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Fundamentals of Car Modeling

Body building basics

How to prep and modify a resin body: scribing, filling, sanding and more
RELATED TOPICS: HOW-TO | FUNDAMENTALS
The preliminary results are in - from the Scale Auto Roundtable, that is. Many of you are looking for information on the basics of model car building. We're only too happy to oblige. For this issue, we'll focus on the basics of body building. Under this broad heading we'll cover three subtopics:

• Preparing an aftermarket resin kit for building
• Converting a body from a four-door to two-door style
• Filling door lines and completing associated bodywork

To illustrate these techniques, I've been working on a long-planned project: converting a Modelhaus 1962 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country four-door hardtop wagon to a "phantom" two-door.

I'll show you exactly how the project developed - including repeating the body filler/sanding/primer stage several times until I achieved the desired result.

This will give you a better idea of the type of work involved - and it will show you that with the proper amount of persistence, bodywork you'll be proud of is indeed possible!
Most resin kits require soaking in Westley's Bleche-Wite to remove the casting release agent. A used dinner container from Boston Chicken is just the right size to soak the body and related parts.

I used a JoHan 1962 Chrysler 300 hardtop body as a pattern for the correct size of the two-door configuration. Masking tape was applied over the body, and then cut with a hobby knife along the molded-in cut lines, to replicate the shape of the door.

The patterns (one for each side) were then applied to the wagon body, aligning the front of the door with the existing fender-to-door joint in the wagon. I used a razor saw to carefully cut the new rear door line. Note the protective masking tape applied to the roof and rocker area, just in case.
Here you can see the difference between the new cut line for the longer two-door configuration, and the old four-door cut line.
You'll need to extend the recessed area below each door handle rearward. On the driver's side, the area to the right of the pencil mark represents the extension; the area to the left of the pencil mark is later filled with putty.
I originally tried to fill the old rear-door cut lines and the old door-handle recesses with Nitro-Stan 1:1 scale automotive body surfacer. The rust red-colored areas are where the filler was applied.
Using 3M 240- or 320-grit sandpaper wrapped around a small metal ruler, the areas were sanded down after the surfacer had dried hard. The result looks like this.
Close inspection revealed that additional molding work was required, because of the differences between the two-door and four-dour rear fender configuration below the B-pillar. For this additional work, I chose Evercoat Euro-Soft 1:1 scale automotive Polyester Glazing Putty and a small tube of universal hardener.
After more sanding with 320-grit paper over a ruler, the result looked like this. Note that the remaining Glazing Putty (which appears as a pinkish-white here) covers more than just the door lines. This "tapering" of the filled area is one of the secrets to a smooth final result.
After washing and drying the body, I applied several coats of Krylon Sandable Gray Primer. I let the primer dry at least one day before handling. To the untrained eye, everything looks great - but in reality, more work awaits us.
When I gave the body a close inspection, I saw this area of unevenness in front of the rear wheel lip on the driver's side. This would really stick out with a glossy finish.
On the passenger's side, I found a funny angled depression just below the upper character line. The line sweeping down from the B-pillar and rearward also needed work; I wasn't happy with the way this area was handled on the casting master.
Again using sandpaper wrapped around the ruler, I began working on the problem areas. It's typical to feel discouraged at this stage, but keeping at it will eventually work wonders
After much sanding, you can see the areas that received the most work on the passenger's side (appearing light tan in this photo), including the area below/behind the B-pillar, along the sides of the fender and door, and along the rocker panel area.
The driver's side looked like this after sanding. Note the heavy work along the fender top, the upper character line, and in front of the wheel well. But it turned out that more work was required before I primed the body again.
The rear cut line of the driver's door was too wide, and it was uneven. Accordingly, more Evercoat Glazing Putty was applied to this area only, then sanded down to the appearance shown.
After several more coats of primer, only minor flaws remained. I applied small "smears" of the Nitro-Stan filler to the lower front-door cutout, a small unwanted notch in the upper character line below the B-pillar, and a couple of other areas. After sanding and working on the rearward character line below the B-pillar, the body appears this way.
More primer followed, and then I reviewed the bodywork carefully. Pronouncing the bodywork done, I went over the entire body lightly with 3M 600-grit paper. Following a wash in soapy water with a clear water rinse, I set the body aside to dry and await the paint booth.
The entire body was airbrushed in 1962 Chrysler Code LL-1 Limelight. The lower body was then masked, and the roof area was sprayed with Code VV-1 Seascape. These are both rare midyear paint colors, sourced as a special order through MCW Automotive Finishes. The bodywork looks great, and the transition to a two-door hardtop wagon body is now complete.

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