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I like the Dodge Ramcharger and it's early sibling, Plymouth Trailduster. The kit, however, has always left me cold. It just never appeared right in my eyes, and I figured out why - the complete shape is just too boxy.

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I compared the kit to pictures of the real truck and found the sides much more rounded, with more of a pyramid shape in general. Looking at the kit's roof, it's just too flat. It should have a more graceful curve to it.

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The slab sides are easy enough to fix, albeit require patience. I started there by carefully bending the plastic in the middle of the door area.

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The driver side is thinner and therefore easier to roll under. Taking your time and letting the heat and friction from your fingers  help to convert the shape without snapping any parts. Passenger side  is thicker and may require running under warm/hot water to soften slightly.
Next, roll the tips of the front fenders under, this should be easy, as the plastic is very soft and bendable.
I'm  doing this conversion on the current Revell issue, which has more rubbery flex to it and can stand more bending. If you're using an older issue that may not have as flexible a plastic - DON'T FORCE THE BENDS! Be gentle, use hot water to soften it. If it's still too brittle, you may have to find another alternative to convert that kind if material. It's not worth breaking up a body, it'll just be scrap at that point.
Do not try to bend the rear quarter panel just yet, it has too much thickness and needs some compound curves removed to allow  for bending.

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Now compare the curves of the side panels and front fenders to the slab sided rear quarters, see how just adding curves to the sides improves the aesthetics of the body already?

But were not done yet, it's time to relieve the rear from the support of the rear liftgate and the taillight mounting points. Carefully cut away the liftgate and set it aside. Next, cut out the taillight backing mounts. The taillights are the wrong shape anyway, we'll fix those later, but right now we have to bend the body in the rear quarters and cutting away the taillight areas relieves the thickness in those corners.

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Next roll the rear quarter panels to match the rest of the sides of the truck.
The roof is too flat and has no crown to it. The windows should have more taper to the roof. First thing I did there was to cut the roof off approximately 3/8" on the outside of both outer roof beads.

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I then rolled the side window areas in for the proper taper.

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At this point, the roofline will be bent downwards on each side above the side windows, this will need to be GENTLY pulled back up closer to level with the roofline. Next, take the roof panel that was cut off and carefully cut away the front windshield trim right above the driprail line - save this trim for later. Take the flat roof panel and bend a crown into it.

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Make it even from side to side, front to back. To compensate for the inward taper of the side windows, trim off about 1/8" from both sides of the roof panel. To reintroduce strength in the roof, I laminated a thin sheet of plastic to the underside and left about 1/4" extended out to use for gluing to the side parts.

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Underneath will show a clean area (when I sand it out) to represent the headliner and eliminate the seams from cutting.
Time to install the tailgate and rear hatch. Because I curved the rear quarter panels, the ends above and below the taillights are angled and need to be corrected with a sanding stick.

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To support the tailgate, I added tabs behind it so I have something to attach to the quarter panels. With all of the modifications to the body shell, the rear hatch will not fit anymore.

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I tweaked it to fit by trimming away the top part from the hinge to hinge. I then bent the sides of the hatch inward to match the curve of the roof. I filed and sanded the rough areas so the hatch fits the opening, then I glued it in place. Next, I curved and trimmed the header part  of the hatch to snugly fit the opening and glued that in place.
At this point if you've made all your cuts carefully, you should have a solid body finished with minimal areas that need filling.

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The last part of the roof to be fixed is the top trim of the windshield that was cut off from the roof when we needed to bend a crown into it.

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After all the cutting and bending that was done to the rest of the body, this last part is a simple curve, sand rough edges, trim and carefully glue back into position.
You should now have a completed body shell that looks like this.

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Encouraging isn't it?

And since none of the main body was altered, the interior shell still fits perfectly and therefore almost all of the rest of the kit.

Next up, cutting the glass to fit and taking the box out of the grille. 

Edited by Oldcarfan27

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Interesting. And nice work!

i have this one the bench right now, and you're right, the proporations or something always looked a little off to me.

 

Looking forward to seeing where you go from here!

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Nice work and a great improvement, barely noticeable once finished but somehow it'll just have that look, that you just can't quite put your finger on as to why this one looks so much better than most! Only you'll know! And that's all that matters! Thanks for sharing with such good narrative so that we can do it ourselves if we choose to!

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Great tutorial! Agrees fully with my impressions of the kit.

 

mike 

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There is also the issue of the underside leaving a bit to be desired. Will be watching this one as you work on it.

 

I am surprised that Jimmy Flintstone hasn't created a Suburban-like 4 door version of this kit, similar to the one he did a while back when AMT brought out the Ram 2500 kit.

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1 hour ago, mikemodeler said:

There is also the issue of the underside leaving a bit to be desired.

As it has always been. I just wanted to show how simple it can be to correct the "boxy" look of the body to match the prototype. 

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Interesting project! I owned a 1984 Ramcharger, and I have a couple of these kits in the stash that have the bass boats in them. I wonder if those would accept this kind of work?

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4 minutes ago, Bucky said:

Interesting project! I owned a 1984 Ramcharger, and I have a couple of these kits in the stash that have the bass boats in them. I wonder if those would accept this kind of work?

If the plastic is as flexible as current issue, it should. 

The issue I'm not sure of is the original cream colored from 1981

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I have this one on the bench also, converting mine to a 1975 Trail Duster. I am too far into mine to start reshaping the body, it will just have to be.

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On 9/7/2018 at 5:47 PM, Oldmopars said:

I have this one on the bench also, converting mine to a 1975 Trail Duster. I am too far into mine to start reshaping the body, it will just have to be.

Ha! That's what I'm doing to mine!

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