1/144 Saturn I Block II SA-5 Build Update 1

Time for a progress report on the SA-5 build.  I started on the aft structure of the first stage.  I needed to drill a hole for a brass rod that would attach the model to the display base.  I marked an X on the top of the part and put the heat shield on the bottom of the base.  I then went to my drill press and drilled a hole through the top down through the heat shield on the bottom.  I then inserted a length of brass tube through the top and down into the hole in the heat shield.  I only pushed it through until it was flush with the outside of the heat shield.  Then I applied epoxy to the portion of the tube sticking out of the top.  When that had cured I removed the heat shield and then applied epoxy to the tube from the bottom side.  Then I put the heat shield back on.  Once that had cured I had a rod that was positively attached to the aft structure and would not move while I added weight.  With the head shield removed, I put some BB’s in and then poured in epoxy to secure them.  With that I was ready to start adding details to the aft section.

I then glued the halves of the tank section together and then removed the molded in antennas.  Next I added some details to the heat shield.  I scribed lines into the heat shield to match the pattern of SA-5.  I filled four holes for the inboard engines that will not be used.  The inboards did not have the turbo pump exhausts around the engine bells like the outboards did. I also added four small bits of styrene rod to represent the water quench disconnects.  I then added the flame shields for the outboards by bending some insulated copper wire bent to the correct shape.

I then went back to the aft structure.  I filled the ribbing that was molded in.  It is in the wrong place and does not cover enough of the base.  I sanded that smooth and applied a light coat of primer to make sure I had them filled properly.  I created a pattern to allow me to get the stringers spaced properly.  There are fourteen stringers between each fin, with a blank area surrounding each fin.  With the pattern secured to the part, I started gluing the .020 x .020 styrene strips in line with my pattern.  I had to cut out a bit around where the inboard turbo pump exhaust goes.  After adding all the stringers, I sanded a slight taper into the leading edge of them.  With that complete I created 8 access doors from .005 styrene sheet and sanded rounded corners into each one.  I then made two umbilical doors out of the same .005 sheet styrene.  I then marked all round the aft structure for the placement the doors.  I glued them on with my Tenax cement.

That’s it for now.  Much more work on the first stage to go.

Thanks for looking.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 5

I felt a bit better about the damage to the paint job after calming down and looking it all over.  The alligator skin was not all over the model.  It appeared to be mostly in areas where I had laid down a heavier layer of clear coat.  So now I feel a bit better about being able to remedy this situation.

I finally received my bottle of Tamiya Lacquer thinner that I had order last week.  Others had advised that the lacquer thinner would be able to remove the crinkled finish so I ordered some.  I got out some cotton buds and started removing the damaged finish.  I started with the back end of the engine cover since it had some of the worst crinkling and it had an area with a smooth surface without much detail.  I dipped a cotton bud in some of the lacquer thinner and started rubbing the surface.  With very little effort the rough surface came off, but so did all the paint and primer.  It took it down to the bare plastic.

This shows the area where I removed the damaged paint with lacquer thinner.

The problem was that in the process of removing the paint it created clumps of paint that could get lodged in some of the fine details.  If I used this process on the whole model, it would take a lot of clean up to get all the clumps out of the details.  It got me to thinking about some alternatives.  I had some 90% isopropyl alcohol.  I used it to clean brushes after painting, and I wondered if it might work here.  The main concern was whether it would do any good against the lacquer clear coat.  I gave it a shot anyway.  It worked!  I was able to remove the alligator skin and keep much of the paint/primer in place.  The new surface was smooth and looked like it would be able to be re-sprayed and still look good.  In the photo above, you can see in the areas above and to the right of the bare plastic where I used the alcohol and was able to preserve the primer but also smooth the paint.  It also didn’t create balls of paint that could gunk up the fine details.

After going over the whole model and removing the alligator skin, I let it dry for a couple of days to let the paint firm back up before re-spraying the white-gray base coat again.

Repainted areas

It now looks good again and I’ll let the paint cure for a few days.  This will give me a chance to get some Vallejo clear coat and matt coat.  I’ll use those since they should be more compatible with the Vallejo paint that was used for the base coat.  I’ll still test it on a test part first to be sure there isn’t some other problem that could crop up.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for looking.

1/144 Saturn I Block II SA-5 Build

Well I don’t usually overlap builds, but I knew I was going to have to wait a bit before I could get back to the Millennium Falcon.  I started my next project which is another kit from Martin’s Models from the UK.  This one is a conversion set that modifies an Airfix 1/144 Saturn IB into a Saturn I Block II SA-5.  It was the first Saturn I flight to have a live S-IV second stage.  I love that rocket.  It has those great classic lines.

Again the resin parts are quite rough and some are out of round, but it will be a great starting point and should build into a nice model.

I started by removing the pour plugs from the parts and doing any necessary trimming to the resin parts.  Next I started removing the fins from the thrust structure of the kit part.  This time I would not be removing the fairings from the base part since SA-5 had these.  When I used the Airfix kit to make the SA-205 Apollo 7 Saturn IB a few years ago, I had to remove them.  For SA-5 I did have to remove part of the top of the parts that made up the first stage fuel tanks since SA-5 had only a very small flat section.  In the picture you can see how much had to be removed.  The part on the right has the extra plastic cut off while the part on the left has not been modified yet.  You can also see how much the plastic had yellowed over the years.  I bought this kit when Airfix re-released it in the 1990’s.

You’ll notice that I had to fill a couple of divots that I made when I was removing the fins.  I got a bit zealous with the Dremel and created an oopsi moment.

Next, I moved on to some of the resin parts.  The tapered interstage needed to be sanded a bit on both ends to get a flat and square surface.  Unfortunately the interstage is not quite round.  I’ll have to do more work here to get a more rounded part.  The nosecone was not pointed enough for the version that was on SA-5.  I started tapering it a bit more.  I’m almost there.  I’m not sure how much more I can sand it though.  I keep hitting air bubbles that prevent a sharper point.  I’ll continue to try and refine it.

Sorry for the out of focus on the interstage pic above.

Thanks for looking.  More to come.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 4

While waiting for the paint to cure on the rest of the Falcon, I started painting the turbo laser cockpits. I added some black to the barrels of the turbo lasers themselves.  It helps give them some depth.  Then I painted and assembled the cockpit seats.  They were pretty simple, the only colors needed were flat black and some silver.  There are supposed to be some lights on the targeting computer boxes but I couldn’t find a proper place to put them and the details don’t lend themselves to lights either.  They look pretty good nonetheless.

Next I started on the cockpit interiors.  Lots of panels, some gray, some light gray, some black and a couple red.  Then a bunch of silver for the ribbed hoses and lots of lights.  On some of the lights I over coated with transparent red or yellow.  The effect came out nice.  Some of my panel borders are not the straightest, but they are not too bad.  When you look at them from the angle of the front windows they look much better.

It took a few days to finish the cockpits, so by this time the base coat on the rest of the Falcon was cured.  I got out my spray can of Tamiya TS-13 Clear to provide a smooth base to start applying the decals.  I needed to apply a few of the decals before I could finish the assembly.  Then I can finish applying decals and then start the weathering process.

I used the Tamiya TS-13 Clear spray on my 2001 Discovery One model recently and the base coat on it was also Vallejo paint.  In that case it was Model Color White Gray.  This time I had used Vallejo Model Air White Gray for the base coat.  After spraying the sections I went back to inspect them in case there were some places I had missed.  That was when I noticed that many areas now had alligator skin where the paint looked cracked and the surface was slightly rough.

Cracking paint after applying clear coat.

I’ve never had a problem with paint cracking like this before.  I checked online and sure enough, many others reported a similar thing happening when applying spray can Tamiya TS-13 Clear over Vallejo Model Air.  Well that was just great!  It will take me a while to figure out how to remedy this situation, so the next post may be a bit delayed.  Lesson learned.

I do have some Tamiya X-22 Clear Gloss that I can try.  It may work out better, since it is an acrylic.  My big mistake apparently is that the spray can clear is a lacquer that can have that type of effect on some acrylic paints.  Since X-22 is acrylic it might work better.  I’ll try it on a test piece first so I don’t end up with another disaster on my hands.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for looking.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 3

Time for an update.  I moved on to the upper hull.  I primed and installed the maintenance bays and the antenna mount.  After some study I decided that I could go ahead and install turbo laser stations and mask off the open windows without having to remove them to install the cockpits.  The laser cannon cockpits can be installed from the inside so I will work on them later.  I placed, but did not push down, the laser cannon backplates.  That way I can paint the whole hull with the base coat without the cannons installed and then put the cannons on after primer and paint.  If I put the cannons in first, it would have been difficult to get paint under the cannon and onto the window frames.

I was then able to add most of the external piping to the upper hull.  Some of the piping will have to wait since it runs over some of the panels that haven’t had their decals added yet.  I also added detail parts to the covers leading to the docking ports and installed the PE grills in them.  I’ll install them onto the hull after the two hull halves go together.

I then moved on to the lower hull and installed the landing gear doors and turbo cannon stations.  Just like with the upper hull, I partially installed the laser cannon backplates.  I then started adding as much of the external piping to the lower hull as possible without having both halves put together.

There were a few parts that I could not install until I get some of the decals placed.  Those parts, some from the upper hull and some from the lower hull, were primed and painted separately.  I also sprayed a black grey pre-shade on the docking ports.

From there I moved to the engine cover.  I started with the PE grills.  They are very nicely etched.  They have a small flat spot on opposite edges that matches a flat spot in the cover.  That makes sure that the grills are attached at the proper angle.  I glued them in with CA glue.  I then started adding the detail parts.  Lots of detail parts.  A few needed to be glued in place to make sure they stayed in place, but most fit very well without glue.  I dry brushed some silver on the turbine blades that go behind the grills.  I’ll install that part after I prime and paint the engine cover.

At this point I decided to check the fit of the engine cover on the upper hull.  It does not snap in quite as tightly as some of the other parts since it needs to be removed to turn the lights on or off.  It is good that I did a check first.  I discovered a slight warp in the engine cover.  I will need to get most if not all the warp out to make the cover fit well and look good.  I laid the part on a corner of the workbench and then placed a wooden block on the part and then put a heavy bottle on top to provide the weight required to flatten the curve.  I’ll leave the weight on a few days to see if the curve flattens.

While waiting on that, I moved on to painting the base color on the upper and lower hull halves.  I started by adding the mandibles to the lower hull half.  I am using Vallejo Model Air 70.119 White Gray.  It sprayed on fairly well.  I did have a bit of a problem with paint building up on the edges of my airbrush nozzle.  I’ll have to look into that to see what I’m doing wrong.  I haven’t had that problem when spraying Tamiya paints.  I also sprayed the parts that can’t go on until some of the decals go on first.  Some of those are still attached to their trees.  Note the black spots on the upper hull.  They correspond with the grills in the hallway covers.  Hopefully they will give some depth behind the grills.

It looks like the White Gray paint is going to take a while to fully dry, so in the meantime I’ll start working on the turbo laser cockpits.

More to come…

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 2

While working on the next assemblies of the Millennium Falcon, I took some time to look at all the greebles that are all over the ship.  The ILM modelers used dozens and dozens of model kits to add bits here and there.  It is really interesting to see what you can identify.  I’m sure if I was a car or tank modeler I would recognize more bits, but here are a few that jumped out at me as it was going through the sprues.

Anyway, now back to the modeling.  I was going to start working on the lower hull section when I noticed that one corner was damaged.  I don’t think it happened during shipping, I think it may have happened when I put all the part bags back in the box after I first looked inside.  It was obvious to me that I didn’t quite get everything back exactly as it was.  So there must have been some pressure put on that corner.  The plastic is very thin at that point and it had been curled back a bit.

I carefully bent the piece back into place.  The edge had started to crack off from the rest of the part, so I needed to glue it back in place.  I used my plastic weld glue and after that dried I then used some Tamiya putty to fill the irregularities.  When that had dried, I sanded it starting with a fine sanding stick and then progressing through extra fine and finally a polishing stick.  It looks good and shouldn’t be noticed once the paint goes on.

In the meantime I worked on the mandibles.  First, I worked on the circular pits, adding the detail parts and then spraying them with primer.  I put the primer on them first since once it is in place it would be difficult to get primer to the edges.  I’m not going to worry about not getting the base color into every corner of them, as this will add some shadow depth to them.

Once those were done I started assembly on the rest of the mandible.  Many of the parts, particularly the piping, come from the fragile trees that came in the separate box.  These are very nicely molded, but they are also very thin.  You will find it difficult to use nippers on some of them.  Therefore, care must be taken when removing them from the trees.  Many times I used an X-acto knife with a new blade to remove the parts.  So far I have only broken one part, and that was at the beginning when I foolishly tried my nippers.  The nippers torqued the part and snapped a pipe.  Fortunately, it was in a non-critical area and I was able to weld it back together and now looks fine.

Bandai did a very good job designing the gates on the tiny parts. (The gate is where the part attaches to the tree.)  In fact most of the gates are either on areas which are internal to the kit or are hidden by other parts when assembled.  Even so, on the tiny pipes and other parts, it is inevitable that a few gates will be visible after assembly.  So you will have to carefully clean them after removing them from the tree.

Anyway, I got the mandibles finished and set them aside to be sprayed with primer later.

Mandibles complete and ready for primer.

With the repair complete on the lower hull, I started work on the other parts to add to it.  The maintenance bays had to be built up next.  These also had many tiny parts to complete them.  The amount of detail on this kit is truly amazing.  There are so many tiny parts that couldn’t have been included any other way than to have been separate parts.  There is no way to mold a single part that has that kind of 3D detail.  This kit amazes me with each section I complete.

When they were done I moved on the docking ports.  Once again a part that in many kits would have been just a handful of pieces was many large and small parts that end up beautiful.  I primed those parts and then built the nose piece that fits between the mandibles.  Then I put the LED in the front landing gear bay and attached the nose piece and maintenance bays to the lower hull.  I then added the back half of the lower hull.

As you may have noticed, I am not exactly building this kit in the order laid out in the instructions.  I’m doing this to try and facilitate painting of the kit.  My plan is to get the kit assembled, with certain areas primered first, and then spray on the base coat.  After the base coat, I plan on applying the decals for the different colored panels and then start to weather the kit.  Because of this, I needed to paint the engine grid, then install it, mask it off and then paint the areas around the grid.  That is the plan, we will see how it goes.

I painted the back area of the grid flat black and the outward facing grid the base color (white gray).  Then I assembled the inner and outer grid parts and installed that in the lower hull.  Then I masked it off in preparation for primer on the rest of the hull.

That is it for this update.  I’ll be working on the upper hull and preparing for primer of those parts next.

Thanks for looking.

Bandai 1/72 Scale Millennium Falcon Perfect Grade Build Update 1

After the main console was finished, I moved on to the side walls of the cockpit.  I had already given up the idea of using decals for the side walls.  Instead I painted them with a clear flat and then started painting the gray areas.  From there I moved on to dry brushing the lights and buttons with silver.  Then used some transparent blue and red to color some of the buttons.  Here are the results.  I think it turned out relatively well.

In the first post on this build I indicated that I was going to try to apply my custom decal to the back wall of the cockpit.

Back wall light blocked and next to it the custom decal.

Well it didn’t turn out well.  I applied the decal using MicroSet, but it became evident very quickly that there were too many raised areas on the back wall and some of them were larger than I thought.  Off came the decal and I repainted the back wall with primer and matt black.  I then painted the lighter panels with Tamiya NATO Black, the padding around the door with Model Air Sand Yellow and the door itself with Tamiya Dark Sea Gray.  Then I started removing paint from the areas that I wanted light to come through.  I also added a bit of Tamiya transparent Blue, Red and Green to add color to the lights and buttons on the wall.  I used the transparent colors on both the front and the back to enhance the color.  I sanded the back side of the light bars to diffuse the light at bit.  I also sprayed the back side with some Matt Clear to add a bit of diffusion there as well.

Before putting the cockpit in the hull I noticed that the way the light shines on it from behind, that Bandai has intended for only the light bars to shine.  None of the buttons and lights would shine.  To remedy that, I did some surgery on the hull part.  This should allow some of the light to fall on the rest of the wall and not just the light bars.

I then also saw that the LED holder had just tiny holes for the light to shine through.  I used a round file to open the holes up and allow more light through.

Once that was done I put the LEDs in place, turned them on and checked how it looks.

With that complete, I started on finishing the cockpit assembly.  I painted the inside of the window piece.  The lower section was painted black in line with the side panels and then the rest of the interior was given a black wash to show detail and give it a bit of a grimy look, then it was sprayed with Matt Clear.  Next I snapped the hull halves together.  I then noticed that the halves would not close completely without some pressure.  Time for the plastic weld.  I glued the outside section together first, followed by the side facing the rest of the ship.  I was able to close all the seam lines except for the last section that would head toward the rest of the ship.  There was a gap that I just couldn’t close.  I pulled out some 0.05 inch plastic sheet and cut a small section to put into the gap.  Then I used my plastic weld on it and when that was dry I cut off the excess.  The gap is now nicely closed.

I then attached all the rest of the plastic bits that needed to go on, including an optional photoetch grill section.  The cockpit window section doesn’t quite fit right.  I will wait to glue that part in until I get it all painted.

On to the next section.  Thanks for looking.