Revell 1/25 Orange Crate
I remember being terribly excited as a child of 10 to get a Revell Orange Crate. I was easily amused. I also remember the lovely shower of chrome bits that ensued when said Crate later hit the wall at high velocity. Apparently it was a bit advanced for me at the time. Fast forward several, ummm... decades (gulp) and the 10 year old child in me thinks he has progressed enough to tackle the dreaded Orange Crate. Dang upstart youngster... good cuff upside the head, that's what he needs.
In retrospect, it's pretty obvious why I didn't have such a spiffy time building one of these back in 1975: chrome, and lots of it. The key to my shame was that omnipresent line in car instructions that I always ignored. "Scrape chrome away from parts that are to be glued", or words to that effect. See? I still don't pay attention to it. There are just way too many chrome pieces to be scraped on this thing to appeal to the limited attention span of a 10 year old - or even a 40 year old for that matter. This time I adopted a different approach. I got rid of the chrome entirely, which was a quick and easy job with oven cleaner and an old toothbrush. The slow and difficult part was cleaning up the horrible seams and flash and filling the multitudinous ejector pin marks. This took a good many hours and was about as enjoyable as that "Manual Disimpaction Awareness" seminar I attended at the local retirement home. Once everything was cleaned up - and not just at the retirement home - most of the pieces actually fit together very well, especially given the age of the moulds.
Now I've tried many a shiny silver paint over the years that claimed to be "chrome" but were in reality just shiny silver paint. In fact they looked about as chrome-like as a Chihuahua that had been dipped in bacon fat and buffed with an electric floor polisher. So it was with a great deal of skepticism that I elected to give Alclad II's rendition of chrome a try for the first time. I'm pleased to say my doubts were completely unfounded. The stuff is excellent and it actually looks like chrome. In fact, I would say it looks much better than the chrome plated parts you get in car kits which are usually far too bright and shiny. I wasn't too sure about having to apply a coat of gloss black so I tried it without but the Alclad finish is much duller without the undercoat. It does have the advantage that you can at least check how the surface looks before you lay on the chrome. Alclad II will take a certain amount of handling but will still wear off the edges rather easily so it's best to handle the parts as little as possible or wear gloves. All in all, it's damn fine stuff. A little pricey (4 of the Queen's finest sterling for a 1 ounce bottle) but it's more economical and practical than getting the parts re-plated and I really don't think I could have completed the ol' Crate to my satisfaction without it. Obviously this wasn't an option in 1975 and it probably wouldn't have helped me much at the time anyway.
The decals were a bit of a nightmare in spite of the fact that they were beautifully printed and very thin. So thin in fact that they broke into a buh-zillion pieces when I tried to apply them. Well okay, that's a slight exaggeration. Maybe it was only half a buh-zillion pieces. Anyway, it took me a good half hour (as opposed to some other kind of half hour?) to re-build my shattered nerves along with that shattered rear decal. And when I was finally able to sit back, slurp a stiff drink of tea and admire my handiwork it suddenly occurred to me that the decal now read "ORANGE RATE". Aaaaaaarrggh!!! Where's the @*%$!£?ing 'C' gone?!?! Cleverly hidden under one of the many other bits of decal, that's where. Fortunately with copious amounts of water I was able to move everything about and return the recalcitrant 'C' to its proper position. It's enough to make you become an airplane modeller I tell ya. Oh wait.... I am an airplane modeller. Well no wonder I had trouble - there's no 'C' in airplane.
The best reference for the Orange Crate is actually the colour picture on the box top, although there are also some good b & w pics and a potted history here. Like most racers - whether they be cars or airplanes - the details changed often. The supercharger for instance is a dull aluminum colour on the box top whereas later it was polished aluminum or chrome and the inside of the body appears to be natural metal in some of the black & white pics instead of the black seen in the colour photo. I think the wheels and fuel tank should be polished metal rather than the chrome that Revell have finished them in, but I didn't realise that until I had already painted them. The difference is fairly subtle anyway so I can live with it.
The front wheel mounts have a lot of play in them which made it a fairly easy matter to turn the wheels a bit but of course the tie rod then needed to be modified slightly as well. Other than that and replacing the flimsy rear axle with 1/16th" music wire and adding spark plug wires this is built pretty much out of the box. The exhausts were particularly bad mouldings and needed a lot of work to even remotely resemble round pipes. I then drilled and hollowed these out as well as the vents on the cylinder heads.
Et voilà: car # 2. A worrying trend you ask? Steering away from aircraft (which does have a 'C' in it) and driving down the highway of shiny cars for good? Nope, not at all. Just an occasional diversion from the world of wings, wires and politically correct panel lines. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Above: That was the best fit I managed to get out of that resin hood. The other side looks even worse. I understand the hood is resin in this re-release because the original mould was damaged or missing. Or perhaps resin is more impact resistant than plastic when striking a large immovable object (like a wall, for example) at high velocity.
Above & Below: It works! Well, temporarily anyway. I had a nasty feeling it was going to go very badly if I kept playing with this thing and I intended displaying it with the body up anyway so I glued the support after taking these pics.
Note that the door handles should be orange, not chrome, and that the longer bits should point to the front instead of the rear as Revell have them in the instructions.
Above: I didn't like the clunky body support so I made my own from .030" brass rod with thin slices of 1/16th" tubing for the hinges. I think it's a big improvement in spite of the fact that my initial attempts at soldering were about as successful as a pair of bamboo underpants.
Above: All plated parts were stripped with oven cleaner and then the real fun began. It may not look like much, but this picture represents a good many hours of filing, filling, sanding & polishing. Oh, and a bit of glueing.
Note the replacement rollbar support, the original having done a runner down the drain when I was rinsing the oven cleaner off. Oops.
Left: Amazing what you can do with a couple of Reheat 1/72nd scale data placards and an instrument dial. Someday I'll even try them on a 1/72nd scale plane.
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