Monday, 20 January 2014

Alliance Model Works Steampunk Submarine Build Part 01

Alliance Model Works asked me to put one of their Steampunk Submarines together and slap some paint on for them.

These photos show the submarine as it can be seen on the Alliance Model Works website.

It has been a while since I concentrated on a decent display model, having been mainly concerned with wargaming miniatures which can often be complex, but are generally built on a more robust and simpler level than fine quality display models.

Also I haven't used brass etched piece to any great extent in the past either, so this is looking to be an interesting build.

I have decided to record my progress over several blog posts so that others can follow my build and either learn something from watching me build it or laugh in derision as it all goes horribly wrong (hopefully this is an extremely small possibility, but you never know...).

Now, rather than diving in feet first as I normally do with simpler models I have decided to take some care in approaching this build.

Firstly, I decided to remove all of the resin pieces from their casting sprues and tidy them up. There are quite a few small mechanical type parts and the cleaning up process would give me a good opportunity to become familiar with each piece and this should help quite a bit when I start the build.

First up we have the two halves of the hull. The model has been designed with a fairly substantial locating plug, so the removal of the casting tags should be relatively straight forward.

I decided the simplest way to take these off was with a piercing saw. Actually a razor saw would probably have been better, but I didn't have one to hand. I quickly removed the excess resin and then sanded them down. I highly recommend wearing a dust mask when you do this as the resin dust is really not very good for your lungs.

The two halves fit nicely together, although there is a little play in the joint so lining it up when joining it will be quite important.

On closer inspection of the two hull halves there are fine mould lines running down one side of each. These are really minimal, and for a wargames model I would probably have ignored them. The line of the front half of the hull runs over the plain underside of the hull and was easily removed with a fine half round needle and a little scraping with the edge of a sharp craft knife.

The mould line on the rear half of the hull was a little trickier to deal with. This one was on the top of the hull (so would be a lot more visible on the finished model). I managed to remove most of it in the same way that I did the front hull.

However, the line did run up underneath the two exhaust pipes where they emerge from the submarine, and this made it impractical to file them off. I found it far simpler with this bit to use a small amount of knifing putty (sometimes called model filler) to fill the line. I used a fine scalpel to smear the putty over the line and will it but was extra careful not to produce a rough surface that would need more sanding later. I must add that this area is very small, probably only around 5mm long and hidden under the pipes, so I was probably being a bit over careful in finishing this bit...

Moving on to the rest of the resin pieces, I slowly worked my way through each piece removing the casting sprues and tidying up where they had been attached. This photo show one of the pieces of the articulated arms. This is probably the most complicated piece of resin in the kit. As well as trimming off the back piece, there were also a couple of thing pieces in between the pistons, both probably to help casting and also to strengthen them while in transit...

As you can see, with a little care they clean up really well.

To give you an idea of the work involved I have highlighted all of the bits that need tidying up on these pieces. The cutting mat that they are lying on has a 1cm grid, so as you can see, these are all rather small parts.

A slightly closer view shows just how small they are. It was often difficult to hold them as they were so small. These pieces are about 1cm (half inch) across.

On some of the really small bits it is actually quite difficult to work out where the spruing ends and the part begins, best to air on the side of caution here and sand them down just a little. I can always do more later.

Once all of the resin had been removed ad cleaned up I decided to fix the basic hull parts together. As there was a little movement in the joint between the two halves of the hull, I decided I wanted to join then using a fairly strong bond, so rather using super glue at this stage I went for an epoxy adhesive (Pacer Z-Poxy). I normally prefer to use the 15 minute setting version, but I wanted this to set fast so that the two pieces didn't move while I was distracted, so I went with the 5 minute set. This gave me enough time to position the two halves adjust it a little and then prop it up so that it sat vertically on it's nose so that i could keep an eye on it while it set.

Next I glued on the conning tower. Now with the conning tower there are just two flat surfaces (the underside of the conning tower itself and the top plate of the hull), so positioning is really down to a good eye. I used 5 minute epoxy again as there is only very limited time for it to move around once in place.

The conning tower went on very quicly so I had time to use some of the spare epoxy to glue the front hatch in place too.

This is the main part of the submarine together, from here on in it is moving on to detailing.

This seems like a good place to leave it for now. From here on in it becomes a mix of resin work and brass etched pieces. See how I get on with that in my next post!

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