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Ridgeline

1/144 Eastern Express/MikroMir MD-11 Build Log

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A journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step... I began modelling airliners back in 2006, and ever since have wanted to build one of my favorite designs: the MD-11. I have seen the Welsh kit, but didn't want to deal with vacuform. I have seen the authentic airliners kit, but didn't want to deal with resin. I have seen the DC-10 conversions, but didn't want to deal with essentially scratch-building the whole model.

 

Today, though, today I received this:

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You're probably familiar with the kit by now... This is the Eastern Express/MikroMir MD-11 in the "American Airlines" packaging. Feel free to ignore the Atlantis sticker covering the original MikroMir logo. This packaging includes decals and masks for the Varig MD-11 shown on the box art, as well as a TAM and a World Cargo option. I am planning to build the Varig MD-11, though that will depend heavily on the quality of the kit decals. 

 

Anyway, on to the build... The fuselage comes in five main pieces with panel lines and no windows: perfect for my style of airliner modelling!

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The parts had a lot of flash and excess plastic along the edges, and the main components were lacking in locating pins. While locating pins almost always fail to properly align fuselage halves, they do help to at least start the process and hold various pieces in place. On the other hand, I have done enough type conversions before to be comfortable with cutting and re-gluing fuselage components. My preferred method involves applying strips of styrene behind the joint for reinforcement and alignment, and it seemed that same process would work well on this build.

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A feature on this build is the availability of a flight deck... I love flight decks! They always provide a convenient place to mount my weights:

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At issue next was the nose wheel bay. The kit instructions call for installing the nose wheel strut prior to closing the fuselage... No, thank you. Instead I decided, after studying the drawings, that I MIGHT be able to get away with simply cutting a notch in the wheel bay and installing the struts later. I don't actually know if this is going to work, but it has worked before and I see no reason why it shouldn't work here. I will let you know once I try it, of course.

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Also worth noting is that the locating holes for the horizontal stabilizers are covered over... I opened these up prior to closing the fuselage.

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From here, then, a final dry-fit before taking the plunge and closing the fuselage... One can see that the roof already has very good alignment, so I did not expect any particular difficulties.

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Having said that, though, I was not surprised to see this misalignment pop up where four of the fuselage parts meet... There are a number of curves on the fuselage that exert force on this particular area of the model, so extra care will be required to get the pieces properly aligned. In my case, I applied solvent glue and then pushed one side, pulled the other side, and squeezed both sides. The resulting joint was, I think, good enough.

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The bottom of that same area, though, is a tragedy! On the other hand, this area of the fuselage tends to present a problem, for me at least, on most of the airliners I build. The solution is a simple matter of applying elbow grease and reshaping these curves... No worries.

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Also worth noting is that the cockpit glass is every-so-slightly smaller than the opening in the fuselage, and so pressing the clear plastic down into the slot results in a step along the roof line. Instead, I glued the cockpit part in at its front, aligning it with the nose, and then glued the part at its roof line. This process, I believe, properly aligns the piece along the roof but leaves a small gap at its base. Again, no worries. Filling the base will be significantly easier than reshaping the roof line.

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And this is where she sits so far! I've heard a lot of moaning and groaning about the quality of this kit, but I am excited to hit it with full-steam. None of the issues I have encountered to this point are particularly unreasonable, in my opinion, and none of the issues that I see coming have concerned me yet. What problems have I not foreseen, though? I guess we'll find out! In the meantime, I have, for the first time in 11 years, an MD-11 fuselage sitting on my table... and we're just getting to the good part! I will work next on the wings and stabilizers, and then will progress to the engines...

 

Until then, comments are welcomed... Thanks for looking!

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Edited by Ridgeline
Wanted request removed

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A good positive start with a good positive attitude too - If things don't fit perfectly, try using a bit of modelling skills to make it fit...amazing!!. 

I can't offer the Varig decals as mine are both KLM (one from Eastern Express and the other from 26decals). On my first EE sample the rear fuselage is sharper radiused and so fits inside the corresponding tail section but as you shown a little bit of plastic card to reinforce and set the joint works well.

With the clear flight deck cap, could you have shimmed the join with thin plastic card? I had to do similar on Minicraft 737 recently and it gave a very good even all round fit that just required a bit of filler around the joints to finish it off.

 

Looking forward to your next updates.

 

Jeff 

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Excellent start and I look forward to following progress. I have one at about the same stage as yours but I ended up putting it aside because I was totally fed up with it. Jeff would probably say I'm lacking in positive attitude :winkgrin: but I'll get back to it eventually once you show me how to fit the wings :wall:

 

Dave G

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Ha!! No Dave definitely not lacking positive attitude at all and sorry if it came across that way😟. Believe me I've got a whole shelf of models for which my positive outlook and enthusiasm to see them through has all but gone! 

In fact after I posted my comment above I remembered from various comments and observations, yours being amongst them, that it's the wing/ fuselage joint that causes problems. 

The fact that anyone has started their MD-11 is a huge advantage over me as my stash just seems to multiply but the finished shelf remains the same.

Looking forward to see how ridgeline tackles the wingy bits.

 

Jeff

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Jeff and Dave, thanks for chiming in! A positive attitude is the right way to call it.... Or, perhaps, hope? Like you guys I have a stash of models that have lost hope, too! :worry: I definitely want to finish this one, though. The profile, the curve of the wings, the MD-11 is too sexy for me to let this model fail.

 

Adding a shim under the cockpit glass would have been a different path to the same solution, I think. The gap was very small, though, so perhaps a .005" thick strip of styrene would've been enough. To be honest it was just quicker to glue two points and fill it in afterwards. I'm not exactly a precision modeller, you know? I kind of just "eyeball" it...

 

By the way, what's wrong with the fit of the wings...?

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I'm kidding!! I actually spent a fair bit of time working on the wings and trying to get them to fit flush. Obviously there is some cleanup work left to do, but I am happy now with the fit and dihedral. My solution mostly involved modifying the wing spar component. It seemed to me that the slot for the wing to drop into was too thin for the upper wing piece, so I cut it at an angle to allow the wing to be pressed in. From here it is only a matter of sanding down the wing edge to make it fit properly. The current fit is actually very tight, and there is only a little play in the wings when they are installed. At this point my plan is to build and paint the wings separately and attach them only in the final steps.

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But we're going a little out of order here... Getting back to the update, I drilled out and then glued together the wing halves. I started the gluing process in the main gear wells, and then aligned the ends of the wings before going back along the leading and trailing edges. This process resulted in very poor alignment of the leading and trailing edges, but correct alignment at the wingtips. Fixing the leading edge involves the usual process of sanding/filling/sanding. The trailing edge will require a bit more work, but essentially involves filing down the lower half of the trailing edge to thin and then rebuild it.

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I also began the sanding and filling process on the horizontal stabilizers and the fuselage itself. Regarding the horizontal stabilizers I only inserted the front locating pins. The model has supporting structures for the stabilizers, so I felt having the second pin would hinder alignment more than it would help. On the fuselage I used 180 grit paper to reshape the identified problem areas, but not too much effort was needed. The critical alignments, in my opinion, have been very good so far!

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Finally, the fuselage has been primered to check for flaws. I think one more round of sanding and filling will get it done. Having said that, I will clearly need to install the tail engine before I primer again, so that will be my next step. Thanks for checking in!

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Edited by Ridgeline

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My apologies for double-posting, but I decided to spend some more time on the wing-fuselage joint. After staring at it some more, I figured the best solution would be to add a shim to the lower wing halves. In this case I used .020" styrene strips and sanded to shape. As always, there is more cleanup yet to be done, but I'm VERY happy with the fit now. The wings are very tight on the fuselage, and any play has been eliminated. I will likely add some putty to the wing end for an even tighter fit, but for now I will proceed with the balance of the construction...

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And you will have to forgive the indulgence, but I absolutely wanted to see how she looks with the major parts dry-fit:

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:D

Edited by Ridgeline

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Thanks for sharing such an in depth build thread Andrew, I have a couple of these and a Welsh Models MD-11 to build.

 

Just a note, the second last post (Post #5) has lost its images :(

 

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Ray, thank you for the heads-up brother! Please let me know if the images continue to be a problem... They are showing up on my screen, so I hope that means they're working now.

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Hi , still not seeing the images. And I'm eager to see how you've tackled the wing join 🤓

 

Jeff 

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My apologies, guys! I checked the thread on my tablet and confirmed that the images were not showing up. Perhaps they were cached on my laptop, and that's why they were working for me.... I checked my google account, and it looks like I uploaded this album to the wrong one. 

 

For now I have changed the sharing setting on the album. Hopefully they are working now for all of you! When I get back to my studio I will migrate the album over to the correct account. I still can't figure out why the images in the first post were showing up, but the images in posts 5 and 6 were not..... The magic of the internet, I guess!

Edited by Ridgeline

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Well Andrew, looks like the carpet monster is at your images, now the last lot you posted plus a single image from your first post have disappeared.

 

No doubt they will show up when the build is finished! :D

 

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Oh, boy... It's funny in the Shakespearean sense now! I knew this build was going along way too easily!

 

I've migrated the album over to my regular posting account... But, honestly, if you guys don't WANT to see my images just let me know... :lalala:

Seriously, though, they are working on my tablet after the migration. I'll check again in the morning... If they are still not showing up I will try hosting them on a different site.

 

Thanks for your patience and your humor, guys!

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Hi Andrew

 

Firstly, I can see the images.

 

Secondly, thanks for a very informative build thread - having the KLM version in my stash I'm very interested to see any potential pitfalls.  Also have a Tristar, so if a DC10 comes up on a certain auction site at the right price was thinking of a Tri jet tri-build!

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I can see all the pictures as well again Andrew. Glad you got it sorted.

 

Now where did I put my MD-11 kit(s)

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That's absolutely brilliant Andrew. Thanks so much for coming up with a practical solution to fitting the wings. A reviewer on Airliner Cafe described the method of attaching the wings as "screwy". I could come up with a few other words which would cause this post to be deleted. The only other kit I've seen with a comparably daft wing fitment is the Amodel Lancastrian.

 

I will certainly pinch your ideas when I get back to my own model. There's no doubt that once you get the thing assembled it really looks the part. It's the getting it assembled that's the hard bit!

 

Cheers

 

Dave G

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