Monday, January 28, 2013

Still here

Hey all, I had hopped to post some pictures of my blood ravens today but alas that is not going to happen. I took my computers off line last week and took them in to the tech to have them checked out, tuned up, and cleaned out. Well turns out I've got a virus that royally messed some stuff up. So it's proving to be more of an effort to clean it out. Thankfully I'm a paranoid git who has everything backed up three ways from Sunday so if it comes to needing to simply reformat the system and reload everything it will only be inconvenient. Not problematic.

So I'm sure someone is reading this and going "Wait, if he doesn't have his computer how did he post this?" Simple. I pulled out my ages old laptop. The one running Windows NT 4.0. Yup I'm using a 15 year old laptop to post this. Needless to say this is somewhat painful, the lack of Java, the inability to upgrade to IE 9 (it is presently running IE 4 ouch...), the 12" screen and just general age of the system compared to what I normally use is painful.

In other more pertinent news, I have acquired a new digital camera and I've been working on my Blood Raven space marines. I've taken a great many pictures... and I have no means to upload them to my blog right now. *Sigh* Well stay tuned. I'll post pics as soon as I am able to do so.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Well some busy work

So There's not much I can do with the Thunderbolt right now. Not until I get the new supply of Mold Compound which isn't going to happen for a little bit. Need to recover from the medical expenses. But one thing I don't do very well is nothing. I can't not be working on a project of some form. It just doesn't happen for me. It may not always be War hammer related but I am working on something.

So today I decided to take a cue from a friend and fellow blogger, Virtual Stranger. He runs "In the Grim Cheapness of the Future" and has served as something of an inspiration for my own scratch building adventures a couple of times. So what direction did I take form him? The cheap ass one! I decided to see what I could with what I have on hand. Now with a bitz box the size of the one I have I could probably pull together enough parts to build something on the scale of a land raider if I really wanted to, but I have enough models for the time being. I don't need to build more random ones. So I decided to shift gears a bit and try something in the terrain category. I got a series of videos from a while back. I don't recommend their videos as basis for learning new techniques, as they are rather caviler with their explanations and directions about what they are doing and there have been a lot of times they've just blown through a major chuck of the project and I'm left scratching my head trying to understand what the hell they just did. Like wise they're words regarding safety is painfully lacky and frequently limited to "Just be careful you don't cut your self."  There are a lot of times in the videos where I feel the need to reach into the video and hold up a sign that reads "Do NOT do this the way I am doing it. It is not safe.!" Their videos are definitely geared more toward the veteran hobbyist then the young blood. But they do have some ideas that are worth wild. One video they did is constructing an industrial catwalk using 1/2 pvc plumbing pieces as the basis for it.

The project is rather straight forward and uses a handful of materials. Most of which I had one hand. I made 3 alterations to their project in my rendition of it.

Firstly, I filled the PVC tubes with resin and then attached the catwalks to the piped by counter sinking a screw into the resin in the pips and then pouring resin into the squares under the catwalk platform. This helped secure the entire structure.

Second, I attached long segments of angel bracket to the sides of the catwalk, covering the edges of the diamond plate and giving it a more "This is intended to be walked on by normal people" look to it.
The angel bracked on the edges of the walk way.

The third thing I changed was a partially a matter of convenience partially one of preference. I used an enclosed ladder cage on the lower segment of the walk for the ladder. I grew up around military bases and one thing I always saw a lot of were "Off limit" warnings and safety mechanisms. In the real world these cages are put on ladders to prevent people from falling back and off of the ladder. Yes it's still possible to fall down and have the cage make no difference what so ever. But then you get into the realm of "How did you live long to get hired for this job?"

 I thought this would add a little bit of realism to the piece. Plus I had the material on hand and didn't have to get it.
The nearly finished catwalk
With the exception of the Light diffuser, base board, and plumbing parts, all of which can be obtained from a hard ware store for about $25, all the materials in this project can be obtained through Plastruct and EverGreen plastics.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The work continues

So my progress on the Thunderbolt continues, but is somewhat halted. I need to order more molding compound. I didn't like how the first mold of the engine came out so I tried to make a better mold. While I managed to do that, I used more mold compound then I had previously planned on. So I need to order more. Otherwise I can't make the mold for the left wing and lets face it, a one-winged Thunderbolt is going to fly a whole lot worse then a two-winged version. However, I'm doubly delayed on that front because I just had to drop about $700 on a bit of a health problem. End result is nothing serious but I'm lucky I caught it when I did otherwise the doctors were concerned I'd be risking blindness in my right eye. No telling how much being blind in one eye would have slowed down my hobbying. So it will be a couple weeks till I can order more mold compound.

But that doesn't stop me from working with what I already have on hand. As previously stated I intend to use magnets in my final build to allow me to drop bombs, remove hell fire missiles and swap out fuel pods as I see fit. Well I managed to cast up one wing with magnets in it. Here's a video showing the magnets in action:
Right now it's using a single bar magnet in each pylon. The bar is magnetixed through the long axis. meaning if you look at the bar like this:

Magnet bar ===>  =============
Then the poles of the magnet are on the ends of the bar, like so:
Magnet bar ===>  =============

While this works it feels a bit flimsy and I think will put too strain on my efforts to build an alignment system into the missiles and pods. Also any alignment system I do build will be based on absolute placement of the magnets in both pieces, meaning if the magnet in the pylon is placed exactly 5.4mm from the back side of the pylon then accompanying magnet in the pylon, missile and fuel pod must also be exactly5.4mm from the back edge of the alignment system. An exacting measurement that is extremely difficult to accomplish. So what am I going to do about this? Well I think I'm going to get bar magnets that are magnetized along the long side rather then on the ends. That way it will be largely self aligning.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

So, what does 2 quarts of Resin get you?

Well, I finished the molds for various parts. Some of them worked out alright. None of them were a complete success. As you can probably guess, I've been casting up copies of the master parts I've been building the last few weeks. Some of the molds turned out pretty good, some of them not so great. In either case it's been a learning experience and now I'd like to share some of that experience with all of you. What I am saying? Learn from my mistakes. Heed my advice. See where I messed up so you don't make the same mistake if you try this sort of work.

So, first up are the molds I've made.
the various molds I've made in the last couple months.
That is a series of 6 molds I've created over the last few months, using various approaches, materials and ideas. Here's the differences between each:

the first 2 part mold I made for quick casting Hellfire missiles.
 This is actually the first 2 part mold I made. As you can see I made it so I could cast up 4 hellfire missiles at a time and one Ork twin linked big shoota. I was intending to use the shoota as the basis for my Chaos Thunderhawk Hunter guns, but alas my first attempt at a two part mold was somewhat flawed and the clay I used in the process turned into a sticky gum when I used the mold release agent on it. This mold was made using Smooth-On's Oomoo-30 Silicone Rubber kit.

the second 2 part mold I made using Smooth-On's PMC-121 urethane rubber
This is the second attempt I made for a hell fire cast. This rubber is Smooth On's PMC-121. This rubber has the advantage of being much denser and thus stronger and more rigid and thus better at grabbing details. The down side? 16-20 hour demold time. That means once you pour the rubber, it's a day until you can pull the mold up. Making a 2 part mold? Don't expect to be able to use it with 48 hours of starting to make the mold.

these molds are for various pieces for the Thunderbolt and are made using Smooth On's Oomoo 25 and 30 silicone rubbers.

These molds are of the various parts for the thunderbolt. The molds at the top are the engine mounts and the intakes for the engine. To save time I made 2 molds of each so I could cast up the pair of each part I needed in one go. 
The right wing mold
The wing mold... oi vey as this thing ever been a pain in the butt. See here's the thing. In the final wing I want to have magnets in the bottom of the wing Pylon so I can attach hell fire missiles or fuel pods to the model. So I want to be able to put the magnets IN the wing pylons when I cast the wing. Well there's no way I can cast the pylons, and the wing at the same time. So I have to spray down the mold with release agent first, then cast the pylons and let those set till at least stiff and not runny. Then I have to close us the mold, and cast the rest of the wing. And what happens if any part of the process has a problem or isn't done correctly?

a bad cast of the wing

So what do I do? I have to be VERY patient and do each step correctly each time. Roughly it will take me about an hour and half to cast the wing properly.
Like this one:
a good cast of the right wing

The rest of the casting results depend largely on my patience when I cast the part in the question. The exception to this are the engine intakes and the engine mounts.
the intakes came out well enough.

 The intakes turn out fairly well with little effort. Just a little clean up to even out the backs and they'll be good to use.
the engine mounting blocks

The engine mounts likewise turn out well easily enough. To reduce the weight, and the amount of resin I need for each I submerged sealed styrene tubes in to the resin as it's setting. You can see one of the tubes in the above picture. This effectively makes the part hollow with needing to make it a multi-part construct. Again, just need a little clean up to make the piece workable.

The Engine itself as been a trying expirament:

Oh yeah, the engine has proven to be the most difficult large piece to cast. Because of the small details on it, the resin tends to "bubble" over the details and then dry, leaving a void in the finished piece. You can this in the first couple attempts. So how have I solved this? Simple. Patiance. Namely instead of trying to cast the entire engine in one single go I try to cast in three steps using less resin and poring the resin very slowly at each step.

In this lastest effort I did it in three passes, pouring about 1/2 ounce of resin each time, pouring it along the shaft of a stir stick and trying to keep it the pour rate to a very shallow thin stream in order to give the resin time to spread out and fill in the details on the inside of the mold. Still need some clean up on the finished piece but a substantial improvement over the earlier attempts.

The small tiny details on the weapons have been an absolute nightmare to overcome and honestly I haven't quit gotten them beat yet. Much like the small detail on the engine, the resin as a tendency to bubble up and fill the mold of the smaller pieces creating these large gaping voids ruining the part.
the bubbling problem ruined this attempted casting of a lascannon barrel.
This is the most notable example of this particular problem. Where is the rest of the Lascannon? And why is the body of the hellstrike Missile hollow? Yep, that bubbling problem at work again.

This casting was notably better but still has a hallow body to the lascannon. I MIGHT be able to use this one. Have to look into it more closely.

the best casting yet
This is actually the best casting of those parts yet. YES it has a metric crap ton of clean up on it but guess what? All the of parts and pieces are there! So that's a win.

Now, here's a piece of advice for you if you get into casting: Spend the $10 bucks and get one of these:
a scenic woodlands rock mold
Why? So that if you have an extra 1/2 ounce of resin you don't waste it. Spray this rock mold with some mold release and pour the extra resin into the mold. Just save the extra rocks in a box. You can use the rocks for basing or other terrain projects. You'll look into the box at some point and go "Holy crap! That would look great for my [insert model name here] as a base!" or something of that nature. And you'll wind up with plenty of them in a hurry too.
don't waste extra resin. Put it to use. Cast some rocks.
Same thing works if you're using green stuff and have some extra. Press the extra into the rock mold. Viola! You've got a rock you can use for basing or detailing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

288 lego bricks.... 3 quarts of silocone rubber... 2 pounds of synthetic silicone clay... a couple ounces of silicone ethal spray... 3 ceramic tiles...

 288 lego bricks....  3 quarts of silocone rubber... 2 pounds of synthetic silicone clay...  a couple ounces of silicone ethal spray (mold release)... 3 ceramic tiles...
So, what does all of that add up? Well right now it adds up to 3 Lego boxes filled with silicone on top of the dryer. My orders came in and now i can continue work on the Thunderbolt, the body of which you can see on the flight stand on the left side of the image.

The first box (on the left) is the first half of a 2 part mold which will have the back section of the engine, the Ammo Hopper I built a while back, a lascannon, and the Autocannon with the angled mount for the thunderbolt. The second box is a single piece mold and contains the intake for the engine and the engine mount itself. The third box in the first half of the mold for the right wing.

Something I'm going to try to do is adding magnets to the design of this model. Particularly for the missiles. So what I'm going to do is cast the wings up with magnets at the base of the weapon pylons, and then cast up the hellstrike missiles with magnets in the bodies of those. So that way the missiles can be attached to the pylons, and removed once they are fired in a game.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

thought I'd provide some information

As I've previously stated my work on the thunderbolt is more or less on hold until I get more materials. I can still work on small details and I am, but I can't make any major head way on the body until I get the materials to cast the molds of the engine mounts. So I've already ordered them so now it's just a waiting game. In the mean time I thought I'd post some information about the materials I'm using for this project.

The first thing is obviously the Styrene, or plastic, materials I'm using. For the large part, the majority of my styrene is coming from Plastruct. They've been around for a while and offer a truely staggering array of extruded styrene shapes and forms. I've also purchased Styrene from another company called EveryGreen Scale models. Their selection isn't as huge as Plastructs', but they have some stuff that Plastruct doesn't.

Take a look at the engine master I built. As I previously mentioned, it's a series of tubes set into one another with other detail added to that.
the scratch built master of the back section of the engine

Here is a structural break down of what I used to build the engine master:
the exploded view diagrame of the back section of the engine
Because I will be referring to different sizes, I have color coded this passage to match with the diagram. The green tube is a length of Plastruct's TB-24 piping, which is measured at 19mm outside diameter. The pink is TB-28 tubing and measures at 22mm. The blue, which slips around the forward most length of TB-28, is a segment of TB-32 and is the largest piece of Plastructs inventory of piping I've needed to order yet. It measures in at 25mm outer diameter. The sea foam green 'C' is a wrap of textured plastic from EverGreen's assortment. The precise one I used in this case is listed as E-5 '4529' "Metal Siding" and is sold in sheets of 100 square inches. Apply a little bit of heat and it becomes pliable and can simply be glued into the length of TB-28.

The floating yellow squares are just panels of .5mm thick styrene I cut and glued to the last section of exposed TB-24. The teal length between the segments of TB-28 are simply lengths of 1mm thick Hex-rod. Plastruct's got these listed as MRX-60. I also got .1mm lengths of these hex rods to become the bolts on the sides of the engine you see in the finished product.

And that's the breakdown of how I built the master for the back half of the engine.

The forward intake was a similar process but needed some innovation to accomplish.
exploded view of the intake section of the enginethe scratch built intake for the engine

Like with the back section of the engine the intake housing is built out of 2 lengths of pipe set into one another. The inner section, shown in pink is a length of TB-28 while the blue is a length of TB-32. The red is a disc of 1mm thick sheet styrene. For the intake blades I had to get creative. I make 4 discs of .1mm thick styrene, the same diameter as the inside of the TB-28. I then cut those dics into 8 segments, like a pizza. Then I glued down each blade seperatly so that each successive blade was over half of the previous one. I had to get a little fiddly with the last two or three in order to get them to line up properly but it worked out. Then I took a hold punch that measured just under 5mm in diameter and punched out the center of the assembled fan blades.
I then took a length of Plastruct's MR-190 5mm rod and sanded one end down to a rounded nub and then put that through the hole I made in the fan blades. To help simplify it all out I attached a scrap piece of styrene to back of the .1mm disc.

And there you have how I build the engine masters for the thunderbolt fighter.

Friday, January 04, 2013


Well I've hit a little bit of a delay in work on the thunderbolt. Namely I need to wait for materials to come in. Yes, I am out of molding compound and had to order more. Hopefully the order will be in sometime early next week. For whatever reason I can not fathom, I am able to get reactive compounds, that have been used in the production of IEDs from over seas faster then I can order plane old sheet of sheet styrene from with in the continental US. Anyone else have that sort of... oddity in their country?

Anyway, I had actually managed to get a fair amount of work done before I realised I was out of molding compound.

The engine master, the main engine piece, the engine mounting block, engine detailing for smash casting, and the air intake for the engine.

As you can see there are 5 components there, well okay maybe you can't see all 5. There's the engine master on the left, behind that is the central engine that will go into the main body of the Thunderbolt. On the ceramic tile is the engine mount on the back, that big block looking thing. The intake for the engine closer to the camera and then to the left of the intake is another piece. it's really hard to see but it's the master for a detail piece I'm going to smash cast to apply to the engine master before i cast the copies of the engine.

I test fit the central engine earlier:
test fitting of the main engine in the body
It does fit but I'll need to put material in the body to secure it. As it stand now it's just too damned heavy for a couple dabs of plastic glue to secure it. I'm considering filling the body with resin and using that to secure the engine housing. Not only will that secure it, but it will also make the body very strong and resilient to being handled.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New update on Project Thunderhawk... er bolt... thunderhawk bolt

Okay so I'm not sure what I'm calling this project anymore. I'm still intending to build a Thunderhawk, but the case-study of building a Thunderbolt has really taken on it's own life and become a project onto itself. Regardless I am making progress. One of the key points I was planning on under taking in building the Thunderbolt was scratching one engine and then casting two copies of it for the finished model. Well, I've finished building the original master:

the scratch built master of the engine
The engine itself is build with a long central tube, and several larger segments of tubing glued to the body. I'll explain in more detail below.

color coded break down of the engine

The red is a single long tube measuring 5 centimeters. if you look at the front you'll see 2 colored rings, one purple and one blue. Those are each another ring of piping affixed to the tube. The green ring further back is another segment of tube the same thickness as the purple tube at the front, but this one has a layer of roof textured glued to it. Then the green and black segments in the front are lengths of hex rod glued in place.

The way the template has the engines, they are built in 2 parts and then each affixed to a box on the side of the main body. Here you see the scratch built air-intake and the main engine housing.
I have some details to add to the master before it's ready to cast but it's all repetitive details, items that appear in multiple places on the finished model. So what I'm going to do is quick-cast a mold of the master of the detail part, then with the finished mold use green stuff to cast copies of it that can then be affixed to the engine master. With a little luck, I'll be posting on that in the next few days.