It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

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LM24HRS
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It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby LM24HRS » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:56 pm

Le Mans 1957 Equipe Nationale Belge Pits

As a relative newcomer to this hobby of ours I look back and realise I must have been collecting my Le Mans models now for nearly 15 years, which I know to some of you long term members is a short period of time in comparison. However in addition to growing my 1/43 collection of models I soon became aware of “the diorama” but never really pursued the topic. Mainly due in the knowledge I simply have not got the time or to be honest felt I had the sufficient skills or confidence to produce a really good one. Even so, I have quietly behind the scenes been collecting information and pictures of potential Le Mans dioramas on the presumption that one day when retirement arrives I will have more time to construct such delights. Well, retirement as yet has not arrived but I have made a start on my first diorama! That statement would some what imply I started very recently. Well no not exactly, I think I started this well over 4 years ago if I'm honest!

The Pits at Le Mans was an obvious choice due to the sheer volume of subjects over the years with plenty of colour photographs taken to aid the build. By chance I had begun a small collection of Equipe Nationale Belge models and in particular the cars that raced in the 1957 event.

A very small company by the name of BTS Mouldings make pit kits for various periods of Le Mans races. I made my purchase for the correct period for 1957 together with all the advertising and team name labelling. Each kit comes with nice to follow instructions and all the paraphernalia to go in the diorama such as fire extinguishers, fuel pipes and meters and the little steps for the mechanics to get over the pit walls and back into the pit garages.

Never one to rush into a build I actually made a start well over four years ago, in the autumn/winter 2012! However things have now progressed to such a stage I feel compelled to share the results with you so far as to be honest I am pleased with my achievements to date. What you see here has been achieved during the dark winter nights as the years have rolled by, too many looking back!

This first photo shows the individual items contained within each kit. As I needed a 4 garage pit this is in effect 2 kits together as BTS sell them as pairs.

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Next came the task of dry fitting the parts to see what was required in terms of trimming and re-sizing. In this case I had to resize the pit benches at the front as you can see being 2 pairs, the central wall was double thickness.

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The result of the resizing exercise can be seen below with the central wall now being of single thickness.

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Before the first coat of paint there was, (as in any resin/plastic kit) an element of “filling” to do. Even after the first coat of white was applied holes/cracks missed on the first attempt were highlighted, so filling in cracks and gaps was a longer exercise than anticipated.

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In the end I think I ended up with 3 or 4 light coats of white over the whole building before I was satisfied.

Next came the decking on the front of the pit walls which in those days was simple timber. The resin in the kit for the decking is already embossed complete with impressions of the nail heads holding down the timber planks. To give a better impression I first painted the gaps between the planks in brown and before the paint dried, wiped surplus brown paint off the planks so the brown stayed in the gap. Once completely dry I then used a more bleached timber colour for the planks themselves. The complete result of which gives a much more realistic look as can be seen in the photo below.

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During my very in frequent visits to this build, as well as the main construction of the building I was starting to trim, file and paint all the small brackets, fuel meters and pipelines ready for installation. I had already installed brackets into the walls which eventually would hold the fuel gantries. I found it easier to paint these once in their positions rather than separately. Each fuel meter was painted a metallic blue with a white dial face. Even though this was 1957 I can remember seeing the blue fuel meters in 1982, my first visit to the circuit. Wish I had taken some photos of them as they are long gone now.

Image

The build now came to a stop due to the arrival of the summer which meant time out on my road bike cycling our glorious country lanes and getting some fresh air. The short dark days of winter were over. That must of been back in 2013, doesn't time fly when your having fun.

Not wanting to peak too soon I will hold it here for a while so folks have got time to absorb if interested. I will continue later...............there is more. ;)
Paul - "Collecting Motorsport in Miniature; for the passion and its history".

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Jager » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:18 pm

Fantastic Paul. I have been a long term buyer of Spark and Bizarre models from Barry at BTS Moulding and even pointed a few other e forum members in their direction. However I had no idea they offered these kits of the Le Mans pit boxes. In a way I'm sort of glad I didn't know.....if I had I'm sure I would have bought one or two, but like you would have taken my time to complete them.

Looking forward to the next batch of pictures.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Tom » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:31 am

A great idea, looking foward to the rest of the story! The wood effect looks great.

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby LM24HRS » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:15 am

Jager wrote:Fantastic Paul. I have been a long term buyer of Spark and Bizarre models from Barry at BTS Moulding and even pointed a few other e forum members in their direction. However I had no idea they offered these kits of the Le Mans pit boxes. In a way I'm sort of glad I didn't know.....if I had I'm sure I would have bought one or two, but like you would have taken my time to complete them.

Looking forward to the next batch of pictures.


Many thanks Ian. I did wonder if you knew Barry. He and his wife Jo are very close friends and we see them on a regular basis. In fact he is part of our annual "boys long weekend" to Paris Retro these days. He is scaling down the business these days concentrating on his own builds which are the very lesser known LM models pre & post war. More information can be found on his small webpages here;
http://www.btsmouldings.co.uk/

Will post some more later in the weekend.

Tom wrote:A great idea, looking forward to the rest of the story! The wood effect looks great.


Many thanks also Tom. Yes I was very pleased with the wood effect on the decks of the pit benches. I built a model yacht years ago which is where I got the idea from so felt sure the end result would work out here too. More to come in a day or two.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Jager » Sat Aug 13, 2016 3:11 am

Paul, I actually sent Barry an email this morning after reading your post as I realized with the weakness of the GBP, his models are now around US$ 10 cheaper to me than they were a year ago.

Please say hi to Barry from me when you see him next.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby scalainj » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:03 am

I've been wanting something like this for ages and had no idea they were out there. Looking forward to how this progresses

So then i look up the site you posted. Less than 8 miles as the crow flies from home! He's even on the Rye side of town
Andy

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby dcast » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:17 am

Looks great, love the way the wood effect looks, other details look nice as well :)

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby carcollector » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:49 am

Looking forward to see the complete diorama, think that would be a great one!

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Batman » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:20 pm

Great start! Looking forward to seeing the progress along the way to the finish!

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Alfaholic » Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:57 am

Very impressed with the work shown so far Paul. I have neither the patience or skills for building dioramas (must be all the thumbs on each hand) and am always blown away by what can be done in miniature.

Looking forward to seeing the developments as they appear.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby LM24HRS » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:32 am

Well here is the next instalment of the build, however before I continue just a note of thanks for your kind comments and encouragement, much appreciated.

So after a summer off I re-visited my pit build over the following winter months to re-energise my interest, which I knew would take on a keen showing as the next chapter would really produce some hopefully meaningful results. This phase was how to apply the advertising hoardings. Within the kit BTS had supplied me with colour printed sticky labels ready to apply. However, looking at archive photographs of the pits it wasn't simply as case of applying these straight onto the building. They needed to be on a hoarding. So I purchased some 0.75mm thick plastic card to act as the hoarding. Currently these are blue tacked onto the resin of the building. This will give flexibility as I can then change car name/numbers and advertising hoarding around to suit different dioramas. Well that was the idea at the time but in hindsight these will become permanently fixed.

Image

The next set of tasks was to fit the fuel lines along the gantries (as per photograph above), finish painting the fire extinguishers and then applying a back wall to the building. At the time I had been thinking of illuminating the inside with “grain of wheat” bulbs similar to those used on model railway layouts. Plus on close inspection of period photographs there were lights fitted under the manufacturers name plates to illuminate them at night. Again hindsight is a wonderful thing and on reflection the "grain of wheat" bulb is possible a stage too far, especially for illuminating the manufacturers name plates. All the same I will try and consider the possibility of lighting the inside of the pits garages at a later stage.

Image

At this moment in time the wooden planked pit walls are not fixed to the main structure so giving me access into the pit garages as I have further detail to add at a later stage. The intention is to add fire extinguishers (to go on the opposite wall to the fuel meters) and the phone (fitted to the back wall) that connected the teams to the secondary signal pits at Muslanne corner. The phones were not supplied by BTS so I need to find/make my own.

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In the kit BTS also supply small loose fire extinguishers as per the ones sitting on the wooden pit wall decking shown below. Also note the first fuel gantry dry fitted to the Ferrari #11 pit.

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Below are the extinguishers to go on the wall opposite the fuel meters with their backing board in a stage of preparation.

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I'll close this for now and produce the third instalment later.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Jager » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:47 am

Looking good Paul.

You may already have found this picture, but just in case you haven't I thought this picture might be of interest :

Image
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby LM24HRS » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:58 am

Jager wrote:Looking good Paul.

You may already have found this picture, but just in case you haven't I thought this picture might be of interest :


Cheers Ian, yes I do have a copy of that photograph and was concerning doing the diorama pre-race start with covers over the cars. A close friend of mine who models commercial vehicles of the 50's & 60's suggested the best material to use in 1:43 as tarpaulin covers etc is the lead wrapper from around the cork of a bottle of champagne! Expensive but I don't drink the stuff. If I do get hold of any I will certainly experiment.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Tom » Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:01 am

Love the attention to detail!
If I were you I'd consider using LEDs for lighting. Generates a lot less heat and can be obtained in several shapes, sizes and colours.

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Jager » Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:52 am

LM24HRS wrote:A close friend of mine who models commercial vehicles of the 50's & 60's suggested the best material to use in 1:43 as tarpaulin covers etc is the lead wrapper from around the cork of a bottle of champagne! Expensive but I don't drink the stuff. If I do get hold of any I will certainly experiment.

I haven't heard of the champagne wrappers before, but its an interesting idea. Another option which I believe military models use is to use tissue paper laid over the item which is then wet with a 50/50 mixture of PVA glue and water. The water allows the tissue to conform to the shape, and the PVA glue allows it to retain its shape when it dries, after which it can be painted the colour of your choice. However, I'd be careful of using this method on a model and would suggest wrapping the model in 'cling film' first to protect the paint and decals.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Basse » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:42 am

Jager wrote:
LM24HRS wrote:A close friend of mine who models commercial vehicles of the 50's & 60's suggested the best material to use in 1:43 as tarpaulin covers etc is the lead wrapper from around the cork of a bottle of champagne! Expensive but I don't drink the stuff. If I do get hold of any I will certainly experiment.

I haven't heard of the champagne wrappers before, but its an interesting idea. Another option which I believe military models use is to use tissue paper laid over the item which is then wet with a 50/50 mixture of PVA glue and water. The water allows the tissue to conform to the shape, and the PVA glue allows it to retain its shape when it dries, after which it can be painted the colour of your choice. However, I'd be careful of using this method on a model and would suggest wrapping the model in 'cling film' first to protect the paint and decals.


I can recommend the tissue paper method, here's a test with 1/18 models:

Image

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Jager » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:43 pm

Hi Dave, here's another picture that might help your project. This is from 1959, but I believe it shows the same pit boxes you are modelling :

Image
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby IFHP » Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:25 am

Wow, fantastic! I'm interested in such a kit too. Looked up their website, but I didn't see much there: http://www.1066.co.uk/btsmouldings/index.html
Last edited by IFHP on Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby IFHP » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:18 am

I've contacted BTS Moulding and the kits are still available -- 30 pounds (plus postage) for two bays. I think that four bays is required for the desired effect though. I'm thinking of ordering. If I do, it won't turn out as detailed as Paul's but I am inspired by Paul's work and will relay on this thread for direction.
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby LM24HRS » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:03 pm

scalainj wrote:I've been wanting something like this for ages and had no idea they were out there. Looking forward to how this progresses

So then i look up the site you posted. Less than 8 miles as the crow flies from home! He's even on the Rye side of town


Many thanks Andy. BTS is a very small business but one us modellers very much need.

dcast wrote:Looks great, love the way the wood effect looks, other details look nice as well :)

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised with the results myself.

carcollector wrote:Looking forward to see the complete diorama, think that would be a great one!

No pressure then :!: You might have a long wait but I will get there..............eventually.

Batman wrote:Great start! Looking forward to seeing the progress along the way to the finish!

Many thanks. As for the finish I'm not sure when that will be.

Alfaholic wrote:Very impressed with the work shown so far Paul. I have neither the patience or skills for building dioramas (must be all the thumbs on each hand) and am always blown away by what can be done in miniature.
Looking forward to seeing the developments as they appear.


To be honest Martin that is what I thought until I started to have a go and surprisingly its working out at the mo. I'm bound to have a disaster along the way though. All part of the experience I suppose.

Tom wrote:Love the attention to detail!
If I were you I'd consider using LEDs for lighting. Generates a lot less heat and can be obtained in several shapes, sizes and colours.

Cheers Tom I will look into that considering the heat issue.

Basse wrote:I can recommend the tissue paper method, here's a test with 1/18 models:

That looks very life like. I will certainly give this a go as well. Thanks for the advise.

Jager wrote:Hi Dave, here's another picture that might help your project. This is from 1959, but I believe it shows the same pit boxes you are modelling :


Not seen that one before Ian, excellent clarity. It also gives me detail of the electrical cabling conduit for the flood lights plus the "aged" look of the concrete walls.

IFHP wrote:I've contacted BTS Moulding and the kits are still available -- 30 pounds (plus postage) for two bays. I think that four bays is required for the desired effect though. I'm thinking of ordering. If I do, it won't turn out as detailed as Paul's but I am inspired by Paul's work and will relay on this thread for direction.

Glad you have managed to obtain some. BTS is a very small business and I wasn't sure if he was still producing them. Not sure what direction I will give as I'm learning along the way myself but will endeavour to encourage.

Guys, thanks for all you positive comments, much appreciated.
Paul - "Collecting Motorsport in Miniature; for the passion and its history".

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby Cowley » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:46 pm

Fantastic work so far, Paul - very impressive! No doubt we will see the final finished diorama at 2017 Race Retro? :roll:

Love the idea of "...tissue paper wet with a 50/50 mixture of PVA glue and water..." and I most definitely have a use for that tip, many thanks Jager! ;)
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby reeft1 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:50 pm

Excellent work!

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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby IFHP » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:30 pm

I've been in e-mail correspondence with Barry at BTS. If others are thinking of buying one (or more) of these kits, I suggest that they do it now. Barry is retiring in March and pretty much phasing out his business. It turns out that he doesn't just have kits boxed up on the shelf ready to ship. He has to get out the moulds and create the kits. I expect that he would like to cast as many at one time as he is likely to sell.

If you want one, I recommend that you e-mail him from his website and let him know. However, you can't order on-line, has to be by phone or letter and he only accepts payment with a VISA and Mastercard.

http://www.1066.co.uk/btsmouldings/index.html
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Re: It’s “The Pits” - (My first attempt at a diorama)

Postby LM24HRS » Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:37 pm

We are experiencing nice warm temperatures in the latter part of the UK summer so it is not ideal for hiding away in my den constructing dioramas, hence the lack of posts.

Anyway I have managed to make a little more progress as follows;

When fitting the fuel hoses to each fuel meter I had to make a decision how I wanted to display each pit fuel gantry. To show some variation I decided to display 3 pit garages with the gantry parallel to the pit wall (not in use) and 1 garage with the gantry across the pit wall (in use). The Jaguar pit was my chosen “fuel gantry in use” garage.

With that in mind each length of hose was very carefully glued into the outlet from each of the fuel meters and left to dry before manipulating into position as required for each pit on its associated gantry. Within the kit supplied by Barry of BTS Mouldings are the fuel nozzles, a very small piece to be glued at the end of each hose. Once the nozzles had dried, 3 of them were gently manoeuvred into the “not in use position” which meant housing the nozzle in its holder at the end of each gantry. The Jaguar pit was left just draped along the top of the gantry for later positioning.

Image

Image

In addition to fixing the fuel hoses, on the opposite wall in each pit I also glued the fire extinguishers and their backing broads into position. Finally each garage was beginning to look as it should. However throughout the years of this build I had collected a number of in period photographs and on close inspection began to notice little important points of what I call further detail. For instance each pit had a collection of 3 flood lights positioned on the apron over hang above each garage to light up the manufacturer name and car competition number at night. These items were not supplied in the kit but I felt it would enhance the end result, even more so if I could also include the conduit and junction boxes for the cabling. This is still work in progress but I have made up the flood lights as seen here.

The flood lights are made of quarter round plastic pieces of an appropriate size and are currently loosely positioned. For the appearance of a flood light I painted the casings matt black and the lens of the flood light silver. It seems to have the appropriate affect.

Image
Image

Since I took these pictures I have now added the conduit and junction boxes for the floodlights but as yet not made up the cabling. Thats the next job on the list. Please wait for further instalments............
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