Back to the Millennium Falcon. I got the Vallejo gloss and dull coat and started out by testing it on a wall of the boarding ramp. It went on fine, maybe a little thick but it did not react with the underlying paint as expected.
I then took the boarding ramp part and applied the decals after giving it a clear coat. The decals are rather thick as has been mentioned in many places by others. There were some fine details that the decals needed to conform to on the boarding ramp. This required several applications of Solvaset. It really is much stronger that Micro Scale MicroSol. You do not have much time after applying Solvaset to work with the decal before it becomes too soft to touch. I let the Solvaset dry completely between applications and with each application I carefully eased the decal into the details. Even so, some details were just a bit tall or complicated to really get it to snuggle down. For those areas I either made a small slice with a sharp #11 blade or pricked it with a straight pin. Then applied more Solvaset. This seemed to work pretty well and the decals settled in nicely. After they were dry I sprayed them lightly with the Vallejo dull coat. It did not attack the decal. When that had dried I then applied a bit heavier coat to get the flat surface I wanted.
With these tests behind me I moved on to the rest of the model. I took the engine cover and gave it a clear coat and after that had cured I started adding the decals that would go under the engine flaps at the back. While those were being snuggled down with Solvaset, I started adding the decals to the engine flaps. When those were complete I finished the assembly of the engine cover by installing the engine flaps. Then I finished adding decals to the engine cover. It looks good and is just waiting for its dull coat. I’ll do that when I dull coat the rest of the upper hull.
I then put the two hull halves together. I got some foam padding and placed the Falcon upside down on the foam to begin adding decals to the lower hull. When applying the larger decals that color some of the panels, I made sure to trim closely to decal and remove as much of the clear part as possible. Some of the decals were stubborn with the raised details as expected and required some knife work to get settled down properly. In some instances this resulted in some of the base coat showing through the cut. I found that for the yellowish decals a mix of Vallejo Aged White and Desert Armour matched very well. Dark Ghost Gray worked well with the dark gray panels. A mix of German Red Brown and Red was a good match for the red panels.
In the process of finding the colors to match the decals, I first tried some Tamiya medium gray. The color matched fairly well but it did not react well with the clear coat on the test piece at all. My advice is if you start with Vallejo stick with it and don’t use them with any other brand of paint. Better safe than sorry.
I know this might seem like a lot of work rather than just painting the individual panels and then chipping the paint. That is probably true. The only problem here is that I have zero experience with paint chipping and I didn’t think that this would be the right model to learn on. I will take on the chipping process in a future build, but for now the decals are working well even if it is a bit slow.
While working on the decals I did notice that the details I had added to the Turbo Laser stations were more visible than I thought they would be. Hopefully it will still be that way after the Turbo Lasers are added.
That is it for now. Half of the lower hull is done, maybe in the next week I can finish the decals and can move on to staining/weathering the Falcon.
This is just a quick update before I jump back to the Millennium Falcon. I was preparing to attach the fuel tank portion of the first stage to the thrust structure. As I’ve seen before when I did the SA-205 Apollo 7 Saturn IB model, the tanks don’t exactly line up well with the thrust structure. There is quite a step out nearly all the way around the stage that requires a considerable amount of clean up to get a proper looking stage. While I was messing around with it trying to get the best possible alignment, I noticed that if I rotated the tank portion a bit in one direction most of the tanks lined up much better. The only problem was that it wouldn’t stay that way and it also tended to try and pop the tank section open at the seam.
I decided to try and remove part of the alignment guides that are on the thrust structure, hoping that would allow me to slightly rotate the tanks into a better position. That seemed to work pretty good. The tanks are now attached and are just awaiting some sanding, carving and filling to make them look good. But since the tanks line up better it will be a much simpler job that it would otherwise have been. There is still one of the tanks that will require a lot of work, but it is just one tank and not almost all of them which would be the case otherwise.
I only highlight one of the guides in the pictures above but there are four of them around the thrust structure and they were all trimmed the same way.
That is it for now. I’ll set this aside for a while I tackle the decals on the Millennium Falcon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.