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Bernard Kron

'29 Ford Highboy Roadster with old black paint

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When I was building my last project, a black ’32 Ford Highboy Roadster featuring a deep gloss paint job, I experimented with various black paints to compare their shades (yes black comes in different shades, although it is subtle). One of my many faults is that I have a weakness for cheap paints. I’ll always give a budget a try in the hopes that I find an incredible bargain. I don’t airbrush so we’re talking home and auto aerosol spray paints and craft acrylics here.

One of my favorite cheapo aerosols is Brite Touch, sold here in the U.S. at auto supply stores and made by Sherwin Williams. Even the brand name is cheapo! I’m a big fan of their primers. Their grey is a lighter shade of gray which, if you’re doing a primer rod is much nicer, to my eyes, than the dark grey hot rod primers like Duplicolor or Testors. Brite Touch Red Oxide primer is a much truer red oxide color than other red primers, too, and also makes a terrific undercoat when you want some primer to show through (see below). They even make a black primer which is an ideal matte black for tires, among other things. I only wish they made a white primer.

So I thought I’d try their gloss paints. There white gloss is a true white and flows and sets up nicely and is rapidly becoming a mainstay for me as an undercoat and as a race car base color. Now it was time to try their Gloss Black. This time it was an utter Fail. It doesn’t flow well and sets up with a grainy texture, almost like a very fine orange peel. Bummer! But what I did discover is that when you sand it out, whereas it will never get you back to a true, deep gloss, it does a fine imitation of worn, faded black paint.

The shiny black Deuce Highboy came out the way I wanted it too, nice and deep and glossy (I used Duplicolor Universal Gloss Black with Krylon Clear on that one). After the usual brief period of builder’s block the obvious follow-up presented itself. After Glossy Black how about worn and faded black? After all I had accidentally stumbled on the perfect paint to do it, that wretched Brite Touch Black Gloss. And sitting in my stash since it was first introduced back in 2015 was the ideal candidate – the Revell ’29 Ford Highboy roadster.

That kit which created tremendous interest and excitement when it first came out, shared a characteristic with most Revell hot rod and custom kits – the kit was engineered with a very specific vision of what the final result should be – one that I rarely agree with. It took me a while to come to terms with and when I finally built it I built the Low-Boy version. This left plenty of parts left over, including the Nailhead motor and the chassis and interior for the Highboy version. While I was building it someone offered a kind of “Highboy build kit” with a body shell and grill, all the suspension, the chassis, suspension and the interior. I still don’t understand it since all that was missing was the motor and the wheels and tires. But at Buy It Now for less than $15.00 USD delivered who was I to ask? Sold!

And there it sat in my stash until now. The plan is to build the Highboy as kind of my version of Jairus Watson’s recent box art illustration for the re-issue of this kit which is coming out as I write this. Jairus’ illustration is of the highboy in worn black paint, featuring the rather questionable “rust” decals that come in the kit. But the illustration captures the flavor of what I have in mind. In my case the Nailhead, which has become somewhat overused of late, will remain in the box, and I’ll be using an Oldsmobile V8 in stock trim (itself on its way to being overused) with a mild hop up. I’m also substituting a ’32 Ford grill. The wheels and tires consist of the superb Lincoln tires and 16” wheels from Drag City Casting at the rear, and Modelhaus .120A tires on AMT ’40 ford steelies at the front.

The patina on the paint was achieved as follows. The base coat is Brite Touch Red Oxide primer followed by a coat of Duplicolor Primer Sealer and two coats of the dreaded Brite Touch Gloss Black. The whole thing was wet sanded, first with 1000 grit to knock down the peal and create the worn areas, and then with 2000 grit to bring the shine back. One thing about worn and oxidized paint is that it’s actually quite smooth and not matte as some might think. Then I gave the result a light pass with rust colored weathering powder to create some mild surface rust in the crevices and corners, and then a dusting of pale gray weathering powder to simulate the oxidation and dirt. The result is what you see below.

Next up is the Oldsmobile V8. Then on to the problem of what to do about all that kit chrome…

Thanx for lookin’,
B.

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DSCF7663-web.jpg
Start-Summary-Web-B.jpg

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I like it. Sort of a touch of rust starting around the outer edges of every body panel. 

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Outstanding!!  Looks GREAT!  You can almost smell that old-car smell!

I’m a sucker for cheap paints too - I’ll always pick up anything that seems like it might be useful one day, even if I don’t have a use for it right there and then 

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Love that oxidized paint effect!! I don't know if it's the paint or your lighting setup, but the black has that blue cast that 1:1 oxidized black hot rods develop.

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Thanks everyone! This technique was a complete accident, but once I stumbled on it I just had to invent a project for it!

I got the motor built and the front and rear suspension parts done. The rear suspension is installed as well as the front axle.

The motor is the stock Oldsmobile Rocket V8 from the Revell ’50 Olds stock kit. The only changes I made was to use the headers from the Revell ’50 Olds custom kit and change out the carburetion, adding a 4-barrel from my infinite supply of Revell ’32 Ford small ,block V8s. The “batwing” aircleaner is a resin re-pop of the unit found in the Foose Cadillac kit. I found it on eBay. It’s from Action Modeler (vendor: action-shopper) and they make very nice resin parts. Highly recommended. The air cleaner is finished in weathered black to match the bodywork.

The chassis is the kit chassis with the rear modified to a more traditional leaf spring setup with a ’37 Ford truck rear crossmember and spring. The (rather sketchy) lever shocks were scratch build. The front suspension has been lowered at least a couple of scale inches, perhaps more, by reversing the front crossmember and shaving 3 leaves off the spring. The kit chrome was knocked back by coating it with black Vallejo wash. The inner channel of the axle has been filled with flat black paint.

Now it’s ready for a stance check and any tweaking required. Time to assemble the wheels and tires. With the interior mostly done it’s getting close to final assembly time.

Thanx for lookin’,
B.

Chassis-and-Motor-Summary-web.jpg

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This is very cool, Bernard! I love that choice of setup for the engine--perfect! Excellent work, sir!

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11 minutes ago, Straightliner59 said:

This is very cool, Bernard! I love that choice of setup for the engine--perfect! Excellent work, sir!

Thanks Dan. This sure isn't turning out to be like the cover art that inspired me, though... LOL!

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AS I have said before I find the aged or patina look of the parts here add so much to the overall appearance. I have a question about your spark plug wires. In the photos it looks like you have a 90 degree boot on the spark plug end of the wires. I would like to know how you did that as it is something I would like to use on some of my builds. 

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Nice start, I like the way this one is going.  I have seen a few of your builds now and have always been impressed.

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Thanks to you both. Much appreciated!

I’ve gotten the wheels weathered, glued to the tires and the rolling stock glued to the axles. With the grill shell loosely mounted and the body held in place with a rubber band I was able to do a stance check. The grill shell will take some fiddling fettling but overall I like how low I was able to get it (a big improvement over Revell’s “mile-high: ground clearance) and the rake that the big ‘n’ littles provide.

 

The next issue will be the windshield. To my eye roadsters always look best without one and it’s oh-so tempting to just call it a dry lakes racer and call it good. Time to face it, though…  It’ll be important to conserve the unadorned simplicity I’ve managed to maintain so far.

 

Thanx .for lookin’,
B.

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On 5/11/2020 at 7:04 AM, espo said:

...I have a question about your spark plug wires. In the photos it looks like you have a 90 degree boot on the spark plug end of the wires. I would like to know how you did that as it is something I would like to use on some of my builds. 

I'm afraid that's just an illusion. The spark plug holes were drilled horizontally into the block and the plug wires glued horizontally. the short length of wire to meet the exit holes in the valve covers were simply bent up. I guess the shadowy area around the plug holes creates that impression.


 

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Maybe a low windshield with the top edge about eye ball high. 

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Man, that engine put it out of the ballpark for me; VERY cool. It is the focal point of the build.

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8 hours ago, bisc63 said:

Man, that engine put it out of the ballpark for me; VERY cool. It is the focal point of the build.

Agreed! That engine is super-cool, for this project.

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Thanks to you all!

This will be an extremely brief update, just about the grill placement and windshield selection.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the most appropriate. After spending time at the bench fiddling with various combinations of AMT and Revellogram ’29 Ford windshields and dashboard combinations, chopped and unchopped, the one solution I hadn’t tried was the windshield in the Revell roadster kit just as it came in the box. It’s a really nice part, a finely detailed and thin piece of kit chrome with a nice rearward angle cast into it. Finally I succumbed to the obvious and tried it unmodified with only a coating of Vallejo black wash to knock back the kit-chrome look. Bingo! The simple, classic hot rod look that was the whole point of this project.

The grill shell mounting is exact;y as it will be in the completed model. Interestingly, adding just an .020 strip of styrene to the bottom of the cut down Revell Deuce radiator I’m using is what I needed to dial it in. I’m always surprised at the differences these seemingly tiny adjustments can make when working in scale.

There are no major items left on my list except the biggy: whether to finish this up as  the ultra-simple “as-found” period hot rod pretty much as you see it here, or to add some detail “The Race of Gentlemen” styled touches such as period decals and racing numbers. The process of finally assembly will no doubt decide it for me.

Thanx for lookin’,
B.

windshield-and-grill-summary-web.jpg

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Looks great! can't wait to see it finished.

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Thanks Elvin!

I have the luxury of two windshields to work from. So what do you guys think? Chop or no chop?

Thanx in advance for the input,
B.

Chop-or-No-Chop-web.jpg

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If you mount with pins why not have all three options available?  Chopped, not chopped and removed for racing.

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14 hours ago, Flat32 said:

If you mount with pins why not have all three options available?  Chopped, not chopped and removed for racing.

Exactly!  You can't go wrong either way but why not have the best of all worlds?  I also think that Olds engine is a perfect choice.

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I decided to stick with the stock height it. It suits the simplicity of this build, I think. Now I have a pre-chopped windshield for a future project.

This project is now complete except I forgot to install the door handles. I’ll do that before I do the formal “beauty shots”. The summary of some final details shown below isn’t as sharp and clear as I’d like because I improvised some bench shots without a tripod. My usual photo setup wasn’t available today. I’ll include some sharper detail pics tomorrow. In the meantime thanks to all who followed along.

Thanx for lookin’,
B.

Wrapup-details-summary-web.jpg

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I really like that Olds engine, too. I've been wanting to put that style air cleaner on my (real, sitting in my yard) '54 Ford F-250. It was stock with some Ford products back then.

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