About this Blog

This is about the combination of two interests, Radio Control vehicles and Science Fiction models. This blog documents my science fiction spaceship and radio controlled vehicle projects.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Moon Bus part 7

I had mentioned in Moon Bus part 5 that a suspension problem had stalled the project four years ago and that I had recently found a solution to cure the issue.

Back in the part 1 of this project I described making some adapters out of PVC to adapt the angled shock mounts on the Venom Creeper axles to support a vertical shock position and a sway bar link.
One of these broke with the model just sitting there doing nothing and I realised they were not up to the task. I needed to find a solution for the project to progress.

Four years later it dawned on me while waiting for a cycle to finish on the CNC lathe at work on how to make a better adapter fairly easily. The solution was to make it from some aluminium sheet and twist it in the middle to compensate for the angled axle shock mounts.

Original PVC adapters with the prototupe aluminium adapter below.

I made a prototype to see if I could make it work and it seemed like it would do the job so I made 4 good ones and fitted them to the axles.  I made them by hack-sawing and filing  some pieces of aluminium strip and placed each end in turn in a vice and twisted the middle to the required angle using a adjustable spanner. The two end holes were tapped M3  for the shock ends and sway bar linkage and the middle hole drilled out 3.1mm for clearance on the M3 through bolt and aluminium spacer which attaches them to the axle shock mounts.

With that obstacle out of the way the project continued and I did the work on the cockpit. Next up was paneling the hull.

This was the hull as it has been sitting for 4 years.

I took that photo into photoshop and scribbled away very roughly to get some ideas for a panel layout. The picture below shows what ended up after a few rejected ideas and was enough to move on to a cardboard trial template which in turn lead to cutting some 1mm styrene.

Very rough scribbles in photoshop is all I needed to generate an idea for the paneling concept.

Cardboard trial template on left, 1mm styrene panel on the right.

I wanted to try for a sort of Data70 feel to the paneling. Data70 was a font designed in 1970 which when I was a kid represented the coolest sci-fi look ever.

Each panel was cut out using a step drill to cut the 12mm radius corners, an olfa knife cutting the straight lines with a metal ruler and a dremel sanding drum to complete. The panels had to be carefully pre-bent to match the curve of the hull. Some of the 1mm styrene was brittle due to sunlight and just broke up so frustratingly a few panels had to be made twice. The underlying skin on the hull was also made from the same batch of 1mm styrene and where it has seen some indirect sunlight it had started to craze and crack in a few places. I think the black styrene is more susceptible to this than the usual white styrene. The new panels have helped to reinforce the thin hull considerably and with the eventual addition of paint I don't foresee the cracking being an issue in the future.

There is more surface paneling to be done and a couple of solar panels to made for the top and a little more detailing still to go before I get to the primer stage.


The hull is increasing in weight as the panels and detailing are added. So far the shocks in which I added extra springs at the start of the project are holding up the weight just fine. I may need to make stiffer sway bars to correct any lean if it appears.

I would like to get the wheels anodised red to tie in with the rest of the colour accents on the chassis and maybe the chassis frames as well though that may prove to be outside my budget.

Thanks for looking.
More soon...

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7,

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Moon Bus Part 6

I have completed the cockpit drive control and the navigators console for the Moon Bus project.

The navigators console employed a kit part form some unknown 1/35 scale armour kit with a scratch built support. I wired up two outer bright blue LEDs with a central White LED to go inside the console. The positive lead had a suitable resistor so they can run on the 12 volt  lighting power supply. They are held with a couple of blobs of hot glue and covered with a small piece of opal perspex as a light diffuser. A 0.5mm thick piece of black styrene with screen cutouts was then glued to the face and 1mm holes drilled for some random indicator lights. All of this will only just be seen if you look through the side window. I t should throw some light up on the navigators face but the other internal light is so bright that it is likely to be a subtle effect.

To finish off I sprayed all the interior components with  grey primer along with the occupants.
The control yoke and the navigation console can't be permanently affixed until the interior is fully painted and the occupants are painted and secured in their seats.

The drive control yoke was made from the ubiquitous disposable razor handle.

Thanks for looking.

More soon...

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Resilient Cruiser Part 12 Completed

This has been the most time spent on a paint job for any of my models ever.

I think I spent six full days on it over the past month.
This is down to my attempt to improve my paint finishes while adopting a new (for me) technique.
My old technique mostly relied on using car primer and where anything other than grey or white was required car paint acrylic lacquer spray cans.
The weathering consisted of a liberal wash of Tamiya flat black diluted with methylated spirits (alcohol) which I always called poo juice. When dry this was wiped off with a rag dabbed with methylated spirit cleaning off the high spots and leaving the crevices dark. This was then followed up with a dry brush pass of white students acrylic paint and that was it.
It was a pretty rapid process developed during the very short period of my VFX model making days when stuff had to be done quick and look good for the camera ending up on film. The old rule of thumb was that the camera would only see what you can if you really scrunch up your eyes and squint at the model, which essentially means a lot of detail is lost and the weathering has to be really exaggerated to show up at all.

Times have moved on.  Models if used at all in filmaking these days would be photographed digitally and not on film and my models are now occasionally exhibited and therefore may be seen by the naked human eye.

The first task was to do a colour rough in photoshop to figure out the paint arrangement. I took one of the primer grey photos and fiddled about eventually settling on the scheme below.

I wanted to be able to paint panels in varying shades of a similar hue so I decided to try out acrylic hobby paints with an oil paint based weathering system.
I started dabbling in this process in the previous project, the Moebius-1 but in this this project I took it a bit further.
Starting with the primer grey  and masking off a few areas I wanted to keep light grey, I sprayed the base colour, red oxide car primer from a spray can. I got the underside done and then after starting on the top side the can valve started playing up with paint coming up from under the nozzle. I kept having to wrap bits of rag around under the nozzle to prevent the paint from splashing about all over the place. It progressively got worse and worse and with much frustration and copious swearing I eventually had to spray the left over paint into an airbrush jar and attempt to finish it with my airbrush.

It was a total nightmare and I had lots of primer drying in the air and causing a furry surface. After dry I had to try and retrieve the poor paint surface on the top of the model. I used a scotch brite dish scourer to remove all the fuzz which had the result of making a very faded and weathered looking finish where the underlying grey primer started to peak through. I followed this up with some plastic polish to try and get some of the colour saturation back in the red oxide primer.

In the end I managed to repair the situation and proceed with the panel colour variations.
Ive been watching a number of tank and figure painting tutorials to get some idea of how you use these hobby acrylics and came across the wet palette concept to prevent the paints drying out so fast.
I made one from a sealed sandwich box and some paper towel and baking paper. It works extremely well and I could sit outside all day painting the 3 different panel colours which were made up from a MIG Ammo rust set, mixing the desired colour shifts on the wet palette.
I started applying these shades by masking and airbrushing but then tried to see if I could do it by brushing which would be quicker. Brushing seemed to work fine over the small panels, gave more modulation in the tone than airbrushing and was considerably faster.

Once the acrylic colours were down and dry I mixed up a mix of burnt and raw umber oil paint with odourless thinners and made a wash. It was applied as a pin wash with a fine brush around all the raised detail. This drys in a pleasing dirty but warm colour staying in all the crevices and grooves and works particularly well with the red oxide colour of the panels.

In the grey areas I found although it had a pleasing warm tone it wasn't dark enough. I am used to my Tamiya wash (poo juice) which stains the grey primer a darker colour where as the oil paint does not. Eventually I added some Tamiya wash over the grey ares to darken them up a shade which was what I was originally hoping for.

The other thing I discovered about my old technique is that the white drybrushing only works on grey It didn't really work on the mainly red colouration. I ended up adding a hand painted orange scratchy edge around every panel to simulate wear and tear. After spending nearly 2 days on this it dawned on me that maybe I could drybrush orange students acrylic on the red oxide bits. I actually had a tube of some and tried it out and it worked a treat to tie it all together.

So it has been an interesting exercise and I have learnt a lot about paint finishes and weathering and hopefully have improved my work just that little bit.

I am relieved that it is now done and ready for the model shows coming up this year.
This model was commenced in a somewhat different form in 1999 just after I had seen Star Wars Episode One.
Here we are in 2020, 21 years later and it is finally done.

 Thanks for looking.

More soon...

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