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G'day Chums,I'd like to join in with this one if I may.

 

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I've had an abiding fascination with the Malta campaign ever since I read Ron Gillmans "The Shiphunters" way back in the early '80s.This kit has markings for two Malta schemes and two from HMS Eagle during July and August 1940 among the eight options on the decal sheet.I'm going to plump for one of the Malta schemes but I'm not sure which one yet.Here's what's in the box.

 

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For a change I thought that I'd follow the sequence suggested by the map so I cut off and prepared the engine cowling components.

 

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Having built the MkI version of this kit back in 2004 or so the vague memory of putting these three bits together being a bit of a bind came flowing back as did the easy way of doing this job.

 

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Having shuffled that together and set the front edge and joints flush Step 2 on the map beckoned.I'm doing well so far,I haven't deviated from the recommended sequence yet.The engine components were found and cut out.I'd forgotten how well done these bits are in this boxful. 

 

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The cockpit components were pulled out too while I was in the mood for fiddly prepping.Hang on,what happened to Steps 3-6?Well that didn't last long did it.

 

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 More soon chums,thanks for looking in.

 

 

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Great subject Alex.

 

Good luck with build. 
 

Have also just ordered a copy of Ron Gilmans book on Amazon. 
 

James

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Hello again Chums,a little progress to report.

 

Patrice,many thanks for looking in old fruit.This one will be fun indeed.

James,if you've never read that one before you're in for a treat.

John,is there a difference between brave and masochistic?I might be treading the fine line here.

 

Glue set,tape off,trailing edge in need of some attention.

 

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The collector ring needs evening out too,as do the two rocker cover bulges on the joints which,for some reason,are wider than all the others.

 

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There are delusions of circularity here.

 

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A session of scraping,whittling and simulating rivets with a pin point has given me this.Looks promising with the engine dry fitted.A couple of ovals were cut from self adhesive aluminium to represent the access panels next to where the exhaust pipes join.

 

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Now there's two lots of these to position and fix.

 

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The instrument panel has been masked up using little discs of masking tape painstakingly punched out using the back end of a 1.5mm drill bit and a new hole in my SAM saw.

 

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More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

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38 minutes ago, Alex Gordon said:

A couple of ovals were cut from self adhesive aluminium to represent the access panels next to where the exhaust pipes join.

 

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Now there's two lots of these to position and fix.

 

 

 

Are you basing these ovals on a modern restored Gladiator, like this?

 

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If so, then your ovals are not needed. They are on the restored Gladiator because they used a collector ring from a Canadian-built and used Blenheim/Bolingbroke. They were used to provide additional heat for cockpit heating and other services. It gets frikkin' cold here in the depth of winter!

 

 

 

Chris

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G'day again Chums,just a little paintwork to show this time.

 

@dogsbody Chris,thanks for chipping in old fruit.That's one bit of the airframe that the period photos I've looked at is either obscured or not in shot.I wondered what they were for but it didn't occur to me that they shouldn't be there.Better to peel them off now rather than repair the paint job later :phew: :yes: .

 

Anyway,a spot of hairy sticked red and silver inside the fuselage.

 

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It looked a bit bare in there so I thought I'd do something to represent some of the fuselage structure I cut some thin strips of masking tape and painted them silver. 

 

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These were positioned to line up with where the stringers are on the outside.Not much will be visible once it's all closed up but it shows willing.

 

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More soon chums,thanks for looking in.

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Hello again Chums,some more progress over the last couple of days.

The now oval-less engine cowling has had the exhaust pipes fitted and a drop of paint.The leading edge as far as the rivets is Humbrol Metalcote Polished Aluminium 27002 and the collector ring behind it is a mixture of that and 29 Dark Earth to simulate heated steel.A drop of 15 Midnight Blue was thinned to make the blue bits of heat stressing.

 

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The fuselage was dry fitted to make sure it would go together and also to see if I could fit up the cockpit after joining it together.The lack of locating pins wasn't going to be a big problem once taped together.

 

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Some of the internals.An anonymous radio box for which I have found no photography,a seat that bears little resemblance to photos and the throttle quadrant which I'll worry about later.

 

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I took a file and a drill to the seat.For a change all I have done with this is remove material.The hole in the back of the seat is a bit on the big side but I have a cunning plan in mind.

 

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The gun troughs have had a drop of grey paint added.This was a mix of Humbrol 126 and a drop of gloss white to approximate the Sky Grey that I don't have a pot of.I can fit the guns now and not have to panic about masking them.Last time I built this one I was mystified by the non fit of the mainlegs.This time I was ready for them.As issued this is the nearest they will go to where they are supposed to be.  

 

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To make them do this

 

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you need to do this.Apologies for the lousy photo,it's not a trademark I just haven't fully got the hang of the camera yet.Left hand original,right hand lumps filed off top and bottom.

 

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Going back to the guns,these were cut off and cleaned up.The missing sticky out bit at the square end (I think it's a tube for a spring) will be replaced with suitable wire.

 

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A tickle with the hairy stick later gave me these,which will look fine once buried in the cockpit.

 

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Having glued in the guns and divined that the innards will go in afterwards I taped up and glued the fuselage halves together.I left the front upper joint unglued for the time being,spreading it will help with manipulating the cockpit floor.

 

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I had found some decent photos of the Bristol Mercury engine,this being one of them.While I had the black paint out I did this.

 

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Looks pretty in there doesn't it.There's a bit more wirework to add yet but this piccie has given the mojo a bit of a leg up.

 

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More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

Edited by Alex Gordon
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2 hours ago, Alex Gordon said:

Going back to the guns,these were cut off and cleaned up.The missing sticky out bit at the square end (I think it's a tube for a spring) will be replaced with suitable wire.

 

I believe that is a solenoid, in place of a manual trigger, that fires the gun.

 

 

 

 

Chris

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G'day again Chums,a few twiddly bits to show this time.

 

Chris,thanks for that old fruit.I've often wondered what that bit did.

 

For a bit of fun I thought I'd have a dry fit of the cockpit.It took a bit of manouvering to position the floor but once in it sat well.The radio and seat dropped in to place easily.

 

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It looks a bit bare in there doesn't it.

 

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Anyway,the instrument panel has been painted

 

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and the decals cut from the sheet.

 

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Roden decals are notorious for being tricky to apply,their habit of disintegrating being the main snag.This time it was only the carrier film that came apart but careful handling avoided disaster.

 

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If the plastic was thinner this would look really good but I still like the effect this method creates.

 

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Anyway the rudder pedals had some toe straps made from painted masking tape and the compass had a random dial from a Seafire 46 instrument panel decal left over from the FAA GB build from many moons ago.And I've bent a prong.That's progress,last time I broke them all off.

 

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A drop of Humbrol 78 Cockpit Green on the radio shelf and the  gunsight spider about rounds it up for this time.

 

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More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

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Hello again Chums,just a few odd bits this time.

 

My cunning plan for the oversize hole in the seat involved some 5 thou plastic card,a lump of blu-tack and a pencil.I held the plastic card in place on the inside of the seat with the blu-tack and drew around the hole from the back.I then used the pencil line as a guide and cut the card just outside the line.

 

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This was then carefully glued into place and put aside to set.

 

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In the meantime the instrument panel was shoehorned into the fuselage.It was slightly too wide and held the upper joint open.I wasn't about to try to remove any material from it because I didn't want to damage the paint job so I pulled the joint together with a couple of lengths of tape and  ran some glue in from the inside.

 

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I also backed the joint with a length of stretched runner to give it a bit more of a chance of not popping open.

 

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The throttle quadrant was the next object of my attentions.It's roughly the right shape but the two levers aren't really discernible so I chopped off the lump that tries to represent them.

 

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The top of the quadrant was reshaped slightly and a slot was cut longways into it.A narrow strip of brass sheet was cut and bent to make the pair of levers and a couple of drops of superglue were strategically placed to look like the knobs on the lever ends.This was glued into the slot.   

 

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There is a big trim wheel in the cockpit so I thought I'd try to make one.I bent a length of guitar string around a 4.5mm drill bit (it tends to spring back open) and made the spokes from a couple of strips of brass sheet crossed and soldered together.A short length of runner was superglued to the centre. 

 

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More soon Chums,thanks again for looking in.

 

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Tidy work on such tiny parts.

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G'day again Chums,a little more to show.

 

Col,thanks for looking in and the kind words.Some of these bits are tiny indeed.

 

I've been quietly looking round for decent photos of the cockpit and its surrounds for quite a while before I started this build.The most forthcoming was,should go without saying really,the BM Walkaround thread.There is a handful of images,this and this among several,that I found relevant to what I wanted to do.This one I found in the outside world but I can't remember where and this site shows the work of a chap who has evidently spent a lot of time researching the aircraft.

The jist of this is that I divined the need to close in the framing behind the seat.I started with a couple of lengths of square section plastic rod glued to the rear of the framing.  

 

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I then cut a panel out of 20 thou plastic card.This took a bit of doing 'cos Brains here didn't think to make a template while he had the fuselage in two halves.This fitted rather well I thought between the framing,the trouble was it didn't sit far enough forward.

 

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So I glued another couple of bits of the square stuff on to the first two bits.

 

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I then used the first panel as a pattern to make a wider second one and fitted this in place.The upper panel was easy,position a piece of card and draw on it from the inside of the fuselage with a very extended propelling pencil.

 

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The upper nose joint wasn't spectacular,for some reason the bit between the oil cooler radiator and the joint sits below its counterpart.I glued in a length of stretched runner.

 

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This,once set, was scraped flat to make it less noticeable.

 

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Remember that trim wheel? It's too big.I made another one with the right number of spokes this time from plastic sheet and some more of the guitar string.While I was at it I made a few twiddly bits to try to take the edge off the bareness in there.

 

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I'm quite pleased with what can be done using a few scraps of plastic and some flattened copper wire.The seat had its hole reinstated too,a bit smaller this time and more closely resembling the real thing.

 

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And I'm really chuffed with the throttle quadrant.

 

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The seat had its Sutton Harness made from masking tape and thin wire.I'm not sure if it's quite right but I can't see it being too far removed from what would be found in a Spitfire.

 

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Anyway,waste not want not,the first panel I made was painted silver on one face and glued on to the front edge of the cockpit floor to prevent the see through look under the instrument panel.

 

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Once that had set the engine mounting plate was glued in place.

 

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Thanks for looking in Chums,more soon.

Edited by Alex Gordon
Spelin.
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Hello again Chums,here we go again.

 

The real thing had seat armour made up locally in the dockyard workshops in Valetta.This Times Of Malta article did have a photo of the head armour but that seems to have disappeared.Anyway,I cut a couple of shapes from 5 thou plastic card,one for the canopy and the other to go down the back of the seat.I haven't found any photos of the seat armour so my effort is based on simplicity and the lump that is found in Spitfire kits of old.

 

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Last time I built this kit I seem to remember fixing the lower wings and gluing in the wing struts without involving the upper wing and then having a merry old time fitting up some drastically shortened cabane struts 'cos nothing would fit.This time things are going to be different.All the relevant bits were prepped and the struts labelled,they all look the same to me but I know that they are tailored to their locations so I'd like to give them half a chance.

 

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The cabane strut locating pins need to be round,as moulded they aren't,left fettled right as issued.

 

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The upper wing was taped down to something flat and moveable (aren't Ferrero Rocher boxes useful) and,regardless of the expense,a strip of new Blu-Tack was cut and used to position the struts in their appropriate places.

 

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The lower wings were fitted to the fuselage but not glued and the whole lot propped on yet more new Blu-Tack to hold it all steady while I pushed,prodded and manipulated to very nearly the limits of my command of the Saxon language.Anyway,my plan worked to the point that I managed to plonk everything where it is intended to be with no chopping,grinding or modification and the lower wing dihedral had been set using the upper wing as a pattern.I even remembered to glue everything I wanted glued before I took the tape off. 

 

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And it passed the squareness test too,the wingtips were evened up and one of those surrepticious peeps over the leading edge of the wing revealed everything lining up after a little wiggle and another prod.

 

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Once all that had set I fitted up the armour plate and added a scratchbuilt gunsight glass.

 

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If anyone is going to run a sweepstake on how long the struts are going to last that's fine by me but can I have some of the action please?

More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

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Tidy work getting all the struts sorted out :goodjob:

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G'day again Chums,a spot more progress to show.

 

Col,thanks old fruit.

 

Top wing off,struts hanging on in there.

 

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Time for a squirt of paint.The map shows the countershading scheme of Slate Grey and Dark Sea Grey on the lower wing.My last trip out to B and H Models over at Lincoln cost a small fortune in paint,one tin of which was Humbrol 31 bought specifically for a Spitfire XVIII build sometime in the near (yeah,right) future but I realised that it was what I wanted for this one.Out came the airbrush,on went the paint.I seem to recall recently reading somewhere in the WWII department elsewhere on BM that on the real thing the struts were painted the same colour as the upper surface of the wing that they stand on so that's what I did.For anyone running a book we are one cabane strut missing already.   

 

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Once that had dried I masked off appropriately for Humbrol 164 and gave it a squirt of that.

 

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More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

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Hello again Chums,one step forward one back.

 

Rob,thanks for looking in and the kind words.Give your Gladiator a go,by the time you've done thinking about it you could have had the fuselage buttoned up.If it's a Roden one I hope there's some useful gen in amongst my ramblings.

 

Having painted the lower wings I wanted to paint the upper front area that would be obstructed by the upper wing so I wrapped some carrier bag polythene around my shiny happy paint job and gave it a spray of Humbrol 123 Extra Dark Sea Grey and left that to dry.When I came back to it I found a depressingly visible dust inclusion in the paint.It was that bad that I couldn't wing it so I decided to chuck some Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner as surgically as possible and strip it off.It was that bad I didn't want to take any piccies of it.   

 

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Only one cabane strut left on now.I hairy sticked the replacement paintwork and also a coat of grey on the lower fuselage.I had read about the 5 parts Humbrol 126 to 3 parts white mixture for the Sea Grey which appealed to me as a solution to a colour that I haven't seen so I couldn't visualise it but I also read somewhere that Humbrol 167 Barley/Camouflage Grey looked somewhere near too.I like the idea of a repeatable colour,my paint mixing is usually on the gash side of TLAR,so I opened my 12 year old tin,gave it a good stir and slopped a coat on with the hairy stick.It's a bit patchy so it'll need another one but I won't have to find my way into the gun troughs after all the obstacles are in the way. 

 

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Once it had all dried I fitted the upper wing.The good news is that the wing struts went into position perfectly with little provocation  and no messing about like last time.Liquid glue was used to hold it together and once pushed together a satisfying little squodge of molten plastic squeezed out of the joins which tells me that this one isn't going to come apart in a hurry.

 

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A little light scalpel work will clean that up and then it's decision time for which option I'm going for.I could do the Sea Grey wing undersides for simplicity but I'm erring towards the black and white scheme because it's a little more tricky and I'm known for always doing it the awkward way.

 

The engine cowling has been painted too.

 

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More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

 

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G'day again Chums,we're starting to resemble a biplane all of a sudden.Some gentle pushing,shoving and wheedling reinstated the missing cabane struts into place and,once the glue had set,rendered a surprisingly solid structure.A couple of paint sessions separated by a strip of masking tape put the white then black on the upper wing underside.Both of those were mixed with a drop of 167 to reduce the starkness which I've read about but never tried until now and seems to be very effective with little effort.

 

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The cabane struts need a repaint.The guns have been repainted too.

 

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Now the paintwork has got this far it's time to start on the rigging.Last time around I used fishing line which worked well.This time around I have the dubious understanding provided by reference piccies and a passing knowledge of the existence of stainless steel Streamlined RAF Wire used on the majority of British interwar biplanes.The way this looks in photos is very distinctive and I fancied the challenge.

I had been pondering how to represent this stuff for a couple of years or so (this isn't the only long term biplane stash resident) when I happened upon a goodly length of alarm cable left by the sparky on a job out at Sturton.It is multi cored with individual strands of silver coloured copper wire 8 thou diameter,that's 0.2mm.That's thin,very thin and the right colour.I purloined a short length.

 

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I had another of my little ideas.Using the dividers I had all the way through big school (that was 30 odd years ago) for the first time other than picking crud out from under the fingernails I measured the length between two of the anchor points next to the cabane struts.

 

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I then set this out on the smoothest bit of flat steel that I had to hand,namely the end of a square.I flattened the measured length by sliding a flat bit of my tweezers along the wire.This took a bit of experimenting to get right,the wire tends to stretch and bend and the flat bit of tweezer needs to be narrow enough to do the job without snapping the wire.

 

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Confession time.What I haven't told you up to now,dear reader,is that one of the early jobs I did before any glue was committed to was to drill lots of 0.3mm holes in appropriate places in anticipation of this moment.I discovered the hard way that all of the holes needed to be unblocked from paint but that was no big problem.The flattening process is going to need some refinement and the wire is turning out a little over scale but the effect looks passable so far.Do you see what I mean about dust in the paint?It seems to be all pervading at the moment despite my best efforts at mucking out.I'll have to sort that out.

 

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More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

 

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Hello again Chums,back again.

 

Col,thanks for the vote of confidence.It's much appreciated just now.

 

The bad news first,I had nearly completed the mainplane rigging.It was going lovely.Then I turned round and clipped it.You remember that surprisingly rigid structure? It ain't very strong.Or rigid any more.I've broken two outer struts,dislodged two cabane struts and a third has snapped in half with no trace of the missing section.There's saggy wire everywhere,I haven't taken any piccies of it,I'm just quietly mulling over the repairs and how to do them.

The good news,after surveying the damage I decided to do something else instead,namely the collector ring mounting frames.Copper wire again. 

 

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A spot of satin black later.I had to tweak the wirework slightly to go between the exhaust pipes,after the morning I've had I was in no mood to rework the cowling. 

 

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The propellor was painted a few days ago.

 

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I'm of the opinion that the red and blue on the national markings is too bright.A dig through the spares box has yielded nothing for a change,which way to turn.

 

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More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

 

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G'day again Chums,rain stopped play so there's been time to do a bit.

 

Last night I made a new strut.I happened to have some copper wire the same thickness as the long width of the strut so I filed two sides into it the same thickness as the short width,fettled and shaped it to match the existing ones,cut it to length with a pin bent into each end to locate into the relevant holes and superglued it into place.This was then painted Extra Dark Sea Grey and left to dry overnight.

 

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Everything happens for a reason.Out of the bad can come good.I wasn't entirely happy with some of the wire that I'd tweezered flat,it just wasn't quite right.I wanted a method of rolling it,a bit like the real process probably is,to make it smooth not bent and buckled as it was coming out.May I introduce you to Derek,one of my woodworking tools.  

 

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This device is mounted on a drill and used for taking corners off and cutting slots in timber,fingers are optional.I needed to give the blade a sharpen so out came the arbor.As I was idly playing with this a little light came on in the cavernous void that is my mind.It's a free turning roller on a bearing with a handle at each end.

 

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I set my square up on the edge of the bench and put a couple of bits of masking tape down to mark out the desired length to be flattened.I then taped a length of wire over this at both ends to keep it straight,making sure that the far end could slide as the wire stretched and gave it a roll pushing away.Bingo,it worked splendidly. 

 

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Production resumed.

 

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The cabane wires need re-tensioning (read replacing again 'cos there's no adjustment in superglue) but we're looking good so far.I then sat down for a spot of lunch and an idle perusal of the paint map when I realised that I've got the greens and greys transposed.I've stopped here pending the repaint.

 

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Better now while I can still get at it,at least I've sanded out the dust inclusions.

More soon Chums,thanks for looking in.

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