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Avro Manchester Bomber Instrument Panel 1:1

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Morning BMs


I’ve been commissioned to produce a 1:1 scale replica of a Manchester Bomber Instrument panel for the RAF Coningsby Heritage Centre in Lincolnshire. When Coningsby opened in 1941 it initially operated Hampdens (which I have made a panel for also) followed soon after my Manchester’s of 97 Sqn in April 1941.

I’ll take you through the process of research and how to go about the build of a replica panel.


Pic of a Manchester of 97 Sqn, follow the link below:


97 Sqn Manchester


As pictures of the interior of the Manchester are few, I require some good drawings or layout details to start with.  I wrote off to the AVRO Museum and they in turn pointed me in the direction of these 2 drawings and a good pic from the pilots’ notes:








Some layouts differed slightly but the one above is the layout I will follow.


Next is to identify all the instruments. The good thing is the Lancaster which came after the Manchester had a similar layout but with 4 engines instead of 2. One item which appears different is the on/off change over switch. Manchester’s and some early Lancs (probs Manchester conversions) had this larger selector with a second lower lever. Alan Hulme came up trumps and provided the Vol 6 image which I will re-design in Fusion 360 and 3D print.




Ill construct the Blind Flying Panel (BFP) and the instruments it holds first.


If anyone has any good pictures or knows of links to Manchester Instrument Panel pics, please leave a post below.

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Evening BMs


1st instrument to construct is the Turn & Slip Indicator (6A/675) MkIA. I designed this item a few years ago so the print was already in my Fusion 360 account. A quick refresh and a few minor tweaks before the first print.




For the main body I used a .4mm nozzle and the centre hub with the ever so tiny writing, I used a .2 nozzle.

Here’s the item's fresh from the print.






I used Serif DrawPlus X8 to design the graphics but again its an old file so just looking and making sure the design was in order was all that was needed.




I next aim to make a silicon mould so that replicating this gauge for the next project will be only minutes instead of hours (3D Printed Version).

The next post will be making the mould from the above master plug and then making a resin copy.

Edited by alzictorini
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Morning BMs


Making a mould:


First of all I painted my plug (the turn and slip gauge body). I find that when you make a cast from silicon, the replica takes on everything of the original, including its texture. In this instance a satin texture! You'll see what I mean later.


Here's the item painted and ready:




I cut out a blocker the same size as the glass would be because this will be a 2 part mould. I don't want anything coming in beyond the glass at this stage! 




I used a spacer I'd 3D printed to secure the blocker in place.




The item I'm casting now needs positioning facing upwards and gluing to the plastic base to reduce bleed through (I use plastic magic for this).




I now build a wall around the plug using Lego and pritstick it in place. I also put keyways in 3 of the corners so it will only go together one way when making the cast.




I use CS25 silicone for my mould making.




I do a rough calculation of the area I need to cover then weigh it out as the mix is 5/100  (catalyst to silicone). Then mix together.




I start in one corner pouring from a height.




Once the plug is covered, I let it settle.




To prevent bleed out through the base of the Lego, I simply add weight on the Lego wall.




This morning the silicone had cured perfectly so I peeled of the plastic base from the bottom.




Its a good mould, very little bleed out under the plug itself.




I removed the simulated glass blocker and applied Vaseline to the silicone parts of the first mould (this is so the next part of the mould does not stick to itself, ie silicone to silicone!)




An extra Lego wall was added to capture the next layer of silicone.




And finally, another batch of silicone was mixed and poured over the first part of the mould and back of the plug (hope you're following this).




Give it 12 hours and I should have a nice 2 part mould??


See you in 12...........

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Evening BMs


Its been 12 Hours and the mould is ready for releasing:




Its a perfect mould, now to try it.


I use a 2 part resin and usually mix in a colour. I simply added black!




I next flood the lower mould with the mix.




And then sandwich in the top half of the mould pressing down with pressure to force residual resin out (a sort of poor mans injection moulding).




Here is the original plug (right and the new resin copy on the left).






There is only a tiny amount of flashing and the holes will need reaming out but apart from that, its a good reproduction. This takes the time down from 4 hours of 3D printing down to about 20 mins.

Remember when I said the the new cast takes on the texture of the original plug and finish. The item on the left has not been painted, its straight out of the mould?? Good eh?





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Hi Al,


These panels you are creating look fantastic!

There was a guy on a German model forum a few years ago who was making an Me163 panel using pretty much the same techniques.

What do you mean when you say 'I used a .4mm novel' ? Does this refer to the font size?



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Hello Malc


My bad, that should say Nozzle! The .4mm nozzle refers to the aperture at the very end. The larger the aperture the faster and more rough the cut is and the smaller the aperture the finer the detail and longer to print. I use the .2mm for small items and fine writing.




Im glad you like the panels, thank you.

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Evening BMs


To finish off the Turn and Slip gauge:


My gauge face needs some life and an easy way to do this is to apply my graphic as a sticker! Here's 3 faces on sticky A4 paper.




These are simply cut out and stuck to the 3D printed face.




I next paint over the items on the face which will glow in the dark (Radium items on original gauges). I use children;s glow paint from Amazon, any will do.






The centre hub I printed off a few days ago is now assembled.






Then airbrushed black.




Hands and a few brass screws are applied.




Then it is attached to the face.




I cut out some .75mm clear plastic (purchased from ebay) with scissors and I airbrushed the glass support black.




Finally, I assemble the gauge.




That is a complete build, ill do the other gauges but I wont go as deep as they are all similar in construction, design and assembly.




Hope you pick up some tips.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Good afternoon BMs


Been a little distracted this week by being asked a number of questions with regards to Undercarriage Indicators! This got me talking about the Manchester's indicator and pictures would suggest they had the same indicator as early Hurricanes. Take a look at this pic:




I obtained the measurements from a similar gauge fitted to later Lancaster's and so went to designing the gauge in fusion 360:




I made the base in 2 parts and the glass holder also in 2 parts. These were then assembled and again used to make moulds (exactly the same as in the last post above) for future panels. I sprayed these master plugs in gloss yellow (so as to keep  if I need to make more moulds in the future):






The dimmer switch takes minutes to print so i just print off one when required, sand smooth and paint:




Here's the gauge face in Cura Ultimaker software. This is the tool which I use to transform my STL files into G-Code for my printer to act to:




Once it was printed off I filled the lettering with white ceiling emulsion paint. Its thick paint allowing you to rub off excess with your thumb or finger (quick and easy) ! It fills and drys nicely:




I used coloured perspex for the indication windows, simply welding in glace with my 3D pen (glue can be used also).




I painted the dimmer switch black and assembled all parts:




Its a nice clean gauge and quite simple to construct. For those sim guys out there it can be made operable with the addition of 4 bulbs/LEDs.


Here's the completed item:





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  • 1 month later...

Evening BMs


Back to the blind flying panel instruments. I designed some more graphics for the next 5 gauges as follows:




I cast items I had moulds for and printed parts i hadn't. For some reason I still have not cast the artificial horizon (I must get round to it one day). Here's the items as they will sit in the BFP:




The Mk9 Air Speed Indicator and the Rate of Climb Indicator Mk1B are the same case (same dims) so I have 2 of these at the ready:




The Artificial Horizon Mk1A was totally printed off, many parts:




Ive made many a Direction Indicator Mk1A and i had the parts in a drawer ready to assemble:




Ill complete next the Altimeter Mk14. I have 2 faces for this gauge as there is a smaller scale displayed through the front face on this item. With the graphics in place they look like this to start with:




Placing one on top of the other gives you a look of depth:




There is a spacer needed to separate the face from the glass but it will look something like this in the frame:




There are a lot of dials on this altimeter!!:




Ill start painting the dials and cut out some glass next.



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Final painting and assembly of the MK14 Altimeter


First the dials or needles. These were painted black and a colour to represent aged radium. I then coated that colour in florescent paint:




I then drilled a 1mm hole through the centre of each dial and inserted a 1mm length of solder:




I ganged them together so they are slightly apart, these gauges very rarely are aligned due to atmospheric pressures:




They look good on the face:




Having painted the numbers on the face with the same dayglo paint, I tested it in the dark:




I next cut out some .75 clear plastic to represent glass:




And inserted it all in the main body:




I next had to sand smooth the 3D printed knob:




Once painted I added it to the main body:




That's the second item for the Blind Flying Panel complete:




4 more to go!




I should have some more gauges completed tomorrow if all goes well.



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Afternoon. Next to build, the MK9 Air Speed Indicator.


First job was to cut out the graphic I'd previously printed off and attach it to the face:




From here I had the following items for the build:




I extended the speedo dial with a piece of wire and day glow painted the numbers on the gauge face:




The dial was painted next:




I marked up some clear plastic, cut it out and did a test fit on the gauge body:




At this point I had all the parts needed for the final assembly:




The needle was next attached to the face:




The plastic protector was peeled off ready for inserting into the gauge face ring:




The gauge - fully assembled and glued together:




3 more to go (half way)!!





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Cheers Cees


Evening BMs


Rate of climb indicator.


This is exactly the same as the Speedo in size shape and construction so I wont annoy you with the same build here. 


Find below pics of the completed gauge below:




And with the other BFP items, 2 more to go:





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Evening BMs


Next on the list is the MK IA Direction Indicator.


The first thing to do is smooth off the items below ready to accept the graphic. Once smoothed the sticker can be stuck to the PLA print and paint applied for it to blend in:






I cut out a clear screen (.75 plastic) and install it in the main body. A reading line for the dial scale was added and the numbering painted with fluorescent paint:




The completed face was simply pushed into the recess hole in the main body:




The plastic circlip was painted metallic black and the knob was painted matt black to represent rubber:




One more gauge to go!!




Almost there.



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