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Saving Rancho Gluebomb


Russell C
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'61 Ranchero speedster gluebomb, that is. This one was dirt cheap last year on ebay with free shipping, probably destined for the trashcan after several price reductions. The photos were so dark, I thought it had a tonneau cover. Long story short, the interesting overall look was something I couldn't resist, and I could see where the original builder was going with this idea. Plus, I can envision a reason why it had such an offbeat color for the rear wheels. But it also had too many distractions going on. It's one of those models where you say "cool concept, except I'd fix this, and that, and that …."  So, first, the 'as delivered' photo composite, then onto the fixes.

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Chrome headlights have long been a pet peeve of mine. Turns out here that the headlight lenses out of an AMT '56 Crown Victoria fit in the reamed out areas with only minor tweaking, and the reflectors of the foglights out of a Revell '69 Camaro are a perfect fit. Not ambitious enough to solve the turn signal lights that way, so they will eventually get a wash of liquify white paint. But the look of separate bumper bolt heads is easy to achieve - drilled out the molded-on ones for the polished ends of aluminum paper clip wire.

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A super cheap ebay parts pile provided the missing taillights (and other useful parts). They are chrome blobs begging for real definition of where the back of the ring is supposed to meet the body, so I 'lathe-turned' a pair of fixtures on my motor tool which I could glue into the back of the units so that I could later chuck them into my mini-lathe, enabling me to carve away the material behind the ring. Also, this setup will allow me to chuck them into my motor tool like you see here, when it comes time to paint the red lens areas in a perfect circle.

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I like where you're going with this--or, at least, the idea of seeing what you can make of it while keeping at least somewhat true to the OB's vision. Been working on a couple of similar projects myself, and they're enormously fun. Do keep us updated on this one--I'll be watching. Drive on!

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This is going to be interesting. I built the reissue of this kit last year. I like the head lights and the aluminum paper clip bumper bolts what an idea. I don't know about your intentions for the windshield but I have an idea of where that may of came from. I may be wrong but it looks to me to be the rear window from the optional chopped top on the old '50 Ford Victoria.    

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Cool old original build!  I have a bunch of these Ranchero builds and wouldn't dream of tearing them down and building something modern.

On this one, you've already done the headlights, which doesn't take anything from the style.  I like the windscreen. I'd add the kit tonneau cover and there are tons of round custom tail lights that would fit in the spot and look period.  

 

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Thanks guys! I'm actually decently far along in this restoration / tidying-up effort, been stacking up photos as I go. Gotta bring at least one model, even if just for display, to the late April GSL contest. (secured my hotel reservation today)

As can be seen in the 'as delivered' photo composite in the first post, the shortened windshield had some tragically large glue blobs holding it down. I've pretty well erased those, and have hidden them below a strip of black vinyl. Quite likely it was a chopped window kit piece, since the top edge shows no signs of cutting or filing.

However, I can't say that the way the original builder sanded the hood totally flat was a good idea. So, I hacked the raised cowl induction section out of the Eckler's Corvette glue bomb that I got for a different project (needed its wheels and unused decals) and plopped that there. I'd think a dragster or dry lakes car would have a hood covering some kind of increased power. Pretend that it is front-hinged now. I'll be needing a replacement decal, look out for a post on that in the Wanted section.

Second photo shows the reamed out taillight holes for the aforementioned parts lot Ranchero taillights, plus the beginnings of the underside framework (raw plastic at the moment) for a sheetmetal-looking tonneau cover. I also scratched off the oversize Pennzoil decal and put back the tailgate hinges that the original owner sanded off. More on the story of what goes into the bed area in an upcoming post. It will visually explain why this thing has turquoise rear wheels which don't match the fronts.

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Edited by Russell C
typo
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Now, to answer why the rear wheels are turquoise. I can't guess why the original builder of this thing painted 'em that way, but the story I concoct is that they are just temporary slicks on wheels that get swapped out for a pair of more stylish early '60s era customs with treaded tires, which would be on the car for regular street driving. To make those, I took the later version wheels from the aforementioned Ranchero parts lot, and sliced off the rim parts to put together with a pair of cheap original falcon caps I got off ebay. Those caps weren't long for this world, the outer layer of plastic was reacting badly with the vinyl tires. Later on, I'll paint on thin whitewalls to match the fronts. I'll be sure to take photos of these street wheels/tires on the model when it is finished, but otherwise they'll reside in the back with the Ranchero kit's tool box and jack.

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Thanks for the additional comments!

Next, the newer kit release Ranchero parts pile I got just for the taillights and rear bumper also had a painted tool box and half-painted jack, 1st photo below (I scraped off the box handle there). To create more visual interest, I drilled holes in teensy bits of red raw plastic scrap to create the places for the electrical wire-sourced toolbox handle (with a remnant of its blue insulation being the grip area), and to create the side hold-downs for crushed/split wire "wingnuts" holding the box onto wood uprights - which would be bolted to the floor if this was my full size Ranchero. Popsicle stick wood material there.  That star in the middle covers up the overly scratched down area where the handle used to be, and it was fun to use it up since it was the last star I had in my decal collection left over from the Revell '54 Chevy panel I gluebombed myself back in the early '70s. The other two decals are from a 1969-era Hot Wheels decal sheet. Remember, save everything because you never know when you'll need it next.

For the jack, I ditched the handle, filed a slot into the ratchet part and drilled holes through that, then got a tiny bit of sprue where I filed one end into a tab and drilled the other end for where the tire iron fits in. Put that into the slot, drill, and put a bolt through it, and you have a functioning ratchet thingy. The function is not actually important, but I do need it to be moveable for when I put it into the limited space in the bed next to the two tires, and I want the tire iron to be stuck into it. The pole is a length of .05" solder wire, where the 'teeth' of it are created by mashing it in a pair of pliers with one of the jaws covered in a layer of cardboard - thus, only one set of ridges from the pliers goes into the wire. The tire iron itself is just heat-stretched gray sprue, with the end being a larger diameter bit of the same stretched sprue drilled out and stuck on.

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As it turned out, the cheapo Ranchero parts pile I got for the taillights and rear bumper also had an interior painted similarly to this gluebomb's rear wheels. Too much green there, and too much pure unpainted white of the gluebomb's interior, so I toned down the appearance of the parts pile interior by painting white into what would be the two-tone areas of a factory green Ranchero. So the story could be that a rodder took a green Ranchero and turned it into a speedster custom, but saved the rear wheels for slicks that could be swapped in at the dragstrip.

From what I could see in photos for 1:1 interiors, the AMT kit is missing a bulge in the transmission tunnel for the floor shifter, so a bit of carved plastic tub cures that problem. The old problem inherent in these AMT interiors where the steering wheel is too close to the seat cushion is remedied with a slightly smaller rim from a Fujimi Porsche (the X-shape there is the remains of its spokes and hub). Hard to see in the bright sunlight, I 'lathe-turned' a bit of aluminum wire in my motor tool to create the glove box button, and a larger bit of white metal to make the ignition key receptacle. I used the same method on a bit of aluminum tubing to make the ring for the shifter boot, and on some black plastic to make the rubber-looking boot, and on some white plastic to make the shifter ball. That aluminum wire will be the shifter rod, of course, and the thinner wire with the blob (unfinished there) will be the turn signal lever. I tried to peel up the seat belts in order to be able to file them thinner, but they aren't budging, and I fear they will take too much paint with then if I bust 'em loose. They'll be black-painted later.

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  • 4 weeks later...

In the original gluebomb the whole interior was unpainted plastic. I didn't feel like painting the dash overall or the gauges, and for that I cheated a bit and used Best Model Car Parts' printed paper gauge faces. I also used my motor tool to 'lathe-turn' a glove box button out of aluminum paperclip wire. The ignition key receptacle was 'turned' the same way out of larger diameter white metal scrap, with a deep stab of an X-acto blade to make the keyhole. That's Bare Metal Foil for the gauge pod. I still need to complete this with the addition of white plastic radio station push buttons.

All those other knobs looked like featureless white blobs, and I knew I couldn't paint silver at the back of them consistently enough to resemble the bezels that are supposed to be at the bases of these knobs, so I created tiny wire rings - see my How-to post on that here - and glued them in place with Tenax liquid cement. One thing about wire, it is a consistent size, compared to potentially blobby paint applied by shaky hand.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Completed interior. For goodness sake, this kind of speedster dragster must have at least some kind of roll bar setup ….

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Taillights. The big gouges in the front of the bed wall are for the hinge mounts of the tilt-up tonneau cover.

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The grille got a blackish, thin whitewash for the turn signals. New flames decals for the hood, different than what the original gluebomb builder had. For being more than 50 years old, they applied ok, but I'll have to scrape away the really crumbly clear areas between the flame licks, and I'll have to neaten up some other spots with a fine-tip black marker pen. The flames at the rear fenders are what the original builder applied, but I scraped away a bit of their front areas to make them look basically better.

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(Old full decal sheet courtesy of Tom Kendall via trade). The original builder used the other bunch of flames, which to me, just doesn't work well here. So, I opted for the smaller bunch, minus some of the flame licks at the front. Then I cut the other long flames to have a ball-shaped beginning.

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Back bumper with polished rounded ends of aluminum paperclip wire serving as bumper bolts. I don't have any vintage decal white pinstripe artwork, so I used some modern ones out of the Revell '32 Ford 5-window coupe, the two small bits over the taillights and the central one (which sorta looks like a bonfire to me). It replaces the big honkin' Pennzoil decal that the original builder put in the middle of the tailgate. While such white pinstripe stuff looks out-of-place at the moment, you'll see how it ends up unifying the whole flame theme when I have the completed tonneau cover in place.

I had the brass dollhouse hinges at the front of the tonneau cover framework rattling around in my parts box since the 1980s. The paper-thin plastic sheet will be glued onto the framework, and that aerospace paper-thin black anodized aluminum sheet material with its adhesive backing will be the cover's surface. That stuff has a consistent dead-flat finish, and was dirt cheap since I fished it and more like it out of the scrap bins at an aerospace nameplate manufacturer business I worked at years ago.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Photo below of my previously mentioned idea of tying in the tonneau graphics to the bonfire-looking pinstripes on the tailgate. The devil guy, which resembles the ones seen on other vintage AMT decal sheets, is actually from the recent Revell Ford '32 5 window kit, along with the white pinstripe decals, but the "Infernal" word is from the same 1962-era AMT decal sheet which provided the flames. Verrry fragile, and I lost part of the right side quotation marks, which can be fixed with a dot of white paint. My first attempt at using the other "Infernal" word off that old sheet cracked to bits. Glad there was a matched pair on the sheet!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The gluebomb in its original form was a slammer, with a non-opening hood, no engine and half a chassis with an early Ford transverse spring & axle glued directly to the bottom of the bed.

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From the Ranchero parts pile I got later, I used its full chassis, and ground off the rear axle & exhaust and more or less filled in the holes. This is still a slammer, so don't look closely at the fill-in work. Being jacked up that far, and sporting the original issue AMT '40 Ford number/class decals for what I'm guessing is the old NHRA Altered Gas category, my reading of the rules for 1962-ish indicated this car needed at least some kind of quick change rear axle and suspension, and some kind of exhaust. Now it has that, via various scrap parts I had. (It still may not meet A/G rules, but the decals weren't my choice, I'm just going with the original builder's likely intent.)

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Two more finishing touches, the NHRA decal from the same 1962-era AMT decal sheet which provided the flames, in the corner of the windshield. Plus, the 1962-tagged California license plates I photo-altered and printed on photo paper, and double-side taped in place. Bonus points to any of you who get what the visual pun is with the plates.

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Now, I'm basically done with the restoration, but the "under glass" photos will have to wait until I get back from the Salt Lake City contest, where this one will be on the display table. I'm flying up tomorrow morning.

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