Friday 31 January 2014

Alliance Model Works Steampunk Submarine Build Part 02

After cleaning up and assembling the main resin parts of the kit, it was time to move on to some of the more detailed parts.

Now, I can't actually remember the last time I used any brass etched parts on a kit, so this was an interesting, and somewhat nervous time. 

Firstly I decided to get the three exhausts done. These were fairly straight forward. I cut the brass pieces from the frame, rolled them around a rod (of approximately the right diameter) and then maneuvered them into their final positions. I didn't want to drown them in superglue, so I pored some drops of superglue out and used a fine needle to lift the glue and run it around the joints. The main thing to remember is to position the joints where they will be least obvious. The two taller twin pipes went on very well. However the piece of brass that runs around the "air filter" wasn't longer enough in a single piece and I had to cut and join the second piece to get it to run all the way around. I don't know if that was my misreading of the instructions or if there wasn't enough room on the brass sheet for a single longer piece. Whatever the reason it made fitting the brass to the air filter considerably trickier than it could have been.

 I moved away from the hull for the next part and decided to tackle the manipulator arms. Each arm is made up of 7 resin pieces and up to 9 brass pieces. On initial inspection the instruction sheet seems fairly straightforward, however, you need to be extremely careful to make sure you have all the correct parts for each arm (left arm or right arm), as it very easy to confuse them.

The resin pieces are all butted together and their are no locating lugs, so you have to be very careful to align the pieces properly when you are gluing them. The piece on the left in this photo (with the piston on the extreme left hand side) proved to be a real challenge as the three pieces, the main strut, the piston and the brass connecting piece, all had to be balanced together, so as to get the positioning correct, before the glue could be applied. A third hand would certainly have been useful at this point as it took two hands to hold the pieces, which made it tricky to apply the glue.

Next came the assembly of the two brass claws. This was the part that I was most concerned about as it involved folding the flat claws into their three dimensional forms.

I happened to have a piece of steel plate (actually stripped out of the inside of a faulty nail gun), that was jsut the right size and thickness, so I used that along with another piece to act as a vice and fold the brass over neatly.

This worked really well, and as it turned out was a lot easier than I had expected .

Once I had folded the two main sides over  I had to fold the outer wings over.

Yes, I know I should have done this first, but I didn't notice until I had got this far, and as it turns out it was easy enough to do, just using a couple of pairs of tweezers...

Once I had made up the brass claws I finished assembling the arms. There were a couple of times where a third hand would have come in handy again, and certainly, locating lugs would have made things a lot easier, but generally I was pretty pleased with the result. I am not 100% certain that I have done it exactly as AMW have designed it, but it seemed to go together fine and I am very happy with the finished arm.

I repeated the process with the second arm, positioning the claws slightly differently, just for a bit of variety...

I don't plan to attach the arms to the hull until the end of the build, as they are quite fragile and would get in the way. So I set them aside and moved back to the main hull. moving towards the aft section there are four small resin pieces that will hold the brass fins and tail section. I superglued these in place on to little flat irregular diamond shaped pads on the tail section. These could really have done with locating lugs. The are very small and due to the shape, very difficult to hold, so getting them positioned correctly was a bit fiddly.

While  was working at the aft i also assembled and attached the towing hook, this again involved some folding and attaching, possibly the smallest part of the kit, a little brass catch that was around 2mm long by a 1mm wide...

Finally for this session I moved to the hatch I attached in the first part. The instruction sheet shows three brass parts for this , and it appears they make up an alternate hatch. As I had already glued the domed hatch in place I discarded two of the brass bits and simply glued the handle on top.

Progress is moving fairly well and I am ready to get on some of the main superstructure now. I will look at that in the next part.

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!

Thursday 16 January 2014

Planning for 2014

I have been pretty quiet on the blog for a couple of weeks, mainly due to being extremely busy and trying to juggle several projects at the one time. Now seems like a good time to step back, look at some of those projects and plan ahead for this year.

I built some new winter terrain boards over the Christmas break and I will show you those once I have had a chance to take a few pictures. I also threw together the Renedra Ramshackle Barn that I received for Christmas (thanks Jeff) and will post some photos once I have finished adding some scenics to it!

I have also started preparation for putting together Alliance Model Works 1:144 scale Steampunk Coastal Submarine. This is a beautiful kit and seems to be very well made. I am going to run a series of articles following my build of this kit.

This is Alliance Model Works' own photo of the sub, I will post mine once I get it together.
 I am trying to finish off painting several steampunk miniatures at the moment, as my gaming group (that sounds rather grand as there are only the three off us, Jeff, Del and myself) are planning to start an In Her Majesty's Name campaign in a few weeks time. Once again I'll post some photos once i have finished them off.

I am also working on a couple of laser cutting projects, but I can't really go into them at the moment.

I had planned a grand scheme, where I would set a goal of painting a certain number of miniatures per week/month to achieve a better turnaround rate than last year (stealing the idea from Steve Blease), but with some pretty diverse jobs coming along, sometimes quite unexpectedly (such as the submarine above which dropped into my schedule almost totally out of the blue, and is going to involve a lot of work to really do it justice), it is not realistic to set myself paining goals that I have very little chance of keeping. I feel that I would be far better off setting more vague goals. So I have decided to aim to do an evenings painting at least once a week, hopefully more than that. I have also imposed a New Years Resolution on myself, that I wont watch unplanned TV anymore. No more sitting down and channel hoping until I find some distraction. If there there is nothing on that I really want to watch I will go and do something creative instead...

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