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Starship Enterprise -- AMT 1:650

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I know I need to get back to my Hermes class scout, but I started this AMT 1/650 Starship Enterprise as a Christmas gift for one of my oldest and dearest friends.  He is as crazy about Star Trek as I am and we spent a lot of time in college watching Next Generation (when it was still first run! That's how old we are!). He likes models but by his own admission doesn't have the patience to make them.  So I figured this would be the perfect Christmas gift for "the guy who has everything".


The best I could do was the AMT 2 in 1 set that I found on Amazon.




The old AMT Enterprise and I go way back... I first built it when I was 13 and totally nuts about Star Trek (when the original series was the only one around!).  I thought it was the greatest model ever and it was proudly displayed on my desk.  I spent a lot of time flying it around the room when I should've been doing homework. ;)  I got a new kit and built it when I was in college.  So, I knew how this was going to go: Sand off the windows, sand off the grid on the saucer and order after market decals because the AMT decals were so hideous.


I was wrong.


I haven't followed the latest releases, but it turns out they recast the saucer to be smooth and the decals are now accurate!  Yay! But, they borked up the Polar Lights 1/1000 kit included in this set by only providing stickers for it. Which is totally stupid. So I will need to get after market decals for that when I do it sometime down the road.


The molds for the 1/650 kit are showing their age: there was a lot of flashing and every seam has a ridge that needs to be dealt with.  I pulled out the pieces to the one I built when I was 13 and it definitely had much better seams than this one will.


I glued the secondary hull and warp nacelles together right away. I have no idea how I put this together as a kid, because, as an adult with tons more skill, I had the hardest time getting the 3 parts of the secondary hull to stay together. There are no alignment pegs and the tabs that are supposed to keep things in place are so tiny that they're useless.  I gave up with the glue looper and instead held the parts together and upended the superglue on the seam figuring I'd be sanding and filling it anyway! What a mess.  I also took some sheet styrene and made better, reinforced tabs before I glued it, as shown here:




I forgot to take pictures before I sanded the secondary hull with progressively finer sandpaper down to 12000 grit.  But here's how it turned out (nice and smooth!):




On the other side the plastic was warped (or had sunk), so I will need to put some filler in to repair it:




Here's an example of what the super glue looked like after I got done gluing.  Normally I'm not this messy, but it was all I could do to hold it together and glue it and then squirt accelerator on it before it all fell apart again. :(




Luckily, I use superglue as a filler anyway, so when I sand it down (being careful not to put a flat spot in it), it smooths out nicely as shown in the nacelle I've sanded down:






Now, I know how inaccurate this model is, and I've seen the inaccuracies discussed in dozens of forums, but I know the issues and have ideas of how to modify many (but not all) of the inaccuracies to make this a better model. The sheer size of it makes it impressive and I think my friend will really appreciate it.  That's all for now...

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Finished sanding the nacelles today.  Ugh... so much sanding.  Luckily there's no surface detail and if I'm careful, I won't sand any flat spots in it.


I'd post pictures but Imgur is suddenly not accepting any of my uploads... :(



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Hooray!  it's all working again! So to pick up where I left off... The super glue method works pretty well for me.  First I sand the super glue covered seam with a 150 grit sanding stick.  Not very much because you can take plastic off in a hurry with that grit. Just enough to level out the super glue. The low spots become obvious because they stay shiny with the sanded plastic being rough. Like in this picture:




I stop sanding and add glue to the low spots.  Here's a picture of me adding glue to the low spot in the nacelle with my trusty glue looper:




I then sand with 400 and 800 grit sanding sticks. Then with 1500, 3600, and 4000 grit sandpaper. All wet sanded. I didn't go finer than 4000 grit because I've read that paint can have troubles sticking to plastic that is too smooth.  Besides, the end result is supposed to be semi-gloss anyway.


Usually after this, I find a few spots I missed, so there's always one or two sessions of touching up and sanding. I think can declare the nacelles done though. 


The next thing on my list was to fix the navigational deflector.  The AMT version is completely inaccurate and always stands out like a sore thumb in my book. I had a wild thought to see if the larger of the 2 navigational deflectors in the 1/1000 kit would be the same size. (for those who don't know: The Polar Lights 1/1000 Enterprise gives you a larger and a smaller navigational deflector so you can either build the Enterprise from the pilot episode(s), or the production version from the rest of the series).


Alas, it was too small, but, it fit almost perfectly within the AMT dish. So, I took a 3/16" drill bit and drilled out the center of the Polar Lights deflector, and then took a big bit (didn't see what size) to countersink the hole in back to fit over the cone shaped part of the AMT deflector. In my recent F-84 thunderjet build, I clipped off the refueling probes from the wing tanks and it turns out they are the right size for the center part of the probe assembly. This description probably doesn't make sense, so here is a picture of all the parts:




In the above picture, I've already drilled out the center of the Polar lights deflector. The F-84 probe is to the left and the AMT deflector is at top.  It turns out my Dremel drill index has a bit small enough for the hole I needed for the probe.  I cut the existing probe off of the AMT deflector and (tried) to drill a straight hole to put the F-84 probe into, as seen here:




You can see the countersunk hole in the back of the Polar Lights deflector in that picture. I fit it all together and it looks like it will work fine.  Here's a picture of it all together. It's not a snug fit, so everything is loose, but you get the idea.  When it's all glued it will look much better.  Not perfect, but the casual observer won't be able to tell.




Edited by opus999
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43 minutes ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Good work on the deflector dish. 

Thanks! It looks better now that I have it glued together and sanded the rough edges off. I'll post pictures of it soon..

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Had a surprise visit from a friend tonight, so no work on the Enterprise... but that's OK!  I did squeeze in some work this week, though. Some more sanding, so I won't bore anyone with photos from that, but the nacelles are done and the engineering hull is done except for a little spot I need to fix tomorrow.


Other things I did this week... I finished gluing my deflector dish mod together and as promised here's a picture:




Also, I painted the bussard collectors with decanted black Tamiya spray gloss (cut 50/50 with Mr. Leveling thinner). My idea is to paint them with polished Aluminum Alclad and then over coat them with Tamiya transparent orange.  I decided to test the transparent orange because, on my Hermes class scout, spraying it was a disaster!  Well, I cut it 50/50 with Mr. leveling thinner and it turned out beautifully on my test piece.  Here's the black bussard collectors and the test piece (from the Polar Lights 1/1000 kit):




Now, the Tamiya by itself would probably be safe to spray on the Alclad polished aluminum, but thinned with Mr. levelling thinner, probably not. So, my plan is to put a couple coats of aqua gloss on before I spray the orange. If it looks funny (that is, too reflective), I can give the bussard collectors a dusting of dull coat to give it a frosted look.  Kind of playing this one by ear...


Now for my other wacky idea. Another terrible part of this kit is the bridge and the B/C deck.  The B/C deck is shaped totally wrong and so is the bridge, but on top of it the bridge is designed to have a clear part put on top of it, but it sinks down and looks all wrong.  As seen in this picture:




I started to wonder if I could improve that. I came up with the idea of casting a new bridge with some epoxy putty.  I thought about casting a new B/C deck, but there's no way I'd get the shape right.  I thought about sanding it into something a little closer to the shape on the "real" Enterprise, but the plastic is thin enough that I would probably break through. Of the 2, the bridge is the most irritating, and possibly the easiest to fix.  The B/C deck I can live with. So, I looked around and discovered a 1/4 teaspoon we have around the kitchen has the same diameter as the bridge on the model. Since Apoxie sculpt epoxy putty is water soluble, I put some water in the teaspoon to act as a mold release and packed it with putty. And... I couldn't get it back out.  So I scraped the spoon clean and then added a little soapy water, and then my cast part popped out just fine. I popped it out right away because I didn't want it to set up in the teaspoon and possibly ruin it. Here's a picture of the new bridge part with the teaspoon:




The putty overflowed the spoon a bit, so I will need to sand it down a little.  After that I think it will look quite nice!

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Oh... my... lord... what have I done???? 😲




I went nuts with the Dremel! That's what!  I think the new bridge will look pretty good when I get it all cleaned up! I just set it on top to see how it looks. :D




By the way... the top and bottom parts of the saucer weren't attached to a sprue, but there were almost like pour stubs around the outside and they were all the same thickness as the top part of the saucer, so it would've been really easy to screw that up!  I don't know how I could've trimmed them off without the Dremel and grinder attachment. 😒



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Busy weekend, so not a lot of time to work on this, but I got a few things accomplished.

First, got a hole drilled for the stand.  I guessed (based on some prior experience) about where the hole should be. It turns out that the existing hole for the stand that comes with the kit is the same diameter as a toothpick.  Push the toothpick in, break it off, soak it with super glue, wait, and then sand flush.  Works terrific.




Next I prepped the saucer section for the new bridge.  That meant gluing some thick sheet styrene in, under the hole:




When that dried, I used my water soluble epoxy putty to fill in the hole.  The next day I sanded it flush.




The rest of the ship got a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1500.  I started getting excited because this means the painting stage is here and maybe all the tedious sanding is done!




Well, the tedious sanding wasn't quite done because I had to clean up all the little parts on the sprues.  If there wasn't flashing, there was a thick ridge.  Dealing with that ridge (or flashing) has made this a not-quite-enjoyable build.


On the Bussard collector front, I got a coat of polished aluminum on.  I still need to test my scrap piece to see if it will react badly to the Tamiya transparent Orange/Mr. Color leveling thinner.




I traded the tedium of sanding for the tedium of masking, but I was fairly happy with how these turned out.






I just noticed in that last picture that there is some slightly glossy black which makes it look like the white is a little sloppy.  It isn't. :)


I finally had a little time tonight to start painting in earnest. There is a lot of acreage on this model!  It is going to take quite a bit of time.  Here's how far I got tonight on marbling the Gull gray on.




That's all for now!

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Had a little time last night to paint.  Put the marble coat on the other nacelle... took about a half hour.  Tonight I cleaned off the "pour stubs" off the saucer with the Dremel and sanded the windows and panel lines off of it.  Then I glued it together. No pictures of that though! The seam on the saucer will need some cleaning up, but I hope to have it primed by the end of tomorrow night!



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Just a little work here and there in the last few days. Put a marble coat on the secondary hull:






Also got the bridge glued on.  It was a bit of a pain because I had to fill in the gap where it met the hull which was not easy!  Once that was done I primered it with black Mr. Surfacer 1500:




Sunday night I was able to do some pre-shading on the nacelles. When I did my Surya class, I used black and that was too much contrast.  This time I used Model Master Gunship Gray.  I put Tamiya yellow masking tape where I wanted the "panel lines" to be, and then dry brushed the gunship gray toward the back:




This side doesn't look as good in the picture because of the reflection, but it's about the same as the other side:




Tonight I painted the Tamiya transparent orange on the Bussard collectors.  I was a little nervous about this because I've had some difficulty in the past with it.  My test piece turned out great, but I was a little nervous nonetheless. I needn't have worried -- it turned out great:




I marble coated about 90% of the top of the saucer before I ran out of paint. I decided not to mix more up because the compressor was pretty hot.  Instead I turned to preshading the secondary hull:




It doesn't look that great.  There's too much dark in my marble coat, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to do some more marble coating and re-do the preshade.  :( I feel like I'm getting down to the wire if I want to have this done by Christmas!  On top of that, the place I ordered some after market parts from is having problems with equipment and won't be able to get them to me until after the holidays, so if I get it finished by Christmas, it will still be missing running lights and the dome above the shuttle bay.  Oh well, at least those are easy to put on later!  Plus I need to worry about a stand....

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A marathon paint session last night.  It is taking forever to get this thing covered!  Then on top of it, my Iwata Eclipse suddenly decides to spatter and spray off in a different direction -- A couple good cleanings haven't fixed it yet, but I was able to make it work OK.


My great idea about using gunship gray for pre-shading instead of black didn't work because I couldn't see the preshading at all!!!  So, halfway through I masked and sprayed Gunship Gray on again, which worked much better.




It took a little finessing to get the preshading to look right, but I think I got it






Photographing this model is quite difficult because of its size!


The next picture shows the gold I painted on the front.  I also painted the deflector dish, but didn't get a picture. That testors gold paint was a real pain to spray!  There was a fine residue of gold everywhere -- it was a real effort to get the airbrush clean enough and I'm not sure I'm that crazy about how it turned out on the model.  Oh well...




If the engines look a little wonky, it's because I haven't glued them in yet.












So, today is more masking and painting! Hopefully not too much struggling with the airbrush.  Only 3 days to finish it before I give it to my friend.... Don't know if I'll make it or not!

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On 12/21/2018 at 1:01 PM, modelerdave said:

That looks great! The gold Bussard collectors really stand out.


22 hours ago, SandyBay said:

The paint on those bussard collectors is absolutely gorgeous.


Thanks guys! I'm really pleased with how they turned out. I think the secret is the Mr. Color leveling thinner.  I used it for the gloss black base coat and the transparent orange top coat and each of those came out glassy smooth.

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On 12/21/2018 at 1:01 PM, modelerdave said:

I was curious how your black basing would work with this ship (I usually see it done on aircraft), but I really like how it turned out. 


I'd learned to really appreciate the effect on aircraft and decided to give a shot on a throwaway starship build I was doing.  It turned out much better than I expected.  On that build I was able to make it subtle enough that from across the room the starship looks like its a uniform color, and when you get close you can see the variation in the paint.  Like real life.  Glad you like it too!

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Did a lot yesterday and managed to squeeze it in between last minute Christmas shopping (kids wait until the last day...) and other holiday activities.  I kind of feel like I'm pushing the limits on this one, particularly with paint cure times. Still, it's turning out OK so far.


Masked the nacelles.  Found that a washer in the garage (in the picture) had the right inner diameter to cut masks for the inset parts of the nacelles and (by quite a coincidence) the right outer diameter for the bottom of the nacelle just aft of the bussard collector:




I painted the inset parts of the nacelle with Testors Dark Ghost Gray.  When that was dry, I masked and painted the silver on top of that.  I also masked some fiddly bits on the nacelles and painted them with Testors gunship gray.






I just noticed the pictures are kind of dark.  Someone has been fiddling with my camera! :(


I also painted the fore section of the saucer pylon Dark Ghost Gray:




Also, the decal sheet was missing the triangular bits on the bottom of the saucer (some kind of loading doors, I've read somewhere) and so I had to paint those as well.  I've decided I should've used a different color, but too late for that now!




The parts in these pictures appear glossy because I brush painted Alclad Aqua Gloss on them late last night in preparation for decals. The finish is fantastic on the everything but the saucer.  Maybe I should've sprayed it on, but I've had bad experiences with that, ending up with pebbly surface rather than a smooth one.


Painted Dark Ghost Gray on the Impulse engine doohickey on the top of the saucer:




Also masked and painted the gull gray on the bussard collectors:




So, what's left? well, decals first.  Then I need to fabricate a couple of pieces for the engines and paint them.  When the decals are dry I will top coat it with a semi-gloss and do minimal wear and weathering (weathering in space... it's a bit of a laugh, but I am creating a replica of the filming model of the Enterprise, and they had weathered that a bit, so...).


Plus I need to make a stand.  And figure out what to do for the planetary sensor on the bottom of the saucer.  And figure out how to paint the bridge....


All before tomorrow morning when we visit our friends....  😨


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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I did not get it finished in time. A disaster struck (well, maybe not a disaster, but it was a major setback) -- I had put decals on everything except the saucer and then broke for dinner and a movie. The decals were terrible.  They were stiff and brittle, and even with my high-strength "Mr. Mark Softer" solvent, would only slightly soften. I had several break and I had to do quite a bit of repair. Unfortunately, that was foreboding because when I came back to it after the movie, almost all of the decals had silvered. And not just a spot here and there, I mean the entire wallpaper of decals with all the windows on the secondary hull were so silvered that you could see it from across the room.


With the amount of work facing me and the lack of time, I gave up on it, put it in a box and put it away for the time being.  It was not close to my standard and certainly not something I wanted to give my friend.


I think what happened was that the surface was not smooth enough. Sure, I had put gloss coat on, and it was smooth enough for thin, high quality decals that conform to everything even without softener, but with the poor quality decals that came with it, they didn't soften enough to conform to the less-than-smooth surface and we all know what happens then.


So, when I got back from vacation, I dug the box out and spent a few hours stabbing the decals "like they owed me money" (as some wise sage on this forum put it) with a brand new, super sharp #11 exacto blade and used a ton of "Mr. Mark Softer" and slowly worked all the air out.  I wasn't able to completely get rid of all the silvering, but it is infinitely better than it was.


Since then, I've gloss coated the nacelles and secondary hull.  I've also wet-sanded the saucer down to 6000 grit sand paper to make it smooth.  Hopefully, I can finish the decals this weekend, and then all that will be left is gluing, touch-ups and a stand.


This really sapped my modelling mojo, and I've felt a bit unsure of myself so I hope I can yank this from the jaws of defeat this weekend and get back in the groove.

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On 1/2/2019 at 10:34 PM, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Sorry to hear that this was really looking good. Im hoping that you can get it to a point where you're happy with it. 




Thanks Dennis.  These things happen... it keeps us humble.  ;)


After the vicious stabbing of the decals, and the solvent bath afterwards, they are looking infinitely better.  Now they just annoy my OCD. :)   I'm sure my friend won't notice.

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After the decal repair, I clear coated them with Aqua Gloss. They were flat (that is, "not glossy"), which was terribly annoying, but the gloss coat make them look better.  The final coat will be decanted Testor's semi-gloss clear spray (I've given up on the Testor's Acryl Semi-gloss because it comes out flat every time).  Still need to do the saucer decals -- I sanded it smooth a couple of nights ago.









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14 hours ago, Boman said:

First time I've seen another boardmember with the same image as me 😎👍

I thought I'd seen someone with this image! Well, I'm glad to be in good company! :D


I'm half Norwegian and have a plan to do all of the fighters that Norway has flown, starting with Rolf Berg's Spitfire Mk. IX. I have the kits and the decals... just haven't done them yet. So I figured the image was appropriate...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Took a little time to put the decals on the bottom of the saucer section. To avoid the silvering that occurred on the other parts, I put some aqua gloss on the area the decal was supposed to go and then applied the decal while the aqua gloss was still wet.  Then when the aqua gloss dried I applied more on top. The one down side is that the bottom of the saucer is super glossy now, but an over coat of semi-gloss *should* help that.




it may look like there is silvering on the registry numbers, but that is actually the semi-gloss nature of the decals.  They were very, very dull and a couple of coats of aqua gloss later, they are now just semi gloss.

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I forgot to mention, there are some concentric rings around the center of the bottom of the saucer that I sanded off, because I thought they were fictional.  Watching the original series last night with the kids (new, 'remastered' special effects), I saw that not only were those rings there, but they were a dark gray. Looking at screenshots of the original special effects, the rings were there, but were either a slightly darker gray than the hull, or were unpainted and recessed (with shadows making a darker appearance) -- which is probably why I never really noticed them. So, I suppose it's not a total disaster that I sanded those rings off, but it will bug me now!  :)

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It's been busy in this house lately, so it's been a while since I worked on this. I needed to help two of my kids with building their Pinewood Derby cars this week, which I suppose is another type of model... :)


I got an hour yesterday to finish the decals, which were on the top and sides of the saucer:




I used the Aqua Gloss method again to ensure there was no silvering, but I'm really not happy at all with the finish. The spots of Aqua gloss around the decals dried and when I overcoated the whole top of the saucer with another coat of aqua gloss, I could see the edges of those spots. I really hope that the sprayed semi-gloss overcoat will fix the poor finish.  I know it works with flat, but I don't know about semi-gloss.


Also, the registry number and name were all one decal.  I decided to cut the name and each letter and number of the registry number out separately and apply them separately. I photocopied the decal first, so I could use it as a template for placement, which worked well.  It was tedious doing it this way, but I think I saved myself a lot of trouble.

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