Monday, September 5, 2016

My first blog, of the same name but without the Roman numeral, was at but the blog host,, seemed to have, er, issues. Those issues seem to have been terminal. One thing I used that blog for was to keep track of neat links I found. Here's the list of links I had last time I saved that blog to my harddrive (and some added later).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

RSO Part 4

Just a short update. I finished cleanup of the new vent holes to make them neatly geometrical, so they look like they were made by Germans (or Austrians, rather) and not cavemen. Then a shot of primer, and I added metal screen. The problem is that the cab is about a scale inch thick, but softskin vehicles like the RSO are made of sheet metal. The screen in the real thing is fastened over the opening from the inside and has no problem lying flat and nearly flush with the back of the cab. I couldn't come up with any better alternative than pressing the screen in from the inside, and the results aren't as good as I'd like. To really get the right look, one would need photoetched parts for the openings. Some plastic would have to be shaved off, the PE parts put in flush with the surrounding surface, then puttied smooth so it's impossible to tell where the PE starts. The screen would be attached to the PE from the inside, and would be nearly flush with the outside since the PE is so thin.

Although these screens don't satisfy me in this case, it was good experience and would look right for some applications. I'm leaving them be since there will be a canvas top, which will make them very hard to see. The duct inside the cab has several similar screens that will be more visible, so I will have to consider how to make those.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

RSO Part 3

I noticed that while the vents on the rear of the model's cab are centered, the cooling air duct that fits in the cab is off-center. Aside from the fact the duct wouldn't line up with the vents, the vents are supposed to be off-center, as you can see in the picture. I forget where I found this picture, but apparently someone found this RSO cab somewhere in Poland.

In the next picture, you see the relocated openings superimposed over the old vents, which are just surface detail. The lower opening shouldn't be as tall as the upper, so I corrected that, too. I have since started puttying over the old vent detail and mesh will go in the openings to complete the vents.

Aside from this, I've been puttying and sanding ad infinitum, primering, and opening the vent holes in the front of the cab. I found out those two rectangular covers with rounded corners that you see in the top picture are dampers for vents. Expecting the RSO to have headlights other than just the Notek blackout light, I had thought they were headlight covers. I even found a wartime photo of an RSO with what appeared to be light shining out one of those openings, but vents they are, and for a good reason. It could get hot in the cab sitting next to the air-cooled V8 engine. Wartime photos often show just one of the vents open, usually the driver's vent.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

RSO Part 2

Friul should consider branching out. Check out the what a fine bracelet these RSO tracks make, modeled here by my lovely wife Ilene.

Closer inspection reveals why some of the pins broke after I assembled the first run of track. The nub you see in the photo at right is enough to wedge the adjoining link causing it to pull on the pin, shearing it off. Before assembling the second run I filed any nubs off.

The shapes stamped into the back of the cab should also show on the inside, as in this close up from a walkaround at the Military Models website in New Zealand. I edited the picture to indicate the stamped shapes. This particular walkaround is great because the vehicle is painted white and partially disassembled, making details more visible.

I made the matching raised areas in the back of the cab by fitting sheet styrene into the depressions. First I taped a piece of strip styrene into the depression running around the lower part. I bent the strip to get it to go around the corners.

Once I had the styrene shape formed, I simply peeled off the tape and the styrene with it.

Next I put it into the cab and cemented it in place, carefully peeling off the tape.

The rectangular depressions on either side of the rear window have sheet styrene cut to fit...

...which is then transferred to the inside to form the raised areas, then cemented in place.

I found in period pictures and modern day walkarounds that the main bolt holding each roadwheel on is often secured with a strap held on by two opposing lug nuts. The RSO probably came from the factory this way. I decided my RSO should have this feature.

I wanted to simply put a strip of brass with two holes over the lug nuts, but this wasn't practical. My only other choice was to remove two lug nuts, superglue a strip of brass on, and reattach the lug nuts with superglue. To this end I sliced two lug nuts off each roadwheel with a fresh #11 blade (with tape over the nuts to keep them away from the carpet monster).

Then I pulled off the tape taking the two nuts with it. I shaved off the remaining plastic left behind so the brass strip would be tight against the wheel. Not shown is how I cut a strip of brass, pressed it over the hub of the wheel, and cut it to length. Some of the wheels got scored in the process, so a bit of putty was required to cover up the damage.

And here are all eight roadwheels modified with the brass strip and the lug nuts reattached. Comparing my work to photos of the RSO, I made the strips a little too wide, but I'm just glad the carpet monster didn't get any of the lug nuts. They are practically microscopic!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

RSO, Part 1

Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas! It's a long time since I posted, having gotten derailed from modeling this summer and making very little progress on aztec decals for Starcraft's 1:1400 scale Saber-class starship. Meanwhile, I've started on an armor (well, softskin) project that should get me back on track (no pun intended) but not take terribly long to complete.

I recently got the Chinese version of Italeri's 1/35 RSO. It includes a sheet of photoetched details by Voyager and decals by Cartograph, neither of which I would expect to find in the Italian boxing. Sorry about the glare, but you know what the model looks like. The cat's name is Rory (as in Mr. Amy Pond). This kit was very inexpensive, Lucky Model's deal of the month or whatnot. A little history of this kit: Italeri (then Italaerei) bought the molds for this kit from Peerless/Max when they went out of business in the 1970s. Peerless Max is probably best known for their kits of various U.S. Army subjects in the range between the Jeep and the deuce-and-a-half (Italaerei bought a bunch of these molds, too). I never knew about their RSO since I don't remember seeing Peerless/Max kits at the 5 and dime where I bought models back then. But the Peerless/Max kits, while primitive by today's standards, are still pretty impressively detailed and engineered kits, and AFAIK pretty accurate.

A major reason I bought this kit was that I already had the Fruil tracks for it. Someone had tossed them into the table of parts for the Iron Modeler competition at Wonderfest. The stuff was free to all takers once the competition was concluded. Since I build armor also, I snatched these up.

At right you see the assembly fixture, followed by a picture in which I demonstrate how to use the fixture. These tracks are not what I expected: there is no wire to form track pins. Instead, the track pins are cast as part of each link. The part of each link that is like a hinge barrel is open so it can trap the pin in the next link. You place the assembly on the fixture and press the open barrel shut (here I'm doing it with a jeweler's screwdriver), and you get workable track.

Here's one run of track test fitted on the tractor. They look pretty good here, but I had to cut out a couple links in which the pins broke, probably because I closed the links together with too much force. PMMS has a review of Fruil's track set for the RSO, but it's for a new version, which confusingly has the same number of ATL-29. The differences are that the new links are more accurate, that they have wire for link pins and bolt head parts to make right- and left-hand tracks, and that sprockets are included. The new set apparently takes 69 links per run. I don't have the Panzer Tracts for the RSO, so I don't know how many links it should take. I looked at the best photo I could find of a real RSO and tried to count the number of links, and it seemed to be 72. The run I assembled took 67 links.

Since there are two versions of Fruil's track set ATL-29, you may get the old set when you think you're ordering the new set. However, I'm pretty happy with the old set. They are a bit wider to fit the wider kit sprockets, but the difference in width is kind of hard to see. Once I got the hang of assembling them, it was a breeze. True, the bolt heads on the link pins aren't there, but to my eye these are too large on the new track set. All in all, I don't see a lot of reason to prefer the new set over the old.

Friday, July 5, 2013

1/1400 Saber-class NCC-81623 USS Da VInci, Part 2

I gave the model its first coat of primer. A relatively hard thing to fix is the loss of saucer edge detail near this RCS quad. I filled the gap with gel superglue and hit it with accelerant, then sanded and added more. I also puttied. After it's primered again, we'll see how much more work it needs so that the repair is unnoticeable.
Some areas don't need much help. Here you see only two little spots of putty on the saucer underside.
The edge of the engineering hull behind the saucer edge has a more serious defect, what appears to be a two-part mold problem. The area just needs the usual  filling, sanding, primering ad infinitum.
The largest bubbles and some more two-part molding defects were on the warp nacelles. Nothing too bad.
Pretty much the same thing as the other pic of the engineering hull, eh?

Next time: all primered up and smooth and ready for painting. But it's going to have to wait two weeks till after vacation.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

1/1400 Saber-class NCC-81623 USS Da Vinci

Here's the beginning of a new project I hope will be brief. I acquired a Starcraft 1/1400 scale Saber. It's one of the new starship classes seen in Star Trek: First Contact. In the Starfleet Corps of Engineers books, most of the action takes place on one of these ships, USS Da Vinci NCC-81623, which this model will represent.

EDIT (28Feb2014): I've heard from another modeler who used Klean Strip on resin and it ate into the resin. Like the advice given on a lot of products, test on an inconspicuous area to make sure it's safe. This product also works really fast, so you should not have to leave it on long.

Since the kit was previously finished, the old paint had to go. The paint stripper really looks like vomit, but has a very different nasty smell.

Incidentally, it was possible to use this stripper only because this model is resin. Out of scientific curiosity, I put some onto painted styrene. Here's the result:
It strips the paint, then turns the plastic into taffy. Back to the Saber...

Here's how it came out after soaking in stripper and scrubbing with a toothbrush dipped in lacquer thinner. Cleans up real nice. It was also possible to pop the nacelles off. I let the joint soak in acetone, then used a pair of slip-joint pliers and a piece of inner tube to pry off the nacelles without marring the surface.

It was bugging me that there are some symmetry problems with this kit. This is an older Starcraft kit and not quite state of the art any more. It was assembled just fine; in fact, there were locating pins for the nacelles. In this picture you can see where I had to sand down a panel that stuck out too far. Easy fix.
The starboard nacelle's pylon overlaps some lifeboats, and the port nacelle's front face is too far forward. Mostly this is an easy fix also, requiring just a bit of sanding. The mating surface to the pylon on the underside of the saucer, however, is a bit proud of the surface and needs to be carefully sanded to avoid wiping out the lifeboat detail. In fact, I had to re-establish some of this detail by scraping with an x-acto blade and using a scribing tool.
Here it is fixed. You can also see a dark stain on the underside of the saucer. Looking at it closely, I realized it's composed of paint that filled in thousands of tiny bubbles, and it won't be visible once it's primered. Another symmetry problem that needs to be addressed is the dogtooth detail on the leading edge of the saucer. A little bit of sanding will rectify this.

Next time: Primering and filling and sanding, oh my!