Tips for Detailing Your Model Car Engine

Orangeville, ON (James Doan) Building a good car model involves more than a kit and some glue. Proper research and planning can take up close to half the building time. Photos, magazine articles, TV coverage, and trips to the local speed shops are some of the ways to gather information. Each piece of information eliminates some guesswork and makes a more accurate model. You can enhance your model further with these simple tips.

A small rubber band painted black can represent a fan belt and will almost always look better than the thick, unrealistic kit belts.

Add the often over-looked dipstick to your engine. Remove the insulation from the end of a piece of small solid-core wire (like telephone cord) and clip off the exposed end. Using a reference photo, bend it to the proper shape. Drill a hole in the block, dab the end of the dipstick in superglue and place it in the hole.

Thinned flat black paint brushed into the grooves and valleys of a finished engine block will yield a more realistic appearance.

It’s the small details that win contests. For a more accurate engine, note the firing order of the real car and place the model’s plug wires into the proper holes in both the distributor and the block.

A metal-nibbed, extra-fine, disposable artist’s pen (available from most art supply stores) makes drawing the wires on your model’s firewall easy.

Before they are glued together, engine block halves should be sanded with a piece of 6oo grit sandpaper secured on a flat surface. When the parts are assembled, any visible seam lines should be sanded smooth before the block is primed.

The windshield washer bottle is another neglected item in the engine bay. Cut the shape needed for your car’s bottle from a piece of clear plastic. Paint the bottom and half way up the backside blue. When dry, use white to paint over the blue as well as the entire backside. Carefully glue the bottle in place, and use black ignition wire for the fluid hose.

Kit exhaust pipes can be made to appear more realistic by drilling 1/8 inch holes into their ends. Use a drill bit that is 75% of the diameter of the pipe and dab flat black into the new hole.

Many modellers still paint exhaust pipes and mufflers with a brush. For a better looking exhaust system, spray it.

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