smrNmcbm Dixie Bee
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Cloner - Bill Taylor
Building Time -- January 1999 to January 2000
Date of construction of the original Dixie Bee -- 1963

We are saddened to note that Bill Taylor recently passed away. Please go to the In Memoriam section for a full list of modelers who are no longer with us, and here for a note about Bill

 
Construction of the Dixie Bee Clone

I chose to build a clone of the Dixie Bee for a couple of reasons. First of all, I like the model.  The Dixie Bee is a good example of early 1960s customizing based on an unusual car for customizing. The model also presented the challenge of combining body modifications made from wood with the plastic body. Blending wood into plastic, with an end product that looks good, is not easy to do.

Body -- The Dixie Bee is based on the Monogram '30 Ford Phaeton, although due to the extensive modifications, little of the original design is evident. Following the article in Car Model, the first body modification was sectioning the body 1/4 inch. 
A 1/4 inch section was removed from the body, and the body was reattached in its sectioned form. The body was then glued to the fenders.

With the body and fenders glued together, the next step was to raise the fender height with wood. 
The model in the article was modified with balsa wood; however, I chose to use basswood , because it is harder than balsa and requires less filler to fill in the grain. Pieces of basswood were cut to fill in the areas between the front and rear fenders, raising the fender height. Next, following the article, I measured 1/8 inch down from the top of the wood portions of the fenders and then undercut the running board areas on an angle, as in the article. 
With the new fender design roughed in, I moved to the modified back end and rear fender customizing. Again, using basswood, I roughed in the back modifications following the article.
The article didn't give specific dimensions for the back end modifications, so I had to determine them by eye, using the photos of the finished model as a guide. 
With the back modifications roughed in, I moved to the new front end on the car. The new front was carved from basswood. As with the back end, the article didn't give specific dimensions for the new front, so like the back end, I had to use the photos of the finished model to determine the size and shape of the front.
With the new front roughed in, I moved to the custom side pieces running from the front of the cowl along the body sides. Again, the article didn't give specific dimensions for these parts, so I used the photos of the finished model to determine their size and shape. 
These modifications were also done in basswood. With the modifications roughed in , I then applied filler to smooth in the modifications. For filling, I used Model Magic filler which is a water based filler that works on both wood and plastic. This filler worked well, as I needed a filler that would stick to both wood and plastic, and Model Magic doesn't shrink, an important factor with extensive modifications like the ones on the Dixie Bee.

With the body work done, I moved on to the custom top.
The model in the article used a modified Monte custom top #2. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate this rare parts pack so I decided to modify the top included with the '30 Ford Phaeton to look like the top on the article model. To build the top, I started by removing the back window portion of the phaeton top. Next, I had to remove a section of the roof running front to back to give the top the correct width.
Side pieces, new roof pillars, and an extension on the front of the top were made from sheet plastic. Interior roof pieces were also made from sheet plastic to give the inside of the roof the correct appearance. The modifications were then sanded to follow the shape of the roof on the article model. Filler was then applied to blend in the modifications.

Body Details -- The magazine article wasn't specific about what kits provided the front and rear grills, the cowl lights, headlights, or taillights. 
For the front and rear grills, I scratchbuilt replicas of the parts on the article model from sheet plastic covered with BareMetal Foil. The cowl lights are spot lights from an AMT '49 Mercury with the mounting posts cut off. The cowl lights are recessed into the body. The headlights are the stock '30 Ford Phaeton parts cut apart, and the taillights were scratchbuilt by making a master piece from laminated sheet plastic, making impressions of the piece in clay, and filling the impressions with epoxy tinted with Tamiya clear red paint. The aerials on the top of the original model were included with the Monte top. For aerials, I used ones included in the AMT '64 Impala kit, as they were a similar design to the ones used on the article model. The car club plaque on the back of the model is from an AMT '59 El Camino, while the frame around the plaque is a piece cut from a bumper from my spare parts box.

Frame -- The Dixie Bee was constructed on an AMT parts pack Hot Rod Frame. Fortunately, AMT/Ertl reissued this parts pack as part of a parts pack set which is the version of the frame I used on my model. 
The frame was used stock from the kit, except that it had to be lengthened with pieces of 1/8 inch aluminum tubing. I lengthened my frame using a different method than the one mentioned in the article. In the article the tubing was attached by filing V's along the length of the pieces of tubing and using them like hole saws by sticking the frame ends in the V'd tubing and twisting the tubing back and forth, trimming the frame areas to size. This method looked questionable to me, so I decided to drill the frame section ends and pin the tubing pieces in place by filling the tubing pieces with progressively smaller tubing down to 1/16 inch which formed the pins inserted into the frame sections. The amount the frame had to be lengthened was determined by centering the front and rear axles in the wheel openings and measuring the gap between the two frame sections. The wheels on the model are also AMT parts pack pieces. I used the AMT/Ertl reissued parts on my model. The rear slicks are also AMT parts pack items. I was fortunate enough to locate an original parts pack for the slicks. The article wasn't clear about what the front tires were, so I used the tires from a Revell/Monogram '65 Impala SS, as these tires look close in appearance to the ones used on the model in the article.

Engine -- The engine used in the Dixie Bee is the AMT parts pack 421 Pontiac with its optional blower. 
For my version, I used the AMT/Ertl reissued parts pack of this engine. The reissued version isn't plated, like the original release, so I had the parts plated by The Little Motor Kar Company which did an excellent job. Typical of a '60s custom model, the entire engine is chrome plated, with the only paint being the flat black blower belt and the metallic burgundy purple on the inside of the blower scoop. As on the model in the article, I added spark plug wires made from thin, red insulated wire.

Interior -- The magazine article gave very few details about the interior of the Dixie Bee. Since the article didn't say what material was used for the interior floor, I chose to construct the floor and fire wall from sheet plastic.
The floor is a stepped design to accommodate the shape of the frame. I constructed the transmission tunnel from thin cardboard, because it seemed to be an appropriate material to use on a model of this vintage. The article wasn't specific about what kits the interior parts came from. Fortunately, the interior photos were clear enough that I could determine the steering wheel and gauge panel were the custom parts from an AMT '57 Chevy. I scratchbuilt the accelerator pedal from sheet plastic, and the other pedal came from my spare parts box. The shift lever is the one that came with the 421 Pontiac engine.  The roll bar is from the '30 Ford Phaeton kit. The only interior parts the article was specific about were the bucket seats which came from AMT '25 Ford T kits. The interior side panels were upholstered in white vinyl with black and yellow chenille trim on the side panels and black chenille trim on the seats, as specified in the article.

Paint -- The magazine article model was painted Pactra lime green. Since this paint is no longer produced, I chose to paint my version Testors jade green which closely matches the color of the ink used on the cover of Car Model the Dixie Bee is featured on. The pin striping on the body was done with 1/32 inch black and white tape. The back of the car was painted Testors bright yellow. The top features a panel made from white vinyl, with 1/'64 inch black pin striping tape used to simulate pleats. The interior floor and seats were painted Testors bright yellow followed by dull coat for a flat finish. The outside of the fire wall was painted polished aluminum.

Final Assembly -- The frame and engine were assembled as a unit, and before the body was painted, it was test fitted to the frame to determine where the openings in the fenders had to be cut to allow the exhaust pipes to attach to the headers. When the body had been painted, the headlights, cowl lights, taillights and grills were attached. The body was then attached to the frame. The front wheels were then added, after the axle width was determined to give the front wheels the proper spacing next to the headlights. The exhaust pipes were made from 1/8 inch aluminum tubing, following the instructions in the article, and connect to modified headers that came with the 421 Pontiac engine. The top on the model is removable and is held in place with pins on the roof pillars that insert into tubing mounted in the body sides.

Special Thanks

  • Brian Radford -- donated parts
  • Bruce Even -- donated parts
  • The Little Motor Kar Company -- plated engine parts

Photos of finished model...

 

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