For an assembly journal of Pocher's Mercedes Benz 540K Cabrio Special 1936 (K94), go to David Holmes' page.
For an assembly journal of Pocher's Bugatti Type 50T (K76) and Mercedes-Benz 540K True Roadster (K91), go to Eric Severn's page.
I started assembly of this kit on March 5th, 2000 and it's been tough going from day one. This site will show my progress step by step as rolls of film are developed. If you want to ask me any questions or have any comments, you can reach me at email@example.com. If you want to use this journal as a guide to assembling your kit, then I suggest you read this entire journal before starting your assembly. This journal is, for the most part, written as I go along. I occasionally go over all the pages and will make changes, corrections and additions but no major revisions. So there may be times when I say that I should have waited to do a particular assembly later but I won't rewrite my journal to incorporate or move the telling of that specific assembly where I think it should have been done. Also, until I am finished with the kit, I will continue to make changes, etc., so you may want to review earlier pages after I've made an addition of another roll of film. That's usually when I review the earlier pages and make changes. Also, in the days that follow the addition of another roll, I usually make changes there as well.
This particular kit was manufactured well after the factory fire in the late '70s. The catalog that came with it is from 1993. I understand that this particular kit, the K72, has been discontinued but two other Rolls Royce Phantom II kits, the K75 and the K83, are still available. I've wanted to build one of these since the late '70s when I first saw one in a Tyco catalog. At around $400.00 back then, (give or take depending on where you went), I couldn't afford it. Now I can and it's a good thing I was forced to wait. The box says for modelers 15 years and older. I don't think I could've built this when I was 18 let alone 15. As you will see, there were problems that only an experienced, seasoned, patient and resourceful model builder could overcome, not to mention the intuition needed to extrapolate beyond what the instructions provide.
First, let's begin with a full description of the kit as advertised. According to the catalog:
Pocher construction kits were created for the dedicated and detail-conscious model builder. Pocher model means exact scale and more details than the usual construction kit on the market today. Every detail of the original vehicle is measured by Pocher technicians, and - if possible - using the original drawings down to the smallest detail. Then all the parts are scaled down to 1:8 scale. For all parts patterns are made in order to finalize the Pocher kit. Thus a lot of small functional details can be reproduced such as break system, springs, gears, engine and accessories, steering system, universal joints, doors, roll-down windows, folding top, leather seats, etc. As to the choice of the various materials, the same are used on the original. Many parts are made of steel, furthermore brass, bronze, plastics, leather and rubber are being used. No special knowledge is required to mount a kit. Due to the thoroughly planned construction of the model (little gluing mostly screws - and not assembled), as well as the detailed instruction sheets, every enthusiast can build a Pocher model.
An elegant touring car, in production from 1929 to 1935, the Phantom II was the fourth type of auto assembled by Rolls-Royce. Based on the Phantom I, which succeeded the Silver Ghost, the Phantom II had a stronger motor and quieter operation. Designed as a conventional touring car, but built in limited quantities owing to the high level of workmanship that characterizes Rolls-Royce cars, the Phantom II was and still is a status symbol. During the 1930s, these fine machines were generally owned by corporation executives in the English Empire as well as by high ranking government officials. Often, these cars were considered "taxis" as they ferried VIPs through London streets. Many of these Phantom IIs are still extant today primarily in museums and in private collections. Commanding fine prices at auctions, the prototype, as well as our model, is a fine status symbol in the 1980s.
As described from the box:
This 1:8 scale kit represents an accurate reproduction of the original "Rolls-Royce Phantom II - Short Type Continental Tourer" with the body style Drop Head Sedanca Coup. Between 1929 to 1935, the Phantom II was built as their fourth model. Based on the Phantom I, which followed the Silver Ghost, the Phantom II was equipped with a stronger and very quiet engine. It therefore became a first class touring car. Through combination of an original touring car with the Rolls-Royce quality level and its limited production runs, the Phantom II became a worldwide status symbol. Political and society celebrities were proud to call a phantom II their own. Many Phantom II are still existing today in various car collections and museums. This model has been produced of various material and is composed of 2199 parts of which 454 are made of special plastic material with high resistance qualities, 1059 pieces of brass, 430 of stainless steel and the other 256 of various materials, (steel, copper, rubber, etc.) The following parts are operating:
1) Crankshaft, pistons, rods, which move true to reality. At the same time, the fan belt also moves the generator.
2) The model is steerable.
3) Wheel suspension is made of steel springs and is also operating.
4) Breaks operate on all four wheels.
5) Independent emergency break for the rear wheels.
6) Headlights can be operated from instrument panel.
7) Roof can be opened.
8) Doors can be opened and closed through door handles.
9) Operating windows.
10) Trunk (boot) and hood (bonnet) can be opened.
All this represents the exact features of the original model. We are sure that this model will satisfy the enthusiast of the automobile sport model building.
This is a picture of the box (just so we know which kit is being built) and so you can follow along (if you want), here's the instruction book.
Just look at all those pieces. This should keep me off the streets and out of trouble for a while. All parts were removed from the trees with a Dremel, carefully trimmed with an x-acto knife, file, and/or sand paper, and painted when necessary.
The very first assembly was the connecting rod onto a rod journal and counter balance. This was also where I encountered my first problem. The counter balance pieces didn't fit together right, they had to be carefully trimmed so they would fit but still be tight.
The completed crankshaft assembly. The next problem was the crank journals. They had the same problem as the rod journals and the front part of the crank (the brass piece) didn't fit into the end of the crankshaft like it should either. This was only a preview of things to come. More careful trimming and fitting resulted in the completed assembly.
Up until now, the instructions seemed straightforward until I started to assemble the crankcase. I had installed the back of the timing gear case onto the crankcase before I installed the crankshaft assembly. Well, that didn't work. The crankshaft with the connecting rods wouldn't go into place so to make this work, I had to slide the timing gear case over the front end of the crankshaft then lower that assembly into the crank case. Gee, it would be nice if the directions would have indicated that. But again, this was merely a preview of what was to come. That wasn't the end of it. The assembled crankshaft was too short! Well, after another evening of tweaking, everything finally fit right. Good thing that most of this kit is screwed together or press fit and not glued.
Low and behold, the cylinder blocks suffered from warpage (big surprise). One had deep dimples in the side plates (not to mention a chip on one of the corners) and the other had egg shaped cylinders. The cylinder head also had deep dimples. I forgot to take "before" photos of the dimpled head and block but this photo of the engine of a completed kit shows how bad the dimpling was.
Time to break out with the modeler's bondo for the dimples and chip, and bore out the warped cylinders so they would be nice and round for the pistons to fit and move properly. The pistons installed without any unusual problems.
The timing gears were three evenings of my life I'll never get back. The gears were ever so slightly off center, which resulted in binding that could have caused the crankshaft to strip the splines on the crankshaft gear leaving the assembly non-functional. I opted to very carefully re-machine the gears one tooth at a time, a little at a time until the assembly operated smoothly. I used a broken Dremel cutting wheel as a file to do the job. They're about as fragile as eggshells and where it broke, I had a straight edge. It was thin enough to get between the teeth of the gears and was not quite as abrasive as an emory board. Next to this photo is a photo* of the gears of a real engine.
I used the time to allow the modeler's bondo to completely cure on the dimpled cylinder block and cylinder head before I worked their surfaces smooth. The rocker arms and valve assemblies were pretty much uneventful. I had to trim the metal rod that holds all the rocker arms in position so the valve cover would fit. The only thing I didn't like about the assembly is that there were no valve faces (not like you could see them when the thing is together anyway) and all the valves are shown in the closed position. For those of you that are not familiar with automobile engines, any engine with multiple cylinders has at least one open valve at any given time. I may have to do something about that later.
All aluminum (A) parts were painted with aluminum paint and all metal (M) parts were painted flat gunmetal gray. Bolts were painted flat gunmetal, which is darker than gunmetal gray. To give the pieces painted with flat paint a bit of a sheen without making them look glossy, I used an old toothbrush on them. At this stage in the instructions, the transmission, oil pan, cylinder head and valve cover were assembled. A note about the valve cover; the RR logo on the cover was not painted by Rolls Royce from the factory as can be seen in the comparison photo so I opted to leave the entire cover unpainted and simply polish it before I installed the thumb screws. Little did I know that I had assembled the front of the transmission (where it attaches to the back of the engine) incorrectly but that wasn't apparent until later in the project. The break linkage on the transmission was a total pain in the rear (or at least so I thought until later in the project). I spent another evening of my life struggling with that only to discover later that part of it was incorrect. I think it was at this point where I went from telling folks "the kit I'm building..." to "the Rolls Royce I'm building..." Also, the linkage on the transmission would need to be worked on too. The ends of the linkage where the pedals attach would need to be bent 90°, another point that wasn't very clear in the instructions.
*Most comparison photos are from http://www.rroc.org.au/, the Rolls Royce Owners Club of Australia.