Friday, May 11, 2012

PGMS Cutaway Starship Photo-etch Set, Part 3

(Previously on PGMS Cutaway etc.)

Tonight's episode: Adding handrails

Note: I should mention that the handrails are not part of the ParaGraphix photoetch set.

One of the distinctive features of the Enterprise bridge is the handrail around the center well. I couldn't very well make this tiny bridge (under one inch in diameter!) without adding the handrail. The first step was to drill holes for the stanchions. I used a pin vise with a #75 drill bit, that being the smallest bit I still have for the pin vise. (Tiny bits break so easily. I really need to get a new #61-80 set.) Here are the holes. Not perfectly positioned, but all the while I was thinking about how to do this better. I could rig up a rotary vise and a fixture to hold the pin vise so all the holes are equidistant from the center and at the same angle.

The next job was to thread wire through the holes to form the stanchions. First I tried a piece of steel wire I found in the drawer, but it was very hard to cut and there wasn't enough anyway. I think the wire was the remains of a #76 drill bit. Then I switched to using fine strands of copper wire I stripped out of some old speaker wire. I fed them in through the bottom and tried to get each one to come out the same length before bending the excess length over and supergluing it to the bottom. This wasn't too hard; again, I could do it better by precisely controlling the length of wire protruding through the floor. One way I thought of was painting the desired length on the end of the wire to mark it. It was also necessary to make all the stanchions stand at the right angle--they are angled in a bit.

Last was the trickiest part. I had to cut four handrails to length, bend them into shape, put a droplet of superglue on top of each stanchion, and somehow pick up the piece of handrail and position it. I ended up losing 3 or 4 pieces of handrail, and immediately set to work each time fabricating a replacement, as there was no point in looking for anything that tiny. I used pointy tweezers to pick up the handrails and had to lick the tweezers or the parts would disappear almost as soon as they were picked up.

Finally, I got all the handrails in place. It took a bit of patience and definitely made me think of ways to get better results.
Next time I think I'll be making a bunch of tiny Burke chairs.


  1. Amazing detail, now just need to add figures :D

  2. Sunshine...? Sunny! Boy was I stupid! Hi, Sunny! How ya doin'?

    Oh, yeah, there's figures.