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Saturday, 2 March 2019

A Diversion from Railways - Corgi 417s Restoration

Nothing much happening on the railway front so my attention was drawn to my old Corgi vehicles in need of restoration. Most of my collection was sold many years ago when in my late teens but, three were held back. These being the Bentley Continental 224 (my favourite); the Hillman Imp (the full size version being my first road car) and the Land Rover 109" W.B. 417s Breakdown Truck, (Too damaged, in my opinion, to sell).

The first photo shows the truck in its damaged state. Actually the only bad thing about it is the broken jib, a common problem for this model. The canopy, hook and chain are also missing. The tyres are in excellent condition. Usually for a model of this age (early 1960s) the tyre rubber perishes.

As a child I had plastered the model with transfers. These were rubbed away using cotton buds and toothpaste, which is a mild abrasive that does not damage the paintwork.

I decided not to repaint the play worn finish but I did want to restore the jib, chain and hook.

The remains of the jib are held to the body with what look like rivets but in fact they are stubs moulded with the body, the ends of which were swagged over with a press. The reddish hue is remnants of the red body paint that also covered the stubs.

To remove the jib the swagged ends of the stubs are destroyed. For replacements I found some rusty nails the heads that were about the same size (shown top left in 2nd photo). However, the nail heads were flat. To round off the edges, like the swagged stub ends, light hammering around the edge of the nail head formed the round. Having rubbed off the rust with wire wool the shiny steel was dulled down by heating the nail head over a gas hob flame.

The swagged stub heads were drilled and filed away taking care not to drill away the entire stub. The third photo shows what remained of the stubs.

The replacement jib and hook were purchased from ACME 3000, an eBay seller (search eBay). These are a good match in style to the original except the rivet detail of the original jib is lost and the white-metal casting is softer than the original.

The new jib was fitted over and held in place temporarily by the stub remnants. 

Fortunately, the diameter of the nail was smaller than the stub diameter so with the jib in place holes for an interference fit were drilled into the stubs taking care not to drill all the way through.

The nail head was then cut from the nail (4th photo) and the end tapered to mimic the drill point since this leaves a tapered base to the hole. There is not a lot of meat on the stub so tapering the end is worthwhile to get full penetration into the hole.

The stubs were then hammered home. (compare the result shown in the 5th photo to the original in photo 2.)

The tight fit was good but it would not take much effort to push the jib and see the nail head rivets pop out. I did not want to use glue but succumbed by dribbling a little Superglue between jib and body for reinforcement.

The original chain was in fact yellow string. All I had to hand (thanks to my wife) was yellow silk thread. This was tied to the winder and hook with double overhand knot.

Now I am on the lookout for a replacement canopy, unless I make one out of a tin can.


The Bentley needed new tyres, spare wheel and rear lights, which were purchased from
Aaron Die-Cast Recoveries.  It still needs a jewelled yellow headlight.

The Hillman Imp needed new tyres and rear window. The tyres were bought off eBay and the rear window home made using transparent acrylic.

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