Current Projects

Projects I’m currently working on appear below. More photos are added as each progresses. Completed projects get moved off this page and into the Build Diaries list.

  • updated 24 September 2020

Supercar Conversion

The decals are ordered, so time to strip this baby…

Biante ‘Plain Body Prototype’ VF Commodore Supercar, ready for conversion into a special 2013-spec livery.
Had to drill out the window locating pins, head and tail light mountings plus remove the back of the grill
The grill was located by two pins and glued into place. Unfortunately, the glue is very good! I had to grind out the metal from the back of the grill to enable the plastic insert to be removed. It was a similar deal for the rear rain light.
Bare body after paint stripper.
I used, for the first time, SMS’s etch primer, which is clear – which also means it’s hard to see what’s going on! A light spray of Tamiya white primer now means this is ready for final colour. It’s going to be a metallic green, but until I can visit a hobby shop and physically see the colours available, this project is temporarily on hold “due to COVID restrictions”.

1995 Tyrrell 023 Yamaha (Tamiya, 1:20)

Having gone as far as I can with the Toyota (see further down), I need another ‘meeting model’ to work on during the model club get-togethers. I pulled this one from the stash in the hope it’s a straight forward out-of-box build (fingers crossed!). As per the Toyota, I’ll prepare parts during meetings and leave the more specialised work (painting and assembly) for when I have time at home.

As a race car, the Tyrrell 023 was nothing special. There are other race cars far more deserving that Tamiya could have chosen to replicate, but considering Tamiya is a Japanese company, and this car had a Japanese engine (Yamaha V10) that came with a Japanese driver (Ukyo Katayama) I can understand why it was made.

Tamiya 1:20 Grand Prix Collection kit #42 – Tyrrell Yamaha 023. Molded in black (2 x sprues, plus rear wing) and white (1 sprue, plus monocoque) it comes with two decal sheets, a bag of tyres and instructions.

I’ll be building the Mika Salo #4 version as he was clearly the better driver (Salo scored 5 points to place equal 14th in the 1995 Drivers’ Championship. Katayama scored zero points). Gabrielle Tarquini also raced this car, taking over Katayama’s seat for the European Grand Prix (the Japanese driver was still recovering from a spectacular rollover crash at the start of the previous GP in Portugal), however the kit does not include markings for this version.

I typically build up pieces that will be the same colour before applying any paint, such as this bodywork. There’s going to be a fair bit of file-and-fill required to get this ready for primer, and I could not work out why there was this gap between the bodywork and floor (same gap on both sides at the rear of the cowling).
So I placed the floor tray on my glass “setup pad” – check out how badly arched this part is! I’ve not experienced bent parts to this extent in a Tamiya kit before. Going to have to flatten that out somehow before getting much further with this build.

2009 Ferrari F60 (Tamiya, 1:20)

I decided it was time to tackle a kit of a modern day subject, so grabbed this F60 from the stash – only to realise it’s already ten bloody years old! I really do need to get cracking with some of those older builds…

Anyway, this vehicle is up there with the ugliest race cars of all time. The narrow-track and overly-wide front wings of the era made for weird looking vehicles in my opinion. At least in 2009 Formula One returned to slick tyres, having been on grooved rubber since 1998.

Tamiya kit #20059, Ferrari F60 in 1:20 scale. It’s an officially licensed Ferrari product. I also bought a can of TS-85 “Bright Mica Red” which was formulated specifically for this kit to replicate the metallic finish that Ferrari used in 2009.
182 parts plus decals. Let the build commence!
First job is cleaning up the parts; identifying and removing mold lines, gluing any parts that can be assembled prior to paint and gently rubbing back each piece ready for primer. The monocoque had some fairly heavy lines on the top edge corners.
The long nose cone is two pieces that need to be joined and the seam filled. I’m trying out Tamiya’s brush-on grey primer for the first time (instead of putty).
Some work in progress on the underside of the nose
The kit has two solutions for seat belts: 1. a one-piece decal that includes belts & buckles that can be applied to the stock seat, or 2. photo etch buckles and sticker material to replicate the belts that needs to be threaded through the buckles. This second option is what I’m going for, which requires three sections of the seat to be removed to allow the belts to pass through.
Use a pin-drill to remove much of the material
Then a hobby knife to remove excess plastic, and a small file to finish off the shaping.
The radiators are plated in an aluminium-type finish, which I’m happy to retain (in many older kits, the plated parts are way too shiny). The plating has to be scraped off wherever plastic cement is to be used, such as the hose fittings and the edges where it will attached to the sidepod ducting. The plan is to use an oil-wash on the mesh areas at a later stage.
The kit can be built with the fuel filler doors open or closed. If open, there is nozzle/coupling detail included in the kit, however I’m building it with the flaps shut, so just glued them over the holes. So far, the parts are fitting together with minimal gaps – note the edge of the filler cap, head-rest surround and roll-bar/engine inlet? These are all separate pieces.
The kit exhausts are plated, but they had noticeable mold lines and I wanted to try some ‘heat’ colour effects with the airbrush. The plating comes off within a minute or so of being hit with a little household-strength bathroom mould remover.
I’ve heard good stories about this Milliput stuff, so decided to try it out on some of the sunken injection marks on the floor.
It’s a 2-part epoxy product that is supposed not to shrink. This is the floor after filling and sanding some of the marks that will still be visible once assembled.
Some of the parts will be painted on the sprue, so cleanup and filling has to be done on the sprue.
Radiator with a black wash (left) Vs radiator as it comes in the kit (right).
First paint goes down on Kimi’s Ferrari, the underbody plank.
Wing end-plates, barge boards and a few other parts are difficult to mount for spraying, therefore they’re being prepped and painted on the sprue. After pink primer, sprue was masked and hit with semi-gloss black.
Test fitting some of the main bodywork parts to the floor.
I’ve gone out of sync with the kit instructions which call for the radiators to be fitted to the monocoque via these two locating holes, before the rounded sidepod openings are fitted. Problem is, that would leave a messy join on the bodywork. If the sidepod openings are fitted first (which they are, above) the radiators don’t fit. My solution? Elongate the front hole to enable the radiator assembly to be slid in at a later point in the build 🙂
With the radiator intakes fixed to the monocoque, I can now fill and smooth the gap between the parts (which does not exist on the real car) before painting.
Batch of semi-gloss black parts, mostly suspension pieces.
Steering wheel with hand painted rotary switches and buttons. Rubber-coloured paint is used for the hand grips.
Seat belts are a plastic tape-type material that need to be threaded through photo-etch buckles. Tamiya also provide a decal for the seatbelts in the event these belts and buckles are too fiddly. The four uprights with brakes and shrouds are also done (however, much of this is covered when the wheels go on)
Still trying to get the two-piece nose to look like one piece…
The engine, gearbox and rear suspension are done. While it still needs the exhaust pipes to be fitted, there’s just not the interesting detail on modern F1 engines like there was in the past.
I almost left the tyres in this kit as they came, with the mold release and molding seam intact (right), but decided to give them a buff to give a roaded look (left). These are the rears.
The kit comes with a photo-etch masking template to spray the Pirelli branding on the tyre sidewalls. However, the sidewall of these tyres is very rounded, meaning the template does not seal properly against the rubber, producing a fuzzy edge on the lettering. That might look ok on a 70s or early 80s car, but not a 2009 model.
I reverted to the kit’s decals. Kit rims are very well done with nice plating to simulate an alloy look. Unfortunately, most of the rim detail will be hidden by the wheel covers this car ran.
Primer on the body parts.
I thought I had lost the original rain light to the Carpet Monster; couldn’t find it anywhere, so fabricated a home made version from a piece of clear sprue, painted the inside silver and stuck it on the end of the crash structure. Then, weeks later when looking through the instruction sheet of another kit, guess what dropped out into my lap?
The original piece now in place.
The red is now on! Four coats all up – one mist coat and one light coat a couple of minutes later, then wait a few days, light sand to remove a couple of dust particles followed by another light coat then heavier application for what is hopefully the final coat.
A narrow silver and black decal needs to curve around the leading edge of all the elements that make up the front wing. Problem is, I could not get them to correctly position, curve and settle all at once. I therefore concentrated on getting the alignment correct…
…with the decal over-stepping the leading edge. I let this completely dry in position…
…then hit it with decal softener to get it to wrap around the edges.
Tamiya did not include the ‘Phillip Morris’ decoration for the engine cover or rear wing. I sourced some aftermarket decals for the job. To get them positioned required the engine cover be temporarily held in place with masking tape.
Unfortunately, the aftermarket decals have proven to be a little inaccurate, but hopefully will look acceptable once all done.
Most of the decalling is now done. There’s not much decoration on this car and Tamiya’s decals (by Cartograf) go on really well – though getting the big Shell logos to settle on the curved sidepods was quite a task. I can’t really go any further on this kit until these parts are clear-coated.
Finally, all the red bits are clear coated! I normally use Tamiya’s TS13 clear, but know from (bad) experience it melts the decals from Patto’s Place (where I sourced the aftermarket barcodes). After testing with some scrap decal, I used Mr Hobby TopCoat, thinned with a bit of Tamiya lacquer thinner. This is the result and shouldn’t require much polishing 🙂
Lacquer thinner on a cotton bud is used to remove paint from the mounting points for the internal radiator ducting.
I was going to paint the sides of the monocoque semi-gloss black, but decided to use aftermarket carbon fibre decal from Scale Motorsport. I use masking tape to create a template to fit the area, then place that on the decal material (which is what this part is sitting on) and cut out the shape. As the other side of the car is a mirror image, I then place the template on the reverse-side of the decal sheet and cut that out too. I used this technique for all the inner and undersides of the front and rear wing components, so it was a time consuming job!
Masking the lower edges of the sidepod covers and monocoque for semi-gloss black.
Most of the parts and sub-assemblies prepped and ready for the final buildup to commence
After cutting away decal material from the mounting holes, my trick worked perfectly – the radiators and ducting slipped in nicely on both sides 🙂
The engine/gearbox/rear suspension assembly now glued to the floor tray. Care must be taken at this point to ensure the bodywork that fits inside the suspension arms (hard to see here because it’s black) seats correctly on the floor. I dummy-fitted the engine and sidepod covers while the glue was drying to ensure it was all sitting at the right angle. Hopefully it all still sits flush in the final assembly!
Nose cone is complete and will be one of the last items fitted. Front suspension and uprights/brakes have been added to the monocoque which is close to being ready for mounting to the floor.
Complex and fragile front wing is done. It’s made of 9 individual pieces, 23 decal applications, multiple coats of primer, colour & clear, plus sand, polish & touchups. No wonder it takes so long to build these things!
Rear wing parts. A lot of the work on these, particularly the two end plates, was done while the parts were still on the sprue. From L to R, the inner end-plate shows carbon decal with cutouts to expose raw plastic for the cement to glue the wing elements in place. The upper wing element has a decal for the white barcode whereas the white on the main element is masked and sprayed. Both have carbon decals on the underside. Main support beam is semi-gloss black with the paint removed for the gluing surfaces. One large decal provides all the decoration for the outer end-plate, which has been cleared and lightly polished. Softener was required to get decals to conform to the louvre cutouts.
Starting to take shape now with the chassis and engine mounted to the floor.
Tamiya include parts for the steering rack and brake fluid reservoirs so that the model can be displayed sans nose cone and bear some resemblance to the real thing. I’m building this with the nose attached, so haven’t bothered to paint these parts.

1988 Taka-Q Toyota 88C-V (Tamiya, 1:24)

The Toyota 88C-V is a Group C sports prototype entered by Toyota in the 1988 All Japan Sports Prototype Championship. It was designed and built by Dome and utilises a 3.2 litre turbocharged V8 engine.

While the box, instruction booklet and decals have yellowed a little (it is, after all, a 30-year-old kit), I’m hoping the decals will still be ok when it’s time to apply them.

This will be a standard out-of-box build.

The parts in Tamiya kit #24083, Toyota 88C-V: 2 black sprues, 1 yellow parts sprue, 1 yellow body (2 x pieces), 1 sprue of clear parts, a bag of tyres, tyre marking sheet and one big decal sheet.
Most of the parts are now off the sprue and cleaned up. Several pieces that can be painted as one have been glued (eg, some of the engine, uprights etc). For the moment, the only time I work on this model is when attending my local model club meetings. A few more meetings and all the parts should be ready for paint.
Other than the clear pieces (not in photo), all the parts that need to come off the sprue have been cut off and cleaned up. Now I need to find some time to start priming the body and painting the detail. I feel the white decals in this old Tamiya kit are too translucent, so plan to mask and pray the white bits.
First paint done! Grey and a bit of white primer on the floor tray, semi-gloss black on the other parts (using Tamiya’s relatively new Lacquer paint).
Underside of the nose and inside the front wheel wells is the body-colour yellow. Here the yellow has been masked, ready for a big hit of semi-gloss black on the rest of the floor.
Cockpit module and dashboard. I added a red and black wire to the electronics box in the passenger side.
The engine block/bell housing/transaxle/gearbox is basically two halves cemented together. Everything here is hand painted.
Rear suspension, uprights etc attached. Everything fits ok and went together as planned, however the engineering of the kit has a few issues – for example, the bell-cranks that connect the pushrods to the springs are not connected to anything solid…
To ensure the glue can bond into the plastic, paint has to be removed from the mating surfaces. On this model, the engine/gearbox assembly sits up off the floor and is located by these two small pylons.
Engine fitted, but the intercoolers and intake plenum are only test fit before painting. Everything else in this pic is glued in and done. It still needs the exhausts, turbochargers etc, then it’s on to the next stage – wheels and body.
The flip-side shows the curvature of the floor under the nose, air jacks and fixation points, plus the long ground-effect extraction tunnels. The paint is Tamiya Lacquer LP-5 semigloss black. The yellow is Tamiya TS-16 with just a touch of TS-12 (orange) mixed in, shot through the air brush.
The chassis is done! Exhaust and turbocharges are done with various metal-finish colours. It was only while fitting the turbos I realised this kit does not include plumbing to transfer the compressed intake charge from the turbocharger to the bottom of the intercooler, so I made my own out of solder. This is no longer a stock out-of-box build…
Body prep has started, removing mold lines, filling recesses and ensuring everything is ready for primer. I’m using Tamiya’s brush-on grey filler to correct small gaps and sink holes.
Cooler intake is a separate piece on the engine cover. I’ve glued it in place and trying to make it look like an integrated part of the bodywork.
All the body parts are now primed in Tamiya fine white primer. A little cleanup required and then it’s on to the gloss coats, starting with white.
I masked the outer edge of the rims to be able to paint the wheel centres gloss white.

To be continued…