A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

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Ozmac
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A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Wed May 04, 2016 1:31 am

It's on again, I'm rallying around Australia in a 1950s Peugeot, but this time it's a 403, and the year is 1956. Some of you may remember my earlier effort, which you can see here viewtopic.php?f=42&t=10203. That dealt with the first ever "Reliability Trial", the Redex of 1953. Well, by 1956 this had become almost a craze for Aussies, with two major oil companies (Ampol - owned by Caltex, and Mobil) both staging around Australia trials in the same year.

I'm choosing the Ampol Trial because a Peugeot won again! And also because the Ampol Trial covered some of the same roads as the initial Redex. And that has led me to my first and biggest-ever fudge ... for this Ampol dio I'm going to use the same river-crossing terrain I built for the Redex dio. That's because I don't have any space left here to build another huge 45 x 45cm hunk of terrain. So it all comes down to modding some cars and plonking them on the pre-made river crossing.

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Here's the winning team with their Pug 403, Wilf Murrell and Alan Taylor. These are all the photos I can find of them (so far). In the grand tradition of these Aussie Trials, Wilf and Alan weren't motoring pros. They both came from a small country town in NSW called Hillston, Alan was a grazier and Wilf (a former flight lieutenant in World War Two), owned and operated small country town power stations, including the one in HIllston.


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And here's the runners-up, Max Goldsmith and Bob James, in the only photo I can find of their 1200 VW, number 17. VWs performed superbly in all the reliability trials of the 50s, winning a few, including the 1956 Mobilgas trial.


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I'm building the Pug from a Heller plastic kit, which was the same brand of kit I used to build the 203 for the Redex diorama. The advantage of the plastic kit is that it's much easier to convert to right-hand-drive, and to modify in various ways.

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For example, I have started to fashion from little plastic bibs and bobs the beginnings of their roo-bar/headlight protector. Much more filling and sanding till it's smooth, but it fits well enough for starters.

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Getting a "correct" VW Beetle is more of a problem. The VWs of the mid-50s had small oval rear windows, while the VWs of the earlier 50s had small oval split-screen rear windows. I found this split-screen VW (by Vanguards) on eBay for two English Pounds, so I am using it as a starting point.

I've also located an old 1950s documentary on the Ampol Trials available on DVD, and my local library has ordered it for me on an inter-library loan. For my previous dio I located a great full colour movie of the 1953 Redex which basically provided more reference photos for modding the three cars in that diorama than I ever found by searching Google. So I am hoping to find lots of info there. If I see a split-screen rear-windowed VW during the DVD, I'll be tempted to base my VW on it.

Anyway, wish me luck. It will take a few months to get it right, but I thought I'd start off another "build" thread, for your amusement. Last time many of your comments were incredibly useful and helped to change my approach to the dio, so feel free to comment away!
Last edited by Ozmac on Wed May 04, 2016 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Jager » Wed May 04, 2016 6:44 am

Jamie, I love watching your diorama's of Australian history unfold. Looking forward to seeing this one take shape.

Here's a picture I found from the 1957 Ampol trial that looks a lot like your diorama scene that might give you some ideas.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Wed May 04, 2016 7:44 am

Fantastic image, Ian. Thanks.

I am hoping my DVD of the Ampol Trials tosses up lots of juicy colour reference material.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Tom » Wed May 04, 2016 3:08 pm

Nice idea! The first car in Ian's pic seems to be a Simca Aronde. Going to follow this build...

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Wed May 04, 2016 8:48 pm

Tom, I'm looking for a candidate for a "third" car in the diorama.

There were four Simca Arondes entered, but none finished. 1/43 models of Arondes to modify, however, are easy to come by and are a tempting choice, as Simca Arondes were a well-known and (I think) fairly well liked car of the late 50s and 60s in Australia.

I'm not sure how many Morris Minors entered, but one did finish, and so it's a hot prospect, which I know will please you. 1/43 models of Morry Minor vans are a dime a dozen, but the sedans are a bit harder to find at a suitably low price.

Fourth and sixth placed were Standard Vanguards, but at the time there were two different Standard Vanguards being sold in Australia. One was the older model with a very rounded 40s-look body shape, and the other was a tidier more modern model. The older Vanguards had done well in the reliability trials of the previous years, and so a few were entered in 1956, but I also have a photo with the more modern car in it, so I guess I could include either in the dio, but the problem is that models for both aren't that cheap to source.

An Austin A90 did OK, but 1/43 models of it fetch ridiculous prices, and a Ford Customline finished, too, so it's a prospect as well.

What I plan to do is wait until I get the DVD of the 1956 trial, and that should answer some questions about which car becomes the third one in the diorama.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Jager » Thu May 05, 2016 2:49 am

Jamie, I thought the 3rd car might be this Citroen Light 15. The source says "This photo was taken on the last day of the trial at the Newcastle Showground", so I assumed it finished the event.

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The Citroen is easily obtainable as a model and the livery is eye-catching, though painting the stripes could be a headache.

Maybe another option is this Ford Customline :

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Trax have done a '58 Customline which looks very similar. I'm sure once its modified and covered in dust no one will be able to tell the difference between a '56 and a '58.
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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Thu May 05, 2016 3:36 am

Yep, I've seen both pix, but the Light 15 actually DNF'd (and the Trial finished at Bondi, anyway). The big Cuzza did finish.

The Customline came home 14th (well done L. Free) beating home the Morris Minor, which came in 15th (good on you Frank Bode Motors!). It's a shame the Customline is poo-brown. Our neighbour across the road in Lane Cove when I was growing up, Reg Millard, owned a silvery blue Customline, and did I ever love that car. I was actually in love with the sound of that baritone V8, as cautious old Reg probably never got his Customline over 30 mph in his life. But it sounded fantastic reversing out of the drive, and heading off up the shops at 15mph.

Here's the link to the finishers, and the non-finishers as well. Someone entered a Jeep, but it didn't finish. But a 1927 Rolls Royce did, driven by a Mrs Brown, the sole lady entrant. Gotta love motoring democracy, outback style!

http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/tr ... l_1956.php

The best finishing ratio is the Vee Dubs: 6 out of 9, for 66%
Next is Morris Minors, 2 out of 6, for 33%
Next is Peugeots, with 3 out of 10, for 30%

I think I'm most tempted to go for a Morris Minor ... but Julio will probably say it should be Rolls Royce, with a 100% finishing ratio ...

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Tom » Thu May 05, 2016 6:23 am

Yes, I would love to see a Minor in your diorama but with the current options you can't go wrong. As for affordable 1:43 1950s Minors, I don't know of any. Brooklin did one, but I'd hardly call that affordable. The Corgi version is from the 1960s, and would require a split windscreen.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Fri May 27, 2016 1:25 am

At last, I have the full colour DVD in my hands (thank you local library) and I have struck paydirt on several fronts.

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I wanted the winning Peugeot 403 to be light blue, and even from the black and white photos I suspected that was the case. The first pic is from a home movie of the brand new 403 before they added bullbars etc, and the second pic is on the finishing line, complete with broken/non-existent windscreen.

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And as I also suspected, the second-placed VW was dark blue, but even better, I have discovered a green VW to match the 1:43 scale one I've bought recently (pictured below).

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The old colour film stock used in the 50s has a greenish tinge to it, so all the lighter coloured cars at various angles looked green, but fortunately there were multiple shots of cars to check again and again, and the VW spotted in the rally is definitely green.

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As for the third car in my diorama, I've decided I'd like a Morris Minor, and I've bought an "incorrect" Morris Minor 1000 model which has the full front windscreen, rather than the split windscreen of the earlier model. The Minor 1000, says Wikipedia, first appeared in 1956, so I was hoping there might be one in the 1956 Rally, but there isn't one in the DVD at least. So I'll enter this in the background for my dio, with these numbers, as it was a father and daughter team who both entered and finished. Conveniently enough also, the little Corgi 1;43 model is also a light blue.

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Finally, I was totally thrilled to note that the Press Unit car for the rally was still a Peugeot 203, which I had modelled and modified in my earlier 1953 Redex Rally diorama. It doesn't look like it was the old Cinesound 203 Wagon, but it is nice to know that the sterling performance of the original 203 Wagon had made it the camera team's choice. I've seen footage of other round-Australia rallies between 1953 and 56, and sure enough there are Peugeot 203 Wagons hauling around the film units in those, too. There isn't going to be a Press Unit 203 in my diorama, I've just included it here because I was so pleased to see it going strong.
Last edited by Ozmac on Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Tom » Fri May 27, 2016 1:33 pm

I always find research a big part of the fun of building. Nice scenes!

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:47 am

More progress on the build, and more fun in the research department ...

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We now have a blue Peugeot 403

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And we have a driver and navigator in position in the interior

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Here are Wilf and Alan, the Peugeot-driving winners, at the big presentation night, where the prize was 14,000 pounds, which was a heck of a lot of money back then. They also won a replacement Peugeot 403, trips around the world and lots of other goodies. It was the richest motor racing prize in Australia at the time, by a long way. One thing I've realised with my little model Wilf and Alan is that I've got their ultra-short hair all wrong!

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And here's a pic of Wilf and Alan somewhere during the rally, with a busted windscreen. They look a whole lot cooler in this photo than they do at the prize-giving. Based on this photo, and the notorious story of the 1956 Rally's extremely muddy roads, I plan to grunge up the 403 with more mud and dirt than I used for the Peugeot 203 in the Redex diorama.

As for the other entrants, in the VW and the Morris Minor, I've got a little bit lucky, but I'm also out of luck for good reference photos of the cars themselves, so I'll have to ad lib how the cars look in terms of livery, etc based on the few stills I have from the colour DVD.

Where I ran into good luck was with the Morris Minor team, father Cyril Davidson and his 16-year-old daughter Lesle, who as the youngest entrant and also a female entrant attracted lots of press attention, including these two cheesy photos:

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Their car #46, failed to finish.

Also failing to finish was the green VW I spotted, #78, driven by Jack Witter. But the good news with that car is that Jack Witter won next year in the the 1957 Ampol rally in a VW, so he has a good story attached to himself as well. Even though Jack DNF'd in the end in 1956, he was in second place behind the Peugeot 403 at the half-way point at Alice Springs, so his 1956 Rally performance wasn't too bad at all.
Last edited by Ozmac on Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Tom » Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:48 pm

Nice progress on the 403!
That Minor in the picture is an early Series II, identifiable by the different grill.

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Whereas the late Series II and 1000 have a grill that looks like this

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:34 pm

Thanks Tom, your Morris MInor knowledge is really very useful.

So I guess if I add a split windscreen I can get away with the Corgi model as a "late Series II". (Edit: just found this front-on shot of our Morris Minor, so it is a late series II).

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By the way, I've discovered a few extra bits of info behind the Morris Minor entry. One is that the entrant was officially "Zane's Drive Yourself Cars", a car hire place in Melbourne which advertised Holdens for 8 pence a mile or Morris Minors for 6 pence a mile. Young Lesley must have been photographed with one of the hire cars, which looks to be black. The car they entered in the Rally was light blue.

Also, in the newspaper article, Cyril Davidson says he chose Lesley as co-driver because he weighs 15 stone, and she only weighs eight stone and she could also drive well, so in a little Morris Minor saving every pound of weight was crucial. Onya, fat Dad!

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Jager » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:16 pm

Fascinating Jamie. I'm enjoying following the story.

Your comments about the weight saving associated with Leslie Davidson were interesting. It's strange they didn't try to save weight by removing hubcaps, bumpers etc. Were there rules that the cars had to be showroom stock ?
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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Fri Jun 03, 2016 3:35 pm

Ian

The rules about modifications changed with every rally, so they're hard to follow, but they always were based on keeping things stock. Sump guards and a couple of basic protections against rough bush tracks were allowed in most rallies but engines had to be stock. And I think one rally (the 1955 Redex) was very strict about not allowing any mods at all, and it was the most chaotic when it came to post-race scrutineering, of course.

But look at the cars in the middle of any rally and most of them don't have hubcaps, for example, and by the end of the rally many lack windscreens too, so they sort-of jetissoned some weight as they went along!

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:20 am

If you think you've mistakenly clicked onto the "What's the Weather at Your Place?" thread, no, you haven't. I just thought I'd start this diorama update with the observation that it's ideal model/diorama building weather right now here in Sydney. This is the rain radar for Sydney today. It's wet and I'm in the middle of all that.

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Every now and then sunny Sydney gets hit by what is known as an "East Coast Low", which means it's the dregs of a tropical cyclone that's taking out its anger on two-thirds of Australia's population. It has bucketloads of rain and wind, it blows over very big trees without even trying, and it's about 2000km long and 300km wide. It's here for the next 48 hours at least, so I am staying at home, in my shed, working on models, and I'm not moving!

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As I am in digressing mode, here is the inside of Diorama Building HQ. Big, it ain't. Small and cramped and basically just a garden shed, it is.

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Anyway, onto the progress, and the decals are drying for both the Peugeot and the VW Beetle. I apply a special stuff called Micro-Sol which effectively dissolves the decals onto the surface, and they crinkle up a bit in this process, but they should look OK by tomorrow morning. The Peugeot, of course, is going to be splattered in so much dust and mud that you will barely be able to see the decals (and all the many other blemishes on the model itself.)


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Ditto all those comments with the VW. The real historical VW had white-edged decals, which I can't produce on my laser printer. So I have stuck to the outlined font, but have made it red. The "Ampol" decal is actually two laid on top of each other. I have white-backed decal paper, so I've laid down a rectangle of white, and then the Ampol logo on top of that. Hopefully it will work.


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I have very few reference photos for Jack WItter's 1956 VW, so I am making things up here. However, as he won the 1957 Ampol Trial there are plenty of photos of that car, and it was absolutely plastered with graphics. Jack owned a "waste textile" factory (I think that's a polite way of saying "rags") and so he promoted himself in both 1957 and 1958 with "Witter the Waster" slogans, so I figured he might have used that line in 1956, too.

Oh, and as you can see, I've left the rear split-screen window in place. I decided in the end that cutting off the divider in that section would not only be a lot of relatively useless work, given that in the diorama the VW's front is facing the viewer; it would also be a problem to smooth off and repair the cut section and then match the paint job with that nice green colour. So an "incorrect" old Veedub it remains.
Last edited by Ozmac on Fri Jun 10, 2016 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by David MG » Sat Jun 04, 2016 2:20 am

So does the weathering consist of digging a hole in the garden and leaving the models in it for 3 months? :lol:
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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Sat Jun 04, 2016 2:59 am

The way our weather is right now, David, just leaving them out in the rain, the mud, the wind and the slush should do the trick.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Tom » Sat Jun 04, 2016 4:49 am

Nice progress so far and a great place to work. I should clean out my basement and install a similar workstation.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by 69Stang » Sun Jun 05, 2016 6:57 pm

Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying this thread! The workshop looks like a little piece of heaven to a modeler...even if it is a garden shed! The project is going to be great, cant wait to see more photos!
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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Mon Jun 06, 2016 2:22 am

Thanks 69 Stang. It's a nice little shed to be in. Every last square inch of space has something in it, and all the wooden beams/posts are lined with nails for hanging stuff on. And I'm starting to hang earlier attempts at model airplanes from the roof beams, the ones that I know are pretty rough but still worth a few years of shed-life before they finally fall apart.

I was really lucky with my shed roof, recently. Last week we had some light rain, and I noticed a tiny split in the clear polycarbonate roofing panel that I added to let in more natural light. So I got out the silicone sealer gun and sealed up the split on both sides, then noticed another split (time to replace it!!) and sealed it up. Well, these last 3 days we've had Sydney's worst winter storm in decades, with about 2 months of rain in 48 hours. And the shed roof didn't leak a drop.

And PS: the wooden stool was built by my grandfather, Fred, who was a carpenter. He died in 1955, when I was two, so the stool is my only connection to him. It's as solid as a rock.

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Featherless_Biped » Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:35 am

69Stang wrote:The workshop looks like a little piece of heaven to a modeler...even if it is a garden shed!
Yes, and it looks quite nice to a gardener...even if it is a model shed. ;) I always enjoy seeing your dioramas come together. :)

RT

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by LM24HRS » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:43 pm

This thread is what model collecting and in particular diorama building is all about. Hours of painstaking research, consideration, planning, evaluation, implementation and eventually building. But most of all it requires a sense of good humour, delivery of excellent story telling capabilities which are all placed together with the family heirlooms.....................all compacted into a man's place of private contemplation; his shed.

Absolutely love it Ozmac :D
Paul - "Collecting Motorsport in Miniature; for the passion and its history".

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Re: A new Aussie outback diorama begins ...

Post by Ozmac » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:36 am

Thanks for the kind words, gents.

The last part of the puzzle has arrived, the Morris Minor.
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It's a pretty ordinary little Corgi Morris 1000 from the 1960s, and the eBay seller has added some extras, including windscreen wipers, an exhaust pipe and some shaky hand-done paintwork here and there. As I plan to mod it further then fling mud at it later on, it's a perfectly good starting point, especially as it cost less than two pounds, plus a few quid for postage.

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The radiator grill was matt black, not the look I wanted — I wanted the horizontal bars to show up a bit, so I gently sanded it with 600 sandpaper and the bars came up well enough for my needs. Then I searched through my spare-parts bin of old sprues and leftover bits of photo-etched metal bits and got lucky, finding a very nice looking candidate to "split" the windscreen in two, just like a Series II Morry Minor. The eBay guy's windscreen wipers were easy enough to flip off with a scalpel point, so I then repositioned them so they looked very Series II as well.

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Then came all the decals to get it looking even more serious. I realised too late that I could have made the fonts larger for the Morris Minor, but as it's a minor player in the diorama, very much in the background, I couldn't be bothered using up another relatively expensive sheet of decal printer paper just to adjust a few fonts. I'll probably regret that false economy later on, though.

All is needs now is half a ton of mud!


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Here's the three cars, ready for their adventures in mud-world tomorrow (provided no nuisance shows up with paid work for me to do).


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And finally, here's some of the muddification gear. I think I'll first mask up the cars' windows and spray the cars with a dullcote clear finish to take a lot of the shine off them. I'm then thinking of using a very thin wash of tan acrylic paint to create a dusty base colour that lets the car's original colours shine through clearly. Finally, I'll use these soft artist's pastels. I use the mini grater to finely grate each a little pile of colour, and then add a squirt of rubbing alcohol, which not only dissolves the pastel dust but also helps it to stick to the cars.

And the idea is that you just keep on slathering on grunge until you feel sorry for the cars (or something like that). Wish me luck!
Last edited by Ozmac on Fri Jun 10, 2016 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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