Jeff Sexton

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Alfa Romeo Engine

The bulk of the engine assembly is completed, including the infamous Pocher working crankshaft and cylinders - and that took some effort... I don't think a single piece fit and worked as-is.

Not sure about the firing order either... It is assembled as per the diagrams, but I read someplace that they were incorrect.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pocher Horn

The horn in Pocher Alfa kit is a plastic body and two brass parts that appear to actually be machined. The brass is not finished well though, so into the lathe they go for trimming and polishing.

Also, a handy tool here is a fine file with smooth (non-cutting) sides. I have used this tool a lot to square off "puffy" plastic parts. The smooth side can work right up into a corner without cutting, while the cutting side makes a flat surface. angles closer to 90 degrees improve the look of every part.

The completed horn mounts to the side of the engine block.

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Best Seat In The House

Helbros Radio Program promotional item


Saturday, December 26, 2015


 Correcting a wrapped part was easier than I expect it might be, due I think to this soft, old type of plastic. The parts can be heated in not quiet boiling water for about 45 seconds at a time. They become slightly malleable for a few seconds and can be straightened out!

The kit uses 4 or 5 slightly different types of plastic, each with different properties. For example, a given type of glue will work on one type of part but not on another. I have three types of glue on hand (so far).
​A pulley from the generator assemble (I think it's the generator, I'm not actually much of a car guy) was truly badly molded. I chucked it up in the lathe and made it as it was supposed to be using a very sharp graver, and 800 grit sandpaper. This worked great!

It's hard to see, but the lower part of the engine block is masked off so that the upper part can be sprayed a different color. Painting is a time consuming process - primer coats, sanding, more priming, 3 or 4 dust coats of color (sometimes different colors, particularly for a metal look), finish coat and then touch up.
The carburetor is the first component completed.
Here is a huge problem, or at least I think it is a problem. There is a back plate on the end of the supercharger here. It is a flat, round disk-like piece with a squared off side. With the assembly in place, it stands out a good quarter of an inch from the extending part of the engine block. There is a giant error someplace as all the photos of the real engine I have seen show these pieces are extending out the same distance, all lining up. Also, if assembled as is, the bolts in the plate (on the side not shown in these photos) would go into nothing, making no sense.

This error does not interfere with anything, but looks pretty dumb. I decided to make the plate line up with the engine block.

The part that need the alteration first gets its flat side cut down significantly more so that it goes inward further on the engine block and lines up (here we see those bolts by the way, they make no sense with the piece hanging out in space as far as it did). I also cut away the large semi-circle that fit this part to the end of the supercharger. Now this plate will be attached to the engine body instead of the supercharger. The supercharger of course still falls outward pretty far when in place, but in the final assembly it will be pulled in some toward the engine as it is held by a screw from inside the engine block.

There are many errors or fit and casting on this thing, but this seems to be a rather large error of scale, probably of the engine block. That's strange some a model so accurate and detailed everyplace else.
These parts are not fully secured because after fixing all the fit problems, it all has to be taken apart again to put the crankshaft and pistons in.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pocher Barly started

First and foremost it must be said that Pocher "instructions" are not helpful. They are really just a series of exploded diagrams. There is no assembly sequence and some parts are not shown, or shown already in place.

Fortunately, there is a CD ROM assembled by Paul Koo. This CD is invaluable. In includes not only a clear step-by-sep, but also goes over all the problems one will encounter, and provides advice on dealing with them. It also includes a staggering number of photos of both the models and of the actual cars - and in a few instances, it is hard to tell the difference. Now that I have gotten into this thing, I can not image attempting it without this amazing CD. I bought mine on eBay. Don't Pocher without one.

To provide a sense of the scale of this kit, here are the major components of the engine block.

As I had read, these components require a huge amount of prep work. Out of the box, the parts, although detailed, are extremely rough. There is going to be many hours in this of sanding, grinding, cutting, carving and drilling. Each piece needs a lot of work to fit its neighbors.

The material is interesting. It is much denser, heavier and firmer than polystyrene.

Also many parts are metal of various kinds. These are the eight cylinders for the engine.

Here are the first parts fit and lightly assembled. These parts are held together with screws and will be taken apart again to be painted.

It's true what is said about these kits. Every part, every one, is nowhere near usable out of the box. I would describe the pieces as roughly formed lumps in need of extensive sculpting and modification to fit. The work goes well beyond trimming mold flashing and such.

I am reminded of how early European  pocketwatches were made. Their production revolved around ebauche movements, which were very rough incomplete movements made by a handful companies. These were purchased and completed into finished watches by little shops all over the continent, and even in the early United States. An ebauche would generally consist of unfinished plated, scored where pivot or jewel holes go, gears, and springs. A lot of work was required to turn it into a watch.

These parts are like that.

It didn't long to encounter the first serious problem. This part is badly warped. The tube extending to the left is supposed to go straight back. It it a screw post, so that probably is not critical (maybe I can just cut it off and secure the parts another way). But the vertical plate the post extends from need to be 90 degrees from the base part. It is bend back a bit and won't work.

I'll try a solution to this shortly, stay tuned...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Pocher Alpha Romeo Spider

I was between 10 to 15 years old, I don't know for sure. But at some point I remember getting ahold an ad for 3 or 4 antique auto models that were huge, insanely detailed and very expensive. I remember they were a lot of money, it seemed like something I could save up potentially, but it would be a big deal. I remember asking my father about it, he considered the ad, and then didn't think it was a good idea. These kits were not in stores so I couldn't see one, it was mail order, nothing was known, it was the '70s and it was a lot of money. At the time I figured he was probably right and forgot about it.

Except I didn't forget about it. For many years after that, for some reason, I kept remembering that ad. I can't tell you where I saw it, no idea, and I remembered no details at all about what they were called nor even the cars. Over the past 20 years or so, in the age of the internet, I have every few years tried to google up what I thought I was remembering. But with basically nothing to go on, I never found them. I was beginning to think I'd imagined it, or it wasn't really as notable as it was in my memory. Maybe these were just normal models, or nothing at all.

In mid-2015, that memory drifted to the surface again, and I did some googling, and this time, I hit an image - and found them!  It was strange, after some reading I found that they were not only real but my instincts were right. These are considered to be some of the most extreme model kits ever created. This had become a foggy childhood memory that I was no longer sure even happened, but there it was, and they really are unique.  The level of detail being well into the ridiculous zone.

What I now know as "classic" Pocher kits were made for only for a few years in the mid-70s, in Italy. There apparently was a fire at the factory, that destroyed everything and ended the classic line, although accounts of the company's history differ. Pocher still exists, but has changed hands, and has made newer, large scale, automotive kits. But these old ones remain legendary for their detail; the "classic Pochers". They exist only as antiques now and they turn out to have quite a niche following.

These are not like any other scale model. They are described as not so much car kits, but more like a box of raw materials from which you can build a real car. Working crankshafts and pistons, working gear box, brakes, steering, suspension, lights... And a *huge* scale.  Patterned closely after individual real cars, a typical Pocher kit has 2,000 parts, or more, in various metals, rubber, plastics and leather, all assembled mostly with scale nuts, bolts and screws. The metal spoked wheels alone have over 100 parts, each.

They also are legendarily bad kits.

The instructions border on useless.  The molds were terrible, the type of plastic is primitive, the metal they used is awful and breaks easily, nothing fits were it is supposed to go without modification. Terrible quality control... According one expert on these, about 1 in 6 unopened kit is expected to have a serious problem - missing or malformed parts.

Be that as it may, now having seen that this vague memory of mine was in fact a reality, I had to get one.

So here we have the Pocher 1/8th scale Alpha Spider, kit K-73. It is one the more common, and so less expensive, Pocher classic kits that remain not too hard to find. It also is recommended as a good choice to begin your "Pochering" (rhymes with torturing), as it is slightly less complex. So this is the next project.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

J.C. Penny

Men's new spring suits, 1924

The Universal Car!

Ford was offering a universal car in 1924.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Duesenburg Completed

Here is the completed 1/24th scale 1934 Duesenburg SJ Roadster. There are some imperfections, but all in in all it gives a good impression I think.

On the actual car, the convertible top folds away inside the body. Very modern!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Project Duesenburg, Almost Done

And that's most of the front details... It's nearly done now.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015


 The rear end details are almost completed. There is a couple more things to add yet, and a bit of touch up here and there.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Projects, Systems Software and Watches

One thing that this sort of project has in common with working on watches is that a key to a good job is treating each detail as a whole project in itself. Each individual component of the whole, no matter how small, has to be crafted as though it were itself alone the entirety of the work. There are no short cuts. With each part small treated with great care, then, one part at a time, the completed whole will succeed.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Duesenburg is Starting to Look Like a Car

Here is the completed engine for this 1/24 scale model.

 ...And the interior sub-assembly.
There are some panels of wood that show under the car. The plastic has wood grained planks molded in. I first thought to paint these black, then tan, then sand lightly so the raised detail (the grain) showed in black.

I wasn't happy with this though, so I just used real wood. Sanded and polyurethaned, this looked pretty good.

Here is the completed chassis.

Googling up photos of the actual car, I came across a red Duesenburg that had a red stripe around the wheel edge. That specific car had solid, not spoked, wheels, but I thought that was a nice detail so I went ahead and add it.

The major body parts sanded, primed and sanded again...

It's starting to look good. The paint came out much better this time than the last.

There is a large amount of exterior detail yet to do though.

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