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TOM: Making a Continental Kit

John Chadwick from Spokane, Wash. sent us a question which soon turned into our T.O.M. “I’m looking for information on fabricating my own Continental kit for a 1/25 1957 Ford Fairlane 500. Any ideas?” Scratchbuilding a Continental kit would make a great feature article, but we can describe the general process. There are two types of Continental kits that hang off the back end of a custom: the full bumper extension and the “horseshoe” that’s attached to the center of the existing bumper. We’ll tackle the full bumper extension here. This type of conny kit is simply a shelf that kicks the bumper farther back, allowing an enclosed spare tire to be mounted in an oblong hole cut into the center of the shelf.

First, cut a piece of styrene (I would suggest .060-inch Evergreen sheet) that matches the contour of the bumper as well as the contour of the back edge of the car. It should be wide enough to accommodate the spare tire you’re mounting with a little room in front and in back of the slot.

Start by tracing the contour of the back of the car onto an oversize piece of styrene. Measure out the distance you want between the car and the bumper, then trace the contour of the inside of the bumper onto the styrene. 

Now cut out that shape with a hobby knife or rotary tool and finish it with sandpaper. Determine the size of the spare-tire slot by cutting an oval into a scrap piece of card stock until the tire fits where you want it to. Trace that shape onto the middle of the “shelf” and drill starter holes. Last, finish the opening with a file and sandpaper. Kit-furnished Continental tires are hard to come by, but appear in older kits like JoHan’s 1963 Plymouth, the AMT ’36 Ford, and the Revell ’55 Chevy. You might be able to find one in a vendor’s parts bin at a model car swap meet, or you can make your own by wrapping a tire with .010-inch styrene and adding a styrene disc.

Next, glue the shelf into place on the back of the car. You’ll probably need to support it from below with rectangular styrene stock that you can also use to reinforce the bumper mounting points. If you’re lucky, the space between the shelf and the bumper on each side will be hidden by the ends of the bumper.  If not, a nice set of long cruiser skirts could be cut and shaped out of .040-inch styrene stock. If that doesn’t work, mold in small fillers strips to fill the gap.

This is merely a simplified overview of the process, but it should be enough to point you in the right direction


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