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1940 Auto Repair Shop Interior by FriedClams - Mini Diorama in 1:87


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Posted (edited)

Thank you O.C. and Popeye for the nice comments - I appreciate it.   And thanks to all for looking in and for the likes.

 

On 4/26/2021 at 5:14 PM, Keith Black said:

That thing's got so much motor oil and 90 WT soaked into it, it's a wonder everything doesn't slide off........

 

That's nothing Keith, look at their coveralls.  A little honest dirt never hurt anyone. 

 

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On 4/26/2021 at 6:15 PM, mtaylor said:

though the floor looks like it's been swept for the photo

 

On 4/26/2021 at 6:55 PM, Egilman said:

I agree with mark's observation, old concrete especially in an old automotive shop is definitely darker, and given the dark condition of the bench considerably darker...

 

Thank you Mark and Egilman.  More eyes and constructive criticism is always appreciated and welcomed as it invariably results in a better model.  Yes you right, it is too light and clean looking and needs additional attention.  I'll wait until I get the lighting in to see how much darker it needs to go.  

 

 

On 4/26/2021 at 7:03 PM, lmagna said:

The only thing that I see as missing at this point in the construction is the wooden covered trench in the floor where you would drive the auto over to work underneath and/or change the oil. . .

 

Hello Lou, thanks for the comment.  I agree that service pits were commonplace and even iconic in repair shops of yesteryear, but as you say they have been mostly replaced with lifts.  Which is good because today, many jurisdictions have banned pits altogether citing fume accumulation (one of several concerns) as a danger to workers health and the potential for ignition.  In fact, the National Electrical Code considers them a hazardous location requiring an explosionproof wiring system (to prevent ignition) for light and ventilation.

 

Something I've found curious looking through old photos is the scarcity of pits and instead this method of working the underside.  Based on the abundance of images like this, it must have been a very common way to work on these old rather light vehicles.

 

But it is timely that you mentioned service pits - please read on. . .

 

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Backtracking  -  Adding a Service Pit

 

One of the things I like best about modeling these small dioramas is that there is no specific prototype - only what's in my head.  So there is no set design that I must adhere to or elements that I must include.  Starting out, I always think I know how it will end, but rarely do my initial plans go unchanged.

 

I had intended to have several vehicles all pointing forward, side by side with one vehicle displayed in profile in front of the work bench.  Shop equipment would be placed around the wall perimeter.  It occurred to me that this arrangement is rather dull, visually uninteresting and there is something about it I just don't like.  I believe dioramas need to have a central focus, something prominent that your eye is drawn to - something my model doesn't have.

 

Looking through my collection of old photos, I found this one of a wheel alignment/service pit and decided this element could be a great main focus for my dio.  The image is from one of the collections at the Library of Congress, but I don't remember which one.

 

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There are a number of things that drew me to it.  One is that the pit itself is irregular in shape and there is working room around the vehicle, not just a narrow pit down the center.  The pit has two depth levels; the outer shallower level and a deeper drivetrain pit, so it will add dimension to the model.  Also, the iron structure of the platform is an eye draw and I think it will nicely display the vehicle standing on it in profile – or so I hope.  And I have just enough room in the shadow box case to drop it down through the floor.

 

So I drew up a pit that will fit the space I have.  The general dimensions and depths were taken from modern truck wheel alignment pits.   One of the wheel rails is movable in or out to accommodate vehicles of different widths.

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As you can see below, the pit eats up a lot of real estate, but I think the scene will feel less crowded because of it.

 

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It is made from sheet styrene; .040” for the floor and .020” for the walls. 1-2-3 blocks were used to keeps things square and true in its assembly.

 

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Modifications to the existing model were necessary to accommodate the pit.  First, the electrical piping was removed and then the mezzanine was shortened because the new side door is quite wide and would run into it.  Also, the ladder for the mezzanine will be pushed back to the rear wall whereas originally it was going to be free standing up front.  Three feet were cut from from the structure and the free hanging end was braced.  The mezzanine will also have support from hanging ceiling tie rods when the time comes.

 

The side window was removed and the opening enlarged to a height of 12 feet by 10 feet wide for the doorway.

 

The floor was cut out and the pit was test fit.

 

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The double door is wood and opens outward, so the hinges and locking hardware would be on the outside.  A drew up a door and used it as a construction template.  The basswood strips were colored beforehand with India ink/alcohol and topped with a green acrylic mixture, some of which was pulled off with cellophane tape.  The boards are glued directly to the template with PVA and the frame work is glued on top of that – then trimmed with a straight edge and scalpel.

 

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Using the drawing tick marks as a guide, holes for the exterior strap hinge bolts are drilled clear through the material and injection molded washer/bolts are inserted.  The bolt shanks are trimmed flush on the back side of the template.  A touch of thin CA is applied to the ends of the trimmed shanks where capillary action draws it into the hole leaving the front side clean of glue.

 

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A security bar is added.  The brackets are made from aluminum beverage can sidewall.  I drilled small shallow divots into the brackets to mimic attachment screw heads, but they're barely visible.  Also, I ran a black permanent marker down the back side of the template where the two door sections meet so that the white paper doesn't show through.

 

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The door header is a styrene “I” beam with one side sanded off and it scales to about 9” wide by 12.5' long.  Flat black enamel was applied with a cosmetic sponge to add a little texture followed by pigment powder to add a hint of rust.  Styrene bolt heads were placed and pencil graphite was rubbed on to highlight beam edges.

 

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Basswood door jambs and side casings were glued into the opening.  The header was glued on and the wall opening was backed with a piece of sheet wood as a place to land the door itself. 

 

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The ladder for the mezzanine is basswood with brass rungs.  The brass is .014” dia. and the rails are scale 2” x 4”.  

 

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The two rails are taped together and the rung holes are drilled through both at the same time.  Short pieces (about 1”) of the pre-blackened brass are inserted through the holes and the rails are then pulled apart until the desired width of ladder is reached.  This leaves all the brass rungs jaggedly sticking out both rails which are now trimmed flush and end glued with thin CA.  The rails are stained and styrene stand-off brackets attached.

 

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The styrene pit was primed with an air brush followed by a couple of shades of gray acrylic on top.  This is not the final coloring, just a base.  The pit was glued into place and styrene angle fitted around the perimeter.

 

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Enough with backtracking - it's time to move forward again.

 

Thanks for taking a look.

 

Gary

Edited by FriedClams
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Posted (edited)

 "That's nothing Keith, look at their coveralls.  A little honest dirt never hurt anyone."

 Gary, that was back in the day of ringer washers. No wife or mother was going to contaminate their washer with that nonsense. The guys probably wore them till battery acid finally did em in. 

 

 Incredible realism, Gary. I'm so there. 

Edited by Keith Black
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Posted (edited)

Hi Gary, yes that would definitely give a focal point and highlight the vehicle.........

 

Chain hoists and pits were not the only way they lifted/ got under cars back then.... They had screw, air and hydraulic jacks....

For example....

 

Screw...

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Long reach hydraulic...

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And high lift bumper jacks both hydraulic and air...

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I've used all of them, of course the high lift bumper jack is no longer used on modern cars, (in fact no bumper jacks are used anymore) but in the '40's a shop would have had all of these in their equipment stash.... Screw jacks were folding and generally went on the tow truck or whatever vehicle they used for bringing in broken down vehicles.... They would fold into a small package.....

 

I don't know if anyone makes a miniature of these, but it would add a bit of the old time feel to an auto shop....

 

Edited by Egilman
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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks to all for stopping by and for the "likes".

 

 

On 5/28/2021 at 5:49 PM, mtaylor said:

The idea of working under a car hung from chains just seems a bit scary to me.   But then, those were different times.

 

Seems a bit scary to me also Mark.  Check this photo out.  This seems like a false sense of security to me.  The rear wheel doesn't even appear to be chocked to keep it from rolling backwards (or forwards.)  I wouldn't want to be under that thing if the chainfall let go and the weight shifted.  I wonder if this little house of cards arrangement has ever been tested?     

 

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On 5/28/2021 at 7:11 PM, Old Collingwood said:

I love your explanation  about building the ladder  as I also have a couple to scratch build

 

It works pretty well.  The most difficult part is keeping the drill straight and true when going through the rails. Thanks for the comment O.C.

 

On 5/28/2021 at 7:30 PM, Keith Black said:

Gary, that was back in the day of ringer washers. No wife or mother was going to contaminate their washer with that nonsense. The guys probably wore them till battery acid finally did em in. 

 

I believe you're right Keith.  That's a great understanding of the times and one that I never stopped to consider.  All the years I worked in manufacturing the company always supplied uniforms and laundry service.  So yes, what would you do with oil soaked clothes on a modest salary?  Leave them hung over the fence at night? 

 

On 5/28/2021 at 8:54 PM, Egilman said:

Chain hoists and pits were not the only way they lifted/ got under cars back then.... They had screw, air and hydraulic jacks..

 

Yes those jacks would add some nice atmosphere and I particularly like the high lift bumper jack.  I don't know of anyone who casts or molds anything like them at this scale, so I'm going to try and scratch some.  Emphasis on try as the high lift would be right at 1/2" tall.  Thanks for the suggestion and photos Egilman.

 

On 5/29/2021 at 8:07 AM, Canute said:

Yeah, pre-OSHA days for sure for us Gringos.

 

Everyone would run for cover when OSHA would step out onto our manufacturing floor.  But when you see the dangerous work places of the "good old days", OSHA starts looking pretty good.  Thanks for the comment and nice words Ken.

 

On 5/29/2021 at 5:57 PM, knightyo said:

I'm wondering if there should be an old oil can on the bench along with an old coffee can to hold misc bolts?

 

Hello Allen, thanks for looking in.  I agree, especially the oil can as it would be easily identifiable - but crazy small.  I may just give it a try.

 

 

Some Pit Work


Everyday life choirs and activities has kept me from the workbench and little has gotten done.  So this update will be a short one.

 

I added back some electrical piping along the back wall that was pulled off to accommodate the pit installation.  Instead of running the conduit to the right as it was originally, it now runs to the left and up the corner and covers a nasty little gap where the two walls meet.

 

I then replaced some of the “angle iron” around the perimeter of the pit because it was out of square.  Looking at the photo below I can see the angle needs some attention as it doesn't look like iron (too silvery.)

  

Steps are added leading down into the pit.  They are 2' wide with a 8” rise and 10” run (like you really wanted to know that) and are made of stacked basswood pieces.  The hand rail is .022” brass which scales to just under 2” diameter.

 

The pit and steps were dirtied up with some blackish pigment powders and a wash of India ink mixed with water.  The wash brought forward the texture of the pit walls (which I now realize I failed to mention in the last post.)  The texture is straight white PVA dabbed on with a cosmetic sponge.  At first the glue keeps leveling itself out, but as it dries it starts to hold peaks.

 

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I also added some oil stains to the lower center pit and a step down to it.

 

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Arbor Press  

 

A break from working on the pit.

 

In the last post I showed a photo of four men in greasy coveralls.  Below is a crop of that photo and just behind the gentleman in the center is a mechanical arbor press.  It appears to be a 20 ton Weaver Hi-Speed Press or one very similar.

 

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The Weaver 28 and 60 ton models have an extra leverage arm high up that the press shown above does not.

 

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These presses had three levels of power vs speed.  The hand wheel could be turned for gentle precise work with little power.  The upper lever was a rack/pinion sort of affair that offered more speed and considerable power.  If that wasn't enough you could choose the nuclear option by using the lever on the left which provides the greatest force.  The photo below is a 20 ton press so it doesn't have the upper lever, but it's a good look at its simplicity and how it works.  Note that the arm (with the Weaver branding) has a choice of pivot points at its left end – three of them, where you can select how much leverage is required.  There are three holes in the pivot plate and the arm is currently occupying the center hole so the the other two holes are not visible.     

 

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I made one of these Weaver presses for the dio, but much of the mechanical detail is not there - just too small.  Anyway, I began with a drawing based on photo scaling.

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I gathered up some stuff.  The wheel is an injection molded HO scale boxcar brake wheel.  I pulled the styrene rod and tubing over heat to get the right diameters needed.  The brown sprue is nut/bolt heads.

     
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Cut, glue and drill.

 

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Enamel paint and powders.

 

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The left side power mechanism is just two pieces of bent wire inserted into a styrene bit.  The angle iron that bolts to the floor is out of scale for sure but. . .

 

 

Now back to the pit.  Thanks for looking.

 

Gary
  

   

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1 hour ago, FriedClams said:

Below is a crop of that photo and just behind the gentleman in the center is a mechanical arbor press.  It appears to be a 20 ton Weaver Hi-Speed Press or one very similar.

Your rendering of it in scale is simply outstanding... Very Very well done!!!

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1 hour ago, FriedClams said:

I wouldn't want to be under that thing if the chainfall let go and the weight shifted.  I wonder if this little house of cards arrangement has ever been tested?

Yes it has, many times... one must remember cars were much, much lighter back in those days, at least half the weight of cars 30 years later.... and some of them had a mechanical parking cog that interlocked with the driveline.... When it was set the car would not roll cause the wheels couldn't turn.... About '28 or so is when cars started getting heavier as they became more powerful...

 

What you see in the pic looks quite scary, but in reality, with normal care and attention was quite safe, (for that period)  Those two vehicles in the pic, four good strong men could pick one up off the ground.... 

 

But the sad story is when they continued to use those techniques on more modern, heavier vehicles, several deaths and the high lift bumper jack was born....

 

OSHA has a purpose, a well founded one....

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2 hours ago, popeye the sailor said:

very nice progress.........the press looks really neat :)   we use to use a couple of those old screw jacks........back then,  J.C. Whitney used to be big!  I remember the stack of catalogs by my dad's lounge chair.

Now I feel really old.  Your dad had them and not you?   I used to have a stack of those catalogs.  Rule was that when the new one came, the one at the bottom had to hit the trash.  

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2 hours ago, popeye the sailor said:

back then,  J.C. Whitney used to be big!  I remember the stack of catalogs by my dad's lounge chair.

 

12 minutes ago, mtaylor said:

Now I feel really old.  Your dad had them and not you?   I used to have a stack of those catalogs.  Rule was that when the new one came, the one at the bottom had to hit the trash.

My Father had a stack as well, got them every two months, and yep when the new one came the oldest went into the kindling bin.....

 

The memories this stuff brings up, older simpler times... JC Whitney was the Sears-Roebucks of the hardware world....

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Mark, Egilman. Keith, Ken and Popeye - thank you so much for your comments of information and support.  I really do appreciate it.  And thanks to all for looking in and for the "likes".

 

Pit Frame

 

The pit frame begins with a CAD drawing.

 

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This drawing describes the three “steel” frame pieces and the lengths needed for each.

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The drawing is used as a cutting template for the styrene. The image below shows an extra “I” beam member which I decided not to use as it really crowded the pit.

 

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The four concrete footings are made from basswood painted with acrylic.

 

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The top view drawing is used as a positioning template. A couple of strips of double sided cellophane tape are placed on the template to keep the four long beams positioned properly as everything is cemented together.

 

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Styrene sheet that scales to around .75” is used for the steel plate which covers the parallel beams. After cleaning everything with isopropyl, the “steel” was brush painted with flat-black enamel and selected areas were lightly textured with a cosmetic sponge. Once the enamel dried, I applied a light mahogany colored acrylic wash and allowed it to dry. Then a heavier gray wash on top of that, which I mostly wiped off with my finger leaving the color predominantly in the recesses. Then just a touch of rusty pigment powder and finally some edge highlighting with graphite.

 

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Then glued in place.

 

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The frame is made entirely of basswood and the drawing is used as a construction template. The wood was stained with an India ink/alcohol solution beforehand. The tiny dots pretending to be bolt heads are just pin holes made with a pin dipped in ink.

 

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The barrels are white metal pieces that needed some filing and cleaning up.

 

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The catch tray is folded paper from the sticky end of a Post-It note. Once it was formed, a drop of very thin CA was applied which saturated and hardened the thing. Black oil paint was applied in and out. The barrels are base painted with enamels followed by pigments.

 

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Thanks for taking a look.

 

Gary

 

 

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I am beginning to think that your garage is the high end garage in town. The garages I grew up with and even had in my last house, were just a trench in the floor that was narrower than the wheel width of the car. They had boards that fit over them when not being used. The work bench area was all wood and even the vice was just a wooden leg vice with a pipe handle screw. Mine had metal jaws fitted. In fact I still have one in my storage shed that I could not stand to throw away when I rebuilt the shop the old shop in my last house. I would venture to say that it dates back to the time the house was built in 1905. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/6/2021 at 5:05 PM, Old Collingwood said:

Excellent work  - really nice.

Thank you very much OC.

 

 

On 7/6/2021 at 5:07 PM, mtaylor said:

Just stunning work on the details like the barrels, etc. Gary.    BTW, any chance of dog in there? 

 

On 7/6/2021 at 7:52 PM, Canute said:

Yeah, needs a watch dog. 😉 These details are really making the garage pop. Super work.👍

Thank you Mark and Ken for the nice comments.  A dog eh?  That would be a nice addition.  I've got a growing list of possible details - I bet Preiser has a dog or two.  Thanks for the suggestion.  

 

 

On 7/6/2021 at 8:04 PM, druxey said:

I'm late to the party, but what a party! Superb and convincing work there, Gary. You are the king of grunge!

Hello Druxey - I'm glad you found this log and thanks for the nice comments.  "King of grunge" ? - you are a sweet talker.

 

 

On 7/7/2021 at 12:08 AM, lmagna said:

The garages I grew up with and even had in my last house, were just a trench in the floor that was narrower than the wheel width of the car. They had boards that fit over them when not being used. The work bench area was all wood and even the vice was just a wooden leg vice with a pipe handle screw. Mine had metal jaws fitted. In fact I still have one in my storage shed that I could not stand to throw away when I rebuilt the shop the old shop in my last house.

I know the kind of pits you refer to and yes they were far more common than the fancy one I've built.  And I can clearly see the wood leg bench vice with the pipe handle - my grandfather had one in his cellar shop.  I can still remember the dirt floor and that dank humid smell.  Thanks for the comment Lou.

 

 

On 7/8/2021 at 12:07 PM, popeye the sailor said:

very nice :)

Thank you Popeye

 

 

On 7/9/2021 at 9:01 AM, gjdale said:

I’ve only just stumbled across this outstanding build log Gary and all I can say is WOW!!! What a superb piece of modelling. Thank you for your detailed explanations of your processes too.

Welcome Grant and thanks.  I'm glad you found this log and I hope you find something useful here.

 

 

On 7/9/2021 at 9:29 AM, Keith Black said:

Gary, this is so much fun watching this diorama come to life as you add each layer of realism, your mastery of detail is brilliant.

Thank you so much for your continuing support Keith.  It's good to hear you're enjoying the log.  

 

And thanks to all for stopping by and for the "likes"

 

 

A vehicle for the pit frame

 

Jordan Highway Miniatures was a company that manufactured styrene model kits in HO scale for the model railroad hobby.  Primarily, they produced vehicles of the early 20th century including autos, trucks, fire engines and farm tractors, but they also had a line of horse drawn carriages, carts and the like.  These kits made up into detailed and delicate little models and it's unfortunate they are no longer in business.  The kits can still be found on ebay, but one must be willing to pay two or three times what they originally cost.  $6.95 no longer.

 

I have a few of these kits in my stash which I bought years ago and I narrowed down the choice to a couple of models – a 1922 Packard truck (cab only) or a 1929 Ford Model AA truck.  I built them both and I think I'm going with the Ford.

 

First, here's how the Packard turned out.

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The Packard has a rather detailed drive train especially considering the 1:87 scale.

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Here is a brief description of how the Model AA went together.  The kit comes configured as an oil tanker, but I choose not to use the tank as it would block much of the diorama behind it from view.  Instead I modified it and scratched a simple flatbed.

 

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Below is the complete kit and as you can see, it is not a complicated construction.  But it is a test of patience.

 

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I applied Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (oxide red) to the body panels followed by Testor's flat Hunter Green enamel.  Then a couple of thin acrylic washes of black and silver.

 

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The cowl section is put together first, followed by the cab.

 

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Because the material is so thin there are no pins or shoulders to assist in locating one part to another.  You simply glue edge to edge and adjust the angle between the parts as best you can.

 

Here's the cab from the underside.

 

1986387251_GI10-8-Copy.jpg.f50f42cf78947171bf795b63c87aab8f.jpg

 

 

The floor pan with the seat, gearshift and brake are inserted up from below and glued in.  I find the point of a dress maker's pin makes a good CA applicator in small tight situations like this.

 

833587533_GI10-9-Copy.jpg.7c8e72a1e079bffb2c341e7c1446d692.jpg

 

 

The hood/radiator assembly is not a single molding, but rather a five piece construction.  The fenders, running boards and body pan are mercifully a single molding.  It was primed with the oxide red and then “painted” black with straight India ink.  I allowed some of the primer to show through on the fender tops.

 

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The cab is glued on.

 

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Underside items are glued on – front spring, radius rods, frame extensions w/springs, differential, drive shaft and finally the brake drums.

 

2057087504_GI10-12-Copy.jpg.a8eed92a6e2c81c51995c76e1466918e.jpg

 

881904605_GI10-13-Copy.jpg.4cec6e0b9fde0a43b8b5fa0a6e17a107.jpg

 

 

The headlight lenses are glued on and the trumpet is fixed to the horn motor.  The license plates are 3mm wide and above the number it reads “Michigan 1929”.  The dots on the right are gas/radiator caps.

 

620933448_GI10-14-Copy.jpg.dcb53d23b0a4aabcac161b2a912f090d.jpg

 

 

Tamiya “Rubber” is used on the tires and washed with gray/yellow acrylic to pull out the detail.  The wheel rims were painted with the hunter green enamel followed by a rust colored pigment/water wash.

 

431318708_GI10-15-Copy.jpg.781a09de654199a211f89f41d49fe8ea.jpg

 

 

The flatbed is a simple affair of basswood 2x4s and 2x8s.

 

1270005011_GI10-16-Copy.thumb.JPG.b9c4f10d48fdbc2fdcd8cf1f7ed1e4c9.JPG

 

I placed a short rail around the forward half of the flatbed and all the wood is colored with India ink/alcohol.

 

1927232664_GI10-17-Copy.jpg.04e4b28765a7b41cc771b52321353d85.jpg

 

2119118821_GI10-18-Copy.jpg.2f7f091949ff43b20a3ce88f3e3f9376.jpg

 

144189251_GI10-19-Copy.jpg.1f3141e81a87d33aad671c3936f21884.jpg

 

 

The barrels are just something I temporally placed on the truck and may be removed or repainted.

 

755528722_GI10-20-Copy.jpg.08b0b8de23d4351e93348e54c970ae0f.jpg

 

 

And a little natural light.

 

1754975329_GI10-21-Copy.jpg.5c266153e7be5a912972d926453ef0e5.jpg

 

 

Thanks for talking a look.  Be safe and stay well.

 

Gary

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