Friday 4 April 2014

Ford model T conversion


The ford model T that I'm using for this project was a Christmas present off my daughter. I had fully intended to make a little WWI vignette to go along with the car, unfortunately there are not many 1/35 figure and accessory options out there for WWI unless your prepared to spend silly money on resin items. Well that's not me so a new plan had to be formulated. The plan that I have arrived at is that I'm going to convert the vehicle into a very early version of the Model T delivery vans. I figure that if any models have been made in 1/35 from the kit that I have, then they will be war or military based in this scale, so I'm hoping that my model will be among the first in the conversions for this kit.

The Kit - First impressions

Make no mistake here, I've had my fair share of bad kits, but this one has to be up there as one of the worst!! The build instructions are printed on the back of the box and are not very informative at all. In fact I found myself guessing on part fitment at almost every stage! The plastic that the chassis is made from is very brittle and has an almost unbelievable excess of flash marks on almost every piece. (see photo below for an example). The body is supplied in an equally as poor quality plastic however the colour is silver and not light grey. I plan on using the front end parts only and will be scratch building most of the rear cab. I suppose I should sum up this kit as being poor to down right bloody awful, but when you take into account the small price tag on the kit and the fact that the only other manufacturer of a model T in 1/35 is resi-cast and would cost upwards of five times as much when compared to the RPM kit I would say that this kit is a fair quality for the price paid and with a lot of TLC and scratch building will make into any number of the variations in this venerable machine.

The Chassis

As I've already said, the kit assembly instructions are really bad. To take some of the guess work out of construction I did a quick Google image search for a model T and was happy to find a wealth of photographs and information on the vehicle. I was surprised to see that the kit actually is a fair representation of the chassis. Once built up I realised that this required a great deal of filing to get everything to look right. To make matters worse, when the lower portion of the body is placed onto the chassis, it rubs against the wheels indicating the fitment is incorrect. I decided to solve this by cutting some plastic card filler strips to the chassis to give the body clearance when fitted. The engine provided with the kit, or rather the lower engine block leaves a lot of detail out. Fortunately for me I'm not planning on having the bonnet doors open or the vehicle placed on an incline which would reveal the lack of detail on the lower half. Some photos of the initial chassis construction are below:

The Body and Cab

I've decided to make an early version of the model T delivery van, circa 1909. I haven't decided on a final colour scheme yet, however the good thing for me is that the design on the vehicles is very similar. The front bulkhead is a little too wide for a civilian version so that is really the first of what I suspect is going to be a long list of modifications. 
For the rear section of the cab, I realised that the body provided
with the kit was going to be of little use to me. I elected to build up the rear cab from the floor upwards. First order of business was the construction of the floor which was glued to the existing floor section provided with the kit. Next the lower sides were cut and glued to the floor. I would point out at this stage that unless I can find an actual model T van in my local area then dimensional accuracy is going out of the window and I will be "guestimating" the size of the van bed, sides, etc from reference photos that I can find on the internet. As long as I end up with a good representation of this old van, then I'll be very happy. Below are some photos of the progress that I have made to date, the lower floor and basic sides have been added:

The next stage is the addition of the back wall of the cab so that the bench seat can be made from sculpey as I think this will be the easiest medium to make it from because of the shear amount of detail required. The seat in effect is a leather Chesterfield sofa!! The back wall of the cab was added along with the side walls, roof and rear doors. Once assembled I made the choice to omit the rear windows that are sometimes seen on these model vans in favour of solid doors. This will make my life significantly easier during the scratch building as I won't have to manufacture a rear interior and paint it. Once assembled I then used a few generous coats of squadron green putty to fill around the joints and other areas where the plastic card had melted slightly from the liquid poly that I used to assmeble the van. I also added some stretched sprue to the sides of the cab between the joint of the upper and lower walls of the sides. Once fully cured, rubbed down and given a wash I coated the whole assembly so far in grey acrylic primer.

For the final colours I opted for a two colour finish for the T. I decided upon a cherry red for the van section, gloss black for the front, running boards and rear mud guards. The interior of the cab will hopefully be a wood finish with brass accents thoughout the vehicle. There is still quite a lot of work ahead but I'm really happy with the progress to date. I've also decided upon the name for the "business" that this little van worked for, however I'm going to leave you all in suspense to read further along to discover the name and nature of the business.

The bulk of the main body colours finished, I elected to assemble the cab onto the chassis and start adding more colours and details. This is being done in some very small stages as my workload in the University seems to have doubled in the last few weeks. I have also decided to use what I think is an Italeri figure of a U boat captain as the base for the figure I want in this little dio. The head being substituted for a Hornet resin item and the military details scraped off with a scalpel blade to leave a double breasted suit. The following shots are where I am with this build at the moment:

I am now at the stage where the interior needs some treatment with oils and a little further detailing, the exterior needs some further details added to it such as the windscreen frame, lights, etc and I have also decided on the livery for the ford. The following shots show the progress to date along with the test pieces which will eventually be printed as clear decals for application. I am also considering whether to construct a small base out of cobbles or whether I will use a stand that has turned up with a recent model that I have just purchased. In either case I am putting this model on temporary hold while I decide the best way to display this model and get on with another project:

So I have finally decided on the base for this model. I am going to use my old favorite plaster base with some home made cobbles and cast drain cover. I have used the cobble finish in the past with some success however I'm going to change things up a little and add a cobble design pattern that I have seen in real life and also in fill between the cobbles with some oven dried earth for a better effect (I hope). The first stage after casting the cobbles was to lay them out "dry" onto the base to establish a pattern and placement of the drain cover. following that I then glued the cobbles into place using some wet mix plaster and allowed it to dry over night. Once this was done the earth was rubbed into the surface of the cobbles and the cracks between to both colour them and fill in between. the following shots show the different stages of the build and the rough placement of the vehicle:

You may have noticed from the shots above that I have now added the final decals for this vehicle and the addition of an advertising poster that will be placed onto a standing board next to van. I had not anticipated using anything other than the van and figure but once I had placed them onto the base I knew that I needed to add a little more interest. The standing board itself is just stretched sprue and plastic card with the poster altered from one that I found on the internet and with a little help from Microsoft paint, I swapped out the original text and replaced it with the same advertising name as the van. All that is left now is to seal and varnish everything, oil wash and age, then consider the piece finished. The finished photos will be added below as soon as I finish it

Finished Photos and final thoughts

The mini dio is complete at long last! I have to say that I really enjoyed doing this one and it was a nice change to step away from the military models. It was also a really good challenge for my scratch building skills. I also really enjoyed the fact that I have created a model that I have not yet seen replicated anywhere so the simple fact that it is unusual is a bonus. I have another idea for scratch building/adapting another one of these kits, and I'm sure that it will be featured here in the very near future. As always there is some finished shots below and your comments are always welcome:

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