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Project: BDT (Monogram Big Drag Tribute)

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Monogram's Big Drag (PC84) is an 1/8th scale turtle decked model that was originally released in the early 1960's. The original model (PC84) was a variation of the hugely successful Big T (PC78) and the forerunner to the Big Rod (PC85) and the Big Tub (PC86). Each of these models all used the same T-Bucket frame, with the Big Drag, Big Rod and Big Tub each having unique parts different from the original Big T. At many times the retail price of a "regular" 1/24th scale model, only the lucky typically were fortunate to own and build all four. I mean really.. these retailed for a whopping $10.98 each when originally released. That may sound like chump change in the 21st century, but in 1963, that was 5 to 11 weeks allowance for this 11 year old boy.

Today of course, the Big Drag is more a precious memory to most older modelers, and to me, an elusive "must build, before time ends"

Although I imagine there may be a handful of mint unbuilt Big Drag's out in the world today, one is more likely to stumble upon a built one at a yard sale in pieces, or ante up and head to Ebay. They show up mostly built in various stages of falling apart. Occasionally, make that extremely rarely, an unbuilt Big Drag does appear, but that 5 to 11 week allowance cost is more realistic to what they go for on Ebay.

So follow along with this tribute build to the bad boy of Monograms 1/8th scale show rods. It won't be an exact clone, but it will pay homage to this iconic kit.

December 30, 2011

The basis of this build will be pieces parts I've accumulated from various sources. No Big Drags will be harmed in this project.

To start, I'm using a botched frame from the 2005 Big T reissue. Acquired off ebay, it was started, but when the original builder glued the trans mount in the wrong place, he apparently realized he was in over his head and abandoned it. I boxed the frame (white sheet plastic) to add rigidity.

The engine block pictured is from a different parts auction and is likely from a 1962 Big T. The front engine mount is broken off, so I'll be fabricating custom side mounts. The all chrome rear is from yet another parts purchase.

An interesting footnote is the engine behind the frame is an original PC62 block with clear block parts showing pistons 1 and 2 through the front of the block. That would be if the original builder didn't use 1/4 tube of glue on it. What is worth saving on it though, is the 3 carb intake which has "Edelbrock" clearly marked. Subsequent models eliminated the branding, so I will probably use the manifold somewhere else down the line.


Here is my solution to the transmission mount the original builder mis-mounted. Evergreen is used to replace the snapped dog ears (now hidden behind the boxing. I'll trim the end plates before painting.

The turtle deck below is from 2005 (China) and the T Bucket itself is from a Monogram Golden T, which was a gaudy modified reissue of the Big T that had gold plated parts in place of chrome plate. I chose this body because it has the exhaust holes on the sides filled as well as the custom antenna well eliminated that was molded into the cowl on the original and many variations that followed. (there is no radio installation scheduled)


What I didn't get in the frame set was the front engine cross member, so I came up with this arm chair solution. The hardest part of this yankee ingenuity was getting the frame, engine and rear end to sit still while I eyeballed the measurements. Yes, I suppose I could have come up with a more detailed multi piece engine mount design, I just went with the simplest solution. I have had too many projects come to a complete halt while I tried to reimagine and reinvent the wheel.

December 31, 2011

One of life's little challenges #1 : Never having owned a real Big Drag before, (and having never seen one in real life either), I wondered where the drag link to the left front wheel was connected with the butterfly steering wheel no longer using the standard column that the Big Tub, Big T and Big Rod used. A search of the internet yielded mostly unusable assembly scans. But with the help of my long time model bud Dr. Chuck Darnell, the realization is it modified the original tie rod by cutting one end and slipping it into a hole in the firewall.

The reissues eliminate this hole as shown below. On the left is an original with hole, and on the right, from the 2005 Big T, the hole no longer needed has been eliminated. (Hovering your pointer over either image will show the back side of each.)

new firewall

January 01, 2012

While I'm waiting for the post office to deliver a resin repop of the Moon fuel tank, I decided to strengthen up the frame a bit. So I added a front and rear bit of cross tubing. It really did a lot to eliminate the flex, and I think it adds a bit of realism to a competition car.

At this point the frame is VERY solid and straight, (remember this started as a junk frame), and will be primed and painted after I figure out a remaining rear cross mount for the Moon tank.

January 07, 2012

In the past week, I've been wheeling and dealing with fellow model buddies who have graciously stepped up with Big Drag specific necessities I now don't have to fabricate on my own. Also, I've been assembling 2 other Big T frames for upcoming projects. (Like a Big Rod Tribute). I also dug out my air compressor and my backup Paasche VL airbrush to shoot this bad boy a more contemporary blue.

First test of potential blues is this Charger funny car body I used as a test mule. This also was a test of paint compatibility with the primer I have been using. This is 3 parts Cobra Colors Meridian Turquoise Metallic and 2 parts GM LeMans Blue Metallic.

click for larger (x2) picture in pop up for large (x2) picture in pop up window

January 13, 2012

I don't have an original Big Drag instruction manual, and the scans I have found on line are not very much help for detail shots. There was a special cross brace for the Moon fuel tank up front, but wasn't in the other 3 variations. Being able to find a resin repop of the original chrome Moon tank is just a testimony to how helpful the internet and fellow modelers can be. Large scale modeler Jeff Palmer in Canada came through a resin repop of the tank which allowed me to come up with this solution for the rear mount. I cut notches in the grill shell for the tank legs so it would sit comfortably on 'all fours'. I'm not sure if this is correct for the original, but without decent detail shots of the instruction sheet, this was the solution I came up with. (click the picture to see a few more detail shots in a pop up window.)

click for 3 more detail pictures in pop up window

Here's something I never really ever thought I'd get my hands on in this fine a condition. It is the Monogram Drag Race accessory Set #AK203 direct from 1963 via Canada. This will truly expedite the final assembly of this project. Feel free to click on the picture below to launch a pop up javascript window with a couple more detail shots.

click here for a few more pics

Here's the blue I have decided on. It is bright, it is blue, and metallic, it is Cobra Colors lacquer. Remember this is a tribute build, not a straight clone.

time to squirt: after dropping this hard to hold body I added these temporary braces using Evergreen styrene stock. The huge clamps are much easier to hold onto while waving the airbrush around.

click here for the paint sequence

3/11/12 .. and finally.. polished and novus'd, the actual assembly can now begin. The floor has been painted Krylon "hammered silver". I'm disappointed that it didn't have the effect I was expecting but it's better than the plain white I've seen on every other Big Drag.

March 11, 2012

March 12, 2012 ~ Well, things were moving along quite splendidly, when I discovered that after test fitting at least 4 times the angle I would need to assemble the fuel tank, that when the 2 part epoxy cured, I messed up my measurements and the cap to the fuel tank wouldn't fit into the grille shell.

So, there was no way I was going to be able to re-engineer a tank support and match the paint (I used every last drop paintng this), so out came the trusty dremel tool and a circular notch was made. (If you don't think dremeling a paint job that took 2 months is scary, you're a bigger dope than I am.

Stupid moment over, the frame is about 80% completed

So much chrome, so little time. It's all this chrome that persuades me to argue this is more show rod than drag car. No matter what, it's period correct with all these shiney bits to 1963 when the original BIG DRAG was released by Monogram.

I wasted about an hour just staring at it. Even unfinished, it is an attention getter.

March 13/14, 2012 ~ spent some time building the blower assembly. I just realized the fuel delivery system on this is pretty lame based on what I've seen in the photos I've gathered from ebay auctions (below). That and there's a water pump slot on the timing chain cover of my sbc, so I'm going to engineer a simple cam drive pump.

and then there was the push bar that came in the drag pack. There wasn't any indicator of how or where to mount this thing, so I drilled a couple of holes in the rear end. It sure would be easier with directions, but, I think I have it from here on in. maybe..

March 15, 2012 ~ One of the things I've noticed on most of the other Big Drag's I've seen on eBay, is they all have a simple hose running from the Moon tank to the injectors. This is neither realistic not plausible. So I came up with this simple solution for a cam driven fuel pump made up of aluminum and plastic tubing.

The fuel inlet/outlet is a single piece from a mechanicle 1:1 oil pressure guage kt.

The shaft in the middle will allow me to fine tune the distance to clear the blower belt once that's asembled and permanently affixed. In this picture below, you can also see the spark plug boots I cut from Evergreen strene tube and attached prior to painting the engine. The boots will be black soon when the wires are attached.

I'm going to try to Alclad this as a single assembly. I have a plan B if I screw the Alclad up and get dull silver, but plan B is a secret for now.

March 23,2012 ~ I sent the blower off to a great buddy who volunteered his expert attention to it. That left some free time for me to address some scratch built wire looms. So I just cut these out of scrap, popped in 4 holes each and viola! They've already been plooped with some silver paint. No big detail, but one that should be more realistic looking than loose wires flopping around during those 120mph jaunts down the 1320.

Gee Zus! look at all those fingerprints in the chrome! YIKES!

March 24, 2012 ~ Got the gauges installed. I was a little disappointed with the instruction to simply glue the decals in from behind (dry), so I cut a piece of scrap plastic sheet, applied the decals, glued that sheet in from behind and then used 2 part epoxy droplets to create 'glass' for them.

While we're talking about interior stuff, I'll be leaving the paint brace in as a brace for the floor, as the little nubbies on the iner sides of the bucket are really a disappointment to me from what Monogram originally designed.

Something for the guy in the other lane to look at....

March 26,2012 ~ It's the little details that really start to freak me out when I can see the end of a big project like this. So today, while waiting for my blower to gas out somewhere in Illinois, I took the opportunity to get some of those last minute details.

I had a couple of annoying 'spots' just above the curve on the rear of the turtle deck, so I did what every modeler has done at one point or another, I covered them with decals. Now before you say anything.. "Pablo" is a nickname ny Dad used to call me back when I was a kid building model cars. So the 'Paso or Bust' (whatever the hell that means) decal from the 2009 Big Tub model, got hacked into this. My car, my name. I win.

I got the wheels assembled and mounted, brake lines installed and also tried my hand at Alclading the oil filter and starter. Spring perch cover installed, seat painted, aluminum steering column and prepped the butterfly. (sounds like shock the monkey doesn't it?)

Hopefully, before the blower returns all shiney, I can find the misplaced scoop (grrrrrr)

yeah.. pretty ain't it? Here's where it'll be residing soon:

And before any purists balk at the mags in front instead of chromed steelies, think of this: Not only were heavier steel wheels never used up front with lighter mag wheels in the rear, but this is exactly what I would have done back in 1963. bought a second kit JUST for the mags to balance it out. To me, this looks way cooler and correct. (remember me saying this when I build my 6 chromed carb Big Rod which is already painted)

March 31,2012 ~ So lets call it 100 day project. It's all but finished save for attaching the tach and the shifter. All that's left to do here is add a link to the completed pictures, which haven't been taken yet. But, before that is added, I want to reflect on this whole experience. This never would have been completed as close as this is to an original Big Drag if not for the help and assistance from 3 big scale model buddies who came up with not only key parts, but moral support as well. Jeff Palmer, Chuck Darnell and "one who has requested to remain anonymous", who is living in mountain time, who came up with these jewels:

I researched the hell out of this build during the ongoing assembly and looking at it's profile as I type this, it just screams 1963. The look, the stance, color.. and all.. that.. chrome.. There is one sole piece from an original Big Drag on this. It was only by chance while digging through a plastic tub of 1/8th scale parts that I stumbled on the firewall from some ebay parts purchase a couple of years ago. After all the research I did on the hole / no hole firewalls with the different diamond embossed patterns, come to find out, the Big Drag originally had a plain chrome firewall. And now, so does mine. Instead of burdoning the build with stripping, alclad, or even sending it off to a plater, I decided to live with the 49 years of minimal patina. It adds a touch of authenticity.

The box art of the original Big Drag shows a misty metallic blue car, but inside, the molded plastic is what I would call a bright non metallic blue. So, based on the box art, and blue being my favorite color, I think Mulsanne Blue was the best choice. I just wish I had more, as I did polish through to the silver in the right rear corner of the turtle deck. (both paint boo boo's are on the right side, so guess what will be the 'wall side' when it gets it's permanent spot on the shelf?).

I expect that now that I have built this one, that Revell will issue a Big Drag kit that everyone can own for under $100. And honestly, I certainly hope they do, as the BIG DRAG version of the Big T just grabs ahold of your minds eye and doesn't let go.

click this picture to see the finished model:

  last update: Friday, April 6, 2012 9:26 AM

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If you'd like to comment, suggest or question any aspects of this project, feel free to drop me an email by clicking this:

Here is a collection of ebay Big Drag's for reference. Clicking a picture will pop up a java window with bigger pictures and (my) comments.
added 01/18/2012 added 01/18/2012 added 01/18/2012 added 01/25/2012 added 01/30/2012 added 02/04/2012 added 02/29/2012 added 04/05/2012 added 03/26/2012

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