SHOCKS May 8th 1996

Due to the limitations of molding techniques the shocks are not always great looking. Most kit parts are very poorly detailed, hard to paint and look terrible. If the shocks are hidden then this is no problem. However on race cars the shocks are usually exposed. This is one area that can add quite a bit of realism to a model. There are several ways to finish the shocks.

1. Try and do the best you can with the kit part. Very cheap to do but the results aren't always very satisfying
2. Minor surgery to the kit part. Quite a bit of skill needed to get good results
3. Major surgery with the kit part. More time consuming than the ones above but results are the best

Making the Coils
There are various sources for coils. They can be found in electronics, pens, toys, etc. If you can't find a coil with the correct size and shape (or four coils the same size) you can make your own coils.

Picture 1- Diagrams a, b, c

The first thing to do is to is to find wire that is the correct diameter you want the coil to be. Harder wires work better than softer ones.
1. Next wind this around a tubing with the inner diameter you want. (diagram 'a')
2. slide the wound coil off the tubing (diagram 'b').
3. pull the coil until the desired spacing is achieved. (diagram 'c')
If the coil doesn't retain its shape after step 3 try leaving the coil on the tubing when you do the pull (step 2)
A recent article in Scale Auto Enthusiast outlined an even easier method. Find a screw with the correct diameter and wind the wire around this. The spacing of the screw will create the spacing of the coil.

The last step is to cut the coil to the desired length. The first method is to cut the wire then compress the end of the coil one turn. (figure 2 left shock) The second method is to grind the end of the coil (figure 2 right shock). This looks like the coil has been chopped off with a saw. To get this look I use a cut off wheel on a Dremel tool.
Check references for what the coil of a shock looks like

Kit Parts
Some kit parts are very nicely molded and do not have to be replaced. I have seen some paint jobs that are very convincing. The only thing is you have to have a very good painting hand.

Minor Surgery
For minor surgery the coils are sanded off the kit part and a new one inserted. This sounds easy but actually is not. When sanding off the coil a lot of uneveness and flat spots will be produced.
I believe it takes a lot more skill to do it this way. If you have a natural talent for sanding parts this will be the preferred way. Once the coil has been sanded off a new one has to be inserted. It is advisable to paint the kit part before inserting the coil. For a more realistic look the smaller diameter of the shock should be bare metal foiled. The smaller diameter also has to be sanded down by the modeller.
If you can find a sping that is the perfect size for the coil you are halfway finished. To insert this in the kit part you have to thread the kit part through the spring and rotate the spring (like screwing it in) until it is in the correct position.
If you do not have a spring you will have to make one. Due to the nature of the soft wire the threading technique may not work and you may have to make the coil on the kit part.

Major surgery
The first step is to determine whether the kit part is able to undergo this conversion. For this process to work properly there has to be enough plastic in the remaining kit parts to take a small rod. (see figure 3) Measure the length of the shock and determine how much is going to be cut off (length l). It is advised to do only one shock at a time so that measurements are accurate and parts don't get mixed up. Make a note of the length 'l' and the orientation of the mounting tabs on the kit part before cutting.

Picture 2-Figures 1, 2, 3

Figure 1
Parts needed are
1. the coil (cut to correct size)
2. aluminum tubing larger diameter
3. aluminum tubing smaller diameter
4. brass rod (1 or 2 pieces)

Cut off and discard the middle section of the coil. Clean up the kit parts that have just been cut.

Figure 2
Kit parts and two different coils that can be used

Figure 3
Using a pin vise drill holes in the kit parts to accept the brass rod. Brass rod should fit into the smaller aluminum tubing. Hole depth should be 1/16" or more.
You can use one brass rod or two pieces. The one piece rod is stronger but the two piece is easier. For the one piece you have to be sure that when you glue the last part on that the dimensions for the final shock is correct. For the two part system is recommended since it is the aluminum tubing that sets the shock length and this can be easily controlled.

Picture 3-Figures 4, 5, 6

Figure 4
Install the larger tubing on to the kit part. Make sure this is centered an dmake sure that the smaller tubing fits in it. Once the larger tubing has been installed paint this assemble as well as the other kit part. This will help hide glue marks. Use CA type glues.
If the larger tubing is to be a different colour than the kit part paint it before installing.

Figure 5
The plunger in the shock has a polished steel look. To reproduce this chuck the small ertubing into a dremel tool. At low speed hold a fine grit sandpaper to the tubing (600 grit or finer). This will slightly polish the tubing. Go to finer and finer grits until the tubing is chrome like. This will only take a few minutes and looks great.
Now the tubing has to be given a clear coat. This will keep the tubing looking chromelike. If this is not done the aluminum will oxidize and turn dull again. For this step I just dip the end into a clear paint and let it dry (Tamiya clear, Future Floor wax etc.). a very thin coat will do. If it is too thick the tubing will not fit into the larger one. Give this a couple of days to dry before installing.
Cut length of smaller tubing to length 'l' and test fit into larger tubing. Measure shock again before gluing. If length is fine apply glue to inside of larger tubing and install smaller tubing. Don't add too much glue or it will be forced out the tubing.

Picutre 4-Figures 7 &8

Figure 6
Install coil. This usually does not have to be glued unless the coil is very loose.

Figure 7
Glue final kit part. Make sure that the mounting tabs are in the correct position as the origianl kit part

Figure 8
Admire your work. Install on kit

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