?

Log in

Previous 10

Sep. 23rd, 2012

Gemini

(no subject)

With the painting of the parts done the decals were up next. I was not looking forward to this, as there were somme rather large ones to put on. Generally in my experience the smaller the decals the easier to work with. Large ones have more scope to move and wrinkle as you try to blot the excess water, and I was certainly proved right with this model.

The decals offered with the Revell kit are pretty poor. As you will have seen already, the kit itself comes with printed styrene sheets for the main tank skins, and these have the large 'USA' and flag markings already on them. I elected to turn those sheets inside out for this model, however, so I needed decals for these. Fortunately New Ware came to the rescue again, with an excellent sheet of decals which even incorporated the variation on the 'S' of 'USA' for the first stage fuel tanks. The first two tanks manufactured were built at Marshall Space Flight Centre and had a different shaped S, with a more rounded shape, than those manufactured later at Michoud Louisiana. The decals cover the variations of all the stages made.

Exact placement was another problem, but luckily the internet is full of such arcane information, and here:

http://www.apollosaturn.com/markings/mguide.htm

was everything I needed to correctly place each marking. This was generally achieved by trimming masking tape to the required thickness and using it to mark off the positions relative to edges or other markings. The decals were then carefully laid onto the model and shifted to butt up against the masking tape, which was removed immediately after the decals were blotted.

First up were the fairings. Each of these was lettered, and two of them had a motion target: a pattern of black and white stripes on the lower edge of one side of the fairing. This was for the benefit of engineers reviewing the film from the myriad cameras around the launch site. They shot these things from almost every conceivable angle when they were launched, and markings like these were used to provide information on its behaviour once in motion.

Photobucket

On the fuel tank skin were a number of markings, including the large 'USA' lettering, stage serial numbers and position markers. In consultation with Emma we decided that this model would be of the Apollo 8 mission. Everyone does Apollo 11, but Apollo 8 was the first to send men to the moon, even though they did not land on it. That has also decided another issue regarding the top part of the rocket, but I'll mention that when I get there.

That meant it was S-1C-3, and the position of even the serial numbers varied. Then there was the placing of the position numbers. The Saturn V being entirely symmetrical posed a problem with regard to placement and assembly, as well as identifying which side of the thing you were looking at, which was solved by numbering each quadrant.

Photobucket

The flags on the LOX tank were initially a daunting task as I had to find a way to place four flags in the middle of a large blank white piece, with no obvious nearby markings. This was solved by noting that the flags aligned with the roll pattern, and were centrally located (usually: there was some variation). A strip of masking tape running between the forward skirt and the intertank, aligned with the edge of the black roll pattern markings, and with a mark halfway along its length, provided the guide for placing the flags.

Photobucket

Once the decals were in position and dried, the whole lot was given a coat of satin varnish to seal them in place. Once that had dried, final assembly was quick and painless. First the engines were put in place and glued.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

After that the small heat shield and gimbal actuator supports were glued to the edge of the base.

Photobucket

The gimbal actuators were attached to the engines and supports.

Photobucket

Then the fairings were attached and the first stage was completed! Care had to be taken here to match up the right letter on the fin with the position markers on the stage.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Getting there was a pretty exhausting process, and took a long time. It's nearly three years since I was given this model now. Hopefully the other stages won't take so long. And then i only have four more model kits to build...

Sep. 17th, 2012

Gemini

Engine fairings

With the body of the S-IC stage complete and painted, I moved on to the engine fairings. These were totally inaccurate in the Revell kit and were replaced in their entirety by components from the New Ware detail set. The fairings and fins were made of resin, with PE brass parts for the airscoops and support struts.

After cutting the fairings from their pour plugs and sanding them down to a flat edge along the bottom, the airscoop brass parts were formed and fitted. This was fiddly, to say the least. Once the scoops were in the fins were fitted.

Photobucket

Photobucket

It took some time, with regular stops and starts to avoid my frustrations with one part causing me to mess up the next, but eventually all four were assembled...

Photobucket

... given a coat of primer...

Photobucket

... then covered in gloss white.

Photobucket

It would obviousy be far too simple if they had just been white, so the next step was to mask off down the middle of the section above the fin (the section below was to be painted aluminium all the way across so needed no masking)...

Photobucket

...and then paint half of each one black, making many, many checks to ensure I masked and painted the correct side!

Photobucket

The result was quite pleasing. I spent a long time pressing the masking tape down firmly with my nail to ensure no paint got under it, and the result was very successful.

The aluminium painting of the bottom was rather more challenging. The shape of the part made masking incredibly difficult to do. After several unsatisfactory attempts I decided to go for a completely different method. Using a pencil propped up to the correct height I was able to draw a straight line across the part at the right height.

Photobucket

With a fine brush and a steady hand I then carefully painted along the line freehand, then filled in the rest of the area to be painted. The fin edge was also followed freehand. One piece did suffer some stray paint, but I was able to touch that up with the black, again freehand with a fine brush, and the end result was most satisfactory.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Finally, the brass struts were carefully positioned and secured with a few drops of superglue, and they were painted aluminium along with the inside of the fairing.

Photobucket

Now I have the S-IC body, the engines and the fairings. I was going to assemble them all at this point, but I realised that the decals would be a lot easier to apply to this stage without the fins sticking out, since laying the tube down to work on it would be easier than working with it upright. So, the next stage is the decals, and then will come the assembly of the S-IC stage. Now it feels like it's starting to come together...

May. 2nd, 2012

Gemini

The roll pattern: a bit of painting

After a long pause during which, among other things, I appeared alongside Emma on stage in London performing As You Like It with the Medway Little Theatre on 21st April (and had a brilliant time too!), I have finally come back to paint the roll pattern on the first stage. Initially I had planned to use spray paint for it, but it quickly became apparent that with all the surface relief on the stage it would be almost impossible to properly mask off all the required areas. I therefore decided to mask them as best I could and paint carefully by hand.

So, I first masked off the relevant areas, pressing the tape into the grooves as best I could. I used Tamiya 12 mm masking tape for this job, as I have found it to be excellent for the task. It adheres well to the surface and can be easily pressed into detail areas, and comes off very smoothly with no residue.

Photobucket

Then some careful application of Revell acrylic black paint:

Photobucket

Two coats were required, but once they were dry I carefully removed the masking tape, and the result was quite pleasing.

Photobucket

Closer inspection of certain areas revealed that the masking was not quite as good as I had hoped.

Photobucket

I ams till not sure what I will do about that. I could just leave it as a minor imperfection. This is probably the path I will go down. I could try and cover it with some white paint and a fine brush, but if you have been following this blog you will know how much grief I have had with white paint. I can't see putting it over black being very successful. Nor can I see the white paint I would use to patch the paint job exactly matching the spray paint I used on the whole stage, which might end up making the problem worse. Luckily, I have yet to paint the inside of the top of the stage where the forward bulkhead is, so that might provide a useful 'testing area' to see how effective a white over black paint touch up could be.

There were some small details on the stage (umbilical connect points on the intertank and forward skirt and tail service mast connect points at the base of the thrust structure) that needed painting in aluminium, so I did that.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

And now it is starting to look like part of a rocket. Next step, the inside of the forward skirt and the forward bulkhead....

Mar. 26th, 2012

Gemini

A LOT of paint....

Well, things did not progress very quckly after all. However, over the last few weeks I have added some brass detail parts to the S-IC. These include the coverings for the instrument tunnels, umbilical connection points, and telemetry and range safety antennae. Some small and fiddly parts in that little lot.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

The instrument tunnels did not sit very flush with the sides of the fuel and LOX tanks, so a little bit of masking tape and filler was needed.

Photobucket

Some (well, a lot) of sanding later and the result was not perfect but acceptable, assuming few people are going to be peering too closely at the model.

At this point I checked the amazing drawings by David Weeks. Invaluable reference4s, they show a lot of detail in 1:48 scale. They showed two LOX vents that are not included in the New Ware detail kit I am using.

Photobucket

Since there were no premade parts, I had to scratchbuild these myself. It was a simple matter to sort out the dimensions by measuring the drawing and dividing everything by two to match the scale of the model. The trapezoidal panels were made from 0.25 mm styrene sheet, and the vent itself was a slice of 3 mm Evergreen styrene tube. The hardest part was carefully grinding away the vertical stringers in just the right place for the vent to go. Taking it slow and steady yielded excellent results (and the knowledge that the ground edges were going to be covered anyway certainly helped!).

Photobucket

With that, the stage was ready for painting. Of course I had already painted the thrust structure, so the first step was to carefully mask that all off. The rest was then ready to be painted. The stage was first given a bit of a wash with warm soapy water, as it had seen a fair bit of handling. Then, as it was such a warm sunny day, I moved to the garden to begin the process of spray painting. First three coats of white primer (avoid grey if the thing you're painting has to be painted white. I learned that on the Gemini model!). Then about four coats of white gloss acrylic spray paint. It doesn't give the best coverage, but provided you avoid applying too thickly the result is very pleasing.

Photobucket

So there it is. Ready to be painted to add the roll pattern in black. First it needs a few days to really make sure the paint is dry and can be handled without leaving dirty prints. Tune in at some indeterminate time to see how that goes....

Jan. 10th, 2012

Gemini

A bit of a milestone!

After a long period of inactivity, I have at last finished the main body of the S-IC stage!

The biggest problem, as I mentioned before, was the fact that the sheet that made the skin of the LOX tank section tore. One trip to Hobbycraft and a replacement set of 0.5 mm styrene sheets later, I was able to cut replacement parts. Since the sheet was not long enough to make one continuous cylinder I made two halves and used the instrument tunnel parts to hold it together along the seams.

First I had to cut down the instrument tunnels. As before. I used the brass detail part curled around a 4 mm drill to mark off the part that needed trimming.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

To fill the gap between the part and the skin of the tank, a small sheet of 0.5 mm styrene was glued on...

Photobucket

... and then trimmed. After that the parts were glued together to form...

Photobucket

Photobucket

... the complete main body of the S-IC stage!

Now there are some brass detail parts to put on and the stage will be ready to paint. Hopefully, things will progress quickly now this milestone has been reached. And it only took two and a bit years from getting the kit to reach this stage....

Jan. 1st, 2012

Gemini

Long time but...

A long time since anything was done on this model, but after a fairly large setback (the styrene sheet for the LOX tank tore, so I had to go and buy more styrene sheet to replace it), I have finally started a bit more work on it. More pictures will be coming soon...

I am slowly but surely assembling the LOX tank and completing the main body of the first stage. The trick it stopping before doing too much leads to a slip!

Aug. 28th, 2011

Gemini

(no subject)

So I decided to add the rivet detail on the aft heat shield. With the use of a black 0.3mm technical drawing pen I carefully drew in the rivets. Originally I was going to measure them, but that proved too much hassle for a detail very few people would actually see, so i just drew them in freehand, then used several coats of semi-gloss varnish to seal the ink spot in.

Photobucket

Moving on from the thrust structure, the next part I tackled was the instrument tunnel. There are two of these running almost the full length of the first stage, and are essentially massive conduits for the cables connecting the various instruments inside the first stage. The parts on the model, unsurprisingly, are way off. The actual instrument tunnels have a semi-circular profile. For some reason (possibly for strength) the parts in the model are about 2mm deeper than they should be, and the end is not correct.

Photobucket

The detail kit includes a set of brass parts to cover the tunnels and show the right detail. These served well as a guide for how much of the model parts to trim off. To curve the piece into the correct profile to fit over the plastic part I curled it around a 4mm drill bit.

Photobucket

This makes it slightly too tight to just sit on top, but just right to hold itself in place when pushed into place. I then drew along the edge and trimmed the plastic parts.

Photobucket

Before attaching the instrument tunnel the fuel tank body needs to be attached to the thrust structure. In the model this is a flat sheet that is curled round and held by the pegs on the instrument tunnel parts. The problem with this arrangement is the overlap which a) sticks out beyond the tunnel, and b) makes the fit of the parts frankly quite poor. With a bit of trimming and judicious use of spare ploystyrene sheet i was able to remove the overlap entirely and get the parts together.

Photobucket

Photobucket

You'll also notice I put it on inside out, with the printed pattern and text on the inside. Thsi was quite deliberate, since the text is not the correct font, and I intended to paint the roll pattern on rather than rely on the printed sheet anyway.

Once the instrument tunnel and intertank structure were attched the result was quite pleasing.

Photobucket

So, something starting to look like a rocket stage is coming together.

Jul. 6th, 2011

Gemini

A lick of paint...

I finally managed to get a bit more done. I am still debating whether or not to draw in the rivet detail on the heat shield plates on the base (which, annoyingly, are moulded into the otherwise wildly inaccurate base in the kit but not on the resin replacement part). If I do I would need to paint the thrust structure first, and before assembling the first stage fully (as drawing fine detail on the end of an 18-inch cylinder will be a lot harder than drawing it on the top of a 3-inch one!).

So, I gave it a few coats of primer and gloss white spray paint. Ths highlighted some areas that needed sanding, so I sanded them and reapplied the paint in a few coats over a few days.

Photobucket

Photobucket

I spent some time pondering what to do about the hold-down posts. The Saturn V, as i am sure you know, has a pattern of black and white markings which neatly divide this section into 8 equal parts. This is known as the roll pattern, so called because it allows observers to see more easily when the rocket rolls during flight. Unfortunately on the actual rocket the roll pattern boundary between black and white sections goes right down the middle of the hold-down posts, and it painted inside the hollows as well as on the outside of the cylinder. At this scale there was no way I could adequately mask inside the recesses, nor could I paint it freehand. The spray paint did not fill those recesses very well, so I could not leave them white either (see the posts about the Voyager and Gemini models for my battles with white paint!). Eventually I decided to paint the entire recessed sections aluminium, suggesting unpainted metal. Inaccurate to the real thing but really all I could do at this scale.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Hopefully once the roll pattern is added they will look OK.

I also painted the engine gimbal actuators, sticking them in a blob of blu-tack to keep them upright while I sprayed them white and picked out the connecting arms in silver.

Photobucket

So there we are. i am still not sure if I will add the rivet detail or not.

May. 30th, 2011

Gemini

More Saturn V at last...

OK, it's been a while but I have finally returned to the Saturn V. Next step, the thrust structure of the first stage, the S-IC.

In the kit it's very straightforward: join a cylinder with vertical ribs to a bottom plate on which the engines are mounted. Easy. The problem is that the result is lacking a LOT of detail, and has a lot of detail that was not on any flown version of the Saturn V. The base in particular has all sorts of fairings and air scoops on it that just were not there on the real hardware.

Photobucket

Fortunately New Ware's detail set provides a resin replacement part for the base, which came in very useful for another detail...

The actual rocket has four hold down posts evenly spaced around the base which are not at all represented on the model kit. New Ware again provides these parts, but slots must be cut in the main ring to accommodate them. This might seem straightforward, but for another odd decision on the part of the model kit designers: on a rocket with a four-fold rotational symmetry, they decided in their infinite wisdom to put 103 vertical ribs on it. An odd number!! Just one more would have made it so much easier to mark the features around the circumference, but hey-ho...

With the aid of the slots cut for the instrument tunnel and the pattern of tiles on the base part the four locations for the hold down posts were marked on and cut. Initially with a razor saw, then shaped to match the parts using a sharp hobby knife.

Photobucket

Photobucket

This also required trimming and sanding sections of the vertical ribs: not an easy thing to do without catching some of the neighbouring ones. In addition, small section of rib had to be removed either side of two of the slots for the locations of some tail service umbilical connectors.

Photobucket

The posts and base plate were test-fitted (the orientation of the base plate determined by use of David Weeks's excellent plans that I was very generously given as a Christmas present the Christmas before last), then superglued in place. Gaps were filled.

Photobucket

Photobucket

After sanding to remove excess filler, the photoetched brass parts of the tail service umbilicals were glued in place.

Photobucket

It took days to cut all the slots and get to this stage, but now some real detail is starting to appear I am getting quite enthused about it again.

Right, back to work...

Feb. 6th, 2011

Gemini

Teleport bracelet

A while has gone by since I last did anything to update this blog for, but a small diversion is worth mentioning. Last month I went to a fancy dress party for a friend, and one of the guests was planning to go as Blake from Blake's 7. I decided that he couldn't be Blake without a teleport bracelet, so I set myself the task of making one.

The bracelets on the show were hinged and snapped closed, but I did not have the means to make a hinged bracelet, so I made a single piece. Fortunately, at work I had access to some plastic clylinders which were the cores of rolls of plastic tapes. Having made sure he could fit his hand through it, I selected one and cut it down to the right width (4cm, to be precise).

Photobucket

The raised section around the middle was problematic. Eventually I used 2mm styrene sheet cut to a 3 cm wide strip and heated with a heat gun until it became flexible. I then wrapped it round the core and taped it in place until it hardened again.

Photobucket

This was then cut into two sections. One of them has a hole in it. Since I had nothing with which to drill out a hole of that size, I drilled a series of small holes, cut out the middle section, then sanded the edge of the hole smooth.

Photobucket

The raised sections were then glued on with copious amounts of glue and left to dry. The whole bracelet was then painted with a mix of reddish brown. black and steel paint. The colour is not quite right for the TV prop, but will do.

For the button I used... a button! It was stuck on and painted light grey. Masking tape was then used to make silver strips and gold alien writing. Finally, there is the pink button. I did not have any clear pink plastic. I built up three layers of 1mm clear polystyrene, then sanded the down until the edges were smooth as I could make them. I used clear orange paint then attached it between the raised sections. The bracelet was complete!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Down and safe!

Previous 10