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Nick Belbin

NjB's Belkits Ford Escort RS1600

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Belkits 1/24 Ford Escort RS1600

This kit was brought back from Japan a couple of weeks ago by a good friend of mine. The other three kits I’m making at the moment have been put on hold until this one’s done. I’ve owned three Escort MkIs over many years which can be curse and a blessing when it comes to being so familiar with the real thing.

I'll just give a brief intro until I can find the camera lead to download some pics and will continue the commentary at the same time.

The box is full: the body shell is packed in its own carton with the rest of the space filled by four sprues many of which have runners set at an angle to allow (presumably) the moulding and subsequent protection of the parts. A cursory glance through the instructions reveals cad line drawings that aren’t the clearest - very thin lines with no variation in thickness as well as some ‘contours’ or ‘mesh’ lines, and tinted all over with a flat tone. It can be difficult to see if the drawings are showing the inside or outside. Several drawings are doubled up, for example the interior ‘cradle’ showing both right hand drive and left hand drive versions. These are annotated with arrows and instructions to fill relevant holes with a caption stating ‘This kit!!!’. (The ‘cradle’ has holes for such things as a footrest that need filling in the relevant place.) One diagram is wrongly captioned - the fixing points of the wipers. Decal placement is shown by colour photographs that look as though they’ve been cut out by a meat-cleaving butcher with bad eyesight.

I launched into the kit starting with the front radiator grill simply because the headlamp void on the body didn’t look quite right on the pre-launch photos I’d seen, but all seems well. This is neatly designed with a piece of etch to represent the grill that sits over a recess that I guess should be painted black. The radiator grills have been chromed which isn’t strictly correct as these were made of pressed aluminium. I did some modifications to my example and left it in a bath of bleach overnight. I got up next morning to check on it and wash off the bleach (that had no effect) and lost it down the plughole - how many of you can claim to be undoing p-traps and lifting manhole covers at 5.30am? I’ve got another kit on order to do a square light version anyway . . .

Nick

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Excellent Nick, you can be the pathfinder!!

I wasn't going to get one since I've had two Passion for Racers transkits 'in progress' for more than a few years, but the will power disappeared & I have one on the way!

Are you doing it as one of the works cars as per kit? Mine's going to be a 'what-if' - what if I hadn't sold my first real one (bubble arched, electric blue), still had it & the funds to build it as a current day historic tarmac rally car!!

Eagerly awaiting progress - crack on...!!

Keith

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Hi Keith,

I also have a couple of the 'Passion for Racers' kits also - very nice clean mouldings with quite a few spare or optional parts. I also have four of the 'Quattroruote' diecasts which are also very good (apart from the far too high ride height). Are they now White Box or Welly now? I had a similar idea to yours, using the diecasts as a basis for the RS2000 and Mexico I owned and the PfR transkit for the big-wing 'Mex' I built. Is 'Passion for Racers' still in existence?

And so to the real sequence - stage one; the fitting of the front steering, suspension and sundry bits to the chassis/floorpan. Just cutting parts of the sprue demonstrated how tough the shiny white plastic is. Some parts are quite clunky - this is definitely not Tamiya-1/32-Spitfire quality. Now, I am aware that this is a curbside kit (although I think Scale Produtions is bringing out a full slot-in engine bay) so wasn’t surprised that the motor consisted of just the sump and one or two ancilliaries fitted to a ‘blanking plate’ moulded between the front chassis legs. You can see this in the second picture below before any parts are added.

I beefed up the crossmember and added a lip to the bottom.

Front struts were next and these looked and are just awful, something akin to a barley sugar twist. I made up my own but something just didn’t seem right. I had another look at various parts and then it dawned on me - the inner arches moulded to the floor pan sit inside of, and just above, the cutout of the bubble arch, just like modern day wheelarch inserts. (You can see this on the cad drawings in the first post of the RumourMonger thread.)

Picture belows shows the front strut's original plastic parts, my first attempt before looking a bit closer at the kit (inset) and nearly finished replacements.

Escort-MkI-Struts

Below shows the kit's strut tops falling way short of where they should be!

Escort-MkI-Inner-Wing

The front wing on the real thing has nothing to hide - the strut travels up to, and is bolted to, the top of the inner wing. Well, I can’t live with Belkit’s interpretation - so out came the saw and the scalpel. Did I say this plastic is tough? And thick? It was relatively hard work cutting through this stuff - the complete antithesis of Airfix’s current plastic. I rebuilt the inner arches and strut support and re-rebuilt the struts to a more scale-correct length. Here is my first attempt at correcting the inner wings with a dry fitting of the strut. The inset shows a 'Passion for Racers' Minilite in situ. The inner wings are being improved.

Escort-MkI-Inner-Wing-and-strut

It became apparent whilst test fitting the floorpan to the body that quite a bit of brute force is needed to join them together. And that is slightly worrying bearing in mind the complexity and fragility of four-links, Panhard rods etc. Something else to think about, so in the meantime, I decided to start on the cockpit because this is glued to the floorpan before that joins the body.

Cheers for now.

Nick

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Afternoon Nick,

Hope you are feeling better, I'm still trying to get over the last of the 'flu the missus gave me as a late Christmas present....!!

Not sure about PfR to be honest - I only learnt about them as the chap who is the one man band running it was also a member of the Yahoo GPMA group. Unfortunately another member's e-mail account got hacked & started sending out spam e-mails by the dozen every day. So I cancelled my group e-mail notifications & haven't been able to get them back since, so don't know what's going on there now. What really stopped me finishing one of mine was the reluctance to steal the necessary parts from one of my Revell Mk2's, so I've been (extremely slowly!) building a scratchbuilt floorpan & chassis for it.

You trump me with the quatroroutte diecasts, I only have three! But I do have a RHD 1/18th Minichamps one that will one day become my Modena green narrow body rally car (which was basically an early RS2000 replica - so that will be a what if of a what if I suppose!)

Many thanks for the build notes as you progress, I can see these are going to be extremely helpful when I can actually get to start mine (some pretty major house changes being done at the moment, so my muddling cave has become a dumping ground & I can't even see the bench, let alone work on it!) My kit arrived yesterday, & it looks lovely in the box, I hope you don't encounter too many more problems along the way!

ATB

Keith

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I was thinking about building this kit myself, be interesting to watch.

Looking forward to the pics but a lot of people are saying the same about the instructions on other forums i.e. they're not very intelligible at all.

:popcorn: :popcorn:

On another note have you seen the price of MK1 Rs2000's, Rs1600's and Mexico's nowadays. Jeebus!! :hypnotised:

I remember my mate buying a MK1 Mexico for £1500 back in the early 90's.

Edited by Borez

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Hi Borez,

Yes, I have seen the prices - hence my resorting to a fleet in miniature!!

I've edited my second post to include some pics - sorry about the quality, my camera seems to have real difficulties with macro settings and white plastic.

Nick

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I remember my mate buying a MK1 Mexico for £1500 back in the early 90's.

I passed on a mint Mk2 RS2000 around that time, for £2K, convincing myself I'd 'had enough' Escorts in my yoof (when a Mk1 Mex could be had for £400!) & instead bought a Porsche 924. That was one of the most hateful cars I have ever owned & eventually I got so p'd off with it I sold it to someone to convert to a race car - for £425, which was less than the price of the Rollcentre roll cage I'd not long bought for it! When I think what that RS would be worth now..... :banghead::weep:

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Thanks for adding the pics Nick, those new struts are rather lovely! I was resigned to having to do something with the kits suspension as I'll need to lower it to tarmac spec.. Whether I'll be tempted to use such nice materials or stick to boring old plastic is another question!

Those PfR Minilites are lovely aren't they? Wish I'd bought a few more sets off him for my Revell Mk2's....

Keith

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nice start to your kit. as you point out, the bell kit model has rather fallen short in my opinion too. the shell is nice, proportions look great. the underside and lack of an engine is a bit disappointing (i knew it was a kerbside, as i saw the early cad drawings online ). however for a kit basher it will provide the basis for many a model adventure i am sure. the engine bay can be sorted, and various engines sourced. its a bit overpriced i think. but bellkit must be applauded and encouraged to do more classics for us. after the manta of course.

Edited by griffsrw

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I passed on a mint Mk2 RS2000 around that time, for £2K, convincing myself I'd 'had enough' Escorts in my yoof (when a Mk1 Mex could be had for £400!) & instead bought a Porsche 924. That was one of the most hateful cars I have ever owned & eventually I got so p'd off with it I sold it to someone to convert to a race car - for £425, which was less than the price of the Rollcentre roll cage I'd not long bought for it! When I think what that RS would be worth now..... :banghead::weep:

Yeah, Mk2 RS2000's were two a penny in Autotrader back then. They go from £20K upwards nowadays. £30K + for a concourse model. Crazy stuff.

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Keith, I forgot to respond to one of your earlier questions - the markings. I intend to use the kit markings of Roger Clark. An intended project that hasn't (but should have) been started yet is one of his Cossack MkIIs to keep it company. And yes, the PfR Minilites are superb.

Griffsrw, I agree that Belkits are to be appladed on producing this kit. Even though I'm finding some 'inaccuracies', I'm absolutely delighted to at least have one as a basis.

Ok, chaps, next instalment.

Although there are many parts to decorate the cockpit, it still feels like corners have been cut. Yes, there is a hydraulic handbrake in addition to the normal one, there’s a full compliment of tools to go in the storage bags (moulded in vinyl) mounted on the rear firewall, nav’s footrest, a map reading light, a Halda (for which YOU have to drill holes based on the pins behind - better to just cut them off), etc. The instruments are just a decal - no recesses or part to overlay. As I mentioned earlier, the cockpit consists of a cradle to which other parts are mounted. This doesn’t give much of a footwell in front and the pedals are glued onto a box mounted on the front wall (you have to fill the hole on the unused box on the opposite side). The cradle floor is also quite flat and featureless. The cradle is moulded in plastic one millimetre thick and then mounted on pins on the 1mm thick floorpan that leave half a millimetre of space between - that gives a total floor skin thickness of about 2.5mm - that’s over two inches in real life! Well, I can’t live with that either . . .

I drilled through the roll cage holes of the cradle to duplicate them on the floor pan (the cage will need extending later on). I steeled myself for another session of cutting and removed the thinner area between the transmission tunnel and sills and the ‘wall’ in front. Removing the ‘wall’ should reveal the inner wheel arches and the gentle slope from the floor to the bulhead - just like the real thing (surprise, surprise!).

The picture below shows what I've termed the 'cradle': the floor takes on a curve into the bulkhead. You can see the two 'supports' against the bulkhead onto which the footpedals are glued. Simply fill the other one (the instructions suggest). You can just about make out the filled footrest fixing holes on the gearbox tunnel and behind/beyond the two holes for the door and rollcage. Inset shows the upper floor part way through surgery.

Escort-MkI-Floor-Cradle

I added a 0.75mm piece of strip to the cut edges to fill the previously formentioned gap between the upper and lower floors.

The underside of the floor features a rather ficticious set of pressed strengthening ridges so I've started to remove them – you can see one side removed and the other still intact. They'll be replaced with half-round rod. There is also a recess in which the exhaust sits - I don't believe Boreham went to that trouble so this has been filled. Two discs have been used to fill the rear gearbox support just to help flatten the other side.

Escort-MkI-Underfloor

Next image shows the inside surface of the floor. This has had the other side of the exhaust channel removed as well as the chassis rails leaving a completely flat floor. I've also cut out and dry fitted some four-link coupling boxes - there is no suggestion of them in the kits interior - the rods simply attach to the underside in a shallow recess beside the spring hangars. I will also attempt to scribe in the concave strengthening channels on the reverse of the half-round rod underneath. The cross-members upon which the seats are mounted will also be added. Of course, I've no idea if this will be seen although I intend to have one or both windows open to try and help!

Escort-MkI-Innerfloor

The last picture for now shows the cut out cradle sitting in position. There are now door sills!

Escort-MkI-Floor–joined

After the scribing work, I will need to add packing strip to the areas cut from behind the cross-member. You can still make out the cut away plastic remnants on the wheel arches - that shows how much depth is between the top surface and bottom surface of the floor sections. It all looks a bit rough at the moment but this will get tidied up once the scribing is done and the parts are joined.

I've also been working on the replacement inner wings alternating with the floor just for interest!

I do sometimes whether I'm wasting my time trying to get more out of a kit at times. But I do enjoy making stuff and I guess that's the main point . . .

Nick

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Not much time being wasted there to my eyes Nick, that's a vast improvement! I thought the 4 link boxes were missing from the first pic., glad to see them there now! Well remember cold Sunday mornings welding the things in, at least we can work on the plastic ones in the warm! I do wonder about the hydraulic handbrake though - did they have them in '73? I only recall having a normal one modified to a fly off. I did try & build my cars to the specs in the Boreham 'bible', but maybe I just couldn't afford one - just like I couldn't afford a 240 brake BDA!! :D I'll try & dig out my dog eared copy & have a look.

Looking forward to more!

Keith

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Thanks, Keith.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure about the hydraulic handbrake – it just looks like one to me which can be seen on the CAD drawing in green below the seat to the right of the map reading light: http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234975605-124-mk1-escort-rs1600-belkits/

But I'd love to know for sure! Is your 'bible' the rally preparation manual? I thought I had one but don't seem to be able to find it at the moment.

Nick

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Yep, certainly does look like a hydraulic one Nick. My bible is indeed the rally prep manual. I'm pretty sure I know where it is (famous last words?!) so I'll try to have a look later.

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I've been watching this, and many other builds on the quiet and I have to say the amount of changes your making to the kit are making me question whether I should buy one lol. I probably will ;)

But when you mentioned about the exhaust tunnel I had one of my mad ocd moments and ever since I've been digging through my reference books, as I'm sure I've read about the fitment of exhaust tunnels on Escorts.

I wanted to clarify whether it was the mk1 or 2 that they were fitted. However I can't seem to find where I read it. A quick online search through a prep manual brought no joy. But I did find a comment by an MSA scrutineer on a forum. "The Historic rules regarding exhaust tunnels state that they are permitted for BDA powered Escorts but not Pinto ones."

Therefore it seems they were fitted to the RS1600's by the process that, given all mods allowed for Historic rallying have to be either in the homologation forms or proved via period photographic evidence.

Of course it's your build and if you prefer without then that's fine. It's not like people will notice with all the effort your putting into it lol. Have you thought about opening a door to show off the interior?

Ashley

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Been seeing a lot of these belkits around but this is the first one I've seen built. They seem to be quite expensive (~£45). In your opinion are they worth it.

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Therefore it seems they were fitted to the RS1600's by the process that, given all mods allowed for Historic rallying have to be either in the homologation forms or proved via period photographic evidence.

Ashley

That's true enough Ashley, but most Historic Mk.1's are now running coilover front and rear struts with external oil resevoirs (the top drivers say they have to to keep competitive) - I certainly don't recall the works team running those 'back in the day', and there's absolutely nothing about them in the Boreham rally preparation manual or either of the two Rallye Sport parts catalogues I still have. I have to admit to not having seen the actual homologation papers, but lived & breathed Mk 1 Escorts in the 70's & had never even heard of coilovers back then! (Having said that, having just spent half an hour reading the preparation manual, it's amazing how much I had forgotten!) I'd love to see photo's of Escorts back then running coilovers. Do your references include Graham Robson's (I think it was?) 'The Works Escort' book - that was long regarded as one of the best references on the cars. I have an early edition somewhere but can't find it at the moment.

There's also no mention of exhaust tunnels in the 'bible', but I do think I recall top cars having them back then, but it wouldn't be the first time my memory's been wrong!

Also Nick, no mention of hydraulic (or even fly off) handbrakes in the prep. manual that I could see either. Maybe Belkits based the model on a modern car that has one fitted?

Keith

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Remote reservoirs are a definite no on being fitting back then. They weren't invented. Same goes for hydraulic handbrakes. They weren't even fitted to top flight rally cars until the late 80's.

Coil overs are questionable although I'm pretty sure they weren't used on Escorts at the time.

Whilst I was going my searches last night I found a forum on gearbox tunnels, which happened to mention the exhaust ones too. The same forum stated there are 2 categories for Historic. Cat1 is very strict whereas cat2 isn't and a scrutineer on it commented that a lot of cat1 cars really should be reclassed based on the rules as they stood. So my guess is that things like hydraulic handbrakes, coil overs and others are allowed in cat2, probably under 'safety' reasons lol.

A lot of my reference books are a mix of Klein/Davenport and Graham Robson but alas I haven't a copy of the works escort book. Still struggling to find his Rally Giants series ones at reasonable prices lol. The problem is there always seems to be conflicting info from book to book and I just get a headache haha. The Mcklein Group B book is wrong with most of the Japanese cars and one Robson book has a few inaccuracies about Quattro's.

Ashley

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Noeyedears, I agree that £45 could be deemed expensive but I guess it depends on how you value a kit. I am sure that this kit will be quite presentable out of the box - if it quacks, etc. I've long given up buying kits until I've read other people's reviews - for example, I bought every version of 1/48 Spitfire MkIX (Hasegawa, Occidental, Airfix) as they were released only to be disappointed until Eduard delivered the goods. I took the plunge on this simply because it might have been the first in the country (and I enjoy adding extra if I can because it makes it 'my' model). I've got many hours ahead on this so it'll be good value in pence per minute.

Ashley, Keith: coil overs and hydraulic handbrakes will not be featured. I'm going to have to do some more searching through my library but I don't have any recollection whatsoever of exhaust tunnels being fitted - I am more than happy to be proven wrong though. I'll have to look for as many period photos of the interior as I can - I do have several books so hopefully something will be in there but I can't get to them until the weekend. I also need to find out if any brake/oil lines were taken inside.

I had thought about opening a door but I'm not a fan of opening panels and the such just simply because I like clean lines. I think the next one will be Alan Mann's version with perhaps a third fully opened. I could use a PfR kit for the panels and some details. But I'm sure there'll be plenty of aftermarket released by then.

My main concern at the moment though is whether I've made the four-link boxes too big or not. Comments most welcome . . .

Nick

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Been seeing a lot of these belkits around but this is the first one I've seen built. They seem to be quite expensive (~£45). In your opinion are they worth it.

Noeyedears, I agree that £45 could be deemed expensive but I guess it depends on how you value a kit. I am sure that this kit will be quite presentable out of the box - if it quacks, etc.

I have a serious dilema over this kit as £45 is above my price limit. Also it has a load of detail I just don't want, I'm a curbside model fan more than a super detail model fan.

But as Nick says, the value for money has to be relative. I've been itching to do a Mk1 Escort for years and I remember having a conversation with a modeller (who produced his own castings) on the IPMS Car SIG a few years back at Telford. I said to him "if you do a Mk1 body I'll have it, whatever the price".

Well, £45 is less than a limited run resin job would be and a damn sight easier to build. And yet I still stumble at the price, because if the kit didn't have all that extra detail (I hate working with brass), the kit would come into my price bracket.

But at least we do have a maintstream kit of the Mk1 and for that i'm grateful.

Edited by Foghorn Leghorn

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I've decided they are too big so could do with some help on the short arm box fabrication, please . . .

Nick, I'm up to my armpits in emulsion paint at the moment, I'll try & scan the drawings from the Boreham book later if that's OK? I have to admit they looked fine to me - is it their height or length that's bothering you?

Keith

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Whilst I was going my searches last night I found a forum on gearbox tunnels, which happened to mention the exhaust ones too. The same forum stated there are 2 categories for Historic. Cat1 is very strict whereas cat2 isn't and a scrutineer on it commented that a lot of cat1 cars really should be reclassed based on the rules as they stood. So my guess is that things like hydraulic handbrakes, coil overs and others are allowed in cat2, probably under 'safety' reasons lol.

I have to admit I don't really know what that poster was on about? There are actually four categories in Historic rallying,& they define the ages of the eligible cars. Cat 1 is for cars built before 1st Jan 1968, so no Mk.1 can run in that category. Cat 2 is then for cars built before 1/1/75, so the majority (if not all) of Mk.1's run in there. It would only be some very late RS2000's (& possibly Mexico's) that could run in Cat 3, but they'd likely all be outclassed by the ultra modern Mk.2's!! Our Mini would be a Cat.3 car, & Cat. 3 is a bit of a pain as you have to have copies of the cars homologation papers to get them registered for the championship, which you don't need for Cat 1 & 2! It's also then when the 'photographic evidence of use in period' can be used. I don't think the BL works team ever homologated Webers on the Minis, but there's plenty of photo's of cars in period using them, so our 45DCOE is acceptable. But as you say, external oil resevoirs on coilovers weren't even thought of in the 70's, so they can't have been homologated or photographed on Mk.1 Escorts!

I have a friend who rallies a Cat.2 Mini, & as he says, like all motorsport much of the fun comes from seeing how far you can bend the rules before they break! Something you probably also already knew anyway, from helping your friend with his cars!

Anyway, apologies Nick for my rambling in your thread, best get back to the painting!

Keith

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