Sunday, August 10, 2014

Carpet Bumps are Always Welcome

This is the same car that is in the current banner photo for the blog.  It's a Revell 1:25 1956 Ford Thunderbird model kit that came with a pre-painted metal body.  The box had images of the TV show American Dreams on it but I'm not familiar with it, so I can only guess that this car must have appeared in the show.

Photo credit Nikolai Hedler

I've had this car for a few years and seeing that it had straight-through metal axles unlike most of the pre-assembled die cast cars I have, it was very tempting to give it suspension just like I had done to numerous Hot wheels cars.  More on those later.  I can't remember how long ago I finally did it, but it must have been within the last couple years.

I have a bunch of guitar strings from the local music store that were about to be pitched since they reached the end of their useful life.  I usually use the thinner strings for my Hot wheels so I have a bunch of thick ones left over.  I started by pulling off the black plastic suspension parts of this car and trimming off the parts that held them rigidly to the car.  At the same time, I cut and bent the guitar strings and drilled holes in the undercarriage and axle mounts where the strings were to be mounted.

My "leaf springs" on the rear axle were too floppy to hold the rear end up so i glued a stiffer coil spring in the middle of the molded differential case that contacts a foam dot when the car is sitting right side up.  The rear leaf springs just serve stabilize the car a little bit and actually act more like trailing arms to locate the axle front-to-back.  I also made a Panhard rod out of guitar string to locate the axle side-to-side.

Crossing over a bump in the carpet

The front suspension travel is still limited, even though I ground out a notch in the frame for the axle to move into.  The coil spring in the back makes the ride a bit bouncy at speed as well.  The fun part of this car though, as with any toy car with properly functioning suspension, is running it over the wrinkles in the carpet.  I'm not sure why, but there is something strangely satisfying with watching wheels go up and down relative to the car.  The car stays wonderfully smooth while crossing these obstructions diagonally, as if it was floating over a pair of railroad tracks like a '50s cruiser would.

When I finally find my own place to live, I won't be mad if there are bumps in the carpet from being wrongly measured.  Actually, I'll be a bit disappointed if there aren't any.