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Thread: Monogram Enhanced B-17

  1. #1
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    Monogram Enhanced B-17

    This side project has nothing to do with the train layout so I decided it deserved a new thread. When I was younger, living in a town house, I had no basement so all the model work was done in the garage. In the Summer it was with the door open and all the kids in the neighborhood used to come in a watch (and learn). One of these kids is now 50 and an accountant with Grandt Thornton. For his 50th, he got a ride in Yankee Lady, one of the several extant flying B-17Gs. It was a bucket list item. As a result, and since he was an inspired modeler and a protege, he went out and bought the Monogram B-17 kit with all intents to build it. Then reality set in and he realized that it would sit in his basement for years. He turned to me to build it for him and so he'd have a real Myles "original".

    I don't live in Pennsy any longer so instead of him shipping the model to me, I re-bought it at my LHS and some added goodies. This was the same model that my #1 grandson built as his first model. It was a real challenge AND he wanted to cover it with aluminum foil. He struggled mightily and did finish it. While somewhat crude, he was very proud of it (as am I). Since Yankee Lady is an natural finish aircraft, it needs to be metallic. I'm not going the foil route, it's just too problematic. I'm going with Vallejo Metal finishes which are water-based. I can't spray solvents in the house so that means, no Metalizer. I also bought some buffing aluminum to do some various panels. It should be okay.

    While I was forbidden to get a builder's commission, he is paying for all the materials. Speaking of materials. I bought the Verlinden super-detail kit which includes key photo-etched stuff like window frames, parts for the turbos, new scale-thickness bomb-bay doors, new frames for later version of the Cheyenne canopy at the tail gunner's position, etc. It has ample resin parts including turbos, new main landing gear struts, and lots of gribblies for the interior—which is invisible except for the bombardiers position.

    Here's pic from the Verlinden instructions.

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    Then I bought an Eduard four engine radial set which includes beautifully cast R-1800 resin radials, new cowl and cooling fin ring, and PE ignition harnesses. They're going to be great!

    And then I was able to order custom decals for the Yankee Clipper.

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    I'm going to be building this during railroad work like today when the plaster's still curing. So today I started with what could be a challenging part. Removing the cast in engine turbo-chargers and then add the new resin assemblies. The new turbos consist of 5 separate parts: 3 resin and 2 PE. I used the Dremel Flexi-shaft with a carbide cutter to rough out the opening and then cleaned it up with an #11 blade and rat tail diamond-coated file. I figured if I can get this right I can do the rest of this mod.

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    Here's a sequence with the turbo installation in one wing.

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    Unlike some of the train projects, this one will probably proceed a little more slowly. That is unless I get hooked and work on it more steadily. I do have to get the mountain built since I can't run any trains until it's finished. It's in the middle of all the main lines.

  2. #2
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    B-17 Work: Turbos Cont.

    After plastering the mountain with the 2nd coat of Gypsolite, I did an hour's worth of B-17 building. I got the last two turbos installed and modified the kit's tailwheel strut to accept the Verlinden resin tailwheel and lower strut.

    I had to fill a bit of the wing area around the turbo waste gate since the resin turbo lay at a slightly different angle than the molded plastic one that I cut away. As a result I had a gap that was too big and used medium CA with CA filler granules to build up the missing plastic and then ground off the excess with the Dremel and a diamond-coated burr.

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    I was attempting to file the back of the top turbo thingy (I have absolutely no idea what that part is actually called) and it took off for the floor. After sweeping the entire area and sifting through the dust pan, I couldn't find it. I was about to spend the time to cast another one in resin when I looked down and it was exactly where I just swept. Another case of slipping into the quantum rift and then coming back to our dimension after a while.

    With that part, I was able to get all four turbos installed.

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    I then started to actually use the Revell instructions and the first part was the tailwheel. The Verlinden set has a new wheel and strut that replaces the lower portion of the kit's molded part. You have to remove the half-cast wheel and lower struct and then replace it with the two Verlinden parts. I didn't trust just a butt joint with CA so I drilled all the parts 0.021" and used some brass wire to reinforce the joint.

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    Next up will be more interior stuff and added Verlinden bits.

  3. #3
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    B-17 Work: Engines part 1

    Moving on...

    The Eduard R-1800 radials are a work of art. They were however, a challenging activity. They had a huge added part on the back of the engines that was contiguous with the exhaust ring. At first I started to just saw it off with a medium toothed razor saw, but got worried about all kinds of things (squareness, cutting what I shouldn't, cutting myself, etc.) so I thought about doing something a little more sophisticated. I figured I could part the scrap off the back on the lathe as long as I could hold it. While I could grab the scrap, the area to be parted was so close to the chuck that I risked serious damage to machine and me. There is a nicely formed hole down the middle of the engine to mount on the existing lug on the plastic model. With a small-hole gauge and the digital caliper it measured 0.293" diameter. So I turned a mandrel with a tight fit to this hole and was able to put the parts on far enough from the chuck so nothing bad would happen.

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    With the front gear case, I was able to capture the scrap in the chuck and carefully part off the good part. I then sanded the backs flat and CA'd them to the engine blocks.

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    At this point, I needed to decide how to go about painting them. There are 18 pushrod tubes that have to go on, magnetos and PE ignition harnesses. I needed to paint the cylinders before all these other details blocked my path. I also wasn't sure if I was going to airbrush any of it. The only thing that I could airbrush would have been the semi-gloss black for the inter-cylinder baffles, otherwise, everything had to be brush painted. Rather than mess with the airbrush for such a small job, I brush painted the whole deal. I started with that black for the baffles, then followed with burnt iron for the lower cylinder barrel. I used flat aluminum for the cylinder heads and a medium blue/gray for the gear case and the engine block. Lastly, I picked out the intake and exhaust runners in the back of the engine. Those details will be buried in the cowls and will never be seen so painting them was just for fun.

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    I lost one of the very tiny magneto castings. I was careful to cut it of the sprue on my regular work bench with the "parts catcher" tray pulled out. Then I wasn't sure what was sprue and what was part so I had the part in my fingers and took them to my auxiliary work bench where the plans were, AND OF COURSE I DROPPED IT! And of course it was never to be found even though I thought I actually heard it landing somewhere. I'll check agin tomorrow. It may come back from its dimensional sojourn by then. If I can't find it, I'll probably cobble together something out of styrene bits. All of these details are microscopic, but I'm a perfectionist of sorts.

    You can really see the perfection of these Eduard products. Just look at the clarity of definition of the spark plugs sitting in their bores. There is simply no comparison to the kit styrene parts.

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    B-17 Work: Engines part 2

    After an absolutely amazing weekend where I met with my college R & B band members in Oklahoma City, I got back to do some work on the first radial engine for the Monogram B-17.

    I mixed up a better color for the gear case and painted all the engines. I then drilled out two little holes in each engine where my belt drive will go. Since I'm using E-Z Line to simulate the belt. It turned out to be easier to have through holes and thread the E-Z Line out the back of the engine. I could put proper tension on it, and then a couple of tiny drops of CA would hold it. I replaced the belt on the one engine I'm building this way when the E-Z Line came off the pulley.

    I installed the last of my hand-made brass push rod tubes to replace the lost ones, only to find that Eduard did include an entire extra fret of them. Oh well. After painting with semi-gloss black you simply can't tell which are the replacements.

    I then installed the ignition harnesses. While I anticipated a horror with this, it was actually pretty easy... finicky, but easy. And then I installed the sheet metal ring that surrounds the front part of the engine. This too went on without much trouble, surprisingly.

    The first set of PE "wiring" is on.

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    The second set is on shown next to the so-obviously-inferior kit engines.

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    Here's the finished engine (minus a couple of decals) showing that trim ring.

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    Each of these engines is a challenging model kit in itself. They're not for the faint hearted and they're so distinctive that I'm probably going to leave the cowl off the best on. They deserve to be seen.

  5. #5
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    B-17 Work: Engines part 3

    Didn't have a lot of time today since we're getting a couple of rooms prepared for new carpeting tomorrow. So I painted the other three radials. i also found that missing magneto so with the extra push rod tubes I have lost no parts (so far). It's much easier doing numbers 2, 3 & 4 once you've done the first one. I also found out that I routed the read ignition wiring. It runs directly over the top of the cylinder head to the rear plugs. I routed it around the cylinder. No one will notice, but the other three will be correct. I pull the cowls off one of those. You can clearly see the notches over the cylinder heads where the "wire" should go.

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    I caught a nasty cold on a trip this weekend and need to get back to building that mountain.

  6. #6
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    B-17 Work: Engines part 4

    I was mistaken... while there were five sprues of resin pushrod tubes in the Eduard B-17 Engine Set, they were all needed to produce four complete engines, besides the ones that I broke when stressing them too or just plain losing them. I was short about 11. 3 for the first engine that I built, and then 8 more that I needed to complete the last engine. It was a shock when I counted all the parts in my little plastic cup and found that even though it looked like a lot of them, it was far short of what was needed for the last engine. So it was time to make more out of 0.032" brass wire. I got pretty good at this once I got the distance finalized. I used a pin vise to hold the wire while I filed a rounded each end so they would more easily fit into the little divots on the gear case and under the rocker arms. When the length is right, they just pop into place. Even so, I used a tiny bit of CA to make sure they stay there.

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    Here're the three remaining engines with all push rod tubes installed, but before touch up painting. I painted them with a very small brush, Tamiya Semi-gloss Black.

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    Just for your information, I used focus stacking software to take this kind of picture with very deep depth of field. I'm using ZereneStacker which is a paid program. Since I'm using Apple, I couldn't find a free stacking program, whereas I did use one for Windows that was developed by an Australian entomologist. You take a series of exposures with a real camera that has precise focus controls while mounted rigidly on a tripod. Each exposure is taken with the focus moving backwards in the image until you've covered the entire frame. The program then combines the sharpest pieces of each separate image into one that's in focus for the entire image. It's very clever.

    After prepainting the PE parts for the engines I began wiring my second engine. This time I routing the rear wires correctly over the cylinder head's top through the notch and then to the rear plug. I've also modified the approach a bit by putting a sharp bend on the plug end of each "wire" which let me bend them around the tiny spark plugs that protrude from the heads. It gave much more surface area for the CA to grab. I got one half done before quitting time. These pictures are about 3X actual size.

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    Next session will finish up this phase and I'll install the magneto and accumulator (or at least that what I think that piece on the engine's bottom. When the engines are done, it will be time to start back into the kit and install all those addition Verlinden pieces to jazz up the interior. I'm ordering a set of Eduard paint masks to facilitate doing all those windows.

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    B-17 Work: Engines part 5

    Today I got all the ignition wiring in place. As I did more of them I did get faster and more accurate. Anyone have a five-engined plane needing some engines? I had to scrape the primer off the backs of the ignition harness and scrape the paint off the tiny pads to which it adheres on the gear case to ensure that the CA would hold. I also pre-bent those tiny tabs at the wires' tips which insert into the cups next to the spark plugs. It was very satisfying when the wires snapped into place and I didn't have to hold them down with the tweezer tips in order to CA them. This didn't happen that often.

    The two ignition wires for the #1 cylinder are separate PE pieces. The long one to the back was pretty easy to install. The short one, however, proved frustrating. It's very tiny and I lost one to the ether. I measured the width and it was about 0.028" so I figured that a piece of 0.021" brass wire would work. It did, but while the width of the PE was wider, the thickness is about 0.010" so the replacement wire looks a little fat. I annealed the brass wire so it would conform to the bends without putting to much stress on the CA holding it together.

    Next came the magnetos and that can-like thing on the other end. I don't know what that is. It could be an accumulator for the hydraulic pitch mechanism on the prop. I don't know. Any ideas? I used the E-Z Line for the belt that wraps around that pulley on the magneto running it through the two holes I drilled in the engine. This method worked nicely and was much easier and better than wrestling with that tiny strip of PE. Sometimes PE IS NOT THE ANSWER. I think this belt must have been some kind of spark advance mechanism since the mag was gear driven from the gear case it resides on. There's a couple of lines that go to both of these parts and then the "steel" ring that surrounds the engine and then all four power plants will be done.

    If you look closely, you'll see those belts.

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    B-17 Work: Engines part 6

    Finished all four engines today which included those PE "pipes" to the sump and prop governor, and then wrapped the PE band around the perimter. I had painted both sides of this thin strip, but decided that paint-to-paint CA'd joints aren't worth very much. I also scraped the paint off the little pads that extend from every other valve box. This made for a better joint. I think my CA is aging since it was setting up awfully fast in the little puddle I make in an inverted Chobani Yogurt container (very convenient little cups for all kinds of things). Here's a picture showing the actual pads where the strip gets adhered.

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    And here are four complete engines including the little tiny manufacturer's data plate on the oil sump.

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    These engines are really little gems and not for the faint-hearted to create. They're engineered well by Eduard, but like other Eduard projects can be trying to execute.

    Next up was the cowl flap rings. I cut all cowl flat rings and cowls on the lathe and sanded the little bit remaining with fine grit paper. Onto the cowl flap ring goes a pair of PE circles with little tabs that forms the contact point for the engine-to-cowl joint. This was not an easy. I removed all primer from the PE's back and scraped a bit of primer of the little tabs themselves. The plans show the positioning so the tabs will align with the engine's lugs when the prop governor is at the 12:00 o'clock position.

    Here's the ring CA'd into position.

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    While this should have glued well, it didn't. Again, it could be the aged CA. It just was letting go much to easily. Also, you have to glue them with the tabs more inward that first thought since the engine's lugs didn't actually touch all nine of them. I glued the remainder more inward in hopes that this won't be a problem. Here's how the engine is supposed to sit on the lugs.

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    I'm a little concerned about this detail since I have very little confidence in how the engine's going to hold onto this AND the cowl itself which is glued to the cowl flap ring. I may have to do something else, for example, as brass pins to more positively join them, or use something more trustworthy than CA such as J-B Weld. As it stands now, this is how it goes together.

    Lastly, the cowl assembly needs to be painted. I'd love to paint them before putting the engine inside, but I may have to if I expect the engines to be well afixed to the cowls before attaching them to the airframe. Once all glue I would only have to protect the engine's from for airbrushing so it may not be too bad.

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    B-17 Work: Engines part 7 Completed

    With my grandson working on the USS Hornet carrier he started a year ago, I got some Saturday build time and got all four completed engines CA'd into their cowl flaps and cowls. The first one I held it carefully in position while grandson applied thin CA to each lug. On the rest of them, I went around and applied a small drop of medium CA and then placed the engines on the lugs and held it until the CA cured. I went back and added some thin CA to each to ensure they were glued. It worked. Adding the cowls onto the cowl flap rings went on without a hitch. These will have to be painted natural aluminum and with an anti-glare portion in light Olive Drab, but that will done when I'm painting the rest of the model. Meanwhile, they were boxed and put on a shelf so nothing will happen to them.

    There are three styles of cowl flap rings. The two outer ones have a bulge at the bottom to clear the straight out exhaust pipe leading the turbo. Then there's a right and left inner engine which has a notch to clear the side exit exhaust that runs around the wheel well.

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    With the engines finished (whew!), the next up was the Verlinden PE replacement bomb bay doors. I annealed all this PE and you're supposed to pre-form the curves on the PE doors against the model's molded doors before removing them. Annealing made it easier to pre-form, but it also made them very easy to deform while working with them. You have to glue on a some faux ribs and end rails. I don't like edge gluing little tiny pieces using CA on metal. It's sub-optimal at best. I struggled with the first one too much, but figured it out for the second. It's a shame that you don't get practice pieces when doing this finicky stuff. I'm hoping that the interior green paint will hide all the disgusting excess glue.

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    You have to do a similar operation with the front crew door, by first pre-forming the door to the fuselage curve. It doesn't have any ribs, but it has a very tiny door handle and some microscopic hinges. Both of these assemblies will go on the plane last after decaling since they will be very, very fragile. Painting will be done when the rest of the model is painted.

  10. #10
    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Looking great. I think those engines have more parts that the last model I built.
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

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    Thanks Gun! I know! They took almost two weeks to complete. I've built many models that didn't take two weeks to complete (although none lately... most are measured in months... many, many months). I've been posting on the railroad build for over 4 YEARS! Can you believe it? And I've still got a couple years (or more) left to make it presentable. I'm happy that I still have my health, my eyes and my hands to keep doing this stuff.

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    F-22 Diversion

    Grandson #1's been building the very fine Hasegawa F-22 (1:48) kit for several years. He bogged down on the decals. He likes building, he hates decals. I happen to really like decals and as a kid I used to buy kits based on how many decals they had. Finally he asked me to finish it up. He's in 10th grade and doesn't get much model-building time these days. I got all the decals done and decided to paint the canopy. The kit had two; a clear and a smoked version. I started with the smoked version. First I tried using Parafilm M, but it wasn't working as it should (probably since I don't know how to use it properly), then I thought of Press-n-Seal.

    Here's the plane before clear flat is applied.

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    This post is about the results of that test. This was a tough kit. We used the Hasegawa PE accessory set with substituted PE for the clamshell weapons bay doors and liners for the exhaust diverters. Not yet installed are landing gear doors since they have very fragile attachment points.

    The Press-n-Seal (hereafter known as PnS) left a gooey residue behind on the styrene. It was a mess. And it leaked. I attempted to remove the PnS residue with alcohol and it didn't get it off. Then I used Goo Gone which removed the sticky stuff and also attacked the paint. To make matters worse, I had hand brushed the light grey paint and I had touched it before it was completely dry. This pulled some up and made more of a mess.

    I turned to the clear canopy. This time I went with my tried and true Tamiya masking tape and air brush. The results are dramatically different as seen here.



    The picture shows some of the residue after I already tried to remove some. When I saw what my methods were doing to the paint, I realized that my efforts were useless. I could remove all of it and start over. If the clear canopy hadn't come out so good, I might have done that. There was no leakage with the Tamiya tape. It was able to bend successfully around the shallow curve at the bottom. Even where the tape overlapped at the end points, there was no leakage.

    Verdict: PnS doesn't work well in this application. Stick with Tamiya masking tape.

  13. #13
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    F-22 Complete

    I finished the F-22 today while waiting for plaster to cure. The model had been sitting around for so long that pieces disappeared including the port inner gear door and some of the tiny hinge pieces that hold them. I searched all the likely places but to no avail. You can't see that inner door unless you really try. After installing said gear doors, running lights and those very interesting tails, I took it outside and gave it a coat of Testor's DullCoat. My grandson is very excited.

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    It was a challenging model which just shows how challenging designing and building the real one is. Hasegawa does a great job in capturing the fineness of the prototype, but it would have been a better model if it was done in 1:32 since some of the tiny parts would have had a bit more heft. It also showed how interesting the F-22's design is. The model has complete intake trunks and the engines fans, but like the real one, you can see them from the front since the trunks are specifically designed to not expose the engine's face to enemy radar.

    I'm waiting for a nice 1:48 or 1:32 model of the F-35B with that big lift fan and all those movable doors.

  14. #14
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    Back to the B-17 Crew Door and main Struts Part 1

    Started with the foreward crew door. This is pre-formed to the fuselage's curve after cutting it from the fret. I didn't like the way the PE door handle was attached so I drilled it to accept an 0.021" brass wire which is CA'd to both. Much more secure. The go on two folded PE hinges. I scraped off the primer so they would hold better.

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    I had to remove the plastic door and did this by the multi-hole method. I started with pin pricks using a divider, than an 0.032" drill followed by a #52. This insured that I wouldn't deviate and drill holes outside of the lines.

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    After removing the webs with a #11 blade, I used various files and sanding sticks to clean up the edges. I also thinned it back from the edge to made the fuselage appear less fat. I trial fit the door into the opening and it will work nicely. And boy are these pictures big! And they show way too much.

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    I'll paint the inner door with interior greena and the exterior will be natual metal. Since I'm not painting the fuselage I put this little door in the box with the engines and bomb bay doors.

    I then started on the resin main gears. These are multi-part affairs with lots of good details. The axles are separate resin parts that fit into a hole on the main strut and, like all the resin parts which follow, are CA'd in place. CA loves resin and vice versa. Added to this is a boss on the non-oleo portion of the strut to provide the upper hinge point for the scissiors link. I had to file a circular groove in the struct so this part had some surface area upon which to adhere. Then came the scissors links. These had resin webs between them. When I attempted to cut one away, the link broke off. I was able to CA it back on. The when installing the other one, again the link broke, but this time hit the floor and into the void. I made a replacement out of styrene and CA'd it to the assembly. It worked. There's no load on these parts so as long as you don't bump it, it will hold up okay. I'd love to do this out of brass and solder the whole deal.

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    Lastly, here's a comparison with the kit's clunky styrene and the Verlinden replacements.

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    The styrene locking link gets removed from the kit strut and is attached to the resin ones. This joint too could be suspect and I may reinforce it also with some very fine guitar string piano wire. Drilling 0.021" will remove too much material and leave a very weak structure, but a 0.010" piece of piano wire will do the trick. That will be up next. The molded on brake tank thingy is also a separate resin part to which goes some copper magnet wire that will serve as brake lines. It will look very nice when finished and painted.

  15. #15
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    B-17 Work: Main Gear Upgrades Finished.

    Thanks, but you should all withhold you praise until you see all the stuff I don't do so good.

    Continued work today on the main gear. Instead of the magnet wire included with the Verlinden kit, I substituted black iron wire of these same gauge. It was 0.016" and the holes were a #78 Driil...tiny. Only after I finished them up did I realize that I mounted that brake accumulator thingy upside down. DOH! While I could have ripped it all apart, I spent a lot of time putting on that tricky little "Pipe Clamp" and it would have been a mess to get it off. Only you guys will know this happened. It's also why I was having trouble getting those things to fit properly on the strut. Should have seen it. When something doesn't fit as it's supposed to, it's often "operator error" and not something wrong with the model.

    Name:  Main Gear Brakes 2.JPG
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    Part of my reason to go with the black iron wire was to avoid having to paint it black, but as you can see that rationale is now moot since I have to air brush the structs aluminum and them will have to paint the wire anyway. I could just scrape off the paint and that might be less difficult than painting...we'll see.

    Next, the Verlinden plans called for removing the plastic locking struct and attaching it to the resin strut. This, as I noted yesterday, seemed iffy, especially since the resin strut hhad hinge detail already molded on that was finer than the styrene's. If I wanted to mount the styrene to that I would just be a small round rod butt glued to the resin. If I wanted a stronger joint, I would have to shave off the resin details. I chose a 3rd option...scratch-builded new locking strut out of brass and actually pin it to the resin hinge. It was a good idea in theory. In practice, although I got it done, it was touch and go.

    I first drilled the resin hinge with the 0.021" drilled all the way through and then sliced down the hinge's middle with my fine-toothed razor saw. And then one half promptly cracked off. Resin is very brittle! To make the rods themselves, I found some brass of the correct diameter and then had to make the clevis end. I do this by squashing the end into a vice grip until it's near the final thickness. I then work it the rest of the way with jeweler's files. The saw kerf was 0.012" so I to bring the rod end down to that number. I then used a jeweler's center punch (bought from MicroMark) and then drilled it with the same 0.021" drill.

    Name:  Lock Link end.JPG
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    I needed to solder the lugs that comprised the lock link's hinge point. I used some small brass tubing for this part that was the correct diameter. I made a miniature lap-joint in the two parts by filing gaps in both so they almost overlapped completely. I left the tubing long, solder it, cut off the excess and then file it to proper thickness. Another plastic part attaches to the middle joint and that won't be replaced with brass (unless I have to).

    Name:  Lock Link Fit.jpg
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    In the above, both lugs were in place in the second strut. This one broke a lug also when I attempted to get the pin through the joint. Good ole' CA got them both glued solidly. Here's both struts completed.

    Name:  Main Gear Complete.JPG
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    And here's the new strut compared to the plastic one. I tried the gear into the plastic mounting plate and they fit properly.

    Name:  Main Gear Comp 1.JPG
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    And with this, this assembly too went into the little box with all the other add-ins. I'll start working on the flight deck and forward compartment next session.

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