Making Things

Today is my car’s birthday. This day fifty four years ago on the 11th July 1966 my car rolled off the Ford production line at Dearborn, Michigan. USA.

1966. A Mustang hardtop coupe comes down the final assembly line at DAP.

Speaking of things being built, I was bought a model kit a while ago which was the LEGO GT500 kit, which I reviewed here. I thoroughly enjoyed it of course and wasted a good few hours making it. For my birthday (which was a good few months ago), I was bought another kit from my wife. I think it was to keep me quiet to be honest. This time it was a Technical kit which can cost between £75 and £150 depending on where you buy it. This kit is not an official LEGO kit but is pretty much identical to the real thing. I have done a full review of this kit here.

The kit is based on the official Hoonigan v2 made by LEGO with 3168 pieces. Model kits of this type differ in the fact it doesn’t rely on bricks, it relies on pegs and holes to fit together.

There is an option to be powered by motors and remote control which are purchased separately. An option I didn’t want to go for.

In the box was fourteen bags of parts, none of which were numbered like the Lego kits. There were bigger bags, the wheels, sheet of stickers, and then there were smaller bags of the pegs or fixings of different sizes and colours.

The instructions are not brilliant due to the fact that the print colours did vary a bit and the difference between the light grey and brown was difficult to spot on some pages.

There is a distinct pattern for the build as its cleverly build in a modular style. The smaller build part instructions are clear enough with arrows of what goes where. With the modular parts being added to the bigger build, it can be difficult to see where some bits are fitted together on the complex diagrams.

The model starts from the inside out, you build the differentials and gearing for the rear of the car. The diff then gets added to a bit of chassis which is ready for the next bit and so on.

As you build a part you can check the movement and operation. Little cogs marry up and are held by splines in part holes to allow it to move.

The rear suspension was fun and the way the whole section moves is very clever indeed. What starts out quite flimsy then with more parts it’s bolstered up and quite solid.

With the tunnel section completed in the middle the floor pans are added and all of a sudden the scale of the model becomes clear.

The build of the engine block has working pistons for you to see running off their own cam shaft.

The front suspension is complex and perhaps the hardest part of the model for me. Lining up the mini half shafts and gearing was a bit fiddly with my big hands. The curved sections are a long flexible spline that has tubes slid over it and the ends plugged into a termination point. Things like the headlights look great but can be easily dislodged, a little more on that later.

The fenders are built up to complete the look with the hood. The hood has a large cut out in the centre and does the frame of the hood a little fragile. Silver parts are added to the engine for the turbos and exhaust pipes.

The bag of silver parts some of which were obvious for the engine parts, the rest were for the seats sides and head rest. The steering wheel inside the car could in theory move the wheels, but it’s not strong enough for that and jumped a tooth or two on the cog, I had to jump it back again to centre the steering back up. But if you move the steering rack the steering inside the car will move fine.

The seats fit well into the car, but you have to be careful of the dash area not to dislodge the delicate steering joints.

The rear quarters are added and the wheel arches. Again these are twin flexible splines where the tiles are slid over and have to be even spaced out to look right. The fitting is plugged into termination pieces at each end and has to bend like a rainbow shape to fit. Give them a knock and they will come off which is very annoying.

Behind the seats is reinforced with more building. There is a silver part of the interior roll cage behind the drivers seat that attaches one end and just left to flap about inside.

This aggravated me and with some bits that were obviously going to be left over I made a little mod and attached it to a spare hole and attached it properly. Seen below with the left hand elbow joint. Also adding a little more stability.

The doors were straight forward enough, with a complex hinge mechanism which allows the door to open wide. The attachment to the rest of the car was more awkward as the one of the rubber bands that holds the doors shut pinged out of place which resulted in a deconstruction to refit the bands. Terrible idea I think as the band will perish and break leaving the doors to flap around at a later date.

The back of the car’s light panel gets built with lots of red and black thin bricks to make the tail lights. The result is a very effective and convincing light panel. Although no lights work on this car at all.

The trunk opens and closes with a hinge idea the same as the front hood.

The roof using the last of the long flexible splines threads the roof panels for the A pillars.

The front wheel arches are based on the same principle as the rears were and fitted into place, again not to a very secure fitting. But it does give a nice gentle curve with flat bricks.

The wheels were required to be fitted about two thirds of the way into the build. I kept knocking them off while turning the model over and around to work on different sections. So I fitted them as the last things on the car.

Once the model is built it does look really good and a pretty good representation of Ken Block’s Hoonigan v2.

Grievances I found with the model:

Wheel Hubs: A critical part of the ‘movable’ model. The wheel hubs; they are terrible. The wheels are held firmly in place to the hubs (brake discs) by three pegs. When you try to push the wheels into place the suspension moves and the tiny part of the UJ (universal Joint) that also has two little pins to turn the wheels from the gears pops out and there is no drive. If you are to power this model I promise you that the drive hubs will break loose on the front due to single point of fitting a UJ. This has to be the case as the wheels turn for the steering, rotate for the movement (using the two pins to stop it spinning within the hub), and to move up and down for the suspension. A three-way movement ball that is only a couple of millimetres wide at its widest part. I had to deconstruct the front end (twice until I learned my lesson), and some of the steering section to refit the part back onto the spline. The problem is that the spline is not long enough and allows a backward movement from the hub which should never happen. You could get round the spline movement by a blob of superglue to the UJ fitting end onto the spline.

Motorised Option: During the build for the suspension and the steering the motors instructions are an option. This will require a few tweaks to the construction. The motors will drive the rear wills via a diff and the front wheels via the second diff. The problem is that that the splines and cogs are a bit to delicate for my liking.

There is a super clever option to allow the car to ‘drift’ under it’s own power by a configuration of the diff. I have no idea how fast these motors are supposed to go. But guessing there is a drift option it should have a fair amount of speed to move the model.

Decals: These are cheap and obviously don’t say the correct branding due to the copy right. It’s very clever how the use of fonts and slight rearranging of characters can lead you to misread it as you know what it should say. The decals are not the water based style which leaves very little visible evidence of the background or clear parts. These stickers are self adhesive and clearly show on the black bricks of the model. The air bubbles are a nightmare and ruin the smooth outline. The decals are not cut correctly for some parts that go over some raised surfaces, such as the ford logo on the front, a sharp scalpel to cat the deal to allow it to lay flatter makes a big difference. An option is to even leave the stickers off the car. It will still look great.

These cheap decals seriously lets the model down for me unfortunately.

Tyres & Rims: The just slip over the rims and can be moved on the rims once fitted. I suspect that a bit of serious drifting will dislodge the tyres on the rims. This can be cured of course by a few well placed blobs of super glue to hold the tyres to the rims. But if you scrub the rather thin tyres out it will become a nightmare to replace them. The rims themselves don’t actually look like the real car! Something to do with copyright maybe I don’t know. But it’s a bit of big ‘error’.

Doors: The hinges are helped to stay shut via twisted elastic bands. Give it time like I mentioned above the bands will perish and the doors won’t stay shut if under it’s own power. They will probably fly open and shut depending on where it goes I guess.

Build Quality: Some of the parts will be knocked of and dislodged fairly easily, such as the headlights, front air splitter, the turbo parts of the engine and wheel arches in particular. Nothing which a bit of superglue wouldn’t sort out.

There are two options for the model and the static option looks great in a cabinet for display. The model is large and heavy. Trying to push the vehicle along will hear all sorts of teeth jumping and the engine pistons (which you can’t see anyway with the hood down) in particular getting stuck.

If you are going to motorise this then you need to beef it up with some superglue! The wheel hubs will dislocate from the centre of the wheels, this can be easily done by just pushing the car along, or trying to turn the wheels on steering lock.

The underside of the car has cut outs for the cogs, this allows for dirt and debris to contaminate the meshing of the cogs and will cause problems.

As the sales blurb says itself; “It is not really a toy, but rather a model for the showcase”.

The majority of the car is a real fun build and took me many hours to complete. There were no parts missing and all the parts fitted together correctly. The kit is indeed a challenge to build and I liked that. It sounds like a I had a downer on the model, but I actually don’t. If the model is left alone it will look great.

Now I have completed this model I need to look for the next one, quite where I’m going to put them is a challenge as well. The model is a lot of money and I hope it gives a rough idea of what it’s like as a model and to build it before maybe buying it.

Keep safe and take care.

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A Mustang Plaque Idea

This little project has been bouncing around in my head for a number of years now and I finally got round to doing something about it. When my car was restored I kept the original Mustang Coral from the grill for a while even though one of the support legs was broken. But, I repaired it and fitted back to the completed car as i wanted the original on the car, people kept saying “why the old Coral it’s a bit knackered?” Eventually seeds of doubt were sown, then I got worried that the Coral would fracture again and fall off causing all sorts of damage. It was a sad day when I took it off, but I replaced it with a nice shiny one and I stopped getting the same question. So, I still had the original Coral, and some original emblems that were on the fender. Those 289 emblems were pitted and in a poor way but I kept them regardless. To me the “Coral” was the “soul” of the car and that image was to become an instantly recognisable icon around the world. I wanted something different, this was that idea.

Firstly I bought a plinth of wood from eBay that was a few inches bigger than the Coral itself. This can be any wood you like of course, but I wanted something dark(ish) to show of the chrome.

The Coral it sits slightly higher up than the anchor points or legs that secure it to the grill. So if you want the Coral to sit in the middle you need to measure closer to the bottom. You can clearly see the step here in this picture.

In my case it wanted it to sit slightly higher up as there was going to be a custom plaque at the bottom with the car’s details, more on that little later. I measured from the legs to each side the centre point and marked the spots. I used tiny pilot holes to make sure that the holes lined up with the holes on the bottom of the Coral legs. Once everything was spot on I drilled to a larger hole for the screws and counter sunk the holes so the screw head would not sit proud of the wood.

The Coral legs were held to the grill by fine thread screws, but one of the legs had been stripped and wasn’t very good at holding anything. A self tapping screw was the way to go now with the soft metal inside the legs. The depth limit was checked and then cut down the screw had a max depth to hold it firmly in place.

The wood was untreated and would need a coat of varnish. The decision was to go for a quick drying clear satin with a couple of coats all round. Starting on the back to see how it would look and application before the front attempted. To avoid any brush marks a large foam brush was the way to go, that decision turned out to be an inspired choice. An old piece of plastic packaging was used to hold the varnish that I would need.

I have marked the area that was untreated as I was applying the varnish. Once the varnish had dried (which only took twenty minutes a coat), I applied a second coat and allowed that to dry. The process was repeated once the wood was turned over ready for the front and sides.

The front came out really well, perhaps the very fine sand paper of the surface helped with that. The wood’s grain was pulled through by the varnish and a turned a bit darker to compliment the chrome.

From the back of the wood the screws were tightened up to hold the coral in place.

Next up was the V8 289 fender emblem. This was obviously pitted from fifty years of road and weathering, which also had a broken stud on the back. This wasn’t a problem this time as the studs needed to come of anyway in order to sit flush on the wood. I used various chrome cleaners to get it as best as I could, The chrome plating was starting to go thing in few places so I had to be careful.

The emblems are cast and it didn’t take too much to break the remaining stud off with a pair of proper aggressive cutters. As long as the stud was below the surface all would be fine for what I had in mind.

I also have the old original running horse fender emblem from the right hand side that is in effect facing the wrong way when placed anywhere else other than the fender. This too was pitted and a couple of studs on the back broken. The other problem was that it is to big for the plaque so it was to be plan B. I wanted a smaller emblem and that means it was going to be the glove box emblem. This presented two choices; 1) remove the original from the glove box and replace that with a new one. This means the original wasn’t in the car, however I wanted as many of the original parts in the car as possible. 2) put the new emblem on the plaque which then means that it’s not all original parts from the car. As the car is way more important I was to put the new one on the plaque. I could have got a bigger wooden back, but then there would have been a lot of wood and the Coral would seem to be floating around in the middle.

The same principle as the 289 emblem was to snip the studs of the back. The remaining stumps were to be ground down flat with the ever useful Dremel.

Measuring up the plaque for polish plaque for the wood was simple enough, it was to be in the middle of the Coral and look aesthetically pleasing from the bottom. Once that was marked out and temporarily held in place by a little poster tack putty, I could step back and check what it looked like from a distance. Once I was happy with it, just peel the backing of and stick it down into place. Yes I did measure it three times before I marked it out, it would have done my head in being on the wonk or off centre when the OCD kicked in. The metal plaque that I used was ordered from eBay and cost me £2.50 a very modest price indeed. There was a choice of sizes, finish of the metal (brass of silver), font style and the colouring of the lettering being a choice of silver or black filled. I chose to have the simple basics of the car make and model, where it was made, and the date of manufacture or as I like to think – the day she was born. My thinking was that the silver finish would match the polished chrome of the Coral, and the lettering colour would match the metal of the Coral.

“Ford Mustang Coupe”

“Dearborn Michigan”

“11th July 1966”

The positioning of the 289 fender emblem was to be in the middle of the metal plaque height and evenly spaced from the Coral leg to the edge of the wood plaque. My hot glue gun was fired up ready to fill the back of the emblem with hot glue. This allowed me a few vital seconds to get the emblem into the position marks before it cooled and set hard.

The glove box emblem was the positioned at the same height from the bottom as the 289 emblem, but it was again located so that its “looks right” position in relation to the Coral without crowding it, the poster putty being used again. The emblem was again hot glued into place and allowed to cool.

The final result was pretty good and exactly the look that I was after. It’s not to everybody’s taste, but at least I have the “soul” my car proudly on display.

The back of the wood also has some stick on rubber pads, for the “desk tidy” option. Next I will get some flush fit brackets ready to screw to the wall when I figure out just where to display it for best effect. I do have an idea that I will put to the wife first.

Me and the wife have had a number of discussions where it will be hung. OK, it was short discussion with her response was along the lines of; “you will also be hung with it if you put it on the wall above the fire-place.” I think she feels pretty strongly about the positioning of my Classic Mustang Work of “ART” should not be the in the middle of the room!

Maybe she does have a point. But, I’m not so sure though, so back me up here guys!

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