Kit Bash
Part Four in a Series

By:  Steve McGuire
February 25, 2005

Smeal Brochure

Test fit. The cab is not yet joined to the body, but it fits the base perfectly and can stand by itself.

I received feedback (always welcome) from one reader who said that he enjoyed parts 1, 2, and 3 and was looking forward to reading parts 4 through 2,000! Point taken and well received. Instead of piece meal updates, the segments for this feature will be longer, with more information and pictures. Another reader pointed out that on the real truck, the jump body is slightly wider than the cab. I was able to adjust for that, thanks to his keen eye.

In part 3, I mentioned trimming out the roll-up doors. Luckily I follow the old Carpenter’s adage of “measure twice, cut once.” I was ready to start laying in the door tracks on the Smeal, but a close look at the roll-ups on this particular truck revealed that there is very little trim work required. I would have ruined the work I have done so far since there are no tracks visible on the outside of the real truck, only the door grabs and knuckle guards** at the bottom. This makes life a tiny bit easier for me, but, I did say I would show you how to trim out the doors, as they look on most roll-up types.

Once again, Plastruct products were used. The products used were: 3/64” 90-degree angle, 1/32” square rod, and 1/32” round rod. First, the width of the finished door opening is carefully measured, using a Vernier caliper. If you plan on getting into this hobby to the point where you will be doing a lot of precise cutting, I highly recommend that you buy an inexpensive Vernier caliper, similar to this one. I got one from Home Depot, and it cost me about $18.

Vernier calipers

The width dimension of the door, in this case ½” (or .5) is transferred to a piece of 3/64” angle which will serve as the knuckle guard, and the length is chopped with a new and sharp X-Acto blade. The ends of the angle are given a quick pass with an emery board to square them and remove any rough tailings. The piece of angle is then dropped into the door opening and “snugged” in by nudging it with the blade or a pair of angled tweezers, another highly recommended tool.

Laying in the knuckle guards**.

 Now for the cement. For very fine detail like this, I use a liquid adhesive called “Plasti-solve”, also from Plastruct. This stuff is water-thin and evaporates rapidly, and if used properly it won’t mar the surface of your model. Because it’s water thin, you exploit its capillary properties to make your joint. Simply daub a tiny amount at the joint, and it will be drawn underneath the angle. Press down lightly on the angle to form the bond.

**My apologies if the terminology I used is incorrect-I don’t know what else to call them, so for the purposes of this narrative, they are deemed “knuckle guards”.

Another advantage of this product is that you will have a few seconds to reposition your part or remove it without causing damage. If you use superglue for this type of work, you only get one chance and no time at all. The main drawback is that this stuff has dangerous vapors, and must be used sparingly and with adequate ventilation. I have had a few pounding headaches from it.

The roll-up doors on many trucks are not as “clean” as this Smeal. Here is a close up of the roll-up doors on my Columbus TDA:

The door tracks are visible on the outside surface. These were made from 1/32” square rod. The lengths were cut to suit the door opening, as shown above. The vertical pieces are slightly shorter than the actual height to accommodate the knuckle guard angle at the base of the door. On any type of roll-up door, there is a handle. This is made from 1/32” round rod, cut to the width of the door + tracks, and tucked into the knuckle guard. The black hinges are made from hair-thin styrene rod wrapped around the handle, then highlighted with black paint.

On to the body assembly. As you can see, I have made a “baseplate” for my model. This will form the foundation to which everything else will be attached. It’s made
From one piece of 1/16” sheet plastic, and was cut using a template in the same way that I made the body panels. Notice that the wheel clearances have already been cut into the plate, and the openings forward for what will be working outriggers. A strip of brass bar forms the keel, and gives the baseplate the rigidity and straightness that it must have.

Bottom view. The baseplate, showing wheel wells and outrigger openings (front).
The wheels are temporary, new axles will be made later.

Top view: the keel, cemented to the inside surface of the baseplate.

I attached 3/16”angle to the sides of the baseplate, lined up precisely with the edge. This gave me a vertical surface to attach the body panels that I made earlier. A piece of diamond plate finishes out the front of the body

Looking forward. The frame, baseplate, and keel.
The forward bulkhead is also In place.

I will use more 3/16 angle on the top edges of the body panels when I’m ready to attach the deck. Before I do that, I have to assemble and install the outrigger system. I will cover that in the next segment. I welcome and encourage your comments, questions, and suggestions, so consider this project as something like an open book. Until then, thanks again fro reading, and stay safe!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3Part 4