World War I AFS Model T Legacy Build

  • 11 posts
  • Last reply 4 months, 2 weeks ago
Viewing 1 - 11 of 11 posts
  • David A. Thomas said 5 months ago:

    Alright gents, my first WIP thread that is specifically devoted to a legacy build. The model is the 1:35 ICM Model T WW I ambulance kit….

    The subject is the reproduction of an ambulance that my maternal grandfather, Roger Burrell, drove for the Ambulance Field Service before the United States officially joined the War in 1918.

    I am particularly motivated by this project for a number of reasons. First, it is 2018–the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. Second I cannot find another kit that so directly pertains to a close relative’s military service in one of the great wars of the 20th century. Third, my grandfather preserved a fine record of his service through a fairly extensive archive of b&w photos, some of which I publish here for the very first time (outside out family circle), and more in the final reveal. I am using that photographic record to reproduce an ambulance from his unit (I do not know which one he drove, if indeed he drove just one in particular, which I doubt).

    Here are a few of the photos in question:

    The project presents a number of challenges. For starters, the kit’s ambulance has physical configuration that doesn’t match what I see in the pictures. There is a board running along the side of the rear (marked with the words “American Ambulance”) that is not included in the kit. I shall have to scratch build that item. The ambulances I see also fairly clearly have distinguishable boards that make up the rear cabin, and those will have to be scored since the sides of the kit are smooth. I will also have to place the spare tire on top, rather than the side as shown in the kit’s plan (a minor item).

    More importantly, I have to make a decision on colors. The American schema uses olive green. However, the original AFS, made up of prep school men like my Papa, consisted of a corps that was actually an extension of the French army since America wasn’t in the war yet. More than likely, these ambulances were painted blue, not green, like so…

    …or as this colorized version I pulled from the web…

    Furthermore, as anyone can see, the wheels and the tires are like–even white–not black as the ICM kit indicates. Obviously, they are drawing their conclusion from photos like this (from the web)…

    …rather than this (also from the web)…

    So I’ve concluded that I should use an intermediate blue for the ambulance, that I need to apply dry transfer decals to properly match the markings, and modify others (Red Cross yes; white field behind it no), and that the tires were natural (real) white rubber, and not black rubber.

    One last item: I’ve never build in 1:35 before–not anything. I haven’t built a 4-wheeled vehicle since I belonged to a lousy mail-order “model club” since I was 12 years old. I’ve never done a WW1 subject before. And I’ve never used dry transfer decals before. I’ve started on the engine, and so far, so good. ICM kits are top notch except being a bit foggy and inconsistent on the directions regarding what colors to use on certain parts; technically they are superior.

    That’s all. Wish me luck, mates!

  • david leigh-smith said 5 months ago:

    The makings of a top notch thread; personal bond with the subject, a worthwhile and noble tribute, great model, and a terrific host with all the skills to bring her home. Ah, these are the iModeler moments I live for.

    Godspeed, Prof Thomas, Godspeed.

  • Greg Kittinger said 5 months ago:

    This should be good!…

  • David A. Thomas said 5 months ago:

    I blew it, folks. This should be under a different thread, since it isn’t aircraft!! Old habits die hard…

    So, to validate this posting, I’ll include a couple more heirloom pics from my Papa’s trove:

    I have no idea what that plane is flying over the church steeple (perhaps a French Cauldron G.3?, but I have to say, way to go, Papa! Brilliant shot!

  • James B Robinson said 5 months ago:

    David, this reminds me of the movie ‘The Razor’s Edge’ with Bill Murray. Not sure if their research was correct, but they had some colorful examples of these vehicles. I look forward to how this one develops!

  • Craig Abrahamson said 5 months ago:

    What was that Henry Ford said about his Model T….? You can have any color you want as long as it’s black.

  • david leigh-smith said 5 months ago:

    Yep, Ferrari said the same thing about red to me when I picked up my car this Monday…

  • David A. Thomas said 4 months, 3 weeks ago:

    OK, so here’s my first substantial post in this WIP topic thread.

    Some comments on the kit: This ICM kit really is a very fine kit. The styrene is less brittle than I’m used to, and cuts very well. On the other hand, you have to be careful because what you think will be a minor scratch becomes a score. The parts have essentially no flash and are very precise. I found one not to be molded at indicated (and necessary for a precise fit), but it’s hidden and so forgivable. The instructions are OK; I’ve found that one has to experiment more than usual and for how long (extensive) they are they could be more precise. Tamiya is better but I suppose you might expect that. One odd thing is that the color guide for painted parts is very inconsistent. Sometimes you are told what to paint a minor part, while other parts crying for direction get none. Odd.

    Anyway, my foray into vehicle modeling is beginning with an odd bird–a Model T. I’ve fund that due to its intricacy, I have to essentially paint each part to perfection before assembling it. A WW2 airplane has this aspect at cockpit stage, engines if they are open, and perhaps wheel wells. This goes on and on. It’s open, top and bottom, and there’s no putting off painting the “body” on the vehicle as with a plane–it has to be done as you go.

    Here’s the engine:

    And here’s the frame for the chassis assembly:

    (Note that I presided the chassis in both black and white to make the intermediate blue pop a bit better.)

    Here’s the assembly, which (going according to the numbered steps) represents about a quarter of the build:

    And the underside…

    I made some decisions. I figures the Model T’s were shipped in their original black, then field painted blue. So the underside remains black. I used various coats of Alclad on the motor, and tried to get a rust tone on the exhaust using copper with a misting of aluminum over it, but I’m not sure how it came off. It’s hidden anyway, as much of this will be.

    To quote Louis, comments encouraged.

  • Louis Gardner said 4 months, 3 weeks ago:

    Here’s my first comment of many to come.

    Excellent article my friend !!!

    I will be following along with you and your journey. Years ago I was an automotive machinist and I basically earned my living rebuilding engines and various other bits as needed that were automotive related.

    I had the opportunity to overhaul a model T engine once. It’s amazing how far we have come with engineering when you look at something that is so rudimentary and compare it to something only a few years newer. Needless to say, I had to ask many questions and do some research on this rebuilding process before I started any work on it. The nice thing about the model T was it was designed to be worked on (and be assembled) from the beginning. If my memory serves me correctly, every (or nearly every) one of the “wear item” parts were designed to be replaced and only a little amount of actual machine work was required on my part. Plus you only needed a handful of tools to work on it and no specific tools were needed. But I do remember something about how these vehicles were sold with a “standard” tool kit supplied with each new vehicle.

    I can see how important this build is for you since your grandfather is connected with it. I must say that it looks like he was quite the photographer too !!!! He must have had a very exciting life.

    Well done my friend. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next installment.

  • Louis Gardner said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Hey there David !!! I ran across this photo online this morning………. I immediately thought of you and your Grandpa…………. It was supposed to be an actual color photo from WW1, but I doubt that. Instead I would rather believe it has been colorized. Either way, enjoy !!!!

  • David A. Thomas said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Thanks, Louis! yeah, that’s pretty obviously colorized. But it is still useful. It demonstrates how varied these ambulances really were. I have made serious headway, but not ready to show more yet. The rub-on lettering is a nightmare but it is happening, bit by bot, along with all the other stuff. Slowly but surely!

    Thanks, friend!

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