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!

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