Category Archives: Chop

Heat Moulded Model Glazing

By Graeme Ogg

All text, illustrations and photographs by, and copyright of the Author. 

NOTE: This may look like a long, complicated story, but rather than giving a very basic set of instructions (“1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – all done, easy peasy!”) and leaving people to struggle with unexpected little problems, I thought I should spell things out in more detail and mention various points to look out for. If you’re still interested, read on …]

I’ve done my share of trying to make new model windows from bits of thin, flat scrap plastic, which works fine if the curvature is slight, but if you get into restorations or conversions involving more heavily-curved glazing (including wraparound front or rear screens) that method can be inadequate. Trying to force flat plastic into a 3-dimensional shape can be a nightmare, and next morning you find the springiness in the plastic has gradually popped it loose from the adhesive. Some people resort to cutting suitably-curved sections from old plastic soft drink bottles, but if the rest of your model is looking pretty good, chances are that those makeshift windows will spoil the overall effect.

So eventually I bit the bullet and had a go at heat-moulding. Contrary to what serious modelling handbooks may tell you, a fancy vacuum-forming rig complete with hinges and clamps and an air pump isn’t really required for this kind of job. Just a hot-air blower, some balsa, scraps of old plywood and some suitable clear plastic. However it does take a bit of time, and trial and error, and in early attempts there were a lot of scraps of warped, over-cooked plastic in the waste bin before I got a decent result. So it’s not something that everyone would want to bother with. But for any enterprising soul who wants to give it a try, the following instructions may be useful. And if your eyes start glazing over (so to speak) just take a short break.

(Fig.1) Rough-cut a piece of balsa slightly too big to fit inside the model body. A useful first move is to cut the front face to roughly the angle the window makes with the car body (use one of those cheap see-through plastic protractors). It also helps if you trace the top and bottom edges of the screen opening on to tracing paper, cut out the tracings and mark them on to the top/bottom of the balsa block as a rough guide to shaping.

(Fig. 2) File and sand the balsa, test-fitting regularly, until it can be slipped up into the body and makes good contact all round the edges of the screen opening. (My rough sketch shows the top and sides of the balsa as flat, but of course you may need to curve the top surface, or round off the corners, or slope the sides inwards towards the top, to fit the inner body contour). Go very slowly in the final stages, continually checking the fit all round, because when the mould is “almost fitting in but not quite”, it is very easy to misjudge where it is binding and to sand away a little too much in the wrong place.. If that happens, and you end up with a visible a gap at along one edge or at a corner, cellulose stopping putty (knifing putty) is a useful remedy. Apply it where you’ve removed too much material. When hard, blend it to shape with 400/800 grade wet-and-dry. And if you have a particularly coarse-grained piece of balsa with cracks you think might show up in the moulding, thin down some cellulose putty with cellulose thinners to the consistency of thick primer and paint it over the entire face of your carved window.. When dry it will sand to a very fine smooth finish, and incidentally it can also reduce the problem of stray bits of balsa dust producing dimples on your cast screen.

(Fig.3) When you’re happy with the shape, hold it firmly in place inside the model and trace the window opening onto it with a fine-tip pigment marker pen, otherwise at a later stage it can sometimes be hard to see exactly where the actual window area is on the balsa. Take care not to dent the balsa by pressing too hard with a sharp pen point.

(Fig. 4) Slice off the back of the balsa roughly parallel with the front face of the screen. This helps to ensure you will be pushing the face of the screen flat into the heated plastic, rather than at an angle which could lead to one edge being forced too deep and maybe breaking through.

(Fig. 5). Glue the balsa block to a backing piece of plywood (half an inch or so bigger all round than the balsa) and add a block of wood or a piece of dowel for a handle

(Fig. 6) Use a scrap of plywood or similar for the female mould. In theory the opening should be the shape of the front face of your balsa moulding plus the thickness of the plastic all round. In practice you need to leave a little bit more clearance to avoid scuff marks or stress marks on the plastic. But if you are doing a fairly deep wrap-around shape, too big an opening may mean the sides don’t get wrapped round tight enough, so start with the minimum opening and increase the clearance a bit more if you find the heated plastic is getting scuffed as it is pushed in. It’s easiest to use some kind of coping saw to cut the opening, but failing that you can drill holes all round the outline, “join the dots” with a blade, remove the shape and sand the edges of the opening. At the hot-moulding stage there needs to be enough spare plastic around the opening to be drawn in smoothly during the push, so make your plywood big enough to allow you to pin down a piece of plastic with a border of about an inch all round the opening. Sand the top edges of the opening to a smooth curve to prevent marking the plastic on a sharp edge. When moulding, you can either hold the female mould in a vice, or make a couple of feet from scrap material, as illustrated, so it will sit on the workbench.

(Fig. 7) Test the two halves of the mould together. The male mould only needs to go in just far enough to ensure the shape is properly formed. To avoid the risk of pushing too far (which could over-stretch the glazing) you might need to fit spacers of scrap material to the underside of the backing piece as shown. That then allows you to push firmly down “on to the bump stops”, which helps to avoid any wobbling before the plastic has hardened, which could distort the screen.

You can use various types of clear plastic, but some clear packaging material has a ”scoured” finish which can look bad in close-up on a small windscreen. And some kinds of plastic sheet that looks quite promising will crinkle and curl at the merest touch of heat. (Hard to tell the good from the bad till you experiment!) Too thin and you can easily break though when pushing a deep shape. Too thick and the result can look clumsy, and sharp curves may come out somewhat blunted. I use 20 thou clear polystyrene sheet and simply fix it to the female mould with 4 drawing pins at the corners. You may need a pliers or small hammer to get them into the wood the first time. For repeat attempts just push them into the same holes each time.

Having once burned out a domestic hair drier I now use a hot air stripper on its low setting at a distance of 5-6 inches. Don’t go too close or the plastic can “fry” or bubble. Play the heat back and forth over the whole piece of plastic, not just the central area. That way the surrounding material will also be softened and will pull in smoothly. After maybe 20-30 seconds it will sag, then start to bulge up again. Press the male mould in gently. If there is too much resistance, don’t force it or you’ll get scuffing or stretch marks. Apply a bit more heat and try again. When the mould sinks in nicely, hold it steady for 20-30 seconds to let it cool. Prise up the drawing pins with a small screwdriver and remove the glazing piece. If there are scuff marks/stress marks in the plastic, ease the female mould a bit more before trying again. A smear of mould release (liquid vaseline) over everything can also help avoid this problem. If the casting looks OK, slip it back onto the male mould and trace the window outline from the balsa to the glazing so that you can see exactly where the window starts and ends on the plastic “blister”. Also mark any tabs or borders required for concealed gluing inside the body shell. Remove the pigment ink with methylated spirits. Trim carefully. A small craft scissors is recommended. NIbble carefully around any sharp corners to prevent the thinned plastic tearing or stressing.

Fig. 8) For a relatively simple curved screen (or for curved side glazing on flush-glazed vehicles) just shape a single piece of balsa to the required curve, fix one end of a strip of glazing to it using double-sided sticky tape, apply heat (keeping it away from the sticky tape as far as possible) and use a scrap of smooth wood to press the glazing down on to the curve and hold till it cools. Use white spirit on a cotton bud to remove the sticky tape afterwards. NOTE: If you don’t apply the heat for long enough, the glazing will soften enough to bend but won’t be heated right through, so the residual elasticity will tend to unbend it a little as it cools. Give it a bit longer. If you keep getting an inadequate bend, try exaggerating the curve of the mould just a little to compensate for this.

(Fig. 9) You can also use the heat-and-press technique to form tail-light or headlamp units with a more severe wraparound. Once again, if you don’t get the heat right through the plastic, it will tend to uncurl. Give it another dose of heat and press it down again (decent plastic can be re-heated and re-bent a few times before it starts to permanently distort).

Even if you aren’t into making your own models or doing conversions,, you can also use this technique to replace cracked or discoloured glazing on precious older models, or add it to models which didn’t have any in the first place but would look the better for it. You are bound to have quite a few experiments that don’t turn out quite right, but eventually (with any luck) you should get a decent result.

Male and female moulds for a couple of models. In the left-hand one the balsa was left “raw”. The one on the right got a thin smoothing coat of cellulose putty, hence the dark appearance.

A selection of successful attempts at window moulding are show below


Wrap-round/wrap-over front screen of ’59 Edsel (conversion from Brooklin ’58)

Replacement for disintegrated front screen of Kager Edsel kit

Rear screen for ’60 Ford Galaxie Starliner (modified Brooklin convertible)

Panoramic rear screen for 1960 Chevrolet (modified Brooklin convertible)

Side glazing panels for Pontiac Type K ( conversion from Yat Ming Firebird)

Compound-curvature rear window for 1960 Edsel (modified Brooklin ’60 Ford)

Or maybe something a little more outrageous

Rolls Silver Seraph glass-top Ceremonial limo (fictitious)

Compound-curved side and rear glasses for Bentley K2 SUV (fictitious)

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Polish Ice Cream Truck, a 1:43 Conversion

By John-William Greenbaum

Here’s a decidedly post-communist truck converted from a communist-era design: the ZUK A-11B Pickup Truck (a 1/43 Polish partworks truck made by Ixo), as converted into an ice cream truck for Lodmor, a manufacturer of ice cream, sorbet, and yogurt in Gdansk!  This model truck was for sale in Poland and converted by some unknown person.

The Plasticville figure was actually part of the conversion in the rear suite, but came loose in transit. I’ve since reattached her using that guaranteed-to-work method: double-sided tape!

The ZUK A-11B was a pretty popular pickup truck in Poland more or less throughout the seventies and eighties, actually surviving communism to be manufactured in the nineties, albeit not in huge numbers. However, so many were in service and parts were so inexpensive that you could indeed convert these trucks into commercial vehicles like rent-a-trucks or indeed ice cream trucks that generally speaking weren’t crucial to Polish infrastructure.

Given the amount of French and German ice cream trucks made in a similar manner that are still on the streets manufactured in the seventies and eighties, I’d honestly not be surprised if one could walk around Gdansk and find one of these driving around.  In fact I found photos of one in-service and one not.

Remarks on the Real Truck

The last of the FSC ZUK pickup trucks, the ZUK A-11B, was probably the most successful of any of them. Based externally on the 1966-vintage ZUK A-14 Export Fire Truck that essentially inspired all post-1966 ZUK vehicles, it could best be seen as the successor to the ZUK A-03 pickup, which was the very first of FSC ZUK’s pickup trucks. As with the boxy A-03 it was meant to replace, the original ZUK A-11, which was introduced in 1968, made extensive use of corrugated steel in the construction of the cab. The most noticeable improvement was a hood that flipped up easily.

Although somewhat problematic due to an incredibly high center of gravity that saw the pickups often literally tip over onto their sides, it was all in all an improvement over the ZUK A-03 in the reliability department. Although handling could best be described as awful, the ZUK A-11 did at the very least receive a responsive steering wheel so as to try and prevent as many trucks from tipping onto their sides as possible. It did, however, have two glaring problems. First among these was that the engine design was still the old GAZ-M20 Pobeda engine. Worse, however, was that the truck used a wooden cargo bed that often dry-rotted and had all kinds of problems with cracking and damage.

In 1973, the vehicle received a new, more powerful engine, being renamed the ZUK A-11M. However, the problem with the wooden cargo bed proved rather serious. In 1975, the ZUK A-11M was withdrawn from production in favor of the ZUK A-11B that you see featured here.  In 1998, the ZUK A-11B had the honor of being the very last truck to roll off FSC ZUK’s assembly line before then factory  was closed for good. Many stayed in service for years afterward in all kinds of jobs.

Fir this example, the cargo bed has been removed and replaced by a nineties-era ice cream truck suite! Lodmor is still a manufacturer of ice cream in Gdansk, and that’s the corporate sponsor that this particular A-11B ice cream truck has. Note the folding side window and refrigeration unit as well, which are probably licensed copies of features found on German or French ice cream trucks. A truck like this probably would have remained in service well into the twenty-first century, as there was absolutely no need to replace it with something technologically superior. Heck, I’m willing to bet there are is more than one of these still driving around, given the presence of Renaults from the sixties in France, old Mercedes-Benz O-series trucks in Germany, old Leylands driving around Britain, and seventies Dodge trucks driving around here in the US.

Given how successful  a late 1960’s design was doing in the 1990’s, one is forced to wonder just how well it could have done had FSC ZUK’s  communist bureaucrats not nearly destroyed the design during the 1980’s (updated the flaws with the wooden cargo bed, etc).

ZUK A-11B Lodmor Ice Cream Truck Conversion 
Poland, 1:43 Model by Ixo, modified by unknown
Figure by Plasticville, painted and modified
Years Built: 1975-1998
Engine: 70 HP 4-cylinder four-stroke
Fuel Type: Gasoline
Top Speed: 63 mph

More details about the real 1:1 scale ZUK  A-11B can be seen on the author’s Facebook page.

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Interesting Comparisons, Or Then Again, Maybe Not

By Graeme Ogg

A package arrived this week containing the BoS Chevrolet Caprice wagon. Not always keen on BoS models, some of them have quite drab or insipid colours and weak-looking trim detail, and look built down to a price (which of course they are). But I’d say this wagon looks pretty good.


I did my own version some years ago, based on the fairly crude Road Champs sedan, so couldn’t resist comparing them side by side. The main thing that strikes you is the apparently huge difference in length, although that impression is partly due to the Road Champs being too tall in the body and sitting high on oversize wheels, making it look dumpier. Still quite a striking difference in the look of the two models, though.


I wondered if the RC body was too short in 1:43, or the BoS version was a little too flattened and stretched, so I got the calipers out. I have the BoS sedan (the New York taxi version – also one of their better models) and surprisingly the RC and the BoS sedans are identical in length at 128 millimetres.


The real sedan was 17’10” (5435 mm) long, which in 1:43 should be 126 mm so both models are pretty close, although the excessive height of the RC makes its proportions less convincing.


The wagon was 18’4″ (5740 mm) in length and in 1:43 that is 133 mm. The BoS wagon is spot-on, whereas my version lacks the rear-end stretch so comes up short. Mind you, 6 inches in 1:43 is only 3.5 mm, and the BoS wagon has a stretch of just under 5 mm, so it’s surprising just how much longer it looks compared with the taxi.

But the real moral of the story is – give a nerd a cheap pocket calculator and he’ll bore the socks off you.


Also in my package were the BoS Valiant sedan and wagon. They are OK, but not exciting. They will go on a shelf to fill a gap in the 1960s Yank section, but will never be much of a turn-on.


And of course I also did my own Valiant wagon some time ago, so once again a comparison was in order. I think I come out of it pretty well, all things considered, but obviously my views are not entirely unbiased. By the way, mine does actually have the “valley” down the middle of the roof, it just didn’t show very well in the photos.


Since my wagon is based on the Trax model of the Australian Valiant, there are small detail differences which nerdy nitpickers might criticise as “unauthentic and un-American”. But we don’t have people like that around here (loud cries of “Damn right we don’t”) so I may just get away with it.

Thank you for listening.

This post was originally published in Diecast Forum 43.  We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Triumph over Adversity

By John Quilter


In my never ending quest to replicate all the British Leyland products of the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond here is one more to fill in a gap. It’s a chop of a Vanguards Triumph 2.5 saloon into an estate. This one fooled me, as I did not do my detail research carefully enough and built the wagon with the same overall length as the saloon. Then, later when it was all done and painted, found out they are in fact 5 inches shorter than the saloons! This can be determined by the rear bumper which on the wagon extends to the rear wheel well but on the saloon it is 5 inches short of the wheel well. Can’t understand why they did this as the wheelbase is identical on the two cars. Well, after it was all done I had to tear it apart and saw a scale 5 inches off the rear quarter, reassemble, and repaint. Not to mention shortening the rear of the diecast baseplate to match. The roof on this one differs from my usual technique of using a shaped aluminium extrusion but on this I shaped a piece of sheet aluminium into the rear part of the roof and upper tailgate. The rear panel needed some changes to the tail lamps and a black insert. The load floor was a piece of grooved styrene plastic out of my stock. I abandoned the dark blue donor model’s wing mirrors as I never liked these, and mounted them on the doors.

Triumph 2000 cars were launched in 1963 as the Mark 1 and these ran until 1969 at which point the Mark 2 was launched with a new front styling that matched the soon to be launched Stag. Design work was with Triumph’s usual stylist, Giovani Michelotti. There were more versions of the Mark 2, a 2500 TC and a 2.5PI with petrol injection from the TR5 and TR6 European specification. The Triumph 2000 had a short run as a saloon in the USA from about 1965 to 1967 but was never popular in comparison to their range of sports cars: Spitfires, GT6s and TR4s. But the 2000s are still seen from time to time at big British car shows.

1972-74 Triumph 2.5 X2 1972-74 Triumph 2.5 1972 Triumph 2.5 MK 2 wagon 1972 Triumph 2.5 MK 2 wagon rear

Just for comparison I’ve included a picture of the long running Abbey Classics kit of a Mark 1 estate I built many years ago.

1967 Triumph 2000 estate #2

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VW and Jag Chops

By Tony Galvin                                                         June 2015

Volkswagen Articulated Camper Van

I came across the picture of the real version having ‘Googled’ Images of VW Campervans. My first thoughts were what engine is in it? The old flat four would never move it. Second thoughts ‘Is it in India and if not where’? Third thought was I’ve got to make one.

As is obvious 2 Camper vans were required so 2 Lledo vans were obtained. I then purchased a couple of OO gauge railway carriages on ebay, but after a lot of effort it did not look right. As a result the sides, roof and chassis are made from sheet aluminium, which took a lot of work cutting out the windows and then fitting windows from the railway carriages with the curtains. I feel it was well worth the effort and I am quite proud of it, as it is probably the only one on the planet

The name Murvin Enterprises is fictitious, being half my surname and half my wife’s maiden name. It appears on many of my models.

Jaguar XK140 ‘Breadvan’

When attending the Goodwood Festival about 5 years ago I saw the Ferrari ‘Breadvan’ as it is so called, I don’t believe that it ever delivered any bread! I thought that Jaguar should also have one so I set about the task.

I already had a 1:24 scale XK140 so I chopped it up along with a van, the model of which I cannot remember. This uses an aluminium chassis again and aluminium was also used to form the rear wheel spats. A set of wheels off another model of a US vehicle and it was complete.

It may be of interest to other ‘choppers’ that when painting, a box with a 100 watt bulb in can reach 70 degrees. I put the casting and the paint in there before spraying and then the model when done. This stops ‘blooming’ particularly in cold weather. The compressor that I use was part of an old fridge and it feeds my airbrush at around 35psi via a 3 gallon stainless steel tank.

Arnolt MG, the MGTD in Italian Dress

BY JOHN F. QUILTER                                                       Oct 2015

Back in 1952 to 1953 the importer of MGs for the USA Midwest who was based in Chicago, Stanley Arnolt, who ran S H Arnolt Inc. decided that the MGTD, which was one of his big sellers, needed a new updated body. Not seeing sucha product likely to come from the Nuffield organization in England he set about finding a coach building firm to create a new body for the car. He met with Giovani Bertone in Italy at the Turin auto show in 1952 and the foundation for a cooperative agreement was made.

This agreement resulted in the design of new body for the venerable MGTD designed by Nuccio Bertone and Giovanni Michelotti. The result was a full enveloped body for the chassis and mechanicals of the TD. The only exterior styling features of the new car borrowed from the TD were the grill design, instruments, and tail lamps and as such it is hard to believe the new product was an MGTD under the skin. The fascia, although using all MGTD instruments was completely reoriented with the speedometer and tachometer on the driver’s side (all Arnolt MGs were left hand drive) and the TD’s central gauge panel turned upside down between the two main dials.

Both coupe and convertibles were made and initial production goals were 200 cars but the final figures were reported to be 67 coupes and 36 convertibles making this a very rare MG indeed. Some of the very last were produced with the TF 1500cc engine. Arnolt would have liked to produce more but MG was selling every TD, and later TF, they could build and were not willing to spare chassis and components for the custom body endeavor even though the Arnolt version was close to a third more costly than the standard MGs. The weight of the coupe was reported as 2,094 pounds a bit more than the MGTDs figure of 2,005. Arnolt also dabbled with custom work for Aston, Bentley and Bristol over this period.

There is an amazing proliferation of models to 1:43 scale, everything from an Amphicar to a Daimler Majestic Major to an amazing selection of American cars from the 1930s to the 1980s now produced. So it is not surprising that NEO, a Chinese based resin model maker, has taken on the Arnolt MG in coupe form. This is sold in three colours: red, racing green, and cream. Always striving to replicate every conceivable MG in miniature for my collection, I added a red coupe to my miniature MG museum and then got to thinking that I could tackle modifying another one into a convertible.

That desire resulted in my obtaining an additional model, in green, and “chopping” off the top. It took some judicious cutting work with a jeweller’s saw and some additional modifications. At least these resin models saw easily in comparison to die cast models. The top had to be reshaped to represent top bows and the quarter windows of the coupe had to be filled in as the convertible has blind quarters eliminating the need on the real car of roll down quarter windows.

I wanted the car to be able to be display top up or top down so a top boot was created with a small piece of very flexible sheet lead and painted tan to match the top.

As always Google images provide a great selection of photos of nicely restored real cars to use as a guide in design features.

Grumman US Mail Van Scratchbuilt

The 1988 Grumman Mail Van                           Nov 2014


Photographs of the model made by John can be seen in the gallery below. Click on any image to enlarge it.

The United States Post Office (USPS) has long used a smallish delivery van for local mail delivery duties across the USA. It is an iconic US vehicle and has been around since the mid-80s and is still very much in evidence. Purpose built by Grumman, a maker of various types of delivery vans for many years, these mail vans were based on the chassis and mechanicals of a Chevrolet S-10 pickup. They use an “Iron Duke” OHV four cylinder petrol (gasoline) engine and some have been adapted to run on either LPG (propane) or petrol, they are fitted with an automatic gearbox. Known as the LLV (Long Life Vehicle) they were produced from 1984 to 1994 and the USPS owns over 100,000 of them. Some were sold to Canada Post. The USPS expects their service life to be about 30 years. Of course all were right hand drive so the driver was near the curbside for access to residential mail boxes. Rather homely but purposeful looking they are seen simply everywhere. Strangely, however, to my knowledge no model maker has produced one in 43rd scale so I set about making one myself in my never ending quest to document automotive history.

The design lends itself to such a project since it is mainly built from flat panels with rounded edges. I used styrene plastic sheets for the body tripled up to gain thickness for the rounded edges at the front and roof area. The chassis also was a sheet of styrene with appropriate detail added. The process started with taking photographs of the real vehicle and the local maintenance garage more than obliged after I explained my purpose. They even put one on a lift so I could take shots of the chassis which I used to approximate the undercarriage. Once the photos are taken, I print them out and scale them down to 1:43rd by using the reduction feature on a photocopy machine. You will need 90 degree shots of the right and left side, front and rear and some to get an idea of the interior fittings and seat.

The next step is to cut your styrene to the size of the photos. As with all these projects it seems simple at first but always becomes more involved as one progresses. The wheels, very standard black automotive steel wheels without hub caps, were purchased on line from a well known 1:43 scale vendor in Italy. The windows are clear plastic, mirrors, of which there are many are from paperclip wire with a aluminum disk attached using epoxy metal, known as J B Weld. Side and rear logos were printed out on my ink jet printer after playing with their size in a photo program. The seat was a left over item from my junk box, the fascia fan created from plastic sheet as was the sorting platform to the left of the driver. Decal striping was easy to obtain and apply as were the vehicle numbers front and rear. Huge protective black rubber bumpers were shaped from a section of aluminum wiring, another of my inventory of materials for model making.

When all was done I showed it to the garage staff, confirming that I really was using all the photos for a purpose.

One of the photos shows a larger store bought Golden Diecast “step van” type mail vehicle that is used for interpost office transport but are also often commonly seen on the streets. The two are of the same scale so show well together.

Scratch built USPS Grumman mail van 1988 front view

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Powell Pickup

By John Quilter

Powell Pickup Bucks the Trend in Fancier Pickups

In the 1950s in the USA pickup trucks were slo1956 Powell RH frontwly moving from being very utilitarian vehicles for work only to a more dual purpose of personal transportation and utility.   Perhaps this started in Australia where “utes”, a pickup version of a passenger car, had long been popular.    By the mid-50s in the USA pickups were getting more car like and featured such things as V8 engines, automatic gearboxes, power steering and plusher interiors.  Some even went really over the top such as the Chevrolet Cameo and Dodge Sweptside which used a tail finned quarter panel off a two door station wagon.  Then there was the launch of the 1957 Ford Ranchero, a car based pickup which was followed by the 1959 Chevrolet El Camino.   All this upscaling of pickups made them inevitably more expensive if not more desirable to some and offsetting the stigma of trucks being solely for tradesmen.  See photo of a selection of pickups from 1953 to 1959.

Then bucking this trend along comes the Powell pickup in 1955.   This was made by the Powell Manufacturing of Compton California.   In order to keep costs very low, Powell designed a body of very simple stampings virtually eliminating compound curves.  The front grill panel was a fiberglass molding and the rear panel and lift out (not hinged) tail gate panel was of diamond plate sheet.   The bed floor was a plywood sheet with a metal floor optional.    There were no roll down door windows but sliding panels were used for ventilation.   The most amazing cost saving feature of these vehicles was the fact that they used a chassis and drive train bought from wrecking yards and refurbished and rebuilt.   They searched and located for all useable 1941 Plymouths that had reached the scrapyard state due to being 12 to 15 years old and were likely simply worn out.

Early development work starting in 1952 considered using Chevrolet or Ford used componentry but it was found the 117 inch wheelbase Plymouth with its open drive line and simple side valve six cylinder engine was more suitable plus there was exceptional interchangeability with other Chrysler products.    Powell rebuilt the mechanicals and created the body themselves in their Compton facility.   The first production trucks used what appeared to be a wooden 2X6 for a bumper, however, later versions went to a square section metal bumper painted white.

One unique optional feature of these trucks was one or two long pull out storage compartments with a round cover.  They pulled out from the rear of the bed sides and could be used for storage of pipes, fishing poles, etc.   Some information on the internet seems to indicate the overall length of these truck was 168 inches but my research and scaling photographs down to create model seems to indicate the length closer to 188 inches, at least with the larger bumpers.  This could be determined using the know figure of the 1941 Plymouth wheel base of 117 inches.  This length gave the Powell a 6 foot load bed which agrees with published information.

Homely or just functional, the Powell did have an integrated look from cab to bed and there were no wheel wells inside the bed to interfere with load carrying.   The hood opened from each side with a central hinge strip.  Hubcaps were often reused 1940s Plymouth items.   This very basic pickup sold for $999 ultimately increasing to $1198 for a “deluxe” version, still  a big discount to the offerings from the Big Three.

In addition to the pickup Powell offered a sort of early SUV or station wagon based on the pickup.  This had a very flat tailgate and also offered the optional pull out storage compartments and a flat roof included a luggage rack.

By late 1956 the supply of rebuildable 1941 Plymouth chassis and engines was drying up and Powell ceased production even though there was  a reported backlog of orders remaining.  Why they did not update the chassis to a later Plymouth chassis is unknown.  By 1957 Powell had declared bankruptcy for lack of paying excise taxes.  The owners and brothers, Hayward and Channing later restarted their firm but returned to making motor scooters which was their original work.    Most Powell pickups were sold west of the Rockies and some were marketed to Plymouth/Desoto dealers as a shop truck since Desoto had no in house truck.  In total there were about 1200 pickups and 300 station wagon versions built.   The reorganized Powell company survived until 1979 and during the 60s it built the Powell Challenger trail bike.

Now to the model.   This was scratch built using sheets of styrene plastic sometimes laminated together to get enough thickness to create a rounded edge.  The rear panel was styrene plastic diamond plate stock.  Headlamps were glass jewels (available at craft stores) surrounded by a wire formed headlamp rim.   Wheels were from my stock of resin cast simple automobile wheels with domed hubcaps suitably painted and bare metal foiled.   I had good internet photos to go by for the details and a friend who actually has about 3 real Powells on his property was able to provide me some useful dimensions and other details.  Good photos are critical and it is best if one can find a 90 degree side shot to enable scaling the model from this by reducing or enlarging the photo on a copy machine to exactly the right size.

Chassis details were approximated using a chassis photograph of a similar 1950 Plymouth from a brochure.   I was inspired to do this project, which took about three weeks, by a posting on the Legacy 43rd forum.   After completion and posting photos some were impressed expressing they wanted one too, but I only do one offs and no one has stepped forward wanting to do a resin casting using this as a pattern.  I guess Powells are just a bit too esoteric or obscure.

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Dodge Coronet Sierra

by John Quilter                            June 2015


A Brooklin 1954 Dodge convertible was the starting point of this “chop” into a same year four door station wagon kLH_side_completed_2.JPGnown as a Coronet Sierra. The real car was produced in the mid-1950s when every company was watching the formation of the ‘Baby Boom’ generation and the increasing popularity of family station wagons just as the minivan was created by auto manufacturers a quarter century later. Some companies had produced wood bodied wagons from the 1930s onwards but most had converted to all steel wagons as popularity increased and customers wanted a stronger and more durable station wagon. Dodge had produced a four door all steel wagon from 1950 to 1952 but this shared a body with the Chrysler and Desoto. There was a gap in 1953 when an entirely new Dodge body was launched that shared much with the lower level Plymouth. Dodge did well with this two door wagon in 1953 which shared its body with the Plymouth Suburban.

By 1954 they needed a four door wagon, but volumes were still thought to be too small to tool up for this specific model and for a car that was to see a complete redesign for 1955. The solution was to outsource the wagon production to Ionia Manufacturing in Owosso, Michigan who had been in the wood wagon business for well over a decade but had just converted to steel wagons with the 1954 model year. Buick Special and Century wagons for 1954-1956 were one of their wagon products.

Their starting point was a four door sedan for Dodge as well as Buick. The Dodge sedans were on a longer 119 inch wheel base than the 114 inch hardtops, convertibles, and two door wagons, so creating a four door wagon with sufficient space and carrying capacity and potential for a third row seat for 3 extra passengers necessitated using the longer four door sedan chassis and part of the body. Ionia created these wagons using the four door sedan shell and various parts of the Dodge produced two door wagon. Roof, upper and lower tail gate, rear quarter panels, rear bumper, etc., Only 1,300 of the real car were made, 312 with six cylinder engines and 988 with V8 engines. Could I create this unusual car using a Brooklin Dodge convertible?

This chop required cutting the convertible body in two places and stretching it, once just ahead of the rear wheel well and again in the area that would become the back edge of the rear door. Methods perfected over the years in this sort of work are to cut the bare body with a jeweler’s saw and reattach the parts with an aluminum metal strip on the inside and the outside suitably filled with my favorite modeling compound, an epoxy metal known as J B Weld. Of course the tailgate and roof had to be created from scratch. The tail gate from J B Weld and the roof from a small section of aluminium yacht moulding. This material lends itself well to slight bending and filing it being relatively soft.

The roof was created from a 2.5 inch section of aluminium yacht moulding suitably shaped on the edges and slightly arched. The Brooklin convertible has a windscreen that was too shallow for the wagon so the top of the screen had to be modified to increase its height and properly join the newly created roof. The drip rail was added to the roof with sections of aluminium sheet and the upper window frames were squared-off pieces of solder which is easily shaped and flattened. The B and C pillars were made from large copper packing box staples slightly narrowed. A chrome moulding at the belt line was a piece of silver coloured wire which also serves as the dividing line for the two tone color scheme.

The Brooklin Dodge had factory accessory wire wheels but these would have been very, very rare on a less flashy station wagon so I was able to use some generic wheels and white wall tires available from Diecast Direct. Polishing off the FORD badging on them and replacing with a V and five small dots of red paint to approximate DODGE. Because the body was stretched the chassis/base plate had to be similarly lengthened and the undercarriage details replicate for the lengthening gap. Door handles were fitted to newly drilled holes in the body sides using bent solder suitably polished to a chrome finish. Final paint was a ”Krylon” spray can of their colour “light sage gloss” and the roof a dark metallic green automotive touch up aerosol paint. These replicated Dodge’s Willow Green and Cumberland Green Metallic. Bare metal foil brought out the side moldings, the windscreen frame and wipers. As luck would have it, the bumper on a convertible with a continental kit rear spare tire is the same as used on the station wagons.

One thing I find about doing these chops, they are always unusual, but sometimes launched by model makers at a later date, but they never turn out quite as well as you would like when compared to production models. Photographs, after all is completed, always seem to highlight the flaws and imperfections. But there is still a lot of fun in creating something unique and not currently produced by any commercial model maker. But still, I think I need to use photography as my quality control method.

Note: the first photo shows a snap shot of the real car that inspired this model. The real car is currently in the hands of Mopar collector, Jim Gabl, of Joliet, Illinois.



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Graeme Catches the Last Bus

BY GRAEME WATT                                  January 2014

A note from the Editors:

Graeme Watt of Aberdeen has been one of the most faithful contributors to Model Auto Review down the years. Many of his articles featured scratch-built models or conversions of military vehicles he came across in a diverse life as a driver in the army. Latterly Graeme depicted buses from his locality in model form, and he produced many elaborate dioramas down the years for local events and charities. It is with great regret, therefore,  that we now publish Graeme’s last article.
We hope that one of his many friends in the local Grampian Club will show Graeme this article on a computer or other digital device, as he does not have computer access.


Corgi Volvo Wright Gemini double decker in the new livery of First Bus Code 3

This is my LAST model bus (by Corgi), bought in the LAST model shop (Modelzone) in Aberdeen, for the LAST strip and repaint exercise to bring the local bus exhibition up to date, with a Volvo Wright Gemini double decker, in the new livery of FIRST Bus. It will also be my LAST article, too late for the LAST print edition of Model Auto Review, but in time for the FIRST MAR Online edition.

Corgi Volvo Wright Gemini double decker in the new livery of First Bus Code 3

Now that I am in my tenth decade (i.e. over 90) I have contracted age-related macular degeneration in both eyes and all my straight lines, horizontal or vertical, now have kinks in them, so hacksaws, tin snips,craft knives, paintbrushes and the like are beyond my scope. Even completed models acquire rather unusual shapes.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all ‘MARtians’ for allowing me to make a vast number of very great friends, far too many to name individually. The model fraternity is world wide, even reaching the sunny beaches of Bal Ham*.

As I am 100% computer illiterate, I will just sign off with best regards from Graeme.

* Note: this is a reference to our other MAR contributor called Graeme (Ogg), the ‘Balham Chopper’. We hope that someone is able to keep Graeme Watt up to date on MAR happenings, by showing him MAR Online.

Corgi Volvo Wright Gemini double decker in the new livery of First Bus Code 3

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