Thursday, December 25, 2014


OK it took me over a year to build the difficult and dangerous Audi R8 Kit from Revell. Most of that was waiting for things to dry, pondering a build issue I didn't know how to deal with, or just being busy with other things, but really, a YEAR?  So--do builds really need to take that long?  Let's hope not! What if I use my skills gained from the past 4 or so years of building to build something fast, fast, fast, so it's done over the course of a weekend? And still try to keep things reasonably clean and OCD friendly?  Is it wishful thinking?

So it's Christmas and I am on call for work but otherwise have a lot of time on my hands.  I started a 58 Impala AMT kit while I was waiting (as was often the case) for things to dry on the R8. The Impala body, BMF, and a few things are already done prior to this weekend, so let's finish the damn thing off! So it's matter of clipping, cleaning, and painting the parts, and doing sub assemblies.
For this build, I tried yet another time saving tip: instead of scraping paint, I'll mask the non visible surfaces so I can just peel off the mask and glue.  For the engine, that saves a lot of time!  It really works! I am probably going to do this going forward for all builds. The engine has been assembled and wired, needs a bit of touch up but that will take seconds.

The chassis/frame got a quick coat of Tamiya Matt Black.  The silver parts are Duplicolor Chrome which to me looks more like aluminum. Faster than Alclad?  Um, yep! Instead of masking the frame, I hand brushed some Future floor polish to offset it from the rest of the undercarriage.  Good enough!

For the interior, masking always takes a lot of time, so why not hand brush?  It's not as clean as masking would have been, but again, I'm doing this fast!  No one will notice the brush strokes anyway right? Carpets are formed with a few sprinkles of Zing embossing powder.  Looks OK and takes about 5 minutes to apply. Good enough!

Ah hah!  If you want to "tell a story" as they say in the retail business, have the brush visible along with the parts.  That way you're ready to have the photo in a hobby magazine.  This isn't the brush I used, but it's good enough.

I have found you can't rush bare metal foil-ing but for the Impala I did anyway.  From a distance it looks pretty good.  If you get right up close or use macro shots, not as much.

Another huge time save--use Sharpies. Not the paint pens, I have never been able to get consistently good results with those.  Just regular Sharpie's. 1001 uses! I am finding in addition to making things go fast, no setup time, no stirring, no mixing, no brushes to clean, in some cases Sharpies actually work better, since they don't add any thickness to the part.  Edges of body panels, for instance, or steering wheel rims, look better with some Sharpie.  You don't want to add a quarter scale inch to those.

All parts were prepped, ponzi stick'd, and painted the usual way.  All silvers at once, all flat blacks at once.  I didn't get a photo but you have seen this before if you follow this bog, er, blog. I used rattle cans everywhere (faster than setting up an airbrush) and for the block I used Testors One Coat lacquer, the only thing bad I can say about that paint is that they need to make it in about 40 more colors!  It's great stuff!

Final time saving tip: Run to your Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, Riskys or whatever, and get some "Glad Press 'n Seal."  First, I like anything that has "'' n " in its name. That alone makes me want to buy it. Second, for masking or protecting a painted surface after it's dry, this stuff is the best.  I saw Chris Chapman, a really low key guy on Youtube, using this to mask a 1:25 body (a 58 impala, oddly enough!), it's sort of like thick Saran Wrap and it really works, it's much faster than putting tape everywhere, and seems to block all the paint I've thrown at it so far.  Boy Howdy!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Audi R8--Finished at last!

Finished at last! The year long build of a Revell Audi R8. Most of it was time was time lettings thing dry and figuring out how to glue the glass or keeping the wheels from falling off!

To me this build featured (??) a "new" adhesive, fairly new to me anyway, called Micro Krystal Klear.  I had used it a bit of MKK on previous builds, but this time, I use it with much beaucoup.  All the photoetch was attached with it, as were the license plates and most of the glass. In the end the windshield proved to be too tough and I ended up using Testors "Stinky Red" styrene glue along with clamps, weights, and plenty of cursing.  The driver's side A pillar still doesn't look right, but the windshield glass never really fit, it was maybe 1/32" too narrow. Not sure what else I could have done, short of trying to fabricate my own windshield.  

Overall this was a difficult build, at least for me, at my skill level. I also figure this will be the last model I build where the wheels steer, or turn, or whatever.  The wheels don't sit at 90 degrees to the grounds and that drives me crazy!. After a few years of doing this, I have found"steerable wheels" (all 4 wheels on this steer!) never do. Next time, I take extreme measures, like re-engineering the axles with brass rods. Otherwise it's worth it to just glue 'em down. I am thinking about removing the R8 wheels and reattaching with epoxy--but I was hoping I was done?

Overall: I guess after a year working perhaps it should look better.... I like the way the pearl finish came out, it glows a bit in low light (hard to see here), but it could have paid more attention to the way the rear facia attaches to the body.

Not a bad looking build from certain angles.

So am I going to build more models of supercars?  Well since I would never, for financial as well as personal reasons, buy or even drive one, probably not.  But maybe I will.  

As a tribute to the dude who built the box art kit, I was going to leave the rear pipes completely off--the box stock ones didn't line up, but I ended up scratch building some out of styrene tube. So I guess what you see is only 99% box stock!

OK, say goodnight to the R8. Next up, I am going to try to build a few things fast.  I don't mean "build a model of a fast car".  I mean "build a model and not take a year to finish it". What a thought!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Audi R8--T Minus 10 and Holding! Or: another glass-aster!

It's been like a year and I'm still working on a 1:25 scale Audi R8 from Revell.  If you add up all the time I've worked on it it's probably not much.  It's just spread out.  Besides being busy with a million other things, I feel like I'm in a slump of sorts, and, this is a difficult kit (for me anyway) and requires a lot of patience and drying time. 

So here it is so far. Body and chassis are a pair. Getting the body and interior all lined up was a pain, I had to dremel away about 1/4" off the bottom of the interior and another 1/4" off the driver's side.  Don't follow the instructions here; glue to interior to the body and not the chassis, I couldn't get it to look even halfway decent otherwise. 

I ended up having to cut away all the alignment pins for body/interior alignment. Otherwise everything was about 4 scale inches too high and too far to the right.  And!  Don't even bother putting on the rear clip/valance until the rest of the body is on. I couldn't make the body fit otherwise and never did get the rear exhaust openings to line up with the exhaust system (interesting--on the box art, that guy couldn't get it aligned either!)

So where the heck is the windshield?  I didn't like the paint on the first windshield I prepped, the black surround didn't look "scale", so I bought a spare kit and got that one installed with Micro Krystal Klear.

So I am going for final assembly and then I noticed a small spot of paint on the replacement windshield that would have driven me crazy!  No I don't know where the paint fleck came from, and no I didn't get a "before" picture!!!!  So I carefully cut out windshield number two.

As long as the windshield was out, the dash cowling had some blemishes on it so I pried that off as well and repainted. A couple of years ago I would have let this go!  Not now!!!!  What happened to the good old, sloppy days past?

To "fix" the blemished second windshield I figured I'd use the trusty Dried paint remover, right?  1001 uses?

Not!!!  OK lesson and warning: don't EVER use dry acryl paint solvent on scale plastic glass!  NEVER EVER EVER! It destroys the plastic glass, turning the clear completely and miserably opaque as you see here.  Live and learn!  Fortunately Revell has a mail in for spare parts, so I mailed in for my 3rd windshield, otherwise I am looking at getting a THIRD kit for this one box stock build.  And I ask: will this finally do it?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Audi R8: Pain in the Glass Part II

I am (still!) building my 1:25 Revell Audi R8 and have spent the last 3 weeks or so pondering a serious issue: how to glue in the glass without making a total mess?

Last time I tried to mask off the glass and use paint all around, but it didn't look "scale" so I got the glass out of my "backup kit" and drew the outline with Sharpee.  That looks much more "scale", but, Whatever.  Glad I had a backup kit.

So here's the problem.  Take a look at the drawing here.  The bevel where the glass goes is covered with semi gloss black paint. The glass itself has Sharpee simulating the black lining that surrounds modern automobile glass.   So I need to join paint to paint. Was this great planning?  No.  But it's done. 

I found out early on with this silly hobby: no glue, anywhere, can penetrate hobby paint.  Not Testors' stinky red; not Testors' liquid glue, not epoxy, not watch crystal glass.  And of course you can't use CA, that will ruin the plastic glass and turn it a smoky white (which makes me wonder what it does to my brain cells!!).  

For this glass glue-up, there is no way for me to remove the paint anywhere without things looking bad, and there seemed to be no way to glue it down without making a huge glue bomb mess.  I tried using clear enamel paint, but it didn't form a tight enough bond and the glass would pop out.  I tried the same thing with acrylic clear, same results.  I needed something stronger!

I ended up using this glue, from Microscale Industries; Micro Kristal Klear.

(From here I am going to call it MKK since I am lazy.....)

I have used this glue before, but never so much, or for such a critical and fully visible part of the build.  It's a white glue but dries like plastic.  Neat stuff.  I still have no idea if it can help painted surfaces stick together, but so far so good.  My test cases worked, using junker parts from my parts box, so what the heck, it's another 3 weeks gone, and I have to move forward.

I carefully (!!) applied a bit of MKK then used tape and weights to try to seal the deal. After leaving one side on one piece of glass dry for about 24 hours, I MKK'd another, with a bit more glue on a sharpened craft stick, slowly working my way around each window.  That's 24 hours between each gluing, so it's taking a really long time.  But so far it's worked.  We will see if the glass stays in there, or pops out!  And BTW,  an accidental discovery: Tamiya Acrylic thinner thins MKK but the MKK will still stick after being thinned.  Good to know.  So my glass is in, it's not perfect, but it's not as bad as it could be.  Hazzah!

The next issue that I pondered is the rear view mirror.  There seems to be no way to do this without making a huge and fully visible glue blob since the mirror glues directly to the windshield.  Revell is kidding me about this right?  Are those guys NUTS?  But, MKK to the rescue.  I stripped the paint off the surface to be joined to the windshield, used some MKK on the windshield side, and let things get tack.  Then I put the mirror on and let it dry for about 24 hours.  The result is a well glued mirror that looks like it's been oddly scraped before being glued.

So I put a bit more paint over the white part on the outside of the windshield.  It didn't come out perfectly, but it's OK, and I might be able to clean it up with thinner still.

And here's the final challenge for this time.  The taillights needed to be foiled and painted.  As you can see, some of the paint flowed over the surrounds, which is me being sloppy.  But to save the day:

Testors MM Acryl Dry Paint solvent to the rescue.  I put some of this on a bunch of q-tips and erased the paint that had splotched over.  But a lesson learned the hard way: once a bit of red paint is on the q-tip I have to throw it away or I end up with paint all over the place.   So you need a whole bunch of qtips to make this work.

Here's the result (this is an extreme macro shot--the lens is maybe 1mm across, and unlike some of the hobby mags, I never, ever retouch my photos!)

Hmm.  Ready for the Smithsionian?  Nope.  But for me, that's good enough! Time to move on. Once everything is dry it might be time for final assembly.  Could it be true?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

AUDI R8--the Devil is in the Details

Still baffled by how I am going to glue in the glass I turned my attention to some detail painting for the Revell of Germany Audi R8...let's look at the engine cover:

This is a tricky part, paint wise. The box art has the whole thing Matt Black but I thought it'd be more fun to do a black/white "two tone" to match the rest of the car.  The black side pieces are masked using Tamiya yellow tape and Future floor shine, same as I used on the glass.  But how to paint some of the smaller details like the indentation towards the bottom without making a huge mess?

Acrylic wash to the rescue! The more time I spend on this silly hobby the more I find myself using this technique!  I use X20A thinner, a stolen Mexican restaurant plastic salsa cup and some Tamiya acrylic.  You can use different paints and different thinners but you should stick to acrylic I feel.  For instance, I have used Testors Acryl and Windshield wiper fluid, same idea.

I put about 1/3 lid of thinner and 4 drops of paint into the cup, then stir it up with a wood stick I stole from a coffee shop.  (Notice how in hobby mags they always show the tool with the paint to add drama?  Here's my attempt at the same thing....)

Now put the lid on a surface where the indentation is level and fill it up.  Easy!  Now the hard part. Don't bump it, don't move it, don't pick it up to admire you work, or anything else, for at least 12 hours!  Or else the paint will spill out!  I have some overflow here, I will touch that up when everything is dry, but it's looking not too bad already.

When it's dry you end up with all sorts of cool detail painting, like some of the wash I put on these brake pads.  And it's really easy!

And here's the best part--if you are washing acrylic into enamel or lacquer, you can use acrylic thinners like the Dried Paint Solvent above to clean up any spills, overflows, or other count chockulas without attacking the base color coat!  COOL!

And windex will remove ALL of it in case you screw the pooch! Just use the thinners sparingly.  For the R8 the color coat is acrylic as well so I can't use my thinners to fix wash issues, I have to touch up.  Oh well, live and learn.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Audi R8: Pain in the Mask (or) Pain in the Glass!

Ever since I started building model cars again I discovered working with glass is really hard.  How do you work with "plastic glass" in a manner that doesn't leave glue visible, smudges and junk everywhere and generally things looking terrible?

Turns out--I don't know!  I still don't have a foolproof way to work with clear materials that looks great all the time. If someone has some secrets let me know.  In the meantime I'm working on it!

OK....anyway, it's time to start working on the glass for the Revell 1:24 R8.  Like most modern cars, the window trim isn't surrounded by chrome, rather, a black finish.  So that has to be painted!

To start with, I bought "HOBBY DESIGN" masks for the 1:24 Audi from StradaSports.  The "mask kit" didn't come with instructions but turns out, it's simple: cut out the mask, take the backing off, stick it down, and paint.

If things were really that easy!  Getting the mask centered on the window is tough! I had to redo (lift and reapply) a few times. And from having masked other models, as soon as you lift and reapply a mask it's not as effective as it needs to be.  At least that's how I see it….

Let's motorize this pursuit! I use Tamiya masking tape for whatever isn't covered by the mask kit. I figure I need to seal the masks, so for this I use Future Floor Polish (which I have poured into a leftover airbrush glass jar, 2nd from left) applied with a crappy brush.  Future Floor Polish is essentially acrylic clear paint. 1001 uses! So I cover the edges with that.  Let it dry, and then paint with Tamiya Color Semi Gloss black (which is NOT acrylic!)

So OK, I spray the black, let it dry, then lift the masks off.  Sure enough, I can see the acrylic seal all over the glass.  But not to fear!  Some Window cleaner removes that, even once it's dry.  Since I used enamel paint (the Tamiya SG black), the window cleaner only removes the acrylic yucky seal, and NOT the paint.  It worked!  But I also have some more clean up to do in the pictures above--not done yet!

I used the same technique on the body panel above but for this I didn't use the window cleaner.  The white paint is acrylic and would have been attacked by the window cleaner. I also touched up with some enamel semi gloss black. Is it perfect? No, but it will have to do.  I am going to need a lot more practice to get this one right.

And note the bubbles in the acrylic white--to the bottom right.  I have no idea how this happened, it seems bad in certain light but not noticeable other times.  I figure it's a function of using so much PearlEX but I am not sure. As much fun as it is, I may stop using acrylic for body colors going forward. to me lacquer and enamel seem a lot easier to work with.

To get a crisp look for the body panels, I used the same technique, but didn't use the seal; again, I used acrylic white for the body, so there was no good way to remove the seal once it was down.  So I just skipped that step.  The 1:1 car has gunmetal trim, not black, but for drama I am taking some liberties with the paint on this.  Besides, if you were buying a 1:1 R8 I figure Audi will paint it any way you want, if the check is big enough?

Next up--how to glue the glass into the body without making a mess. For that I need bare plastic on bare plastic, which means removing some of the paint on the edges to get a good seal.  So I have no idea how I will do this.  Sometimes I wonder why making a finished model takes so long, and some of that time is spent pondering how to do things like this.  I am stumped.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Audi and Chevy. Another Month's Dabbling in Blog B-land

So I got a bit bored this month with just working on the Revell 2010 Audi so I went into the parts box and found and old AMT 58 Chevy Impala.  Slapped the body and front facia together, primed it, and puttied.

Then in amongst all the painting struggles with the Audi, I shot the Chevy with Tamiya Matt Black, and then to remain sane I Bare Metal Foiled, fast FAST, but it didn't come out too bad....

So there is lots to do here, but it will be an distraction while I work on the Audi, which is a good kit, but not an easy build.  

Back In AudiLand, I decided to use acrylic, Jacquard products, a longtime favorite of mine, for the color coat, and mixed up a really nice Silver Pearl using their ready to airbrush paint, along with PearlEX: Silver and Pearlwhite.

But!  To save time I didn't use 2 part clear. I just didn't want to muck with all the mixing, all the cleaning all the poison etc.  Instead I used a rattle can clear coat I have been messing with for non-model car related crafts, Rustoleum's Triple Thick Glaze.

And did I test it first?  Naw, I just sprayed it on there.  Did it react (badly) with the Audi acrylic?  Yep.  Bubbled up, orange peeled, etc., The horror!!!  I was thinking OK now I have to strip the Audi body and start over.  But lo and behold, after some drying, it leveled a bit, and now I think i can polish it out.  Yeh!

And the chassis/engine is pretty much done, other than some decals and other finish work....hard to see in this pix, but as always the PearlEX came out great, a sort of ghost silver when in sunlight.

And here's the chassis/interior.....

So this copming month, maybe I can get something done?  Who knows?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

41 Willys Hot Rod Project--FINISHED

Finally!  Got something done.  This was a partially built kit (Revell 85-2371) I had stashed at my parent's house, literally for years. It's the kit that got me started building models again, maybe 4-5 years ago.  So here's the story: I was visiting my parents (They live about 90 minutes drive away) and off we went, along with the nephews, to a now-defunct hobby shop to look for model rocket parts.  I didn't have much to do that day so I bought this kit, along with an X-acto knife and some enamel paint.  The next day it rained and I spent pretty much the entire day building.

The day after I had to leave, so the Willies remained partially built. I went back a few months later and laid down the body paint (Testors Plum Crazy, I think, with enamel Testors clear) straight out of the rattle can. I remember covering the wet body with a glass baking dish and hitting the road again, maybe for another year.  So again, the project was shelved for quite some time.

OK fast forward a few years (!) and I am building again, I had a few kits under my belt, and had learned about the polishing kit trick where you start with 1200 grit pads and work your way up to 10,000 grit. For a nice, simple, rounded body like this, and thick enamel paint that polish system works great!  The paint on this build, even though it was sloppy rattle can, was brought to life with polish, and the paint and clear coat looks pretty good.

This is box stock, and is a good, easy kit.  I used a photo etch grille because the kit one didn't "look scale" and also left off the rear license plate, again, it looked too fat at 1:25.

So from there was a matter of bringing the parts home, foiling the body, and finishing it all off.  Since it was what started me building again, it felt right to finish it.  Now, if only I can get some time to finish anything else!  Will this be the last model I ever finish?

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