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Scratchbuild of a Lancia D50

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Hello again




This isn't my first attempt at a D50 ... in fact it's not my second, third or even fourth!!   Yep, fifth.

This was one of my very first scratch builds back in 2002 when I first started this hobby.  Not knowing any better I


carved it in balsa and quickly found that doesn’t accept detailing. 





EE D50 mockup

I was also experimenting with silicon molds so I cast it in urethane because that does take better detailing.


new tank mounts

Soon realized the model was too small (6" long) so I’ll make a bigger one!

By this time (2003) I had sourced some free Renshape (a synthetic compound made for pattern-making) and decided on a fresh and larger start so off I went again.  I guess I was still lacking a decent set of plans because at some point I decided it was horribly wrong(!) and scrapped it.



I’ll skip what happened to #4 and move along to this year when I recently acquired a large supply of Renshape and began yet another.    “Fifth times a charm” don’t they say?



By now I had found an excellent set of plans so no more excuses!!

Sized my plans on the computer and off we go ... this one will be 9 1/2" long.

Note: I don't build to any particular scale and all my cars are about 9 1/2" long ... there's a story there but that's for another day.

Trace the shapes onto the block and into the bandsaw.


Out comes the angle grinder and my palm sander with coarse paper and in a half hour we're down to the essentials.


Rough cut a headrest shape, glue on then fair with body filler.   As you can see the cockpit has been hacked out and some other details.


Side tanks are very basic shapes with only a slight rise at either end.   Some careful work with a Dremel and an appropriate tool hollows out the cavities required.


I initially made the nose scoop out of aluminium as it's very fine/delicate at the leading edge.   Later decided that my newest Renshape is very hard and probably strong enough so ... made another.

Made a few of the metal bits to hold the tanks to the body and also the windshield mounts.

These bits are all formed from scrap aluminium that I collect (old VCR's, camera bodies, computer hard drives etc) and pore over looking for the piece that contains the shape I need.


These bits are still in need of refining so don't judge them too harshly.   Remember, those windshield brackets are about 1/8" wide.


I'll leave it off there and let you peruse the process.   Fire away with questions about anything at all.

Thanks for looking.


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Spectacular engineering and scratch-building. I hope Roy sees this - he's been pounding away on scratch building and turning out gems - too.


Thanks for sharing your techniques. Please carry on.

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Thanks for the encouragement gents.   Much appreciated.


This next installment is a diversion of sorts.   I sometimes like to put the larger parts aside and get into fabricating some of the more intricate details.


The steering wheel.


This should be a 3 part piece ... aluminium core with separate wood rims on either side.  


I mentioned above (I think ... maybe not) that I recently purchased a hobbyist machine lathe so it was easy to turn a disk down to the outer diameter needed.   Here it's glued to a block of scrap for that purpose.





Once that's done I draw the pattern on it and drill/Dremel out the 3 spokes.

The wood rims will be similarly machined from a couple of slices of cocobolo (an exotic wood) that I cut on my bandsaw and glued to a work-block.






Next I machine the middle out and reduce what's left down to the size needed.  




This wood takes a beautiful sheen when wet sanded with 1000 grit then add a bit of wax.


CAREFULLY remove it from the block, glue to the centre core.


Job done.




Edited by albergman
Didn't realise the pics disappear from the blog if I delete them from Flickr!
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Absolutely amazing. My hat to you Sir.


isn't cocobolo very hard and dense to cut so small ?

is the aluminum sandwiched between the two wooden circle and visible ? will you place nails like on a nardi ?


look forward to know more about this self imposed 9.5 inch limitations...  Pity !

with such talent go for 1/9 scale and build the ferrari engine :clap:

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Excellent, Albergman.


Your steering wheel build is most timely !


I was, just this afternoon, talking with a friend of mine who admired my Bugatti building, and asked if I'll keep this poor plastic steering wheel..

Surely not, because I've planned to replace it by a wooden scratch built one.

I own some peerwood, more than ten years dried. Do you think that this wood species would be appropriate for my goal ?


Many thanks for an answer, and congrats for your skills




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Thank you Sharknose and Crazy Crank


Yes indeed, cocobolo is very hard and dense and that is why it is a good choice for this purpose.   The resulting rim is just under 2 mm wide and the denseness of the wood is what keeps it intact.   C/C ... I'm not familiar with peerwood (pearwood?) so I can't comment on its suitability.   I suspect that any wood that is "softer" or with an open grain might not survive the machining down to this size.


Best way to find out of course is to try it!!   This is my second wheel and I'm going to do another and try to improve on the aluminium core.


What diameter will the wheel be for the Bugatti and what thickness will the rim be?    Probably thicker than the D50 so that will help.


The core is visible between the wood surfaces and NO I won't be putting nails/rivets through the rims:lol:   I don't have anything small enough and I'd be pushing my luck to try drilling through them.


Re the 9 1/2 limit ... about 40 years ago I bought a block of padauk which is another rare wood.   I wanted to make something nice with it and decided on a Ferrari GTO and I was determined not to waste a single millimetre of the block.   It was 9 1/2" long.    Since then all my cars are the same size.


You can see it on this forum ... http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234991814-some-artsy-fartsy-wooden-cars/



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2 hours ago, Codger said:

Frank, on all your models, do you fabricate the wire wheels and tires? If not where do you source them in the various scale sizes for 91/2" cars?


Yes, I make my own wheels and tires.   Used to do it on a cobbled together machine but all much easier now that I have a real metal lathe!!


Still experimenting to find the best procedure and the best spoke material.


Some wheels are laced with a continuous "thread" around a central hub.






I'm experimenting with a "wiring loom" I designed that is having nice results too




I fasten a hub into this then I wire it ... looks clunky here as the wire was too thick  but you get the idea.


Only the lower level of spokes is done in this shot.




Next I cap it with a separate piece to make the outer rim (this one not wired yet)




Makes a tidy combination




I'm not into the exact number of spokes and perfect reproduction of spokes ... a worthwhile goal mind you but not for me.    I just want a wheel that looks OK.





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Quite brilliant.

I am merely 'assembling' my BT52 from a kit that machines made.

This is true model making.

I did some J-Class half-hulls many years ago (school in fact) carving out of solid wood using ships plans. I love the idea of doing the same with cars.


Proper craftsmanship - please keep posting!

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your wheels are amazing ! 

the raw material is what you have assembled form old vcr etc. again ?


you are now the second one here bringing me closer to get myself a lathe




@caterhamnut   you are not merely assembling your BT52 it is also definitely a piece of art, and true model building,

very few can achieve your incredible results ! 

Edited by sharknose156
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Thanks guys.


Caterhamnut ... I just went back and found your BT52 and now I'm impressed!   I've never built a kit and I certainly couldn't do the kind of detailing that so many of you are capable of.   I like making bits but I really struggle with finishes ... something most of you handle with ease.   I'd love to see your half-hull as I've built quite a few myself.   We saw a J-boat in New York harbour when we passed through there on our own boat.   Lines to die for.  


Sharknose ... no, these aren't wheels from a VCR! :lol:  I actually had to go and buy a couple of feet of aluminium rod for these.   I'm gradually getting more accomplished with the lathe and it's a ton 'o fun!    Haven't used one since I was in high school back in '51 but it's pretty easy to learn if you've been around tools enough.   Go for it!  


Spent all afternoon making another steering wheel.   A few steps forward and a few back.





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Bit of a teaser for those who are following the build.


I've pretty much finished all the bodywork ... except for a small matter of applying 5 or 600 rivets!   Still trying to source an appropriate supply.


Well on the way with the rear suspension.   All the parts fabricated from scrap brass and aluminium and fitted together.   Still in unfinished state so they look rough.


Here's a sample ...  the aluminium piece is only 1.5 mm diameter so go easy on me!!    It's attached by a straight pin to a tiny bracket temporarily glued to a piece of brass standing in for the DeDion tube.




It was machined from an aluminium nail.










Anyway, I wanted a coat of paint on the body to get a sense of how she was going to look so I'll share these with you.


Only red paint I had.   Not the final colour.   Scrap wheels in place for scale.






Yes, as I handled the right-side tank I broke the thin material at the back!!    Aaargh!







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  • 2 weeks later...

Bit of an update.   Haven't been getting much time at the bench as RL gets in the way.


What time I have had was spent trying to align the De Dion tube on my work jig so I could start to fasten all the other parts to it.   I'd been gluing (CA) it to  blocks of scrap and hoping everything was in the right attitude ... it never was!


Today I got medieval on it and drilled and bolted it to the jig.   It's perfectly placed now ... right height, left-right etc so now it won't move!!


Looks crude but it's effective.




Almost all of it disappears under the body when it gets dropped on.     Temporary wheels standing in place.






Now I need to reshape the body around this but that's easy stuff.    Glad to have it locked down at last.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Bit of an update.


Got my set of wheels machined and wired.   Now just need cleaning up and polishing.   The real cars never had shiny wheels ... usually gray painted but after making all this nice stuff in metal I'm not about to cover it in gray paint!   MY wheels will be SHINY!!  :lol: 


The tires are turned from Renshape and I need to find proper profiles for them.   These are the blanks that I'll use and they're "painted" black just from a felt pen for appearances.   Got a new tool today that might produce a decent tire tread.    Yes, one wheel still needs a knock-off.  :P




I've already turned a backing plate for the drum brake and threaded a tiny screw (thanks to my old Minolta film camera) into the end of the tube.


If my measurements are correct the wheel should line up and (mostly) cover that plate.




I'm not ready to attach the wheel at this point but it will eventually be attached to this plate ...




Made the half-shaft for the port side and roughly assembled the rear suspension.   Missing the trailing links that will attach at top and bottom of the brass bit.


Now you can see the backing plate for the rear brake.   I need to make a series of cooling fins/plates to fill the gap to the wheel.


This stuff is really tiny and the camera makes it look like it was hacked out with an axe!





When the body drops over this it gets mostly hidden but enough will still be seen.   More to the point nobody I know is ever interested in the stuff I make so it's likely that the model may never be seen anyway!


OK, next I have to repeat all this stuff for the other side then on to the front suspension, cockpit and ... about 600 rivets!







Edited by albergman
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Hi Frank,

I know what you're saying about nobody seeing your work, I'm sure van gough must have felt the same when he was alive! Don't forget you have an audience here and I for one am very intrigued with what you are producing here.

I'd be interested to learn more of that tool for producing tyre treads, if it works would you give us a run down on how it works ( if that's not a trade secret ). This is a very interesting topic, thanks for sharing it with us.



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Thanks Roly and Roy for the kind words.     I do sometimes ask myself why I'm building a model at all as none of my acquaintances are very interested in my hobby.   Of course the answer is it's for myself and gives me something to do and I  find it rewarding . .. what else is a 78 year old gonna do?


Tire treads .... no trade secret ... just not sure it will pass muster.    i bought a knurling tool for my machine lathe  and I've run it against a couple of scrap Renshape "tires" and it makes some interesting patterns depending on how long or how hard I  use it.    I'll take some pictures for you.    Don't know if this will have any application for kit cars and a lathe is necessary to use it.



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