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Big Bad Benz...finally finished!


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#1 Harry P.

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 03:59 PM

I'm just starting my new Pocher Mercedes 500K (K stands for "kompressor," the German word for supercharger). Here's a shot of the real car...

500K.jpg

I'm going to do this in real time, so new posts will be few and far between, but I intend to document the whole process, warts and all, from start to finish.

A little background on Pocher kits for those who don't know: They are 1/8 scale, made in Italy from the early '70s to 2000, but out of production since then (the company went bankrupt)... so the only source for "new" Pocher kits is as a re-sale (ebay, basically). Since these kits are no longer made, the prices for unbuilt, original kits continues to climb. Many of the rarer Pocher kits routinely sell for a couple thousand dollars in "new," unbuilt condition.

Pocher kits are complex; this particular kit has almost 3,000 parts. Most kits include a whole slew of operating features, including steering, suspension, doors, roll-up windows, working lights, etc. This particular model also includes seats with springs, padding and upholstery, and a working convertible top. Parts come in many materials... traditional injection-molded plastic, brass, plated metal, rubber, canvas, leather, etc. Assembly is mainly via screws, nuts and bolts, much like the real car. Very little gluing is required. But despite their complexity (or maybe because of it), parts fit is iffy. A lot of reworking, finagling, massaging and re-engineering is required in order to build a Pocher. These kits are not for beginners. In fact, I read somewhere that most people who start building a Pocher eventually give up out of frustration. But not me! biggrin.gif I've built 3 so far, and have 2 (this one and a Rolls-Royce) currently in the works.

There are aftermarket detail parts currently being made for these kits, and in this case I'm going to use quite a few...$480 worth, to be exact! I intend to build my Mercedes as a semi-custom, "built to order" car, as many of these cars originally were done. These cars were available with quite a few factory bodywork and trim variations, along with custom bodies from outside coachwork companies. They were comparable to contemporary Duesenbergs or Bugattis... they were only for the very wealthy. Only a couple hundred of these cars were built during their production run (1934-36). Owning one of these cars told the world that you were somebody. In fact, during WWII, many of these cars were stored and protected by the Germans along with other valuable works of art.

OK... enough background. Let's get started.

I always like to start with the engine. Here's a shot of a few engine components. Curiously, Pocher molded some of the crankshaft parts in silver, and some in black... and the pistons are also black. You'd think they would all have been molded in silver. But it doesn't matter, as none of these pieces will ever be seen again once the engine is finished. That being the case, I didn't bother painting any of these internal pieces.

Here's a shot of the basic block, the cylinder head and the assembled crankshaft/piston assembly.

crankshaft.jpg

As you can see, for some reason some of the parts are black, some silver... blink.gif

crankshaft-closeup.jpg

And here is the crank installed in the block:

crankshaft-installed.jpg

BTW... just for reference, the lines on the cutting mat are spaced 1" apart.



#2 arick

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 06:31 PM

Hey Harry, as you know, I'm doing the same build and I've got Paul Koo's video coming. If you haven't got the vid, let me know if there's anything I can help you with.

#3 Modelmartin

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 04:43 AM

Another lawn ornement!!! :P :D It will be fun watching you build this. Do you know what the parts count is not counting nuts, bolt, and screws? less wheel parts? I thought that the wheels consumed a lot of the parts count. I'm just curious.

I always thought that the shape of the front of the front fenders on this kit was not right. Do you think so? If you need reference material for any part of the car, I have a ton. Just let me know what you need.

#4 MrObsessive

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 05:03 AM

AAHH! Nice to see you try your hand at this one Harry!

Is that the one you got from me, or is it the two seater like you have pictured above? I've got to keep my eye on this one! :(


#5 Harry P.

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 05:39 AM

Rick-I already have the CD, thanks!

Andy-I'm not sure exactly... the wheels, nuts and bolts do make up a big chunk of the parts count, each wheel alone probably has a few hundred pieces! And there are several hundred more screws, nuts, bolts, washers, metal tubes, threaded rod, springs, etc., etc. I'd guess those parts probably account for around 1,500 or so out of the total.

The real car that was used as the subject of this kit is supposedly a one-off custom (actually there were two made, one survives)... so the model is not of a "production" 500K. The shape of the fenders doesn't quite match any of the M-B production bodies...in fact they don't even particularly match the car this kit was supposedly modeled from! But since this will be a "custom bodied" car in my make-believe world, that's ok! In fact, I don't like the full front fender skirts of the kit, so I'll be cutting them away to match the profile of the red car I posted at the top. I'm also going to be doing a custom interior with wooden dash and mother-of-pearl gauge panel inlay, custom door panels with wood trim along the top edges, and more.

Bill-yep, this is the one you sold me. The photo I posted is a 2-seater with rumble seat, this one is the 2+2 without rumble seat, but aside from that minor difference, the rest of the model will look pretty much like the car in the photo. In fact I'm going to leave out the tiny back seat altogether and put a 3-piece luggage set there instead. (This car has no trunk, so the only storage space would be behind the seats.)

#6 ZIL 111V

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 06:52 AM

Beautiful kit indeed, of one of the most beautiful classic car of all time.

But must admit that the body proportions of the 500K & 540K kits are quite off, when comparing to Johan, Monogram. Heller or 1/16 Minicraft (Gakken) 500-540"K" kits...a bit surprising when you see some of Pocher's museum master pieces with perfectly proportioned body designs: '32 Rolls, Alfa & the stunning Bugatti T50... what a beauty.

I remember first seeing assembled 500k & the 540k Pocher kits way back at IPMS Conventions & noticed that the body design looked a bit strange on both :lol:
...Maybe based on a custom "stuby" work done on the real ones.

Pocher tought about the modelers who did not have the patience or lost intrest while starting: The First ones: Fiat Grand Prix & Alfa Romeo were also available in completly assembled version back in the 70's. ;)

#7 Foxer

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 08:55 AM

Will be fun watching this get built!

That engine detail sure looks nice, but that one of my pet peeves, even with 1/25 models. All that beautiful engine detail being completely hidden! I almost don't want to put together such lovely parts.

#8 Harry P.

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 11:59 AM

That engine detail sure looks nice, but that one of my pet peeves, even with 1/25 models. All that beautiful engine detail being completely hidden!


I know! It's a little frustrating to have all that great detail, then have it hidden away forever, never to be seen again! But oh, well...at least I'll know it's in there!

Speaking of hidden detail... the camshaft is made up of the drive gear, the shaft, and 16 separate cam lobes!

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And here it is installed in the block:

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There are holes in the block and cylinder head to accommodate the pushrods and valves, but there are no separate pushrods or valves in the kit. The pushrods and valve stems (no valve heads!) are molded to the rocker arms, and only extend down a little ways... the pushrods don't actually touch the cam lobes. That would be a little too much as far as moving parts at this scale! Rocker arms and valve springs... coming next time!

#9 Mr.1/16th

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 08:23 PM

beautiful!!

#10 Harry P.

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 06:55 AM

Parts fit of Pocher kits is iffy. In fact, a big chunk of building time is taken up by prepping each part. You have to make sure everything fits, which it sometimes doesn't. Minor sanding, trimming, and general finessing of most parts is required before they'll fit the way they're supposed to fit. For example, all mating surfaces have to be leveled and smoothed to make sure there will be a tight seam, like on these two timing case halves. A poor fit between two mating parts could throw off the fit of subsequent parts down the line. I like to use an open-mesh sanding sheet, laid flat on the work surface (these sheets are actually meant for sanding drywall joint compound)... I run the mating surfaces of the parts back and forth across the sheet until smooth, then finish up with 400 grit sandpaper. The sanding sponge, with different grits on each surface, is perfect for sanding rounded parts because it has just the right "give" to it when sanding those types of parts. Great for removing mold seams from exhaust pipes and things like that.

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Minor blemishes like the sink marks on these mufflers are easily taken care of with Bondo two-part catalyzed glazing putty.

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To speed things up a little and make my life easier, I like to first build subassemblies that will all be the same color, then paint them as a unit. Much faster and easier than trying to paint each separate part and then assemble them. Here the supercharger, carb and related tubes and pipes were built as a unit... same with the transmission... then they'll both be painted silver before the final detail parts like linkages and such are attached.

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One of the pins on the transmission had broken off, so I drilled out a hole and replaced the missing pin with a short length of heavy copper wire (household electrical wiring).

#11 Harry P.

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:49 AM

The engineering of a Pocher kit sometimes results in obvious inaccuracies. For example, the left and right halves of the cylinder head are held together by three screws. These screws would not be on the real thing... so after I built the head I used some Bondo 2-part glazing putty to cover the exposed screw heads. There are a lot of instances where fasteners are used in places where the real car would not have any, like to attach the muffler halves together. In most cases the screw heads won't be seen on the finished model, so it doesn't matter (for example, the screw heads on the mufflers are on the top side, the side facing the floorboard), but this is one of the most visible spots, so I fixed it.

Posted Image

#12 Chuck Most

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:07 AM

I know! It's a little frustrating to have all that great detail, then have it hidden away forever, never to be seen again! But oh, well...at least I'll know it's in there!

Or, since Pocher kits are held together by mechanical means, you can always take the whole dam'd thing apart again to see it! ;)

#13 elan

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:21 AM

;) Boy! You move along on these kits. I'm still struggling with the wire wheels on my Pocher Alfa.

Edited by elan, 14 December 2009 - 08:22 AM.


#14 Chuck Most

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 08:26 AM

;) Boy! You move along on these kits. I'm still struggling with the wire wheels on my Pocher Alfa.

I've been told, if I ever decide to embark upon a Pocher build, to get the Bugatti with the solid, cast wheels. Assembly is about half an hour apiece, tops. Again, so I'm told...

#15 Harry P.

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:07 AM

Or, since Pocher kits are held together by mechanical means, you can always take the whole dam'd thing apart again to see it! ;)


Not really. Once the model is finished, access to most of the fasteners is hidden or obstructed. It would be a major hassle to take off the valve cover, for instance. The hood and radiator support rods would be in the way. That's why I'm taking photos... so I can prove that stuff is really in there! ;)

Here are the parts for the valvetrain... before...

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...and after:

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#16 arick

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:31 AM

One of the wonderfull things about building a Pocher kit is the detail. As Harry has shown us, the engine comes with full working internals. Down the road he'll also show us that these kits have fully detailed and sometimes operable brakes too.

When I built my first Pocher, I included all the working internals. I even oiled the cylinders and bearings, but thats a story for another time. I now just install the crank so that I've got a rotating assembly from the engine to the rear end. I figure if you're not going to display the engine guts, why put them in. Thats just me.

Another thing I did on a previous Pocher build was to cut off all the simulated bolts and nuts, drill the holes and add detail fittings. This was very time consuming. Pocher did a magnificant job of adding details to their parts, especially in the form of nuts and bolts. A trick I learned from a fellow modeller was to use a fine tip Sharpie pen or a Pilot Super Colour pen (they each come in many colours) and add colour to the simulated nuts and bolts. A hint though, make sure the paint is dry before using the pen.

Pocher kits really are fun to build.

#17 Chuck Most

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:36 AM

Not really. Once the model is finished, access to most of the fasteners is hidden or obstructed. It would be a major hassle to take off the valve cover, for instance. The hood and radiator support rods would be in the way. That's why I'm taking photos... so I can prove that stuff is really in there! ;)

Know what would be REALLY cool? Take some X-ray photos of the finished model! That'll shut up ol' Nancy Naysayer! ;)

#18 Harry P.

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 10:13 AM

When I built my first Pocher, I included all the working internals. I even oiled the cylinders and bearings, but thats a story for another time.

Another thing I did on a previous Pocher build was to cut off all the simulated bolts and nuts, drill the holes and add detail fittings. This was very time consuming. Pocher did a magnificant job of adding details to their parts, especially in the form of nuts and bolts. A trick I learned from a fellow modeller was to use a fine tip Sharpie pen or a Pilot Super Colour pen (they each come in many colours) and add colour to the simulated nuts and bolts. A hint though, make sure the paint is dry before using the pen.


Never oil plastic parts! :lol: Lesson learned on your part, I think... ;)

As far as detailing bolt heads with paint, you have to remember that a lot of the assemblies on the real car would have been bolted together and painted afterwards, so the bolt heads in many cases should be the same color as the parts they're "holding together." You need a lot of good reference photos if you're going to go to that level of detail. That's a little too much detail for me! :lol:

#19 Foxer

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 10:20 AM

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WoW! that is spectacular!! :lol:

#20 Harry P.

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 10:22 AM

Down the road he'll also show us that these kits have fully detailed and sometimes operable brakes too.


Operable brakes in theory. Not so much in reality.

The problem is, no matter how carefully you build the braking system, there are just too many bits and pieces, each one with too much "slop" in the connections. There's really no way to build the brakes with the kit-supplied parts and have them really work... there's just too much slack in the system after it's all together. The only way to make the brakes work would be to replace all the kit supplied connectors and links with machined pieces that had much tighter tolerances. A whole lot of work and time for an end result that's basically invisible on the finished model. Again, way too much for me to ever bother with. Besides, this particular model does not have the operating brakes, so I won't have to worry about it... :lol:

My Rolls, though (under construction) does have "operable" brakes... but I gave up on that idea a long time ago! I put the system together per the instructions, but there's no way it would ever really work using the kit parts. But all those rods, levers and linkages sure look impressive!

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