MMR Blog

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on January 29, 2015 Comments (0)

Daytona Doesn’t Disappoint

Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the lead lap

The first international race of the year was far better than expected. Kudos to the organizers of the Tudor United Sports Car series. Their constant tweaking of the participating cars to produce an even playing field for all has been brilliant. Unlike their Francophone counterparts the ACO, who always appear to run Le Mans in a manner which benefits French entrants, the IMSA crew have worked their dark magic with nary a peep of complaint from competitors. And, they have devised a new rule regarding competitors who lose laps while performing repairs in the pits. A new formula allows such competitors, should their repairs happen early enough in the race, to regain laps and once again be competing for a win by the end of it. A welcome and long overdue change to long distance racing regulations that benefits everyone. Read our TV armchair report from Daytona.

Letter to Mr. Ford

The new Ford GTSir, please be aware that our story last week about the Ford GT elicited high praise for the design. There was some disappointment that it isn’t powered by a V8. Given that a variation of the engine with which it is equipped won Daytona last weekend, that antipathy may have softened. Then again, the sound of a pure V8, preferably carbureted, and, while we are at it, let’s make a five speed available and call the package The Deuce. A fitting tribute, don’t you think?

This Week in the MMR Newsletter:

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 LeMans by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s image is from a 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 LeMans from his book Automotive Jewelry.

2015 Arizona Concours

Our feature story and images are from the Arizona Concours d’Elegance.

Chrome plating model wheels, by Marshall Buck

Model Maven Marshall Buck brings us a progress report, Chapter 3, on the Ferrari SWB model he is creating. Like the original, art takes time.

Among our Classifieds this week is featured the first iteration of 328 BMW’s.

The February Calendar is available on our website.

Have a great weekend, and please forward this to a friend and encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter at this link.

Peter Bourassa

Models, Chapter 3: Wheels & Tires, Chrome Plated Parts

Posted on January 29, 2015 Comments (0)

by Marshall Buck

One of the first areas I like to have final parts for when starting a scratch built are the wheels and tires. For me these are very important since the rest of the car, body mainly, has to work in unison with them—all for the model to have the correct look. The only way to judge a “correct look” is to have and work with the important parts that influence the entire look and stance of the model. With a car it is the wheels and tires.

Closeup of Model Car tires for a Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

This particular SWB had highly polished Borrani’s shod with Avon Turbosteel tires. I knew that aside from needing to have wheels made specifically for it, there were also no Avons available anywhere, as in… never made! So… after much time spent laying out all the specs: dimensions; sidewall details; and tread pattern for one very accurate master to be made, I had to decide on the making of said master. Was I going to spend my time doing this or sub contract it out? I had a few choices, and well… I chose poorly. A fellow model builder whom I have worked with over the years, asked me to give him this job. I had seen a lot of his work, and knew he could do the job, and I also knew he needed the work/money… so I gave him the job. Seemed like a good idea at the time. He was going to make the master, and also make a mold of it, and produce tire castings for me. One stop shopping, yippee! Unfortunately it ended up being one big ‘oops.’ Once again, the best laid plans went out the window. Murphy’s law. Murphy must be a close relative of mine. Not only were there a number of delays, but the method he chose was overly complicated and, in the end, the results were in a word, unacceptable. Each tire casting had mold slippage, the color of each was too light, and the treads and sidewall lettering had many imperfections, which were on his master. This of course caused more work for me as I had to then clean and improve those areas, and then have the tire molded and cast again, of course by a different vendor.

Closeup of Model Car tires for a Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

The wire wheels were made ahead of time, before the tires, and they came out very well, some would say spectacular … as for me, well I was very pleased with them, but not entirely happy with the hue of their finish.

Closeup of Model Car wheels for a Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

The wheels were made for me by my friend Sean McKenna, whose work I am also his sales agent for. I spec out various miniature wheels and steering wheels, and Sean makes them to order for me. We had these mini Borrani’s made in his usual way, out of bronze, and also plated by him. The results on the first set as I said came out very well, but the hue of the plating was just not as close to the real 1:1 wheels as I wanted. I also knew that it would not match the bumpers (later) or other plated parts closely enough. After discussion, we determined that the results I wanted could be achieved by mimicking the real ones. A new set was made of aluminum, highly polished, and voilà. The wheels were painstakingly made. Rims were machined with the correct step edges and shapes; same for the center hub. Holes were drilled in at angles, spokes then made and cut, and fitted in one at a time, as were the individual truing nuts placed at the base of each spoke. I have also made the small Borrani labels to affix to the center hubs, which I will attach later. Oh, and I also made left and right 3-ear knock-off spinners with the Borrani hand logo engraved in their centers. Those were plated along with other small detail parts. And that my friends, leads into the next bit.

The mystifying art of chrome plating.

Closeup of Model Car wheels for a Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

The mention of ‘chrome plating’ to any top flight restorer will often illicit a reaction, and it’s often negative, ranging from just a sour look, to foaming at the mouth along with language colorful enough to make a prison inmate blush. I sit very close to the colorful camp. This is a process by which it is difficult to achieve “very good”, let alone “great” results. Not impossible, but, difficult. I have looked into plating systems for my work shop, but with the exception of a simple system for some metal parts, there is nothing easy, good, or reasonably priced. (I just returned a chroming kit from ALSA—horrible experience.) Therefore I use outside services, as do most professionals. Many of the chrome plating services talk a great game, but are incapable of delivering good results. I have worked with a number of services over the years, some yielding superb results, while others have made me consider having a truckload of fresh manure dumped on their doorstep.

Closeup of small parts for a model car Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

For this project I knew that I would be sending all the little parts out to a vacuum plater whom I have used numerous times over the years; he specializes in plating little parts for model makers, and gives me very good results. He doesn’t advertise at all, and is very busy. Makes you wonder a bit. By the way, all the parts came back from him with a great finish, just as expected, yay! One of my little victories. That said, I was more than concerned that he could not give me the finish I needed on much larger parts such as the bumpers where their finish would be very noticeable. For obvious reasons, dust, drips, runs, any roughness in the finish would simply not do. His work is very good, but potential problems on these bigger pieces do exist when vacuum plating. (A very basic explanation of vacuum plating: the parts are first sprayed with a conductive coating, and then put in a chamber with the metal, which adheres to the parts, and then they are spray coated with a clear finish.)

Closeup of Model Car bumpers for a Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

The bumpers: I made masters for each, shaped all by hand, not easy - especially the front bumpers, making left and right that had to be mirror images of each other. Then I had all three molded and cast in resin; I needed to have extra castings as safety backups. Then my search began once again for platers who could plate plastic (resin is a high tech plastic) for which some of the process is different than for metals. I’ve had this done before, but with mixed results. My quest started mainly with automotive platers. Naturally I crossed off the platers I had terrible experiences with … those idiots are all better suited to cleaning toilets than plating.

Closeup of Model Car bumpers for a Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

Eureka! Paul’s Chrome Plating comes to the rescue… sort of. The SWB bumpers are different than others I have made in the past, and hefty enough to withstand the process specifically used by Paul’s for plastics; theirs is actually similar to metal plating. After many conversations and questions of what and how to set parts up for them, and a little experimentation with a test set of parts, I later received my mini Ferrari bumpers with the most superb plating I have seen in years. Expensive? Yes, and well worth it!

Closeup of Model Car bumpers for a Ferrari 250 SWB, by Marshall Buck

Previous Installments: Intro, Chapter 1, Chapter 2.

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Merry Christmas from everyone at MMR

‘Tis the season to be gifting. In this, our last regular issue before the biggest gift day of the year we will suggest some affordable gifts that punch far above their weight in lasting value. The following are gifts that will be ecstatically received by any motorsports enthusiast. Uncertain that anyone close is knowledgeable enough to give you one or more of these fine gifts? Don’t take a chance, buy it yourself!

1961 Porsche 356 GTL Abarth, by Michael Furman

This week’s feature image is by  Michael Furman from his recent Porsche book entitled Porsche Unexpected. Editor Dom Miliano reviewed this book several weeks ago and you are invited read more about it here.

Ferrari Hypercars, Book by Winston GoodFellow

Ferrari Hypercars is Winston Goodfellow’s take on the very special cars Ferrari built to be the fastest, most beautiful, and most expensive cars of their period. And while this book accomplished the task of delineating those certain cars that qualify and more, it is what constitutes the “more” that you will find captivating

Lancia and De Virgilio: At the Center by Geoffrey Goldberg

Lancia and De Virgilio: at the Center by Geoffrey Goldberg. Published by David Bull Publishing. In the postwar era Lancia was the most innovative and design-driven automobile company in Italy, if not the world. Francesco De Virgilio was one of the company’s leading designer-engineers whose quiet drive for excellence reflected the company’s goals. De Virgilio worked with Gianni Lancia, founder’s son, and Vittorio Jano who had designed winning engines for Alfa Romeo. The book was reviewed in last week’s NY Times and we link you to that review.

Morgan Plus Four in Snow.

Our sixties lookback this week features the Morgan Plus 4, one of our favorite cars. Two weeks ago we featured the Sunbeam Tiger, another favorite. In conversation with Marshall Buck, MMR’s model maven, he suggested that readers might enjoy a brief review of the Tiger models available and his thoughts on them. Your comments are invited.

Porsche Speedster

Editor Dom Miliano has done yeoman work. This week’s eye candy is appropriately the color of the holidays and all the red cars are for sale, along with another 400 of the world’s most desirable and available cars in our online MMR Classifieds.

That’s it for this week. Please remember to support our advertisers and to invite friends to join our MMR Community by subscribing to our weekly Newsletter. Happy Holidays.

Peter Bourassa

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on November 7, 2014 Comments (0)


COTA track diagram

If ever there was an argument for road courses over street sources, the US grand Prix at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) made it. Here, in a race where the finishes of the first two cars was pretty much determined in qualifying, an entertaining race took place largely due to the race track on which it was held. The two Mercedes are not identical in set up and Hamilton made the right setting decisions and Rosberg did not. Bravo Hamilton. Behind the two of them, some fantastic scraps took place, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many moons. Ricciardo cleverly drove the fifth best car to third place and the Williams cars both finished ahead of the top Ferraris of Alonso in 6th and Raikkonen in 13th.

Lewis Hamilton COTA Voctor

But it was the track that was the star. It is the most interesting F1 track on the circuit and we predict, where Spa has held that unofficial title for decades, given not too much more time, COTA will be just as highly regarded. Why? Well, for one thing it is wide enough to encourage three abreast driving and for the same reason makes blocking difficult. The straights are long enough to allow trimming and tuning for high speeds and that hurts grip in the twisty bits. And, most important, it rewards aggressive driving and good set-up decisions. Strictly from a spectator’s viewpoint, this may have been the best race of the year. Bravo COTA!

Lewis Parc Ferme COTA


Sergio Perez Force India

“The Force India driver (Sergio Perez) was involved in a collision on Lap 2 at the Circuit of the Americas that forced him and Adrian Sutil into retirement.” He ruined both their days and was penalized by the stewards. In questioning immediately after the incident, Sutil, was asked if he was going to go over to the Force India pit and confront Perez. No, he said that he expected Sergio to come to him. With an apology? He was asked. Well, at least an explanation, he said. (Read NASCAR below for comparison.)

Adrian Sutil COTA

Caterham and Marussia, who both missed the race, were hardly missed on TV because they are so uncompetitive that they are rarely seen on TV anyway unless someone who is really racing is passing them. Proving F1 doesn’t need a full grid to be entertaining, it needs competitive cars.

Ferrari Factory

Fiat announced that they will sell Ferrari. From an F1 viewpoint, an independent Ferrari company can only afford to compete in F1 if they are winning. The Manufacturers Championship purse is huge. The winners share can finance the F1 racing program with some left over. A future independent Ferrari could not afford to race in F1 if they finish fourth, as they will this year. And some argue, with reason, that F1 without Ferrari has a huge problem.

NASCAR: Another Battle in Texas

Ferrari Factory

Hollywood has set an absurdly high standard for how fist-fighting should look! The staged fistfights in early cowboy movies were humorous by today’s standards. Good guys and villains absorbed haymakers that should have disfigured them for life, yet never lost their hats. Let alone a tooth. Current movie fights are more graphic but equally unreal. In the real life NASCAR fight we featured last week, tough looking Cale Yarborough actually hit Allison with his helmet, not his fists. It’s not up to Hollywood standards but it is far smarter. Head bones are thicker than hand bones.

Jeff Gordon

Sunday’s brawl after the Texas 500 race involved gentleman Jeff Gordon, annoying but talented Brad Keselowski and the proud inheritor of Dale Sr’s less admirable traits, Kevin Harvick. Gordon knows better and Harvick hit Keselowski in the back. But again, lots of hugging but no real punches thrown. And the film shows that Gordon had every right to be disappointed but no more than that. He gave Keselowski an opening and the kid took it. For his troubles, Keselowski got his face scuffed a little but he probably won thousands of fans that Gordon and Harvick lost. Next week’s second to last race in Phoenix will determine which four drivers will be eligible to win the Championship in the final race at Homestead. This is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Kevin Harvock

 Michael Furman image is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One

Our Michael Furman image this week is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One.

Artist Chris Osborne painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix.

Talented artist Chris Osborne sent us this image of a recently completed painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix. I think you will agree that Chris has captured the essence of both.

The next chapter of Marshall Buck’s story about building a model of a Ferrari 250 SWB is now available.

In My Word:Tread Lightly, Denise McCluggage suggested that readers may want to join her on a Tin Cup Trek. Several of you have mentioned an interest to me. If you keep in touch with Denise, we will keep everyone updated on progress.

This weekend the F1 circus goes to Brazil and, as mentioned, NASCAR is at Phoenix. Please share us with your friends and have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa

Models, Chapter 2: Just Another Mystery

Posted on November 5, 2014 Comments (0)

By Marshall Buck

I’m sure that if I ever had to plan out all the steps from start to finish, or even attempt to do so, I would be as solidly frozen in my tracks as “Ötzi the Iceman”. So, I compartmentalize all the steps, focusing on one at a time, and create many sub steps as I go along, starting with the main big basics, which everything else must fit to and work with. Each model build is unique and has numerous differing requirements. In this instance I started with (1) the body, (2) chassis, (3) interior, (4) main area of the engine bay, and (5) trunk. However, mixed in with those majors are many little bits; very many little parts affect the fit of the big ones, and the big ones affect the little ones… It’s just one vicious circle, and sometimes enough to drive me to watch reruns of American Chopper to see what size hammer they’ll use to fit everything with—I always feel better after watching how they attempt to finesse their builds.

With any scale model that is extensively detailed, and then has opening panels too, you have to walk a very fine line between exacting detail, scale accuracy, and actual functionality and strength of the model. This is especially critical with regard to wall thickness of panels, all major attachment points, and any working features. I have nightmares about making hinges so true to the real ones that they disintegrate after their first use by the customer. Therefore, I make mine to look the part, but build them to last for at least a week after the check clears.

Once the chassis was made and fitted to the body and various attachment points made, and the main interior tub was made… more headaches began. Cue the theme music from JAWS. Yes, just when I thought it was safe… That’s when, once again (you’d think I would have learned already), trying to make dimensionally and visually accurate parts collided with tolerances of thickness, strength, and how the damn thing was going to fit and stay together. Problems easily solved; I took a lesson from the boys at American Chopper and just used a bigger hammer to make it all fit… well… not really, but some ‘adjustments’ were required. The result is it all looks correct, and great if I do say so myself.

With a model like this 250 SWB, which has to be so accurate, I have to continuously make countless detail decisions and factor in what will eventually be seen or buried once it is all complete. I don’t like to cut corners, but I also don’t like to waste time with something that will just not be seen or appreciated. A perfect example of that is the radiator. The top portion will be very visible, but sides front and back will not—so I went to town on what will be seen and appreciated, which now brings me back to why the hell did I go so far with making the chassis? Just another mystery of life.

Having progressed with many parts and additional body work such as cutting and fitting opening panels, adding of lips/channels along the inside edges of the engine bay and trunk openings, framework added to lids of engine and trunk… It was time to make all the hinges. I thought the doors and hood would be the most difficult—that however was not the case, they went well, and the trunk hinges which I thought would be easy were anything but. I still get the shakes when I think about it for too long. Multiple hinges and attachment points were made and thrown out over the course of a few days until I finally gave in to making appropriate scale placement adjustments. JAWS music is on a continuous loop in my workshop.

Next time… Chrome plating, detail parts, wheels & tires, and JAWS part twelve!

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

All open, and some of the files used for fine tuning to finish shaping of all openings.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

The beginning of fabricating lips/channels inside trunk edges.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

The beginning of making the sculpted raised side vent openings. Draw on body, trace over, transfer tracing to material for vent, cut rough shape, sculpt-form-shape with files and sand papers, test fit, add raised layer, sculpt & sand more, test fit again, spray primer, fix any imperfections, send out with body to painter. This is done for each of the four vents.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Finished primed vent edge openings, ready for final paint.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Trunk lid prop rod and support - 6 little parts.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

The finished and installed prop rod. Yes, it pivots.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

One of numerous fittings of interior in midst of fabrication.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Various major and other parts being made & fitted.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

JAWS continues. Making the trunk hinges starts.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Some of the discarded trunk hinges.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Success, JAWS is dead. Final trunk hinges and attachment points determined.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Vent edge openings installed as well as inner portions with cutouts, each one specific to each of the four side vents. These were all painted separately. I attached each after body was painted & polished.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Roughed out radiator on mini mill. Measured markings drawn on top for indents to be milled.

Model: Ferrari 250 SWB – Chapter 2

Finished radiator ready to install, though cap still needs to be made, and hoses will of course be fitted.