Trolley Modeling in N Scale

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Model Model T ~ Sunday, May 01, 2011

Here's a photolog of building a Model T kit from Micron Art (aka µA).

First some prototype research--a local Ford dealership conveniently had a Model T on display (although a more sporty style of one), in a well-lit showroom, which I photographed after hours under cover of darkness:

Now to the N scale version. Here's what you start with, just a brass fret and instructions. US quarter for size comparison. One sheet is actually for two models.

On a tip from a friend, I lightly sanded everything with a fine-grit sandpaper, to help paint stick on (hopefully) without primer. (I just did the right half).

Making a brass model is a lot like making a paper model. You cut out parts and fold them up on dotted lines. Here's the main chassis piece.

Micro-Mark sells an interesting-looking tool called the Etch-Mate for making these folds precisely, but I'm just using a pair of non-tooth pliers (don't want to leave "tooth marks"), itself a slightly unusual item but you can get them in hardware stores (got mine at OSH), and folding things against a hard surface.

Here's the main body piece. The doors are separately applied pieces. So far I'm gluing things with the regular kind of crazy-glue cyanoacrylate (runny) that you can get at any drug store or even supermarket.

The seats are now folded into shape and installed:

One last interior detail is the steering wheel. Next, the instructions suggest that this is a good time to paint the interior, so I did, following their color recommendations. Red leather seats--nice!

Looking at close-up photos like this, I always see little goofs I've made. I guess if I didn't notice them in real life, even with reading glasses, I shouldn't worry too much.

I feel like Godzilla trying to do a detail job on a 1:1 car.

The body is folded up, and the cowling glued on the front. Starting to look like a car. I'm using gel-type superglue, then sanding the corners round.

Next up, finish the hood, put the body and chassis together. I could stop here and call it a retro hot-rod motor sled.

Glue on the roof. If there was anything else I was supposed to put inside, it's too late now :) ... fold up the fenders and glue the radiator onto the front, then bend the front fenders down and glue onto the little arms that stick out from the radiator piece.

The next piece to attach is a combination rear-axle, driveshaft, diagonal frame piece, which goes on the bottom, naturally. There seems to be a mistake in the instructions here. They show a fold between the axle and the rear support springs, keeping the axle bit horizontal; I think you should really keep the axle bit vertical and fold at the joint between the axle and the driveshaft and diagonals. The instructions do caution you to make sure the axle is positioned so that the rear wheels won't scrape the fenders, and doing it the way I'm suggesting gives them much better clearance.

This also puts the rear axles on the same level as the front axles, as you can see below, which should make the whole car sit levelly when the wheels are on.

I did not figure this out immediately. The instructions include the helpful advice that you can unglue CA/superglue with acetone (nail polish remover), which proved true, although I messed up this delicate piece in the process. As I noted, you actually get parts for two cars from the kit, so I cannibalized from the other half. I'll figure out what to do for the other one when I get there (but perhaps the point of the double kit is not so much than anyone builds two, as an acknowledgment that few modelers are likely to complete the kit without breaking or loosing at least one tiny part).

At this point the model is almost ready to paint. But there was a hole between the running boards, front fenders, and nose of the car that isn't there on actual model T's. Can't blame the kit for this--it's just a limitation of what you can make out a folded sheet of brass. I decided to fill it with Microscale Micro Krystal Klear; I don't care that about it being transparent (it'll be painted over, anyway), but it's good for filling little gaps.

Time to start painting. Of course it's black! For models this small, I brush-paint. It took several passes to make sure every obscure corner was covered--I actually found a lot of places that needed touching up by taking pictures and looking at them on my computer.

One thing I learned the hard way, too late to fix it for this model, is that blobs of glue, which aren't very visible before painting, since they're transparent, show up as obvious blobs afterwards. Next time I'll make sure to sand them down first.

Here I'm using Micro Krystal Klear for it's intended purpose, window glazing--also a dab on each of the headlights.

It looks like glass when it dries.

Per the kit's recommendations, I painted the wheel spokes brown, and the tires light gray. I've never seen light gray tires, except maybe on a bike, but perhaps this is an area where even vintage car restorers choose modern, safer materials over authenticity.

The instructions recommend painting the wheels and tires while they are still on the frets, and I think that's probably a good idea, but sometimes I forget to read instructions.

Put the wheels on the axles, add the tiny round nuts (the instructions say that's optional, but I didn't come this far to skimp on the last detail--also I figure they really will help keep the wheels on), done!

Fill'er up!

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