Countach Lamborghini

Model
Tamiya Lamborghini Countach LP500S article number 58005 released for sale in early 1978 and available until 1980
Polystyrene body
Countach chassis

Analysis of the model to be restored
Starting from the front going towards the rear, the chassis analysis reveals that

– front bumper present and intact
– original rims with wheels in average condition (no cracks or breaks),
– electronics present with obvious signs of the passage of time,
– mechanical speed control with missing fuse and fuse holder,
– complete electronics holder plate and
– original RS380S motor with optional heatsink installed.

Starting from the front going towards the rear, the body analysis reveals that it is complete with

– front bumper with number plate sticker
– glazing,
– windscreen wiper
– dashboard,
– driver’s seat,
– two high side air intakes immediately behind passenger compartment,
– two low side air intakes immediately behind the doors,
– upper air intake,
– rear lights and
– rear number plate holder with number plate sticker.

The body is black on the outside, red on the inside; the polystyrene colour is white. The body has changed colour at least twice in the past.

Chassis Restoration
The sequence of operations for chassis restoration involves: dismantling all mechanical and electronic parts to check that all components are in order.
The metal parts are affected by time, but are intact and not too oxidised or rusted.
Plastic parts are in order and not broken. Electronics are in order; but covered by glue residue, a sheet a few millimetres thick of foam rubber has been glued over the servos and receiver.

Treat all small parts with diesel for seven days to remove all traces of oxide and rust.
Wash all parts with hot water and degreasing kitchen soap and then run a cycle in the ultrasonic washing machine for medium to small parts:

– metal parts for 25 minutes at 70°C and
– Teflon or plastic parts for 25 minutes at 40°C.

When the wheels are made of rubber and not sponge, the first part to be checked to start the restoration is the tyres.
The question is always the same and applies to any part involved in a restoration: is it possible to salvage the part or is it necessary to buy new ones? If the tyres need a full glycerine treatment, it takes three to four weeks. Clearly, this is the phase that is a candidate for being the longest of the entire restoration operation.
The wheels are not ovalised (they just appear old), they have no cracks or breaks, the tread is not ruined by time and is not worn (it appears uniformly smooth). In this case, it is clear that it is sufficient to restore the rubber’s shine and elasticity with a glycerine treatment.
Picture sequence summarising the restoration work on rubber wheels:

– remove the wheels (rims and tyres) from the frame
– Separate the tyres from the rim. Be very careful because it is common to find them glued together. If the parts are glued together there is a real risk that trying to separate the tyre from the rim will damage the tyre irreparably. If the tyre is inseparably glued to the rim, it is best to inspect the rim and try to see if it has any particular damage. If the rim is undamaged, it is reasonable to subject it to the same treatment as the tyre; this procedure avoids detaching the two parts. Glycerine is not aggressive to either plastic or paint,
– place the tyres + rims in the glycerine. Use a metal paint can that is airtight when closed. The minimum time for this treatment is seven days,
– after one week of treatment, the tyres have already changed colour and are more elastic to the touch. The next step is to leave the tyres + rims to purge the glycerine on a kitchen paper towel. The paper towel should be changed daily to prevent it from becoming soaked with glycerine. At this stage, turn the parts each time so that the tyres purge all the excess glycerine. This should be done for as long as it takes for the tyres to stop bleeding glycerine, on average seven to eight days.Always lay the rim and tyre on their side. This is done to avoid the risk of ovulating the tyre, which is now particularly soft and elastic,
– use a paper towel daily to dry the parts, removing all traces of glycerine, for at least seven days. The gum is still purging the glycerine, but in smaller quantities.

The Mabuchi RS380S motor is original; to restore the motor remove the metal heatsink which is a non-original Tamiya aftermarket accessory of dubious quality that has rusted on the internal surface in contact with the motor.
The rust has affected the outer case of the motor, polish the case trying to leave the sticker bearing the initials RS380S intact. The black motor cap is covered with brown cast plastic, presumably what remains of a cap put over the contacts to protect them from water and dust. Time has baked this part and it has stuck to the motor itself. Carefully remove it using a scalpel.
The receiver is covered with remnants of glue crystallised by time, with a mechanical action using a cloth remove what remains of the sponge and the glue that is still soft. Once this layer is removed, the glue remains, which has now crystallised to form an uneven surface:

– use 1.500 grit sandpaper to treat the surface and
– polish the surface with polish or toothpaste using a soft cloth.

Carry out the same operations on the two servos.
The speed controller, battery holder and switch are in good order: restoration consists of cleaning them with the same cloth used to polish the servo and receiver to remove the dust and give the parts a new shine.

The mechanical speed controller is missing its fuse and fuse holder. A fuse holder with a missing cable is available in the set material; it is possible to recover this part: The restoration operation consists of these steps
– open the two large sheath locking tabs using a flat-blade screwdriver,
– use a small pair of pliers to remove what is left of the electrical cable; sheath and braided copper wire,
– at this point a space has opened up which allows you to insert the small flathead screwdriver to open the last two smaller tabs,
– in this condition it is easy to crimp a new (black) cable to connect the rev-regulator to the battery

No replacement part is available for the transparent plastic sheath, it is acceptable to start with a connector protector for the motor, which is and inferior length and diameter to when needed. The only thing it has in common with the original solution is the type of plastic material. To change the size of this soft plastic, simply heat it with a hair dryer and very slowly widen the diameter and lengthen the sleeve.
After several steps you can see the end result, which is barely sufficient.
It is not identical to the original, but still does its job of protecting the fuse and preventing short circuits.

Tamiya provides two alternatives for powering the motor and mechanical speed controller for this model:

– 5-cell 6-volt battery pack or
– 4 single cells of type D (half torch) with corresponding double plastic battery holder

Tamiya released a series of educational kits in the 1980s that required two batteries to operate. Depending on the size of the educational set, the batteries may be larger or smaller.
The code 70012 ‘dry battery case’ contains the two-cell battery holder type R14/C/UM2 (half torch), which is used in these models. The set is completed by a switch that is not needed for this application.
The set includes these parts that are needed for this application: the white double battery holder, the metal tabs for wiring the cells, miscellaneous screws and the blue cloth band that is used to take the cells out of the holder.
The battery holder is marked with the production date (1978), the black version used on the first models has 1975 as production date; they are very rare.

The parts have all been treated and cleaned, the last step of the restoration is to re-assemble the chassis components:

– assemble rear differential and axle, r
– install switch with battery holder to supply electronics to the rear gearbox,
– install rear axle and gear on the rear gearbox,
– join the newly assembled part with the central body of the chassis,
– screw the electronics carrier plate onto the chassis,
– install black plastic front bumper to chassis; with this part the chassis is starting to take shape,

– assemble front steering assembly with servo control,
– join these two macro-parts into one piece,
– install the 4 wheels complete with rims, and
– install the speed controller and the two battery holders on the chassis.

The action of damping vibrations and unevenness of the terrain is taken care of by the wheel-tyres themselves, which have a shoulder high enough and soft enough to replace the shock absorbers. Obviously, the best track is the smoothest possible.

Body Restoration
In order to restore the body the first step is to dismantle all glued parts and remove the stickers from the body.

Now remove the previous layer(s) of paint. To remove the colour, the fastest and least environmentally damaging system is to soak the body in 90 to 99% denatured ethyl alcohol in the version free of added dyes and perfume. Alcohol can be used for several cycles.
The paint is attacked by the alcohol and can be removed with a simple mechanical action using a wooden spatula or paper towels. The friction pulls the paint off the body.
Repeat the operation of letting the body soak and the mechanical action until the paint has been completely removed.
Use a wooden toothpick to remove the paint in the corners. The task of removing the paint is quite time-consuming because you have to proceed with several passes and repeat the same operation until the end result is satisfactory. At the same time alcohol sticks the glue by dissolving it. In this model, the front-lateral glass, driver, air intakes, headlight glass… were glued with a light brown putty. After treatment with alcohol, the residual glue all came off and the rear wing was removed without any damage.
The same treatment is applied to all parts of the body:

– side windows and windscreen,
– rear glass,
– two rear-view mirrors,
– two + two side air intakes,
– sunroof,
– engine bonnet,
– two engine gas exhausts,
– two window mouldings,
– driver,
– dashboard and
– steering wheel

In the photos you can see the body and parts during the alcohol immersion treatment and after the treatment.

There are four holes on the body: two on the bonnet, one on the cockpit roof and one under the wing.
For the restoration of these parts, construct four plugs from a 1 mm thick sheet of ABS that have the dimensions of the four holes to be closed respectively.
Starting with a square having as its side the diameter of the hole to be closed, cut the corners to obtain an octagon and then with a file or abrasive paper work the corners to obtain a circle.
Once the four circles are obtained, check that they fit into the body as well as possible.
To weld these parts, use a fairly liquid solution of ABS and acetone. Use painter’s tape to close off the holes from underneath. The purpose of the tape is to prevent the ABS cap from moving out of place and to block the solution of acetone and ABS at the point where it is needed to weld the parts. Once the plugs are in place and the solution applied, wait a full day for the solution to take full effect, welding the plugs to the body. Once the plugs are welded to the body, remove the tape. Apply putty and work the surfaces with 600, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 grit sandpaper until they are completely smooth to the touch.

Left rear corner of the aileron is chipped: starting with a 1 mm thick sheet of ABS, construct a piece that replicates the edge of the break, which is definitely not linear, it resembles the profile of mountains. Use the aileron itself as a template.
Proceed by welding the two parts using a very liquid solution of Acetone and ABS
Wait for the two parts to weld, at least 8 hours, then work with sandpaper to make the surfaces more even.

Proceed with the preparation for Tamiya Primer White fine primer working with 1500 and 2000 grit sandpaper to finish the surfaces. The body set is complete in all its parts.
The chosen products are TS8 Italian red for body; XF01 matt black for wheel arches, skirt, front bumper, front headlight surround, 2+2+2 air intakes, bonnet, bonnet side parts, windscreen wipers, door mirrors, window surrounds, spoiler brackets, steering wheel, driver’s base and seat belts; XF10 dark brown for dashboard and seat; X2 white for helmet, low beam-position and reverse lights; X6 orange for turn signals; X11 silver for exhaust, front light lenses and mirror glass X4 blue for driver suit.

Restored model
Images showing the finished model.

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