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1/24 Tamiya Beetle 1966


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It's been a good while since I've had something on the workbench. If I'm honest, I found myself overthinking what to build this year without actually starting anything. The problem is that if I was to build a car I really liked, it needs to be done right, which only leads to procrastination. The solution was obvious really; I've never liked Volkswagen Beetles. Ta-da!

 

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These kits have been around for a while but seem to be up to the usual Tamiya standards. I wasn't totally convinced about the subject variant, being left hand drive (no RHD option) and sporting what appeared to be American spec bumpers with opulent bumper bars in addition to the more usual over-riders. I didn't want to be bounced into building an American registered example and considered lopping the bars off and reshaping the over-riders. However, after quite a lot of Googling I found evidence in VW's own archive that although rare, some European supplied cars were thus-endowed. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. 

 

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So what to do with it? I think mostly OOB but a bit weathered without going anywhere near rat-look. 

 

I've made a start on the engine. A VW aircooled Boxer isn't really like normal car engines and has weird bits like heat exchangers. I'll admit to being flummoxed as to where to drill holes to locate HT leads until I looked it up. The whole engine seems to be upside down somehow. Most odd. 

 

The plugs would be accessed through those flat covers over the cylinders heads which are themselves slightly offset side to side. 

 

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And with the backplate-thing and pulleys added. I've never really looked at one of these engines before so it's all quite interesting (to me).

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Body and panels need some primer. The shell is crisp with only light mould lines on the front wings and windscreen surround. Given the amount of these Tamiya must have banged out they seem to have kept the tooling up to scratch.  

 

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Colour choice... looking at my available rattle cans and the late 60s Beetle colour chart I could paint it red, ruby, dark green, perhaps ivory. Any preferences out there? The seats are moulded with flutes for the leatherette option which limits trim colours to grey, red or black.   

 

 

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Be warned that I used the same logic about building a car I didn't particularly like when I did the VW panel van... and it still took me near enough 6 months. I suspect you may end up going the same way with this one. Good start on it.

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56 minutes ago, Anteater said:

red, ruby,

 

What's the difference? Is ruby a dark red? If so, I like the sound of that! Might have something to do with the fact that for some reason the previous owner of our Mini had it resprayed in RAL3003 Rubinrot....!! I mean German standard paint colour on a British icon, what's the world coming to?! 🤣 (so maybe you should paint the bug British Racing Green... :whistle:)

 

Keith 

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Undecided if I'll convert it to right hand drive. The dash would be quite straightforward, if I don't go overboard on it. The pressed panels around the speedo are the only real complicator. Excuse the primer overspray. 

 

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I've painted the underside. It's all one pressing apart from the centre strip which is separate for some reason. I've glued it in place several steps early so hopefully I don't find I've misread the instructions.  

 

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The shell is now primed, which showed up some two additional moulding lines running the length of the roof. These have been dealt with. I had a bright idea to introduce a small dent on a front wing and the obvious method was to apply some heat. Turns out Tamiya plastic heats up very quickly and I melted a far bigger area than planned. What have I learned? Don't play with matches! 

 

A few bits of plastic strip and a dab of filler brought enough shape back, subject to some finishing. 

 

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I've decided on a body colour but the red primer is a red herring by the way. More after the weekend.

 

ANTEATER

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10 hours ago, Anteater said:

What have I learned? Don't play with matches! 

 

It's OK, it'll polish out....!! 🤣

 

I like the weathering on the underside, I admire all you modellers that do this as I'm far too lazy to bother. And as I'm yet to roll one of my (model!) cars then nobody ever sees their bottoms! :)

 

Keith

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On 02/05/2023 at 22:25, Anteater said:

+++ I wasn't totally convinced about the subject variant, being left hand drive (no RHD option) and sporting what appeared to be American spec bumpers with opulent bumper bars in addition to the more usual over-riders. I didn't want to be bounced into building an American registered example and considered lopping the bars off and reshaping the over-riders. However, after quite a lot of Googling I found evidence in VW's own archive that although rare, some European supplied cars were thus-endowed. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. +++

Those were called "Export Stoßstangen" ("export bumbers") and not that unusual in Germany (in the 1960ies).

 

Don't forget the vase on the dashboard!

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On 04/05/2023 at 21:41, Anteater said:

Undecided if I'll convert it to right hand drive. The dash would be quite straightforward, if I don't go overboard on it. The pressed panels around the speedo are the only real complicator. Excuse the primer overspray. 

 

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ANTEATER

It looks like you could almost scribe carefully around the speedo panel and glovebox lid until the parts can be removed.  Then they look like they could be swapped over and fit into each other's holes.  I hope that makes sense?

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@johnlambert good idea, I hadn't thought of that method. Even if they're not 100% symmetrical they must be very close. The plastic is quite thick and I'm not brilliant at scribing but if I make a total dog's breakfast of it I'd be no worse off than my initial plan. I can hide a bit of filler and nobody would know except a few weirdos on the internet. 

 

On with the body. I have a half can of Brooklands Green leftover from when I built a Lotus 7 so I pointed it at the Beetle on the basis it could make a passable VW Java Green. However, it immediately looked wrong. I'll be dulling the eventual finish and a satin-green Beetle could look a bit militaristic, not the vibe I'm going for.

 

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So I changed my mind and opened a new can of Tamiya TS-11. I was putting off doing this because paint is expensive, but that's bananas when you consider I already had it in stock and it's the colour I imagined all along. Looks better now, it's a much more period shade. Here it is in my super-clean spray booth facility. 

 

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Eagled-eyed viewers will note salt on the roof and rear wing. I'll remove this after this first coat and then lightly apply another coat, so the primer won't show through fully but I can polish and cut to give a patchy faded effect finish. That's the plan anyway. 

 

ANTEATER

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Time for a small update. 

 

I've been working on the paint to give that appearance of used car without it being a total snotter.  I find it much easier to create a total snotter (such as my Gran Torino or Transit Camper builds) than walking the fine line between new and used. So easy to go overboard on the cutting compound and burn through the paint in the wrong place. The salting on the roof of the Beetle looked a bit harsh so I sprayed over (see a pre-flatting photo below). The bonnet is salted because it's in the firing line of any road debris and exposed to weather damage. I'm undecided on the engine cover as salting didn't look right and I'm currently respraying it another colour entirely. 

 

This photo also shows the subtle wing dent I've managed to salvage following the incident with the matches. 

 

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I'm quite happy with the chrome trimlines, I'm no genius but shoddy work here would stand out a mile. The bonnet trimline is painted but the sides are Model Technics self adhesive coachline, helped to stay in place with a thin coat of canopy glue. Cheating? I know my limitations! 

 

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ANTEATER

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On 06/05/2023 at 11:29, johnlambert said:

Happy to help, that colour looks good.  I'm still trying to decide which colour I'll paint my Beetle.

 

Thanks, I am much happier with the maroon. You would think there was a wide colour palette for Beetles, but not really in the case of mid-60s Beetles. A bright 70s colour looks a bit odd on an earlier car in my view, but of course many got re-painted and there are no rules in model making.   

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I like it so far!  Crimson is a paint colour that naturally degrades, fades and generally goes to 💩 in a very few years which makes it a prime target for all sorts of weathering effects.  I had a SAAB that colour back in the '90s that went that way and ended up several different shades of yeuk.

 

Re. the trimlines, that's not a cheat it's a damn' good idea.  I might try that meself if you don't mind me nicking your idea.

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Ok, I plucked up the courage to scribe the dashboard sections out, as necessary to convert to RHD. Against all expectations, I think I've got away with it. The driver's section just needed to be inverted; the arrangement of the speedo and fuel gauge (the tiny square indent) is mirrored LHD to RHD. 

 

From this:

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Cutting:

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Nearly there:

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Tidied up:

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Should look ok once heavily primed and painted, and set in a dark cabin behind thick windows...

 

Oddly, the kit does not include any decals so there are no instrument details. I'll have to do something to rectify this one way or the other. I must also remember to add the grab handle above the glove box lid, but I'll do this after the first coat of paint. 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Boo! You might be forgiven for thinking I'd abandoned this build or gone into witness protection, but I've just been very busy. However, I did inch forward with the RHD conversion and the dash is now completed. 

 

A weird quirk of the kit is the lack of a decal for the speedo. It's quite deep set on a Beetle so I came via another route, using my smallest hole punch to cut out a disc of clear plastic to replicate the speedo glass. This should catch the light nicely when it's all together. The centre boss of the steering wheel was impossible to paint neatly. In the end I found an old sheet of self adhesive 2mm white discs, which I painted one black and glued it in place. I can't remember where I got them from but it's proof that everything comes in handy if you keep it long enough. 

 

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The dash is just balanced on the chassis here so the gap will close up once glued in place. In case you're wondering, the left-most little silver dot down below represents the ignition key hole, which is in fact in the correct position for RHD, they never changed it from the left hookers. 

 

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More at some point. 

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Ok, so a bit of a burst of activity because it's therapeutic, innit. 

 

Rear frame, engine and front suspension in. I installed the steering arms upside down to make it RHD.

 

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The interior is coming together, the seats are Revell Tar Black which in my pot at least is quite grey. I've gone for painted vinyl floor but added some carpet mats. I snapped the fragile gearstick so had to make my own. Until I took the photos, I never noticed the fuel tank cap has a VW imprint. It bothers me quite a lot that it isn't aligned frontwards! 

 

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A bit more weathering on the body:

 

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I should have read ahead in the instructions more accurately as there are a few tiny bits that need painting body coloured, not so easy with a rattle can. Whatever, I'll figure it out.  

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