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swede70

Twin Herb Adams '71 SCCA Trans Am '64 Tempest Gray Ghost projects

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The wheels that flexed and ground off a front bleeder screw were the NASCAR mandated steel wheels. It happened during the Riverside race.  My fault. If we had the wheels to test with at Willow Springs we might have found it. Jerry Thompson ran the rest of the race with rears only. With almost 70% of the brake force in the front, we were literally catching the car when it came in to the pits.

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Sorry to be away for a bit given some parts were on order, and hiccups encountered in relation to what finally arrived...

Thanks Harry and Dr. Larry both for keeping the information interchange going, for deepening and elaborating upon the understanding of much.  Some new things to relate then, although what is seen seems in total modest.  A new 1:18th Sun Star GTO was ordered to replace assemblies destroyed or simply played out for avid experimentation, while replacement tires were ordered that didn't quite serve my needs given they sent me four front tires with markings not quite matching what rear tires I had in hand. Nevertheless, fresh hardware and new materials all around certainly bolster enthusiasm in relation to remastering certain things, and hence things begin again...

For communication with Bob (whoops - 'John'!  M.K.) Hildebrand, he related that for purchase of the Gray Ghost that he actually has two hoods for the car, with the second wearing the original late-season livery.  Confused for scattered references that have the engine builders referred alternately as 'Diamond Racing Engines' or 'Diamond Racing Pistons', I'd also imagined that they were then-based in Mount Clemens, MI.  What can be readily discerned from the image forwarded by J. Hildebrand reveals they were in nearby Warren, MI. up to '71 at least.  The font style can be found with some application, hence a good chance exists that such can be reproduced for right follow through:

5c6c8b245277b_1971GrayGhostDiamondRacingimageslogofromBobH..jpg.441b36b9407b4a8ee52e8b203cfc380e.jpg

Moving along, some light work was done for being afforded the aforementioned new parts.  Seen below is a new front bumper assembly which indeed has been trimmed from behind to pull the 'stamping' further back into the front sheet metal, to effectively align better with the metal grille divider/'beak' if you will in the style of what was seen in a Mid-Ohio event photo gathered earlier.  Sun Star chrome is the 'real deal' as far as diecast models go; i.e. they first plate the plastic with copper, and only then plate it with chrome.  Removal of  such is difficult without resort to something super toxic, most likely an etching solution typically reserved to clean computer motherboards and something that I have on hand.  I further hope to drill through the bumper ends on either side to insert pin heads consistent with recreating mounting hardware as I'd done before even the work wasn't strictly visible at a glance.   

5c6c8b5171b47_GrayGhostone001.JPG.6de0dddef94976264d3067c2e8d8a212.JPG

...also seen are the old 1:18 GMP '67 Smokey Yunick Trans-Am Camaro 'T.V. tires' referencing the oversized GOODYEAR markings on the sidewalls.  A chance exist that smaller-lettered alternative markings may be made up, but these are what are being employed for the moment.  A plastic cleaner/treatment called Vinylex was used darken up the tires a bit without rendering them greasy to the touch as might be feared.  Some paintwork remains to done the wheels which will be elaborated upon in a further post, while I have very good reference material consistent with working up accurate extended Minilite lugs which will likewise be shared.  

5c6c8b5c97410_GrayGhostone002.JPG.9df29ddd8fb8948d149fa3be3fd69a1f.JPG

...not appearing all that elaborate, notice the the area directly beneath the center of the trunk lid has been filed out in anticipation of scratch building a vent panel for the fuel cell installation.  On a plastic kit such could be filed out or removed in a matter of minutes and cleanly too, whereas here for hacking and slashing away at a thick white metal casting, the same work took about four hours - sigh!  My 'workshop' isn't exactly state of the art, so a great deal is simply done by hand with rudimentary tools.  And yes, my surface plate looks an awfully lot like a sofa cushion...

5c6c8b7661021_GrayGhostone003.JPG.937d5a75eade9cd653547e13651da29d.JPG

Looking naked for it awaits an insert to finish off matters, the same recess is on view again.  Not strictly discerned is the licence plate set in place below which has each top corner discreetly trimmed out consistent with the photo reference seen much further up this thread.  Some multi-hued '71 GTO Judge decal sheets exist on the 1:25th kit market, and such will likely be sourced to come up with 'TRANS AM GTO' lettering as needed here.  Lastly, the salvage material visible to the side is a 1:18th scale ERTL Authentics '67 Impala SS 427 which may yield up agreeable scissor hinge detail.  More material to come.  Thanks for reviewing this update.

Mike K./Swede70

 

Edited by swede70
Revision of 'John' in lieu of 'Bob', 'Trans-Am' in lieu of 'Trans Am', etc.

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Oh - and just in passing, this was a photo taken at Lime Rock '71 which suggests that maybe the Gray Ghost was run on pressed steel wheels as an alternate to the Minilites commonly seen.  Perhaps just the wets were mounted on these?  Thanks...

5c6c94fe77b14_1971GrayGhostLimeRock.jpg.f82830ff3f46cf935bb12383d151a8f3.jpg

Mike K./Swede70

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@swede70

one small correction. The Tempest owner's name is John Hildebrand, not Bob.

Also, one nit. Trans-Am with a hyphen is the name of the race series, with no hyphen is the name of the Firebird model.

Diamond Racing Engines used to do more than just pistons. I think they were originally based in Warren, MI. Diamond did some machining. The motors in the Tempest were actually built by Tom Nell and Jeff Young. Jeff ported the heads. Jeff left the team at the end of 1971, and in the 1972 Firebird and 1973 Grand Am NASCAR Winston Cup car, Diamond Racing employee Butch Elkins did the heads. He is no longer with us but a search will find many references to him.

Also, on the hood, I think I mentioned it somewhere before, but you can see pictures on the web of a black hand-painted pattern on the center of the hood. That was hand done at one of the mid-season races. 

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Thanks for the near-instant feedback Harry.  Suitably chastised, I shall endeavor to persevere!  Indeed - it can be hard to uphold standards in isolation, hence it helps to clean matters up for insights promptly processed, etc.  I read of the extent of the development work handled by your team, although I really didn't understand what Diamond Racing Engines/Pistons was employed or outsourced to do.  Kind thanks...

Mike K./Swede70

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I have been meaning to write some comments about how rewarding it is to see you guys building scale models of the cars I and the others in the Pontiac engineering group (although i was the only one that didn't work for Pontiac) built and raced.

I also wanted to add that although we didn't know each other at the time, Herb Adams (who is about a decade older than me) and I in our own ways had unusual ties the the modeling world. In high school, he submitted several cars, 1:12 scale scratch built, to the Fisher Body Craftsman Guild scholarship program. You guys may have seen a picture of a cranberry two seater in an article on Herb online. Another one he did became a real car, when he met up with some British aircraft fabricators that had moved to the Detroit area in the 1950s. That car, the Vivant, (as no doubt some of you know) won its class at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d'elegance, entered by its new owner, Mark Brinker who commissioned the full restoration. So that's Herb's story.

My story isn't nearly so remarkable, but for me it was pretty special. When i was in junior high school, my family lived 4 homes down the street from George Toteff's family. George (we called him Mr. Toteff) had young children, but he always had time for me and a couple of friends.  At that age I consumed car magazines, and could identify almost every car on the road from its headlights coming toward the car I was riding in.  I built a lot of models, but didn't have the patience to finish most of them. I did do one though, cobbling up a 2nd generation Corvette (probably an MPC) to make it look like the original Sting Ray.  George Toteff was quite impressed, and I got to tour MPC, met a few industry people including Ray Brock, and George Barris.  Nothing like what you guys do, but it gave me an appreciation.

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Thanks Harry for the kind notice and additional information in your relation to the scene both in 1:1 and in-scale.  

Being in essence a second-generation fan for being born in 1969, during the height of the series I was deep into my pureed Peas and Carrots-phase versus having much awareness of the motor racing scene then-current.  No personalities were known, while I grew up across the later '70's and of course into the '80's where I might otherwise have been expected to direct my energies into the Turbo Era of F1, or maybe a good period indeed of GTP racing.  I was something of a serious and somber youth with few resources to draw upon, while instead I chose to bicycle solo to area automobile dealerships in SE Michigan in search of new-car brochures which at least had the merit of being availed for free if I took care not to be entirely obnoxious for my wants and desires.  Soon I'd drift into antique and thift stores along the way for I was traversing the same distance, while craft and hobby materials have long been my constant companions.

What altered my course so to speak and kindled an interest in period Trans-Am materials was a chance discovery of about 300 period sports car magazines for sale at an area used book store when I was still in my early teens.  Having been raised in what was essentially a gray blue collar environment, it was unexpectedly nice to immerse myself in the world of the post-war sports car scene where in certain measure the three-toned DeSoto was sneered upon as contrasted to something smaller, more sophisticated of design and better-balanced coming out of Europe and gaining traction here as a robust subculture of note.  Understand that overconfidence and a habitual incapacity to reflect about much characterized the 1:1 automobile scene in which I grew up, while brawn demonstrably failed to solve every problem as the industry mercilessly restructured again and again.  In particular, my father was essentially ground to powder by what transpired within the beleaguered Chrysler Corporation of the period, clutching as he did to a tenuous white-collar position with little actual education and credentialing to insulate himself from changes afoot.  What he was able to give wasn't enough, and my keen awareness of this reality doubtlessly colors my perceptions of great deal.    

Within my period magazines I learned a more textured code of behavior if you will, one that upheld the worth of applied intelligence, to only hint at what else might be gleaned for immersion across much.  Here I'd be introduced in a scatter shot form to industry figureheads, engineers, team owners, and especially road racing drivers of the period studied who'd suddenly gain prominence and mysteriously vanish from the scene given the partial understanding I was limited to given my collection was far from complete. One doesn't develop in a linear fashion for first finding the Sept. '63 issue of this, the August '67 issue of that, and only the January '61 issue of still another title necessary to draw it all together.  So many drivers were killed, such technological leaps were made, while so pronounced was the evolution of the product and marketplace that I frankly didn't take much interest in my own era by way of contrast.  Needless to say, I didn't have many friends so-attuned and remain an odd duck to this day. 

I tended to be drawn to racers and stories that contrasted sharply to the coarser element of what then surrounded me; i.e. I'd thrill to the stories of Mark Donohue versus Everybody, the loquaciousness of Sam Posey, as well as Americans competing afield in the form of Dan Gurney or perhaps Phil Hill.  The SCCA Trans-Am Series appealed in particular for it bridged what might otherwise have been a default interest harbored within for the brawn of muscular American-based sedans with the visceral and aesthetic appeal of the sports car scene.  Any trace contact with the vintage racing community came only much later and facilitated largely for the existence of the Internet, hence most of what is noted of my presence is strictly a home-brewed affair.  Know that contact availed and communication afforded with those who contributed and experienced much ensures that passions will extend into the future and that we the happy few likewise profit from that which we are given. Thank you for all you do and contribute here...

-

I thought I'd add a few small things before too long here, with one being reference to an existent thread concerning where to source Motor Wheel Spyder rims in 1:25th scale. If so-inclined, do consider seeing:  

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...also and as is typical with me, the scale model Zeppelin hanger I maintain consistent with harboring this project and that does contain what will be a '70 season T-G Racing Trans-Am Trans Am in 1:18th.  What can be done in the larger scale for '70 largely holds for what might be attempted for a '72, although wheels would be a problem given nothing suitable exists for the latter.  Perhaps in time something might be 3D printed, but not now and not strictly yet.  Seen below is my Jerry Titus project with the rather bulbous flares on the rear taking wild shape.  I'd read somewhere that either a trailer or perhaps a single-piece dune buggy fiberglass shell was cut apart to graft material onto this first example of the second-generation Firebird (a base 350 car in white with silver mesh grilles to match),  although I'd have to pour across what materials I've collected to confirm this.  Anyhow, it isn't terrible and reflects some concerted effort to solve problems, hence  something to ponder in brief...

10372072_10204104439406350_3411110364805100454_n.jpg.cacb6feb1c2cd224590528eecb5b9b42.jpg

...front flares will be worked up soon, although it helps to review what is pasted in above to glean what I'm attempting to capture.

5c6d0019ba723_1970TGRacingJerryTitustwo015.JPG.af1225f28aac1b9912383122937a1121.JPG

...quite raw, but the basis for something.  Look closely and one will make out the base grille mesh finish done in silver versus black.  The fill panels up front reflect resin poured into the shell, removed and then trimmed to come up with what is seen.  

5c6d000a0e28c_1970TGRacingJerryTitustwo013.JPG.a6db6d80cfad6a9870854c29c111a741.JPG

The rear flares are cobbled up resin copies from earlier projects artfully reemployed here.  All will be blended for use of JB Weld and bodyshop spot putty as required.  The tires are four 'rears' if you will, while the Minilite wheels are cast copies of what I've sought to improve as contrasted to the so-so GMP '69 Penske Camaro tool of yore. Specifically, the spokes were hand sculpted and redone, while the outer lip of the rim was cut off and replaced with something evidencing a more accurate contour.  The exhaust will exit out the back, while the wheel finish may too be unexpected for either being a mixed set of natural magnesium alloy on the front with aqua-colored rears, or machined lip versions painted aqua all around as what was run at Mid-Ohio '70.  

5c6d00250d7d7_1970TGRacingJerryTitustwo012.JPG.7abf801b687a48f5f45a7991bd27db9a.JPG

...just in passing, here the side drip rail trim has been sanded out, while the cast-in rubber seals otherwise visible on this old ERTL tool have been carefully filed up and away. Two tiny beads are used as tie-down points visible on the back of a scratch built fuel cell housing.  

10414583_10204104435646256_3578233134858587378_n.jpg.79cb6cdb30aea65beda2afebc1109874.jpg

With my sincere thanks...  

Mike K./Swede70

Edited by swede70

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Harry, are you harryquackenboss on Linked In? Just wondering. Thanks for the kind words. I love the Collonade Pontiacs and have owned three Collonade GM cars. I also resin cast Pontiac scale cars and have always wanted to build the 73 Grand Am. With your help and Mike's as well as the Petersen archives, this project became a reality and it is a blast.

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In my background post, I mentioned my family lived down the street from George Toteff's family. I admit I was kind of disappointed nobody commented on that, but i realize now you probably don't know who that is.

George Toteff was a vice president at AMT when I first met him, and he then founded MPC.  He arranged for me and a friend to get summer jobs loading and unloading trailers one summer in college. I did several jobs manual labor jobs during the summer, and one year, did a job every Saturday cleaning a neighbor's house. I picked corn and weeded melons in a field with a hoe. But at MPC, they were growing so fast, they rented semi-trailers that were too old to be used, parked them in a big lot, and used them as warehouse storage. Sitting in 80 degree sun they were quite hot, and we would load and unload them by hand, packing them onto palates. Car model kits weren't heavy, but they were as warm as an oven. 

The Toteffs moved away, and I never saw them again, but I read an article about how George took on the mission of saving Lionel trains. You can read about him on the Internet.

Having met George Barris, who collaborated on some models and would occasionally visit George Toteff, I saw George Barris at a custom car show in the San Francisco area several years ago. He didn't recognize me, but remembered me, or pretended to. He told me that the Toteffs had moved to Northern Michigan, and had a fire that destroyed their home, but fortunately nobody was hurt. I read he passed away in 1981 at age 85. https://www.hemmings.com/newsletter?id=165  

 

Edited by HQuackenboss
remove inadvertently pasted screen snip

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DoctorLarry,  The Petersen archive has some pictures of the Grand-Am at Daytona. One thing you can see is a simple, square ends aluminum front spoiler. Not very attractive, and is considerably shorter than the width of the car, but that was strictly specified by the Winston Cup rules.

https://archive.petersen.org/pages/view.php?ref=516412&search=Daytona&order_by=relevance&offset=0&restypes=1%2C3&starsearch=&archive=0&per_page=48&default_sort_direction=DESC&sort=DESC&context=Modal&k=&curpos=

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They also had installed mesh over the front grilles in this photo. I lived 18 miles from the Daytona track for 21 years and went to a few races. The amount of sand and other debris kicked up in a race at those speeds is pretty substantial. If you walk near the track during a race you feel like you are being sandblasted when the cars go by.

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Posted (edited)

Greetings and thanks to all for adding to this thread...

Although decidedly unglamorous. seen is a replacement chassis casting from the 1:18th Sun Star '64 GTO tool being worked over to serve my needs.  Work done on the first chassis was a touch rough, hence the most recently purchased parts car is being used to more precisely recreate what had been done before plus additional mods.   Everything thought good on the first chassis seen at the top left will go onto what is seen right and center.  

5c858bcba2411_GrayGhosttwo001.JPG.90f89324ce2d025e968b59baf3a76933.JPG

All but invisible, the 'Sun Star/Made in China' identification on the frame rails has been sanded out, the mounting pegs to accommodate screws that would secure the model to a plastic base have been filed out, while the cast-in bottom engine detail has likewise been delicately removed.  Some plugs have to be fabricated and blended in, although some of the less pleasant work has been done.  

Know that it's a challenge simply to make something like this competitive with what would otherwise be standard on a contemporary unassembled plastic kit in terms of detail.  To make any progress at all is to strike a reasoned balance between reuse of what's good enough versus what might be reasonably upgraded for studied application. By way of example, removing the fuel tank and other cast-in detail isn't technically hard.  This admitted, the work does require drilling successive holes around what needs to come out, later joining these holes with a faster and hotter drill that will melt any plastic it touches, and finally sanding out what remains without breaking the rest of the chassis.  Color the work tedious then...

5c858bd838a59_GrayGhosttwo004.JPG.b25c43239051ea2ef1312ad4b70718d7.JPG

Continuing, one will notice that the cast-in driveshaft has been filed out, as has the fuel tank to make room for a fill plate and a fuel cell housing.  The driveshaft will be scratch built with U-joint detail lifted from the trusty 1:18th GMP '67-'69 Trans-Am Camaro again.  For a lot of effort the cast-in emergency brake cables have been laboriously etched out with the aid of a Dremel MotoTool and limited sanding stick work.  Glue burns from where the stock exhaust was sited on the chassis just back of each rear wheel arch have largely been eliminated, while the cast-in rear spring perches have been drilled out in anticipation of replacing such with scratch built items.  

The rear camber adjustment flanges are seen mated to a 1:18th GMP '70 GTO Judge-source B.O.P. differential, while the upper links plus matching pick up points stand to be added soon. The bottom links will be boxed for discreet sheet plastic additions in the near term, while the brake discs seen are doubled up 1:18th GMP '68-'69 Trans-Am Camaro items done in resin.   Shocks and sway bar work to come, as will the fuel pump sheet metal surrounds forward of the cell housing.  I'm thinking of painting the chassis in a proper semi-gloss black finish, very lightly weathering the same, then decanting and applying a light blue finish to cover most, albeit not all of what is below.  I definitely don't want to overdo the weathering, although a light touch might go far here.

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In relation to the MPC reference made by Harry concerning his summer work back in the day, indeed - I'm somewhat removed from the period for having been born later. Although living in SE Michigan is often gray and without huge interest, I'm close to both the old AMT works on 15 Mile/Maple Rd. in Troy, as well as being very near to Groesbeck Hwy. that extends north of Mt. Clemens, hence to the very doorstep of what was MPC/Fundimensions.  When younger I had to settle for promotional model hand me downs from a pair of disinterested sisters (yes), and cheered when factory promotional models in the form of the 1982 Camaro arrived on the scene after years of being availed almost nothing.  More than a few locals bought cases of '82 Camaros imagining they'd be as desired as some of best promos of yore, whereas now if one pays more than $8 for a new-in-box example, one is a fool - sigh.  I recently bought a 1990 Polo Green ZR1 Corvette promo at a show for the princely sum of $7 - again, a fright.  Kind thanks...

Mike K./Swede70

 

 

Edited by swede70

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Posted (edited)

Greetings,

Seen is some short work performed on the 1:18th ERTL 1970 T.G. Racing Jerry Titus Firebird Trans Am Trans-Am if you will (stop and catch your breath here - it's entirely o.k):

I'd ordered another set of 1:25th Pegasus 23 inch turned aluminum 'stepped sleeves' as they are identified to mate to this project, while I ended up using the set cut up for the Gray Ghost project while waiting for such to arrive.  The new sleeves arrived just recently, and for cutting the new set down I'm hoping to rest with a clean conscience soon!  

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Some '70 Titus Firebird work on the side then.  Attached just below my initial upload is a photograph by Rich Woodward taken at the '70 Mid-Ohio Trans-Am contest which depicts the wheel configuration I've opted to duplicate.  It seems the team fielded the entry either with bare magnesium alloy wheels, with the same painted aqua, or rarely with the bulk of the wheel painted less exposed and possibly machined outer lips.  Given I have more than a few Trans-Am topics wearing pretty much standard bare Minilites, perhaps I'm simply drawn to the different here?  For experimentation, the final choice for the wheel paint employed here was '69 to '71 American Motors engine turquoise which was the best 'in the can' solution given what I could find.  Lug detail, wheel weights, etc. are to come...

5c980dc10e940_1970TGRacingJerryTitussixteen001.JPG.384e246711ee05c88c96ed49b19b1661.JPG

...yes, the fender-to-radiator support braces stand to be cut out.

5c980fa434a2e_1970T-GTitusatMid-Ohio.jpg.35adae32a4be54554eca4945f242e718.jpg

...note the unexpected subframe paint finish/color choice, etc.  A terrific period photo taken by a fan and a treasure surely.

Continuing with the model, note the new front flares, these hand-formed from stacked sheet plastic before being sculpted and cast in resin slightly oversized before being filed and sanded to mate with the likewise filed-out front wheel arches.  The flares are  temporarily held in with white craft glue here, while the rear flares will require considerably more work before I'll be confident to affix and blend these onto the shell.  The aerodynamic aids situated before the rear wheel arch openings will be bent in, sanded down, and blended before the flares are worked over consistent with arriving at a final shape.  

-

Other things introduced onto the work include a hollowed out shaker scoop to afford this model functional ram air (hooray!), while also noticed with be the reasoned beginnings of a roll cage.  A proper Trans-Am cage is typically tucked well under the roof stamping and essentially form-fitted to everything that surrounds it.  Here I was at pains to accommodate the thick roof with plastic 'glass' insert, the too thick interior door trim, some attachment points for the chassis to the interior, as well as the dashboard and the intrusive dog leg hinges looking forward.  Unlike some period Trans-Am topics, the  A-pillar bars do not cut into the corners of the dashboard, hence they terminate here just before it.  Further,  I tried to afford the bar visible just below the top of the windscreen a soft radius consistent with what was called for.  In sum, what has been worked up isn't terrible, while filling in with the required additional bars shouldn't be impossible.  The cutaway of the T.G. Firebird is reproduced in many a place, although here it was drawn from Gary L. Witzenburg's excellent book: Firebird!  America's Premier Performance Car.  

5c980ded4a752_1970TGRacingJerryTitusseventeen001.JPG.8fa7af9da6571726b686b05c4c8d8e21.JPG

...quite helpful this.

5c980dcbe296a_1970TGRacingJerryTitussixteen003.JPG.c529afaa8e3340744ed6062d22186ac4.JPG

The left and right A-pillar bars have the same profile, while the nearside bar has to clear the instrument panel surround unlike the other side.  Hard to discern otherwise, the Goodyear Blue Streak 'blue lines' have been carefully removed from each tire without strictly disturbing the tampo-printed 'GOODYEAR' identification.  This was performed with makeup applicators and alcohol, while later the tires were treated with Vinylex to restore them to rubbery darkness given they'd turned gray for such aggressive handling.

5c980dd3bf50e_1970TGRacingJerryTitussixteen004.JPG.a67d47fc4777d824e89ff33711b85d96.JPG

...my efforts to tuck everything in as tightly as I a may.  Some bars are missing, but the key ones have been bent and added.  Unlike the standard second-generation cars that have the rear view mirror affixed to the front glass, the racers had them mounted from the ceiling back of the roll cage member cutting across.  I have a mirror and will add this soon.

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Moving on then, seen before the model is a valve cover project that combines the fin detail of the 1:18th Welly '72 Trans Am with the stamped steel sides and base of the same-scale Lane '68 Firebird 400.  The work affords me a 'wrap around fin' cast aluminum valve cover which will be duplicated in resin.  Other things are being set aside for casting purposes and stand to be added, helping the cause of not just this but other scale projects harbored.  Thanks for reviewing this most recent update...

5c980ddd7a9f7_1970TGRacingJerryTitussixteen005.JPG.2f67cfb646c7b835054f2d2792ace105.JPG

Mike K./Swede70

 

Edited by swede70
My usual early draft atrocities on show again...

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A couple of comments on wheel colors on the Titus Firebird and the Tempest. 

I am going to guess that the restored Titus Firebirds were researched thoroughly when they were restored. My long ago impression was that the door numbers, and likely the wheel centers, were painted a blue intended to mimic the center blue stripe on the production car.

(BTW - one tidbit. Herb Adams told me he designed the original center hood stripe, of which he is quite proud. Although known for his engineering prowess, as evidenced by the Vivant one-off custom he did when he was still in his 20s (the design was basically done as a scratch-built model in high school).

Also note that teams needed an absolute bare minimum of 6 wheels for dry, because you would typically change two (on the same side of the car at a pit stop, and then you could get two new tires mounted before the next stop, if you were going to change them again,  But if there was a puncture, 6 wouldn't be enough. Then you needed a minimum of 4 for rain tires.  As a result, different finished wheels would be used, and even sometimes they didn't all match during a race.

Next, if you are trying to duplicate the look of the original Minilites, don't go by what you see on the restored Trans-Am racers, the rims on a couple of brands look different up close.

On the Tempest, a huge amount of effort went into recreating the exact silver exterior, and the interior color, which was also used on the frame, underhood area, and beginning with the Elkhart Lake event, the Minilite centers.  While it was often described as Pontiac engine blue, that wasn't what was used originally. I asked Tom Nell, the engine builder, who passed away a  couple of years ago, what he used on the engines. He bought a Pontiac Blue engine paint at the local auto parts store (Duplicolor was a popular brand then but he didn't recall). Having looked at the various Pontiac production engine paint colors, what he used doesn't, to my eye, match any of them. On the frame and interior, and on the wheels, the guy responsible for the body bought gallons of a blue epoxy from a surplus store, and used a brush, I think, for it all. To my eye, the color we ended up picking for the restoration is a teeny bit more tourquoise-ish than what we used originally, although because all of the color photos from 1971 have either changed because of the years, or been adjusted in the process of publishing them. Further, while the car was pretty original before restoration, on close inspection, various parts of the car originally covered with brush-applied blue epoxy, had been spray painted with what appeared to be different shades of blue, and what was left of the original blue could have aged.

 

 

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Firebird looks pretty cool. Do you have any information on the one black one Herb Adams fielded?

hppp-1209-07-pioneers-of-pontiac-v8-1971-pontiac-firebird.JPG.jpg

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DoctorLarry,

I started as a junior member in 1971 with the Tempest. I was never called a junior, or a rookie, but I started out as an information sponge. Through the season I took on increasing responsibility. In 1972 when the chassis lead left to get his MBA, I became a partner in the team and took over the chassis responsibility (suspension/brakes/tires). At the end of the season, i went to driver's school in the car.

What would you like to know?

Harry

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Basically ho wit was built. Was it for SCCA? I am assuming it used a 303 and was built similar to the Gray Ghost. I would like to tackle this one as a companion to the Grans Am.  I have seen pictures with 96 and 69-was one of the negatives flipped?

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Posted (edited)

Yes, it was built for the 1972 SCCA Trans-Am Series, which used very similar rules to the 1971 Tempest.  It raced under number 96 at the first race, where it was driven by Tony DeLorenzo. Herb Adams had originally wanted to drive for the season, and the rest of us supported that decision. Herb decided after the first couple of practice sessions that he wasn't going to be able to do as well as a seasoned driver, and Tony DeLorenzo was drafted for that race. Tony finished 3rd, after pitting because the shift linkage lost a retainer clip which meant no 4th gear. He continued on and finished 3rd. He told me a few years ago if he had just stayed out, and feathered it in 3rd gear, he might have won.

Milt Minter drove the car the rest of the season and finished 2nd at the next race at Bryar, and it used the number Zero from then on.

In the spring of 1973, it was entered in the Road Atlanta Trans-Am race, with a 366" NASCAR spec version of the motor, but with the same external appearance. We had a problem with the motor before qualifying and ran a 303 in the race. The rules had become a lot more liberal, and other cars including Corvettes, a European Ford Capri, Porsches, etc. 

It was a conventional Firebird leaf spring rear suspension, The rear axle tubes were cut welded to provide negative camber, but it was a stock full size rear axle.  It used a very similar front sway bar like the Tempest, but 1/8" bigger at 1 3/8", same front spindles, same brakes.The rear sway bar design was just like a production Firebird.

The frame, underbody, engine compartment and interior were painted flat black. The orange stripe was day-glo on chrome film. Eventually, the main part of hte roof was covered with chrome film.  The engine configuration with dry sump was the same as the Tempest. The engines were painted gloss black. It used a Doug Nash intake manifold,  A search will show you pictures. It had 180 degree headers, fabricated using pre-bent tubing elbows and welded with an oxy-acetylene torch by Herb Adams.. The exhaust exited each side kind of recessed part way into the rockers. With the angle they exited (as a guess, at a 30 degree angle from the rockers) they were cut flush with the body, and with half-oval cut outs in the rockers.

One unusual feature that you probably want to try to duplicate was that it had a very large center tunnel that was hand fabricated, replacing the center part of the floor, from the firewall to the rear bulkhead. Unfortunately, nobody has found complete pictures.

It was far more successful, but didn't get as much publicity as the Tempest.

Here is a picture I found on the Web, with me in the dark blue jacket on the right side of the picture.

Ask more questions :)

Harry Quackenboss Firebird Watkins Glen 2WatkinsGlenMiltMinterFirebird-vi.jpg

Edited by HQuackenboss

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TEST - having a miserable time.

Mike K./Swede70

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Posted (edited)

Just a fast update given the system won't allow me to upload my usual long draft...

This was decal artwork found that might help matters.  Even if I pitch the accessory markings to the side, I really like the numerals for design and the blue they chose:

5c9c38a5e9295_13at38percent.jpg.fb4f4622c6cb03b7d3fa4905fe7cebab.jpg

Below is seen the cage taking shape less bars forward to the front subframe.  The laborously worked up finned aluminum valve covers seen earlier up this thread are noticed on the build now:

5c9c38949fb36_1970TGRacingJerryTitustwentytwo002.JPG.9d46b5f917a63fcd08596b874acee02d.JPG

...and the same stuff worked up, seen from the rear three-quarter.  Small stuff includes the cast-in pedals and carpet texture on the interior floor that was both ground down and/or sanded off.  Note too the opened up shaker scoop for much careful Dremel and file work.  Big stuff includes the grafting in of material to plug where a cast-in center console would otherwise be found.  It's a bit bulbous, although it's still an improvement. Thanks...

5c9c388fa0e49_1970TGRacingJerryTitustwentytwo001.JPG.a52d6dcb2832543733bd0b7b7d607324.JPG

Mike K./Swede 70

Edited by swede70

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O.K. - that finally worked!  Whew...

Thanks Harry for your informed input again.  I tell myself and others that I try to master what was as contrasted to what is and delicately go from there with  regards to what I attempt in-scale.  Indeed - most vintage racers run powder coated aluminum wheels or like-coated magnesium wheels to keep oxidation at bay from what I understand.  Thanks for the insight with regards to what a typical team would bring in terms of the number of wheels required for an average race weekend in-period.  I like the art and colors chosen in relation to the decal art pasted in above - I hope such will work.  I further appreciate knowing the background of who did the artwork back in the day.  Worried now that this message too will be mulched, I think I'd just send it and hold my breath.  I would be neat if Dr. Larry took up the '72-season Herb Adams entry, and I'd try to help in any way could.  Thanks for skimming my update.

Mike K./Swede70

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You guys might be interested in a fact-based novel, Blood Sweat and Gears - The story of the Gray Ghost and the Junkyard Firebird by David Barnes.  David was general counsel for American Axle and Manufacturing, a spin-out from General Motors of their chassis components.  Herb was doing engineering and development work, and was written up in the employee newsletter. David was intrigued, and ended up interviewing team members and writing the book. It is David's first work, and some of the stories are not exactly like they happened but the names and places are factual.

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