Saturday, February 2, 2008

Carpeting on the Quick.....Softflock for the Impatient: Part I

It's raining like crazy here so I thought I would get a headstart on next week's installment. OK, if you've built many models you've probably fooled around with flocking or some sort of scale carpeting to make your interiors look better right?

I have, and to date I have been disappointed, usually, with the results. First of all, putting in the "carpet" isn't as easy as it looks. The white glue ends up somewhere I don't want it, so you end up (say) carpeting the dash or center console--oops. So next I tried masking it, but the masking took up some of the carpeting when I pulled it up.

The white glue also seems to take a long time to dry and for me seems a bit too thick.

So I tried to figure out a better way and in the process found a method that can lay down OK looking "carpet" in about 5 minutes with a dry time of about 12-24 hrs. I know our wonderful hobby is all about patience, but sometimes I don't want to wait days for something like scale carpet to dry--and I have waited a long time in the past for scale carpet to dry!!

Here are the tools you need:

--Some sort of primer. I like Duplicolor's but I have a feeling any will work. Dark primer will make the finished carpet darker; light primer will make it look lighter. For this one I was experimenting with using light flock over dark primer. I wouldn't advise this on your show model or whatever, since it makes coverage harder and some dark patches might show through. For yours I'd suggest using light primer for all but the darkest carpets (say, black or brown).

BTW, for this test I took the interior you see out on my porch and primed it there. Little droplets of water got on it (it's raining here--remember?) while I was spraying so I figured the interior paint was toast. But to my surprise it dried fine! Duplicolor sandable primer is amazing!!

--Brush on styrene glue. I used Testors, which I don't like much and don't often use on models, however, I had a bunch of it lying around that I bought before I discovered that Tamiya's similar product was about 1200% better.

--Softflock. You can find this here.

--Acrylic paint. I used Tamiya green.

--Isopropyl alcohol. Put it in something you can mix the paint with.

--(not shown) Dullcoat (I use Testors #1260) Qtips, toilet or tissue paper.

OK, I put glue around where I wanted the carpet to go. Be careful to not brush it where you don't want it, but if you do, we can fix it later.

Then dump some of the softflock in there. I am using ivory/white. I have a feeling white or near-white will work best. Spread it around, knock it around, whatever. Then after a half minute or so, knock out what didn't stick, throw more glue on any bald spots or things that didn't cover and repeat. Try any of that with white glue for softflock! Better yet don't. It will look crappy. Been there, tried it.

OK now here's the fun part. Mix some paint (just a bit--20 to 1 alcohol to paint? Don't know, maybe less.) into the alchohol and dump it in there. If you make the paint to alcohol ratio too close to 1:1, the carpet will start to get blotchy so don't use too much paint.

Anyway, once you dump the alcohol in there it should create a slurry of sorts. That's OK. In this pix I used more than I usually use because I wanted to see what happened. I usually just pour in enough to cover up the Softflock left in there after I have tapped out the leftovers the final time. Let it sit there for a minute or so, then get some tissue paper or toilet paper and sop it out again.

You are left with pretty decent looking carpet--not as fuzzy as the "real" way to do this, but decent looking, and probably good enough for those of us in a hurry, especially if your carpeting is under the roof of a sedan or something. You have control over the color, since the carpet will take on the hue of the slurry you dumped in. But best of all while it's still wet--and it will stay wet for awhile--you have good control of where the carpet goes and doesn't go. Here's where the real fun begins. So you've soaked out most of the slurry. If you see anything lumpy, press it into place with your finger. If you see some carpet where you don't want it, use a q tip or xacto blade to get rid of it, cut it into place, shove it back down to the floorboard, etc. You will find that while the whole carpet muck is moist it is extremely pliable, but once it's dry (you can speed that up by sopping up more of the liquid with toilet paper) it stays put.

OK here's my final pix for the post. This carpeting run still needs some more clean up but that's easy--you can soak a q tip in alcohol, use a brush, or whatever, to get the non-stuck flock off the interior. The general shape and fit of the carpet looks pretty good but still needs a bit of work, however even at this early stage I don't have any stuck to the sides or whatnot. After a few hours, make sure your clean up and fit is really how you want, then shoot the carpet with a thin coat of dullcoat to seal in any stray little bits.

I will let this dry and continue expanding on this idea next time.

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