What's Your Method for Making Wing Lights?

Discussion in 'Building Questions, Tutorials and Guidebooks' started by Mr. Ed, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    I've been working on the Hasegawa B-26 Marauder and have come to realize that the wing tip lights are only represented by recessed lines. I'm thinking about attempting to cut them out and fill them in with some clear substance, but I've never done this before. How do you suggest I proceed?

    Okay, I've figured out that I have to sand out the solid plastic first. But then it gets a little tricky. What material should I use? Should I make seperate parts and glue them in at the end or should I fill the space in with some clear material that I would then mask during painting? Should I tint the material the appropriate color and if so what should I use to do this?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. al49

    al49 Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    it depends very much on the scale you are doing your aeroplane.
    In the large scale, like 1:32 and 1:48 you can cut away the plastic from the wing in the required shape and replace it in the following manner.
    Take a piece of transparent sprue (the one holding the cockpit window),
    - cut it almost to shape,
    - drill a very little hole in the back and fill it wit the relevant colour (red, blue etc)
    - glue it in place and carefully sand it down to the correct shape.
    - polish first with very fine grid sandpaper and with Future or similar.

    In 1:72 scale or even in 1:48 I think you can use the same method I have used for instruments in cockpit panels.
    Just put a drop of the relevant colour in the correct place and, once is perfectly dry, cover it with a drop of superglue.
    Hope it helps.
    Best regards
    Alberto
     
  3. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    The superglue doesn't harm the paint?
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #4 Airframes, Jan 4, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
    Not normall Ed. If the B26 is in 1/72nd scale, then one way of doing the job is to cut a small notch into the curve of the wing-tip lamp. Paint the whole lamp area the required colour (ie Red/Green - or blue for the green lamp). When totally dry, use a cocktail stick, and apply a small blob of Micro Kristal Kleer, or PVA adhesive (same stuff basically), and tease it out to the shape of the curve. Let this set - only takes about 15 minutes in this small area. If it has shrunk back, repeat the procedure. When dry, coat in gloss clear vanish or Johnson's Klear (Future).
    The advantages of this method over Superglue are it won't affect any paintwork, if it doesn't work properly, it's easily removed afterwards.
    I also use this method for making dome -shaped lamps, beacons etc, and for making some lenses in recessed landing lamps.
    In larger scales, glueing in a piece of clear sprue, as mentioned by Alberto, and sanding and polishing, is normally the better alternative, and a lot easier than it sounds. This must be done at an early stage, before painting the model, of course. Just mask the area once done, to protect it whilst continuing construction and painting.
     
  5. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    Two questions - 1) What's PVA? 2) I have a substance that's meant to make water in dioramas. Do you think this stuff would work? (I bought some micro crystal clear about 25 years ago and I'm not sure if I still have the stuff).

    Okay, I lied. One more - 3) What material do you use to mask such a small area and what do you use to remove paint in the event some bleeds under the mask? (This is a common problem for yours truly).
     
  6. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    1) PVA is Poly VinyL Acetate better known as plain old white glue - Elmer's for example.

    2) Haven't done any diorama work but if I understand what you are asking, my answer is no. I believe the material you are talking about is actually a form of epoxy resin. Not sure how it would react to clear parts but some epoxy resins generate a lot of heat when mixed and I would be afraid of how they would react to plastic. I'll defer to the people who actually use that stuff for a definitive answer.

    3a) Depending on the size, I use either pre-cut masking strips (1 mm or 2 mm widths) and/or liquid Micro Mask. For canopies, I'll generally mask the canopy frames off right at the edge with the pre-cut strips and then either cover the remaining clear canopy areas with hand cut tape OR use the liquid mask. If I use tape for the entire area, I also in some cases cover the tape overlap with a coat of liquid mask just to ensure that there is no paint bleed. It's a bit of overkill but better safe than sorry.

    3b) A toothpick can be used to carefully scrape off any paint bleed from clear parts. Dipping the tip in a solvent can help as well but you don't want to use a lot to avoid ruining the paint job on the frames.
     
  7. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    kgambit - These are helpful tips, and the reason I keep coming around here. I have far more questions than answers. I believe you're right about the epoxy resin, and trust me - I wouldn't try anything like that without experimenting on pieces from the scrap box first.
     
  8. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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  9. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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  10. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    I found some colored beads of my daughter's last night and experimented on an old wing. The plastic is hard, but seems to work for this sort of thing. It seems to me that the only real way of doing this is to glue a piece of plastic into the slot and then sand it to shape.

    Perhaps the toothbrush handles are made of a softer plastic, which would make things easier?

    I may actually be getting the hang of this thing.
     
  11. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Yes Ed, the toothbrush handles mentioned by Vic are the way us 'old uns' used to do it years ago, and still do. I'd forgotten I've got four old brushes stored away just for this (thanks for the reminder Vic!), in red, green, blue and yellowish orange. And yes, the plastic is softer and easier to carve and sand, and polishes very well. It's best to cut a lump roughly to size and, for a wingtip or similar, glue it in place first, either with CA or a good poly cement at least. Let it fully set, then sand to shape, polish etc. A final coat of clear varnish or 'Future' will make it really shine. Note that not all aircraft had tinted lamp lenses though. Depending on type, some might have clear lenses with a coloured bulb which, even in some larger scales, again depending on type, can't actually be seen. This is true of the real aircraft too in these cases, unless you actually look into the lamp housing.
    For a clear lens, then apart from the method I mentioned, a piece of clear sprue will work in the same way, although perhaps slightly more brittle than some other plastics.
     
  12. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    Vic -

    On your Tornado I noticed that there is a light on the fuselage that you sanded to shape before gluing on. How did you hold on to this piece during the sanding and polishing process? Needle nose pliers, perhaps?

    Airframes -

    You've convinced me to "invest" in some toothbrushes for this purpose. If the plastic is softer then the rock hard beads I've been working with it will be worth it. Question - with clear plastic, does the frosted area where you've glued the piece into the wing present a problem? If so, how do you deal with it?
     
  13. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Ed, if you have to use CA, or any other glue which can cause fogging or frosting, there are ways around this. One method, not 100% certain, is to give the clear plastic a coat of clear varnih or 'Future' before glueing it in place. Another, only really possible if the shaping/sanding etc can be done before fitting, is to attach it with PVA (white glue), which is surprisingly stronger than you might think. If none of these are possible then, for a curved lamp, for example forming the curve of the wing tip itself, cut the clear piece oversized, then sand etc. Allow enough area around the edges to blend this in, either with filler, putty, the old varnish/talcum powder mix, or even smoothed out PVA. When it's totally set and smooth, the 'unwanted' clear areas are paintes as part of theb 'solid' area of the wing, leaving a neat, clear lens.
    The latter method can often be advantageous for difficult shapes and / or sizes, allowing a larger area to cement / glue and work with, and easier to blend-in etc. I once made an entire pair of wing tips in clear acrylic scrap, sanded to shape and polished. Once fitted, the lamp areas were masked, and the rest painted as normal - looked seamless and convincing.
    Hope this helps,
    Terry.
     
  14. Sweb

    Sweb Member

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    I use this stuff for affixing transparencies in the 1/4 scale R/C birds. It doesn't attack (fog/frost) the plastic. Keep in mind that typical LHS's might market it under their own label - many do just that - so it may differ in labeling only. Any low odor/low bloom CA should be okay. Just don't kick it with an accelerator because that may light it off causing it to violently cross-link, out-gas and defeat the purpose of its formulation.


    Cyanoacrylate
     
  15. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Nice info and link there.
    I forgot to mention; with CA adhesives, it's not the glue itself which causes the fogging or blooming, it's the fumes. I normally find that if I put a drop or two of the CA onto a piece of paper or card, wait a few seconds, then apply to the required area with a cocktail stick or similar, then leave it for around 30 seconds, the glue will start to 'gell' slightly, and most of the fumes will have dissipated. This, together with a clear coat over the part, normally prevents the fogging.
    I only use enough CA to hold the part in place - any 'reinforcement' is done with either poly cement and/or PVA. The final gloss coat also helps the bond.
     
  16. al49

    al49 Well-Known Member

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    Here in Italy we can purchase a kind of CA glue called "Super Attak Flex Gel" manufactured by Loctite that, as the name says, is already in gel form.
    The advantage is, of course, that being already a gel it's much easier to handle and release very little fumes.
    I'm sure that this exist also elsewhere in the world, may be under a different name.
    BR
    Alberto
     
  17. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    It is Alberto. But the reason I do this, is to let the fumes evaporate from 'normal' liquid CA, but still have the same rapid setting properties. If gel-type CA is used, the risk is still there for fogging, and also, the gel will not work quite as well by capilliary action as liquid CA.
     
  18. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    So it's Terry. Well, I didn't think your actual name was "airframes" but it is a good one for this forum. Anyway, I've had lots of fun and games with this over the last few days. After 7 - count 'em 7! - practice runs on an old wing (the ancient Monogram 1/72 Me-110, since I know you're wondering) I was ready to do the real thing. I determined that superglue is much easier to use than shaping clear plastic but the clear plastic is, well, clearer after it's been polished. I didn't have a problem with the super glue fogging, the clear plastic simply looks better in the end.

    But that's all moot for me on the Marauder because I needed colored lights, and so used tinted plastic. It worked well, the only real problem being that I had to redo one side because it came out noticeably smaller than the other. This resulted in the wing tip's shape becoming slightly distorted because of the additional sanding that had to be done. So after major preparation and practice, I still managed to mess up. But just a little. It was frustrating, but not quite enough to make me throw the thing across the room.

    The next time I encounter this issue I'll at least have some experience under my belt (and a little collection of rock-hard beads of various colors that I swiped from my daughter).
     
  19. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good to know you've got it solved Ed. If I can't get, or shape coloured plastic, I normally 'paint' the clear part in a mix of either clear varnish and paint, if enamel, which is my usual medium, or mix Johnsons's Klear (Future) with a drop or two of the appropriate acrylic paint colour, or food dye. Mix it in well, give one or two ciats, drying between coats, then top-off with a clear coat.
    BTW, the'Airframes' comes from the name of my little avaiation art venture, 'Airframes Studios', coined when I launched some limited edition prints from one of my paintings years ago, in conjunction with a now defunct (in the UK anyway) chain of art retail outlets which had 'frames' in their trading title. The two went together well at the time, and, of course, are very relevant to aviation art (framed), and modelling.
     
  20. Mr. Ed

    Mr. Ed Member

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    I often wonder if it would be a lot easier and just as effective to have simply painted the solid plastic. The next dilemma I'll be facing with those tiny little lights is masking and painting around them. And then, I'm sure, finding that the paint has bled underneath the mask, which I'll then have to remove, and in so doing damage the paint around the light...

    I was looking at a book called Marauder Units of the ETO and was impressed by the paintings of various Marauders in the center of the book. I couldn't help but wonder how well this aviation artist would manage painting a model - the weathering was fantastic! Do you use an airbrush on your paintings? Has your experience with aviation art helped you to become a better modeler? How cool is it to be paid for painting pictures of airplanes? (Okay, that last one is a little off topic).
     
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