1949 Mercury Custom

01-17-2010, 04:24 AM
After well over a year and a half of being too busy for modelling, I decided to take advantage of my temporary lay-off and dig into some fun little project. I have been buying some kits over the last year but I wanted to do something simple, where I had a lot of freedom and basically make up things as I progressed. It was either a hot rod or this kit, which always appealed to me. So, I dug through my old car mags, (old as me) for inspiration. Right away I knew I wanted a custom Mercury, typical of the way they were customized in the early sixties on my shelf.

I love the way they would re-sculpture the body and incorporate parts from other cars into their designs and that's exactly what I wanted to do here.
I saw in more then one picture that a bumper from a 57 chevy would be swapped in for the original and I just happened to have one in my parts box.

Before I shaped the bumper to fit the body, I decided to close up and flare in the grill opening. The dotted line shows the original opening.

It was actually quite easy to get the bumper to fit and I like how it really changes the look of the nose. I regret that I couldnt modify the bumper without damaging the chrome because that was the look I was going for. It's going to be body colour now.

I wanted some more custom touches on the body so I made these scallops from scrap plastic. Very hard to get both to match.

Here they are incorporated into the body. I'm not so crazy about how they look now. It kinda kills off my flame design I wanted to paint on originally. It looked awesome in my head thou.

Well every custom Mercury worth it's weight in lead needs a roof chop. And I was always curious to try that. I did a bit of research to keep my cutting and sanding and cursing to a minimum and finally I was ready for the first cut. I was really hoping I was doing the right thing.

-a nice little tutorial on chopping the roof can be found here (http://www.cjhilton.com/models/chop.htm)

My first task was to remove the rear window opening intact. One advantage of this is that you can still use the stock "glass" as is.

Now I have a convertable.

This part was trickey because I wanted a realistic custom chop and still justify my efforts but not so low and un-natural that a person wouldn't be able to see out. I looked at a lot of pictures and determined this amount would be just right. I marked all the pillers with my measurment and cut away.

With everything loosely back in place I marked the rear window and cut on the dotted line so it would meet up with the roof line.

Now, with everything glued back into place, all I had to do was fill a small gap at the rear cut and smooth it all out. All this turned out to be much easier then I thought. But the kits window trim was very weak and poorly molded so I spent alot of time trying to re-define them.

Here is the stock profile,

And here is the new lower profile,

I'm pretty happy with the way things are going so far. Good to be back.
Thanks for looking, gang.

01-17-2010, 04:52 AM
Wow what a beautiful building job you are doing, love the work so far.

Keep up.


01-17-2010, 10:39 AM
Nice step by step progress!


01-17-2010, 03:56 PM
Absolutely astonishing. I am very happy to see someone actually customizing this kit again. Since the new revell kit popped up, this one has all but been lost to the parts box.

01-17-2010, 11:13 PM
Very cool! I dig a cool old school top chop. You always take on the coolest projects, and pull them off perfectly. Can't wait to see more.

01-18-2010, 12:34 AM
Really awesome concept, and I know in the end you will nail it. I too, had taken a bit of a break from modelling and its good to return and see some familiar faces (avatars? lol). Great project, just run with it!

01-18-2010, 12:37 AM
Cool to see something that's not a race car of some sort here at AF.

Very well done chop, the new stance is very good!


01-18-2010, 05:30 PM
Excellent work! These older customs have always interested me and yours is no exception. Great work on that roof, the slanted b-pillar really sets it off for me.

01-18-2010, 08:37 PM
That chop came out great man! Nice work on the scallops also.

01-21-2010, 06:03 PM
Those mercs that are chopped look really cool. You did a fantastic job chopping it.

01-30-2010, 04:18 PM
Thanks everyone for the great and positive feedback. Progress has been much slower then I had hoped. Spending alot of time cleaning up sections, mostly my own fault thou, especially the window trim areas.

Excellent work! These older customs have always interested me and yours is no exception. Great work on that roof, the slanted b-pillar really sets it off for me.
Thanks, I never would have thought to make them that way on my own, amazing what a little digging and research can do for you.

As I mentioned, the window trim is what really set me back. Some were poorly molded but most of the damage was caused by myself with the roof chop and just lack of patience. After a few attempts with sandpaper and a blade (making matters worse), I scribed the trim for the rear window which by now was almost non-existant and then I took an x-acto blade and snapped the tip off so I had a nice sharp little chisiel. It was much easier to define the trim now by pushing material away until I reached the scribed line I made earlier. It was very easy to get the definition and shape I wanted even before I did the final sanding.

Some more subtle bodywork was needed as the hood didn't fit very nicely. To match the contours with the body, I had to widen the edge of the hood as sanding from the top would have made that side too thin.

The engine bay needed some clean-up. Mostly due to the molded in battery and wiring. Luckily, the inner fenders had the right basic shape but still needed some corrections. The shaded area shows the area that had to go as they are basically open and I wanted to add details there. The area in front of the winshield had to be built up to match the shape of the hood and also to fix the damage I did earlier in trying to re-scribe the trim.

The fenders are much more accurate now, mostly the lower section and the ledge that the battery sits on. I added some contours to the firewall too.

The area in front of the radiator was very open so it was back to my pics. Missing was a very noticable piece, the grill hood lock panel. I cut out the basic shapes in scrap plastic. I also added some details to the firewall that are very prominent in my reference pictures.

With a little sanding and super glue I pretty much had it and it really fills the huge opening that was there before.

I wanted to add something to the bumper to cover the small detail that was still on the '57 Chevy bumper. So I found these bombs that had the perfect shape I was looking for to make new points (bumperetts?) for the bumper.

With some paint, things are much more unified now. I also molded the bumper to the body and added some detail to the hood lock panel.

The body and especially the scallops look alot better now. But with the primer, a hundred little problem areas showed up which will need attention before I can paint. The panel lines despite my best efforts are very ragged. Lots more late nights and coffee before this car gets its colour.

I will start cleaning up the chassis now and think of what to do for tail-lights.
Thanks everyone for following along on a slow slow project.


01-30-2010, 06:33 PM
Very nice! The combination of the bomb tips up front with the side scallops (especially in the last picture) make me think of a fighter plane. :iceslolan

02-01-2010, 04:51 AM
This is going to be a very cool cruizer!


02-01-2010, 09:15 AM
That is a truly real beautiful car, i can't wait to see the rest of the build.


02-01-2010, 06:06 PM
Looking amazing already...love the chop and those extended 'bumperetts'. They used to be known back in the day as 'Dagmars', after a very well endowed actress of the same name. Guess you could call them 'silicone Dagmars' now!:rofl:

How on earth do I know all this rubbish...I'm English for goodness sake and we must have all of three chopped Mercury leadsleds over here - far too obsessed with unusual cars.:smokin:

Actually, I saw an old Mercury being roof chopped over here in London a few years ago - the guy is very talented and did a beautiful job on it - dropped the rear screen into the trunk old skool stylie! He stitch-welded the whole job and didn't have to use any lead filler or bondo. Was going to post up his website because he photographed the whole job, but his site is being updated at the moment.

Your custom kind of reminds me of the Hirohata sled which is my v. favourite Mercury. You may know it as I think I've even seen a di*cast of it somewhere. Look the name up if you want to have a look,

Good luck and looking forward to see the updates,


02-01-2010, 06:16 PM
Haaa...never looked her up before!



Forgot to mention that they had trouble cutting curved toughened glass back then (IIRC), so they dropped the rear screen down into the trunk instead, but I'm sure you know this already!

02-02-2010, 05:40 PM
Thanks everyone, I appreciate you guys following along. I'm taking a little time to work out some ideas for the rear bumper and tail-lights, might just go the simple route and build from the box.

tuned.by.twenty- that's funny because I see a fighter plane in there too.

Cinqster-I've never heard of the Hirohata before so I had a lookie-loo.

I'm kinda glad I didn't know about this car because I feel it would influenced me too much, it's a beautiful car for sure. Thanks for the heads up and your info too.
Your explanation of Dagmars made me laugh. Thanks to Cingster, this project will now be officially known as the Dagmar Mercury.

02-06-2010, 07:06 AM
Actually, I saw an old Mercury being roof chopped over here in London a few years ago - the guy is very talented and did a beautiful job on it - dropped the rear screen into the trunk old skool stylie! He stitch-welded the whole job and didn't have to use any lead filler or bondo. Was going to post up his website because he photographed the whole job, but his site is being updated at the moment.

Not someone called Lance was it?

02-06-2010, 03:23 PM
Not someone called Lance was it?

Bingo! You probably know him from his recent Amazon work? Hoping to pop in and see him soon.

02-17-2010, 07:43 PM
A small update that took me a lot of time.
I wanted the chassis and floor to be different colours, but looking at the molded in chassis I knew it would be a heck of a masking job. The molded in detail of the kit was very weak and would be very hard to correct or fix with the chassis in place. Also I am the worst brush painter out there even thou I have seen hand brushed frames that were flawless. Another feature about the Mercury chassis is that it has a bunch of holes in it that I wanted to re-create so it seemed only natural in the long run to cut the frame from the floor skin.

Here are the holes drilled and I made the distinctive driveshaft hump in the middle cross member. I have the floor put back together and have started to scribe in some of the details.

A much improved floor pan now. My plan wasn't 100% accuracy but to enhance and improve the kit's weak and basic floor. The step in front of the rear fenders is a prominent feature so I added that too.

So far I'm happy with the chassis but it still needs some clean-up and small brackets added.

And it all still fits together. Just have to think up some colour choices now.

Thanks for looking, gang and now back to watch some Olympics.

02-18-2010, 09:20 AM
Beautiful job jou've done.

maybe lime-green / gray.
yellow / black.
light-blue / gray/black.

could be nice color schemes???


02-19-2010, 10:38 PM
Very cool! Good work on this kit!

02-19-2010, 11:08 PM
Wow, outstanding work! The body will have competition for attention. :D

02-20-2010, 06:44 PM
dang, that frame and chassis looks like it's out of the box! looks great man.

02-21-2010, 02:48 PM
You should make it a hardtop (no B pillar) like this:

Otherwise, it is looking awesome... I love the Tri five bumper on it

03-01-2010, 03:55 PM
This is goin gto be awesome!! :sunglasse

06-15-2010, 05:13 AM
You are doing a great job with the Mercury!!

06-15-2010, 11:05 AM
Beautiful job jou've done.

maybe lime-green / gray.
yellow / black.
light-blue / gray/black.

could be nice color schemes???

I will consider those for sure, Thanks.

You should make it a hardtop

Otherwise, it is looking awesome... I love the Tri five bumper on it

To be honest, I think the hardtop version looks better, just that with all the work I put into the pillars, I guess I will leave it as is now.

Sorry about the lack of progress everyone. Still tinkering with it now and then but thanks for all your comments.

06-15-2010, 12:32 PM
Wow! Very impressive work. I'll watch closely.

06-15-2010, 10:10 PM
looking excellent! Glad to see you back at it!

07-09-2010, 04:36 PM
Cannot wait too see more of this beast!!!!

03-09-2011, 12:26 AM
Hey everyone again.
Back from the abyss, I apologize for the great lack of progress with this. While I have been working on it here and there, most of my progress went backwards and it was very discouraging to continue.
For instance, I had the rear axle ready for paint but thought I could improve upon it with a homemade dremel/lathe setup. That didn't work out too well and it took a month for one of my cats to go back into the kitchen.
I salvaged what I could and made a new axle tube and cut the back off of a differential from one from the parts box. Luckily it was same exact part.

It's funny how things evolve, the side of this block was ok except I wanted to model a dipstick for the first time. But where the oilpan joins the block was very inaccurate and had to be fixed to justify the work of the dipstick tube. Yet the other side was correctly molded for some reason. So, this detail and the molded-on starter had to go.

Well one thing lead to another and there went the oil pan and all the molded on detail from the front. I built up the block with some scrap plastic and started the new timing cover.

My references showed these bulges where the water pumps attach so I added those along with the bulge in front of the bellhousing to match the same shaped bulge of the oilpan.

Here is the basic breakdown of the parts I'm working on. The oilpan is a reworked one from the parts box as my dog took the original one. Because the exhaust manifolds were so close to the engine block I added the flanges to them to give me some clearance for the dipstick. One manifold has an outlet pointing to the front that connects to a cross-over pipe, I'm still debating on keeping this feature or not. All these evenings of extra work for a dipstick that I havent even started on yet.

The kit comes with this handy engine stand so I took advantage of it to show the timing cover bits coming together.

With some paint, the block looks alot better along with the new oilpan with bolts I made from stretched sprue. I found many pictures of this style of oilpan on flatheads from 1949 but I'm not 100% sure if its accurate for this Mercury. The shape made sence to me considering where the dipstick goes as opposed to the kits original oilpan so that's why I modified it.

Test fit of the block onto the chassis. I made the waterpump/motor mounts from scrap and they rest on some blocks also made from scrap plastic. These are rubber blocks on the real car.

Many more evenings of work to go yet on the chassis and engine but I finally got some progress done that I can actually share.
Thanks for looking everyone,

03-09-2011, 01:13 AM
Hey buddy! :)

I haven't been hanging out here too much lately so I missed this until now :(

Simply terrific work so far :worshippy

Looking forward to seeing how you paint this up :)

03-09-2011, 02:08 AM
Hey buddy! :)

Hey thanks, and its your fault that I'm obsessed with that dipstick from that CV project of yours.

03-09-2011, 05:20 AM
I haven't been hanging out here too much lately so I missed this until now

Me too and I agree this looks really good so far Les. Let me know if you want help with any machined parts? I think I offered once before didn't I? Sounds like your cat might appreciate it.

Anyway perhaps making some parts might inspire me to actually build something for myself :banghead:

03-09-2011, 06:32 AM
Hi Les,

nice to see some impressing progress

03-09-2011, 09:50 AM
Good to see you're back on track with this one. Engine detail work looks great!:)

03-19-2011, 06:30 PM
too nice custom.Really too nice.

04-05-2011, 03:06 PM
Thanks everyone for the comments and interest. And thank you Robrex also for the offer, I really appreciate it.

Well, this last month certainly consisted of chasing that carrot while running on a treadmill getting no-where.

I was hoping to post pics of the painted chassis but the paintjob turned out to be horrible, the paint wrinkled in spots and I have no idea what happened but I started sanding it all over.

I did manage some small progress thou, I have the rear axle ready for paint. Just added some details like a junction block for the brake lines and a bracket. The hubs are not accurate at all but I didn't want to scratchbuild better ones so I added brake line connectors where I thought they might go. The leaf springs got lifting blocks.

I scratchbuilt some parts for the chassis out of sprue and scrap plastic. The steering box, driveshaft, idler arm, and master brake cylinder were all supposed to be painted by now. I have since lost the brake cylinder and wasted 2 days debating making a new one. Kinda depressing when I got the paint out only to discover it found a new life in a parallel universe.

I like models with a steering system that at least look like they could work and here is the idler arm on the chassis.

The pulleys I made with my dremel. Still have to make one for the generator.

This is my third attempt with the dipstick. I broke the first two and decided I would have better luck with metal. It's a bit too thick for the scale but after almost scrapping the whole idea I decided I could live with it. It should be straight but I couldn't get it to clear the exhaust manifold.

One thing did go my way finally. First time ever painting whitewall tires. I definitely will do this more in the future. I am using the kit rims for this.

So tonight I will try again painting the chassis and hopefully I dont lose any more parts. Thanks for looking in,

04-05-2011, 08:18 PM
keep on building i want to see this masterpeice done!

04-06-2011, 07:26 AM
The snakeyes are ALWAYS ALWAYS useful....LOL

04-06-2011, 05:01 PM
Awesome work on the chop and frame. I like the modifications to the timing cover also. Great work!

04-08-2011, 09:15 PM
Thanks guys.
Finally I feel like I have a car model here.

I used a small spring to represent the coils and some foil on the shocks. There really isnt any grey on the frame, its just a reflection of some sort.

I'm new to using Alclad but I'm happy with the way my sprue steering box turned out. I feel now I should have done something with those hubs, they are pretty notciable and ugly.

And finally after all this time I have a rolling chassis. The rear axle is just mocked into place but I was excited to get a pic and see how level if at all this was going to be.


A little problem that I didnt see coming. Now I have no room for the shocks, big clearance problem with the future placement of the brakelines.

Well, I finally feel I have made some progress here. Thanks for looking in, gang.

05-01-2011, 05:04 AM
A lot more work but little to show for it.

I started putting in the brake and fuel lines along with the master brake cylinder. The one line hanging in midair will connect to the engine.

The rear axle almost finished with some wire. Not much suspension travel here. I had to put in an ugly bend to clear the placement of the shock yet to be mounted.

I have also started back on the engine. I have more parts ready but will leave them off untill I'm further along to avoid wear and tear.

I thought I should check the body fit before I get too carried away and sure enuff it didn't fit at all. The wheels were too wide apart. I had to grind alot off the inside of the body and inner fenders to clear the tires. When I made my rear axle I narrowed it by 1/8 inch and it was still much too wide. The kit really lends itself to easy steerable front wheels and I wanted to go that route, I'm glad I didn't now. I am very happy with the stance thou, and at least it's level.

I'm sorry for the poor quality pics. I thought my brake lines looked really cool but they are almost invisible here. I will try to do better next time.
Thanks for looking in, everyone.

05-01-2011, 07:49 AM
excellent work here! those brake lines look pretty cool form here:sunglasse

05-01-2011, 10:48 PM
Great job so far. Can't wait to see it with paint on the body.

05-02-2011, 05:56 AM
Great job so far. Can't wait to see it with paint on the body.


Really enjoying reading your progress on this, and can't wait to see more :)

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