Friday, January 30, 2009

New Catalogs For 2009

Every winter Ertl releases its catalogs so incase you havent seen them here are some links. Ill probably review a few of these models over the next year so in a way heres a preview of a couple of this years New Model releases. Ill also put the catalogs in my links section.

Case IH:

New Holland:

John Deere:

1. The chopper sets from Case IH and New Holland are nice, and it gives people an opportunity to get one of the new wagons in different colors but it also forces you to buy models you probably already have.
2. John Deere probably has the most ground breaking news with its 4850, 4955, and 4960 set.
3. John Deere is also making a small frame tractor in the 6140 and 5105. It will be interesting to see how much detail they put in those.
4.The new state tractor series is an interesting idea except how about making a Michigan Tractor? Michigan has one of the most diverse agricultural economies with farmers producing corn, soybeans, wheat, tomatoes, sugar beets, pickles, cherries, pumpkins, trees, blueberries, strawberries, peppers, alfalfa, cattle, chickens, sheep, ect....

Progress of a custom update: Ive been out of town for a few days so I havent done anything to the tractor since I primered it. Ill have another update up regarding the tractor on Sunday or Monday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Progress of a Custom - 7930 Primed and Ready

Here is the 7930 now partially assembled with a coat of primer. "Ready" as the title boasts may be a bit of an exaggeration since I still have to drill a few holes. As you can see both casting halves have been primered along with the roof and the stairs. It is not necessary to get a perfect coat of primer on the tractor. As a matter of fact the less you use the better because every coat takes away detail. I also have primered the wheels (not pictured) because the paint doesn't stick to the plastic on the wheels very well. I recommend Tamiya fine grey hobby primer. Regular automotive primer that you get at Wall Mart often reacts badly with the paint.

After I drill the holes in the fenders for the turn signals I will paint the cab posts gloss black on the cab of the tractor. You can also see on the cab I have removed the lights and filled in the holes. When the model is done I will be adding lights with better detail.

Note: This spring Ertl is releasing this casting with a sheet of decals for 4 different variations of the 7930. If you pick up one of those you can not only change the decals but use the decals after you paint it so that you still have a perfect set of decals. In the case the tractor you are customizing doesn't have the decal sheet(Like most) I will show you how to use paintbrush (which you all have if you are reading this to make your own).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Progress of a Custom – 7930 Disassembly

How much you disassemble your custom project really depends on how much you intend on customizing. Obviously if you are doing a simple wheel swap then you don’t need to take the cab apart, but I’ll try to give some hints about how much to disassemble for more detail.
On this tractor I decided that I wanted to fill in the seam on the hood left from when Ertl casted the two halves. I don’t fault them for making it this way, but it does make the tractor look less realistic. You don’t need to split the tractor in half to fill the seam. I have done this on tractors before by just masking off the cab, then filling the seam with body filler and painting.
I did decide to split the casting though because of one key step, or I should say step(s). I decided to paint the plastic steps that originally came on the tractor. They like the cab top show the plastic stress lines and are a different color than the painted metal of the tractor.
To remove the cab top just lift on either side. Usually one side will pop right off, there is no need to pull too hard or you will stretch the plastic beyond a usable shape.
Like the cab top the grill should just pop off in your hand with a little force. At this point if you decide that your project requires you to split the cast you will need to drill out the rivets on the casting.
I feel like I should note at this point that this requires a drill and that you could badly hurt yourself with a drill (Hostel anyone?) so my advice is to only do this if you are experienced and know what you are doing, or ask a friend or parent for help. I repeat, drilling, sawing, or any kind of cutting are dangerous, so be careful.
The rear wheels will need to be disassembled at this point because you need to remove them to get to the rear rivet. Some Ertl tractors use the single rivet on a bolt axle style (like this 7930) and some used the pressed in pin style. IF you are using a model that has the pressed in pin style (i.e.: the 3388) then you can use some small pliers to pry the pressed in pins out.
Once you have removed the rear axle and have drilled the front and rear rivets in the cab halves you can split the tractor. You can drill out the front rivet in this tractor without taking the wheel off by taking off the front tire and drilling just above the front wheel. This can help preserve the stability of the wheel, which is important as I will cover later.
I use a method of sliding in a flat head screwdriver between casting halves and using it as a level to generate the separating force. Be careful at this point not to hurt yourself with the screwdriver (Yes you have heard it before, but I hurt myself very badly with a flat head screwdriver, so if you want to stay out of the Operating Room (unlike me) then use caution or don’t do it).
The steps and the exhaust manifold are in place using a simple small Phillips head screwdriver; this is by far the easiest past of disassembly.
At this point all that is left is to take the tires off of the wheels. If you are satisfied with the job Ertl did with the plastic yellow paint then you can leave the wheels on, but I assure you it will look better if you paint the wheels.
In the next installment of Progress of a Custom we will discuss primer and painting some of the key parts, and the steps you should take in reassembly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Progress of a Custom – John Deere 7930

This is a new feature I’m adding to my blog where I will take an off the shelf Ertl tractor and show its progress as I customize it and show you how to customize your own. I will try to update it each day, so you can see how long it takes and what exactly I’m doing to the tractor each day.

The first tractor I am customizing is the John Deere 7930 (Pictured above). I really like the detail in the casting from Ertl but you can see from the picture that this model has a few flaws from the factory. The left light on the cab pillar is inexplicably a few millimeters higher than the left, and the cab top has many scratches. I will do my best to get this model to as close to a "authentic" level as possible, and I will show you where to get or make most of the parts.

Check back tomorrow when I post my first step in building a custom.

New Model Release - John Deere 7750 With Forage Wagons

The review of the actual harvester will be short because it’s basically the 7500 Harvester with an updated cab and spout. The cab has the newer style rounded lights, and GPS, along with a different windshield wiper on the glass. The spout has an added box about ¼ of the way up from where the spout leaves the harvester.
The 2 forage wagons included in this set are the real reason for this review because they are great. You may recognize them as a repaint of the H&S forage wagons that were produced later in 2008 (They may have made my top 10 of 2008 if I had thought of it when I compiled the list, so let’s just say they were the #6 best toy produced in 2008).
The wagons feature 3 beaters instead of 2 on earlier models, very good casting detail, nice implement wheels and tires, dual rear axles, a steerable hitch, a rear hitch, and the most important part: They are really, really big. How much did the harvesters need updating? Well a few years ago Ertl released the new forage harvester (7500) and included 2 forage wagons with it (the smaller wagons pictured). These 2 wagons with the 7500 were the EXACT same wagons that I was given for Christmas 20 years earlier. The laughable thing with this combination was that the 7500 harvester that was included in the set would fill up these wagons in a few minutes making them completely not practical.
Above you can see the similarities between the newer wagon and the H&S wagons. Below you can see the size difference between the new (left) and old Ertl wagons.

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Model Release – Steiger STX385HD

This is Ertl’s latest offering in a long line of modern Steiger 4wds so I wont belabor the details that you have seen 30 times already. This tractor is interesting because it is a smaller casting than the STX 500 or 535 variations representing the smaller frame. It also has the GPS beacon on the roof and features the exact same wheels and tires that are on the aforementioned Case International 9240. It has good detail and is a nice overall model. The bad part of this tractor is that it articulates very little. It does have a joint present where it should articulate, but it only moves a few degrees. Again this model fills a gap in your collection so its great for that purpose.

New Model Release – Case IH 9240

The 9240 was produced in 2008 from an old casting that has been collecting dust on the Ertl shelves from the early 90s. The only update to the 20 year old tractor is new wheels and tires (the same wheels and tires that you will see on the next tractor I review). The tractor has black cab glass (something that was present on 4wds’ and combines through the 80s and 90s), and does not articulate. So if your looking for a model with exceptional detail you may want to skip this one, but if you want a model that will fill a gap in your 4wd collection that costs less than $6 then it’s a good choice.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What will the New Year Bring?

Since this is the first post of 2009 I thought I would explain what will be happening on the blog over the next year. The first half of the year I will be posting the usual (yet infrequent) new model releases and bits of tractor info and opinions that I normally post. I will also be launching a few products that I manufacture myself. Everything I produce will be limited in production numbers, offer good detail, and have reasonable prices.

I also would like some feedback from the people that visit this site. So if you have anything constructive or destructive please email me or leave a comment. I’m going to post a poll about what the readers of this site like to see and I’ll use that at times when I decide what to write about.

Have a great 2009, and check back for new articles and Zac’s Tractors product updates.

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