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McLaren Honda MP4/6 Ayrton Senna 1/12

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@Spookytooth Thanks for your ongoing support in this build. I think that Evergreen polystyrene (especially if combined with brass sheet) can solve most scratchbuilding issues. Some finer stuff like this beautiful Top Studio set provides I just couldn't do myself no matter how hard I tried.  

54. In the end I decided to apply the strips anyway. Didn't want to run the risk of leaving glue spots. 


55. Archer's raised decals arrived. On the next picture I point my finger at those decals I'll use for the gear box serial number.


56. Getting a glass fiber pen particle inside your finger... the picture shows the fiber, only because the lighting is exactly right. Tiny as it is, it does hurt because it's made of glass. It's transparent. Wouldn't want to get this thing into your eyeball so I always use an Optivisor when handling a glass fiber pen. I can't estimate the amount of medical trouble one could get in when a fiber gets airborne and reaches your eye... 


57. For removing the molded bolts I used a micro-chisel. It's a tool somewhere between a knife and a.... chisel. After removing each plastic bolt I check (by means of a brass 1mm. disk) whether the surface is flat and level. I need a consistently leveled surface for all resin bolts. 


58. Top Studio often doesn't tell the modeler what Tamiya plastic parts need to be removal and to what extent. This applies to the above transmission box side cover and it also applies to a linkage piece screwed into the transmission box. Reference pictures are of great help here; the Tamiya-raised plastic needs to be cut off at approximately 1/3 height.  



59. Afterwards, thorough 'sanding' is needed (glass fiber pen), a 0,8mm. hole is to be drilled and preparations are done.



60. Top Studio's set contains replacement pieces for two moulded rear suspension supports. These are a great improvement, but can be made a bit better.  



61. Sometimes I'm in luck. This time I happen to have a perfect reference photo to retrieve the measurements of the support pieces from. In Top Studio's version no bolt could be attached as there's no room. If someone wishes some explanation about the drawing, just let me know. It comes down to this. The frame pieces of the support need to be thinned, from 0,44mm. to 0,34mm.; the inner frame needs to be thinned from 0,86mm. to 0,66mm.; and the depth needs to go from 0,86mm. to 1,75mm. (!!). Only after full hollowing of the support, the bolt can be put in place.



62. It's a simple matter of scraping with a knife, measuring from time to time and hollowing the support with a micro chisel (coincidentally an exact fit!). I regularly dip the resin part and tools in water, to prevent the microscopically small resin particles from escaping into the air to be sucked up by my lungs. 



62. The result (1st picture below, 2nd picture right shows the amended product). The first picture also shows a light curvature in the inner end. 




63. Here the difference, with added equally large bolts (of course they will eventually have to be set backwards). 



Spent time: 14.5 hours (build) + 13 hours (study)

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Having got my Top Studio set and read all your posts I am compiling a (not serious) list of things I will need comprising: A full hazmat suit with respirator and eye protection to keep me safe from resin dust and glass fibre fragments; a medical grade stereo microscope so I can see the screw heads and probably eyeball upgrades too: beta blockers (and the odd stiff drink) to steady my hands; a fire extinguisher for when annealing gets out of control and industrial quantities of CA remover. Have I missed anything?


More seriously, I love the attention to detail in this build, an inspiration.


All the best



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@Spookytooth Thanks, I have always been very elaborate in my descriptions and build reports. You never know if someone likes to read it or can use the specific info (MP4/6-builder for example). That's also why I upload my drawings. :)


@NickD You forgot the antidote for the poisonous liquids used for photo etching. Thanks for your comment :)



64. Eventually the result with bolt is this (too thin resin was covered by a bit of Tamiya Liquid Surface Primer):



... as a comparison, the same bolt, other side:




65. But then I found out this support arm is, in reality, smaller and a bit longer whereas the bend is in another spot. Later, after a lot of measuring, I also learned that the support arm is a positioned a bit further backward.



66. This metal suspension part has to be amended slightly as well.



67. Here are four drawings with calculations, measurements and such, regarding the support arm. In case of any questions I'll be happy to answer them.






68. Let's go. I'll use two thicknesses of brass (it's a structural support part so I can't use plastic), 0.25mm. and 0.4mm. Because that's difficult to work with (fold / cut) first I anneal it thoroughly using a torch. It decreases the stiffness of the brass. 



69. Cooling in water.



70. Cutting the piece is easier and more precise now.  



71. Unfortunately the folding (my first plan for parts of the support arm) won't work.



The 'corner' is too wide. I'll therefore have to solder all perpendicular pieces. Totally 27 pieces of brass for this rather complicated shaped support. Let's say it will get exciting for me, because my soldering art is, most favorably, weak. I already received some hints and I found out that my soldering station is weak as well (25 watts); I ordered a new specimen, 100 watts). Now it will, one way or the other, have to work, because soldering is a requirement for the purpose of stiffness and firmness. 


72. The part that transverses the gear (for firmness) cannot be folded either. This is a test piece:



73. Here it is set in position. It doesn't look right because you can see the 'bend'. It has to be fully straight. So I'll have to solder this as well.



Spent time: 16 hours (build) + 16 hours (study)

Edited by Roy vd M.
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The trials and tribulations of a build Roy.

If at first you do not succeed, then skydiving is not for you. LOL.

Loving it mate, this is what I can safely say, a step by step build showing every thing, warts and all.

Looking forward to more .


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@Spookytooth I prefer to write down the mistakes I make. Reading articles in modeling magazines may give a modeler the impression that these 'pro builders' do not make any mistakes, ever. But of course they do, they just won't admit it. Or they won't mention it. But what better way for us readers to learn than to read about the real tribulations... that's why I always write them down. Not many thus far in this build, but don't worry they'll be plentiful by the time this thing starts to resemble an F1-car. 


74. About time for an update, because there's been a lot going on. First the new soldering station arrived and it really makes a big difference. Apparently I have it in me to solder after all, now I'll 'only' have to learn to do so in a neat way. The scrap piece was soldered with 60/40 flux core but I ordered special acid-free Weller flux for electronic soldering. I'll be able to solder more detailedly with that.


The soldering station works great. For now (as a hobbyist) I see no reason to spend three times as much on a Weller. The soldering station cost 110 euros at Conrad (99 pounds).



75. Along with the soldering station I ordered a daylight lamp. This too makes a big difference; details are better visible and modeling is nicer experience. The lamp cost 50 euros at Conrad (45 pounds).


76. Colleague modeler and topic contributer NickD, having seen my measurements and calculations, contacted me to see if I was interested in photogrammetry. This is a method to create a virtual 3D-model out of pictures. To some extent it's comparable to the measuring, calculating and drawing that I had done, only what he showed me was more precise and done using a computer. We've had a lot of messaging and talk, exchanged data and I sent him a few useful reference pictures. 


In principle the process works as follows (all mentioned software are open source and/or freeware).


1. Correct lens distortion

Reference pictures are often distorted. The program Gimp (or Photoshop) can be used to correct that distortion. Gimp even features a specific function for that.

2. Make vector drawing

A camera picture is always in bitmap-format, in other words it's an immense collection of arranged pixels. To ideally enlarge or reduce pictures it is however vital to replace the pixels by vectors. A vector is a simple line from A to B. So when working on a picture or .jpg-drawing of a (two-dimensional image of a) cube, like this one:


you're in fact working on a picture that consists of many thousands of pixels. In this example the pixels are either black or white. If you enlarged this picture, the original pixels would be visible clearer and clearer. That's not ideal. What's more, you can't transform, skew etc., the cube by repositioning one of the corner points for example. These things are sometimes handy though. But a bitmap can't be ideally used for that.


Editing a vector drawing makes these amendments possible. A vector drawing doesn't contain pixels but is built from mathematically calculated lines to and from coordinates. If the above drawing were a vector drawing, it would consist of 9 lines connecting 7 different coordinates. Enlarging or reducing the image wouldn't affect the vectors, it would merely influence the location of the coordinates. Likewise, the corner points of the ribs can be repositioned so that the cube will get another shape.


The software program Inkscape can (among other things) be used to turn a bitmap-picture into a vector drawing. For example you can tell the software to put vectors along the borders of two colored sides. To give an example, the cube in the bove image would receive 18 vectors in Inkscape: each black line has two borders with the color white (one on the one side of the line, one on the other). Inkscape can do all of this automatically.


3. Joining the images

The software Blender can be used to load one or more vector images and thereafter transform them into a 3D-form. Let's say you have a drawing of a square (=four vectors), then Blender can be used to turn that square into a cube. The software puts 50 of those squares on top of one another... comparable to 3D-printing but then done by computer.

Blender works with viewing axles. If you have pictures of the top, the side and the backside of a part, you can treedimensionally replicate that part. The pictures (or derived vector drawings) are positioned along the viewing axles, enlarged or reduced where necessary and slowly but surely a 3D-model is built. 


So far the theory -which I (especially regarding Blender) learned partly by Nick, partly from another thread, partly from tutorials and partly by messing around a bit in Blender-. More than the above theoretical basic knowledge I don't have for now. But I do know that in this combination of software suits there's a lot of possibilities for scratchbuilding. Especially Blender seems, at first sight, to be a difficult to learn (steep learning curve) piece of software, but fortunately Youtube contains quite a few tutorial videos. 

77. On the basis of pictures Nick drew a first basis:


78. Compare this to the Tamiya- and Top Studio-parts: 


Main subject to be checked here is the suspension arm indicated by the red arrow. The Blender drawing visually confirms that the Top Studio bracket sides are molded too thick, the bend isn't put in the right place and the true size part has a higher side face. 



To be continued.


79. In final the exact chronologic designation of the model. During a race season a typical Formula 1 car is changed a number of times. Eventually I have decided to model my version of the MP4/6 after the car used during the third race (Grand Prix of San Marino), simply because (by far) most pictures in the 1992-book were made during that grand prix weekend. Plus, nearly all important pictures of the engine were made during that grand prix weekend, not only in the 1992-book but also the 2012-book. And that's the spec 2-engine, while the spec 1-engine got reinstalled after the 3rd race. 

The other logical modeling choice would have been the 15th grand prix (Japan) because the book also contains many pictures of the car during that race. This makes sense because Tamiya is a Japanese company so it was a short journey for their photographers and measurers. For those who are also building the MP4/6 (or who will) and who succeed in getting their hands on the rare, expensive and useful 1992-book, this is a list of all 1991 grand prix and the number of pictures in that book taken during each grand prix weekend:

GP1: 8
GP2: 0
GP3: 71 (among which 18 of the total of 29 pictures of the engine)
GP4: 3
GP5: 1
GP6: 0
GP7: 2
GP8: 9
GP9: 2
GP10: 0
GP11: 1
GP12: 1
GP13: 0
GP14: 0
GP15: 34
GP16: 0


I always like to share gathered knowhow and information, because in my opinion that's 'the spirit' in modeling. I learned most modeling techniques from modelers who took the trouble of writing down their methods. So I don't want to keep any secrets, including the results of hours or research regarding amendments to the cars during the season. Here they are, chronologically (if anyone is interested in knowing the respective sources of info please let me know):

- GP3: spec 2-engine was installed, provisionally for 1 race.

- GP3: one-time only: Berger got a new Marlboro-logo with red details on the rear wing. Senna gets the same at one point in time, not sure when exactly.

- GP3 up to and including 4: no camera during the race.

- GP3 up to and including 16: Courtaulds-logos were added during (!) the race weekend.

- GP4 up to and including 16: a transparent wind screen was installed.

- GP4 or thereafter: Marlboro-decal below inspection hole steering is removed.

- GP4 or thereafter: new vortex generators front wing were installed. 

- GP4: back to spec 1-engine. Unknown when spec 2-engine is reinstalled.

- GP5 up to and including 16: new rear wing (among other things, sides are narrower).

- GP5 up to and including GP7's race: camera reinstalled.

- GP7: from the race up to and including GP10's race: no camera.

- GP8 and GP9: McLaren-logos replace Marlboro-logos, due to strong tobacco advertising legislation in England and Germany.

- GP9 up to and including 16: white mirrors with more aerodynamic support stands, replacing the original red mirrors. 

- GP10: from the race a camera is installed.

- GP10: updated engine, new fuel by Shell.

- GP11 up to and including 14: no camera.

- GP11 up to and including 16: variable intake system.

- GP15 and GP16: camera.

- GP15: 8 centimeters are added to the front wing.

- After season ends: Shell-sticker on steering wheel.

- After season ends: switch + cable cockpit left.

- After season ends: Calsonic-logos on radiators.

- The front suspension was amended twice during the season. Unfortunately I don't know exactly when and what was changed.

- Also I don't know exactly when the sensors on the exhaust manifolds were rmoved. They were present for sure during the 3rd, 4th and 8th races. 


This list will be complemented and improved in due time. 


So my model will represent the spec 2-engine, broad Marlboro-logo on rear wing, no camera, Courtaulds-logos, opaque red windscreen, Marlboro-decal at steering inspection hole, 1st type vortex-generator, sensors in exhausts, broad rear wing, Marlboro-logos, red mirrors with cylindric support stands, short front wing, steering wheel without logo, no switch or cable left cockpit side, no Calsonic-logos in radiators. 

Spent time: 16 hours (build) + 24 hours (study)

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Thanks for the kind comments. I just hope the model is right. Bit more work to do yet before victory can be declared methinks. One thing it highlights, and part of the reason for getting in touch in the first place, was that there are some fantastic, useful FREE tools to help the modeller enhance, correct and embellish. A measure of its power is that I used Blender to design a full size one off  body shell with a low drag coeff. We "printed" the shell as a buck in foam full size. It should be able to deal with anything the guys reading this website can imagine. If anyone wants more insight a great starting point is Witold Jaworski's thread here:



Thanks also for the research - I'd just been thinking I would have to understand the development story. Saved me a lot of time.





Time spent modelling : 0 (as usual) Time spent studying: never enough

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Gentlemen,  you are taking us to a new level, new heights.... great detailing,...thank you !!

i have to catch up still on page 3, but i am catching this on the fly.  


Fantastic work... and team work !! medals ought to be distributed, this is a joy ride of a topic.



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@NickD It sure looks right and way better than Top Studio's version. It also resembles the results of my measurements and calculations, surely two can't go wrong too much especially if using very different methods I'd say. 


Your introduction of these powerful (free!) software programs has been very useful to me and probably to others who have been reading this thread and hadn't seen Witold's thread before. I'm sure I will use the software in a future full scratch build I'm planning, by then I'll hopefully have mastered its secrets to a reasonable extent. 


Please don't rush as regards implementation of the other pictures, I'm currently waiting for a new flux to be sent from the US and there's quite a bit of pre-priming corrections to be performed to the engine and the gearbox.


@sharknose156 I agree this is very nice team work! Adding knowledge from both sides this will make both Nick's and my own models better.




79. Weller's flux arrived but it turns out to be 'wet'-liquid. Nice for soldering a tiny processor to a circuit board but again not what I was looking for. Then I tried to solder a brass strip on top of another (think of a T-shape) but that didn't work. Maybe that's something soldering just isn't suitable for. Or maybe the brass surface will need to be tinned first. 


In final I tried (after playing a bit with the new flux) to just use the 60/40 tin/copper flux core solder. To my surprise it now suddenly worked much better than at my first attempt, simply with the solder wire from the roll and without external flux.




80. After sanding it looked like this:



81. And it's surprisingly strong, see this vid:




82. Next test piece is a tab with raised walls, just like I'll have to make for the McLaren only then twice as large (good for practicing purposes) . It probably cost me about an hour but with a lot of trouble and effort it worked! Most difficult part was to fill all the small gaps.



83. After a sanding session it looked like this:




84. The last picture (see red arrow) shows two small gaps. So I tried to repair it with a fresh bit of solder. I must say it's not easy to correct it (for a novice like me) because soldering there also influences other soldered areas of the test piece, but now I know what to do next time (don't let the test piece get too hot), to attempt to to prevent the other joints to loosen. After 15 minutes of soldering and sanding this is the result:


As you can see the bottom is not completely flattened, but this will be easily corrected through the use of some filling CA glue or, for those who use that stuff, putty. For the professional solderer it's probably a horrible thought, but to me the end justifies the means and I think it's most important that the part will look smooth in the end. 

Spent time: 18 hours (build) + 24 hours (study)

Edited by Roy vd M.
Corrected video links
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A pretty nice soldering job on tiny brass bits...Love it.

Personally, I used to solder a Dremel soldering iron, very usefull for brazing, but quite inapropriate for microscopic parts I work with , because it produces a whiff that often push my little parts, modifying their location, bending etc..


So, i've planned to buy, as you, a soldering station.

Could you give me its references, Brand, Type etc ?







Edited by CrazyCrank
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Fine work mate, like the soldering station.

As for the lamp, nigh on top of the list mate.

I have got 3 daylight lamps to fix up over the bench (when it gets done, I have carpet to lay first, before I can build the work bench back up again).

But at least I have got the internet back , so I can se what is going on, instead of just reading about it.

Looking forward to more updates mate.


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@CrazyCrank No problem. By the way if you want to notify someone (using the @ prefix) type the avatar and wait until a list of forum members comes into view. Then select the name. Sometimes it doesn't work, then just try again and it will. 


@sharknose156 'superb' soldering work is way too much credit for this, but I'll take it as a firm encouragement :) The bended piece (the tab) was actually very easy to make. I'll make a small video when making the scratch piece but I promise it's so easy you'll surely think 'that was easy' :D


@Spookytooth Good to have you back! The daylight lamp is indeed a big improvement, I'm very happy with it. Also it produces a lot of light which is good.  



85. I'd value your opinion on the following matter.



To have the brass brackets of the suspension arm as strong as possible, I'd like to solder them out of one piece (actually two of course, floor and side wall), both regarding the top bracket (A) as well as regarding the lower bracket (B). The two brackets will be connected through three pieces of laminated Evergreen plastic (C). Within the centre of the two brackets, pieces of laminated plastic will be glued as well (D). The finished subassembly will be glued and clamped inside the gear box. 

Do any of you note something impractical, flimsy or unstable here? Note: between the ends of A and B the rear suspension rods will be mounted. Therefore the construction really needs to be as strong as possible.  

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86. A newly devised plan, after having received some help of friends. 




1) First the brass strips of the upper support arm are joined through soldering. The real shape is a lot stronger than the drawing would suggest. See Nick's 3D-drawing. 


The upper support bracket (both sides) consists of three pieces of brass: bottom left, bottom right and vertical piece. The hole in the middel serves as a home for the plastic beam (one piece instead of three). Holes will be drilled at the outer ends. 


2) The plastic beam is made. It will be a laminated vertical plastic beam with, probably, a steel cilinder all the way through it for strength. There are recesses at the top and bottom. 


3) The beam will be glued to the upper bracket; there are three glued surfaces: 
- underside of brass bottom piece versus top of plastic beam.

- inner side front of brass side wall versus front of plastic beam.

- inner side back of brass side wall versus backside of plastic beam.

4) Small pieces of plastic sheet are glued to the sides of the plastic. These pieces strengthen the sides of the plastic as well as the brass bottom piece as well as both brass side walls. 

5) Repeat steps 1 up to and including 4 for the bottom bracket.


6) Connect both support ends by means of two plastic cube pieces. 


87. To clarify how large (or...) the suspension support part really is... the next picture shows the part to be replaced. The center part will be invisible after montage.  


88. Or, for those who couldn't stand seeing one more drawing, here a few pictures showing the already soldered test piece and a small bit of cut-to-shape foam. Of course the proportions are different in reality... for instance, the plastic beam will be three times as broad (and half as long). The most important thing is that this new part will have a large glue surface bonding with the vertical parts of the brackets. I have confidence in this method.  Let's see how that will work out...



Spent time: 18 hours (build) + 26 hours (study)

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89. On to the starboard side of the engine, because the support construction is on hold for a bit of time. 


First the support bar for the exhaust manifolds is removed, just like on the other side. 


90. Two small water pump supports, cut from brass sheet. The water pump was corrected (not on picture).


91. There are torx-bolts on the block left as well as right side. I'll try to model them and need to drill holes first. To be able to drill more precisely, it's advisable to start using a 0-14mm. reamer. Think of it as a drill piece, only having variable length of 0 to 14 mm.  


92. After having drilled a small hole with the reamer, that hole is enlarged using a drill bit. Then a larger drill bit.


93. The torx-bolt is made by hollowing a 1mm. diameter solderering wire with flux core. The flux core is easily removed. 


94. This is what you get.


95. Here the five holes at the left side of the engine block. These holes would hold the pieces of solder. However I wasn't happy with the look. The thinned plastic simply doesn't look clean. 


96. Therefore I drilled the holes some further, removed the 'flimsy' pieces of plastic with a scalpel and put a piece of copper pipe (1,5mm. diameter, hole of 1mm. drilled) into the 1,5mm. hole. This copper piece will get the same color as the engine block. In final the de-fluxed piece of solder will be put inside the copper pipe. Here an example of one of five torx-bolts. 


97. I reckon the torx bolts are meant to hold the crankshaft bearings for the ease of swift check / replacement during a race-weekend. The bolts are exactly at the same hight of the crankshaft and in positions where the crankshaft bearings are. 


First I drilled all 10 holes, as described above. Then I glued the pieces of copper pipe inside the left side holes using brown Gator Glue. I then had 20 minutes to pour a drop of thick CA glue along each of five left side pipes, put them in the correct position (straight) and set them using a drop of accelerator. Not only does this technique insure correct positioning, the glue also strengthens the bond.


98. Here all pipes are in their designated spots. As can be seen, they are relatively positioned in a slight wave. 


All of this will be painted black. After airbrushing, the pieces of drilled solder will be put inside the pipe parts.


Unfortunately all of this work will probably be invisible after final montage, but I don't want to take any risks. 

Spent time: 23 hours (build) + 26 hours (study)

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Thanks @NickD and @Sgt.Squarehead !


99. On each side of the engine there are two thick aluminum-coloured cilinders. I have no idea what their purpose is but they can be modeled using pieces of 1,58mm. diameter aluminium pipe. First a hole needs to be drilled, then the piece needs to be dryfitted. The cilinders will be put in position after painting the engine block.  


Both in dryfit:


100. The water pump is cleaned in a similar way as I did with the oil pump. 


101. On second thought pieces of all head-torx need to be slightly drilled.


102. A semi-cilinder is slightly filed near the red arrow. 


103. The heads are finalized. That means the engine block is finalized... so now it's time for preparing the gear box. After that it's on to priming, positioning of bolts and weathering. Then the fun begins!


Spent time: 25 hours (build) + 26 hours (study)

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Catching up.  


The watchmaker job you did with the copper and soldering iron is amazing. A great learning point, many thanks.

Also the clever way you use different glues. This `Gator glue is amazing, i have to get some like presto.


Ps This Honda engine block looks much better than the one on the current McLaren's. 

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