DM 1957 Thunderbird White Wall Fix Detailed Instructions



DM 57 THUNDERBIRD WHITE WALL FIX by JOHN LUTHI:

 

I was finally able to score a discontinued DM '57 T-Bird on eBay, at a price only slighter above the LE retail of $140.00. It was without box and papers, but included the soft top and fender skirts, and arrived in new condition. My die-cast investing strategy is beginning to feel like my stock market exploits before I lost most of my money.

 

I dallied mainly because of the color, and those 4" gangsta whitewalls put me off a bit also. Ditto for the seemingly undersized wheels. But in person, the Dusty Rose finish isn't so bad. It's not Mary Kay Pink, but more of a smokey shade with a tinge of violet. Not a color I would have hand selected, but nothing not to like.

 

The whitewalls didn't look as bad in person either, but they still bugged me enough to want to change them to a 1957-correct 2-1/4" width. They are modeled as hard plastic inserts, and detach from the soft tires with just a little prying (I used a micro chisel tip screw driver), with no need to first remove the tires or anything else, save for the rear skirts. I decided to work with these inserts, masking off the correct whitewall width, then painting out the outer portion in matt black. But how to get a sharp, concentric definition - without which you won't be happy, trust me.

 

 

 
 
I turned to my trusty Olfa compass-style Circle Cutter and first made a .59" diameter plug from .040" styrene sheet, which fits snugly inside the whitewall insert. The plug was glued to a piece of wood, center prick up, after which the WW insert is placed around it and pressed against the wood (the contact cement residue on its back-side holding it sufficiently in place).
 
 

 
 
The cutter is then set for a .78" dia. circle, and the WW insert scored about .05" deep (ten or so circles with the cutter). The score line represents the outside diameter of the new 2-1/4" WW and will help greatly in giving the sharp definition we are after.

 

 

Masking tape is then placed over the WW insert and plug (I used 3M Safe Release because it is thin), and then the tape is scored with a couple of passes of the cutter on the same setting. The outer portion of the tape is carefully removed, leaving a round mask over the portion of the insert to be left white.

 

 

The mask is burnished down with the edge of a round toothpick, the portion of the insert to be painted is carefully wiped with mild solvent, then matt black Tamiya model aerosol is applied. Once the paint is set, before removing the mask, another couple of passes with the cutter are made, again to assure sharpness. Repeat four times (the spare needs the same treatment).