After my recent interview with Tim Ahlborn, I felt the need to tackle some of my Big Rig modeling projects. I mentioned that I drove a slim cab version of the GMC Astro 95 while in the Air Force and since there is no kit of it I had to modify the AMT kit. Somewhere in my stash I have a kit already started, but if memory serves me my first attempt wasn’t what I had hoped it to be. Probably why its buried deep and out of sight.
Well last night I took another of my AMT kits of the Astro 95 and decided to try again using better techniques and tools I didn’t use before. I will say the results are definitely better! So I will now share how I did it. This method/technique can be used with anything you want to cut apart to lengthen or shorten…car, truck, trailer, ship or aircraft. I used some Dymo tape, masking tape, hobby knife with a sharp #11 blade and a micro razor saw to perform this task.
First I used the Dymo tape to set the reference and act as a cutting guide. Once it was in position I added overlapped some masking tape over it to give greater adhesion to prevent the Dymo tape from moving. Since Dymo tape is ridged, you may have to use several smaller sections to avoid distortion of your cutting line. In the case of this cab, for the forward line I used three separate pieces. For the rear I used one, but cut some relief cuts to ease the tension on the tape. The tension was causing the Dymo tape to pull away from the cab. The area between the red is what will be removed.
After giving the tape one last inspection for proper position I then started to lightly score along the edge of the Dymo with my hobby knife. Pulling the knife using the back side of the tip. After several passes, to assure I had a solid and visible scored line I removed the tape.
You might be temped to score all the way through one of the cut lines right away, but you don’t want to separate any portion of the cab just yet. Leaving it attached gives the piece strength making it less flexible while you score the second cut line.
With the two parallel lines well scored, I again scored them until I could see evidence I was passing through the inside surface. Then using my razor saw I finished cutting the pieces apart. This prevents any tearing or ripping which will leave a nasty edge requiring a lot of sanding. You want your two mating surfaces to be as close in tolerance as possible. Many a modeler gets into trouble at this stage. They need to do a little sanding to improve the fit, only they end up making the fit worse by doing it improperly. I’ll show how in the next installment.
A lot of the sheet metal work done on restoration and customization of real vehicles applies when working with plastic models. Since this cab has a fairing at the bottom edge I wanted to leave as much “extra” attached to the parts I will be keeping. A couple of short relief cuts with the razor saw just to the inside of the scored line where I would be cutting the cab apart allow an extra amount of that fairing to remain attached. These stubs will be sanded down to get a perfectly matched fit and alignment.
It doesn’t take much effort to run the micro saw through the scored lines and separate the cab into three pieces. The plug that was removed can be reused as an extension for another kit to give it a customized Super Sleeper. In the past I have taken aircraft fuselage plugs and sent them to fellow modelers looking to stretch their kits fuselage.
A few quick passes with a sanding stick on the fairing stubs at the bottom of the two parts and the cab already looks good enough to start gluing it together, but not just yet!
I still have to cut in a back window and installation of some alignment pins so the cab panels match up perfectly and hold their position during the cementing process. I also have to remove some panel lines where the access doors were on the sides of the cab. Not to mention its easier to test fit the inside assembly of the cab with the back panel still off. This allows me to mark where it will need to be cut down so it can slip inside without fuss.
Yes, I will be sharing with you the progression of this Truck Cab Slim Down showing you more techniques I use to complete the project. Such as making your own alignment pins, re-enforcement gussets and how to seamlessly fill any gaps with styrene. So for now…I’m East Bound And Down!
This should clearly dispel any thoughts that I am or this blog is biased against modeling of trucks or any other category. I have built just about every type of model at some point in my modeling history. I just might not have been as successful as others so my passion is focused on those which I do enjoy and have better results at building. Anyone who wishes to contribute their favorite category is welcomed to do so, I’d be more than happy to include them here on the Squawkbox.