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Hapag-Lloyd Express 737-400 - Big Yellow Taxi *FINISHED*


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The timing of this GB isn’t great for me due to the seven(!) other models I need to finish for the IPMS Scottish Nationals on 28/29 April so if I’m going to have a chance of completing a 737 by 6 May I’ll need to get cracking and try to keep things as straightforward as possible. 


My first contribution will be the DACO Skyline 737-400 in the older version of the HLX New York Cab livery, “Fliegen zum Taxipreis” as the slogan used to say.  I have a second project in mind, another -400 in Air UK Leisure livery, but at the moment that’s no more than a slim possibility.


The HLX decals will mainly be from BOA sheet 14409 but I’m doubtful about the black checks which look slightly too big and BOA unhelpfully don’t make any provision for them to fit round the wing roots.  I’ll probably cannibalise a Drawdecal 737-800 sheet I bought some time ago for a model which never got built. The livery decals will be supplemented by detail decals from the kit sheet and windows from Authentic Airliners.  




Hopefully it will be fun!


Dave G



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This should be good, I used to see this regularly at Munich and never twigged that it was meant to be a New York cab scheme. Seems obvious now!


(edited to add in the never :think:.)

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Cheers John. With having family in Bavaria I’ve been flying to Munich since the days of Riem. Although I tend to associate HLX with Cologne and Hannover rather than Munich, they did operate a short-lived MUC-NCL flight which I used once. From what I remember of the load factor it’s no surprise the route didn’t last!

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Because of the time constraints I mentioned earlier I’m doing what is essentially an out-of-the-box build of a well known kit so hopefully it will be straightforward!


As a confirmed window decal user I like not having to fill the windows in the DACO kit.  However I always mark the window positions to help with later decal placement so I’ve used a tiny drill to make holes showing the locations of the emergency exits (I'll fill the door outlines later) and the front and rear window in each cabin taking account, of course, of any plugged windows on the real aircraft.  In the case of my subject, D-AHLL, the front window and the two rear windows were plugged on both sides:




I use self-adhesive lead strip to make nose weights.  I was introduced to this decades ago by a friend who is an art teacher (it’s used in stained glass work) and I’ve used it ever since.  It comes on a reel like an old-fashioned cine film and although it isn’t cheap a reel lasts a long time: 




If necessary you can bash it with a hammer to make whatever shape you want but there’s plenty of room in the nose of the Daco 737 so no need for that here.  10g of lead is more than enough.  It's possible to stick it in place with its own adhesive but I always use Blu-Tack to make sure:




With the wheel wells in place the fuselage can be closed up and glued.  Apart from the extreme rear aft of the rudder the fit is excellent and cleaning up should be minimal.  Berna clamps and some tape easily hold everything in place.  I'll let it set hard before tidying the seams.  I'll add the rudder shortly but having built the kit several times I find it easier to leave the belly section off until the wings have been attached.




Well, that wasn't too difficult!   D-AHLL is officially underway.

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22 hours ago, Skodadriver said:

As a confirmed window decal user I like not having to fill the windows in the DACO kit.  However I always mark the window positions to help with later decal placement so I’ve used a tiny drill to make holes showing the locations of the emergency exits (I'll fill the door outlines later) and the front and rear window in each cabin

I never thought of doing that, what a beautifully simple and effective idea.  Consider it well and truly nicked!

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I had planned to spend my modelling time today airbrushing a Boeing 787 but freezing temperatures and an overnight snowfall put paid to any idea of working in the garage so I have a little more progress with the 734 to report.  


The fuselage joint was excellent and only required a little tidying up.  Superglue applied with a pin dealt with such imperfections as there were including a few small sink marks.  I use superglue as a filler wherever possible but it’s essential to sand it down within 5-10 minutes of application otherwise it will set harder than the surrounding plastic as I once found to my cost!  I used plastic rod to plug the hole for the small aerial just in front of the fin which isn’t required on my model.  Again a spot of superglue smoothed it over.




It's worth spending a few minutes on the fin and rudder before gluing the latter in place, particularly if your model has an overall fin decal.  The rear edges of the fin can be a little ragged (particularly on the right for some reason) and a few seconds work with an emery board will sort this.  Every DACO kit i've seen has a small amount of what I assume is flash at the base of the fin and I always trim that away.  




You should end up with a reasonably neat hinge line and only a few small areas to tidy up when it's dry.



I have now filled the windscreen depressions and the door outlines with superfine Milliput.  Once that sets I’ll rub it down and deal with any rescribing needed.  




One thing which always has to be fixed on the -400 is the strange half moulding mark - half panel line ahead of the rear doors.  I can’t remember if this also features on the -300 and -500 but it looks weird under paint and the small amount of effort needed to correct it is worthwhile.


As Spad has discovered with his Colorado Springs -300, the fit of the wings to the fuselage is poor.  There is no complete answer to that but I have my own way of trying to minimise the problem which I hope to explain in the next instalment. 

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6 hours ago, Skodadriver said:

One thing which always has to be fixed on the -400 is the strange half moulding mark - half panel line ahead of the rear doors.  I can’t remember if this also features on the -300 and -500 but it looks weird under paint and the small amount of effort needed to correct it is worthwhile.


Hi Dave.

I've noticed this flaw on the fuselage as well and can confirm that it's on all of my examples, both 300 and 400.  The flash at the base of the fin is there too, but not as obvious as in your picture.

I'm looking forward to seeing this big yellow taxi with paint and decals on it too



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Nice progress Dave. I read a few years ago about a modeller who mentioned that when he clipped his wings together he had a "flawless" result. Imagine my horror when I built my first one and left the wings off to aid painting, only to discover the same big gaps at the wing root that you and every other builder mentions!! I thought I'd done something wrong.


I'm becoming more of a convert to superglue for filler each day, certainly does speed up production.


Looking forward to more progress.



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I have now sanded down the Milliput which I applied at the last session. A few small imperfections were sorted with Mr Surfacer.  


A little rescribing was required but not much.  In the past I used insulating tape as my scribing guide but I’ve now switched to white vinyl Tamiya tape.  I find the vinyl stuff pretty useless for masking and much prefer cut strips of the yellow tape but it is excellent as a scribing guide.  At the same time I sorted the “panel line” in front of the rear doors which appears as an engraving on the right fuselage and a sort of raised moulding mark on the left.  I simply stuck some Tamiya tape along the line on the left of the fuselage and scribed an engraved line before gently sanding down to remove the ridge. It took less than ten minutes.  While I was working around the tail I removed the small lines of flash on the fin and tidied up the rudder.  I may revisit the scribing once I see the model under some primer but that’s a while away yet.




The tail bumper has been added (DACO could have been more helpful with the location for this) and the splitter(?) for the air intake on the right rear fuselage: 




There is a small but prominent fairing on the forward cabin roof which I guesstimated from photos and made from thin plastic: 




Apart from the belly section and the small details that’s the fuselage done. On to the wings.


After removing the wing halves from the sprues they were fettled and the wingtip lights, fiddly and annoying as always, added.


As others have mentioned, the wing-fuselage joint is a bit of a problem.  I must have built a dozen DACO 737s over the years and I’ve come to the conclusion that the least worst way to go at it is to attach the wing upper halves to the fuselage and then add the lower halves.  It’s not a complete answer by any means.  I know of no way to avoid filling the top joint and there is likely to be some PITA filling and sanding around the leading edges inboard of the engine pylons. If anyone has a better idea I’ll be delighted to hear it!


I really don’t know why Danny designed the kit wings (and, for that matter, tailplanes) to interlock.  We’ve been building kits with non-interlocking wings since plastic modelling was invented and to me it just adds an unnecessary complication so I cut off the interlocking sections and reduced the locating tabs to a more conventional length.  I also sanded the tabs and opened the locating slots SLIGHTLY just to ease the fit and no more:




The left wing on my kit was the better fit so it went on first. I find it helps to use a thicker cement with gap-filling qualities, in this case Revell Contacta. The right wing followed (obviously!) once the left one was secure. You need to clean off any cement which oozes out round the locating tabs - if it’s allowed to set it will affect the fit of the lower halves later. I am mildly obsessive about my models having equal dihedral so there was a fair bit of checking and measuring to make sure this was achieved.  Once I was satisfied I left the wings to set overnight:




Next day a light sanding tidied the upper surfaces. The resulting joint isn’t perfect but it’s not awful either. (The dust on the fuselage is swarf from the superfine steel wool I used to polish the plastic.): 




It’s now a reasonably straightforward job to add the lower halves.  Some trimming is needed around the roots and about mid-span there is a mis-match in thickness between the upper and lower halves.  A shim of .005 plastic behind the leading edge easily takes care of that:




I slightly overcooked the trimming of the lower right wing but nothing that a touch of filler won't sort:




As expected, some serious tidying up is needed on the leading edges inboard of the pylons:




I'm going to put this on the back burner for a couple of days firstly to let the cement harden fully before I start filling round the wing roots and secondly because I must get on with the other models I'm building for the Scottish Nationals. I'm pretty happy with how things have gone so far but there's still plenty of scope to mess up!


See you soon.


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The cold weather is still inhibiting work on my other models which are mostly at the painting stage and need to be airbrushed in the garage so I've done a few more bits and pieces to D-AHLL.  In particular I’ve now fitted the belly section and the flap track fairings and done a bit of filling and general tidying up.


Before fitting the belly section it is necessary to trim down the front and rear edges of the wheel well.  The fit is very poor and if you don’t get it properly snuggled down the filling and sanding will remove most of the moulded detail leading to significant re-scribing which I consider a Bad Thing.  There really isn’t any alternative to care, patience and constant checking - once you’ve removed plastic you can’t put it back!  It’s impossible to avoid filling and sanding completely but you can do quite a lot to minimise it. This is how it looked before I did any filling:




If I had detailed the wheel wells I would have done a proper paint job but I didn’t so I contented myself with a generic dull metallic grey-ish colour.


Anything I couldn’t fill with superglue has now been filled with Milliput, most importantly the wing leading edges.  I didn’t bother with the transparencies for the landing lights since I will use decals for these.  I also addressed the prominent moulding lines on the sides of the engine pylons (sensible modellers will probably do that at an earlier stage) and I used a tiny speck of Milliput to sort the annoying “see through” at the lower fin hinge.





Once the Milliput was dry I sanded it down (I recommend a Flex-i-file for the leading edges and the inner sides of the pylons) then gave it a coat of Mr Surfacer 500 which was allowed to dry before being rubbed down with 1200 wet and dry.  I coated the seams between the upper wings and the fuselage with Mr Surfacer 500 which I left to dry then it only needed a light rub with 1200 wet and dry to finish off. Doing it this way minimises the risk of damage to the scribed detail.






 I reckon that's the airframe as good as I can get it just now although I expect more work will be needed once I see it under a coat of primer.


Next job will be the engines.


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The snow is chucking down today so still no airbrushing in the garage and I might as well pick up where I left off last night.


I have been doing odd bits of work on the engines in parallel with the airframe so today it's really just a case of bringing everything together. The engines are pretty straightforward, at least until you get to the point of attaching them to the pylons so just a quick canter through what I have done.


I started by removing the moulded “bars” across the inlets:  




At this point proper modellers will reach for the airbrush, dust off the Alclad and get down to serious business but I just brush painted the hot sections with Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminium which, despite its name, buffs up to nice dull sheen.  Once that was dry I painted the rear 4mm or so with some Revell Aqua Aluminium mixed with a tiny spot of Copper.  I don’t know if it’s really necessary to paint the inside of the nacelle but I always give the rear section a coat of XF-56 Metallic Grey just to be safe.  While I had XF-56 on the brush I also painted the inside of the inlet trunking.  This was later overpainted with thinned XF-16. The fans were painted with Humbrol 53 Gunmetal. Once dry the fan blades were lightly dry-brushed with Humbrol 56 Aluminium and the spinners painted with Revell Aqua semi-gloss black.  The kit decal sheet doesn’t include spirals for the spinners so these were sourced from a Revell A319 sheet in the spares box, not 100% accurate but a lot better than I could do by hand:




The right engine assembled before any tidying up.  Nothing here that conventional filling and sanding won’t sort:




Once the cement has set I’ll test the engines on the pylons then fill and sand them ready for painting. I usually add the strakes before painting - I find they’re robust enough to withstand most normal handling and putting them on beforehand avoids any risk of damaging the paint later. However I leave the exhaust cone off because a piece of sprue bound with masking tape and carefully inserted into the hot section makes a useful handle during spraying!


I'm going to have to start looking seriously at yellow paint.  Inevitably photographs of HLX aircraft show the yellow varying noticeably depending on time of day, lighting conditions, age of the aircraft and so on.  D-AHLL only carried the taxi livery for about a year so weathering won't be significant, in other words I won't be able to excuse the wrong colour on the basis that it has faded!





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12 hours ago, pinky coffeeboat said:

Nice progress Dave. 


Looking at photos of D-AHLL, it does appear to be a lighter shade of yellow, not as strong or dark as Revell Lufthansa yellow. What do the instructions recommend?




Thanks Jeff.  BOA say FS 13655 which at least is a starting point.  Drawdecal say "bright taxi yellow" :wall:  Since both decal makers claim the lower fuselage is white, which it most definitely isn't, I'm not inclined to take anything else they say particularly seriously.  I may end up brewing my own yellow, possibly based on Tamiya X8, but I'll have a look in Halfords first.

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13 hours ago, pinky coffeeboat said:

Lufthansa yellow

Lufthansa yellow? ......Lufthansa don't have any yellow in their livery, Jeff!:poo:


Anyway, I've just been rummaging in my drawers (as you do):giggle: and I found a tin of Humbrol 99 Matt Lemon. You might find it's a better starting point Dave. In fact, I think it might be spot on!




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On 2/15/2018 at 11:32 PM, Turbofan said:

Lufthansa yellow? ......Lufthansa don't have any yellow in their livery, Jeff!:poo:


Anyway, I've just been rummaging in my drawers (as you do):giggle: and I found a tin of Humbrol 99 Matt Lemon. You might find it's a better starting point Dave. In fact, I think it might be spot on!




Thanks for that Ian.  Apart from the odd Xtracolor and occasional metallics I've almost completely given up enamel paint so I hadn't thought about Humbrol for the yellow.  My intention is to give an old scrap model a coat of white primer then squirt it with various yellows so I'll definitely try some 99. At the moment I'm thinking of Xtracolor X371 for the lower fuselage although alternative suggestions will be very welcome.



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Coming along nicely. I wish that I had seen how you assembled the wings to the fuselage and then together before I glued mine together. Still I may cut off the interlocking things and see how they then fit to the fuselage.

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