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Nomore Shelfspace

Monogram 1/32 Apollo Command and Service Modules rebuild

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This is a project that has been around for about 20 years, probably a record for me... it's the 1990's reissue of the Monogram 1/32 Apollo CSM, which I built in a hurry, then ripped apart with the intention of doing it better some day. I restarted it briefly a few years ago when I rebuilt most of the SM interior, then left it again. So a few weeks ago, with the benefit of a New Ware etch interior set and the Rick Stenbach decal sheet, plus the Space in Miniature book on the Apollo CSM, which themselves I bought about ten years ago, I resumed the task...


Most irksome job had always been the chrome surface of the CM. the original is GOLD chromed, which is wrong. This is probably why I more or less abandoned the job a while back... but then in a flash of inspiration, and after attempting to apply various foils to it (argh), I remembered there was such thing as this stuff above... the surface it is on is not pefect because of various peelings-off of stuff, but it's the best I can do now...


This is the New Ware etch interior. I'm not that happy working with etch but it seems to work in this case. Detail is impressive. The original kit represented the instruments with green vinyl stickers which make it look like a dodgy toy.


Some painting going on. The seats and interior support structure were a steely colour - I used a very old bottle of Citadel "chainmail". Other paint you see here is the "not silver" enamel Humbrol 11, which makes a great matt aluminium, and silver from an old paint pen on the handholds there. The thing in the foreground is the docking tunnel/landing parachute section.


The etch docking tunnel interior. I rolled this round a "suitable former" before gluing it in with the substances shown... you can see the remains of the wrong interior green colour I used on my first build.


I actully put the tunnel in the wrong way round but it's scarcely noticeable once assembled...


The interior should be a very light grey. Individual panels will be painted darker grey. The copper probably isn't quite right but it's dramatic! The inside of the heat shield is apparently foil lined.


This is as far as I've got. The SM interior was rebuilt according to photographs. The larger tank is too short, so I extended it with a tube of sheet. Finish is various metallics, kitchen foil and Bare Metal foil. I've sprayed white (Revell matt mixed with light grey) over the radiator panels ready to mask them before spraying the SM body, which should be matt alu. I'm going to use the transparent sections to show the interiors of both modules. I filled the stand slot and as you can see the craft is going to be displayed on its main engine nozzle. The stand is from an old anime figure which was supported on a steel rod, very useful as I just had to drill through the top end of the engine nozzle to accept the rod - once it's actually fixed it will make a stable support. More later once I get round to it!

In memory of Eugene A Cernan.


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wow - I don't know this kit but can see a masterpiece in the making here - very nice stuff

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Here's an update folks... I finally got round to one of the parts that was bothering me, the high-gain antenna, which is the sort of quadruple flyswat that sticks out of the back corner of the SM. Monogram just did this as a stick with an X and a box on the end, and it's supposed to be "working" as in it folds up using as a hinge a box that also does not represent the real structure. So I scratchbuilt half of it, retaining the two halves of the X part and the white pyramid which is the centre feed horn. These photos explain it better.


The saucers are the dishes of the antenna. The New Ware etch set has better ones, but I found it impossible to form them into saucer shape! The grey rod is the support arm, this is made up with scrap sprue and rod. All stuck with Beatties polystyrene cement... The Y bits are all that is left of the original mount, the strips of sheet will form the side pieces - see next photo;


Here it is cemented up. The side pieces have been trimmed. The box on the right is or will be the new mounting fixture - the kit one is the size of a 1/32 fridge.


A better shot, with the angled parts of the side pieces fitted - these were apparently to protect the antenna dishes when it was folded up inside the LM fairing for launch.

The old fashioned polystyrene cement is good for a job like this, it allows "wiggle time" and grips well. Actually that sounds suggestive.

The reference for this comes from the SIM book on the Apollo CSM, but there is only one blurry photo and a drawing which appears to be wrong - it shows the Y arms angled toward the feed horn when they should be angled back, as I've done here. Admittedly reference for this part is scarce! Anyway, I've run into more drudgery with the rest of the model after the success of today, so not sure when I'll update next. Hopefully soon...


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How accurate is the basic kit in regards to exterior panels, radiator positions etc.

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2 hours ago, Eric Mc said:

How accurate is the basic kit in regards to exterior panels, radiator positions etc.

The kit is very accurate, particularly in surface detail, although all panel lines are raised, which is typical of 1969 when it was first produced. The smaller details do need a lot of work however. A recent search of eBay turned up several, but it's now in a Revell box.

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I've packed this one up because of other projects, but this is the progress I made...


This is Nomore Shelfspace's method for making flat brass things, dish shaped. See next...


This is a metal R2-D2 novelty tin head... the brass is smoothed into the curve with the spoon. I'm not sure if there's enough curve but it's all I could find. You could probably use a small metal doorknob, inside an eggcup or something. These parts are of course the high-gain antenna from the New Ware etch set. I did the same for the star/umbrella frame parts that go inside the dishes.


This is the Command Module heat shield assembly, before I found I had to file a millimetre off the frames before the transparent part of the outer structure would fit. The nozzles are the yaw/pitch engines.


Here I'm being foolhardy and making the unitary hatch. I've stuck the (formerly) plated and transparent parts of the hatch together - Monogram split it right down the middle, nice one guys - and have skinned the inside with a piece of sheet, with the circular window cut out beforehand. The outer frame of this is square. Plenty of cement to really bond it together.


These are the RCS thrusters from the SM. I painted the outer bells a mixture of silver and transparent yellow acrylic - they look discoloured in photos, anyway this is a subtlety that makes a bit of difference.

OK, that's it until I can get back to it!

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Nice work. The New Ware set makes a huge difference to the original kit, and the Space In Miniature book is worth its weight in gold.


I was going to suggest the method I used to dish the antennas, which was lightly tapping them with a small ball pein hammer into the concave bottom of an aerosol can, but it looks as though you've found an equally effective way. It's chunky metal compared with some, and can take a fair bit of punishment.


I'll look forward to the next instalment.




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Okay, after many orbits, I finally restarted this thing...


This is the interior painted up as best I could get it. The incised detail on the etch pieces is very shallow and not easy to paint. I used a semi gloss enamel for the darker panels, then when dry painted the detail roughly with satin black acrylic. This was allowed to set a bit then wiped off to leave the black in the etched-in areas. Other details were picked out with a brush. Once dry everything was plastered with Xtracylic matt varnish! The seats are out of the box - although because this was a rebuild of a broken-down kit, reassembly was tricky as most of the locating pins were busted... I had to make new handholds (the brown loops under the control panel) out of strip after the original brass ones broke when I stripped the paint off at some point... the white handhold at top was also scratched out of rod.  I didn't bother too much with the docking tunnel as it cannot be seen easily once the thing is assembled.


Another look at the inside walls.


Control panel in all its hard to paint glory. The finish is rough but again, it won't show once the module is assembled.


A no less important part, inside the outer shell of the CM. Window surrounds were some sort of brown resin stuff.


This is the parachute housing detailed up with bits of wire to represent the attaching cables etc.


And here it is all buttoned up! The seat frame was very hard to fit - being a rebuild rather than fresh out of the box, various parts were hard to align and once the brass etch instrument panel was on, it covered the holes for the upper shock struts. The large square window (not visible) was filed and sanded down so it fitted snugly into the opening. Various bits inside needed filing or hacking down so the outer shell would fit. I will probably have to repaint the CM at some point anyway and I am still planning how to handle the transparent section that fits in the gap here.

OK, goodnight from me!




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wow.gif What a great restart, very impressive work with cool ideas. up045518.gif


I stay tuned. up040577.gif

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Okay folks, a small "what I did before I realised I could get an aftermarket part" update...


The transparent section is glude in with Beatties polystyrene cement and Glue 'n' Glaze.It doesn't fit very well but more of that later... I'm making the raised frame around the hatch... you can see my bodged together hatch on the right there. That's thin styrene sheet making the frame (the second try in fact...)


Here's the frame or coaming in place, and I'm sanding it down with my home-made sanding devices (plus a nice icom (Japanese) sanding tool), as it has to be bevelled. The inside edge has to be filled with Perfect Plastic Putty as it is decidedly misshapen the way I sawed the hatch area out. Some very careful sanding and filing needed here. The tape protects the rest of the module, but you might be able to see where the chrome finish is already wearing off the top due to handling! There is also sanding dust inside the transparency but I can probably get this out.

This is when I had some sort of revelation;


1/32 Apollo CSM hatch by Real Space Models. There is about as much chance of me scratchbuilding something like that as there is of the Moon actually being made of cheese. OK, the porthole surround should be a brownish colour but look at that thing. Postage from the US cost more than the item ($18 and $15 respectively) but I decided I had to either carry on and build a hatch, with great difficulty, and keep the hatch coaming, or hack off said coaming I'd already spent a lot of time on and just stick this in. No contest, I ordered the RSM part. I am wondering if that coaming has the right curve on it to fit the actual CSM but we'll see, I have got stuff from RSM in the past and they know their stuff.

Once this arrives, I can update!





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O-kay, the mission resumes...


Here's the RSM kit. It's mastered by 3D techniques and although there is a bit of flash on the small parts, pretty amazing. I used plastic rod instead of the brass rod supplied for the linkages - more scale looking and easier to cut - length should be about 4mm so no way is this fiddly...!


A lot of filing and sanding stick-ing was needed to get the opening the right size for the coaming, which also had to be filed a bit. This resulted in even more dust inside which I got out with various devices including a Giottos photo blower, a vacuum cleaner and bits of lens cloth on paperclips. Think it's all gone...


It needed a bit of re-forming to match the curve but this gap is fillable.


After cleaning up the parts I swabbed them with alcohol and gave them an undercoat of matt grey enamel. I masked the hatch opening on the inside before sticking it in. Thick cyano for the chrome half, glue n' glaze for the clear!


Mask around the opening, fill gaps with perfect plastic putty, smooth down wet and mask the rest of the clear areas when dry. I fitted the hatch into the opening with white tack. You can see a crack just above the hatch, I decided to paint this over as there's nothing underneath to show.


Spray gloss black enamel, hatch and all! Secret of real gloss is to spray close at a low pressure. More to come...



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Some minor updates before I start the Big Spray to finally finish this thing.


I had lost two of the EVA handholds since breaking down the original build and stowing it away, so I tried making replicas by sticking the surviving part in moulding wax a few times and pouring epoxy over the resulting impression. I was surprised when it worked! However the resin was full of tiny air bubbles. I wasn't prepared to spend too much time on this so just picked out the better examples...


This is the Extreme Metal Chromed CM, with details painted up and docking probe (almost intact from the original build) attached. The recast handholds are the two on the right. The decals for the yaw and pitch engines on the transparent section survive, but obviously the ones on the "solid" part were gone, so they had to be hand painted... the step between the clear and solid parts is noticeable here because of the lighting! Note the red seal inside the hatch. I used a mix of red and some sandy-brown camo colour to get a sort of "silicone gasket red" here. I think that's more or less what it was on the real one... I lost the cone on the tip of the docking probe so made a new one by chucking a piece of sprue in my old Rotocraft tool and "turning" it with a file and sanding stick. The CM was stuck to a piece of ply to avoid handling the extremely delicate chrome finish. There is some spot respraying to do, then I can coat the chrome with Klear. It might be worth noting that the chome extends around the edges of the heat shield by about 5mm. On the original this was strips of metallised tape, but I gave up trying to represent this on the model... I think I am sane and want to stay that way...


The Business End. I had broken up the gimballing parts when dismantling the kit originally, and I wanted to fix the SPS engine bell in place anyway - you can see the old figure stand (Tsukuda Hobby) I intend to stand the whole thing on. I cludged the gimbal ring at the top of the engine bell in place with sprue, bits of sheet and industrial superglue blasted with that evil accelerator stuff - this I realise now was a bit pointless as the ring doesn't support anything... A hole had already been drilled through the top end to take the stand rod. The conical ring just at the top of the bell just rests on the edges of the aperture in the base of the SM here, I had to build up the "burger" of stryrene sheet to allow it to rest on the disc-with-a-cross-on-it (no other way to describe it, sorry) you can see inside the aperture, then drill through that - trusty old jewellers hand drill shown - to take the rod.

And there is much still to do!


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OKay, some actual progress on the mission...



I used a Humbrol acrylic spray can for this, for one reason or another it came out really grainy, but responded well to a rub down with micro-mesh. It looks a bit wobbly because it hasn't been fixed to the stand properly. Note the small recessed panel left of top centre, this is an umbilical recess I think - I cut out the aperture, backed it with sheet and detailed it with bits of rod. It's quite noticeable in some photos of the real one. I'm not going to detail the top of the SM because as I pointed out before I am sane, sort of, and want to stay that way...


Loads of masking later, and the structure at the end (not sure what it's called) was sprayed Extreme Metal chrome, without the black undercoat. It's still a bit grainy but I can't do much about that now. It certainly looks worse in the photos!


Masking off. The white radiator panels need retouching, but this is a significant step towards completion.



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Okay space fans, some more photos of bits before I post photos of the FINISHED MODEL - and it is indeed finished as I type!


The Four Tea Strainers antenna - I made a rudimentary jig after thinking about it for the space of a transmission "bleep" - (for the space, geddit) (ok...) - the tea strainers are tacked in place with double sided tape. These are the New Ware parts of course. Problem in painting them is not to let the holes get clogged with paint.


I glued them in place with industrial superglue - this has to be applied quite thickly otherwise it doesn't set, but the dried glue can be retouched.


The reinforcing "stars" picked out in alu. The white things are the feed horns. Some retouching needed... ok, it's finished as I say, and once I can take some good photos (i.e. not with this ancient Olympus) I'll post it to Ready for Inspection. It's been quite a journey, this one...


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