build is on “pause” for the moment as I await delivery of two spare parts from Paul, and a new shade of red paint from a “local” supplier. Both are on the way, but the postal system is understandably a little slow at the moment.

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Posted (edited)

The fenders on my Spider were cracked and I managed to get replacements from Paul.  My RR body had a crack and a bit of a warp, so replaced that from Paul as well to be safe.  He’s a fantastic resource!

 

I’ll have to try those Vallejo Metal paints.  I’ve been using the regular Vallejo model color and model air and really like them. The metal line seems to be even nicer.  I figure I’ll give them a try when I have a larger section to paint in a metallic color.

 

It took a little trial and error, but my airbrushing has improved.  Using Mr. Color lacquer primers and Tamiya lacquer paints has been a bit of an adventure on my Iwata, but those paints lay down very nicely.  

 

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

It's been a while since I updated this log - the reason will become apparent shortly!

 

The Engine Bottom Pan was painted with the airbrush and the bolt heads hand painted. It is meant to be removable to provide access to the engine parts, being held on by a clip on the other side of the oil drain plug. I decided to add a small dab of CA glue to the opposite end to make it a little more stable (I won’t be taking this apart!)

 

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The Engine Head

 

The Engine Head is a fairly straight forward affair – at least it should be. All that is required is to assemble and install the Cam Shafts, Distributor, Ignition Coil, Oil Filler Cap, Water Pipe, and Cam Covers. As with the rest of the Engine, it is a case of test-fitting, adjusting the fit, then dis-assembling, painting and re-assembling.

 

I had a bit of an oops when trying to adjust the fit of the Cam Covers. Let’s just say I got a little too enthusiastic with a heat gun and am now waiting on replacement parts to arrive! This is why I haven't updated in a while.

 

In the meantime, I decided to upgrade the kit a little by adding some aftermarket ignition wire boots from Model Motorcars. I believe these are 3-D printed, though I’m not certain. They are supplied on a plastic card base and need to be cut free. Here is the remains of one card.

 

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These needed to be painted black prior to installation, so after cutting them free individually, I then put some double-sided tape on a wooden stirring stick and placed all of the boots on the tape. This gave me a “handle” as well as securing these tiny items while they were sprayed with the airbrush. I finished them with a satin clear coat and then attached them to the cylinder heads, distributor cap, and ignition coil.

 

Here is a picture of the Distributor Cap and Ignition Coil, complete with boots.

 

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And finally, here is a picture of the engine head with all parts temporarily in place, bar the Cam Covers. The ignition wires / spark plug leads will be added at a later date.

 

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I can’t finish off the Engine until the Cam Covers arrive. They were posted from California on 15 April and were last tracked by USPS in Los Angeles on 16 April. With the current postal situation due to COVID19, it may take some time for these to turn up. I may move on with the Transmission while I’m waiting for these.

 

Edited by gjdale
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I just found this post, what a lucky man you are to have 2 pocher kits the RR Sedanca would be my holy grail of kits. When my missus agreed to let me have the pocher ducati for my 60th birthday I was gobsmacked, unfortunately she would never allow such an expense on a kit again your missus must be an angel.

Great progress this far. Am I envious of course not, grrrrrr

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  • gjdale changed the title to Alfa Romeo Spider Gran Touring by Grant - Pocher - Scale 1:8 - Finished

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