Thursday, February 18, 2016

Not much to update*

*This is a lie.

Here it is the middle of February, and there's not much to update.  Not much in relation to what I could have done, but there's a fair amount compared to what I had done before.

Actually, there's a fair amount to update; it just doesn't seem like it.  That's the nature of these subscription things: you get a few parts that may not be used for a while, and sometimes you save up stuff for a while so it's easier to see the big picture, especially when it comes to painting.  And it's almost time for painting the lower hull.

One night, I got to working, and I actually accomplished a fair amount.  So, here's the catch-up post.

Here's the frame complete up until where I had to stop.  The missing arc is the starboard side, which is the ramp. Ignore the poinsettia trivet; it is immaterial to the Falcon.

By this time I had finally purchased some blue thread-lock.  This will prevent the screws from backing out over time.  I definitely don't want to partially disasssemble the Falcon every few months to make sure everything's still snug.

Below is a close-up of the joints so you can see how they fit together.  Those screws are tiny.  They are driven with a size 0 screwdriver.  I've discovered that the screwdriver supplied with the parts is made of not-so-great material.  It's getting chewed-up, and it's losing its magentism.  A good screwdriver is cheap, though.

 Anyway, the frame is die-cast metal.  It's fastened with steel screws and metal brackets.  There are also metal ribs running from the center ring to the outside to strengthen the structure.

Hull plating is fashioned from ABS plastic.  It has pegs that fit in holes in the framework.  Then, self-tapping steel screws are driven in to secure it.  Before that, though, I'll light-block each panel by priming the inside with black and then coating in silver for reflectivity.  That will keep any light from the interior from spilling out through the skin, as it will be fully opaque.  The silver will send the light back into the ship interior.
 The cockpit is not fully assembled.  I have some levers custom-milled for me from a gentleman in England.  I've not had a chance to put them in yet.  I need to remove these.  "Why remove these?" you may ask.  I messed up putting them in, and I'm not happy with them.  The new ones are metal, and I should be able to make them look better.

The seats are waiting for me to set up the paint booth so I can airbrush them to their proper color.  The pilot and copilot seats are too red, and the navigator seats are too black and white and clean.  They need some weathering done to fit in with the Falcon's ... idiom.

I'm quite happy with the way the throttles and yokes turned out.  The whole thing should look pretty good when it's complete.
 This is the passage that leads from the cargo hold-slash-living area and goes to the cockpit (at the top) and the turrets (at the bottom).  It would lead to the ramp to the right, but it stops before it would reach it.  That's not going to be visible when the hull panels are removed.

The floor here, and indeed in all the passages like this, is treated the same way as the cargo hold: I smeared black oil paint all over it, then removed it, leaving the paint in the panel lines.  It also makes the floor look somewhat dirty by leaving some of the pigment on and not wiping it off fully.

 The rings for the passage.  Most people hate these things.  They're not too bad, but the pads are very small, and each requires trimming and sanding/filing.

I have a method that I guess is fairly uncommon, as I've never seen anyone else do it.  I actually cut as close as I can to the part when removing it from the sprue.  Then, I'll use a hobby knife to get the joint shaved down about even to the surface of the part.  And only then will I sand the part smooth.

In all, I put eight or nine of these things together.

Test fitting the rings before fitting the long cushions.

Unlike the ones in the cargo hold, these rings have a peg on top.  This serves to keep them properly aligned and upright when the top of the corridor is attached.

As you can see, these rings are not in properly, as the pegs aren't all the same direction.  Worry not, though.  I fixed it before gluing them in.
After the test fit, the long cushions get glued in.  There are three long cushions in the Falcon's corridors.  One at the bottom, one at the top, and one in the middle.

Here you see the one at the bottom, and a small strip above it.
It might be difficult to see, but on the bottom side--the interior of the ring, if you will--the middle cushion is taller. It's easier to see in this shot, which is really why I took it.

Anyway, the interior will have a top to the corridor.  The outside will be viewable by a removable panel after the build is complete.  So, the cut out section also cuts through the cushions.  You'll be able to see the full cushions on the back walls.

And here's the top of the corridor.  Note the holes for the pegs on the rings.  Also note the top cushions.

It's easy to see the cutout for the cockpit passage tube on the bottom side, as well.
Passage fully assembled.  View from ramp end.  To the right is the cockpit, and to the left will be the turret passage.
 Again, from the viewable cutout.passage to the turrets on the far side.  It's narrower than the one you see in Star Wars.  That's because the layout of the interior is based on a refined layout done for Empire Strikes Back.  The first movie had an interior that filmed well.

As the story goes, the Falcon was destroyed after Star Wars.  it had to be rebuilt, and Lucas commissioned a guy to draw actual deck plans.  he noticed that the turrets would need to be farther away from the main passage, and he added a smaller tunnel leading to the ladder.

View from the port side of the cargo hold.  Lighting is bad, but what do you want from a poorly lit room and an iPhone?
View through cutout and into cargo hold.

Insert for the port side maintenance access cutout in the hull. These are by the forward landing skids and allow access to the underside for maintenance.  Han is looking in the starboard side when the stormtroopers show up in Docking Bay 94.

I'm still working on the paint job for this.  I've made it too light, so I need to darken it more, and then I can work on weathering it to make it look rusty and like some lubricants and other fluids have leaked.
The corridor from the ring to the cockpit.  Remember the guy who was hired to draw up the deck plans for the Falcon?  Well, considering the placement of the cockpit in relation to the centerline of the main saucer (i.e. above it, rather than inline with it), he realized that there'd have to be a ramp up to the level of the cockpit which didn't appear in Star Wars.

So, the ramp is at the main ring corridor and raises the floor of the passage tube to the level of the cockpit.
Test fitting of the two passages.
Same, with a view of the cargo hold.
 Fully assembled turret passage.
View through turret passage, from main ring corridor.  Note how cramped it is.  In Star Wars, Han and Luke could basically just step on the ladder from the corridor.  The pro knew that the layout of the ship wouldn't allow that, and so this very cramped passage was added to bridge the space between the ring and the turret access ladder.

That's all the updates for now.  Next up is finishing the cockpit, assembling the ramp and attaching it to the rest of the framework, then fastening the hull on, followed by the landing gear pods and so on that will then fit on top of all that.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Violent Expulsion of Grey Matter

Explosion!  Here's a fitting representation of what happened earlier:

So, what did I do?  I got impatient, and that made me stupid.  I had a brand new dropper bottle of Misty Grey paint.  I squeezed, and nothing came out.  I looked at the tip, and it looked clogged, so I put a wire through it.  I squeezed again, and still no paint.  I tried the wire again, then squeezed--no paint.

I was getting fed up.  I wanted to get this part ready for installation on the Falcon's cargo hold floor.  So I squeezed.  And I squeezed some more.  And some more.  And, finally, something gave.  Sadly, it wasn't the clog.  It was the dropper tip itself, which flew down onto my palette, quickly followed by the contents of the dropper bottle.

The force of the eruption was enough to send paint across the desk onto my keyboard, all over both of my forearms, and onto my brand new X-Wing shirt.  Luckily acrylic paint is water-based, and the grey matched the color of the short fairly well.  So into the washer it went.

After cleaning up, I realized that the paint also went all over the Falcon's cargo hold floor.  I started trying to clean it off, but it would just smear.  I tried using a wet paper towel, but it didn't do well at all.  I ended up having to resort to the simple green, which had the unfortunate side effect of also removing some of the oil paint form the floor.  So, I had to redo it.

In case you're wondering what the floor looked like with oil paint smeared all over it.  This isn't tonight's work, but the second application from the other night, which I finally pulled off my phone.  I also should mention that the lighting in my area sucks right now, so my pictures come out weird.  I haven't messed with balance or brightness and contrast with any of these tonight.  They look great on my phone, but not so much on the monitor here.  Still, I'm not showing much real detail work tonight.

Moving on, I've kept going with the cargo hold/living area, of course.  I've got the seating mostly assembled, but I'm still working with putty on the exposed seat backs:

The hold is almost complete.  After I finish this, I've got the cockpit to paint and assemble.  The chairs are not a great color, so I'm looking into completely redoing their paint jobs to make them look more worn.  I finally got the rear instruments label placed properly for the lighting effect, which I'll show off another time, as I've not got it hooked up anymore.

After that, I've got some corridor to work on, as well as some of the ship's frame, which I've yet to take pictures of.  I might get a shot of that for next time.  Then there's this sucker, which I need to work on:

I need to get a good color of spray paint for it (I need to find Tamiya Insignia White), and then I'll work on doing some carbon scoring on the barrels.  I'm also trying to figure out how to drill in the barrels to put some holes in them for a better look.  Unfortunately, my pin vise is for plastic and pewter minis and not hard die-cast metal.  To make matters worse, I can't keep it in the center, so the little divots I've taken so far are mostly off-center.  Luckily, they're small and would be completely engulfed by the final hole anyway.

I did make some progress in the hold, though.  I went ahead and started attaching walls and putting in everything but the seat and a wall that has an opening that I'm doing some paint work on.  So, I'm almost done with it.  Then I can start thinking about the decorations I want to put in there.  I might also buy that chair from Shapeways, which is the one that Han sat in to watch Luke play with the training drone in Star Wars.

In any case, it is well past time for bed.  Adieu.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Building the Falcon, Entry the First

A few months ago, I decided to take the plunge and pony up the cash for a 1:1 scale model of a Millennium Falcon filming model.  That does not mean it's a full-size starship.  It means it's the same size as the model, which is roughly 36 inches.

For the sake of posterity, I'll document some stuff here.  I might be doing things out of order, but I don't care.  Because I'm scatter-brained, and the subscription system of the model means I may not get all the pieces for a part of the ship for many months.

First up, I'm working on the cargo hold/living area.  Shapeways makes up good deal of third-party parts for this model, but I'm already spending enough money.  If I had my own 3D printer, I'd probably jump at the chance to get these as schematics so I could print them off myself.  But, since I don't have one yet, I'll make do with the stuff I'm given.  For the most part.

Here's the hold floor:

Now, I tried numerous ways of getting these panels lines and grates darkened.  I tried drenching the think in Nuln Oil, but I kept pulling up the stuff in the recessed when I dabbed up the excess on the tiles.  Water-based paints will do that.

I tried the ink wash that DeAgostini recommends in the magazine, and it was darker, which was nice, but I still kept pulling up the wash in the recesses when I blotted up the excess.  In addition, it made the floor surface look even worse than the Nuln Oil did.

As an aside, if you're getting into scale modeling (or even just want to clean your house), I can't recommend enough having a bottle of Simple Green on hand.  It serves as a good paint stripper (for acrylics and water-based ink, anyway) that won't harm your plastic.  Not enough people know about this stuff.

Anyway, I watched some of DeAgostini's "build diary" tutorials, and I saw the guy doing that use a black oil paint to cover the floor, then wipe it up with a rag.  So, I tried that.  I bought some cheap black oil pant and went to town.

Not too bad.  I'm happy with it, actually.  Once this has time to dry, I might just give it another once-over to get some of the areas with less paint in them, but, for the most part, this looks great to me.  Even the stuff that didn't come up off the floor looks good.  It makes it look dirty, which, for the Falcon, is a good effect.

Once I'm done with the floor, I'll get the rest of the stuff put in.  I've got the seat mostly done.  I'm still filling in the visible seat backs with putty.  The bunk is done.  The light needs to be touched up and attached.  The starboard wall is actually complete and waiting to be put on.

Once I finish with the main hold, I'll focus on the cockpit, which I've already had to fuss over, as the instrument labels were not cut to line up with the holes in the plastic to put parts in.  I've had to do some adjusting and trimming of.  But, that discussion is for another time.

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