Just because you work hard, doesn’t mean you can’t dress nicely, or at least clean up nicely when the job is done. As far as pickup trucks go, this is something we’ve all come to expect. However, it’s been a relatively recent idea that a truck should look as good as a car, and provide the same level of comfort and civility. Back in the day, a pickup was for work, and work only. If it wasn’t very stylish or overly comfortable, that was fine. It wasn’t supposed to be.
This all started to change due to the Chevy Cameo, and continued to change significantly further in the early to mid-1960s. One of the key driving factors in this transformation of expectations was the Chevy C/K series, especially the much-improved styling that can be found on the 1962 and newer models. Much-reduced on these trucks was the elephantine, brutalistic approach to design; it was replaced with far more car-like styling cues and an overall trend towards neatness. The enduring collectability of these trucks serves as a staunch reminder that it never hurts to make a nice looking product!
Despite not being a traditional “truck person”, and never having built a pickup truck model before, I was drawn to this kit for a bunch of different reasons. The biggest one was that I wanted to do something outside my usual econobeater comfort zone, and a big, heavy mid-60’s pickup seemed just the thing. I thought it would be easier than a normal car, but that wasn’t the case. It was just as much work, if not more.
One of the hardest parts was finding good reference material that showed completely stock trucks. Most of these (almost all, it seems) that remain have been customized in some way or another. It makes getting good information on the stock, factory fresh product difficult, time consuming and frustrating. I won’t lie. I got so sick of researching and digging for info that I almost just shelved the whole project. However, it was this lack of info that also drove me on. Yeah, I know… “What’s wrong with you?” you’re asking. Well, if I knew that, I’d be rich, wouldn’t I?
The way it works is this: I wanted to build this kit as a representative of the stock product. Since so little information and almost no existing examples of fully-stock restored trucks exist, it spurred me on. I wanted to make my own person monument to the truck as it was designed, not the pseudo street machine cum rat rod cum now-is-but-really-wasn’t-intended-to-be-muscle-car-stand-in that it has largely become. Thus, when I saw how little there was on the stock vehicle, I was more compelled than ever to get my kit as close to stock as I could, so that form could be preserved. It didn’t hurt my motivation that so much of the colouring in the instructions was bad, too.
If you’re looking for information on the kit itself, or my progress to date, check out the links below:
1964 Chevy Fleetside (Out of Box)
1964 Chevy Fleetside Update 1 – Chassis and Engine
1964 Chevy Fleetside Update 2 – Interior
And now, for the finished product!
Colour Your World:
One thing I did find on the internet was a sample of the paint colours for the C/K series in 1964. Among those colours was a number of surprisingly bright shades. Reds, oranges, greens and blues could all be had; it seems the truck wasn’t intended to be a stodgy work machine right from the get go! Since I have (and will have) a lot of green cars, I decided to go with blue. The only truly blue car I have built is my 1988 Daytona, and it needed a friend. The blue on these trucks was a lightish, but very bright, blue. I can’t describe it other than the colour of the About Town (now “Blue and White”) taxis we have around town here in London, Ontario.
I made the colour as a mix of Model Master Acrylic (MMA) Gloss White, GM Engine Blue and a couple of other colours I had kicking around. Like all good recipes, it’s a one-time thing; I don’t make careful notes of things like ratios and the like. It makes modelling too boring, in my mind. This is art; you need to feel it! Before applying the blue, however, I had to apply the white to cab.
Since this is a Custom Cab (it has the larger B-pillar with what should be chromed “Custom” nameplate on it), the truck was a two-tone. This meant that the cab was white. That’s the only two-toning colour you got. If you chose a white body, then, well, that was tough noogies for you! Also in white (technically “off white”, but you’ll never notice) was the stripe around the somewhat awkward, gawky grille/headlight assembly. This was the first problem I ran into. Painting the area white would be easy; masking it… well, that was less straightforward.
As you may know, I hate masking. Capital H-A-T-E hate. So, I decided to make it easier. The fit where the grille surround (that will be white) fits into the model isn’t great. I had glued it in, but only sanded it flush, not filed it. Using my etching/scribing skills, honed by decades of work with very crappy aircraft kits, I carefully etched out the surround. I then filled the larger gaps with some MMA Flat White and “sanded, rescribed, repeated” until I had a nicely delineated panel to paint white. I applied some Colorplace Flat White first, and then some slightly altered MMA Gloss White. The gloss white is what I call “Car White” and has a bit of purple and blue in it to make it “whiter”. This is a trick I learned from over 20 years of Gundam building!
Once the white was on and dry, I masked the cab and grille surround (aka “lips”). With these covered, I then sprayed the entire kit in Rustoleum Grey Primer. This is much darker than Colorplace grey, and is almost like Gunship Grey. I was worried it would be too dark, but as I found out, it gave more body to the blue paint. Before that, though, I had to paint the wood in the bed and the engine bay in black. I painted both in MMA Aircraft Interior Black, and then satin coated them with Delta Ceramcoat Indoor/Outdoor Matte Urethane Varnish cut with Future.
If you’re wondering, yes, the bed floor on these trucks was black. You almost always see them over-restored with beautiful polished wood beds and chromed straps joining the planks. However, that’s not stock. In the literature that I could find, it specifically called out the bed as being blackened wood. The steel straps were also black. My guess is they basically built all the beds and Tremcladded everything. I found one picture on the net that showed an all-original truck, and the bed, while worn, was clearly black originally. Interestingly the instructions call the bed out as being wood coloured; this is a perfect example of why I pushed ahead with this project, to make sure a nearly-perfectly stock example exists somewhere “for the record”. Revell could have done their research better and saved me a lot of time. They didn’t. I did. You’re welcome.
Masking the bed top and bottom was a bit of a chore, but the engine bay went rather easily. I did expect the engine bay to be body colour, as per the kit on the box. What a surprise. That was also wrong. Once the black areas were securely masked, I re-primed the body and, when dry, applied the blue. It took three light coats and a slightly heavier one to get nice, thick coverage. I wanted a colour that looked “thick”, as a lot of the paints (especially truck paints) did back then. I was very pleased with what I saw. It even went on quite smoothly, overall.
One paint transition I did not mask was the white “Chevrolet” lettering in the tailgate. For this, I used a white Gelly Roll 08 gel pen from a local arts and crafts store. This is the same pen I used to do the whitewalls on the Chevette, and will likely use on the Datsun pickup. It was very easy to scrape off any excess, too, and touch up was very quick. To my surprise, the pen/ink/whatever that came out of it dried fast and I was able to gloss over it without any issues.
I don’t often build kits with chrome parts, or if they have them, they’re few and far between. However, this truck has a lot of chrome; mirrors, door handles, gas cap, tailgate chains and of course bumpers are all chromed, not to mention the hubcaps and “10” series badges. These all come chromed, though, so no worries, right? It depends who you ask, naturally!
I know many builders, my very talented brother among them, who can use the kit chrome with no problem. However, I can’t. I find that once I have the chrome pieces cut off the racks I always have to sand not only the sprue gates, but also the edges down. The end result is a part missing a lot of chrome. Thus, I habitually just strip all the chrome, and use Alclad Chrome to approximate it when I’m done. This usually works fine in small amounts, and nearly matches the Bare Metal Foil (BMF) that I use for trim. Unfortunately, with the bumpers and hubcaps especially, the areas needing rechroming on the Fleetside are quite large.
I had had a rude awakening with my Volare Road Runner, finding that you couldn’t handle Alclad-chromed parts for more than a few seconds without wearing off the surface. However, you also can’t use Future on Alclad, because it dulls it. I had bought and tried some AK Interactive Chrome, and found that, in tests, it looked good, and handled much better than the Alclad. I was eager to try it. More than that, though, I was eager to try the Alclad Aqua Gloss on the chrome. It was touted as being the ONLY gloss that wouldn’t dull the finish, and would dry super hard. I knew about the latter part, and my tests had shown good results with the non-dulling, too.
Perhaps, then, pride going before a fall as it so often does, it comes as no surprise that the chroming went… badly. I still don’t know what happened. The Alclad Black Primer went on nicely, and the first layer of AK chrome did too. However, the second light layer just failed. I had a blackish-chrome finish as I expected after one coat, and usually the second coat “whitens” it up. Instead, it just turned silver. No buffing or Aqua Gloss would change it. I was both frustrated and furious. This stuff isn’t cheap, and I’d already used a lot up in testing. What was the point in that, then, if it failed in combat? My brother’s approach was looking better all the time.
Still, I had no choice, and after more research and testing, I found a method for creating a nearly-chrome (or at least much better than silver) effect. I ended up using Alclad for this; I don’t yet know if the trick works on the AK stuff. Here’s the deal:
- Strip the chrome.
- Apply one or two thin layers of gloss black primer. I use Alclad, but whatever you’ve got will work. Just make sure it goes on smoothly.
- Apply one more, heavier coat of primer. Let this dry and it should self-level nicely.
- Apply one VERY LIGHT coat of Chrome. When you’re done this coat, you should have something that looks like black chrome. It’s very shiny, but clearly too dark. Bake this at 45° for four hours or so, making sure it is super, super dry. Eight hours is better still.
- Apply one light-to-moderate coat of Aqua Gloss. Bake dry at 45°C for about ½ hour. This stuff dries fast under heat, and stays hard. Good stuff.
- Apply a second VERY LIGHT coat of chrome. This will whiten up the black chrome, turning more silver. It won’t be as shiny as kit chrome plating, but it will be uniform and it will be much shinier than applying it directly over the first coat of Chrome.
- Bake until dry (see Step 4), recoat with a couple light coats of Aqua Gloss and bake until dry.
The key here is the Aqua Gloss in between the two Chrome coats. The Chrome will react with itself, if uninsulated, and the new coat will cause the undercoat to go silver. Thus, you lose the high-gloss of the primer surface, and the two paint layers just combine and go silver. With the insulating Gloss in between, the second coat of Chrome essentially is going over a black chrome primer layer, so it’s got depth, reflectivity and some silver colour.
It’s not perfect, not as shiny as kit chrome for sure, but I like it, and I’m going to stick with it. The good thing is it matches BMF quite well, and so the chrome on the finished kit is at least constant in colour and reflectivity.
One other thing: The grille and headlights are not Chrome. They’re actually Alclad Polished Aluminum. It’s hard to tell, I know. It’s hard to tell in real life, too, but on stock trucks that assembly is NOT chrome. It is aluminum, but I forget if it’s polished or anodized or what. However, if you see a stock truck, look closely; the grille and headlights are a bit duller than the bumpers. On my kit, because the chrome is less gleaming than the kit chrome, this difference is very subtle, Still, I wanted to make sure that I did it right, since this is again one of those details that over-restored examples often miss, and it’s clearly something Revell got wrong, since they chromed it in the first place!
Don’t Just Gloss Over It!
Once all the paint work was done, it was time to unmask it and see how bad the leakage was. To my amazement, it wasn’t bad at all, and I only had a bit of touch up to do on the white. At this point, I left the black masked, because it is supposed to be non-shiny. I applied a couple of thin coats of the Aqua Gloss to the truck, and found out a couple of things. First; it goes on very spotty and runny, because it is water-based (hence the “Aqua” part of the name).This means you need a very fine mist application first, then you let it dry. Then you repeat. The result is a kind of “grip tape” surface that will definitely give you the willies.
However, that gives enough bite for a heavier coat, but not so heavy it runs. I baked this for about 3 hours at 45°C, and then did a first pass of sanding. This took off the high-spots and allowed for another heavier coat of gloss. I did go a bit heavy, and had a couple of runs in a few spots, so some aggressive sanding was needed. After that, it was one more moderate coat and a day’s worth of baking.
I must say this, even though it is based on a very limited dataset, and I may find I have to retract it later:
Aqua Gloss rocks!
From what I’ve seen it do on this kit, it is an amazing product. It is capable of doing everything it says it will, and more. For one thing, it actually DOESN’T DULL the chrome finish on the Alclad (or AK). For another, it does in fact armour the chrome so you can handle it without any care or worries, as many times as needed. It also makes the toughest, hardest-sanding and fastest-drying, not to mention glossiest, shell I’ve ever seen on a model.
I love Future. Future, to modelling, is life. I can’t make good flat or satin coat without it, it sticks down my decals, makes my canopies shiny, is the only way I can airbrush Testors MMA paints (It’s the key to my thinner) and makes Tamiya paints hand-brushable. Oh, and it has about 1 billion other uses. HOWEVER, when it comes to effectively and efficiently gloss coating cars, it is dead to me. The Alclad Aqua Gloss curb stomps Future to death. Think of American History X. Yeah, that level of stompage.
Unlike Future, which takes forever to dry and which, sometimes, can react with the paint under it, causing cracking; it seems that Aqua Gloss is totally neutral. Also, it dries far, far faster, and thus the time needed between coats, and between final coating and sanding is literally reduced by at least 5 times. I have to bake Futured bodies for days on end to make sure they’re ready to sand, and then do it again when they are sanded because I can still smell fresh Future. I still smell Future for MONTHS after a kit is done. With the Aqua Gloss, I give it a couple of hours, and it’s good. It doesn’t smell when sanded, implying it’s dried right through. It’s awesome.
In order to give the kit a final polish I used Detail Master Polishing Cloths at 6000, 8000 and 12000 grit. These were all polished in the same direction, and then some polishing with a wet rag and some Tamiya Fine Compound was undertaken, also in the same direction. The penultimate step was to use Tamiya Finish Compound applied first in the same direction, and then in swirls for the second coat. I then buffed everything up with some NOVUS 1 polishing liquid, which really does help a lot. It says it reduces static and resists fingerprints, and it certainly does that.
With all the polishing done, and the annoying job of cleaning the excess Tamiya compound out of the various corners and panel lines, it was time to unmask the black bits. There was a little bit on the engine bay and a bit more on the black of the wooden bed. This was not a surprise; masking such an uneven surface, so replete with tiny 90 degree angles is a recipe for bleed-through. Still, it was easy enough to just touch up with some Aircraft Interior Black and a tiny bit of hand applied Satin Coat.
I then touched up the black on the inside of the cab (fenders, etc.) and inside the grille. This was painstaking, since any slips here would pollute the white grille surround. At this point, I also did the BMF work on the B-pillar plates and the front window surround. From what I could tell, there was a black rubber around the chrome, too, so I used a Gundammarker for this. The BMF went okay, but the window frame was hard to contour to in spots, and the excessive glossiness of the window frame made it hard for the foil to bite down and stick. I glossed the BMF with a bit of hand-applied Aqua Gloss to nail it down and protect it. It’s just as good on foil as paint!
Finally, it was time to put the interior in and the cab over the chassis. This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Finding the right spot for the interior to sit on was tough and not obvious at all. The radiator shell didn’t want to fit without some serious finagling and getting the lower rad hose in was tough. Props, though, to the Revell crew for GIVING us a lower rad hose! MPC could learn that trick…
I attached the windows to the cab, the interior to the cab and the cab to the frame with Tacky Glue. My brother often trumpets its praises and expounds on its virtues. While I don’t use it as much as he does, I will admit he’s right. It’s awesome stuff, and it dries very, very tough. It can glue nearly anything to anything, dries clear, and is water soluble for wash off. I also used it to tack the bed to the frame, install the tailgate, and to apply all the chrome bits. It’s the only glue that will not attack the paint, so it’s the only choice for things like the gas cap and “10” badges. I’ll definitely be using it more in the future!
The only drawback of the tacky glue is that it takes a while to dry. Once again, the dehydrator rescues things, since baking it at 42° dries it quite quickly (3/4 of an hour vs. 10-24 hours, depending on the volume used and the exposure to air). At this point, it is important to mention the door handles. The handles that come with the kit are extremely fragile, and both of mine broke. I stole the handles from the Monogram custom ’40 Ford pickup. They’re not quite right, but they’re close, and most people won’t know. I wanted you to know, though, since I have made accuracy a big deal on this kit. It pained me, but it was better than no door handles at all.
With the truck all finished, I’m going to be honest: this was a lot tougher than I thought it would be, and there was really no reason for it. I found the kit a bit arduous to build, but looking at it objectively, it really isn’t. I think the issues with the Chrome really coloured my impressions of the kit, and since that’s a problem of my own making, I can hardly fault the model. The need to change tires and do so much research on what I thought would be a simple kit also contributed to my feeling of exhaustion.
However, seeing the finished kit sitting there, with the proper wheels, tires, paint scheme and bed made me really, really happy. I like this kit’s finished form. I like how it looks, sits and dominates the display by virtue of being bright, simple, boxy and unassuming, all at once. It’s a nice-looking truck (save the geeky headlights) and it makes a nice change from other econobeater hatchbacks and pseudo muscle cars that I so usually build.
This kit is actually not a bad kit for a relative novice, although the small bits like door handles and mirrors are prone to breaking, and that might frustrate builders of any experience level. I think the overall detail on the kit is excellent, and really this is a good project for just about anyone. However, while the kit is nice, it has a few significant drawbacks that make it more painful for experienced modellers. The inclusion of the wrong type of tire is a major pain, since to be accurate you need to source new ones. The constant wrong colour call outs make it impossible to trust the instructions (or box) at all, and the fact that the “Custom” badge and other detailing is totally missing on the B-pillar is really inexcusable.
By and large, I like the kit and I love how it turned out. However, there are a lot of little issues, and if you want to build this kit accurately, you’re going to have to do your homework. I guess I was disappointed because I expect that in a ‘70s kit, not a ‘90s on; joke’s on me.
If you want a good kit of this truck, then Revell’s incarnation won’t disappoint. If you want a shake and bake though, I would suggest you go elsewhere. With some patience and spares, this model builds up well and looks every inch the part of a ’64 Fleetside, however. I’m pleased to have what might be one of the more stock representations of this truck around, and I hope it’s a fitting testament to all those hard-working, but still presentable, trucks from days gone by.