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Maserati 3500GT -- Monogram 1/25

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... a "golden oldie", which I believe started life with Aurora, back in 1964. And by popular vote (thanks, all...) here it is on the work bench.

Job #1 is to fix a significant shape issue with the kit, which changes the look significantly. The top line of the windscreen is too high. I think there's maybe one car where the roofline is like that on the kit, but most of the photos I've found show a much lower line, continuing the gutters above the doors horizontally, parallel to the ground. The kit has a "wide-eyed" look, because the windscreen top heads upward over the roof at 45 degrees to the level.

It's taken me a while to figure out how to do this!

What I decided to do is cut the top section off the windscreen and glue it to the body, and then make a new windscreen.


Here's the top part of the clear part stuck in place, and filled.


...and here it is sanded. You can see where the original roofline goes. The clear piece is backed up with Milliput just in case the sanding makes it a bit thin!



It also needs a "trim" to continue the chrome above the doors. This is just a thin strip of plastic card, applied slowly, a bit at a time, with liquid cement.


...and here it is with a bit of primer to see where the imperfections are...

Of course... this means we need a new windscreen. Apologies if this is familiar, but people often ask me what "plunge moulding is", so here we are.


The original windscreen is backed with Milliput (it cracked as I was cutting it ;-()



I cut a hole in a piece of hardboard from a chocolate box to make the outer "mould". The plastic is packaging from some Sennheiser headphones. Basically, any of those "clamshell" packs that you have to cut your way into, and avoid being cut by the packaging afterwards, make good material for this kind of thing...


... I made quite a few. This is to allow for my incompetence while I try to trim and fit them...

This one looks like it might be a long haul, but it'll be a rarity on the shelf!


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The last major cosmetic change is to reshape the grille.



The kit grille is pretty much oval, whereas you can see that the real thing is more like a round-cornered rectangle. The "snout" also sticks out further than the kit's effort. I started by filing out the corners and reshaping the hole in the kit, and then adding a band of plastic card around the inside of the reshaped hole.



I sanded the plastic strip to an even 1.5mm or so outside the hole in the body, and then I built up the surround with Milliput (two-part epoxy putty). When it's set good and hard, there'll be a fair bit of sanding and shaping to do... I'm aiming to sand it back until the plastic core is just showing through, and blend the snout smoothly in, in a slightly squarer shape than the original curve.

Of course, it means building a new grille, because the kit part no longer fits, but I'll take the emblem from the original and use mesh for the grille itself.





Obviously, now I "just" need to sort out the badge, grille itself and the chrome effect. Easy! http://staticaf.com/vbulletin/images/smilies/screwy.gif

One thing I have noticed is that it looks from the instructions like it will be impossible to get the chassis in with the rear underbody in place. Can anyone who has built the kit confirm that is really so?

If it is the case, my inclination is to tack the part in position, prime, paint and clearcoat as normal, then remove it by cutting through the Clear with a VERY sharp knife. Hopefully, then I can put the chassis in and fit the part back in place, and once it's set just polish over the join if needed. It won't _quite_ disappear, but most of it's behind the rear bumper. I do NOT want to be filling sanding and repainting and revarnishing a seam right at the end of the build!

Anyone got any better suggestions?

A fair bit of work here to open the bonnet vent, without a very "in your face" result, but I think it'll make a subtle difference:


I scribed a line along the front face of the "scoop" with a P-Cutter, used flat -- ie parallel with the bonnet. Once that was reasonably deep, I scraped away under the bonnet, and alternated both until I had a narrow slot cut through. Then I used a "Flexi-File" - thin strips of abrasive on a plastic backing held in a U-shaped handle. I threaded the strip through the slot before attaching it to the handle, and then used it to widen the slot at both sides. I also used a fresh #11 blade to carve away a bit on the inside of the scoop as well, to get the sort of "W" cross section. Finally I sanded the upper corners of the scoop a bit, which are too square on the kit...

...best part of an hour to make a small hole. Who'd'a thunk it? ;-P

I then decided to take a bit of a break from the bodywork, and progress elsewhere for a bit.


Here are lots of parts that used to be chromed. Five minutes in some carefully handled caustic soda solution, and they're clean. You can see the varnish is still there, but glue does work... There are some sink marks in the bumpers which prompted stripping them, and obviously the chromed engine parts are just daft.



I'm actually pleasantly surprised by the level of detail supplied for the engine -- separate alternator, starter motor and distributor, belts etc. As you can see from the engine pic at the bottom left, this is clearly a car with the fuel injection engine rather than carbs.

The decals are in a parlous state. I can see that several cracks across the number plates. I've painted the logos and instruments with liquid decal film to try and save them, but I've also made a scan just in case I need to make my own. Anyone know of an aftermarket silver-ink decal sheet of Maserati logos...? ;-P



Edited by cmatthewbacon
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This is a very beautiful car. The shape looks very nice. I had this on my to buy list, but some how is still delayed.

The Vac form method u have shown is simple and straight, i will try.

Sennheiser is best quality for detail sound and come from ranging prices to suit ur pocket.



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This is great stuff and I'm following the build with interest. The 3500GT has a definite place in my lottery garage - I think the looks of the car just reek of wealthy playboy haring across Europe for the Monaco GP, with an Audrey Hepburn look-alike in the passenger seat.

Brilliant choice of build.



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Good work on the shape issues, now it really starts to look like what it's supposed to look like. Any thoughts on colour choice yet?

About the rear underbody, any chance you could modify the chassi instead? I always prefer any compromises in the chassi rather than the body, perhaps as I'm thinking more like curbside builds. But even if I do a chassi and engine I would rather have the body first class.

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Good point, Jorgen... you got me looking. The main issue is the boot liner, at the back of the cabin moulding. Looking at it, though, I think it should be possible to slot the cabin interior in place and THEN fit the chassis frame below. With the opening doors and boot lid, you've got plenty of access for fiddling the two big assemblies to align them... you could even add the front seats from outside afterwards, if needed...

Thanks for the idea!



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It's been a while since the last update -- travelling away from the bench...

Anyway... I finished a few details, and have got to the stage when I can try a first coat of primer to see how it looks (and what needs fixing...)




There's obviously some filling, sanding and repriming to do here and there, but overall, I'm pretty happy. As you can see, I've fitted the rear valance. I figured out that you can get the interior in and then fit the chassis in at the front and finally join the two, which means that you don't need to put the whole thing in as a unit and fit the valance last. I think I can get a much better finish on the back end by doing it this way, with the valance seamlessly blended before painting. Not quite seamless yet, obviously, but getting there.

The other main details are proper "scoops" over the engine bay vents, the windscreen trim, and fixing some odd damage at the rear lights.


Not the best picture, but you get the idea. I added a thin strip of plastic card to the moulded ridge, and then built up and blended it using superglue + micro balloons, because I thought it would be structurally tougher than plastic putty, but still easy to sand and shape. It'll need a smear of regular putty to deal with a few imperfections, but you can see that there's now a decent, and thin, lip for the grille to hide behind.


Skip Jordan pointed out to me that there's actually a gap between the windscreen and door chrome trim on the A-pillar, so I scribed and sanded one to give me something to work on with the BMF. I think that minimising the "weight" of the chrome on the kit will be key to achieving the elegant look of the real thing, especially on the door windows.


And finally, an odd one. On my kit, the outside lower edge of the rear light "oval" was misshaped on both sides -- almost as though it was "torn" outward. It's near the worst mould seam on the kit, between the light clusters and the boot opening, so I suspect it's something to do with the way the mould opens to eject the body... Anyway, once again out with the microballoons and superglue. Still not perfect, but much improved.

Next task is to hit those areas that these photos have highlighted as needing some more attention with the plastic putty, as well as a few more I haven't shown you (mostly front end seams...).

I'm hopeful that she'll be shiny and red by the end of the weekend...



Edited by cmatthewbacon
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OK... not shiny and red.


I decided it was definitely better to get everything fitting properly BEFORE I painted it! The bonnet and boot have some issues -- the boot at the sides, and the bonnet at the windscreen end. And there's some serious gappage around the doors at the "shoulder".

I also decided that the rear lights as provided in the kit are pretty irredeemable. There's an entirely different style with a one-piece coloured plastic light unit which has a chrome "hood". It seems quite common, so I'll go for that instead -- I made a similar set-up for the DB4GT, so I know that it can be done, and how...

Time to break out the plastic card.



I think for problems like this, plastic card and liquid cement is the best answer -- any kind of filler will just fall off, and the styrene is exactly as hard as the plastic of the kit part for easier sanding.

Some time later...


I fixed the hinge parts to be a little more realistic (not perfect scale, but not a toy, either).

In case you were wondering about the colour, here it is in sunlight:


There 's a fine, light, metal flake in there, which isn't so obvious behind the dust and reflections in this pic, mind...

And finally, here's where I am this evening:


I have test fitted the doors, boot etc before committing to primer. There are a couple of bit son the boot and one door that will need cleaning up, filling, and re-priming, but I think that'll be about it.


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... and here we go with the shiny:


There are a couple of areas on the body that'll need a bit of a polish, but that can wait a few days until this stuff has set thoroughly hard. You can see the brownish tint to the red here, though.


Rectangular grille etch arrived today (along with a Nardi steering wheel) As you can see, the basic mesh turns out to be far too big. However, gluing two pieces together with an offset doesn't look too bad. I'll keep an eye open for something better, but if I can't find it, I think this looks OK...


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Here's something I have NOT been looking forward to...



This Maserati is a GTi, it appears, with fuel injection. And two plugs per cylinder. And a duct for the wiring. So, armed with some more excellent reference material courtesy of Skip Jordan, we begin.

No way can I drill a distributor cap for 12 wires, so I used a piece of electric flex with the insulation cut back to leave twelve wires (with some superglue at the bottom to hold them in). These are glued into the widened end of some aluminium tube, which I then drilled for the individual plug wires. Those wires are fixed into holes drilled into the the plug locations in the cylinder head. Then I drilled the fuel injection system for some more shiny wires for the injector tubes.



The end result after some cursing. There's a whole lot of touch-up and detail painting to do, but this is as good as I can manage (no tiny hose clamps for this cack-handed modeller!). And yes, those injection tubes really are a mare's nest like that on the real thing... I wonder if it's something to do with having the same length for each tube, despite some cylinders being much closer to the unit than others.


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Thanks, chaps... today, I finally made it through the snow out to the workbench...

Something else I haven't been looking forward to:
Not the greatest pictures (the lighting seemed to confuse the camera), but you can see the effect. I've removed the trident from the original one-piece kit grille, which of course doesn't fit the reshaped nose. A combination of Humbrol polished chrome spray and BMF does the rest.
The engine with that detail painting and the last bits attached. Citadel metallics blended in various proportions for those details...
I think, looking out the window, that progress will be slow the next few days...
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  • 2 weeks later...
A small update... the snow has melted, so I can get back to the bench:

The seats are way too skinny, so I have bulked them out with plastic card:


The next stage of detailing is the interesting hinges, which allow the back of the seats to fold forward and twist inwards at the same time. Mine won't do that, but it accounts for the complicated "Flash Gordon" shape...


I've been worrying about the state of the decals. You can see the cracks across the number plates. I painted this with Microscale decal solution a couple of weeks ago, and I've used Klear to snug it down. It looks OK though, and this is the most critical of all of the decals... the others are replaceable or paintable relatively easily...


These are about 1cm (0.4") long. These coils are quite visible on the firewall. Teeny-tiny, but took over an hour to make between them! I hope it's worth it!

There's some "bigger picture" stuff going on off-stage, but as my old editor used to say, "only fules and bairns should see a job half done..."


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More progress today (it's being on holiday!)


Door liners, with body colour at the top.


Tan/beige upholstery, done using Vallejo Dark Sand for the seats and a Citadel "Stone" for the carpets.


Dash, awaiting the "grab handle" across the glovebox.


Coils in place in the engine bay, which was assembled using the chassis as a jig.


And the engine bay mocked up, to see how it all fits. I need to build the front suspension before fixing it together properly.


...and this is how the bench is looking tonight. Suspension and those seat hinges next, I reckon...


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Thanks, GW! It's been a rather busy "holiday" so far, but I finally got back to the bench today. First step, those hinges...


They're a very distinctive shape, and pretty complex, because the seat backs tilt both forwards AND inwards to give access to the rear seat bench. Plastic card and rod, and some cursing...



The seats are mounted canted up on higher, tapering rails. After a bit of washing with Citadel Gryffonne Sepia and a drybrush with beige, the leather interior is complete. The handbrake is in the wrong place, so I've shortened it and moved it forward. I also carved the cone-shaped gear-lever "glove" into something more soft-leather shaped and brushed it with liquid cement to smooth it a bit.


And here's a test fit to see how it looks with the dash. The lighting ain't great, but I think it DOES resemble the real thing... You can see that there will be some fudging, because the firewall will leave the side vents half in the cabin...


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