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Jones Indy Watson Roadster


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so i've had a couple of AMT kits forever  and then I got some offy engine kits - casted originally by Chris Etzel

but they were not designed to fit into the AMT kit - Etzel designed them for one of his great resin kits - the dirt track car

then last year I got the Indycals Watson roadster frame - they are sold on Shapeways - which is intended to be used in the AMT kit ...

which was one of the first detailed 25th sc race car kits - but the detail is, well, kind of vague - a lot ....

and dimensions were guess work 

so down the rabbit hole I go ......




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thing 1

the 3D printed frame is much more accurate than the kit frame - which has frame members that are too large

but the Indycals frame won't fit into the kit body without some trimming and changes

trimmed the top of the engine bulkhead but also thinned the corresponding profile of the cockpit covering

the idea is to get the frame cross members and the bottom of the bulkhead as close to the base of the body work as possible

the sides of the kit body also has to be scribed with the panel lines and drilled for the openings for the fasteners

this won't be real time for a few postings - I've done most of this stuff over the past two months





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the third shot has the kit frame in place, with the kit fuel tank for reference

the plugs at the base of the body were reduced / trimmed to better site the 3D frame

after the trimming, the last shot shows that, yes, the frame will fit nicely into the kit body

but the intrepid modeler will have add all of the various suspension bits and the many braces and fastener  plates visible on period frame photos 

and if you are making Jones' Willard Battery Special - the front spring pickups - which protrude up and away from the bodywork on the Foyt car - have to be clipped off - the Jones Watson roadster brought the pickups inside the profile of the frame ...





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thing 2

these Watsons had the 255 Offy installed without a tilt - straight up and down - but with a very slight pitch down at the front

the Etzel casting is a super accurate 270 Offy - which is about 1/2 inch taller than the 255s that were used at Indy from about 56 onwards

but that's only .020 inches so let's see if the Etzel casting will fit ...

many of you know that the kit engine is undersized and too short and just plain funny looking

so I started by cutting an opening in the body at the base - because the Watsons raced with the sumps protruding  down through these openings - the Etzel engine casting has a separate part for the sump cover - don't need that yet .....




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the first photo shows the kit engine brace that I'm replacing with a nickel and brass soldered brace that will sit on frame posts made from Evergreen stock and  round rod

this will look more accurate and give me a good sound fitting for the Etzel white metal casting - so I can fit the engine casting and figure out what fits where - or doesn't ...






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thing 3

your can't fit the Etzel engine too low in the chassis

because the exhaust manifold has to leave the engine bay through the corresponding manifold opening - which of course means that the engine cover will not fit over the profile of the cyl head - particularly the timing chain cover at the front of the engine - I think that I've got a fix for that ... 

the other shots show some of the fastener posts made from Evergreen stock and  glued to the frame members - there will be quite a few more of these ...






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so in order to fit the Etzel engine I have to perform some plastic surgery .....

the hole in the engine cover was cut to see what sort of profile I would need to clear the top of the timing chain cover - now for a plug of renshape ....

the idea is to slightly change the profile of the bulge in the engine cover without a drastic change to the basic shape of the engine cover ....

forgot to include the shot of the engine brace from the old Road & Track Salon ....





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I always have some scraps of renshape handy ....

2 plugs of renshape were superglued into the opening made in the engine cover

the kit eng cover bulge has a taper that I have to eliminate to make room for the top of the cyl head

the idea is to shape and sand the renshape to follow the bulge front to back without the taper

so once I've got some putty and paint and decals on the cover

- there won't be much difference between the kit part and the modified part

but since I am re-shaping a portion of the cover on either side of the mid line - I can make an engine cover hinge but probably can't use a working hinge - that's okay ....

the shaping and finishing of the renshape is done with some sanding drums, sanding sticks, and some diamond coated foredom bits ...






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forgot to mention  something that maybe you already know ...

"Jones" is Parnelli Jones - whose place in Indy lore is secured not just as an Indy winner, but also as one of the few brave men who won in front engined roadsters - and was also willing to race a car with a turbine engine and with an engine in the rear

- so as a teen - he, and Mario  - and of course Jimmy - were three of my first racing heroes ....

and for those of you newer to the hobby - Chris Etzel is no longer with us - so this is a sort of tribute build...

treat yourself to some of his kits or castings - anything that you can get your hands on .....

- he was a cottage industry resin casting pioneer - sorry that I never got to meet him ....

will also be using the scale drawings of the Willard Battery special as drawn by the late Bob Clidinst

- these are very valuable - he too is missed

I actually did get to spend a day with Bob on my trip to Indy years ago

- I know that some of you may have also crossed paths with Bob

- he was - for those of you who did not know him - an excellent modeler himself - for the record .... 

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thank you Ranchero

so some test fitting - that's why I made the front brace first ...

the peak of the  timing chain cover still interferes with the engine cover - but not too much

there is enough room under the bulge with the new renshape profile 

IF i make a small reduction in the height of the timing chain cover

which is what I've done here with a razor saw and some files

this seems to work so I'll make the same change on the other side







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thing 4

the kit nose has a scoop that is too shallow

the engine compartment scoop on the Willard Battery Special is deeper - at least 4 scale inches in height

so I removed the plastic forming the base of the scoop and replaced it with evergreen plastic to form a deeper scoop after a lot of sanding and filing - still need to add a small vertical stake  at the mid-line of the nose

Foyt's car has a scoop that is even larger - there is an aftermarket mod for that ...







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here's something odd

the profile openings on the kit nose for the suspension pickups are different left and right 

the left side opens nearly at the peak or of the nose - the right farther back

studying the frame shots and the Clidinst drawing  ....

the car ran offset torsion bars - front and back - meaning the torsion bar at the front left is about 2 scale inches longer than the right - same at the back

- not sure but the other Watsons probably had this same feature ...

so I'll make these changes to the frame and then make changes to the sides of the nose ...


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So this is where you have been, I was wondering.  Impressive progress to say the least.

I just wanted to second your comments about Bob Clidinst.  What you did not mention was that Bob worked at the Indy museum.  I have a bunch of his drawing if anyone is interested I can look and see what I have.

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photo 1  Bob leaning into the engine bay of the Belond Special

photo 2   of the Belanger Special while being restored in one of the Museum's off site restoration shops

 - circa -  about 1992 - Bob gave me a behind the scenes Museum tour - including a trip to this restoration shop

I've also got a number of his drawings - the Chaparral, and Cummins Special - and some frame drawings and some others ....  he studied and drew the features of the Watson and the Kurtis frames - in great detail



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Something else ....

the Rev’s Museum in Naples fl

formerly the Collier .....  has a searchable on line research archive. I think the best on the planet 

If you do a search for the’64 Indy race you’ll find some good photos of the frames of the Watsons. Mostly Foyt’s car but that was very close to the Willard Battery Special 

Great resource.....

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  • 2 weeks later...

there is a brace - or a molding - that the nose and the leading edge of the engine bonnet are attached to with screws

I think that the cross brace that is visible in the third picture is supposed to represent this part on the printed frame

I'll remove it because it is not far enough forward.

and I have glued a lip to the trailing edge of the nose with .015 x .156  evergreen strip to serve this purpose  -  the fit will not be precise enough to line up all of the screw holes but that's okay …..









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the engine bulkhead on the printed frame leaves a gap between the edge of the bulkhead and the cowling

so I cut back a section of the bulkhead and added and shaped some evergreen strip - .060 - thick - to eliminate the gap

will do the same on the left /driver's right  ….

- I found a very good bl/wh photo of the Willard Bat Sp engine bay in one of Ludvigsen's photo library books

this is critical - because there are some clearly visible differences between the Sheraton Thompson's engine bay and the Willard

so armed with this info I can get back to the engine ...




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my son's glfriend - who knows all things cellphone - downloaded a camera app onto my iPhone that modifies photos with all sorts of different artistic applications …. called becassa

so it's a blue world today - as I'm learning how to use the app …..

neat ...


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