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Fixing a Bird (or There He Goes Again!)

61 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

First, I want to start off by saying my intent is not to ruffle any feathers (no pun intended), but just something that's been bugging me for MANY years, and is something I actually started some time ago----------at least two years ago. It was mentioned on another thread about the quality of AMT's Roadrunner and GTX kits, and some comments were made regarding the kit's body shape. I mentioned that I did start and about finished what I thought the car needed to be more accurate, and thought I'd share it here. 

I can remember doing this when I was at a sticking point on the '59 Impala's glass issue, and this was going to be my next WIP in its place. I decided that I didn't want begin yet another long WIP so the '67 Mustang is what took place of this one. This won't be a WIP per se, but just something that if someone's interested down the road, they can look to this as what they may need to do fix things.

Oh!.............before anyone asks I DO NOT intend to have this one cast! There's quite some extensive bodywork that'll be involved once i decide to build this fully, and I do believe someone out there casts the original Johan body. I was just interested in doing what's been rolling around in my mind for years, and decided to have a crack at it.

Now on to what I hacked up here................ :D

While AMT's '90's release of first the '69 GTX (I think) and then later the convertible, and then somewhat recently the '68 Roadrunner were not bad kits, there's one thing that's bugged me almost since this kit came out. I couldn't put my finger on it immediately, but then at some point I realized that the rear half of the car was just not right. This was evident to me about 20 years ago when I tried to correct the back end on the '69 GTX convertible. 

My modifying skills weren't what they are today back then, and of course I botched it up and put it away. I think eventually it got tossed, and I put the thought of correcting one of these out of my mind. Right before the Mustang build, I thought I'd take another crack at fixing what I see is a HUGE error on AMT's part and that is on the rear quarters of the car. As you can see it slopes down a bit too much  and should be a bit more upright and "boxier" per the 1:1.

It's almost as if AMT tried to model the car after the body shape from the '70 Dodge Coronet kit which I believe came out around the same time. Those two cars DO NOT share any body panels save for the roofline-------the front and rear fenders are quite different, with the Dodge having a bit more "swoop" to its rear fenders.

Here you can see the "pinched" look on the rear quarters of the recent '68 Roadrunner re-release. Interesting enough, this was re-intro'd with nostalgic box art, and the box art car's shape to my eyes is EXACTLY right! Too bad AMT didn't see fit to correct this one in this reissue.

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For comparison, here's an original Johan '69 Roadrunner rear quarter. Johan was very well known back in their time for getting body shapes nearly dead on accurate! No CAD systems, no computer anything back when this was tooled. Just folks who had a good eye for capturing the correct shapes, and it's one of the reasons anything Johan can go for crazy money on eBay for instance.

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A rear to rear shot of the Johan and the AMT...........

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OK, it was time to decide what I was going to do. What came to my mind is that the whole rear end needed a "lift" just a bit. I didn't measure or calculate how much lift, just penciled in where the cuts would be made and how much lift would be enough.

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I wanted to miss the side marker lights as this would save me some work later on if/when I get around to completely building this. I could replace those with some tiny MV lenses, but for now I want to demonstrate where the slicing and dicing will need to be done.

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I used my Trumpeter's scribing tool to get the cuts started------along the C pillar first, then along the tulip panel.

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There! Now we have the sides completely sliced through..........

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I figured about a scale inch or so would be needed to lift things up. On the 1:1, there's still a slight slope to the back end, just not as severe as represented on the AMT kit body.

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After a bit, I filled everything in with as much plastic as possible. I didn't want a repeat of what happened to my '55 Ford Victoria build. I used putty to fill in the empty spaces on the roof and while that did work for a spell, after it was painted I could see the bodywork where it was done, and to me it looked bad. 

Boxed up it sits to this day.............

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Now lets do something about those incorrect wheel wells. On the body they're too rounded and just don't look correct to me according to memory, and certainly with the many pics I have of this car. 

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I got out some flat stock and made a tracing around the wheel well. Using the original Johan body as a pattern, I made an adjustment to the shape.

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Looking much better! It's a little low, but in later pics you'll see where I did enlarge them just a scooch.

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Now the rear quarter crease line swoops up a bit too much as well as the 1/4 panel itself and should be nearly parallel to the ground. Not completely horizontal, but  just slightly angled up. I used a Sharpie to give myself an idea of how this would look.

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A piece of .020 plastic sheet was cut to match the pattern I made with the Sharpie, and glued on. 

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After it was dry, I got out some 220 grit sandpaper followed by some 400 grit to smooth things out. 

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And this is how she looks at the moment! Much closer in profile to the 1:1, and certainly more pleasing to look at to me. One thing I forgot to mention is that I did flatten the beltline below the C pillar somewhat as it still had "humped" appearance to me. 

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The passenger side rear quarters aren't finished to my liking as I'm going to tweak a couple areas very slightly.

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Another area that will need attention is the C pillar shape, namely in the chrome trim area. As it looks to me right now, the pillar appears a bit thin, and this is due to practically non-existent chrome trim that should be there. Down the road, I'll replace that too and give the rear window a bit better contour.

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After everything's said and done, I'll fill in those gaps with .005-.010 sheet plastic and smooth things out. 

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OK, side shots of the original AMT body and the corrected one on top.

Of course this conversion is not for everyone, and I understand that not everyone cares about the corrections that need to be done. This is just another one of those things to my view stick out like a sore thumb, and it sure is a LOT cheaper than to find an original untouched Johan kit.

I'm fortunate that I have not only the old builtup, but also an untouched never built original. Of course those kits are lacking the nice chassis and engine details that the AMT kits have. But the Johan bodies are hard to beat shape wise, so get set to pay a pretty penny if you want an original. :)

Thanks for lookin' fellas----------comments welcome! ;)

Edited by MrObsessive

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Posted

That's just some incredible work there Bill.

Big improvement over how the body was cast. 

[BTW, the '68 Road Runner came out first, in the late '80s, somewhere around a decade before the '70 SuperBee was reissued with the newer chassis.]

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Posted

 

That's just some incredible work there Bill.

Big improvement over how the body was cast. 

[BTW, the '68 Road Runner came out first, in the late '80s, somewhere around a decade before the '70 SuperBee was reissued with the newer chassis.]

Thanks Steve! 

Oh ok........I get mixed up on what came out first. I know the GTX convertible came out maybe sometime in the mid '90's. I can remember where I was living at the time when I royally messed that one up! :o

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Posted

Yea, I kinda messed up my math too. The RR came out in '89 and the Superbee came out in '94 so around 4 to 5 years depending on months.  GTX convert in '90 and GTX hardtop in '91.

Hard to believe it's been around 1/4 of a century already! :o

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Posted

The lines after your remedial work certainly look a LOT more like the real car.

I wholeheartedly applaud your obsessiveness in trying to make models that actually look like the cars they're supposed to represent.   :D

 

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Posted

The difference in the side shot of the stacked bodies really shows a difference! I wasn't so sure when you started that it would be this significant but it really looks different. That was very interesting.

Now you're going to have to build TWO versions so the difference is so apparent! :lol:

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Posted

Now you're going to have to build TWO versions so the difference is so apparent! :lol:

LOL! :D 

One thing I want to add, the rear bumper might have to made ever so slightly taller. That's one of those things that I didn't check as of yet. On the other hand, on the 1:1 the rear bumper doesn't sit quite flush to the body, so one could probably get away with things as is.

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1968-road-runner-rear34.jpg

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Posted

Wow, you've got some skills there.

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Posted

Outstanding work, Bill! Thanks for illustrating the errors and the prescription for fixing them. How do your body revision compare to the Johan piece?

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Posted

How do your body revision compare to the Johan piece?

I'll see if I can dig up the Johan body out of my stash later on. I'm in the middle of cooking dinner AND doing laundry! :D

Later this afternoon, I'll see if I can put up a side by side comparison. Mine's not 100% done yet, but the main areas particularly the rear quarters are 'bout done. Hopefully I can get this all put up before long------severe weather is to hit the area here and I'd like to get it posted before we get a power outage or something.

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Posted

Looking good sir!

G

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Posted

OK, I'm done with dinner and laundry, so I figure I better try and hurry up and find that old Johan body and post up a few pics before the storms hit. I already got an alert over my phone for counties Southwest of me, so they're on the way!

Granted my Johan is a '69, but the body is essentially the same.

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The old Johan IMO is still the standard to go by when it comes to accurate B-Body Mopars! What they lacked in chassis detail they certainly made up for it with their body shapes. I have to admit that my copying the Johan body contours came out pretty good! One change I'll make down the road when this becomes a full WIP is define the fender "eyebrows" a bit sharper. 

They're OK as far as it goes on the body, but could stand to be a bit more defined.

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Rear shot.....

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I am going to tweak the rear part of the roof eventually oh so slightly. It has a boxed off appearance to it, and I'd like to round the contours off just a scooch.

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Posted

Most excellent! This car appears to be a fairly simple design but there is some pretty involved sculpture around that rear window and tulip panel.

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Posted

John, that rear window is going to be a bear to replace! When I get around to building this fully, I'll have to either vacuform a new one, or somehow bend acetate to conform to those curves. It looks to be a somewhat flat area, so at least the acetate will only have to bend one way.

Unlike the '59 Chevy where I had no choice but to vacuform the glass on that as there were just too many compound curves getting in the way. :o

The hard part to me is out of the way at least--------getting that rear half to conform a lot more to the 1:1 instead of the pinched/squashed look it had. What is it with AMT not getting the rear half of Chryco cars correct?? As you know this afflicts a certain other car that's been beat to death here on the board. 

I've got a fix for that one to, but haven't had the time or ambition to tackle that one-----------------yet! :blink:

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Posted (edited)

Nice work on that 'RM' , Bill !

Funny thing ; when AMT released that Road Runner in c.1989 , I was largely pleased with it ; how-ever , certain aspects of the kits seemed "blocky" to me ( oil pan , transmission , undersized Dana 60 , among other items )  . Beyond that , I just 'knew' there were other issues with its proportions , but never gave it much thought beyond that . On top of that , for what-ever reason , I never compared the kit's body to the tow or three "1:1" 1968-1970 Road Runners in my neighbourhood ... Now I'd kill to have those references right in front of me !

The mods you made to the wheel arches alone really made a difference !

Edited by 1972coronet

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Posted

Very nice! And you fixed that WRONG lower edge of the side rear windows, which is always the first thing that jumps out at me on these bodies. That ALONE makes a 100% improvement in the look of the finished model and is pretty easy to accomplish.

Model on!

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Posted

Man, the work some of you guys do...I hope someday I can have even a percentage of the skill you posses. 

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Posted

This is a great tutorial to fix a kit with potentential

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Posted

Nice work Bill. Fortunately, I still have an unbuilt JoHan '69 Road Runner, as well as a '69 GTX. You are right concerning the quality of the JoHan pieces compared to the AMT cars. The GTX is an original '69 Annual, and that body is very brittle. As a matter of fact, I took a look at it about a year ago, and found that there was a piece broken from the front fender, that I repaired. I found that the kit was not complete, (missing some of the funny car parts), but I am not angry as I got it rather cheap. I built an AMT '69 GTX hardtop a long time ago, and I am tempted to build this one. I may see if I can get the body cast, so that I can combine it with the AMT Kit's chassis, interior and running gear to make a better '69 GTX. One of my cousins had a boyfriend who had a B-5 Blue one back in '69, that I would love to do.

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Posted

Mission accomplished.

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Mission accomplished.

rr_zps7hhnk49r.jpg

Very close to 100% accomplished, depending on how far you want to noodle it... Bill's work is great, and a 90% improvement of the AMT out of the box body version. Still, as can be seen in Harry's image above, compared to an actual car, the rear wheel well shape needs finessing (there's a gentle slope downward to the rear of the wheelwell shape in the 1:1) and, rear of the doors, the lower character line that extends through the rear wheelwell is more of a gentle slope, very close to horizontal, than exists on the plastic version. Fortunately it looks like some gentle filing with a large, flat file could resolve that shape nicely. Beyond that (hard to tell as the plastic body is unpainted) the front and rear fender eyebrows could be sharpened/adjusted with the addition of plastic, putty and filing.

The only downside to taking on such work is, with the availability of the excellent JoHan body (expensive though it is) -- if you're lucky enough to score a built, non-gluebomb JoHan example with an intact body, incarnations of the '68 and '69 RR/GTXs can be built from it, using the excellent interiors and chassis components from the AMT kits.

Many other modern Mopar kits suffer from the same rear section droop, for whatever reason, despite general excellence in other areas. Similar to Bill's work above on the Roadrunner, the venerable early 80's 1969 Monogram '69 SuperBee SixPak benefits from a similar, entire rear section lift. As would Revell's otherwise excellent '67 GTX and '67 Coronet kits. Actually, the best fix for the '67 Coronet is to combine the much better (from a side profile perspective) Revell '67 Charger -- just the wheelwell needs a style adjustment. Unfortunately, the '67 GTX, though not having as bad a droop, still bugs me. Still working on that one -- the trick is, from some angles, photos of a 1:1 '67 GTX makes the model appear not too bad -- and yet with a straight on profile for comparison, the scale model seems to come up short.

Excellent work on taking the AMT Roadrunner's sag out, Bill! :)

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the compliments all-----especially Harry and Jon!

Jon, the side that Harry showed is not quite done yet, as there are a few tweaks here and there that I'd like to do. No hurry for me right now as this is not going to be a WIP as of yet-----might be a while before it takes front and center on my work table. And yes as I mentioned, those fender eyebrows need to be defined a bit further. They are there, just not sharp enough to my liking. 

On the side that Harry showed, I have yet to fix the rear quarter crease line that runs from the trailing edge of the rear wheel well, to the tail of the body. It still looks too swept up to my eyes, and I think that's where I had stopped when I was reshaping this a couple years ago.

Hmmm.......I never gave a close look at Monogram's '69 Super Bee. I have a busted up built-up of this one and I'll have to take a good look! ;)

Yeah, that Revell '67 Coronet is another one that bugs me to no end, about as much as this one. I would go about fixing it a whole 'nuther way though. I'd whack the roof (A pillars, cowl and all) and trunk off the "bent" Coronet body and put it on the '67 Charger's lower body. Kinda what I did with my '59 Impala when that desperately needed a roof job. As you mentioned, one could graft in the wheel wells from the Coronet. A lot of work, but when you're passionate about a certain car, I look at it as a labor of love.

Not to mention that the roof on both the Coronet and the GTX are not quite right to me as well. They're both waaaaay to flat in the rear, and don't have the subtle curves on the upper sides of the backlite per the 1:1.

I have a fix for that too, but it would be too much to go into this post here! :P

If it wasn't for my next WIP that I already have planned out, the RR would definitely be on the must do list. The next car on my agenda after I finish the BMW will require almost as much bodywork to make it right----maybe more so. Let's just say I hope I don't get "stung" by biting off more than I can chew! :D

Edited by MrObsessive

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Posted

I also want to mention that one of the reasons I wanted to show this tutorial, is that a lot of guys and gals out there may have the same skills that I do, but may not want to shell out what can be big bucks for one of those Johan originals. They're getting fewer and fewer to find at a "reasonable" price and for the cost of your research, time and patience, this is a much cheaper alternative. ;) 

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Posted

I laid these two images on top of each other. They match up just about perfectly.

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Posted

I wish Round2 would fix the vent window.

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