Dave Mikrut     July 2001

All the while I was waiting for my turn to work on Project Snowball, I was visualizing in my mind how I wanted it to look, similar to the old 60's style customs that I remembered seeing in magazines. Along with Car Model Magazine and CarToons,  I used to buy some of the small TV guide size Custom "How-To" books from that era.  I remember some cool tricks the hot rodders used back then to radically customize their cars. In these magazines, they showed step by step, how to bend electrical conduit and braze it to the bodies of their cars and then add sheet metal and lead to fill in the gaps. to make fins or in my case, the classic angled dual headlights. Photo # 1 shows that in order to apply my headlight configuration donor parts I needed to sand a flat surface to the face of the front of Snowball's fenders.



I was looking at my AMT 58 Impala kit and got the idea that if I used the front grill custom piece cut in half I could get the desired effect I was looking for. Photo # 2 shows these pieces glued to the fenders.


In photo 3 you can see the technique I mentioned of how the old customizers would bend conduit into shapes. I basically did the same thing here, using slow even pressure, CA glue and Jet Set. Projects such as these used to be very frustrating before I got the hang of using these products, mainly because of drying time.



The bottom of the frame assembly had some big circular casting marks that I had to get rid of, along with grinding away the inside of the old headlight bezels as you can see in the top half of photo # 4. Another crafter on Snowball may elect to remove the running boards or make them look like the newer billet style, but I did this just to make things look a little cleaner.


In photo # 5 you can see the large gaps that need to be filled. Experience with all brands of putty has shown me that you just can't fill that large of an area without later worrying about shrinkage, cracking or pieces falling off, so after a little contour checking and sanding, I'll be ready to fill in the gaps.


I used some styrene strips available at the hobby store to fill the gaps. Same technique was used here. Glue at the bottom, bend, glue again, bend and then glue at the top. This may look kind of scary to you right now but after welding all these parts together, just like the old customizers, alot of this will be ground down to fit the contours.


After a first coat of putty and a little sanding and primer, you can now see we are getting some where. The primer will help when I do some more sanding to see where I need to do more filling. I will do a little reshaping of the wheel well and there will be some more intricate filling to the area between the head lights.  I will be filling in the sheet metal portion of the grille and either using the stock chrome piece for the center grille or trying to fabricate something.


When I fabricated the headlight bezels, I made an imprint of the headlight opening on a piece of paper, cut it out and test fit it. I traced this onto a piece of sheet styrene and trimmed it until it fell into place. I had some little amber turn signals and bezels that I incorporated into this assembly and I think the chrome on the chrome silver background is a nice effect, as if it was made of aluminum.

Here's how it all looks together. This photo is a test fit of the headlight bezels. They will go in a little zip lock bag and put in the Snowball box for after the body has been painted in the future. 

My share of work on Snowball is done. I will continue to look for a photo-etched grille or fabricate a custom one and will make sure that it catches up with Snowball.


I hope you all enjoyed sharing this modeling brotherhood phenomenon experience with me. I am very proud to have been a part of it.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007 11:37 PM