Small Talk Issue 10

with Mike Renaut

It’s the write time. I’m just not as telepathic as I once was, so here’s the best way to get in touch…

Engine Building

Neil Smith emailed asking about Small Talk project cars. As soon as any of my builds realises it’s going in a magazine, it throws itself off the shelf – but I still have one or two in the pipeline. Actually, I have at least 170 unfinished projects (that’s normal, isn’t it…?) so I’ll be using those to demonstrate techniques. If you have a better method of doing something, please let me know – this page is all about sharing our knowledge.

Neil asked that I ‘show how to remove injection pin marks and sand engines to remove lines and sink marks down the middle of the block and transmission.’ As with most jobs, it’s about having the correct tools; you can get most of them from your local £1 shop.

Start in the beauty department. While you’re drooling over those metalflake and candy pearl nail polishes, grab some emery boards – they’re perfect for sanding down bodywork, and you can cut them about to get into awkward areas, as I’ve done with the dark blue one in the photo. Get fingernail clippers too – ideal for removing burrs on tyres. As a rule of thumb (pun intended) if you can use it on fingernails, it’ll work great on kit plastic.

In the tools section, get a set of needle files, some C-clamps, superglue and wire cutters. Then pop down to your local motor factor for some sanding cloths/scuff pads. Like sandpaper, they come in several densities. They’re used in the full-size car world for flatting down paint, so they’re perfect for models too. If you get the chance, buy sanding sticks like those in the photo, or make your own using sandpaper superglued to lollipop sticks. That’s a set of basic tools for about £10.

Let’s build an engine. First, remove the locating lugs that go into the holes on the other engine half – they often misalign. Then run your emery board or sanding stick across the inner mating faces of the two halves; this ensures they’re level and a rougher surface helps glue to stick. If the gearbox is separate, attach it now. I use tube glue for this, and superglue only to fill small gaps or sink marks. Clamp it together – if you don’t have C-clamps, clothes pegs might work – and let everything dry.

Once dry, use a knife and sanding stick to remove any burrs or lumpy areas. Use metal files and/or sandpaper to get into crevices. Now break out your favourite filler and run a thin skim down the joins, filling any remaining gaps or sink marks. (****photo 3) Leave it 48 hours, then sand things smooth. Apply a bit of primer to check your progress. After a couple of coats of rattlecan primer on a 1:25 engine, any gaps should be gone. If not, then fill and sand again. Drill holes for HT leads made out of fuse wire, and then it’s ready for paint and detailing. I’ll answer Neil’s injection pins question next month.

Reader Models

Not content with running bog-standard Scalextric cars around his slot car track, Martin De Ath from Manchester has been building his own. Over 200 of them in fact, including several subjects from film and television. Some are based on existing bodies, others completely scratch-built, but they all get raced. His latest project is this mid-engined Dodge Charger pick-up. We’ll try to look at more of them in a future issue.