Kurtis Midget Racer with Offenhauser Engine and Trailer

Published: May 7th, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Steve Jahnke, IPMS# 34991
Scale: 1/25
Company: Revell, Inc.
Price: $24.95
Product / Stock #: 85-4267

1/25thscale, 112 pieces, molded in white, clear and chrome; newly tooled front and rear race tires; included is a fret of photo etched parts including: Instrument panel, steering wheel spokes  and hood hold down straps . www.revell.com

In this review, we have the sister kit to Revell’s other Kurtis Kraft Midget racer, the V8-60. The Ford V8-60 Kurtis Kraft model and trailer is reviewed by Jim Stratton elsewhere on the IPMS website. This subject review is the same Kurtis Kraft race car fitted with an Offenhauser 4 slug motor. Jim did a great job telling the history of Frank Kurtis and the racing success of his Kurtis Kraft cars. I will give you a little background on the Offenhauser engine part of the story.

History and Research

The Offenhauser engine, often referred to an "Offy", was developed by Fred Offenhause rand his employer at the time Harry Miller. Miller was another famous racing name from the 20’s and 30’s. The Miller engine quickly developed into a twin overhead cam, four cylinder 16 valve racing engine that would be used in midgetsand sprinters into the 1960’s. When Miller went bankrupt in 1933, Offenhauser and another Miller employee bought the shop and the rights to the engine, which they developed further as the Offenhauser engine. From 1934, through the 1970s, the ‘Offy’ dominated American open wheel racing, winning the Indianapolis 50027 times. After WWII, Offenhauser was sold to Meyers-Drake who continued to produce the engine. Eventually Offy cars lost their racing domination to the modern small block Ford-Cosworth V8’s.

As mentioned earlier, this kit features the same race car and trailer as the Ford V8 but with a few parts specific to the Offenhauser motor. Those parts include of course a beatifully molded 17 piece Offy motor and a body nose piece and grill specific to this car. My build started by searching the internet for pictures of 1:1 scale Kurtis midget racers and found a number of sites that featured museum and restored midgets along with some great pictures of a Hilborn fuel injected Offy motor; the build decision was made. Since I was building the car as it would have been racing in 1947-1950 and owned by “Johnnys Speed Shop” , I decided to paint it Testors  Ford Grabber Orange (similar to Omaha Orange, a truck color of the time) with steel painted wheels, there would be more than enough  chrome on the car to dress it up.

The Build

I start my builds by painting the body parts and then moving onto everything else. I mounted all of the body panels on long pieces of sprue and sprayed each piece with 2 coats of Testors Grabber Orange. About a week later I brought out the shine by polishing the paint with Final Detail carnuba wax followed up with a treatment of Slik and Smooth from Mike’s Speed shop. I didn’t want to the finish too glossy (clear coated) because I was trying to mimic the look of period, shiny, not a modern restoration.

Assmembly starts with the Offy motor; the builder has a choice of the aforementioned Hiborn Fuely setup or dual SU style side draft carburetors. I went with the Hiborn setup as seen in photo. I decided to add spark plug wires to the red magneto on the front of the engine. I drilled out the spark plug holes and added 4 new holes in the magneto with a .020” (.52mm) drill; I then glued .019” (.48mm) thick PC board jumper wires to the mag and painted them Chrysler engine red. After letting the paint dry I then inserted the wires into the cylinder head pushing them in evenly, super gluing and then cutting off any access wire through the hole on the side of the block where the Hilborn injector would later be attached later. The chrome inlet trumpets were added to the Hilborn injectors and mounted to the engine; a misalignment of the front trumpet prompted me to relieve (widen) the left side panel hole (part 12) so it would fit into the belly pan.

Did I mention that the chrome is absolutely flawless and fabulous?  A lot of effort went into engineering the attachment points of the chrome pieces to the tree, most if not all of the chrome parts were easy to remove leaving a very small attachment point to cover up. Check out how the exhaust pipe has been molded hollow, I added some NATO black in the hollowed out pipe to enhance the effect. I then brought out my DecoColor extra-fine “liquid siver” opaque paint marker pen to cover the attachment points and repaint super-glue fogging on the chrome pieces. This marker saves the day on all of the chrome bits in this kit; you will have a hard time finding any of the touchups with this pen. The rest of the assembly is pretty straight forward; however I will give you a few hints to assembly steps that caused me some grief.

Both front and rear axle assemblies are chrome and all of the wheels are attached to the axles by a 1/16” rivet and pin retainer. The first attempt to attach the pin retainer (97) to the front axle with the rivet resulted in badly bending (30 degree angle) but not breaking the axle. REMEDY: drill out all of the axle holes in step 3 and 5 with a 1/16” drill bit to remove the plating, and then attach the pin retainers to the axles with the rivet. I also had fit issues with the radiator not sitting low enough in the belly pan; the hood will not sit flush with the side panels when the radiator cap is attached to the radiator, possibly my build error, not Revell’s  but be aware.

Before adding the hand brake and fuel pump in step 9, mount the hood and side panels to the belly pan and then apply all of the decals. I did the Johny’s speed shop decals with those chrome pieces mounted and it was dicy getting the decal threaded through the chrome parts and aligned. I also had an issue using the photo etch steering wheel which is gorgeous. The steering wheel rim (94) is EXTREMELY fragile, I broke mine in two and after two tries, and I was never able to repair it properly, so the part 25 was used instead.

I am saving my trailer build for future 50 Ford or 41 Chevrolet truck build, or maybe I will just pull it behind my AMT custom 41 Ford Woody or Revell 47 Ford Woody.

Conclusion

Overall this is an extremely fine kit; it is very well engineered and executed and builds up into a fine model as the pictures attempt to illustrate. This is a skill level 3 kit; be carefull, the parts are delicate and can and will break easily. If you are into early open wheel race cars you must add one of thes little jewels to your collection. Thanks to Revell and IPMS/USA for the pleasure of reviewing this kit for you.

  • Adding wiring to engine
    Adding wiring
  • Completed Offenhauser
    Completed Offenhauser
  • Parts in paint shop
    Parts in paint shop
  • Top view showing installed engine
    Top view
  • Left side view
    Left side view
  • View from right rear quarter
    View from right rear quarter

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