Small Talk Issue 16

with Mike Renaut

Shout Up

I didn’t have time to squeeze in a reader’s model this month, but if you’re proud of something you’ve built, send me some nice, clear photos and a description to:

Hanging On

Have you built any of the old AMT or Monogram hot rods lately? The Model A and B Fords with the one-piece bonnet? Or maybe the 1934 or 1936 Fords with the three-piece bonnet, with separate sides that kept falling off… so in the end you had to glue it to the body and hide all that lovely engine detail?

There is a solution and, better yet, it adds realism. I started a mildly rodded AMT ’36 Ford coupe recently, and decided to hinge the bonnet and side panels. I should note that Revell’s older hot rod kits from the Sixties used to include realistic hinges for the bonnet (and doors too) and although very fiddly to assemble, they worked well. So I’ll concentrate here on improving the AMT kits.

I’m afraid it does mean going to a shop that deals in radio control aircraft, but that’s the scariest bit. Once inside, look for these plastic hinges held together by metal pins used, I believe, to hinge the ailerons on model aircraft wings. These are made by Kavan in Germany, although there’s bound to be others available. You might spot similar hinges in the doll’s house section of a craft shop. There are photoetch hinges available, but I’ve always found them awkward to work with.

Start by cutting the bonnet apart down the centre, then bevel the inner edges so they don’t catch. The Kavan hinges work best if they’re sunken into the inside surface of the panel to make the hinge part level with the top of the bonnet. Use a chisel blade in a craft knife to carve out some space. You could then fill and sand them flat so only the hinge is showing. For a long panel, I cut the hinge into halves. I also flatten the mounting faces of the hinges with rough sandpaper since there’s a raised brand logo on them that makes it awkward to glue them flat. Normal plastic glue works, but I prefer superglue.

I don’t use the metal pins, and instead drill the body at the firewall and radiator top to accept a thin metal rod. This method makes it far easier to set up the bonnet panels then take it all apart for adjustment and painting. Remember to check as you go that the hinges won’t interfere with the engine or bodywork.

If you’re wondering about the steering on my ‘36 I’ll show you an easy way to do that in a future issue. Those great front tyres? They’re from Modelhaus…

Happy Re-tyre-ment

You’re probably aware of Modelhaus, who produced a wide range of 1:25 resin car kits. Needed a ‘58 Ford or ‘62 Cadillac? They were only available when the full-size cars were new, but Modelhaus offered all those and more as resins copied off the original AMT or Jo-Han. When Modelhaus announced in 2015 that they were retiring, the entire car building community, me included, went mad getting their last-ever orders in.

As well as missing parts for rare incomplete kits, I ordered several of their excellent resin tyres. They came in all sizes, including some especially nice, small whitewalls to suit the front of hot rods. It looks wrong to build any rod with the same size rubber all around.

Well, the great news is that the tyres are available again, or will be soon. The new website (now with photos!) at opens in September. Hopefully they’ll take PayPal (they didn’t before) and their excellent chrome wheels might also be available in future. I wonder what’s happened to all the car kit moulds…?