By Generation: Re-Shelling Alternators

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by REDLINE, Jan 28, 2008.

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    REDLINE longer days, plz? Veteran

    Dec 2, 2004
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    Re-Shelling Alternators

    Credit for this goes to Lobo:

    Re-shelling an Alternator

    First thing you want to think about is the Alt mode. What kind of car do you want? Is there a model kit available?

    This is the resource I use to check on kits.

    Tower Hobbies

    They have a huge selection of plastic kits from just about every manufacturer. You don’t have to buy it from them but it’ll give you a good idea if a kit even exists. If you can’t find it there, try eBay. Usually older kits can be found there. Whatever kits you find, make sure they’re 1:24 or 1:25 scale.

    The next thing you want to think about is how you want the bot mode to look? What Alternator are you going to use for the bash? Typically, the re-shelled bot will look very similar to the original Alternator unless you make some major modifications. Also take into consideration how the models body will line up with the Alternator. Certain things like wheelbase and width can be adjusted as necessary but that’ll take some extra work and ingenuity.

    Tools you want to have can bee seen here:

    Customizing Tools

    It’s also a good idea to have some styrene available. Get different sizes like 0.01” to 0.06” and tube styrene that fits inside each other. This can be used for making new pins and filling in large gaps.

    Now, here are the steps I usually take:

    1.) Cut extra parts of the model out such as the doors and hood. But leave as much of the body as structurally sound as you can. Don’t worry about cutting it into parts for the bot mode. I find this best as opposed to cutting for the transformation lines right away because it will lead to a much cleaner looking car mode in the end.

    To do this I generally use an Exacto knife and run the blade along the panel lines. Keep scraping away at it until it cuts through. This takes a lot of time depending on how thick the plastic is. Just be patient and watch out for your fingers!

    2.) Transform the Alternator in car mode and line up the model kit with it. When you line them up, line up the dashboards as opposed to the wheels. Typically on Alternators, the dashboard is where all the action is. The door, windshield, hood and head mounts usually stem from there. It makes for a much better looking bot mode.

    When you line them up, get an idea of how you’re going to glue on the model. Most likely you’ll have to cut up the Alternator to the point where it no longer looks like a car but you want to keep as much as possible for a good bond. Also make sure you won’t be completely losing major pins like where the leg connects to the foot on Smokescreen.

    3.) After you figure it all out, it’s time to start tearing apart the Alternator. First thing you want to do is use a small screwdriver and take off anything that can be removed and is not neceaasary. Like trunk pieces, doors, roof, anything you can. On a side note, save everything! You never know when you might need it again! Those little black screws that are found on almost every Alternator are like gold!

    Also, unless you want to keep the original Alternator rims, this is a good time to remove them. Look here for help on that.

    Pin Removal

    After all that, it’s time to start cutting up the Alt. Best thing for this that I’ve found is a Dremel with a sanding drum. It’ll cut through an Alt like butter. When doing this, the most important thing to watch out for is not to remove too much. Cut off a little, check the fit with the model body, repeat as necessary. Keep doing that until you have a good fit and the model can easily be glued to the Alt.

    4.) Glue the model body to the Alternator (in car mode). For this I use either Super Glue Gel or JB Weld Kwik. Make sure you pick out glue points beforehand that won’t impede on transformation later.

    5.) After the glue has set up, it’s time to cut the transformation lines on the body. Use an Exacto Razor Saw or a Jewelers Saw for this to give a nice, clean, straight line. Don’t use the Dremel! Just take your time! Cut out for all major transformation break lines. If the line isn’t exactly straight or you can’t use the saw, use an Exacto knife like before. Transform the Alternator into bot mode just to make sure everything lines up and works ok. Now is also a good time to fill in any gaps between the model body and Alternator with Super Glue gel.

    6.) Now comes the hard part! Refitting the doors, hood, etc. This really all comes down to re-engineering everything. Most likely the parts won’t line up exactly and mounts will have to be relocated. Typically I try and keep the original hinge portion intact, attach it to model kit inner door, and relocate it appropriately on the Alternator. To make sliding doors, I usually glue a small 4-40 bolt inside the models outer door and cut a slot in the inner door. Then put a nut on the bolt. This makes a easy sliding door that can be tensioned by hand during transformation.

    Some items might need new hinges. This can be done by either using model aircraft hinges or making completely new ones out of styrene.

    7.) The next part is all the detail work. Add anything extra on the car body that you want to add as well as a new head for the bot.

    Transform the Alternator a few times to make sure all kinks are worked out before you paint. Fix any problems now.

    8.) Last part’s paint and decals.


    Always remember that there’s a wealth of knowledge on the boards. Ask questions if you get stuck.

    A few examples of WIP reshells can be found here:

    Jaf’s MP Jazz

    Lobo’s Alt Grapple

    Lobo’s Alt Kup
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2010
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