My Only Commissioned work or "See, I can finish something!"

Discussion in 'Modeling' started by Capt. Vick, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    #1 Capt. Vick, Feb 4, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
    In the late 1980's or early 1990's my friend and I were approached by one of the Deans of the College of Aeronautics to restore a large scale fiberglass model of the Anglo/French Concorde. We readily accepted not realizing the time it would take to complete the project. In fact I had already graduated when I (alone) finished it up and delivered it, if not over budget (because there was none), definitely off schedule...by years...just like a real aircraft program! Looking back it was the closest that I ever came to being a real aircraft engineer! :lol:

    Pic1.JPG Pic2.JPG

    ABOVE (right & left): The model was somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 feet long and filthy! First order of the day was a good wash down. If I had to guess, I would say that this model originally wore TWA colors and was a promotional item from the hopeful days when the order books where full. Note the missing part of the nose!

    Pic3.JPG

    ABOVE: Note the damage to the starboard intake and the absence of the splitter vane (for both intakes, though you can't see the port one in this picture). The mounting holes for the stand as well as the engraved panel lines for the main gear doors would all be covered over in Bondo, they were looking for an advertising piece not a scale model!

    Pic4.JPG

    ABOVE: The vertical tail was just a two piece fiberglass shell (right and left sides) that had split in half and the port side had cracked parallel to the fuselage, about halfway up the rudder. Fixing this part, due to the previously unknown thermodynamic properties of curing fiberglass, would create the most headaches. Note the lack of exhaust nozzles. Fortunately we had one or two good ones to use as a master to make replacements for the broken or missing nozzles. I used a DOW RTV 2 part silicone rubber for the mold and 2 part Alumilite resin for the actual pieces. Worked great!
     
  2. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    NOSE JOB!

    This was the easiest repair on the whole project. First we squared off the broken part of the nose with a razor saw, then we filed down the fiberglass a bit in a band about a 1/2" or more back from the broken end so we could feather in the new fiberglass. After we carved a beautiful blue Styrofoam nose piece resembling a pointed bottle cork, we learned our first lesson in working with fiberglass and resin. As we watched in awe, the Styrofoam melted away and the nose sagged into a kind of boney, withered beak! :shock: Kind of cool, but not exactly what we were looking for. Back to square one! After I carved another one out of bass wood, I wrapped it in glass and coated it with resin. After it dried I sanded her flush with the rest of the nose and she was ready for paint.

    Pic45.JPG Pic5.JPG

    Above (right): After the failed Styrofoam nose, we have here the bass wood replacement, suitably tapered to match with the "filed down the fiberglass...band about a 1/2" or more back from the broken end so we could feather in the new fiberglass."

    Above (left): After being glassed, the finished product awaiting paint. Damn these pictures are blurry! :evil:
     
  3. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Looking good Jim.


    Geo
     
  4. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    Good job Jim !
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Dang, that's a heck of a project!
     
  6. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    nice work Jim
     
  7. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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  8. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff..!
     
  9. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Were you schmoking something while the aforementioned photos were taken?
     
  10. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Fibreglass and resin ain't something I know much about but looks like you've done well.
     
  11. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Great stuff Jim !
    Colour scheme looks similar to that worn by the first two prototypes.
     
  12. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  13. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    INTAKE HEADACHE?

    Actually no! This was perhaps the most satisfying part of the restoration. After I had filled both wings with expanding foam through a hole in the top of each wing (the wings were hollow shells like the rudder) to minimize the flex and buckling I proceeded to work on the damaged intake. Basically I used some stiff cardboard covered with Saran wrap to block off the bottom and both sides of the intake and stuffed an old rag in to keep it in place and help the cardboard maintain the interior shape of the intake. After that it was just a matter of building up the missing area with the fiberglass and resin "slurry", remembering to add a bit more to allow for sanding it into it's final shape. I was lucky to have an undamaged intake to use as a mirror image reference. There was a slight angle to the bottom of the intake, opposite to the other intake, as well as a central notch to accept the splitter vane that had to be duplicated. The notch was particularly critical because I wanted to make only one master, which I did out of bass wood, for the splitter vane and use castings from that for both intakes. After the resin set-up and hardened I removed the rag, cardboard and then peeled off the Saran wrap (it doesn't stick). The final step was a near endless loop of sanding with emery boards, blowing away the dust, compare with the other intake, repeat. (A note here on safety: Please wear at least a dust mask and eye protection. This stuff gets everywhere and I'm sure it's not health for you!)

    Pic6.JPG

    ABOVE: "...stiff cardboard (a Crackerjacks box by the look of it!) covered with Saran wrap (an old trick that will give the fiberglass a smooth finish without sanding!)"

    Once I had convinced myself to stop sanding it was time to fill all the small (and not so small) holes that were present in the resin with a few applications of Bondo. After final finishing sanding was done with some fine grit, it was time to cut the master for the splitter vanes. As you may have imagined, measurements where taken from the intake itself and transferred to some bass wood board. After this was cut out and a few minor adjustments made to with sanding it was mold time. Off to the Dow Corning RTV Rubber and Alumilite resin! I think I made all the mold boxes out of thick styrene. Keep in mind they don't have to be pretty because you are going to use them once and rip them apart to get the mold out...sorry Wayne! :lol: I remember the mold I made for the vane was a little too narrow, because when the styrene box was removed and the mold was filled with resin there was some slight bulging at the center of the pieces I made. Fortunately this did not cause any undue hardship as it wasn't too bad and was hidden in the intake trunk...more of an FYI for the next time I do this.

    There was one last aspect to the complete restoration of the intakes that I have left out until this point. Since there obviously was no jet engines in the nacelles, this display model came with a couple of flat black blanking plates to put at the back of the intake. Problem was they actually highlighted, rather than hid the lack of depth in the intakes. The simple fix was to cleanup one side of each blank and spray paint it gloss black. This was another old trick I learned somewhere that added the much needed, though simulated, depth in this area. Jumping a little bit ahead, after the plane and the splitter vanes were painted it was time for assembly and it was here that all the hard work paid off. The blanking plates were inserted, shiny side out, and I inserted the finished vane with the gentle taps of a hammer, all he while protecting the actual part with a rag. Well what do you know!?!?! Instead of being in store for a few final rounds of test fitting and sand, the vane fit absolutely perfect the first time! So nice and snug that I didn't even need epoxy on either the blanking plate or the actual vane! In both intakes even! Wow! I remember being so surprised and happy. A small thing I know, but I still look back on that moment with pride. Thanks for watching, more to come...
     
  14. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Possibly Terry. You would know better than I. IIRC the prototypes had a very short fuselage bit behind the tail, just like this display model so you look to be about right.
     
  15. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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  16. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    A REAL PAIN IN THE TAIL!

    As I alluded to before this was the worst part of the damage to the model. Things were really messed up here with the vertical fiberglass halves of the fin being split apart and the port side cracked in half laterally. Now if you know anything about fiberglass, then you know when it break it's never a clean separation and trying to fix it with anything approaching model building skills just won't work. What I mean is you just can't glue the broken pieces back together again. It would be like cutting a burlap bag in half and trying to glue the frayed ends back together. Ain't gonna happen! So me and my friend, with our afore mentioned lack of the thermodynamic curing properties stupidly decided to take a whole bunch of fiberglass and resin, mix it up in a big cup until it was slightly more viscous than peanut butter and just slop it all over the broken tail pieces, inside and out! Now I should have been warned that something bad was in the offing when the cup we mixed it in became almost too hot to hold, but never mind that. As soon as we had finished applying this rapidly heating compound we quickly clamped long metal straightedges to the trailing edge of the rudder and clamped them down with a couple of C-clamps. This was probably the only smart thing we did all day! Stepping back to admire our handy work, we grew more and more concerned as it began to smoke and the surface began to bubble. Slowly it began at first, then more rapidly, as eventually the whole curing process became a runaway thermal horror show. There were some real concerns on our part that we were going to lose the whole vertical, but eventually she started to cool and we were able to see the final damage. While it still looked like a tail, in the broadest sense of the word, there was going to be no chance of saving the very realistic port and starboard rudder actuator covers. Shame that, but at least it would be easier now to pop the college logo on the tail and since this detail was going bye bye, I wouldn't bother with any of the others. Like I mention before the landing gear detail would not make it through to the finished product, nor would the cabin windows that I had planed on reduplicating, and I think those decisions were made right at this moment. Right as we stood there watching the death throes of this strange dying animal that was the tail of the Concorde model.

    Pic8.JPG

    ABOVE (top): Yours truly (young and with hair!) leaning in to inspect the damage.
    ABOVE (bottom): Another, less graphic, view of the "experiment gone awry!"

    Pic9.JPG

    ABOVE (top): File, fill, sand, prime, file, fill, sand, prime, file, fill, sand, prime...literally for years! I felt like
    Sisyphus!

    ABOVE (bottom): After I leveled the model, I employed a plumb bob to help me keep things nice and perpendicular! (Note line in the right middle of picture.)

    Pic10.JPG

    ABOVE: The final coat of primer! (Maybe?) Note the Airfix Concorde model sticking out of the white plastic bag in the background!

    Pic11.JPG

    ABOVE: Finished! Sans any detail, but I got the bastard!

    Fast forward a few years and I finally got the tail to the point where I was happy with it. Granted the work was not continuous, I was in college after all, but this beast was literally my Albatross. I was living in a basement at the time, so I literally sleep with this constant reminder that I had to get on with it. Not to mention the Dean at the college would periodically ask as to the whereabouts of his Concorde!

    Next post, the finished product!
     
  17. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Well done Jim


    Geo
     
  18. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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  19. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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  20. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    FINI$HED!

    After one last going over with sandpaper to give the paint something to grip, I washed her down and prepped here for paint application. The all white scheme was made using automotive paint rattle cans. When the final coat was applied and dried I used cheesecloth to rub down the surface to remove any fuzzies and the like. Since the school colors at the time were blue and white the choice for the vertical and trim was obvious. The lettering on the side was achieved quite simply carefully cutting out the letters from a COA window sticker they sold in the college gift shop and use that as my paint stencil. Since they were made of some type of material that allowed it to adhere to glass or any smooth surface, but not actually stay permanently glued, it worked exceptionally well for my purpose. It allowed me to realign the stencil the multiple times it took to get it just right AND I could use it for both sides! BONUS! All I had to do with any of the letters, like "O", that had drop-out centers was just tack them on to the fuselage after I had the final alignment of the stencil. After both sides were emblazoned with the name of good old COA, I masked off the stripes freehand with masking tape. I just had to make sure it blended in nicely with the letter and that both sides looked the same. Next the base of the tail was similarly masked where the fin met the fuselage, and all was given a coat of two of blue. Now she was starting to look like something! The black at the rear of the engine nacelles was applied with wide tipped, gloss black, permanent magic markers. Admittedly I was cutting corners at this point, but honestly after a little experimenting with how to layer it on it looked just fine. I used the same method for the cockpit windows and I was happy with how that turned out as well. Last up was the logo for the tail. Now me and my friend actually made a silkscreen of the logo to use for making our own decals, but we just couldn't get it to work right and never got a clear useable image to transfer to the decal paper. After he left the project, I had a minimum run of stickers made up to use for this purpose. The only difficult part were making sure they were aligned on the tail and had no air bubbles. See blow for the finished product.

    Pic7a.JPG

    ABOVE: Some detail of my pride and joy. The repaired intake and the splitter vanes installed.

    Pic8.JPG

    ABOVE: One last shot before she went into the station wagon on a bed of blankets. (You can just make out the gloss black blanking plates in the post intake.) She's was a beast sure enough!

    Pic9.JPG

    ABOVE: The finished product as delivered. It's a shame you can't see the details of the replicated engine exhaust nozzles, they came out really well.

    Pic10.JPG

    ABOVE: A good side view. The only thing I didn't do, and the dean commented on, as give it a good gloss clear coat. I actually bough a couple of cans of the stuff but just couldn't bring myself to use it and maybe somehow ruin something. I just gave them the cans.

    Pic11.JPG

    ABOVE: This would be the last I would see of her. I heard she hung in the Bruce Museum in Connecticut for a time when the College of Aeronautics had an exhibit there many years ago. Wonder where she is now. I doubt they have her hanging up in the school as the name was changed a while back to the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology. The fourth name change that I know of. When I started there it was the Academy of Aeronautics and the old timers called her the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics when they had two campuses, one in Newark, New Jersey.

    Well she was delivered, many years late, but she was done. The Dean was happy and I was happy to just be rid of it. That's probably why I didn't haggle when he ultimately offered a fee. Not that it wasn't fair, it's just that now looking back I could have squeezed him a bit. Anyway his offer came after I had sheepishly demurred when he asked me how much he owed me, embarrassed that it took so long. Ultimately I liked the guy and after a bit of a rocky start we became friends and he helped me out a few time during my time at college so no harm no foul. But as I said previously I delivered the plane after I had graduated so that was the real end of any dealings I had with my college. Originally when my friend and I started this project the Dean also wanted us to do similar to a DC-8 that was twice the size! But that was not to be for obvious reasons. I would have liked the chance though. As for the friend that I started the project with...we still are friends and see each other a couple of times a year. All's well that ends well. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed and maybe learned something.

    All the best, Jim
     
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