A simple way to detail batteries without the expense or nuisance of photo-etched parts is to sand away any cable detail except the terminals themselves use a pin vise to drill a small hole at a sharp angle right where the old cable would have ended and insert your favorite red and black wires. Some simple detail painting (round wooden toothpicks make excellent "microbrushes") of the terminals is all thats needed to make them look like the real deal. D.P.
Shirt pins (You know the eight sharp little devils you generally find seven of before you put on a new dress shirt) with the little ball at the head end are great for replicating the traditional 4-speed shifter. Paint the head white and with a steady hand put the "H" pattern on the ball with a fine brush or toothpick. Bend the shaft to the desired angle and epoxy it it into place. You can use the kit "boot" by cutting off the plastic shifter and drilling a hole to accept the pin. D.P.
Leather or Vinyl Seats.
For a believable leather look on plastic shoot seating surfaces in the appropriate color primer and after theyve dried rub them with your fingers. The higher and outer areas where you rub will take on a different sheen than the recesses. As an alternate you can follow the same process but topcoat the seating areas with semi-gloss. If you spray a gloss color for the seats you can still topcoat with a flat or semi-gloss to cut back the shine. D.P.
Save That Windshield!
Every once in a while youll find a kit that has blemishes on the windshield. Cracks or bad tire "burns" usually mean replacement but minor scratches can be removed by polishing with good automobile wax. Just dab some on and keep rubbing until the wax and the mark is gone. For deeper scratches or minor glue marks you can use polishing cloths progressing to the finest grit and finishing with wax. Some people use toothpaste with good results too. Even a "good" windshield benefits from a good waxing to bring out the shine. Just exercise patience and be careful to support the part while youre polishing or waxing so it doesnt crack. D.P.
Better Spray Can Paint Jobs.
Many modelers use airbrushes but there are just as many who are more comfortable using aerosol cans. Following these three simple pointers can all but guarantee a nicer smoother paint job using these "rattle can" paints.
Shake the can vigorously to mix the paint thoroughly. It sounds obvious but that agitator ball is in there for a reason. Remember to shake the can periodically during the painting process too.
Fill a sink with hot TAP water and allow the can to sit in it for 10 minutes or so prior to painting. This warms the paint and slightly increases the pressure so it sprays more evenly and lays down more smoothly. DONT EVER heat the can using a microwave stove or open flame! Youll either get hurt or hurt someone else if you do. At the very least youll have one monster mess to clean up.
Clean the nozzle after youre done. Hold the can upside down and spray till only propellant comes out or remove it and clean it with the appropriate thinner. This will help prevent an uneven spray pattern and/or sputtering the next time the can is used. D.P.
Aluminum Drive Shafts.
Plastic driveshafts almost always have noticeable mold lines that are a pain to remove without making them look out of round. A slick and easy alternative is to cut a piece of aluminum tubing (your hobby retailer probably has brass and styrene too) the diameter you need to the length of the driveshaft between the universal joints. Then cut off the joints leaving enough of the original shaft to insert into each end of the aluminum. If they are too big to slide inside the tubing simply scrape off excess plastic until they slide in. Detail the u-joints with paint and install. This also works for making half-shafts for Corvette or Jaguar-style independent rear suspensions. D.P.
Do-It-Yourself License Plates.