1/18th Auto Repair Diorama

Kit manufactured by CONSTRUCTO

This is for client who collects diecast cars in 1/18th scale and needs a base on which he will be able to photograph his cars. He supplied the Constructo kit and asked me to build it, giving me carte blanche as to the finished product. 


The kit hails from the 1980s and though the detail is somewhat lacking (especially on the figures) this should be an enjoyable build. 

Because I like to start with the difficult/most challenging parts first, I decided to tackle the figures first.


Because this is an old kit, and the figures are cast metal, the detail is very lacking, the arms did not fit and all parts had seamlines the size of the Cuilin Ridges!! After much filing, filling and sanding, I had a respectable finish. I am not much of a figure painter, so these heads are really challenging! Hardly any detail at all.   

Whilst the primer was curing on the figures, I decided to look at the base. This is not a standard box-type base and, I quite liked the extra bits of trim on the front and right side.

I started figuring out what was what from the pile of planks at hand and set about assembling the base. Thankfully I do woodwork, and have the required tools, because the wood needed some cutting. In the photos below, the walls have not been attached, but merely dry-fitted to see actual size. 

At 580 x 300 x 300mm, this is the biggest base I have ever worked with. 

Basics of the base has been completed. Now I can continue with the actual scale work. 

Now I'll get back to making the base.


The Inspection Pit

The sides were cut from standard SA pine. Then I cut "cinder blocks" from writing pad backing and glued them onto the sides using wood glue. Once done, I filled all the cracks with Polyfilla Fine Crack filler and sprayed everything a matte white.


The steps were made by glueing appropriately-sized blocks of SA pine together and once dry,  this was sprayed with a matte white. Polyfilla Fine Crack to the rescue to fill up the cracks between the walls and the steps. To finish off the steps, I glued aluminium foil (NOTE : not kitchen tin foil) to the edges.


Then I glued the whole lot together to finish off. Making this inspection pit took surprisingly long!

I decided to take a small detour........

After many hours, chaffed fingertips, but no blood yet, the 2 mechanics have been 99.9% completed. (Looking at the photo, I still need to give a final touch, it seems. That is one of the reasons why I take photos. I see mistakes easier by looking at a photo).

I sent a pic to the client and he immediately responded: Kallie en Jannie.

So jarwellnofine. They have been named..... Kallie en Jannie!

Just for info: I am still pottering with the base and, trying to get a suitable finish for the purpose. In other words, it must be suitable for displaying his cars, but also blend with the diorama. So that is not yet done. (reading above, one might easily get that idea!) 


I have made some progress.... My friend Karl suggested that I do not wait until I have finished the parts (as was my intention) but instead show the progress as I proceed, so here goes....

This was an interesting and challenging build, but in the end, the client was happy and after 126 hours, so was I! (Yes, I kept track of time spent ;-))

The kit supplies 1.5mm thick wood for making the oxy-acetyline tanks stand. That would work out to being 27mm thick! I decided to scratch build it so that it would look more realistic. 

For reasons that I will not go into, I have decided to work with what the kit supplies and will only do limited scratch building.

Got the vinyl for the floor so I have finally been able to finish the pit (except for weathering).

Some of the following items have been completed, most have not.....

Quick dry-fitting of the walls, and application of the stripes. I considered painting them on instead of using the provided tape but, because the walls are made of paper card that was glued onto the provided wood for walls (yes, it is a 42 year old kit), and the paper did not respond consistently when I test-painted it, PLUS I obviously did not relish having to redo it all, I opted to use the kit-provided tape. (It is straighter than it appears to be in the photo!) 


Slight setback: the glue on the tape did not hold and the tape started to lift in places. 

After having done some tests on a mock-up, I rubbed the tape down securely again, masked them with a 1mm gap, and rubbed a thin layer of wood glue over to form a protective film that will hold it down for good.


I think things will progress quicker from this point on. 

Trim fitted to walls and walls fitted to base. So far so good.

Electrical and compressed air plumbing made and painted.I am a bit concerned about how I will attach the plumbing to the walls, which have been made using paper card. I'll have to do some tests.


I successfully managed to attach the plumbing to the walls using alcolin wood glue. I first tested using superglue, but that seeped into the paper and left a mark. The wood glue not.

The kit is sorely lacking in detail (well.. it is 40 years old!) and the pit area was no exception. I decided to make some pit covers. It was a bit tricky deciding whether to simply use blocks of wood, or not. I decided to make ones that one would expect to find in a decent repair shop. (After all.... the client is going to be using this diorama as a base for photographing his die cast car models in. Think exotic cars - Hence, not a rustic establishment).


I used styrene and some mesh wire and am happy with the results.

Then it was on to the fiddly bits-n-bobs.

I have been quite busy since my last post. 


First off, I had a problem with how to do the lighting above the one bench though. Having been super excited to be finished with the walls (including the plumbing), I made a booboo and pasted the posters on the walls without thinking where the brackets had to be fitted. That meant the bracket then to go OVER the poster, which will look odd. I could not remove the poster. So I dont know how to proceed. unless this bench has no light above it.

I asked someone I know who knows workshops and followed his advice. Problem solved. I did not use the brackets I had made, but rather made the supports to be protruding from the wall. 

I finished making the "heavy" equipment...... L-R: Herve battery charging station, welder, compressor, gas welding cyliders (the piping came with the kit and I could not find a sutable alternatve. It pains me to do so, but I will leave it as is).

I decided to 3D print the tools and not to usethe kit tools simply because the kit tools are hopelessly oversized.

All that remained after that, was to paint and position them.

After that, the end was in sight!

Completed: Aug 2022