The word of God? Not so much

When I was a kid, I tried to be the best little christian I could be. As a result of that, the following words are burned into my brain:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That has been etched so deeply into my memory that I couldn’t forget it even if I wanted to. It’s like the pledge of allegiance*: while I haven’t actively thought about it for over three decades, I remember it verbatim. So, while leafing through a booklet today while I was eating lunch -one of those books that is disguised as something other than the bible. You know, it has picture of a waterfall and a title like, “Ten easy steps to change your life” or something like it, then you open it up and get Rickrolled into reading the bible. I was surprised to see this:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

I’ve added some italics to the passage above to highlight the changes. It has always been the argument of the church that the bible was the undisputed word of God. Sure, I’m talking about the gospel according to John here (purportedly written somewhere between the first and third century -depending on who you ask), but I’m also talking about the single most recognizable verse in the whole book. If they can change four words in the most recognizable verse of the bible in the forty years I’ve been alive, how can anyone believe that the rest of it isn’t, at best, paraphrased?

I can already hear the arguments, “The words have only been changed to make them easier to understand.” Or perhaps, “The words may be different, but the message is the same.” Which are both valid arguments, but which in no way change the fact that the words were altered. I’m not arguing that the message changed, only that the words changed. It may not change the meaning, but if they’re brazen enough to change this verse right in front of us, just imagine all the other ones that have changed over the millennia. Maybe the message remained the same (although that seems unlikely since we are forever watering it down to discount all the brutality, murder and sex) but it seems like the best case scenario is that it’s God’s word filtered through a game of Chinses whispers involving tens of thousands of people and lasting for hundreds of years.

Just saying.

*What’s funny about the pledge of allegiance is that I remember it as:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I highlighted a portion of the text there, because the way I remember it isn’t the way my Grandparents remember it:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And even the version they remember wouldn’t be the same as the one their Grandparents remember:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I wonder how our children’s children will remember it…

He’s the one they call Dr. Feelgood…

I’ve had terrible pain in my upper back on the left side for about three weeks now. I went to a chiropractor to try to determine the cause and he said I had a small tear in a muscle in that location. That, combined with a general tightness in the muscles which were overcompensating to make up for it, was all there was to it. Good enough for me. I hate doctors and only grudgingly go to a chiropractor (who aren’t really doctors)* to keep my spine in line or else I am in constant pain from nerves being pinched -a condition dating back twenty-five years.

In this case, after three weeks there has been no improvement. Any motion of my head to the left or right hurts like hell. Turning it hurts pretty bad, but if I try to tilt it to one side or the other it’s unbearable. It’s actually kind of a fun game to play. It hurts worse the more I tilt it, so I can tilt it further and further to see where my pain threshold is -trying to beat my record each time. I wish I had the tolerance to actually get my head all the way to my shoulder, but I simply can’t do it. I don’t know if it’s me actively being a pussy or if my brain is hard-wired to keep me from knowingly causing myself enough pain to render me unconscious. Seems like something that shady bastard would do; he’s always scheming against me. It’s one thing if I grab a hammer and smack myself in the head with it -I can totally sneak up on my brain and he’ll never see it coming- but it’s different if I have to try to get my brain to be complicit in causing aforementioned pain. That bastard just doesn’t care about science!

So after three weeks, I finally decided I’d better go to a doctor for a second opinion (or first, really, since chiropractors aren’t really doctors)*. Not able to get an appointment with a primary care physician on short notice, I had to go to urgent care. The one I chose uses the website to allow you to schedule your visit in advance. I was quite pleased to find that the appointment I scheduled for noon on Thursday meant I walked in the door at 11:51, was in triage at 11:59, in the exam room at 12:05 and actually saw a doctor by 12:10. That is nothing like any experience I’ve had with a medical facility to date, so kudos there.

In the brief time I was alone in the exam room, I took time to look at the pain chart posted on the wall so as not to overstate my condition. That chart looked a lot like this:
The verbiage on the particular chart I looked at was slightly different, but the gist was the same. After careful examination of the chart, I locked in my pain levels: level 3-4 constantly with spikes to 6-7 when I try to turn or tilt my head. When the doctor arrived, the first thing he asked was the pain levels, and I gave him my numbers. After I did, he asked for clarification. I said, “It’s a dull ache at all times, like someone is pulling or stretching at it. When the pain spikes, I have to close my eyes, clench my fists and face and concentrate on breathing for a couple of seconds while it passes.” He said that others would rate that pain higher. Looking back at the chart, I think others are overstating it. How much worse than “Cannot focus on anything except pain” can you get? I can’t possibly rate it a ten. I’ve never experienced a ten. I’ve broken bones, been in multiple car accidents, had a thumbnail ripped completely off (attempting to remove the leafspring of a car when a jack stand slipped), experienced dozens of cuts and burns requiring medical treatment, but I could always imagine a worse pain.

I’d have to say, of all the pain I’ve experienced, having the thumbnail ripped completely off hurt worse than anything else. So imagine if you had all ten fingernails and toenails ripped of simultaneously -that would obviously hurt worse, but still not a ten. Because, what if while all those nails were being ripped off, someone grabbed both your nipples with a vise grips and ripped them off, too. Still not a ten, though, because what if, while all that was going on, they were also slowly breaking each of your ribs with a railroad spike and a hammer? Still not a ten, though, because what if, while they were doing all that, they were also simultaneously, and slowly, pulling every single hair out of your body with thousands of tiny little tweezers? Still not a ten, though, because, what if, while doing all of that, they were also forcing you to listen to Nickelback? All right, that might be a ten, but I certainly wasn’t at that level when I got to the doctor on Thursday.

That digression aside, the doctor asked me a few questions and felt me up a bit. After that, he put on some rubber gloves to start the exam. After describing the location of the pain and bouts of numbness and tingling in my back and left arm, he began by feeling around on my upper back. He noted that I have a lot of scar tissue in the muscle there, but wasn’t able to identify a cause of the pain and numbness/tingling, so he ordered some X-rays. He said he didn’t see anything wrong with my spine, but followed that by saying that they were going to have a radiologist look them over for a diagnosis – which made me wonder why he said anything at all if he wasn’t qualified to do so. Then he gave me copies of the X-rays and sent me on my way.

I don’t know why they gave me copies of the X-rays. I think I may have overstated my credentials when I chose to wear my “I’m the one they call Dr. Feelgood” ball cap to the appointment, but you’d think they would ask for something more than a ball cap as evidence of my medical training. After all, it said ‘Dr Feelgood’ not ‘Chiropractor Feelgood’*. But give them to me, they did. So I’ve spent several hours going over the images trying to determine the cause of my pain (which, in many states, would be enough to certify me as a chiropractor*).

The thing is, the images are fucking terrifying. Take a look at this one (the left is on the right and vice-versa):
I’m obviously not qualified to be making any sort of a medical diagnosis, but what the hell is that spot about a third of the way down from the top and a third of the way in from the right? It looks like that rib is snapped in half. But that’s not the side with the pain, so I’m ignoring it. Follow that rib across to the other side and look at the one above it. This one I have in both the cervical spine X-rays and the thoracic spine X-rays, so I have a better view of it:
About halfway down and two-thirds of the way across, what is that? Is that normal? It puts me in mind of when you crack a pencil but not all the way through; the top is splintered but the bottom remains intact. Of course it could also be (and probably definitely is) just a trick of the light, which is why radiologists have to go to school for this instead of starting out with basically zero medical training (like chiropractors*).

So now instead of thinking I probably have some minor problem causing a nerve to be pinched, I think my entire ribcage is crushed, broken and splintered. Thanks for giving me the X-rays, guys!

*I make a lot of fun of chiropractors in this post, but it’s just that: fun. I don’t mean to in any way diminish the profession or the countless minutes of online schooling they had to attend to get their licenses**

**Damn it, I did it again.

Cross-posted to

50 Olds Chassis

I’ve been snapping photos as I’ve been working on the 50 Olds, but I haven’t posted any of them in a while. Consider that remedied!

body3When we last left our hero, he had just completely fucked up an otherwise near flawless paint job on the ’50 Olds Coupe with incompetent usage of Bare-Metal Foil. That pissed him off quite a bit. He soldiered on, even knowing it wasn’t going to be as perfect as he had hoped. Here is a fairly good representation of the state of the car once the trim was painted with basic Testors Metallic Silver instead.

newspaperLargely due to the knowledge that the body was already pretty fucked because of gouging issues in the current paint, I decided to go ahead and take a crack at the two-tone finish that I had previously decided against. This is an ill-advised way to go about this. When I decided to tackle it, I already had multiple coats of paint in place as well as the trim already painted. I used Tamiya Tape to follow the curves of the molding and then used FrogTape to hold the newspaper to the body, as well as using it to block the windows to keep from getting gloss black on the interior.

twotoneUsing the tape on the inside probably wasn’t strictly necessary, but I didn’t want to have to try to maneuver sandpaper around on the inside of the car to remove the gloss before I paint it to match the interior. Here you see the finished product. I later used a brush to touch up the areas around the door edges where the black didn’t completely coat over the original maroon, and I had a bit of a bleed issue where the tape wasn’t applied well enough at the top of the door trim, but otherwise it came out very good. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but that top has a mirror-like sheen to it and it really helps to draw the eye away from the horrible fuck-ups imperfections in the maroon body paint.

Next I went to work on the engine. This kit advertises 135 pieces. While I’m not going to count them all to see if that is accurate, what I do know is that there are about 25 of them that go into the engine (not counting decals).

enginerealWhen I initially looked at the engine components, I was a bit confused as to how they all went together. I’m used to a more standard 350 type motor with a short Quardajet carburetor and the intake/carb setup on this one didn’t look anything like that. To make sure I was assembling it properly, I sought out photos of a restored 50 Olds for comparison. That motor is pictured here to the right. The other oddity about it is the air filter. That big black cylinder on the firewall side of the motor is the air filter. Again, I’m more used to seeing the frying pan type air filter in older cars, so this one took looking at to understand.

engineIn an attempt to make the transmission look a bit more realistic, I bought some Aluminum Metalizer and Gun Metal Metalizer to paint it. With the parts already primed, and after taping off the engine, I used the aluminum to paint it first. After that dried, it looked a little too smooth for my liking, so I took the gun metal spray, held the can at about 18 inches away and hit it with one very light dusting to give it a bit of texture. The result was quite appealing. After that, I slapped together the major engine components, painting them after assembly to hide the seams (the green, that is. Things like the belts, pulleys, etc. were painted still on the trees). It came together nicely. It isn’t nearly as bright a green as the image would suggest, but just like the body paint, it simply won’t photograph in a reasonable shade.

fingerIn the last photo, you’ll note that I still had some work to do touching up the paint on the distributor, intake and belts. I put that off while I assembled the rest of the it. This kit is fairly detailed, including such parts as a starter, oil filter and ignition coil which also needed to be placed. In addition to that, it also boasts some of the smallest decals I have ever seen. In the photo of the real car engine above, you’ll see the words ‘Oldsmobile Rocket’ painted on the gold strip on the valve covers. To the right you’ll see the decal to replicate that on the model. It’s resting on my fingertip. I cut the strip from the decal sheet about three times the size of the actual decal so I could grab onto it with some tweezers to get it into the water and back out. For an idea of scale, you can see my leg hairs, the faded blue ink from a horrible prison tattoo and the maroon fabric of my shorts also in the picture. I mean, this thing is small.

enginedecals2When I finished with the painting and assembly, I started placing the decals. I was sure happy I bought a 6-Piece Stainless Steel Tweezers Set to handle them. I really like this particular tweezers set because they are all stainless, come in a variety of sizes and have two different sets that can lock to hold things in place. One of those simply work backwards from normal tweezers (at rest, they are closed, you have to pinch to open them). The other locking set has a small pin in it that you slide toward the tip to lock them in place. Both have been invaluable for this model. Here you will see the finished engine with the decals in place. I have put some arrows on the image to highlight the four decals visible from this angle. There appears to be a haze over the decals, but to the eye they are crisp and bright. I applied these under a magnifying glass so I was sure I had them right-side up and was quite surprised to see that the camera managed to capture the text on the oil filter.

As an aside, I’d like to know who came up with the step numbers for these model kits. This kit has 135+ pieces but is divided into only ten steps (I think it’s only 9 for the stock version). I don’t even think Ikea furniture averages fourteen pieces per step and people constantly clown on them for making difficult to assemble products (as another aside, I never understood that. I’ve never had a problem assembling anything from Ikea, nor do I personally know anyone else who has). I think it must be the same guy who decided that there needed to be six Vitamin B’s, despite the fact that there are twenty letters of the alphabet without a vitamin assigned to them. Better yet, since it has now been shown that a Rubik’s Cube can always be solved in 20 face turns or less, that would be less than two steps according to the guy who numbers model kits.

shocksOne thing I can say as I get older is that I learn way faster than I did when I was younger. I don’t mean that my brain absorbs information faster or anything like that, more like I don’t forget mistakes and am more apt to remember serendipitous events. Such was the case when I went to work on the chassis of the model. My short experience building these things has taught me that modeling glue will quickly strip paint. When I started to work on the shocks, which were primed in black, I used that knowledge to my advantage. I put a dot of modeling glue on the tip of my thumb and rolled the coil of the shocks through it to strip away the primer. Once the primer was gone, I was able to use a dry brush technique to get silver on the coils without any of the paint running into the black portions in the center. Was stripping the paint first necessary? For me it is. If I attempt this without first stripping the paint, it will bleed onto surfaces where I don’t want it because the finish is the same. Once the finish is stripped, it only goes where I want it to: the stripped area.

chassisI used a variety of paints to finish the front end of this thing: metallic silver, grey, flat black, semi-gloss black, aluminum metalizer, gun-metal, gun-metal metalizer and Model Master Schwarzgrau The last of those is also the color I used for portions of the interior. I didn’t follow the instructions for which colors to apply or where to apply them, instead I combined my knowledge of cars, a bit of common sense and a touch of artistic license to come up with something that looked more like one would expect the underside of a car to look than all semi-gloss black as the instructions suggested. The result was pretty good, but I did get too many layers of paint in a few places.

chassisdetailHere’s another view of the assembled front end with a focus on the suspension. You’ll note that the paint stripping and dry brushing really paid off on the shocks. The tie rods, linkage and stabilizer look like you’d expect. You can almost imagine that the parts can move. They can’t, of course, but you want them to look like they can. I’m quite pleased with how well the front end of this one turned out. I only hope I’ll be able to bring the rest of it together just as well. After this, I had to take a break after working on it for a few hours to let parts dry and my eyes rest.

bottomcomponentsWhile I was painting the transmission earlier, I used the same metalizer paints mentioned above to finish other components for the underside of the car. One of my biggest annoyances with the GTX model was how cartoony and fake the exhaust looked. Using the aluminum metalizer, followed by an extremely light dusting of gun metal, I was able to get this one to look almost like a real exhaust system. The problem now is that it just looks a little too good. I don’t think exhaust pipes look this good even on brand new cars. Next time, I may add a bit of brown in splotches before painting it with the metalizer to see if I can get some hints of rust to show up. Or, who knows, maybe I will screw something else up along the way and serendipity my way into a better finishing technique.

enginemountedThe last thing I did before putting the frame aside was to mount the engine. I’m gong to need this to be good and dry before trying to route the exhaust because test fitting shows that it doesn’t line up quite as well as you’d want it to. It’s going to take some tweaking to get it connected. This isn’t an issue with my building of the model, but the kit itself. Even before putting the engine in place, the exhaust didn’t line up.

wheelI had also painted the wheels when I painted the body, and was curious to see how they were going to look. I skipped ahead to step seven and put one of them together. The wheel is four pieces total (plus the tire and the pin) with two making the wheel (painted maroon) and a chrome ring and hubcap. This is what one of them looks like assembled. The tires in this kit are nice. They came in a separate bag and don’t have any molding marks on them. I didn’t have to sand, trim or otherwise modify them in any way to get what you see here. That part, at least, should be easy.

Getting better

As previously mentioned, I’ve been putting off painting the body on the ’50 Olds because that is where I expected it all to go off the rails. I don’t know why I have such trouble getting body paint to look good. I’ve probably watched twenty videos showing how to do it at this point, and it looks so damn easy. Yet the second I touch the paint can, it all goes to hell. But what really doesn’t make any sense is that I can make the primer look perfect, just not the color coat.

I finally had to suck it up and go for it:


I really hate that I can’t photograph this one in anything approaching the correct color, but you’ll get the idea. The paint went down with only a couple of very minor imperfections (a couple specks I had missed in my final cleaning and a rogue fiber about half the size of an eyelash). It looked very, very good.

It turns out that my primary issue was misunderstanding what was meant by the term ‘wet coat’. My mist coats would go down fine, but when I got to the first wet coat, I would put too much paint on and it would start to run. I think I now understand why they always put the term ‘wet’ in quotations when they talk about it. I was trying to get the entire surface of the body to look like it was covered in liquid, which can only be achieved by covering the entire surface in liquid. Once you do that, all that liquid starts to run. This time, I just sprayed until the whole thing was covered fairly lightly. When I pulled the can away to check my work, I noticed that the light reflecting off of it made it look very shiny, as if it was wet. So you don’t want it to be wet, you only want it to look wet. Lesson learned.

Once the paint was dry, I started to work on the side chrome with Bare-Metal Foil. I’ve used the product around a window and even did the grill of the last build with the stuff, but I was concerned with how well I would be able to apply it to the long, thin chrome strips on the sides of the car. It turns out that my concern was not misplaced. Putting the stuff down wasn’t much of an issue; I had the first piece in place and tacked nicely (using toothpicks and tweezers) in ten minutes or so. Where it all went bad was in trying to trim the piece and remove the excess foil. The trim on the side of the car is raised only very slightly. When I began to run my X-acto knife down it (brand new blade, using only the weight of the tool) it slipped a couple of times in both directions; some damage was done to the trim and some to the body paint. I cursed under my breath, but continued. Repeating the process on the other side of the car, I had exactly the same result: damage to the paint and trim.

I truly believe in the Bare Metal Foil product, but in this case I simply couldn’t make it work. It’s one thing to apply it around a window where you have neat little grooves to use as cutting/tucking guides, however, on the long, flat side of the car, I simply couldn’t achieve a good result. Knowing that it would only get worse as I tried to cover more of the trim, I scrapped it and started over.

Removing the Bare Metal Foil from the portions I had already applied it to did more damage to the paint. My once nearly pristine finish had a couple of gouges in it. I did some wet sanding on the body and painted it again. This time there are a couple of noticeable flaws in the surface. Fuck. I’m going to continue pressing forward though, knowing that with my current skill level any attempts to improve it will only make it worse.

After the paint had time to dry, again, I took another shot at the trim. This time I masked it off with Tamiya Tape and hand painted it with Testors Metallic Silver. I had a couple of very small oopsies, but overall it looked much better than what I was able to achieve with the Bare Metal Foil in this particular application.


Again, I am very disappointed that I’m not able to get the actual color of the thing in the pictures. It’s a much deeper color, more like burgundy. All I can get in pictures is red or brown. My trim is far from perfect, but it looks fairly good, even under the unforgiving eye of the digital camera. I joked previously that the GTX would be my 3-foot car (stand that far away and it looks good) and my next one would be a 2-foot car. It looks like It will be more like a 1-foot car, so I skipped one step completely. Though this one is far from completed, maybe the next one (a 1975 AMC Gremlin) will be the one that looks good even if you hold it in your hands – but don’t touch it, dammit!

Wasting perfectly good OCD

dashThe interior of the ’50 Olds Coupe is coming along nicely. In the last post, I showed the dashboard after doing some detail painting and using Micro Sol and Micro Set to apply the decals. I updated the photo after the decal applicator had done its job and I’m including it again to the right (still with a bright pink arrow pointing at the odometer that isn’t really visible to the naked eye). This is certainly far from perfection, but for a second shot at building a model, I think it looks pretty damn good.

enginecompartmentI’m continuing work on the interior, mostly because I am afraid to paint the body. After the issues I had painting the GTX, I’m not eager to fuck up the body paint and end up half-assing the rest of the project. The paint for this project is a Model Master Honduras Maroon. This is one of the two step paints that requires a paint coat and a clear coat, or so it says. I’ve never used this type of spray before, so I’ve painted some of the non-essential pieces to get a feel for how the paint flows. I have to say that I’m doubting whether it will actually need a clear coat (I’m going to give it one anyway, but I don’t think it will be strictly necessary; I can see my reflection in it as it is). This color doesn’t photograph very well either. Every picture I snap makes it look almost fire-engine red, while the paint is actually much closer in hue to any one of these cars.

redThe color was by no means stock for the car in question, at least not by the name Honduras Maroon. The car was available in a color called Chariot Red, but none of the red paints I could find were anything close to the color chit for the car. Sixty-five years later, it’s difficult to imagine that any original automotive paint still exists on a ’50 Oldsmobile. I think the image to the right here is a pretty faithful representation of the stock color, and the Model Master Honduras Maroon lays down very close to that color (though it doesn’t seem to photograph in that color). Not that matching the exact color is a huge deal to me since I’m also planning to do it in two-tone with a black top, which also doesn’t appear to be stock. However, in looking at countless images of this car over the last few weeks, I think it looks much better that way.

stripsAs for the interior, boy howdy was my OCD getting out of control. The dash now finished, I went back to try some of the sharpies on the door panels. Not trusting myself to be able to freehand it with any sort of accuracy, I started taping the panels off. During this process, I was taking 10mm tape and cutting it into fifths (the second strip of which I am removing from a piece with tweezers in the photo to the right) to try to match the curves as closely as possible. This was also necessary because the trim pieces were closer to each other than 10mm, so the tape was too wide without being cut. It took me no less than an hour to lay down a ridiculous amount of tape around all the trim. The good news is that once the tape was down, I spent all of twenty seconds painting it with a metallic sharpie. The results of those processes can be seen below:


And so, with full confidence in my exemplary taping job, I knew it was going to be perfect. I played a drum roll in my head and peeled away the paint to find… mediocrity.

freehanddoorIn truth, I began to suspect that my results wouldn’t be ideal even as I was laying down the tape. One of the truths I learned early in computer programming was that if you have to try way too hard to do something, you’re probably doing it wrong. Such was the case with taping off this door. The tape didn’t mask nearly as well as I hoped it would, so I had some small areas where it seeped into the dark paint. I sat looking at the finished product and thought I could have done just as well freehand. I put that theory to the test. At right, you will see both panels with the trim painted silver. The bottom one was done with an hour’s worth of careful taping with tweezers and toothpicks. The top one was down with about three minutes of careful manipulation of a marker. Looking at them, I think the freehand one looks slightly better, but both have many issues. At the same time as doing the freehand trim on the top panel, I also did the window rollers and door handles in freehand. The flash hides most of it, but those also look fairly good.

I’ll be able to make them look a bit better on Friday when my bottle of Model Master Schwarzgrau RLM 66 paint arrives, because, like the lesson I learned in the previous build, you need to have a bottle of any color that you have in aerosol for touch-up.

With the major portions of the interior done, and still waiting on the engine paint, there’s not a lot more I can do other than take a crack at painting the body. Hopefully this whole thing won’t go off the rails when I try.

On Sharpie as model paint

When last I checked in, I was waiting on some Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers, Extra Fine Point, Metallic pens to try out for the purpose of chrome detailing. They have now arrived, and they simply don’t work for the intended purpose. The directions for use of the pen read thusly:

Remove cap. With marker it tip up position, depress point with finger. Recap and shake well to mix paint. Depress marker point several times on surface to saturate point.

Based on that, my expectation was that the point would become saturated, after which you would be able to use it like a normal pen. Not so much. When you ‘depress marker point several times on surface’, the paint runs down the outside of the pen to get to the tip. This means that the paint is pooled up on the instrument just above the tip and the second it touches anything, paint goes everywhere. ‘So,’ I thought to myself, ‘now that the pooled paint is gone, it will work like a normal pen’. Wrong again. Once the paint that is on the outside of the instrument is gone (which I technically cleaned off with a towel so I wouldn’t accidentally pour it on my fine detailing) the actual tip of the pen is bone dry. I could dip the tip into the puddled paint and apply it that way, but then it’s exactly the same as using a toothpick and some Silver Model Master paint, except that I’m out the four bucks on the pens. And while it’s true that the paint costs a few bucks (seriously, if you’re buying paint, buy a bunch of them from either Tower Hobbies or find a seller on eBay who has a ton of colors avaiable and will combine shipping and get them all at once. On Amazon, some bottles are two bucks and some are seven with no logical reason why), you will then have it for your next project as well. Not like the pens which will dry quickly even if not in use.

sharpiesI didn’t sit down to write an op-ed piece on how much I hate Sharpie or start an I Hate Sharpie fan club though. I did find a couple useful sets of them for modeling. First up is Six Dollar set of twelve Sharpies. They come in a dozen colors, though I expect the black will see the most use. I purchased them thinking I might use them to do some detailing on dashboards and seats where a brush is difficult to get. These are the ultra-fine point variety, but unlike the ones above, they work like a normal pen. To give you an idea of how fine the tip is, to the right is a piece from my current kit (a piece that would be used to build the rally version, and thus not one I will use). I’ve used the color they call ‘berry’ to color in some detail grooves that were pressed into the piece. As you can see by the tape measure, the seams are right at 1/32″ -less than 1mm- and it worked well. I did that freehand with zero preparation just to get a picture to post. Had I spent any amount of time on it instead of just running the pen up and down each channel three times, I probably could have made them look amazing.

chromedNext up is a set of Sharpie Metallic Fine Point Permanent Markers. This is a pack of six, with two each silver, gold and bronze. These have standard sharpie tips (which seem impossibly big for modeling) and work just like one would expect a marker to work. Using the silver one of these, I took a shot at the text on the chrome trim I was wondering how to finish in a previous post. Again, I didn’t properly mask the area and I just went at it freehand. The body still needs to be primed and painted and regardless of how I ultimately finish the trim pieces, they will have to be taped over during that process or the lettering detail will disappear anyway. I wasn’t able to achieve the look of the original (which has white paint in the center of the lettering), but the felt (foam? fabric? whatever the tip is made of) tip made application smooth and easy without the brushstrokes I would have gotten if I’d tried to paint it by hand. The paint is also much thinner, which leaves the most possible detail, and makes that lettering pop. For freehand, I did a pretty damn good job here (as far as you know. What you don’t see is the huge fuckup I made just beyond where I cropped it).

dash3I used those same pens to finish my dash. In this case, I did tape off the one large grill-like portion before painting, but the radio and all the knobs were done freehand. From the top view, and not to mention due to the flash, the knobs look like only the tip is painted, but trust me when I say that they are painted all the way to the dash. Overall, I really liked the performance of the pens for this task. I don’t know that it would hold up on a piece that is constantly being handled, but for something that will be trapped away in the interior of my insanely-over-detailed -non-covertible- model, they worked perfectly.

dashLastly, another product I’m using for the first time is the combination of Micro Set Setting Solution and Micro Sol Setting Solution. Prior to this build, I’d never used anything like these. However, nearly every video or tutorial I’ve watched or read has said to use these products (not another similar product, but these exact products) in the application of decals. For some reason, you can’t buy them as a set on Amazon. You can buy them as a set on eBay for under ten bucks -shipped. I’m taking it for a test run with the dash. In the photo (which is much less flattering to the silver paint from this angle, but keep in mind that the size of the thumbnail is about 300px wide on a pc -counting the tree- and that is very near actual size) you can see three decals: the clock, the speedometer and an odometer. Because the odometer is very hard to see, I pointed a big, pink arrow at it. There is no earthly way you can read that thing. Even under the magnifying glass, I could barely tell what it was supposed to be (and speaking of magnifying glasses, this photo was shot through the magnifying glass on my helping hand station. I had never given it any thought, but isn’t it odd that the camera doesn’t magnify when the photo is taken through it?) while looking at it. There’s no way you will ever see it through the window of the car, but I put it in there anyway.

In regards to the micro sol and micro set, I followed the package directions for use and now have to wait and see how they turn out. Early on it didn’t seem like they were doing much. Application of the decals was still a straight-up bitch. The decals just didn’t want to go into the correct place and orient themselves the right direction. After putting down several layers of the blue bottle both before and after application of the decals, I was thinking it may be like snake oil. After applying the red bottle and having let them stand for about an hour now, I can see why people rave about this stuff. Once the red solution is in place, you don’t need to touch it again. It melts (or whatever it is actually doing) them right into the nooks and crannies. After only one application, they already conform very well to their new homes. Directions say you can apply it again to make them conform even more. I plan to do so later today to see just how well this stuff can work.

tedious taping

frameblackIn my brief time working on these models, one lesson I haven’t quite yet learned is to take pictures before instead of just after. In the case of the frame, I have a before, but it’s not from the car I’m building. Nonetheless, it will serve to illustrate my point, so here it is. One of the great things about this Revell ’50 Olds Coupe Kit is that the floor panel is a separate piece from the frame. This made it really easy to paint the frame in black and the pan in grey. However, when test fitting the pieces, it looked odd having the front portion of this in black. You can see where the frame comes out and makes a nice little rectangle there but the rest of the front of the car is attached to the frame because the engine compartment makes it impossible to attach it to the portion with the floor. I don’t like that.

frametapedEnter tape! And I mean a lot of tape. I took my little Tamiya 10MM Masking Tape roll and just went to town. Because of the very small size of the frame, even the 10mm tape was way too wide. I had to cut it into tiny little pieces and apply them in bits. No piece of that tape is longer than probably a half an inch, and each was subsequently trimmed with a razor and tucked in place with a toothpick. Once all the small parts were taped, I followed that up with some FrogTape to cover the larger areas (the part beyond that was covered with an old envelope while I painted it).

toothpickWhen I say I use a ‘toothpick’, I should specify that it’s not really a toothpick. It’s the behemoth you see in the picture here (shown next to a bic lighter for scale). These are Diamond Extra Long Toothpicks (linked to Target because they aren’t available on Amazon). My wife had these in the cabinet when I started on the first model and I’ve found them to be indispensable ever since. They are far more rigid than a normal toothpick, but soft enough that they don’t do any damage to the plastic. You do have to be careful around paint, but that’s true of most tools. The one on the left of the lighter is what they look like out of the box, while the one on the right is what a battle-worn one looks like. Once the tip gets rounded over a bit, they get considerably better for maneuvering small pieces without getting stuck on edges and the such. Fresh from the box, they are great for tucking the tape into tight corners you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Because they are thicker than standard toothpicks, you can put enough pressure on them to get some really sharp corners.

frameandbodyI really had to turn off my OCD for this one. I knew it wasn’t going to be anything close to perfect due to the tiny size of the frame being taped and my not-so-steady hand. It certainly looks passable (although a bit better in the picture than in person. While the frame itself looks better in person than in the photo so Megapixels giveth and Megapixels taketh away). I snapped this one with the frame sitting in place on the body to illustrate what I meant about it looking wrong for the whole thing to be black. With the front portion now matching the grey of the rest of the underside, it looks much better in my opinion. Was it worth the thirty minutes of mumbled obscenities as I tried to lay down pieces of tape about 1/8 the size of a postage stamp that didn’t want to cooperate? Probably not. Sometimes you just do things to see if you can.

realdashAlso today, I got the second (of three) paint colors on the dash. For those of you keeping track at home, I happened across one of these cars for sale and have more than adequate pictures of what the interior should look like. The dash should be a light color on the top with a dark color in the center. The grill looking area will need to be done in a silver or chrome. Ideally looking much like the picture here. Or at least as close as I can reasonably come to it. The kit came with decals for the clock and speedometer which means I’ll only have to worry about tiny little details with the stereo and other knobs. Hopefully I can pull that off (the knobs are another thing I am hoping to be able to do with the Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers, Extra Fine Point, Metallic . Of course I haven’t yet gotten them so this could all be moot).

dash2This is the first piece I ruined so badly on the first shot that I actually stripped the paint back down to plastic and started over. Logic says that when you are painting something like this, you’d want to paint the light color first, then tape off the light portion to go back over it in the darker color. This didn’t work at all. The second coat of paint stripped so much detail from the knobs and grill that you could hardly tell what they were supposed to be. With some paint thinner, a brush, some elbow grease and a half an hour, I got it back down to bare, white plastic and started over. The second time, I painted the whole piece in the darker color first, then taped it off to paint the lighter color. Counter-intuitive for sure, but the result was much less paint on the more detailed areas. As you’ll no doubt see in the photo, taping around those tiny elements wasn’t exactly easy. I have a couple of spots that aren’t as straight as I would like them, but it’s like my Dad always said, “if at first you don’t succeed, lower your expectations.”

Door panels on the 50 Olds

realdoorI’m typically not a very lucky person, however, in the case of the ’50 Oldsmobile, I happened to find a number of them for sale online. Finding the car for sale makes researching paint colors and details way easier than trying to google search. In the case of this car, there are no less than 12 1950 Oldsmobiles for sale on which gave me a number of sources to view. The reason it is so much easier is that cars for sale tend to have way more pictures than you’re going to find in a simple google search. As luck would have it, one of them has the same two-tone interior colors that I was trying to match. Technically, I think this one may be done in three colors, but I don’t think I can reasonably pull that off.

tapedpanelsSticking with my two-toned theme, and taking inspiration from the source photo above, I taped off the areas that should remain the lighter color. This was pretty straight-forward, although I did learn that when you are covering something against an edge (as is the case around the chrome trim) it is much easier to stick the tape well over where you are trying to cover and use a stout toothpick to force it back to the edge. That’s what I did in the attached photo. Due to the odd shape of the front top portion of the door panel, I had to leave some excess tape in no-man’s land beyond the front trim piece. I didn’t want to try to trim the other side of the angle as well because I was fairly certain I would lose the tack of the tape on the finished side if I tried. It took me about 45 minutes to get this taped and tucked into the seams with a toothpick. After that, all there was left to do was spray it.

stripped tapeLearning from the rough edges I had with the seats last night, I sprayed it and then immediately put on a rubber glove to hold the tree and grabbed a pair of tweezers to strip the tape away while the paint was still very, very wet. This gave me much sharper edges than I got when I let the paint dry enough to handle it. With the tape now stripped away, you’ll see what I mean about leaving the tape in no-man’s land near the front. It will be easy business to tape off a straight line on the trim piece and get that portion repainted. It needs to all be done in the lighter color and I hope the dark doesn’t show through. The portion in question will be under the dashboard though, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. If I have too much issue hiding it, I could just as easily do it in the dark color. However I plan to do the carpet in a dark color as well and I think the light would look better next to it. I’ll have to see how well I can cover it with the lighter color and make the decision then.

panelsOnce the paint was dry enough to tape it up again, I went ahead and did the front portion back to the light color. At the same time, after doing some dry fitting, I discovered that the seat back also needed to be done in the light color to match the trim I had already done on the seat front, so I went ahead and painted it back to the light color as well. Now that the paint is dry, it looks pretty good. The edges certainly came out a whole lot crisper than when I let the paint dry on my first go. Lesson learned. Another lesson learned is to leave yourself a ‘tab’ of tape sticking off to make removal with wet paint easier. Obviously it’s very important to be able to grab the tape easily and pull it cleanly away or you risk dropping it into the wet paint.

All that’s left to do is the trim on the doors. To do the chrome trim, I’ve decided to take a shot at it with a Sharpie, oil-based, extra-fine point, metallic silver paint marker. I have never tried using one of these before and can only hope it will work. If it doesn’t look that great, it will be on the interior of a car which isn’t a convertible, so it won’t really be seen that much anyway. If it does work, I will probably finish the window rollers with the same pen and maybe even take a crack at the chrome with the “Futuramic” lettering mentioned in the previous post.

I’ll follow up once I’ve gotten the markers and given this a shot.

Model car part deux

After being thoroughly disappointed with project ‘First Pancake’, I jumped right back on the horse. The new project is a Revell ’50 Olds Coupe. This is a level three kit with a much higher piece count than the GTX, and it has a lot more detail. There are currently two versions of this model on the market, the one linked above and a ‘custom’ version of the same kit. I rolled the dice on this one, hoping it would have everything necessary to build it in a stock version and it does. It also has parts and decals to build it in a Pan American Rally version, though I certainly wouldn’t want to do so.

sandedI sure wish the online retailers would include images of the boxes for models so you can read the details. In this case, the version I bought happened to be one of the ‘special edition’ kits with new tooling. I’ve read a lot of good things about the new tooling of these old kits and when I opened the box I was quite happy with the level of detail. The body had a lot of seams that had to be sanded -literally the first hour after opening the box was spent with an assortment of sanding sticks and files trying to remove them. The finished body can be seen to the right. While I know you won’t be able to see the amount of work that went into making the lines smooth, trust me when I say it took a lot of work, but the sleek and smooth finish was definitely worth it.

seats2The first thing I attacked in this one is the interior, mostly because I am still waiting on paint for the body. I painted the seats and panels all in gray and then used some 10mm Tamiya Masking Tape to tape off a portion of the seats to do a two tone finish. The Tamiya tape is very thin, but very tacky and stuck very well to the paint -much better than off the rack masking tape. The resulting finish looks pretty darn good. There are a few blemishes which still need to be addressed, but overall I’m quite happy with how well I was able to get the paint edges. I have to do a similar finish to the door panels, but they also have several pieces of very, very small chrome trim which will need to be addressed. I’m still trying to figure out just how I’m going to do that…

In the meantime, another issue that presented itself is because the kit is so detailed. Below you’ll see the rear fender of the model next to the actual car. The text “Futuramic” is etched into the chrome piece on the model and I want to make it look just like the finished version, but it is so very small I don’t know how I’m going to do it. When I figure it out, I’ll post it up here.


‘First Pancake’ key takeaways

Thinking back to those halcyon days of yore -you know, like a week ago- when I thought I was going to make a museum quality showpiece on my first go, I can scarcely believe how utterly disappointed I am with my first attempt at this whole modeling thing. So many things went so wrong that I won’t bore you by listing them all. Having said that, I am quite pleased with a number of things that went right with project First Pancake. In an attempt to preserve what is left of my tattered self-esteem, I’m going to focus on those instead.

ellipticalFirst, I should mention that painting fine details is a problem for me. Ever since I quit drinking (to say I quit drinking is no longer accurate. After being a very serious alcoholic for over a decade, I quit cold turkey, as detailed here, and abstained from alcohol completely for about eight years. Recently I have began drinking in moderation again. When I say moderation, I mean only on vacations and at select social events; perhaps four or five times a year), my hands tremble like Michael J. Fox on speed. It has gotten a bit better over the years, but I still don’t have a steady hand. To overcome that while trying to paint the fine details on this model, I wrapped my hand around the handle of the elliptical machine in the room and held the parts like you see in the picture. It helped a lot, of course it did nothing for the hand that was wielding the paint brush. At least this way I was trying to hit a stationary target with a moving one instead of a moving target with a moving one. To combat that on my next project, I have ordered one of these: Elenco Helping Hands which will not only hold things steady for me, but also magnify them. Hopefully that will make the process easier on the next go.

enginebayLet’s start with the engine bay (click the image for a larger version). My twitching got a bit out of hand on some of the detail on the sides, particularly around the window wash reservoir (at least I think that’s what the white part on the far side is) where I splashed over onto the body paint just a bit around the edges. Aside from that, I’m pretty pleased with the way the engine compartment came out. I could spend a lot more time on it right now and make it look even better, but I don’t want to spend much more time on First Pancake. I think I pulled this off pretty well.

enginebaytopHere that is again from the top. Among the other things that I was happy with in the engine compartment is that I was able to get the radiator hose to line up from the engine to the radiator. Even though I haven’t built one of these things in 30 years, I know I was never able to pull that off before. I also got the radiator cap, hood ornament, window wash cap, battery, brake master cylinder, battery terminals, and even the hose clamp on the radiator hose, painted up to look pretty good. I see in the photo that I have body paint splashing through at a couple of places on the battery. I’ll hit that with a bit of paint when I go back to touch up a couple of other things later. You’ll also note that the hood is not in place in any of the photos. That is because while the hood itself looks pretty good, the small piece where the scoop is supposed to be is being a real bitch. I wanted to make the hood flat instead of using the raised scoop, which required a lot of sanding and trimming. Unfortunately I ran out of paint along the way. I have a small bottle of touch-up paint in very nearly the same color which I am using to try to remedy this. I have it almost the right color now, but it still doesn’t fit quite right. Hopefully when the paint dries I can glue that sucker in place and it won’t look too bad. Also absent in the photos is the air cleaner, which I keep sanding and repainting to try to remove blemishes. Again, hopefully I will be happy enough with it to put it in place eventually.

interiorwindowNext up is the interior (I encourage you to click through for a larger version of this one). I just can’t say enough good things about the interior. It is far from perfect, but it is still the highlight of this build. I am fairly confident that I will be able to learn from painting this one and improve upon it on the next build. The next build will also not have a black interior. The black almost feels like cheating because it hides blemishes so well. I do hope I am able to get results when the color isn’t so forgiving. I know one thing: I won’t be using semi-gloss paint on the interior in the future. The steering wheel in particular looks pretty bad because of it in the current build.

backThen there are some things that I tried just to see if it was possible. Here in the shot of the back (the masking tape on the bumper is just there because the flash kept reflecting and ruining the photo), you’ll see some passable free-hand painting on the tail lights (although I missed it a bit on the back-up lights), but the reason I took this picture was to showcase the exhaust pipes. Having finished the whole exhaust system in grey, the tips of the pipes were just a blotch of grey. It looked horrible. Since I already knew this one wasn’t going to be the centerpiece on the mantle, I decided to see if I could make them look a bit better.

exhaustI figured I could drill them out, paint the interior of them black give them chrome tips to make it look a bit more realistic. Of course I don’t own a drill bit small enough to drill into the tiny piece of plastic, so I improvised by using the tip of my Exacto knife and drilling it in small circles until I had what looked like a reasonably thick piece of pipe left for the exhaust tip. Once done with that, I painted the inside of the pipe with flat black (the hole is cone-shaped and only perhaps an eighth of an inch deep) and then painted around it with silver metal paint. The result looks pretty good. This is a close-up of the driver’s side exhaust tip. The passenger side one doesn’t look nearly as good because I didn’t sand them to remove the excess material from molding. Again, this was to see if I could do it and it looks pretty darn good. When I do it on the next model, I will make sure I have those pipes smooth and round and finish them off with some Bare Metal Foil to really make them pop.

frontangleThe model doesn’t look that bad, really. Just look at that grill, all the time that went into that really shows. (as an aside, I didn’t modify any of the images on this page. The gleaming reflections in the photos that look like they were added to give it some sparkle are just how they came out on the camera) Most of the trim molding lines came out nice and straight (thought I did miss it at a couple of places). I know there are parts of it that my OCD is simply being overly critical of, but there are also many, many places where I can do better next time.

My New Kit arrived today, which is nice, because the things I have left to do with First Pancake are all the type of things that I have to either paint or glue something and then not touch the damn thing for several hours. Of course the paint for the body of the new kit didn’t arrive. Just like last time. This time it was UPS that fucked me. The shipment is sitting in their warehouse in Phoenix, has been for almost two days now, but they’ve rescheduled deliver from 12/30 to 01/04 because a truck was late. I don’t know how a truck can possibly be five days late, but it managed to pull it off. I’m sure UPS would blame the holiday and the weekend, but my paint doesn’t celebrate holidays and also doesn’t care what day of the week it happens to be.

Additionally, the box the new model came in somehow got wet during shipping. The parts are all sealed in bags and the decals appear to be fine, so I’m not going to send it back. The actual box it came in is pretty trashed though – both the Amazon shipping box and the sealed box with the model. How the water got through the Amazon box and plastic wrap to destroy the inner box is something of a mystery. Nonetheless, I have another project to work on rather than, quite literally, watching the paint dry on First Pancake. Let’s hope my optimism about the new project isn’t as misplaced as it was with the last one. I’m very confidant that with what I’ve learned from First Pancake, I’ll be able to do a much better job with this one.