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About Plastheniker

  • Rank
    MCM Ohana
  • Birthday 05/18/1951

Previous Fields

  • Scale I Build 1/24

Profile Information

  • Location Hamburg/Germany
  • Full Name Jürgen Kowalski

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Plastheniker's Activity

  1. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B - The Old Italeri Kit After Some Improvements * * * Plus Tutorial: Better Treads for Styrene Tires (Part 1)   

    Here comes the requested tutorial. Please give me an early response if anything is not understandable. Thanks!
    I. The Problem
    Today modelers expect vinyl or rubber tires in every car or truck kit. Nevertheless there are still kits with two-piece styrene tires. These kits are mostly (re-)releases from the fifties or sixties, but even Italeri (Testors) car and truck kits from the eighties and nineties had and sometimes still have styrene tires.
    Most modelers hate styrene tires because for casting reasons these tires have no or only very faint treads. Moreover most of such treads gets lost after filling and sanding the gap between the two tire halves. As a consequence modelers usually try to replace styrene tires by vinyl/rubber tires from other kits.
    IMO there are some very good reasons, however, to use styrene tires - provided you can give them acceptable treads:
    Sometimes there is a chemical reaction between vinyl/rubber tires and styrene rims that softens and finally destroys the rims (a notorious Italeri problem when they included vinyl tires in some kits in the eighties).
    After years or decades some hollow vinyl/rubber tires prove to be too flimsy to sustain the weight of the model. The tires become flat and never regain their original shape (a former RoG problem concerning some truck kits) .
    Some rubber compounds cannot sustain decades of exposure to daylight. While all four tires on one of my models came from the same cluster one tire dissolved completely while the other three tires, more or less covered, were not attacked (Casadio-Revival).
    A few vinyl tires keep their appearance but release an oily liquid, others stain cabinet boards irreversibly .
    Even if you have ample stocks of vinyl/rubber replacement tires very often the size required is missing. If this is the case there is no other choice than using the kit styrene tires.
    When converting or scratch building sometimes really exotic tire dimensions are needed. Opposite to vinyl/rubber tires styrene tires can be modified regarding width and rim diameter.
    And in case you have to scratch build tires completely from styrene there remains the problem of how to make the tread.
    II. My Solution
    Actually my approach is rather obvious.
    Basically I cut off the unusable tread from both halves of the two-piece styrene tire. I glue a styrene spacer ring between the two remaining tire flanks to restore the original tire width. The gap between the two tire flanks and the spacer ring is filled with a styrene strip from scribed styrene sheet.

    This may seem quick and easy but unfortunately it isn't. Working accurately is essential and if you tend to miscalculate ...
    III. Necessary Tools
    Besides the basic tools owned by every modelers only a dial (or digital) caliper is indispensable because, as already said, precision makes or breaks the finished tire.
    All other tools and devices mentioned below make it much easier and much faster to achieve a convincing result, but if necessary you can do without them.
    IV. Preparing the Two Tire Halves
    All remaining tire flanks must have the same thickness all around, otherwise more than slight differences make the finished tires look wobbly and problems when inserting the rim might occur.
    Therefore cutting with a rotary tool without support should be avoided, but if you prefer to rely on your steady hands mark the line on which you intend to cut with a narrow strip of tape
    Better results are achieved with a self-made construction that could be called "lying fretsaw" You saw here by moving the tire half and not the saw. You determine the height of the cut by adding or removing those plastic sheets seen on the right side.
    A similar self-made construction you could call " lying saw blade" works slightly faster. Here you determine the height of the cut by shimming the saw blade up with more or less washers.
    A converted small drill press with rotary tool and circular saw blade is the fastest and most exact way. By turning the vertical wing screw you can adjust the level of the saw blade by fractions of a millimeter. Watch out, you have only ten fingers!
    V. Making the Spacer Ring
    This is rather laborious because the spacer ring must have an exact outside diameter (remember the drawing above) and an exact inside diameter (= the rim diameter).
    In most cases I use rings cut from telescoping tubes. Usually it is necessary to shim the rings up with strips of styrene. The best way for cutting absolutely vertical rings of equal width from tubes is a manual full-size miter saw (stay away from the flimsy small plastic Dobson Miter Rite).  Originally meant for large pieces of material the surface of the "table" is often ribbed. Simply bolt on a piece of angle as I did. You will have to spend about 50 $, but you get a most versatile tool. I use mine almost daily.
    For large tires, f. e. truck tires, a full-size adjustable circle cutter can cut one-piece rings from thick styrene sheet. This one works perfectly.
    To be continued:
    VI. Making the Tread Strip
    VII. Assembly
    VIII. Painting the Finished Tires
    IX. Inserting the Rim
  2. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B - The Old Italeri Kit After Some Improvements * * * Plus Tutorial: Better Treads for Styrene Tires (Part 1)   

    Thanks again!
    You can find most of the information in German here:
  3. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B - The Old Italeri Kit After Some Improvements * * * Plus Tutorial: Better Treads for Styrene Tires (Part 1)   

    Thanks for the latest comments!

    Skip, on the 1:1 grille every tenth horizontal and every tenth vertical bar is slightly wider. This generates the effect of the larger grid pattern.
    Each bar of my PE fret was only 0.2mm wide. All attempts of applying anything halfway evenly in order to make some bars wider failed.
    Finally the solution was rather simple:
    The etched fret had a rather flat light grey surface on one side. With a needle I scribed every tenth bar. These scribed bars reflect the light and give the impression of being wider than the non-scribed bars.
    Because of the almost microscopic dimensions, however, it was not easy to hit all bars exactly, so I needed more than one fret segment.
  4. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B - The Old Italeri Kit After Some Improvements * * * Plus Tutorial: Better Treads for Styrene Tires (Part 1)   

    Thanks for the response!
    I think modeling vehicles of the era before WWII is most appealing.
    This is true particularly for European cars where technically everything was still in a state of flux, while in America there was early a certain technical standardization. IMO it is very sad to see that since say 1980 or 1990 the interest of most modelers and thus kit manufacturers in pre-WWII European cars is decreasing constantly.
  5. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria.   

    Perfect craftmanship as always!
  6. Plastheniker added a post in a topic Ferrari 458 Italia   

    Beautiful model, perfect paintwork!
  7. Plastheniker added a topic in Under Glass   

    1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B - The Old Italeri Kit After Some Improvements * * * Plus Tutorial: Better Treads for Styrene Tires (Part 1)
    speaking of the Mercedes 540 K many people think that the spectacular Spezial-Roadster body was her typical bodywork. In fact quite the reverse is true.
    Totally 419 (29 delivered chassis included) 540 K were made. Not more than 25 were Spezial-Roadsters. Most buyers by far (190) preferred the Cabriolet B, one of several less flamboyant works bodies.
    To my knowledge Italeri released its Cabriolet B kit (later re-boxed by Testors) in 1981. Even by today's standards this kit offers good quality at a very reasonable price. Proportions are perfect, casting quality and fit are very good. Nevertheless a few issues require some effort:
    The two-part styrene tires have almost no tread. The two lateral spare wheels make this toylike appearance most salient. Giving the tires a new tread is indispensable.
    Another striking shortcoming of the kit are its rims. Mercedes wire wheels had very large hubs. Thereby corresponding plastic wires look particularly crude. Here even more than usual lacing realistic wires makes or breaks the model.
    All kits with classic Mercedes radiator masks, no matter which scale, have completely unconvincing grilles. Real Mercedes grilles were rather bright cast parts and neither painted nor chromed. Note the faint additional large grid pattern .

    In 1/24 kits such Mercedes grilles are always an integral, unperforated part of the chromed radiator mask. Leaving the grille chromed looks terrible, painting it dark with a brighter drybrush looks better but still unrealistic. On this model I replaced the grille by a piece from a matching generic PE fret - rather painstaking but for the very first time I found a classic Mercedes grille convincing.
    The 1:1 car has some exterior chrome mouldings that Italeri omitted, f. e. on the soft top, above the lateral bonnet air vents or below the side windows.
    The interior is correct but leaves much room for detailing, f. e. there aren't even instrument decals.
    Fixing these issues plus a period-correct discreet paintwork and (IMO) the beautiful top closed can make an exceptionally realistic model. I would really recommend this kit to experienced and patient modelers.

    • 31 replies
  8. Plastheniker added a post in a topic AMT 1969 Chevelle   

    Nice work & good colour choice!
  9. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 40 Ford ragtop   

    Perfect work & great colour combination!
  10. Plastheniker added a post in a topic Cadillac Miller Meteor Woody   

    Super clean, VERY convincing wood parts!
  11. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1935 Auburn Speedster - The Abysmal Lindberg/Pyro Kit Completely Reworked   

    The kit exhaust parts (if any) were wrong.
    Making the flexible heat protection tubes was rather simple:
    First I bent the cores of the four flex tubes (so to speak the four exhaust manifolds) from 3(?)mm soldering wire. Then I rolled 0.5 or 0.8mm soldering wire and wrapped this flattened wire round the four manifolds. After aligning these rolled wires I secured them with liquid super glue at the ends and inside the bends. Last I polished the visible surfaces.
    BTW I used te same technique here http://www.modelcarsmag.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=76128 on a Mercedes SSKL and on a Mercedes 540K I am going to show next.
    There are two ways to roll soldering wire:
    You can improvise an inexpensive rolling device usable for rather thin soldering wire by fixing a small, hard wheel (hard plastic or metal, available at hardware/house improvement stores) under a piece of wood. With the weight of your body roll over the soldering wire on a hard and smooth surface and you get a thin, bright, very flexible strip of metal that can be glued easily with super glue.
    Rolled wires of any kind, i. e. also thicker soldering wire, brass, aluminum and copper wire, so-called silver wire, even hypodermic needles, are extremely useful for numberless purposes when detailing, converting and scratch building. I used them on virtually all models during the past 20 years. For making such rolled wires of exact thicknesses/widths the fast and easy way I made one of the best investments of my modeling life: a bending machine. Bending machines are actually meant for making equal, kink-free curves in sheet and strip stock. Usually they look similar to this one:

    When I bought mine I was not sure if the considerable amount of money would pay off. It really did.
  12. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1935 Auburn Speedster - The Abysmal Lindberg/Pyro Kit Completely Reworked   

    Thanks for the recent replies!
    When rescaling, reshaping or scratch building such non-geometric shapes I never rely on eyeballing.
    Using contour gauges (= negative templates) is the key to success IMO:
    I glue some additional copies of my 1:25 drawing onto cardboard. When I want to rework a part, f. e. a front fender, I cut out this particular part from the cardboard. Inserting the plastic fender into this opening shows what has (still) to be done. I apply this as far as possible to all parts, sub-assemblies and even the complete bodyshell. Side views and topviews are particularly useful.
  13. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1953 Studebaker Finished!   

    I love the first picture, your paintwork looks perfect!
  14. Plastheniker added a post in a topic 1965 Corvette Jump Start with More Pictures   

    Looks great, I would really like to see some more pictures.