Saturday, November 30, 2019

Moore's Balsa Products

Cal had come over for breakfast before we headed off to a train show in Scarboro. I was making some coffee. He had settled into the breakfast nook with his paper and had his nose stuck in the classified ads section looking for bargains.

"Well look at this!" Cal folded the newspaper into a rectangle he could hold with one hand while pointing to a little classified with the other.

"Look at what?" I set coffee making aside on the counter and leaned into the nook to take a look at whatever had caught Cal's eye.

"It says here that the machine shop over on Mortimer you designed is for sale. Not a bad price either."

Cal handed me the folded paper with the ad dead centre. Yeap, it was for sale. That was an easy one to design. I just reused half of Grusom Casket that I did a couple years ago. The buyer was happy enough and so was I. I didn't have to do a lot of work on that one. 

I read the fine print. "It says there's an open house this afternoon. We could take the ocean park car down to the loop at Mortimer, and drop in after the show for a look."

"You're thinking of buying it?"

"The business is getting a little too big for the spare room and basement. And Ma's been hinting that balsa dust in the rhubarb pie might not be the healthiest thing."

"I wasn't going to say anything, but now that you mention it, your last one was a bit dry."

Everyone's a critic. "That didn't seem to stop you from eating half of it."
When I wrote about E. L. Moore's cheap and cheerful plastic kits I had forgotten I had an assembled Machine Shop kit stashed away in my spare-parts box. It was only while looking for parts for Variation No. 3 that I stumbled across it. 

The Machine Shop is half of the Grusom Casket company kit - this little shop is one of the derivative kits, not one of the Original 9. On mine, the base's bottom is stamped with 'POLA-HO' and 'Made in Western Germany'. It looks like this kit had a long history as it was distributed by AHM, Atlas, and Tyco as well as Pola*.

I bought this fully constructed model many years ago at a local swap meet. It wasn't in bad condition, and only cost a toonie. I've learned the hard way to be selective about buying old kits that others have already put together. Some are horrible glue-bombs that can't be disassembled for restoration. Those I take a pass on. Others that have only been lightly stuck together with tube glues are better candidates. If they appear more-or-less complete, and aren't expensive, then I'll buy. It's those that I'm likely to have a better chance of successfully restoring, but there are no guarantees. It's only once I have had a chance to clean and examine the model closely, and try some disassembly, that I get a better sense if it can be easily restored. Luckily, my Machine Shop was in good condition; it was just a little ratty looking.

After thinking about this model for awhile I thought it might fit in rather well in the older part of the Ocean Park Loop along Mortimer Street. But, it needed a little modernization because Mortimer Street isn't a slum in the making, but simply a living street where the buildings are a bit older. And of course, since this a Moore design, so there had to be some Moore in the presentation :-)
We got off the car at the Mortimer loop around 4. The machine shop was a short walk away, on the other side of Ocean boulevard. Things were changing in the city, but this part still had lots of traditional buildings, new ones as well as old. Down here, people could still escape.

Cal brought his camera so we'd have a record about whether we'd have to do any reno work. It turns out the shop wasn't in bad shape, and maybe needed only a little sprucing up. A general cleanup, corner squaring, replacing missing roof stacks, window cleaning, and some work to make the facade a little more attractive to the customers and I'd be in business in no time.

Cal took some pictures. I did some haggling. 
The first thing was to cut off the old base because this building isn't standing out in some deserted lot with junk strewn all over the place; it's facing a busy street. It might have been a machine shop, or maybe a small appliance repair shop, in an earlier era, but today it has to deal with customers who don't want to be scared away by neglected surroundings and a dreary facade, so some general city-fication was called for.

To remove the base, I cut the corners off with a cutting disk in the Dremel, and then used the cutting disk to slice into the exposed foundation corners as close as I could get to the brick walls without touching them. This weakened the base and allowed for some careful flexing to get it unstuck from the wall bottom. You can see that little glue was used to attach the walls, so that was good. But, you can also see I tore the wall and foundation over in the lower right corner. The tear was small, and since that part was going to be hidden with a planter, I didn't spend time to fix it.

I think the biggest job on this project was adding the new foundation.

The base is a piece of 0.080" styrene cut to the edge of the main perimeter. The foundation pieces on which the pilasters - is that what they're called ? - rest are little pieces of 0.080" that were glued on later, and then ground with the Dremel and files to be flush with the pilaster surfaces.

The planters and entry were built up from styrene pieces and putty.

While working on the base, all the clear plastic pieces that had been glued in as window panes were pried off as they were scratched and dirty. I figured I'd break the window frames if I tried prying them, so they remained. The frames were given a loose wash of flat grey to tone down their plasticky brightness. 

The windows were replaced near the end of project with some 0.010" clear styrene.

The roof had a couple of issues that needed fixing. First, the piece itself had a dozen or so ejector pin marks that had to be ground out and smoothed. Then the missing ventilation stacks were replaced with items from Walther's roof top details kit. I used whatever seemed to look interesting and fit the roof.

After that little bit of reno work, it was on to painting. The shingles were hit with several washes of black, grey, and smoke. Once all basic painting was done, thin grey and smoke washes were sloshed on the entire roof structure to weather it a bit and even out the tones.

I didn't glue the roof in place so that lights could be added later.

Building up the facade was the fun part of this project.

First, as you can see, all that was done on the brick was to float on some, loose, thin grey washes. You could do more detailed brick treatments to the walls, but I just wanted to keep things simple.

The sign is just a balsa sheet with old-school Letraset lettering. I wanted it to look fairly new in keeping with the just-opened-for-business vibe. A street number, porch light, and entryway roof helped with the city-fication. A Moore Green door helped reinforce who designed this little building :-)
The new place has got a fancy coffee station, and Cal dropped by to help me christen it. I fiddled with the coffee machine while he settled back in a chair with his newspaper and read the classifieds.

"It says here some guy's got a box of oom-pah** records for sale."

I stopped making coffee and looked over Cal's shoulder at the ad. "Not a bad price. Can you circle that one? I'll give him a call later."

"You got a record player here?"

Darn, I knew I forgot something.

* E. L. Moore's Machine Shop has been sold in a number of different boxes over the years, without buyers knowing Mr. Moore was the designer. Here are a few box-top scans pulled from the internet and my stash.

This is the Grusom Casket company from which the Machine Shop was extracted for its own kit.

And there it is, AHM kit #5839.

At sometime later AHM re-issued the kit in a 'Masterpiece Series' box. The box-top painting has been replaced by a build-up of the model.

At some point in the '70s, Tyco got the molds and sold the kit in their brown-box line.

Things take a turn once Pola started to sell the kit. In this incarnation it's no longer a machine shop, but has become a pickle factory.

It doesn't have anything unique that visually indicates the new business, although, I do like how they've changed the foundation and base to make it more practical. There's also a loading dock and sliding door on the side.

At some point Pola put it in a box that actually said Pickle Factory.

Maybe the Pickle Factory label was simply for the English-speaking markets as this one, which obviously is targeted for the German market, refers to the building as Hengst & Co. Cannery. Maybe cannery and pickle factory are the same in German - I've relied on Google Translate for translation services :-)

The Hengst & Co. Cannery gets a nice blue box.

[Added 31 Jan 2020] It looks like Atlas also marketed the machine shop under the name Johnsons Inc. Chemical Products. The base and loading areas are similar to the Pola releases, and it looks like a water tower has been added to the roof.

[Added 18 February 2020] It's good to see that Walthers now markets the Machine Shop. The box has a rather clinical look compared to its ancestors, but at least it's still on the market.
[Added 12 May 2020] A version marketed by the West German company VAU-PE. What makes it unique are the extensive grounds and out buildings that have been added.

[Added 16 May 2020] Another blue box Pola variation, but this time some sort of benzene processing plant instead of pickles.

[Added 19 May 2020] Another Atlas boxing. Unlike Johnsons Chemicals this one is in red brick, points towards the right, and doesn't have a water tower. Overall it seems quite standard; it just has a different sign.

[Added 26 May 2020] A boxing in the Quick series of Pola kits. From the box-top painting this appears to be a box-stock branding without any additions to make it unique.

[Added 26 May 2020] Not to be left out of the action, our old friend IHC sold a boxing, and much like the Pola Quick version, this doesn't appear to have any unique additions.

I don't know if this is a complete list of all the Machine Shop's boxes and versions. If you're aware of others, please leave a comment.

** Back in the Jones Chemical Co. article in the March '74 issue of Model Railroader, part of the deal Eddie Jones makes with E. L. Moore to build the model was to hand over an oom-pah band record as partial payment - apparently handing over that item caused Mr. Jones some pain :-)

I don't know about oom-pah bands, but when I heard a Townes Van Zandt song called Blue Ridge Mtns. (Smoky Version) on his album Sky Blue that was released earlier this year, I immediately thought it seemed like something that fit in the E. L. Moore canon. You can find the song on the internet, but its embedding is disabled, so I can't include it here. The album has a haunting quality that stopped me in my tracks. Get it if you can. 

And yes, look up in the sky on the Sky Blue cover and you'll see a web of streetcar overhead power lines. Where was the cover shot back in '73? I need to find out.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A review of the Model Builders' Manual by Mat Irvine

I recently bought a copy of Mat Irvine's new book Model Builders' Manual.

It's an excellent, high quality book with lots of information on a wide range of topics related to building plastic model kits, which include the hobby's history, companies, model ranges, basic building techniques, photography, and much more. My only question I have is: who's the target audience ? - other than me and Vince of course :-)

Mr. Irvine refers to the book as a 'starter' manual for any potential model maker, and notes that it also includes enough extra topics to be of interest to more experienced model builders. I love all the information on the history of the hobby, and learning about the companies and models they've made. I especially liked the chapter called Scale as it filled me in on a lot of questions I've had about the various scales and their origins.

The history part of the book reminded me of Louis Hertz's Complete Book of ... series, and to a certain extent Martin Evans book, Workshop Chatter: A Bedside Book for Model Engineers, that I bought earlier this year*. When it comes to the non-construction related chapters, Model Builders' Manual is solidly in that Hertzian lineage of books that fill an important place in helping interested readers learn about the who, what, when, where, and why in a hobby's history, as well as snap-shoting where we are today.

It does include chapters that introduce basic and advanced construction techniques, but doesn't step the reader through all the details of any particular project. When I look back to the days when I was a kid and was just getting started, what I desperately wanted to know about were construction techniques. The more the better, and in as much detail as humanly possible to communicate :-)

My first model building instruction 'book' was Revell's pamphlet, How to Build Better Car Models. It was number 3 in a series of 6 that Revell published in 1973. In the '70s I bought model car kits in the Simpsons toy department near my childhood home. As well as kits, they had a Testors paint stand, some rudimentary brushes, and these pamphlets were positioned nearby. These 32 pagers were focused on construction techniques and only construction techniques. These days though the internet provides a much better source of how-to construction information. Maybe that's why Mr. Irvine's book takes a higher-level approach to this information: it's something of a guide to navigating and making orderly sense of all that stuff that's online.

Model Builders' Manual is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. I'm now looking for other books by Mat Irvine to see what I can see.

* I came across Workshop Chatter quite by accident while doing some searches on the work of Vivien Thompson. This book kept popping up, but it wasn't obvious why, so I thought it might contain information about some of her projects. I was able to find a cheap copy online, but found that although it contained nothing about her, it was a fun read in its own right.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Interior for A&A's

There are 3 parts remaining to build on A&A's facade: the interior, the 'A&A Records & Tapes' sign, and the main A&A sign. I've been spending some time thinking about the assembly sequence, as a wrong sequence will make it rather difficult to install later parts. Although I'd like to tackle the main A&A sign first, it turns out the sequence must be from the bottom up, much like the real thing.
I wasn't after a highly detailed interior, just one that would give the impression of activity when viewed from street-level. To keep the interior low-key, I tried as best I could to colour all the inside elements in black, white, and grey. Except of course for the record bins that I removed from Stella's. I repainted them in grey, and sloshed some white wash on the records to tone them down a bit. The little bit of remaining record colour through the front windows livens things up some.
The image on the back wall is pieced together from a number of pictures found from an internet search on words like 'record store interior'. None of those images are from A&A.

The next job is to build a light box for the interior. Unlike the signs, I plan to use incandescent bulbs for light instead of LEDs so I can get a more low-key, atmospheric light.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Alias Nafford, French, and Wright

No, it's not a law firm, those are Louis Hertz's aliases:

Walter Nafford
Henry Worth French
William Wright

Long story short, Vince alerted me to this Slot Car Books Checklist, and in the entry for Louis Hertz's The Complete Book of Model Raceways and Roadways there's mention that Mr. Hertz published articles under a number of pseudonyms. I contacted the site's owner, Mr. Jim Allen, and he kindly forwarded me a number of scans to help clarify the situation.

The one over there is part of an advertisement for Mr. Hertz's The Complete Book of Model Railroading that was included in, you guessed it, The Complete Book of Model Railroading. My copy of the book doesn't have a dust jacket, or any inclusions, so this list of aliases was fascinating news to me.

Bill Schopp did the same thing, and published many articles under several aliases. I need to find out what those aliases were.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Were the Moon Scope Variations spiritual inspiration to Tesla's new pickup?

The internet is awash in news of Tesla's unveiling of its much anticipated electric pickup.

Look at that planar, blocky shape. Not to mention it's electric. 

What's the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw it? Ira Dahm's Moon Scope Variations from back in the '70s of course :-) They were blocky. They were electric. Let's look at the 'evidence'.

sourced from: Moon Scope Variation No. 2
First, there's Mr. Dahm's Variation No. 2, the pickup. Ok. I'll agree, other than some planar-ness to the shape, not much of a resemblance.

Although, in profile, it does visually say pickup stronger than the Tesla.

But, then there's Variation No.3, the van. Things are starting to get a bit closer.
sourced from: Moon Scope Variation No. 3
My build of Variation No. 3
And then there was my build of Variation No. 3. The blocky planar-ness is even more apparent. 

Am I overreaching my 'evidence'? Of course I am. This is the internet :-)

Even though the Tesla pickup has an apocalyptic, militaristic visual vibe, and the Variations are more to the funky end of the spectrum, it seems not too inconceivable that a real-life Variation No. 3 could indeed be built given the planar nature of both. Maybe the good folks at Tesla will consider a walk on the funky side :-)

Friday, November 22, 2019

From the Time Machine's Glove Box: Three Things I've Learned

After finishing off Variation No. 3 I got to thinking about a post from back in 2013 about three things I thought were important about how I approach to model making, and wondered why I wasn't applying those to the A&A project. I seem to have forgotten about items #1 and #3. However, after suitable remembering, I'm diving back in to get it finished.

Roof woes at Tremblay station?

Even though the Confederation Line is having its problems with reliability, I continue to ride. A couple days ago we headed downtown from the Tremblay station. I hadn't been to Tremblay since September, which was only two months ago, but it seems like ages now that the snow and cold have returned. Looking around the station, I saw on its massive, sloping glass roof that many panels have had ice and snow flow stoppers applied. They're those spiky, round sticker-like things you can see in the above photo. They're meant to slow and breakup the flow of ice and snow as it slides down the roof

That photo on the left was shot back in September, and I don't see those snow and ice stoppers.

Maybe the temperature difference between the upper and lower sides of the glass panels allows the snow and ice to melt faster than it normally would, thereby causing little avalanches at the lower end of the roof? Those spiky things would help alleviate that behaviour.

Also, while we were waiting for our train, a workman was up on the roof doing some repairs. It looked like he was caulking some roof panel joints, but your guess is as good as mine.

Winter's a tough season, and it'll be interesting to see how the stations respond.

A lineside structure inspired Whole Foods Market?

While in Texas we swung by the Fairview Town Center shopping area in Fairview. It has a Whole Foods Market near the Murray Farm Road entrance, and as we drove by the store it struck me as being very railroad-like. It looked like a mash-up of a freight station on the right, and a stylized passenger station on the left. Or maybe it was simply that my subconscious was primed to make this association because: I'm predisposed to see things in railroad terms, and we drove over some tracks to enter the grounds :-)
And, once on the grounds, the store is located near the intersection of Southwind Ln and Fairview Station Pkwy. I suspect there's a story behind all this.

Messaging the Confederation Line work-arounds

Yesterday the OTrain's boss appeared on CBC Ottawa news to ostensibly explain what's going on to restore normalcy to the Confederation Line's commuter service. Any questions delving into how we got into this mess, or wanting to know root-cause of current problems, were pooh-poohed in a rather condescending and dismissive manner. His tv appearance seemed one of message control, with that message being: we're putting bus work-arounds in place, and let's not discuss how we got into this mess.

What work-arounds have been put in place to fix on-time service performance? Basically, since startup of the Confederation Line 40 old buses have been returned to service, and, beginning in December, 20 new ones will be kept on permanent standby to be called into emergency service whenever LRT problems occur. You can read all the details here.

My contention is that although I agree that getting work-arounds in place to patch-up on-time service performance is top priority, knowing the root-causes of all the problems, as well as what's being done to fix them, and when, is crucial to understanding how long these work-arounds will be needed, whether more work-arounds will be needed, how much the work-arounds will ultimately cost, and whether the maintenance contractor is fulfilling its responsibilities. As well, knowing how these problems arose in the system is not an exercise in blame seeking, but crucial to understanding what and what not to do in the next phases of construction, and in targeting maintenance and proactive problem-seeking in the current system. It appears from the interview that these questions have been deemed out-of-bounds to citizens.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Crossing paths with the Capital MetroRail

When I was in Texas last week I was surprised to learn that Austin has its own LRT, the Capital MetroRail, that runs from Leander in the north to downtown Austin. Wikipedia tells me that's around 51km.
The service seems to me to be similar to Ontario's GO Transit, but on a much smaller scale.
At first glance, the MetroRail trains look like trains on Ottawa's Trillium line - that's one shown below at the Bayview station - but it turns out that the MetroRail trains are Stadler GTWs from Switzerland.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

How I built Ira Dahm's Variation No.3 on a Moon Scope

Before I discovered E. L. Moore, Ira Dahm was the model maker I most followed [1]. He was a frequent contributor of custom car projects in Car Model magazine, and the first project I saw of his, Variation No. 3 on a Moon Scope in the December 1972 issue, was also the one I became obsessed with.

Back in '72 I didn't have access to AMT's Moon Scope kit, sheet styrene, Richard Carroll tires, or just about any of the things needed to build the project. But I did have cardboard and balsa! Using those I built the body and attached it to a slot car chassis. I seem to recall I brush painted it green. That model is long gone, but over the years I've thought about giving this project a try, and when I unearthed that old magazine during workshop reorganizing, I decided to shove reorg to the side for a bit and build it. 

Mr. Dahm has a great website that shows many of his early builds that appeared in Car Model along with a number made in this century. His Moon Scope Variations were four kit bashes based on AMT's Moon Scope kit that appeared in Car Model during '72 and '73:

I only own the magazines for #1, which I bought a couple of years ago, and #3, which I bought at the Painted Post smoke shop near my childhood home back in '72. 

The Moon Scope Variations were meant to be Mr. Dahm's fanciful spin on what electric powered vehicles might someday look like. There was a little runabout, a pickup, a van (Variation #3 that I'm building here), and a chopper. Our world would certainly be improved if these things were running around the roads these days, well it at least would be funkier :-)

Before we jump in, I'll just mention that my rendition of Variation No. 3 isn't an exact copy of Mr. Dahm's. For example I didn't use Richard Carroll tires, or make custom Car Model decals. The main thing for me was to see if I could build a credible body from sheet styrene as I've never done that before, and for me I think that's the most important part of this project. As we proceed I'll note where I've deviated from Mr. Dahm's instructions.

One other thing, I found this to be a challenging project, and I couldn't have built it as kid even if I had all the necessary materials and tools at my disposal. I didn't have the skills and patience back then. My skills and patience still need work, but if young me is reading this in a parallel universe, old me says, read this all the way through before you give it a go :-) And speaking of going, let's start!

Since getting back into model building earlier in the century, I've bought a few AMT Moon Scope kits and have used them in a variety of kitbashes. They're great donor kits, and I have a bag of leftover parts from previous builds, as well as 2 unopened kits, sitting around waiting for this project.

In what follows I'll assume you've bought the kit and have the instructions for basic assembly. Also, to give you a sense of what's in the article, and where I've made deviations, I've included a number of scanned snippets that I've cleaned up as best I can. Any text from the article is presented in Courier.

The first step in the article is to build the chassis: Cut a half circle in the rear cross member between the batteries. This cut is shown in white and the engine should fit easily into this groove.

Here's the back end of the chassis before cutting in the groove for the engine.

Here it is after using my Dremel to grind out the groove. Yes, it's a little distorted, and not near circular. The engine fits ok, and luckily once the engine is installed, and the chassis is fitted to the body, this little boo-boo can't be seen, so I tried not to worry.

Here's step 2: Remove the slender shaft from the engine and assemble it.

The first thing I did with the engine was remove the chrome by soaking its components in SuperClean. It was then glued together. You can see the slender shaft, which is the little cylindrical piece jointing the cylinders on either end of the engine. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture after I cut it out. You can probably remove the little shaft before gluing the engine together. In this photo the engine stills needs to be filed, sanded, and painted.

Step 3: Reduce the width of the front and rear axles as shown in step 2, Variation No. 1 Article (June 1972 issue of CM).

Use Permabond Contect Cement to glue axles back together. The Car Model / Richard Carroll tires will slip onto the Moon Scope wheels with no modifications. 

Paint the engine and the flat areas of the wheels with Testor's Flat White.

Next add the brake and electric lines and the frame is finished.

Here's the front axle after the chrome has been stripped away, but before reducing the width as per instructions.

Likewise, here's the rear axle.

Here's what the axles look like after width reduction. That little piece between the brake and the suspension has been cut out with a pair of sprue cutters.

After a little clean-up with a sanding stick, I glued the axles back together with some styrene tube and liquid glue.

A little twisting and shaping was needed later to straighten the axles before installation.

I didn't have any Richard Carroll tires, and didn't know where to get any these days - I guess there might be some for sale on eBay. Instead I used the hubcaps and tires from Revell's Beatnik Bandit II kit [2]

But, using the Bandit's tires meant the Moon Scope's wheels - which are rather large drums - had to be shortened to half their length with a razor saw.

And here's the chassis after all the components have been glued on and painted. The frame and suspension is painted with an acrylic steel colour from Testors.

I didn't add details like brake and electric lines as recommended in the instructions because these won't be seen once the body is attached.

I rather liked the look of this spidery little chassis and took a beauty shot before this view was gone forever once the body was attached.

Okay, so much for the preliminaries, let's get down to the business of body building.

Step 4. First off, the rear of the Moon Scope will be the front of Variation No. 3 and the front now forms the rear. Cut the rear of the Variation No. 3 off right in front of the rear shock supports and remove the excess plastic along the inside-bottom edge of the body. Next carefully remove the center shock supports with an X-Acto Razor Saw and save them for later use on the rear.

On the left is the lower portion of the Moon Scope's body that needs modification. On the right is the chassis.

Basically, the lower body is turned around so that what is the backend on the stock Moon Scope will be the front end on Variation No. 3.

This is the lower body after applying Mr. Dahm's instructions. What was the front end of the Moon Scope has been cut off, and the lower body moldings in the inside of the body walls have been ground off. 

Before discarding the old front end, the shock supports need to be sliced off because they will be glued to the new body.

Step 6. Cut two each of template No. 1 and No. 2 out of .060 Plastruct sheet plastic. Also, cut template 3 out of .060 sheet plastic. Cement these pieces in place as shown, (template No. 1 should overhang in the front slightly)

I started by scanning and printing the body templates from the magazine.
As the instructions recommend, I started with template #1 and rubber cemented it to a scrap of 0.060" sheet styrene. 060 is quite thick, and it takes some careful effort to cut out those sidewalls. 

To remove the window areas I drilled a hole in each inside corner close to the template lines, then scored the window lines with my knife, and then scored additional lines connecting all the holes on the front and back of the piece. From there I carefully flexed the scribed sections until breaks along the scribes developed, from which I could continue flexing until the pieces broke out. 

I discussed the above technique for cutting out windows in some detail back in this post about building E. L. Moore's Jones Chemical Co..

When I was cutting the templates I wasn't sure about whether I should cut along the outside edge of each line, along the line's inside edge, or through the middle of the line. I decided to cut along the outside edge of lines that defined the body panels, and along the inside edge of lines that defined windows. I'm not sure this was the correct choice, as the roof body panels didn't fit quite right. Although, filing and sanding fixed up my inaccuracies. I'll show all that in a later step.

After all that cutting the template was peeled off the styrene in preparation for cleaning up. 

There was a lot of sanding and filing to get things flat and smooth. There was also a little filling, but that was left until the whole body was smoothed out.
Template 2 is an addition to the lower body that was modified in the previous step. Even though it's also made from 0.060" sheet styrene, it's much easier to cut out than template 1.

Those circular cutouts on template 3 were tricky. Mr. Dahm refers to them as tail light cavities. I think if I were to build a superdetailed version of this model - say, with a complete interior - I'd make them windows. Either way though, the panel needs to be cut out for them.

I went down to the workshop and looked for the largest diameter and sharpest drill bit I had. I then marked the centres of the circles, placed the bit tip on the centre, and then hand twisted the bit into the plastic until the hole was cut out. This was a tricky and rather difficult job. No doubt there's a better way to do this - maybe with a low rpm drill press.

After cutting out all the pieces I taped them together to check the fit. It was a little rough, but not too bad. It was clear that the lower body unit was going to need to be squeezed a little to get the pieces to line up properly, but nothing too severe.

After checking the fit, I untaped the pieces and glued the sides to the back wall.

Once the above assembly was dry, I glued the lower body unit, along with the pieces cut from template 2, to the side / back wall unit.

Step 7. Cut templates 4 and 5 out of Denny Johnson's 0.40 sheet plastic and glue in place.

It's at this point various inaccuracies in my template cutting started to catch up with me. You can see the front window frame - template 4, which I cut from 0.040" sheet styrene - extends well beyond the roofline when I align the edges of the various window openings. No worries though, I trimmed the front window frame back, and was able to restore the correct roofline.

There's one other thing I should point out here. In Mr. Dahm's online recounting of the construction of Variation No. 3 he states, The rear Moonscope roof section was cut down to make the new windshield frame. That isn't how the article presents the construction of this section, although I notice in the construction of Variation No. 1, that's what's done. Maybe there was some difference in what was presented in the article and what was actually done? Regardless, the article's presentation is for a windshield frame cut from sheet styrene.

Step 8. Cut templates 6, 7, 8, and 9 out of .040 sheet plastic. Then cut the interior off at the points where the console ends. Next cement a piece of .015 sheet plastic on the inside of the body over the tail light holes. Now apply Testor's Putty to the inside of the body, the interior, and templates 6, 7, and 8 to simulate deep pile carpeting.

Wow! That's a lot of steps condensed into very little text. I'll try and unpack it a bit, but one thing I didn't do was use putty to simulate shag carpeting. I figured that step was too messy for me, and I figured that in the process of squirting putty around I'd probably get the pieces so messed up they wouldn't fit properly. Also, I didn't think all that carpeting would be visible in the model and wasn't worth the effort. But, that's just me :-)

For reference, here's what all the pieces looked like after they'd been cut out. Unlike the article's sequence, I laid out all the pieces and cut all them out before any assembly work. 

One change I might do if I built another one of these is cut all the body pieces from 0.040" styrene and not use 0.060" anywhere. 

At this step the instructions also recommend building the interior console. In this photo the item at the top is the Moon Scope's stock interior, and the lower item is the cut down interior that's used in Variation No. 3.

I used a razor saw to make the cut, and then cleaned things up with some sanding sticks.

Here's what the undersides of those two pieces look like. Again, the stock item is on the left, and that smaller piece on the right is the cut-down item used in the model

I think seeing it from the bottom like this gives a better sense of where to make the cut.

Using the cut-down interior bucket, the dash, steering wheel, and gear shift need to be added. This unit needs to be built and painted prior to installation, as it would be difficult to do all that after.

I used some Tamiya acrylic grey, chrome, and black paints on this item.

Step 9. Glue templates 6, 7, 8, and 9 in place. Template 9 is located between templates No. 2 and below template 3. After the cement dries, fit the body to the frame and use the shocks slipped into position on the rear axle to locate the center shock supports in the rear. Fasten these in place.

Again, steps 8 and 9 condense a lot of body construction into very few words. It took me sometime to puzzle out what I needed to do. Hopefully, the next few pictures sorts that out.

Here's the body after all the main panels have been glued in place, except for the floor and interior bucket. 

You can see the roof panels are rough and way off, but work with the Dremel and sanding sticks fixed all that up. I probably should have cut the templates on their inner line edges instead of the outers. Live and learn.

After an initial round of grinding with a sanding drum in the Dremel, sanding with sanding sticks, and a little filling with putty, the body is starting to look like it's supposed to.

But, look at this.

There's a gap between the windshield frame and the lower body. There's no template for a piece to fill this. I thought maybe I mis-used template 9 by gluing it to the back end, below the door wall, but that's where it's supposed to go. 

Maybe this is why Mr. Dahm said at his site that he used the back wall of the Moon Scope kit to make the front windshield frame. Anyway, I had to go freelance and cut a piece of 0.040" styrene to fill this gap.

That's what I did.

There's the gap filler panel installed, but before being filed and puttied.

Then the interior console was installed. 

It fit rather well, and it gave me confidence that although I may have mis-cut some of the body panels, overall the body was coming together ok and didn't have serious misalignments.

Template 8 is the interior floor, and in this view it's a little clearer on how it's installed. You need to glue the console and floor in at the same time. Again, the fit of the floor isn't too bad, and it gave me confidence that the body had about the right shape.

And what about the installation of the rear shock supports that were cut from the old front of the lower body unit? 

Argh, I don't have a photo of them being installed :-( But, you'll see them in some later photos.

After installing the interior, I placed the body on the chassis to check the fit, and begin the shock support placement. Things were looking ok.

Step 10. Apply putty to the seams and wet sand the body with 320 grade sandpaper. Then, using Testor's flat white as a primer, apply several coats and wet sand the body with 400 grade sandpaper until it's flawless.

For me, this was the most laborious and time-consuming of all the steps.

I did as directed, but there were many cycles of filling, wet sanding, and priming on-and-off over a two week period before the bodywork started to converge on something that was fairly smooth and acceptable. I agree it's far from perfect, and to be candid, I ran out of patience along the way. Although, in the end, I think I learned enough to try another project that needs a lot of custom bodywork.

Here's the body at some point, maybe 3/4 of the way through the process.

One thing to note, you can see that I did install the shock supports on the rear before starting this process.

Balled up inside the body is a knot of green painter's tape that I used to mask the console while spraying.

I debated what to do about those circular 'tail lights'. I thought maybe about paneling them with clear plastic to make them into windows. In the end I just glued in a piece of 0.010" styrene to cover them as per the article's instructions.

I should note that I used Tamiya's white, fine surface primer. It's a pricey product, but I think it's the best primer in a spray can that I can buy. 

When all that body shaping was done I had to take a beauty shot before spraying on the colour coats.

The article has a lengthy section on applying paint, panel opening striping, and making decals. I didn't do the striping as I felt it was beyond my abilities right now, and although I could have made some decals on the computer, I decided not too. Wimping out? I guess so. By this point I just wanted to move on.

The base colour coat is a Tamiya blue that I had in the workshop. Then some Krylon silver and darker blue was misted over the lower parts to give some variation to the colour.

After spraying, all that painter's tape was carefully removed from the interior. There was some overspray on the inside, so I brush painted the cabin with some white acrylic until everything was covered and uniform.

The stock Moon Scope seats were then painted to match the dashboard and glued in place. A pair of tweezers and some tricky manoeuvring was required. 

Windows were added to the windshield frame and to the little window opening behind and above the seats. 

Mr. Dahm's had clear plastic in all the windows, but I left the sides open. I thought, hey, I haven't indicated any doors to open, so people are going to have to climb in the side openings :-)

My windows are cut from some 0.010" clear styrene and glued in place with Micro Krystal Klear.

You can see in the photo that by this point I've also brush painted the shock supports with some Tamiya chrome paint.

The last big job was to set the body on the chassis and attach the shocks. 

The body I built rests on the axles, and in the real world that wouldn't be right. Maybe I built the body wrong, but I don't think I was that far out. Anyway, I glued the body to the chassis, and then went about attaching the shocks.

There was a lot fiddling, prodding, and judicious dabbing of thick, white glue to fill in some embarrassing gaps in the connections.

I should note I stripped the chrome from the shocks since I don't like the shine.

The front shocks were a little more tricky. They had to be shortened. Basically, I cut the top connector off, shortened the spring, and glued the top connector back on. The shortened shocks are in the lower left corner.

Those boxy things in the upper right are the head lights. They came from two Moon Scope kits, and, again, I striped the chrome before working on them. 

Those shorter shocks fit pretty good.

Ugh, there's a lot of dust on the windshield that I had to clean off with a damp brush. 

Once all four shocks were installed they were painted with Tamiya chrome, and then washed a bit with thinned flat black paint to highlight the spring's shadows.

The last thing was to paint and glue on the headlights.

Mr. Dahm notes that the side mirrors are cut from fancy Plastic Party Picks. These were toothpicks that had clover shapes on their heads which he used for side mirrors. I looked for them, but I guess they're lost in the mists of time. But, if I build another one of these, I'll try extra hard to find them :-)

And that is that.
If I had painted on the striping on the back it would be clear that the backend has opening doors, but as it stands, it's just a solid back end. 
Overall, I rather enjoyed this project. It's not perfect, but, Wow! I like looking at it, and even though there're many things I could improve, yeah, Wow! 

One thing that came through loud and clear on this project is that Ira Dahm is a master modeller, and I learned a lot from his inspired thinking.

Will I build another Moon Scope Variation? Watch this space :-)


[1] I only stopped following Ira Dahm because the smoke shop I bought Car Model at suddenly stopped carrying the magazine and I never saw it again until the internet era.

[2] Revell's Beatnik Bandit II was used as the cockpit donor on my old Hot Rod Falcon kitbash, which saw an MPC Millennium Falcon kit converted to a 1/24 scale single-stage-to-orbit hotrod. 

You can get a better view of the cockpit when the bubble-top's removed.

Yes, you're right, no seatbelts, and what does that steering wheel do? Seatbelts? It's a hot rod baby :-)