2001 Discovery XD-1 Build Part 2

I got started on the photoetch parts.  I sprayed them with a white primer and then covered that in a clear coat.  I decided to start with updating the exterior airlock door.  As the kit comes, there is no detail on the door itself and the door controls are just a couple of raised areas next to it.  The photoetch has much more detail, but to start, I needed to remove the raised areas and then cut out the kit door.  The ParaGrafix instructions indicate to put the door on the outside of the command sphere, but looking at the movie stills it is clear that the door is recessed, hence my need to cut out the door.  The plastic is fairly soft so cutting out the door was not too difficult.  I tacked the door on with some CA and then used JB Weld to secure it in place and make sure there were no light leaks.  Then is was a simple matter to attach the photoetch door controls with a drop of CA.

Next up came the photoetch for the interior airlock passage.  It was a simple couple of bends and then some CA to secure it and some JB Weld to make it permanent and cover the joints to prevent light leaks.  Then I added the decals from the HDA Modelworx set.  In hindsight I should probably have put the decals on before bending the part, but it was fairly easy to cut the decal into three parts and apply them to the airlock passage.  These decals are printed with a laser printer.  It is the first time I’ve used this type of decal.  I do not know if they are all like this, but these are very thick decals.  Which is probably a good thing since removing them from the paper backing is rather difficult.  I’ve not used decals that were this hard to remove from the decal paper.  Even after a long soak and allowing them to sit for a while, they were still very difficult to get off the paper.  I had to apply quite a bit of sliding force to get them started.  But they did eventually come loose and I applied them to the PE.  I made sure to use a good amount of Micro Set and then followed that up with Micro Sol to get them to conform to the details of the PE.

Next came the test bench that goes in the center of the pod bay.  It was a much more involved bending process with several small bends that needed to be made.  This is the first time that I have used PE that was this involved.  I finally got it bent, but I’m not quite satisfied with the final result.  I couldn’t get the back of the workbench exactly where it needed to be but it is very close and when it is this small I think it will look fine.  Once again the decals were cut into sections and applied individually.  It took several applications of Micro Set to get them down smooth, but they look fine now.  I needed to apply a bit of black paint at the corners and the inside to stop light leaks.  I also needed to add a couple of styrene bits to cover the open end and the bottom overhang where there is no PE.  I then also painted the inside silver to aid in bouncing the light around when it gets lit.

Next I bent the climate control vents into shape and touched up the corners with some white paint.  They went together easily with just some simple bends.  I then applied the decals to the pod bay walls and floor.  The windows and lights were filled with Micro Krystal Klear.  The pod bay wall decals were cut into sections and applied.  The floor was one decal with a couple of holes cut out for the workbench and the space suit rack.  I also CA’ed the blue suit and the red helmet to the suit rack and applied the decals.

The ceiling of the pod bay is where the climate control vents go and I took a photo of them placed where they will go when complete.  I won’t actually install them until later.  There are also some dome shapes that go on the ceiling.  You can see them in the movie, but they are not modeled in the PE.  But there are three raised areas on the PE where the domes should go.  I started wondering what I would do about that.  At first I thought I might just leave them off, but my OCD just wouldn’t let me do that.  Then I remembered the half pearls that I used on a couple of my steam punk rockets.  I pulled them out and they were just the right size to fit.  I CA’ed them into place and painted them white.

That is as far as I have gotten so far.  Next I need to start working on how to light the pod on the extended platform.  My brass rods came in so now I have no excuses left, I have to start working on it.  Current plan is to run some very thin wires through one of the rods and up into the platform then into the pod.  First things first, I need to get the pod painted to block any light from the interior leaking out.

That’s all for now.


2001 Discovery XD-1 Build

I’m getting ready to start my next build.  It will be the Moebius kit of the Discovery XD-1 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  This is one of my grail kits.  I’ve wanted a kit of this model ever since I saw the movie back in 1968.  There have been no injected styrene kits of this up until Moebius did it a couple of years ago.  There were some garage kits in resin, but they were either out of my price range or I didn’t find out about them until they were out of production.  I pre-ordered the kit from CulTVMan when it was announced.  It’s been in my stash since then.  Now I’m finally getting around to building it.

Of course this model screams for a detailed pod bay which is not included in the kit.  Fortunately ParaGrafix has come to the rescue with a pair of photoetch sets that re-create the pod bay and the cockpit of the XD-1.  I also found out that HDA Modelworks was making a set of decals for the ParaGrafix sets that would help me avoid having to paint all that detail by hand.

Obviously, since there was no pod bay in the kit, there are no pods in the kit either.  After looking at what was available from after-market sources, and actually purchasing a couple, I was not enthusiastic at what I had found.  The first one I picked up was cast in clear resin so it might be possible to light it.  Unfortunately it was way undersized.  I found another that was about the correct size but the detailing in the back seemed wrong, and it was cast in solid white which would make lighting next to impossible.  Finally, I heard about Falconware on Shapeways.  He was producing a 3D printed set of pods that were the right size and nicely detailed.  He had even included the provision to add fiber optics for the headlights of the pod.  I bought a set of three and they look very good.  He also provides a set of arms in various positions so you can model them parked, picking up Frank, or opening the emergency airlock.

So now I have most of the aftermarket add-ons that I need (I still need to get some LED’s for the lighting) I’m ready to start on the model.  I opened the box and examined the runners.  Each runner is in a separate bag so if any parts come off the won’t go far.  Unfortunately, my kit had two parts that were damaged.  The main antenna spider had one of its arms broken.  Also the window sill was cracked.  After sparing application of liquid cement and careful bending of the broken part, I was able to fix the spider.  You can barely tell where it was broken.  I used a similar procedure on the window sill.  Both came out great.

Now I need to figure out my plan of attack for the model.  I think I’ll be starting with the photoetch sets from ParaGrafix.  I’ll be modeling the scene where Dave is leaving the pod bay in his attempt to get Frank.  So I will only need two of the three pods that I bought.  I will also only need to light the one that Dave is using.  I’ll model that pod platform extended with the headlights on and the arms in the parked position.  I have a bit of work to do before I install the platforms which is good since I’m still waiting on the brass tubes that support the platforms.

I expect the initial stages of this build to be a bit slow, but things should start progressing nicely after the interior and lighting is installed.

Thanks for following along.


LDRS 38 Club Project

LDRS is an annual gathering for high power rocketeers from all over the country and a few from foreign countries as well.  This year was LDRS 38 hosted by the Kloudbusters of Wichita Kansas.  They are one of the best clubs in the country for large launches.  They have hosted several LDRS launches and have it down to a fine art.  Which is good because this was the largest LDRS ever.

At the last LDRS held at the Rocket Pasture, LDRS 30, the club built a two stage scale version of the Nike Asp sounding rocket.  It flew well until time to ignite the second stage.  It didn’t ignite!  The recovery system worked properly and we got all the pieces back.  We vowed that the next time LDRS was here we’d try again.

That time came last week at LDRS 38.  Members pitched in and prepared the motors loaded them into the Nike booster and the Asp second stage.  Electronics were prepared and all recovery devices were packed and loaded into their respective stages.

Then we departed for the away pads and to get approval of the Range Safety Officer to fly.  One small problem getting RSO approval, he didn’t like our electronics set up to assure that the second stage would light only if the rocket was still within a few degrees of vertical.  We worked that one out.  Bob Brown the LDRS leader took one of our members back to our camp site to get the laptop so we could reprogram the electronics.  After a few minutes all was well and we headed out to the pad to get the rocket loaded for launch.  Time was ticking down as our FAA waiver only had about 20 minutes left.  We finally got it loaded with just a few minutes left.

The countdown proceeded well and then with a loud roar off she went.  Staging looked beautiful just like last time.  Then the Asp second stage lit and off we go.  Looking good…for a few seconds.  Then the smoke trail changed a bit.  That didn’t look quite right.  But she is still going up.  Wait, the second stage parachute should be out.  Oh, there it is.  That definitely is not right.  There is nothing under the chute.  Plus it should be a lot higher.  We definitely had a problem.  Then we noticed a large section coming down with no chute just trailing some cords to the east.  No sign of the rest of the rocket.  The Nike booster came down just fine.  No problems there.  Now we need to find the as many parts as we can.  The radio trackers came out and then the nose cone was found, but still no sign of the rest of the rocket.

From studying the pictures, we definitely had an anomaly shortly after staging.  Our theory is that as the rocket went transonic or just supersonic we lost a fin.  That caused a deviation from the flight path that increased the angle of attack.  This over stressed the airframe and it broke up.

At least we got the booster back.  I’m sure at some point in the future we will try another club project, but for now we’ll take a break.

Still it was a great LDRS 38, mostly good weather and lots of great flights.

Voskhod Build Complete

The Voskhod build that I started back in January is finally finished.  I got the main engine bells painted.  Then I drilled small holes at the base of the core and boosters to accept the tab that is on the engine bells.  They were then glued into place with thick CA.  The vernier motors were painted and installed on the core and boosters.  For the core, the full length of the Airfix vernier motors fit within the cavities that were on the sides of the core body.  For the boosters, I had to trim all the part away except for the nozzles.  These then fit into the small recesses at the edge of each booster.  They were also glued on with thick CA.

Then I carefully glued the boosters to the core stage.  I again used thick CA.  I added a small drop at four points for each booster.  One at the tip where the top of the booster is attached to the core body and then at two points for the braces.  I also added a drop of CA at the middle of the crossbar where there is a pin that goes into a hole that had been drilled in each booster body.  The Apex kit did not have that pin on the crossbar that came in the kit.  The actual vehicle did not have that attach point either.  The Airfix part that I was using instead did.  I like that idea as it helps hold the boosters on a bit more securely, and at this scale you cannot see where they meet so it does not distract from model.

Next came a fiddly part of the build where I had to attach the second stage to the truss work on the core stage.  Here I put a small amount of JB Weld epoxy at each pin that I had previously added to the second stage.  I then carefully placed the second stage on the truss.  It took a bit of wiggling here and adjusting there to get it into the proper position.  Each of the four pins had to be behind the top of the inverted ‘V’ on the truss so that the JB Weld could have something else to grab onto.  After letting it cure for 24 hours, it is not securely attached.  But I still want to be careful in handling, since the pins holding it together are tiny.

It now sits on its base.  The steel rod fits nicely into the tube that I built into the core stage.  It is very stable on its base.  It now takes its place in my 1/144 scale rocket garden of manned launch vehicles.  I now only need two more to finish the garden, a Russian Soyuz and a Chinese CZ-2F.  That is until Spacex and Boeing start flying crews to the ISS.

Thanks for reading.

Voskhod Update 2

Now that I have finished the Saturn V and the Lego LM I need to get back to the Voskhod 2 model.  When I last posted about this project, I had assembled the stages and put the photo etched brass truss on the first stage.  Since then all parts have had primer applied and also painted in gray.  Then the bases of the stages were painted with chrome silver.  I then glued the 20 engine bells from the Airfix kit to a piece of scrap wood with white glue.  This will hold them in place while painting yet be easily removable after the paint is dry.

Then I noticed that I needed to move a couple of external pipes on the second stage.  From my reference material they were in the wrong position.  After I did that I then drilled some 1/32 inch holes to mount the antennas on the second stage.  I had done a similar thing with the two antennas on the core booster.  To keep the antennas in the proper position until the CA cured I used a scrap piece of .060 strip stock taped to the side of the model.  The antennas were made with .4 mm rod bent to the proper shape.

Next I started thinking about how I was going to attach the second stage to the truss at the top of the core stage.  The second stage/spacecraft section is solid resin and heavier that the entire rest of the model.  If I was doing it again I think I would try to hollow out some of the second stage and spacecraft to lighten it up a bit.  After considerable trial fitting, cussing and thinking, I came up with a solution that I think will work.  I drilled four 1/32 inch holes in the base of the second stage at four points around the stage where a peak of the ‘V’ from the brass interstage touches the stage.  I then used CA to glue in four short stubs of sytrene rod.  This should help me align the second stage on the truss and also provide a bit of extra surface area to glue the two together.  I’ll glue the second stage to the core stage after I attach the strap-on boosters.

It is getting close to final assembly.  Just needs a bit more paint and adding the engine bells to the core and strap-ons.  I also need to get the base finished.  I have it drilled for the steel rod and the rod is cut to length.  I just need to sand and paint the base.

More to come…

LEGO Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

I’m bored to death waiting for the bubble to dissolve in my eye after my surgery.  My vision in that eye is such that I have a hard time with small items, so that rules out getting back to the Voskhod right now.  However, I did get the LEGO Lunar Module for my birthday.  My eye has cleared to the point where I can see the LEGO parts well enough.

So here is quick build of the LEGO Apollo 11 Lunar Lander.  I love the engineering that goes into these models to make it both a decent representation and structurally sound.

The build begins by making the display base.  Lego Neil showed up to help display the build.  The base is quite strong as usual.  You can see from the build gallery below that the sub structure really helps hold it together.  The craters are a nice touch.  They put in four circular pads for the placement of the LM landing pads.  Look near the flag and you can see Lego Neil’s footprints.

Part 2 of the build is the Descent stage frame.  Here is where they really nail the octagonal shape of the LM Descent stage.  They include representations of the fuel tanks.  They also include the MESA compartment with the opening door and camera.  There is a bay that houses the retroreflector that was placed on the moon.  The connection to the Ascent stage is firmly attached with a clever bracket assembly that firmly connects it to the Descent stage frame.  This allows the Ascent stage to be removed from the Descent stage without fear of tearing everything apart.

The equipment bays are attached at an angle in keeping with the octagonal shape.  They used ball joints and bricks to join them to the frame at an angle.  It is very effective and sturdy.  Lego Neil helps point out some of the cool things in Part 2.

Part 3 of the assembly will complete the Descent stage.  Stickers are provided to add additional gold foil detail.  Lots of gold bricks cover the sides and some of the top.  The legs are attached with struts and ball joints.  That keeps the spindly look of the real LM and makes it easier to connect them to the Descent stage frame.  The representations of the plume deflectors is a bit small but I’d have a hard time doing it better.  The look and feel is similar to the real thing.  Once the attachment of the legs is complete you can place the Descent stage on the base.

Part 4 of the assembly will construct the Ascent stage.  Lego Buzz volunteered to help show off the steps of this part of the build.  It starts off with the center section of the Ascent stage.  More stickers here represent some of the control panels in the real LM.  Next is the front section.  Here is where some of the bigger compromises had to be made.  There just aren’t any LEGO parts that will work exactly for the triangular windows of the LM.  So instead they use a normal windshield and then surround that with a lot of brickwork to give the impression of triangular windows.  Also the LM hatch is a two piece door rather than a single piece.  But, hey, the doors open and close.

Another compromise was in the attitude control thruster quads.  These are placed on rather thin stalks instead of slightly bulkier extensions.  It isn’t horrible, just not quite as representative.  The rear section has some more stickers for control panels and the other two thruster quads.  Notice that the front and rear sections are cleverly designed to be removable so that you can place Lego Neil and/or Buzz inside the LM.  The major antennas are represented and are somewhat positional.

The Ascent stage snaps onto the Descent stage as mentioned above.  It is a nice solid connection, but yet also removable.  Here is a walk-around of the assembled model.  Lego Buzz and Neil have taken their places in the final picture.

This was a fun build, even with one squirrelly eye.  LEGO has done it again with a nice representation of a real space subject.  This one went together much quicker than the Saturn V from a couple of years ago, but is also much smaller.

Thanks for looking and hopefully I’ll be back on the Voskhod soon.

50th Anniversary Saturn V Build Complete

Clear coating is done.  The stand is complete.  The project is done. Here is the final update.

I sanded the wooden base block and sprayed it with gray primer.  Then after that had cured, I drew three chord lines on it.  Then I drew a perpendicular bisector for each of those chords.  Where the bisectors intersect is the center of the circle. You can see that my bisectors were just a bit off, but since I drew three, I could average the difference and come out with a hole that was pretty close to the center.

I then painted on two coats of flat black paint, then when that had cured I put on a coat of Pledge Clear Floor Finish. Then I put the custom Apollo 15 decal that I had printed on my Alps printer.  When the decal had dried I then put on a final coat of Pledge Clear Floor Finish.  Above is a close up of the custom decal I made.  The colors look better in person than the picture shows.  The blue chevron is actually navy blue even though the picture makes it look black.

Now SA-510 Apollo 15, is all assembled and on her stand.  She’s ready to take her place in my 1/144 US Manned Launchers rocket garden.  Below are a few photos of the details on the finished model.

She now takes her place in my now complete 1/144 rocket garden of all US manned launchers.  Below are a couple of pics.  That is 1/144 scale IMR ISS model in the background.  The members of the garden are Apollo 7 Saturn IB, STS-31 Discovery, Apollo 15 Saturn V, Gemini 5 Titian II, Freedom 7 Mercury Redstone, and Friendship 7 Mercury Atlas.  Those models were built over the course of about 6 years.  It took me a lot longer to build a project when I was working.  Now that I’m retired I have a bit more time to build.

This has really been a fun project.  Next up is to finish my 1/144 Voskhod, that is about 90% done.  After that I think I’ll do a 1/144 2001 Discovery or 1/72 Millennium Falcon for a change of pace before I do my next real space subject.  I have decided that the next Saturn V I do will have the stages separated and I think it will be displayed horizontally to show all the cool engine details.

I’ll be offline for a while since I’m having surgery for a detached retina.  But after that, I’ll be back at the bench working on the next project.