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1/72 Resin Atmospheric Booster Launch Rail


wm cheng
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Hi all,

Been really busy couple of months... finally my lovely daughter is growing up and in daycare now (man how time flys!) and there are the occassional few hours in the night when I'm just merely tired and not drop dead exhausted :unsure: Any new father knows what I'm talking about.

Without this launch rail stand, my Atmospheric Booster has nothing to rest upon (thats dangerous since whatever you model sits on for a long time has the chance of the paint wearing off or worst, getting stuck to that surface and flaking off when you go to pick up the model - believe me I have it from personal experience that its something you don't want to happen to you). This thread will just deal with the amazing launch rail kit that the Captain has mastered for us - for the Vf-1S and the Atmospheric Booster, please refer to my earlier thread here: http://www.macrossworld.com/mwf/index.php?showtopic=11976 I just couldn't afford the Captain's Launch vehicle (which by the way I would always gladly accept donations!! :lol: ) - does anyone here have it? Does anyone have pictures of it built? I'd love to see it finished.

Anyways... on to this launch rail kit (it may be slow going since I can only sporadically find time here and there). I started the kit back in August, so I can back date the entries.

First off is to lay out all the parts and check them against the provided instructions to make sure that all the pieces are there. The molding is extremely crisp and of high quality. I spent the next hour basically scrubbing all the pieces under a tap with a old toothbrush and comet to make sure that all the release agents are cleaned off the resin. This is always an essential task for any resin kit - if there is any release agents present or left, when it comes time to painting, the paint will often bead up into little bubbles or worst yet, adhere to the thin coat of film (release agent) and then flake off when the release agent gets rubbed off. So a patience and a lot of scrubbing now saves a lot of headaches later on. I've tried all sorts of soaps, and "rub-free" cleansers that claim that you can soak it overnight and it dissolves the release agents automatically - none of that works as well as just comet and elbow grease!

I've laid it out onto a paper towel to allow to dry overnight.

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It would be really helpful to have a bunch of jeweller's files - they are pretty cheap, I just buy the cheapo made in China ones, you usually get about a dozen in a pack for $8 and they come in various profiles. Cheap is fine since you're only ever filing down plastics or resin so they don't wear down. But look for ones that have a variety of sections like flat, rectangles, flat with curved face, circular and the like, its really helpful when cutting openings or filing down excess pour stubs.

I've spent the next little while filing down the extra resin stubs where the resin was poured into the molds. Its a good idea to wear a breathing mask, since the file does produce really fine resin particles and I don't think its too healthy to breathe this stuff in. Its a good idea to get rid of all the seam lines you can find now too.

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Another tool that's very useful is a Pin Vise, basically a small drill bit on the end of what looks like an exacto blade handle. You twist it in your fingers to drill very tiny and precise holes.

I'm just drilling out some extra resin for the pin of the stand to seat into.

Make sure when you cut parts off sprue, that you leave a good chunk of resin still bonded to the part, you can file and sand it down to the actual part later, but resin is more brittle than styrene, so if you cut/trim too close to the part, you risk snapping or cracking a piece of the part away (and its a little more difficult to fill resin parts then with styrene).

Of course, you dry fit all the parts so you get an understanding of where work has to go into clean-up (which there is very little on this kit) and how all the various pieces relate to each other so you can devise a painting plan - so you won't necessarily follow the order of the provided instructions explicitly because it may be easier to paint certain pieces separately and assemble them only after painting.

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Hey HWR MKII - did you get and build the LV? I'd love to see it - did I miss a build up or photos here?

Ok, back to the problem at hand. One tragic flaw, I built my Valk with the gunpod in place! I didn't realize, but the launch rail is made to hold the Valk without a gunpod in place. In fact (now that I look closely at the lineart) they were right... the Valks attached to the Atmospheric Boosters have no gunpods - ARGH! I can't really send my Valk up naked... so I decided to see what I can do to modify the launch rails to accept a Valk with the gunpod attached.

You can see that essentially the main rail ends at where the underside of the Booster ends and connects to the rear of the folded arms in the Valk. Its not too bad... I could go without the main rail, and just use the structure and attach it that way - but I'd like to use everything the Captain has sculpted. So I decided to just notch back the main rail to accept the tail piece of the gun pod - not a lot of material that needs to be removed in the end.

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Unfortunately the main rail cylindrical nubs didn't line up perfectly with the circular divits provided in the underside of the Booster. I thought it would click in like lego. But with the notch cut out of the main rail section - it seats the rear of the gunpod quite well and allows me to have the entire assembly turned right-side-up and see the launchrail/stand support the Valk with Booster!

Now what concerns me is the forward arm with the holes in it. It needs to be dropped so that the little end grappling unit looks like its holding onto the gunpod instead of seating hard up against the Valkryie itself. However, it seems a little separated from the main launch rail unit (I'll address this later...) - I could always "gak" it up to close up the gap.

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Even though its a nice snug fit with the gunpod locking into the main rail's little notch, I don't want that as the sole means of support for the Valkyrie with Boosters (its quite a big chunk of resin in the end and very bottom heavy). So will attempt to pin it. I realize that the kit provides for some very nice brass screws with hex ends to attach the main rails to the structure, but I found that the structure didn't quite exactly line up with the main rail circular nubs - plus having a screw through at so many attachment points (X10) would probably permanently attach my Valk & Booster to the rails. If any of the corresponding holes in the Booster was just a little bit off, then it would bind with the launch rails. So I just opted for only two pins at the top - combined with the notch for the gunpod tail and the weight of the Booster itself, I think its pretty safe for the two pins to hold up the Valk with Booster. Plus it so much easier to line up just two corresponding holes and makes it easily detachable so I can zoom it around the room!

I used a pinvise to drill the holes in the main rail first and used a thick paperclip (usually what I pin resin kits with, unless its real heavy duty, then I cut a piece of coat-hanger wire for that). Once they were located, I then pressed it with the launch rail against the underside of the Booster, the sharp pins digs into the resin and scratches my paint job locating them. As you can see, they locate themselves quite well right in the centre of the circular divits at one end (they start to go off a little towards the rear of the Booster - could be resin shrinkage). Then I use the same pinvise and drill into the resin Atmospheric Booster for the corresponding holes. Of course I also drilled through to the structure part so the pin ties all three parts together, the structure, the main rail and the booster (which will be detachable). I use 5min Epoxy for the actual attachment - I always use 5min epoxy for anything that requires strength. Once the rail is attached, I glue this entire assembly to the main support again via 5min epoxy. The captain has engineered an ingenious way of pining everything through each other at this critical connection - but I chose to just use a strong glue and I'll re=drill through if necessary, its a bit easier in terms of lining everything up and the resin will break before the 5min epoxy gives (as long as you rough up the mating surfaces first and make sure that it was washed thoroughly so there is no remaining release agents).

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After sleeping on it for a few days... (I guess the advantage of not having a solid stretch of time to work on this) - I thought up a much simpler solution to the forward arm being located to hold the gunpod. Instead of setting the entire arm "down" a bit to allow for the added depth to the Valkyrie due to the gunpod now, why not just take some material away from the forward arm and notch the "hinge-like thingy" to allow the gunpod fin to slip inside of it. This allows the forward arm to sit in its originally designed location (much closer to lineart) and allows another glue attachment point to secure this arm in place.

So after numerous test fittings, I measured and measured again and started to sand away the material I thought was in the way of the gunpod. Its just a trial and error process - you keep taking a little away a bit at a time until you get there... its always better to take too little away then have to build it back up again...

So of course the end tip grapply thingy also has to be modified, its pretty easy, just take a bit of the hinge part off.

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I went ahead and pinned this... there's a lot of good stuff going on in this section... I'm gonna have to organize it better so that we can unpin some stuff and not lose them.

Please try to recover lost post of wm cheng´s step by step, there is a good quality information on them!!!

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Here ya go WM. The finished piece is on SSMs reviews section under Mecha/Macross

http://www.starshipmodeler.com/mecha/sb_crawler.htm

Enjoy the pics. Im surprised you missed this. As far as i know it is the ONLY one completed. (hint to others who bought one) Still working finishing touches on the booster/valk.

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Here ya go WM. The finished piece is on SSMs reviews section under Mecha/Macross

http://www.starshipmodeler.com/mecha/sb_crawler.htm

Enjoy the pics. Im surprised you missed this. As far as i know it is the ONLY one completed. (hint to others who bought one) Still working finishing touches on the booster/valk.

THANKS! I can't believe I missed this - when was it? Was it last year when my baby was being born?!

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Thanks everybody for your support - it is really muchly appreciated!

Okay, where I left off, I pushed the pins enough into the underside of the Booster to scratch the paint - luckily they landed right in the middle of the circular indents - that's where I drilled the corresponding holes to receive the pins. I just used a pin-vise (much more accurate than a dremel - they are too fast) with the appropriate bit (I didn't know which one, just started out small and reamed the hole with a larger bit until the pins fit in snug).

You can see in the later pictures, the tailfins of the gun pod fits right into the slots I sanded out - it all looks as though it was supposed to be that way! I just had to re-position the end claw piece so that it looks as though its supporting the gunpod.

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So I flipped the whole thing around to check on stability. Its really tight and snug - just the way I want it, since its going to be sitting on this launch rail 90% of the time. The gunpod modifications really lock the whole rail thing together.

Its starting to come together - I can't wait to start painting this thing! I still need to assemble the entire thing and add a few greebles here and there. Now that its finally together, it has confirmed a sneaking suspicion of mine, its a little too tall and lean. I just wish it was a little lower or squatter - it seems as though the whole thing including the boosters could be 10-15% shorter and 10-15% wider - IMHO it would convey the sense of weight more convincingly and be closer to the lineart. (just my 2 cents - but it does seem to match the Launch Vehicle produced - I wish that was 20% lower and fatter too).

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Now to finally glue the main launch rail supports to the base section. The Captain had graciously included these tiny brass hex bolts (they're fantastic, I never knew they made them so small!) to attach the main support to the base. I am using them as location pins, but the actual strength will come from 5 minute epoxy cement. The kit has divits where the holes for the brass bolts should be, I just followed them and used my pin vise to create the holes. The holes line up perfectly, but just in case (since I'm pretty paranoid with shrinkage and such) I drilled all the holes on the upper support piece first, fed the brass bolts through, and lined them up to see if they actually land on the divits on the base piece - and of course true to John's fastidious nature, they line up perfectly. However, I would always drill from the top down and proceed around just in case sometimes they don't line up properly due to some warpage or uneven shrinkage in resin - remember resin garage kits aren't always as high quality as John's sculpts (I guess I'm old school and used to some pretty crappy resin offerings in the past) :unsure:

Once its properly located, I rough up the mating surfaces above and below and slather on some 5 minute epoxy cement and glue the two main sections together.

That's it for now... (oh, this last batch of photos are not colour correct, they are with my older Nikon990 and have a incandescent colour cast to them)

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Not wanting to side track the thread but... How do ya get the landing gear flaps so smooth and straight when fitting them in the up position, Ive never been able to do it right.

Edited by big F
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Looking good as usually. Do you have the launch vehicle?

No, unfortunately not... it was just too expensive and the proportions were too high. I am hoping that this "re-issue" might address the tall proportions and make it a little more affordable. Any news on the "re-issue" would be appreciated! :lol:

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No, unfortunately not... it was just too expensive and the proportions were too high. I am hoping that this "re-issue" might address the tall proportions and make it a little more affordable. Any news on the "re-issue" would be appreciated! :lol:

SSM has the lauch base (the one you are doing now, and the launch are, the one you did before, that attaches to the top of a valk, all in the casting que), so that means anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months...I beleive that the launch base is almost done, I havent heard any details on the launch arm. The same goes for the launch vehicle, no word on that. I dont even know if SSM has the origonal molds for that one.

BTW great work, I just picked up a origonal Samuri Monkey casting of the booster!!! I am really thinking about starting this build up in the near future, your work is inspiring!!! I just cant decide on a color, white is too plain, and the greys have been covered by you, so maybe I will go with a nice olive green, and get a real military feel for it.....keep up the good work WC!!!

Ashton

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