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Restoring The Oldies


Tom Geiger
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Many folks know that I collect old survivors, especially interesting customs, that people built back in the heyday of modeling.  I find that these are historical time capsules of where the hobby was at the time, both in imagination and in level of skill put into these works.  I cringe when I see people take one of these neat old models that has somehow survived intact 50-60 years and strip them down for a new build.   Here's some work I've done recently...

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I bought this '58 Chevy custom on eBay a few years ago for the grand sum of $10.  I liked the color scheme, but I"m not sure how old this one is since that's a fairly modern color and the kit hasn't changed at all since it was first released so I cannot date it by discontinued accessories etc.  Overall this one suffered from a poor build. Original builder did no body prep so there are mold lines and sprue nubs.  There is no primer under the paint.  It arrived in jostled condition and easily came apart so I set to clean it up to make a decent shelf model.

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There were glue marks where the original builder had put mirrors and antennas, so I replaced them. I drilled them in per my usual practice. The mirrors came from the parts box, no doubt from a kit of the same era.  I made the antennas from wire and the bases are Grandt Line scale nuts.  The car came to me with only three matching tires, two of which had cracked sidewalls.  It had huge wheels (one piece baby moons with trim rings - all chrome) that wouldn't fit any of my tires. I replaced it all with tires from the Revell '50 Ford pickup and some nifty wheels from my parts collection. 

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It has the custom interior with that really neat floating dashboard. I made a mental note to use my spare one in a street rod someday. One of the doors was broken off so I fixed that.  I was originally going to just glue it shut, but the missing piece fell out when I took the body off the chassis.  So I strengthened it with a bit of straight pin wire upon gluing it back in place.  Original builder used Testors silver for the chrome and wasn't that good with the emblems.  Since I didn't have access to the original paint, I left all that intact as part of the history of the build. 

I did crack open a fresh kit for parts.  The glass had visible glue marks so I replaced it all with new.  The front end wobbled and upon investigation I saw that our builder had glued each wheel on at a different build height.  So I pulled it all off and redid with fresh parts.  Now it sits flat and the original moving steering was restored.

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One of the things that had me buy this kit was the thread wiring like we did as kids.  I did have the engine out for cleaning and a repaint but I left the thread for old times sake.  It was missing the tri-carb so those came from my parts kit.

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Here she is sitting with a friend. That's a similar '57 Ford I restored from a junker as well. 

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Both of these sit in my Old Kustom Kollection showcase.  Fun stuff to own and very relaxing to restore as it's pretty low-tech work.  

I will share another '57 Ford in my next thread!

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