Volvo P1800

Volvo P1800

Postby wixwacing » Sun 28 Apr, 2013 9:48 pm

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Volvo P1800
Resin Kit



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By Phil Wicks


Volvo recognised the need for an iconic sports car in the late fifties and after the PV444 sedan had managed to notch up some significant wins in the world of Rally, Volvo decided the time was ripe. In 1957 a subcontractor engineer was consulted about the project and the job of designing the car was given to Coachwork specialist Pietro Frua. A model prototype was hand built and driven to motor body builders Karmann for appraisal for tooling and building. Karmann’s major customer Volkswagen put a stop to further negotiations under fear that the model would be a competitor to their existing Karmann products.



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Other companies were approached but none were chosen for reasons of quality. Volvo had decided to sit on the project and not comment on it. Eventually its existence leaked out to the motoring press and Volvo once again revived the project and continued their search for a builder. They eventually settled for UK special car builder Jensen. A contract for a run of ten thousand was agreed and the car went into production. The bodies were made in Scotland and shipped to Jensen’s factory in England where assembly was completed.



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The first completed P1800 rolled off the production line in late 1960 in preparation for its 1961 release. Jensen produced six thousand models when the contract was eventually terminated because of poor build quality. Production was moved to Sweden and as the popularity of the model increased , so did performance upgrades and styling modifications. In 1962 Jaguar was approached to supply a car for a forthcoming TV series but declined the invitation, one that Volvo snapped up, and before long Simon Templar graced our TV screens with his P1800. P1800 sales soared, and the rest as they say.... is history!



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I bought this model from a friend who was thinning out his collection. He had paid good money for it some time ago and still had not got around to building it. The kit contains the resin body, an MRRC chassis and a full set of running gear, as well as some white metal adornments such as front and rear bumpers, headlamps and rear lamps. The model is a very good likeness and I suspect it is the product of John Hayward’s Classicslot kits (Ocar). The model is no longer sold by John but it is available from the resin kit section of Pendle slots.


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I took a long close look at the model, firstly to see if the parts were up to scratch and secondly to make a list of possible parts I might be needing. Most of the model looked good and the only thing I planned to change initially was the guide. I have some Ninco sports guides and nominated one for this model. The model was also going to get a ‘wixle’ front end for good measure. All else looked usable.



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First up was to ‘dry assemble’ the model. The idea of this is to make sure everything is going to go together. As I have always said, we don’t need to be messing with the model making alterations after it has been painted!



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The chassis was assembled complete with axles (although these would need to be trimmed later) and its alignments adjusted. The first thing I have done is to change the motor for an NC1 rated motor. There is provision to mount bar type magnets in the chassis and this would need to be done for those who intend to use the motor supplied. I would rather drive it at a more leisurely pace and without a magnet, hence the motor change. This will be just right for the medium length tracks I race on.



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The guide as previously mentioned was changed for a deeper Ninco guide and fitted out with tinned braids. The wheels looked a bit weak so at this stage I made sure they were true and superglued some webs on the inside of the rims to give them extra strength. The wheels have a good anodised finish and I took the opportunity to give them all a coat of clear enamel. At this point they will be well dry before I needed to handle them again.



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Intending to use my own style body mounting posts I cut some lengths of polystyrene tubing and glued them again so that they would be dry when it came to fitting time. For the body posts I have acquired some lengths of polystyrene tubing of two separate diameters. These are a snug fit inside each other and the inner and outer sleeves were glued together in place.



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The major set back is that the body is a very chunky and heavy resin casting. On its own it weighed 55 grams, way too much for the final weight I was aiming for. So the model received the same treatment as other resin models I have built. The internal resin material was ground away with a ball tip on the dremel and the body thickness was monitored by regularly holding it up against a table lamp and comparing the light and shade areas. Eventually the body was a uniform thickness and weighed in at a very pleasing 15 grams!!



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Once this was achieved the clear parts needed to be prepared for installation. The clear parts come complete as one piece and they were never going to fit, even before the body was lightened, and the best idea was to separate the front screens from the rear and fit them to individually. The edges of the clear parts were cut to allow them to flex more easily to the inside contours of the model and to help with the gluing process. Again, the body was going to be painted well before the window fitting stage and there needed to be minimal fuss when putting the clear bits in.



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The axles and wheels were slipped together and the space inside the body between the wheel arches was measured. The axles were trimmed to length and were finally assembled in the chassis. I also decided to change the gear ratio to good old 3 : 1! As the model comes with a typical 18,000 'S' can, it had been geared down possibly in an attempt to tame it. I came at the problem from the other direction and decided to put a BWA NC1 equivalent in it from the outset!



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The chassis was tested and final minor adjustments made to the wheel wells and the axles. The body mounting posts were assembled on the chassis and the chassis offered into the body. The posts were carefully trimmed until the chassis fitted exactly inside the body. As the fit got better it was essential that the body had a low stance on the track. This was gauged by placing the model on the set up block after each trim. Once the optimum height was achieved, the chassis posts, while still attached to the chassis, were glued into the body using high strength epoxy and left to cure for twenty four hours.



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Last up was painting. I have had some bad painting experiences just recently with models so I planned this well in advance. The first task was to devise a way of painting the chrome strips which adorn the model along the wings and body sides. After a couple of attempts I decided to use a medium brush and a steady hand together with some bright chrome enamel.




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The body was washed, rinsed and dried to remove any residual mould release agent and was mounted on one of my ‘lolly stick’ mounts to facilitate holding it while spraying. The body was primed in flat red acrylic and defects were treated. Then there was a second dust over with the red. Once well dry I rubbed the body down with some coarse linen material; this acts like a fine sand paper. The first coat of gloss red enamel went on and that was left for a day. A light sanding with 1200 wet and dry to remove the odd dust spec and then the second coat of red gloss was applied. Again, a light sanding with 1200 and the body was ready for its first coat of clear. This was also enamel and was sprayed on from the can it came in. The can had been shaken well and left to stand in a bowl of hot water for fifteen minutes to heat it up; this makes the paint flow more readily and leaves it less susceptible to ‘orange peeling’ After another period of curing, the trim stripes were painted and the model then had its last coat of clear.



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Separate to this I had spent sometime with the grille and lights. The tail lights had been painted red and amber using Tamiya ‘clear’ acrylic colours. The grille had a diluted layer of satin black enamel brush painted onto the grille element. Once this had dried for a few hours I rubbed the grille with a cotton bud. This had the effect of rubbing off the black paint from the high spots, leaving the paint between the detail of the grille and looking quite effective. Finally, all the white metal bits were glued to the finished body using super strength epoxy. Some clear tape held the bumpers in place while drying, and once dried, the model body was ready for the interior.



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As mentioned, the clear parts had been divided into two to aid fit and handling. The screen was offered up into position and some superglue was applied to the little holes which had been drilled into the tags. Once all the tags had been secured to the body front and rear, some super strength epoxy was mixed and thinly painted carefully around the edges. This would hold the clear parts in place quite securely. Once installed, the interior had a lick of paint, off white for the roof lining and black for the door liner area.



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Lastly was the driver’s tray. To get this to fit properly the dried glue of the clear parts was dressed lightly with the dremel to remove any glue spikes and other sticking out bits which were preventing the drivers tray slipping into place smoothly. Once achieved, the driver’s tray, which had been painted some little while before, was set into the body again and attached to the body with super strength epoxy where it touched the body.



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So with the body completed, the chassis had its final fitting and the model was screwed together using the screws supplied. The model was then ready for the photo shoot!



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On the track there was still work to do. Some final adjustments were needed to get the body straight and to maximise the clearance between the very close fitting rear wheels and the wheel arches. The rear chassis holes had to be lined to remove a degree of slop in the chassis fit; but eventually it was all together and working.... and working well!



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To be raced as a non magnet model the body will need some ballasting. It eventuates that while I had decreased the original body from 55 to 15 grams (a saving of 40 grams!), the finished model had also lost a lot of weight, and trackside was weighing in at 77 grams (as opposed to a potential 117 grams!!). This will allow me to put in some useful ballast low down in the chassis to bring the weight back up to a useful 90 grams or so.



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With the model as good as finished and having had nominal testing on a two lane Scaley Sports circuit, I took it along to the LCR in Logan City, Brisbane. The Ferrador and Magnabraid circuit is an ideal test medium which allows the driver to set up a variety of models for a variety of tracks. Pushing off moderately it was obvious the tyres were way out of round and the rear axle was binding a little. The axle was easily removed from the MRRC chassis and in a couple of minutes I had trued up the extra soft tyres. Back on the track there was a marked improvement although at 77 grams the model was a little skittish in the corners when pushed hard. Eventually the tyres bedded in nicely and it was pleasing to be able to keep up with the NC1 models circulating if only for a couple of laps.



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After the track test results I do have great hopes for the model even if it does have very narrow tyres; and the morning after testing I measured out eight grams of lead strip and applied this to the inside of the model in the chassis recesses; hopefully it will be very near the mark as far as weight and balance is concerned. It would be fair to say that I am very pleased with the model, even after a couple of difficulties including getting the rear wheels to fit between the chassis and the wheel arches; and eventually filing the chassis at the rear axle bearings to get them to close a little more.



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This kit is not for the faint hearted, the clear parts are not a good fit and need a lot of attention and as mentioned above the rear wheels and tyres are difficult to get into the wheel wells. A 'Wixle' front end no doubt has paid dividends as far as cornering is concerned, and the Ninco guide has also made a definitive improvement to its cornering ability. A bit of an unusual model for a slotcar as not many made it to the track in real life; but well worth the time spent on it, And I'm sure you'll agree, a very smart model on the track!

Many thanks to fellow scratch builder Terry Cosgrove for letting me have the model.
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When I'm not racing slotcars,
I'm out in the back yard, burning food!!

When I win, it's because of my talent, not my car or my controller!
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