... into this:
I have a soft spot for anything that has obvious mass, and this Mack water truck fits the bill! This job would also have a nice, moderate amount of scratchbuilding for me to build my skills with.
One of the known issues with this kit is that the front axle seems to be a bit wide. When built out-of-the-box, the front wheels protrude well outside the front guards. I didn't want this, so I cut 5 mm out of the center of the axle beam and strengthened it with some plates. I also scratchbuilt a new connecting rod out of brass and styrene to the new wiidth. That seemed easier than wresteling with the kit parts.
Another area of concern with this kit is getting all the different parts of the bonnet and cab to line up. More on this later!
It is possible with this kit to leave the major components of the bogie drive unglued. This will help with the final sit of the model as the leaf springs and axles can all wiggle around a bit, which will help the wheels to all sit nice and firmly on the ground. There's nothing so sad a nice truck kit with one wheel hovering in mid-air. This flexibility is just as well, too, as I missed an instruction telling me to trimm a chunk fromm the top of the main pivot mount.
I do like a busy engine, so I added some wiring and replaced a few of the more crudely moulded parts with scratchbuilt bits.
After much dry fitting and modification, I got the cab and bonnet parts to more-or-less agree about where they were going to live. This involved creating more robust mudguard hinges that would also let the mudguards be removed. I also added proper locations for the butterfly bonnet hinge pins, and dropped and repositioned the cab so it would sit better.
Added details on the bogie drive.
I added some valves and brake lines to the bogie drive, too, to add some more visual interest. The cables are from some headphone leads, and the pink ends are hexagonal glass beads from a craft store. The cable ties are simply fine copper wire tied around the bundled wires.
I am always looking for easy ways to make multiples of shapes and components. I bought a hobby-grade 4 Watt laser cutter some years ago with the hope of using it to cut out styrene shapes from sheet. While it worked fairly well on this sheet, it left heavy melted edges on thiscker sheets and it was slow and the results were inconsistent. You also couldn't leave it unattended due to the fire risk!
So, that got ditched and I splurged on a Cricut Maker craft cutting machine. This cuts thin styrene very well, and cuts thicker styrene enough for a score-and-snap type of cut. I can also load in apen and it will draw the part on the styrene for me to cut out myself. I bought the big matt, too, so I can cut out elements up to 610 mm long. Big enough for things like trailer sides!
Here you see the test cuts I made using cardboard to see if the idea would work. In card, it worked really well.
On to the styrene. I used 0.75 mm thick styrene to try things out. Ihe Cricut scored the sheets very deeply, almost cutting right through. Evene with that, though, the centre bits, like the holes in the inner frames, were very hard to pop out and I broke some of the pieces. The deep cutting also strained the styrene and it ended up quite bowed. When I started gluing it together, it proved quite difficult to maintain the alignment, and the sides ended up wavy. Ah well!
On to the second try. This time I switched to 1.0 mm thick styrene to give a bit more rigidity to the structure. Rather than trying to get the Cricut to cut through the styrene, this time used a lighter setting and let it make a good solid cut that I could then follow with a hobby knife. This approach worked very well. The parts were accurate to within an fraction of a millimeter and the second tank went together straight and true. I also ommitted a lot of unnecesary details, like the holes in the inner braces and the added on bits and pieces.
I am calling the structure of the tank done.
With the structure of the tank complete, it is on to the painting. I am using Mission Models paints quite a bit on this build. I will let you know what I think as I go. Being an impatient person, I sprayed the completed tank with Mission Models grey primer. I have pink on order, but, like I said, I am impatient. I did prep the raw plastic with a scrub with a green scourer and a wipe with isopropyl alcohol. I laid down a thin wet coat to start followed by two thisker wet coats. The primer is nice and hard and smooth.
I always get a kick out of adding wiring. It is one thing that I find really adds to the realism of truck models. Don't try and trace where these wires and hoses go, though! I usually run pipework from an object and then just hide the ends in the chassis somewhere. The object here is to make it look realistically busy.