One area to spruce up on a model is the instruments. The amount of effort in this area depends on how well seen they are. In most race cars the instruments are huge and add a lot to the model if done up properly.

There are several ways to detail the instrument panels. If the instrument has raised detail the quickest way to detail them is to paint the entire instrument black and then dry brush the raised letters with white. Instead of painting the raised items you can scrape the black paint off with the end of an X-Actor blade. Another method is to paint the instruments white and use a fine tip marker and paint the raised detail black.

Of course some instruments are better than others are and you have to decide how you want to detail them.

If the instruments are painted one solution for adding a lense is to apply aftermarket items like Krystal Clear, white glue or epoxy for a clear lens.

The reason I do not like using these systems is that there is a possibility that an air bubble can be trapped in the liquid. The fluid almost always leaves a slight curve around the edges (figure 1 edge view of kit part) fluid might not dry completely clear, the fluid might not dry completely flat. If this method works for you and you are happy with the results go with this method. Depending on the kit items you may not have a choice.

The above method is the only way I know of for getting the convex curve lens (figure 2) this is done with a big glob of epoxy or building up the Krystal Clear. Unless you can find the perfect small lense.

If possible this is my method for detailing instruments.
Figure 3
Kit part

Figure 4
Drill out instrument face and clean up edges so only bezel shows.

This is the system I will use for my instruments.
The cross section shows from left to right.

1. Kit part
2. Clear sheet (acetate, clear plastic etc)
3. Decal
4. Plastic sheet (mount decal to this sheet)

If it will add to the results I will replace the instrument surround with sheet plastic, aluminum or brass. Whichever is easiest to use. This will make the distance from the bezel to the decal shorter.

If I have a PE(Photo Etched) circle that is the correct size for the application I will sand off the kit bezel and replace it with the aftermarket item. The cross section shows from left to right
1. PE circle
2. Instrument face (kit part or replacement)
3. Clear sheet
4. Decal
5. Plastic sheet

This method is slightly harder to do and will only improve the results slightly. It has been included to show the options available to the modeller. 1. Cross section from left to right
2. PE circle
3. Clear sheet
4. Instrument face
5. Decal
6. Plastic sheet

This method raises the clear sheet away from the decal for a bit of depth. The clear sheet has to be cut perfectly so that when the PE part is installed onto the instrument face no clear sheet is shown. The clear sheet should be as thin as possible so the pe circle isn't raised too far off the instrument face. Use clear sheet such as those found wrapping model kits, cds, tapes, etc.

Race cars
In race cars sometimes the backs of the instruments can be seen. This can be replicated with a cylinder made of plastic (old sprue?) or Aluminum tubing. The cylinder has the decal placed on the face of it. The diameter of the cylinder will be slightly smaller than the circle cut out of the instrument face.

The back of the instrument cylinder has a wire coming out the back. This is done by drilling a small hole in the back and gluing a wire in. A small boot is also added for more detail. This is just a hose with a diameter that allows the smaller wire through, a PE bolt or various aftermarket connectors.

Return to Home Page

Send comments, suggestions etc. to