Category Archives: Mercury

Maestro Model in 3D

By Maz Woolley

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

3D printed parts are widely used for prototyping work by model makers and artisan railway scenics producers have developed a lot of 3D printed items to sell over the last few years. Bollards, speed bumps, security fencing and items like that are being made by several established and growing scenics producers like Scale Model Scenery and Shedring Railway. Of late Shedring has started to make vehicle fitments like lifting equipment for lorries and even whole vehicles for use in dioramas like the site dumper shown below.

Photograph by, and copyright of, Shedring Railways

An alternative way for 3D designers to get their products to the public is a company called Shapeways who are commercial 3D printers who run a site where designers can upload their designs and if anyone buys the item Shapeways print it and send it to the customer and pay the designer a royalty. This company appears to run both a US and a European printing operation so the site attracts designs posted from both sides of the Atlantic and usefully an American design can be printed in Europe for European customers. Their site contains many items for diorama makers and has a few models in 1:43, but more in HO (1:87), OO (1:76) and even N (1:148 and 1:160) scales. Sometimes the same model is available in multiple scales. Designs include scenic items, railway engine bodies and fitments to use as transkits on commercial chassis. More importantly for car and vehicle model collectors there are also some lorries, vans and cars available. A selection of these are shown below. Please note that most illustrations on the Shapeways site have been generated from the digital data and are not photographs of the actual product that you will get.

Bedford TJ design by coasters120 on Shapeways

The Bedford TJ (thanks to Brendan Leach for correcting my error in calling it a TK) flatbed shown above is to 1:76 and looks like a one piece print. It is an interesting model as there are currently few TJ models.

Bedford OL by Transport Models on Shapeways

1:43 scale models are few and far between but provide interesting variants which can often be mixed with bodies and wheel sets off commercial models. The few 1:43 scale models seem to be made of a greater number of parts. The cost of the 1:43 scale models when additional parts needed to finish them off are taken into account are considerably dearer than Oxford Diecast trucks.

MIni Estate by Digitawn on Shapeways

This is a typical OO 1:76 scale model from the Shapeways site. It produced as a solid model with separate wheels. In addition to Minis there are also Transits and other Fords available on the site. The Mini model is certainly more accurate than many ready made models are.

Mercury Montego by Madaboutcars on Shapeways

The Mercury model shown is a digital generation of a 1:87 scale model. It is one of many US prototypes designed by Madaboutcars. All the US models I have seen are solid and  in either 1:43, 1:87 or Continental N scale of 1:160.

The model that I would like to look at in detail today is a 1:76 scale Austin Maestro designed by Alternative Model Railways which is available in 1:87, 1:76, and 1:148 scales. The 1:76 is available with the metal bumper or the plastic bumper, the plastic bumper version being shown here. A 1:76 scale van is also available. Shapeways can print with a wide range of plastics but model designers restrict the materials that can be used for the model and the Maestro can only be purchased made of a high quality plastic which makes the kit quite expensive, it costs nearly as much as four 1:76 Oxford Diecasts or two of the cheaper John Day Vehicle Scenics kits. The justification for the use of the expensive matte translucent plastic is that it shows fine and intricate details better.

The Austin Maestro was codenamed LM10 and was a five-door hatchback produced at Cowley from 1982 to 1987 by British Leyland, and from 1988 until 1994 by Rover Group. It went on to be produced in China until 2007 using a Toyota engine. It shared its platform with the MG derivatives as well as the Montego saloon.  It replaced both the Maxi and the Allegro and was fitted with engines from 1.3 to 2.0 litres.

Models of later Leyland, and Rover group, vehicles are scarce with the only other Maestro models known to me being the contemporary Scalextric and Corgi models. I know of no Montego model or models of the next generation Rover 200, 400, and 600 series cars. These once common cars have all but vanished from the roads now but there are many who remember driving them or as their parents or grandparents car. This generation of UK made vehicles are an opportunity for a small scale producer to fill if Oxford do not do so.

The model supplied is much like the digital illustration below though transluscent. Parts are printed and placed into protective plastic bags with different parts in different bags. As the illustration shows there is no glazing supplied.

Alternative Model Railways Maestro Kit as shown on Shapeways.

Unusually the designer also has a simple assembly diagram on the web site something that few others seem to both with.

Alternative Model Railways Maestro Assembly schematic on Shapeways

So what was it like making this kit? The first thing to note is that it all fits together quite snugly. The surface finish on the roof and in other areas does show the printing artifacts with the roof in particular having distinct contours. In 1:76 scale or smaller this is not too obvious but in 1:43 it may be a considerable disadvantage.  The kit was very crisply printed and I have few criticisms of the accuracy and quality. As my modelling skills are basic the defects in appearance are mainly from my poor finishing.

The side view of the car has been very well caught. The 3D printing of the side strips, wheels arches and the side ‘scallop’ are all very accurate. As are the window frames, door handles and fuel cap. The very finely printed detail presents a challenge to the average kit maker as many kit designers will make details slightly over scale to make the easier to pick out. This is not the case here so painting side strips and window surrounds proved challenging.

The front view is good though there were some artefacts in the grilles particularly below the bumper. But overall quite an accurate reflection of the fairly plain Maestro front end. No attempt is made to model screen wipers.

At the rear the modelling is simple and no attempt at wiper is made, It is however quite a good shape. The rear lights are supplied as transluscent plastic which has to be painted and fitted into slots. The shape and fit are good but painting them is difficult to this size and a decal to overlay or making them in coloured plastic might be a better solution.

The model’s stance is good and the overall shape excellent. It would have been better if a vacform had been supplied as glazing it is a real challenge. My thanks to Daryle at John Day Vehicle Scenics for giving me some vacforms for lorry cabs to cut down for the front and rear screens which has worked quite well. The side windows have been been glazed using Kristal Klear and because of the size of the gaps it has not created the nice flat surface I had hoped for though it is flush glazed which is the effect I wanted.

Another view of the car shows that the wheels are well finished with the wheel cover often seen on the Maestro in body colour. Again fine rims made painting difficult as a more pronounced rim makes it easier to paint the tyre correctly.

Another unusual model to add to the collection, and an introduction to making 3D printed models. My personal feeling is that, at present, the high cost of models on Shapeways means that it is only really worth considering for models of vehicles that you cannot get in any other way like this Maestro. Perhaps if Shapeways could find a way of making vacforms and reducing cost then they might become more popular.


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M2 Econolines

By Maz Woolley

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

The first generation of the Ford E-Series van ran from 1961 to 1967 and was a very common sight in films and TV shows set in US cities in the Sixties.  They were widely used by Utilities like Bell Telephone and were also a popular van for conversion into a camper.

Based on the mechanical underpinnings of the compact Ford Falcon automobile, the Ford Econoline was said to be based on sketches started in 1957 when the British Ford Thames 400E it resembles was launched in the UK. The van competed with the Volkswagen Transporter, Chevy Greenbrier and Dodge A100.

The vehicle was sold in van and pick up form as an Econoline and the station bus passenger van was sold as a Ford Falcon Club Wagon.

The van was fitted with a 2.4 Litre inline 6 initially and engine sizes grew to 2.8 Litre and then 3.9 Litre over the years. The front mounted engine was in the centre of the cab and gave the van “nose heavy” characteristics so Ford fitted a 165 lb (75 kg) counterweight over the rear wheels.

The van was also sold as a Mercury. Initially made in Canada the Mercury production was later shifted to the US and was always a low volume exercise.

This article looks at two of the many Econolines produced by M2 to 1:64 scale diecast in China. M2 are premium price 1:64 models which compete with AutoWorld and Greenlight rather than Mattel Hot Wheels. M2 have produced these models as custom vehicles, lowered and with special paint jobs as well as the more conventional versions seen here.

1965 Mercury Econoline Van

The Mercury van differs little to the Ford other than in badging, but this passenger van would have been badged as a Falcon Club van when sold by Ford. The side view shows that the split two tone paint has been very neatly applied and the windows have been made in such a way that they push fit into the aperture to give a more realistic finish.

The black surround to the front window is not very well printed with distinctly wobbly lines on the one I have. This is a shame as all the other printing like wipers and air vents is very good.

Wheels and tyres are very good. and the front light inserts with the grilles to the side of the lights well realised. The panel lines showing how the van was welded together from multiple pressings are well engraved and the paint covers them well without obscuring any detail.

At the rear the Mercury script is neatly printed and the lights printed effectively.

1965 Ford Econoline Camper Van

This is available in two versions. One with the full elevated roof as shown here and the other with a raised panel which could be folded up with a canvas side when parked.

This model shows how different the US and UK were in the 1960s. On top of the cab is fitted an air conditioning unit something we would not see in the UK on smaller campers until much later.

The raised roof dominates the model. It is nicely modelled in plastic but the windows are printed on. In front of it sits the air-con unit which is another separate plastic item. Below it, the middle windows are moulded-in sloping as if they have been propped open from within. A table and some low side units are moulded in the interior as well as some thicker seating which will clearly become the bed when the van pulls up.

The two tone paint separation on the side is again neatly done as is the tiny Econoline script on the cab doors. Again the wheels and tyres are well modelled.

To the front the Ford Script is clearly printed and other features are like the Mercury above, except for the bumpers which are made to resemble white painted metal ones. Again the black printed screen surround is poorly done one an otherwise well printed model.

Underneath both models, M2 have moulded in some chassis features.


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More new Goldvarg Collection models.

By Maz Woolley

All photographs supplied by Sergio Goldvarg.

Pictures of the production of the new Goldvarg Collection models from production batches are now available and news of the next three models to be made has been announced. These are resin cast models made in China for the US.

First photographs of the models that have already shipped. First impressions are good. As long as quality control is maintained these look to be fine models with a lot of detail but without too many fine photoetched parts to fall off or “spring”.

GC-001 1958 Ford Fairlane 500


GC-002 1956 Mercury Montclair

 


GC-003 1961 Ford Country Squire

 


And now to the news of the next releases. The subjects reflect the fact that licensing arrangements with Ford were made more quickly than those with others.

  • GC-004. 1965 Ford F-100 Pick-up 2
  • GC-005. 1960 Mercury Park Lane 2
  • GC-006. 1953 Ford Country Squire

Some very early prototype pictures have been released by Goldvarg of the first two subjects.

If these models are produced to the same standard, and retail at the same price point, as the first three released then I suspect that the relatively small batches to be made will sell out very quickly.


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