Nathan's Super Model Bonanza!!

This is my little blog about my scale modeling adventures. In what free time I have, I build plastic, wood and multi-media scale models. My goal with this blog is to document that build process for those that share similar interests and also to hopefully provide any insights I may have on the building techniques. The older blog posts are available in the column on the right side of this page, and the finished model photo galleries are available at the top of the page.

Without further ado...

Curtiss Jenny All Done!

At long last, another model can be called done!

Since the last blog post, I've moved, gained a new (and improved!) model work space and managed to finish both the model and a simple base for it. Picking up where I last left off, I had a bit of carving to do to shape the propeller. It was constructed from a bunch of thin walnut strips, glued together to make a block that was thick enough to carve the prop from.

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At the same time, I managed to start the wing rigging. There were a TON of wires on each side, which, on the real planes, kept the wings from folding up when flying.

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Once the wings were rigged up, there were a few extra wires to add on, the finished prop to attach and the plane was done! Next up was to put together a base of some sort to attach it to. I wanted some sort of base, so that I could fasten the model to it and thereby make it much easier to transport, less likely to damage and maybe add a bit of visual appeal. I headed to Home Depot and grabbed some plywood and wooden molding. Some quality time with a saw, and a few small nails, and I had myself the makings of a base. board.

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I decided that I wanted a simple covering for the base that was stain on the molding (that matched the plane) and a grass-like covering for the plywood. I grabbed some common model train terrain supplies and gave it a shot. This wasn't something that I had ever tried before, so I pretty much just winged it.

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My shot at little tufts of grass:

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With that done, I was ready to photograph it. The challenge here was that this was pretty much the largest model I have ever made. I decided that instead of using my regular background, which is just a couple of large sheets of paper, I should instead order a proper roll of backdrop paper, which was 53 inches wide and way longer than I'll ever need. This presented me with the challenge of how to hang the roll up while shooting my photos without having to purchase a bunch of backdrop stands. After another trip to Home Depot, I came home with a broom handle and a length of light chain. A few hooks screwed into the broom handle (cut down by a few inches) and hooks into the overhead wood and I've got a removable paper roll hanger.

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Then, I dragged out the photo equipment and spent an hour or two shooting photos.

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So, without further ado, here are the photos of the finished Model Airways Curtiss JN-4D Jenny:

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Next up: A Machinen Krieger plastic model...
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And One Month Later....

The wings are all rigged and nearly complete!

After a few weeks of tying tiny little copper fitting to short lengths of string, I managed to tie at least a few on to the model itself.  I managed to come up with a fairly successful system where I tied all of the string to the little copper turnbuckles first and then tied them to the wing itself.  I originally was doing one string at a time, tying the turnbuckle to the string and then the string to the model, but found this to be pretty slow going.

Here you can see a bunch of the pre-tied turnbuckles ready to go onto the lower wing panels.  I have found that some of my ship-modeling skills have been helpful when it comes to knots and such.
Once I had all of the rigging in the wings complete, then it was time to add various other copper and white metal fittings.   This gave me the opportunity to use a new toy I purchased at the beginning of this project.  It is a 'Hold and Fold' photo-etch workstation from the nice folks at The Small Shop.  As you can see in the photo, it is a billet aluminum clamp-like device that let's me clamp a bit of photo-etched metal down (very precisely) and then fold it using that great big razor blade.  I got to use it a bit today to crease some of the rigging plate things that go on to the wings and will eventually be clamped between the wing and the posts that connect the two wings.


I also spent a bit of time filing, sanding and polishing a few cast white metal parts which were put together to become the little pulleys that control the ailerons.  I've still got two more to add, but here are the tops ones in place:


That's all for now!  With the wings nearly complete, I'll soon be moving on to the tail parts.  Until next time.

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Wing Staining |||amp; Rigging

Work on the wings continues...

Since the last post, I've finished the staining of the wing panels and then put a few coats of a semi-gloss water-based polyurethane.  This is to seal up the wood as well as to add some depth to the finish.  Overall, I am pretty happy with the way the finish turned out and it makes a fantastic contract to the white metal and copper parts.  Here is an image of one of the stained and finished lower wing panels:

 It did take quite a while to get the stain and poly on there, since it all had to be brushed on by hand.  I feel that the results were worth it, though.
 The next step in the process was to add the adhesive copper tape strips to the ends of the ribs at the trailing edge.  These are to simulate the bands of metal that clamped on the trailing edge on the real plane.  This was pretty easy, since the copper tape is very malleable, and can be smoothed down with a fingernail and the edges burnished smooth with some tweezers.

 Here is a photo of the aileron  edge with tape applied.  I really like the way the copper looks against the stained wood.







Next, I pulled out a few of the white metal parts and had a go at polishing them up a bit.  They come with a fairly matte finish and with some imperfections in the casting.  I bit of work with various sanding sticks and they shine up nicely.  Here you can see the aileron control horns attached to the ailerons, and also the fake hinges (made of strip brass) sticking off of the back of the parts.


Now, I am on to the rigging step, where all the turnbuckles and wires that maintain the internal wing structure are put into place.  I'm finding that some of my experience on the Armed Virginia Sloop model is coming in handy, in that I can reuse some of the rigging techniques that I learned on that project.  Here is a pic of the first part that has been completed:










This rigging stuff, while not too complicated, is a bit fiddly and generally slow-going.  I'm expecting that I'll probably spend the next couple of weeks on this, and will have another update once that is complete.  Stay tuned until then!
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Wings Done!

Another long lost update to the blog!  Although this time I have a better excuse.  I haven't updated before now because everything that I have been doing in between this and the last post has been pretty boring.  Not that it's been boring to work on, per se, but rather it's almost the exact same tasks I've already blogged about, just more so.  So rather than post about how I've sanded ANOTHER 40 ribs, I figured I'd just wait until there was something more interesting to see.

I've finally finished the main construction on the four wing panels.  This includes most all of the wooden parts, and just a few metal bits.  The only metal parts that are on there at the moment are either structural (like the trailing edge wire) or would be too tricky to install later in the construction process (like the little eyelets in the middle areas).  So with that taken care of, I can finally apply the stain and polyurethane to the wings in preparation for further construction.  Below you can see the completed wing panels.



Once the stain and poly are applied, I'll be able to rig the internal wires on the wings and apply various other braces and supports.  Here is a snapshot of the wing panels hung up to dry after being stained.


Stay tuned for more action-packed adventure! 
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Long Lost Update...

 At long last, I'm updating the blog again.  In the interim, I spent a week in Hawaii, played through Fallout: New Vegas, and have just been busy with life in general. But last weekend, I finally got back to working on the model again.  Here is where things stand thus far...

I've finished the wood work on one of the upper wing panels.  This includes both the wing panel and the aileron.  While the penal isn't DONE yet, it's reached the point that I'll need to stain and seal it, so I decided it would probably be best if I built all the wing panels and THEN did the staining and sealing.  Once that is done, there are a variety of metal and string parts that go on the wings as well.

As you can see in the various photos here, I'm making slow but steady progress.



Starting on the next wing panel, I'm taking a bit from what I learned from the first and making sure I have much of the sanding and fitting done beforehand.  This means that I've got to do all the monotonous filing first, but it should make assembly go much faster overall.

Here is a photo of a before and after wing rib.  You can see how I'm also sanding off the blackening on the edges of the cutouts.  This blackening is from the laser cutting of the parts, and I feel that removing it will add a bit to the scale fidelity of the model.  The drawback is that it's a royal pain in the butt, and some of these wing ribs are pretty fragile and are easily broken while sanding.  Hooray for super glue!

Stay tuned for further adventures in modeling!
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Curtis Jenny Progress

Here is a little update on what I've been up to.  I've started a new project.  This time it is a wooden/metal kit instead of plastic.  It is a World War I era biplane, and will end up as a static display (non flying) model with all the internal details visible.



This one is both similar and quite different from the wooden ship that I previously built.  This project has generally the same raw materials:  laser-cut wood, stock strip wood, cast white metal, etc.  The big difference this time around is that I'm not following a course on the projects construction.  This just means that I have to follow the somewhat rough instructions that come with the model itself and do much more deciphering of the sheet plans.  This isn't a bad thing, just a different challenge.

So, I've decided to start with one of the top wing panels, in order to go through most of it's construction, and learn what I can in the process.  In theory, this should confine all my screw-ups to just one wing panel, making for less fixing later and smoother/faster construction of the other three panels.  With that said, here are some photos of my progress thus far:

Initial wing ribs layout.

Photo-etched fittings for later wire rigging.

Bending the wing tip rib.

More wing tip construction.

With the thin plywood leading edge cap strip.

Progress has been a bit slow so far, as I've not had as much free time as I would like.  But, stay tuned for more progress, some wood stain color tests and further adventures in modeling!
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A Sneak Preview

Just a quick post to bring things up to date. Here's a quick look at upcoming projects.

This past week I received a kit for another wooden and metal model. This one is a WWI biplane, the Curtiss JN-4D 'Jenny'. I'm hoping that it'll be a challenging build, similar to the Sloop build, except with much more metal and photo-etch. I'm actually hoping to set up a time-lapse recording method for this build, using an old computer, and a webcam. But since I think this might take me a little bit to get set up and tested, I'm going to hold off on starting this build for a little while.





So, in the meantime, after wrapping up the motorcycle model (which I plan on doing today), I'll be putting this one together:



It should be a quick, fun build, since there isn't any engine. I was in the mood to make something shiny before I start on a longer build, so I figure I can crank through this one in a few weeks, and should be able to test out my timelapse setup in the process :)

And there we have it. That's my modeling progress brought up to date. Party on.
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