Citation Update II: Engine Trouble!

When you “stepped up” to the X-11 trim in the mid ‘80s, you got more than just meaningless decals and a (likely non-functional) trunk lip spoiler; you also got the 2.8L V6 engine! Now, I know in this day and age that a V6 producing a massive 135 hp and a stump-pulling 145 ft.lbs of torque is hard to imagine, but try, if you will. Remember, this was the BIG engine, so imagine how sad a stock Citation would be! Still, when one considers the Citation X-11 in the context of a souped-up econobox, that’s not as terrible as it sounds.

What is terrible, though, is the engine that Monogram gave us in the Citation kit! At first, looking at the parts and the forming of the engine block, one gets the idea that, despite the fact that this isn’t an MPC motor, it might be pretty good. In a way, you’d be right. There are some separate accessories, although the starter, oil filter and carb are all moulded into the block/intake and the power steering reservoir is moulded into the serpentine belt assembly. Thankfully, the alternator, distributor and manifolds are separate, as is the transmission.  As expected, the nearly always incorrect process of chroming the valve covers has been applied on this kit, so a stripping with Easy-Off oven cleaner is definitely something that’s required for the motor.

The parts go together well enough, though, and with only a bit of sanding, you get a pretty fair representation of the GM Corporate 2.8. Sadly, I found that the locating pins for the tranny aren’t quite right. In order to have the transmission housing match up to the engine block, I shaved off all the pins and rotated the housing slightly. This worked great, and helped overall appearance of the finished motor. The detail on the alternator and distributor are okay, but I find that very light black and brown washes help bring out all the detail significantly.

I painted the block using the Testors train colour known as “St. Lawrence Blue”. This is a bit light, but it works fine for my purposes. It’s closer than the Model Master Acrylic actually named “Ford/GM Engine Block Blue”, which isn’t even close for the GM “corporate blue” of the era! The tranny was painted in MMA steel, and the carb was steel with a light coat of pigment-based Interference Gold over it, to give it that “varnished” look you see on carbs.  The oil filter was painted in GM Engine Block Blue, since it looks like Delco Blue, like the filters on my T/A. The serpentine belts and pulleys were painted MMA Flat Black, and the pulleys and power steering were glossed.

This is the basic engine assembled and ready for the air cleaner. Too bad the kit doesn't have the correct one!

This is the basic engine assembled and ready for the air cleaner. Too bad the kit doesn’t have the correct one!

The drive shafts and steeing links were done in steel with flat black for the rubber boots, and the exhaust manifolds were done in Jet Exhaust to give them a more burnished feel. With the light washes on the engine, it really looked good. It was given a final coat of Ceramcoat Matte Varnish, to take the shine down a bit and even everything out.

Tur-bo, or Not Tur-bo?

To paraphrase Hamlet: that is, indeed, the question. You see, the Citation kit has a chequered history, much like the Bard’s eponymous muser. Unlike many MPC kits, which started life as bone-stock models or promos, the Citation’s first kitting was of a “Turbo Citation” in 1981. Why the folks at Monogram did this is beyond me, but it seems like the Turbo Bug had caught on, since most MPC kits also had a turbo option. However, the key here, is the word “OPTION”. On most MPC’s, you can opt for the stock motor as well.  Sadly, Monogram must have been of the opinion that such a choice would paralyze modellers, preventing the building of the legions of Citation kits they somehow foresaw being built through their (likely patented) process of divination.

In retrospect, though, I have a feeling that Monogram’s decisions were based more likely on a ball of the “Magic 8” variety, rather than one of enchanted crystal. Regardless of how they arrived at their ill-advised decision, Monogram gave their Citation kit a turbocharged engine, complete with decidedly non-stock air cleaner, turbo and crossover pipe. What they did NOT give it was a normal air cleaner or exhaust system. Given that the second version of the kit was a highly modified “club racer” Citation (the blue thing as seen on the box in the Out of Box review), there was never a reason for Monogram to bother changing things. Thus, when they decided to throw the much lamented Citation kit into their “Lowrider” line, it went in there with nothing but its turbo V6.

Unfortunately for me, I prefer to build my loser cars stock. That means no turbos where they shouldn’t be, and proper air cleaning/exhaust piping.  Thus, I was faced with the task of building up an air cleaner and exhaust piping (to the catalytic converter only) from scratch.

Breathe In:

Finding information and pictures of the V6 in an X-11 is surprisingly hard. There are a few out there on Google, thank goodness, but it requires some searching. What I found is that X-11s actually had a very oddly-shaped air cleaner; it was oblong with squared sides and a “crown” ridge around the outside. It also had TWO air intake arms. One went down towards the forward fender area, and was the usual tinplate-looking snorkel with a Thermac on it. The other, to my surprise, was an arm that extended towards the cowl, and in at least one photo, was shown to open upwards! I was shocked to learn that these sad-arsed excuses for sports cars actually did have Cowl Induction, like so many of their legitimately powerful muscle car forebears! It seems as though that bulge in the X-11’s hood wasn’t just for show, it really was glad to see me!

To create an air cleaner that looked right, I needed a squared oval. This is not something I have in any other car kit. However, my decades of plane building saved me! In my spares box I found the backing plate for the radar antenna for the AA Model 1/48 F-8IIM! (This is a big, twin-engined Chinese fighter/interceptor, not really related at all to a Citation X-11, other than being outdated and kinda shoddy in the build department. Huh, maybe they’re more alike than I thought!) It actually had a perfect shape and was the right size, footprint-wise. I glued it to a piece of sheet styrene, filed off the mounting peg and then used some Apoxie Sculp to mould the “crown” ring.

Here's the Radar scanner holder I started with. The air cleaner above is from Monogram's '79 Turbo Mustang.

Here’s the Radar scanner holder I started with. The air cleaner above is from Monogram’s ’79 Turbo Mustang.

Yes, it looks like a very padded toilet seat right now. This is the Apoxie Sculp ring that would be sanded to the "crown" ridge. You an see the second layer of styrene sticking out the sides, too. It's quite a mess at this point!

Yes, it looks like a very padded toilet seat right now. This is the Apoxie Sculp ring that would be sanded to the “crown” ridge. You an see the second layer of styrene sticking out the sides, too. It’s quite a mess at this point!

After some sanding, drying, and gut-tonnes more sanding, I got the actual air cleaner to the right shape and size. I drilled a hole in the middle bottom and glued in a piece of 1/16” Styrene rod so I could stick the whole thing onto the carb. For intakes arms, I used the air cleaner from the Monogram 1/24 1979 Turbo Mustang. I inherited a damaged one of these, and so I felt no sadness in chopping up its air cleaner for my own purposes. I used the Thermac arm from it on one end, and part of the corrugated tube for the cowl induction part. Some pics I’ve seen show the cowl induction part as solid metal, another as a tube. I can’t tell what’s custom and what’s not, but the tube looked cool and that was good enough for me!

Here is the air cleaner sanded to shape and with the Thermac and Cowl Induction arms in place. I think it needs paint...

Here is the air cleaner sanded to shape and with the Thermac and Cowl Induction arms in place. I think it needs paint…

Once it was all assembled, the unit was painted black and given a glossy finish on the metal parts. The rubber for the cowl induction arm was flat coated to look more like rubber or that weird plastic stuff GM used in the ‘80s. The unit fit on the engine perfectly! Sadly, I never could locate a picture of how the Thermac Arm connected to the body; all I know is a flexible section joined it to somewhere. Since I didn’t know where, I opted to leave this part out; I’d rather have it “rotted off” than attached to the wrong place!

This is a test fit before putting in on the "arms". It just clears the distributor!

This is a test fit before putting in on the “arms”. It just clears the distributor!

Breathe Out:

A side effect of having the wrong intake system is having the wrong exhaust system! Due to the turbo linking the two banks of cylinders, there is a weirdo crossover pipe provided to get the combustion by-products to the main tailpipe. However, once the turbo is removed, this pipe no longer fits anywhere! The question is: what does the real exhaust look like?

Trying to find pictures of the exhaust is WAAAAY harder than finding one of the air cleaner setup. Finally, I located a single picture of a junked Citation that showed the front exhaust manifold connected to a pipe that seemed to wrap around the top of the transmission to somewhere behind the engine. I never could see how the back manifold connected in. Clearly, none of the piping in the kit will do this.

So, that meant it was back to doing things “from first principles”, as they say in mathematics. Using the turbo attachment point on the front bank (which looks like it is the legitimate exhaust connection point), I used 1/16” rod to  bend a new main pipe over the tranny and down/around and behind the engine. I cut a small piece of rod to make a connection to the rear manifold, and cut the unit to length so it would connect with the main pipe. This involved a LOT of bending, rebending and gentle twisting so as not to snap the plastic rod.

This is what my Citation's exhaust pipe to the manifolds looks like. I have no idea if it's right, but it fits now, at least!

This is what my Citation’s exhaust pipe to the manifolds looks like. I have no idea if it’s right, but it fits now, at least!

In the end, I got a pipe that was some kind of M.C. Escher-esque version of an “F”. It did fit, though, and once I painted it MMA Jet Exhaust, it went on with very little problem. Is it perfect, probably not. Is it better than the turbo? Heck yes!

This side view gives you a good view of the new pipe, as well as the carb.

This side view gives you a good view of the new pipe, as well as the carb.

Here's the engine out of the body, but with the stock air cleaner mounted. Looks pretty good!

Here’s the engine out of the body, but with the stock air cleaner mounted. Looks pretty good!

Not So Classy Chassis:

The problem with the Citation is that the underside is boring. I painted it MMA Grey Primer, did the wheel wells black and the suspension and spare tire pit black too. The suspension isn’t overly detailed, but there are struts and the front has springs too. With abit of MMA Steel and a light black was using Citadel Nuln Oil wash, these popped right away.

The exhaust pipe is a single unit from my “Escher-F” pipe to the tailpipe. I did the pipes in MMA Steel, and the muffler and cat in Aluminum. I gave the cat a very thin coating of “heat blue”, too. This is blue pigment massively diluted with Future to give a slightly bluish  clear coat. The entire assembly then got both a light black and brown wash (using the Nuln Oil and Devlan Mud washes from Citadel) to bring out the “metal” in it. This really works; I don’t know why, but I know I like it.

Another view of the "Escher F" pipe, and the poorly-located tail pipe hovering in space. I used melted styrene to weld the main pipe and the "F" together.

Another view of the “Escher F” pipe, and the poorly-located tail pipe hovering in space. I used melted styrene to weld the main pipe and the “F” together.

The only thing wrong with the exhaust pipe is that it has a single tip. Only after I was done it did I discover that the X-11’s in the 1982+ timeframe had two tips. By then, the chassis was together, so I just went with it. I don’t figure anyone else will really have as much knowledge about Citation X-11’s as me; well, except for you, now, dear reader. Hmmm… you won’t tell though, will you? The pipe fits on well, but the issue is that there is a single point of attachment to the chassis. This means the pipe is free to pitch and yaw all over while the glue dries. Thankfully, running some ProWeld under the pipe near the pin helps to give somemore positive location, but it’s still iffy.

With the engine and chassis done, the next step is the interior! “Seating Bucket Ho!!”

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