Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

USS Essex 1:350 Trumpeter Build

135 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:56 PM

I'd like to view your WIP but the pictures are not showing up - just a circle in the middle with a horizontal dash within it.


"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by steve5 on Thursday, January 11, 2018 10:07 PM

same here mike , would love to see them



  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, January 12, 2018 12:43 AM

I’d go with the GMM sets. The various Trumpeter kits I’ve built have pretty decent 5” guns. The 20s are kind of junk, but account for a small part of the overall picture.

Im really pleased with their aircraft sets, it’s not hard to load the deck with planes.


  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Friday, January 12, 2018 10:35 AM

Hi Builder2010;

 I do have to make a comment here . No Pics . For some reason they didn't come through . I know , I don't post them so why complain right ? LOL.LOL. Oh , The white - lead would've been for stationary ship only . Like in Moth - Balls . A turning shaft would have that stuff off in the first twenty nautical miles and  "Ahead half  , give me 115 turns  " 

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, January 13, 2018 10:13 AM

Don't know why the pics are missing. I'm seeing them on my Mac. I'm using Google Photos. Perhaps that's the problem. So... I could leave the shafts natural steel?

Here's the image that showed that color. The guy standing on the strut is *** Landgraff.

Doesn't look like that shaft was painted in drydock... Really gives you a sense of scale of just how freaking large capital warships are.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, January 13, 2018 10:14 AM

Seriously! There are asterisks where this guy's real first name is. Okay... let's say it's "Richard"... Richard Landgraff, but that's not how he refers to himself.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, January 13, 2018 10:55 AM

I'm going to upload some more stuff so here's hoping that it works. Some of the Google pics work and some don't so I'm perplexed as to what is happening.

Yesterday got some more work done. I decided to break that badly installed piece out and re-set it correctly. I was successful. I used clamps to hold it at the proper spot and added a piece of 0.010" sytrene to fill the gap between the two walls.

After shaving off the sytrene I used Tamiya filler to clean up the remaining gap. I'm not sure if there were visible seams between these external bulkheads. It's too late to worry about it since the seams are all filled.

I got to work on the port side, again cutting open various roller doors, gluing them in so they're flush with the hull and adding styrene where necessary to close larger gaps.

The forward door area is the one behind the added 40mm emplacement. The large open area is the mid-elevator which I'm going to model in the down position. 

I haven't sanded any of the port side filler. I'm definitely going to go with GMM since it's the most complete "normal" set, and is reasonably workable. I find that some of the other PE manufacturers etch so fine that they're almost unmanageable. You have to have some surface area to hold CA or solder. I reverted to solder when building the 40mm quad carriages for the Missouri. That was before I had my American Beauty Resistance Soldering System, so soldering these tiny parts was frustrating or worse. I would like to try and do it with the RSU.

In my excess PE cache I had a lot of watertight doors left over. On the Eduard sets, there are also open door sets. I decided to put one here. I opened the hull with a small carbide router, but made the hole a tad oversize and had to back fill after gluing on the door. When painted it will look okay. Research says almost all the doors were open unless they were in action and then the ship is buttoned up. I'll be more careful next time. You can also just paint the open space flat black and not cut any plastic.

On the Missouri I replaced all kit plastic masts with hand-made brass ones. I knew that plastic masts don't hold up, can warp and just don't make for a museum level model. It tested my patience and skill. I invented techniques holding the parts in pin vises and did all the soldering with a conventional Weller iron, not the American Beauty Resistance Soldering Unit (RSU) that I now own. The results exceeded my expectations. I'm thinking of going the same route for the Essex since it has some much masting overhead holding a lot of antennas. With brass you can also solder the PE to the mast, and not just rely on CA to do the trick.

Soldering pieces in close proximity without an RSU can be an exercise in futility.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, January 13, 2018 11:04 AM

Builder 2010


Once again proving Morrison's Third Law of Modeling.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, January 13, 2018 2:45 PM

I'm glad you got the pictures. Now you piqued my interest. What is Morrison's 3rd Law of Modelling?

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Boise ID area
Posted by modelcrazy on Saturday, January 13, 2018 3:03 PM

Builder 2010
What is Morrison's 3rd Law of Modelling?

That no matter the size of your workbench you will only have 2 sq ft of work space.

I think I got it right.


  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, January 13, 2018 6:09 PM

Yessir. That is a good law. I have 10 times the work space in my new shop than I did in our old house and yet, don't have any space to put stuff. It's also a Parkinson's Law corollary "Junk expands to fill the space allowed".

And I am not a neat modeler. I have every tool I've ever owned out almost all the time. I clean up at the end of a project with the silent resolution that I can do better and that lasts until the new box is opened and work begins.

Even when I was a shop teacher in the early 70s, I was always running late in getting the kids to clean up before the 2nd bell went off and they all vacated. To make matters worse, I taught two subjects in two adjacent rooms: Power tech and Metals. My lead teacher was always slightly annoyed that my rooms were always in a state of semi-distress. His wood shop was always immaculate. Only after leaving public school teaching and going into industrial training did I find out from some visiting students that they learned so much more from my classes compared to his. It's too bad they didn't tell me that while I was still teaching... maybe I would have stayed (but they would have had to pay me more, which is why I really left).

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Saturday, January 13, 2018 6:27 PM

Pictures have appeared.

Looks like an interesting start. I'm looking forward to the rest of this WIP.

Your determination to get things right is commendable and your skills match that zeal.


"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, January 15, 2018 6:13 PM

Very happy pictures have arrived. Still don't know why that happened. And thank you...

The PE was ordered from, a comprehenisve website with lots of materials, paints, and PE for ship modeling. I ordered the GMM full Essex set, a fret of Eduard 1:350 WW2 Carrier Naval figures, and some brass display pedestals.

Today's work was a potpouri of various activities. Started out by finish sanding all the filler on the port side that was added on Firday and added some more today.

I'm reasonably happy with how the filling turned out. 

I want to light the hangar deck with LEDs so some of today's work was to prepare the hull for this. Much of this has to be done ahead of time or you're out of luck.

AC adaptors make great power supplies for LEDs and we all have a load of them in drawers of old cell phones and computer junk. I found another AC adaptor in a drawer upstairs in the office yesterday when I was getting our 2018 files sorted out. It was a 4 - USB port which no longer has any purpose since everything in the house runs on WiFi. The adaptor was 5.0 VDC and 2 amps so it could drive a pile of LEDs. I'm going to use an LED driver chip which takes any voltage input from 5 to 90 volts and outputs a 20 ma current that's directly able to drive a string of LEDs without the need for currect limiting resistors. 

I liked that the adaptor had a mini-power plug and the Belkin USB device had the female socket. I took the unit apart and de-soldered the socket from the circuit board and scraped the board. I then cut a rectagular hole in the bottom of the hull to accept this socket. I traced the socket's perimeter, opened it up with the carbide router, and filed it to final size for a snug fit. 

I needed to find out which socket leads were what and powered it up and measured the voltage. The center lead is +, and one side lead -, the other lead was dead so I cut it off. I now won't have the chance to wire it backwards.

I CA'd the socket into the hole and then glued some additional support around it with styrene. The socket had two little plastic alignment pins that I left on siince they acted as stops and positioned the socket nicely in the hole.

With the power input in place I needed to plan on how to get the wiring into the hangar deck. The lights are going on the ceiling so the wiring had to come up in a way to get there nicely. I drilled an 1/8" hole through the large structure that sits under the island and then continued drilling through the hangar deck below. I needed to then install a tube between the two holes so the wiring would be easy to thread. I cut a piece of 1/8" brass tubing and CA'd it into place. So that part is now done also. 

Next up was modifying the foward port-side sponson to become the new double 40mm gun emplacement. I was really glad that the sponson was already in the kit since it's a tricky attachment since the hull is not vertical so far forward. I was able to cannibalize a gun tube from my 1985 Tamiya Missouri which has been steadily being stripped of all usuable components before going under the scraper's torch. 

I cut segments of the tub to glue to the sponson edges. I then used some 0.020" X 0.188" Evergreen stock to form the rest of the sponson edges. I first used solvent cement and CA to better secure the walls. Lastly, I mixed up some J-B Weld 5-minute clear epoxy with a load of Micro-balloons filler to create the blob on the bottom that I'll shape to the curved bulge that mades up the transition from the gun tub edge to the sponson's flank.

While all this was curing I got back to work on the fantail adding some more bulkheads. I scraped off Trumpeter's molded-on doors and added some more open Eduard PE WT doors. I'm noting that the Trumpeter doors are a bit oversized, so there will be a difference between the PE doors and the model's.

I ended the session putting these parts onto the ship. I also finished sanded the filled fantail areas. I have to be careful going forward since there's a ton of PE that goes into the fantail. I don't want to glue in solid plastic only to find out when the PE arrives that it's got to be pulled out.

Since I'm adding two more 40mm emplacements that weren't in the kit, I pulled these off the Missouri too. These are the last non-damage 40s from that ship. I used a bunch of them when building the good Missouri. The screws in the pic are the ones from that USB hub that gave up its socket for the project.

  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by steve5 on Monday, January 15, 2018 8:36 PM

still can't see them , sorry mate .


  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 12:44 AM

The brass pedestals or the steel bolts inside them make good conductors.

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:52 AM

Again, no pictures.


"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 6:09 PM

Mike, I'm perplexed. I'm not doing anything differently in loading the pictures from Google Photo and yet one day you get them, then you don't, then you get them again, and then you don't again. Seems like the trouble may be on your end.

Again and day of jumping around between areas of effort. It started with filing and sanding the gun tub/sponson mod to give it a reasonable contour. In looking the print, the rail needs a dip in the center of each curve. I measured the pin on the Missouri's 40mms, set off the distance where the center should be, and then drilled with a #44 drill (after using smaller pilots). After the initial sanding, I slathered on some Tamiya Filler and after drying, sanded it again. When I was satisfied I used solvent cement and medium CA to glue the sponson in position.

You'll also notice that I drilled out all the portholes with an apropriately sized drill. First I tried it with a pin vise and then chucked the drill in the flexishaft and went at it.

While the filler was drying I went back to work on the fantail. Much of the middle deck was so obscued with overhanging decks, etc., that I realized that railings, ladders and painting would have to be done now. I don't have the new GMM PE yet, but had some railing stock from the 1986 when I built a Tamiya USS Enterprise with my first PE addition ever. Those old rails are clearly less delicate (or prototypical) than GMM's current production, but buried way under the flightdeck tail, it will serve the purpose, and, more importantly, it let me keep building while waiting for supplies to arrive.

I had a little Life Color Navy Blue and Deck Blue left from the Missouri build. I'm concerned that the Navy blue is not blue enough and, in fact, looks suspiciously like the deck blue. I used it, but don't know if I'm going to have to repaint when I get the ModelFlex Navy Blue. 

My first decision was what color to paint the undersides of exposed decking. I've read that white is used in some of the camoflage schemes, but I'm not sure what is used on Measure 21 (all Navy Blue on vertical surfaces). I had to brush paint this part which is the 3rd deck and nestles deeply under the flight deck.

I also had some Eduard inclined ladders left over so I was able to bend them up and install them on the two deck ladderway. Unfortunately, the distance to from the middle deck to the upper is longer than the distance from the lower to the middle and my Eduard ladders were a couple of rungs too short. I also had some very old GMM ladder stock (at least I think it was ladder stock) which I folded and use in the starboard side upper ladder. It looks different and much less elegant than Eduard's, but it's in a difficult to see space and will work okay. If I post the pic in the FSM Reader's Gallery, I'll be sure to photograph it away from this errant ladder.

These close up always show up places that need touching up. I'll do that tomorrow. There are many more parts that can be assembled prior to getting all that PE. I've looked at GMM's PE instructions to see what interactions there are and what I can and can't do yet if I don't want to paint myself into a corner, so to speak. One more word. Brush painting sucks! I thought about air brushing this tail end, but had so little Navy Bluie that it wouldn't work. All the defects I see are a result of not air brushing. I will rectify this going forward.

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 7:52 PM

Builder 2010
. I'm not doing anything differently in loading the pictures from Google Photo and yet one day you get them, then you don't, then you get them again, and then you don't again. Seems like the trouble may be on your end.

I can only see the middle third of the photos.

When I use Google Photo, I always use Copy Image Location (right click the single image)
which generally looks like this:

(not mine, part of a diorama from Norfolk, VA.)
That image infor goes into the Source edit box of the Insert/Edit Image icon.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 9:29 AM

About the photo posting:

When Photobucket dropped their free service, one of the hosting sites I tried was Google photo.  I found only about half the readers of my forum posts could see the images.  So I tried Postimage instead.  I like that service and have stayed with it.  I have not heard from anyone yet who could not see the images in my posts now.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 7:58 PM

I'm game. So let's try Postimage. I found that Photobucket was unreliable and their ads were boardering on manic and very difficult to work around. Please let me ASAP if the pictures fail to materialize.

I worked on more hull related things. I've gotten into a groove putting in the better, more scale-sized Eduard doors. While I have a ton of full doors left, I'm quickly running out of the nice open door etchings. 

I started putting on the remaining gun tubs on the sponsons, but before doing do, scraped off the molded-on WTDs and installed my own. It's a four-step process and goes something like this. I use a dividers to figure out a hole spacing for the extremes of the future door opening and mark this location. I drill the two holes with a 0.032" carbide drill in a pin vice. I then mark an intermediate hole and drill that leaving three small holes.

I found that a #44 drill is the next size that opens the hole, but not too big so it gives me some stock to carefully remove to bring it to size. Sometimes the drill skitters off the center hole, but that's not a big problem.

With a sharp #11 I carefully trim out the interior of the hole to conform to the shape of the door frame. I occassionally hold up the PE to the hole just to get a final size.

If you're careful you can also remove some small amounts when the door is glued in.

I took the above picture with a piece of black paper behind to make in dark inside. Most of these doors are in blind spaces so nothing will be seen inside. In the real ship, whenever a door opened into the hanger deck itself which was well lit, there is a light labyrinth to trap light from getting outside when running dark. I'll build those for the model also.

I had to filled the edges where the gun tubs fit their respective sponsons. Again, early Trumpeter's require a lot of craft if you want to make a respectable model (by my standards anyway).

I added the single 40mm gun tub and its associated director on the fantail. This part actually fit very nicely. I hand painted this also. In comparing deck blue and navy blue, the colors are almost identical with deck blue being just a tad darker than navy blue. I've read that the Modelflex colors aren't very authentic, I don't like Vallejo for airbrushing, and I can't seem to find Life Color in individual bottles (only in sets) and since I only need two of the colors and set doesn't work well for me. So I'm going to try and mix my own shade with Tamiya paints. I really like Tamiya best for airbrushing. I'm not color blind at all and do okay when mixing colors. I'll try with a very small amount to get the proportions and then enlarge the batch to the quantity I need. Navy Blue 5N is basically a very dark blue-gray. I start with medium gray, add the blue and darken it with black and see what happens.

In looking at the above C.U. I will have to do a better job on the deck blue painting.

Last thing I did was add the two 40 mm tubs on the startboard aft deck. The tubs were a no-brainer. I got one of the directors assembled and installed without drama. They're just a silly little two-part assembly. Then while removing the sprue nubs on the other director, it hit the floor, but I actually was able to see it land and try to get away.

I actually voiced "Aha! I've got you." (I often talk to myself when working). Then I was handling this director and it's little tub trying to get it perfectly centered and the darn thing hit the floor again, but this time it entered the quantum rift. GONE! Thought I saw it's trajectory, swept the area with a dust brush, crawled around on my knees in an ever-expanding search grid, but it was gone.

So I went back to my trusty old Missouri and popped one of the two similar director tubs that were on its fantail. An boy! Did it pop! It was very difficult to pry loose unlike other old glued parts. When it finally let go, I heard it hit the light fixture over my work bench then heard it ricochet onto my mobile work bench where I do a lot of the work. And sure enough, there it was right in the middle with a bunch of stuff around it. Whew! So I have one Trumpeter director and one Tamiya on that back deck. That Missouri is really starting to look like a ship that could be used for target practice.

I was looking today to buy enhanced 40mm, 5" single and double emplacement kits from Alliance Model Works. There are only four doubles and four single 5" guns and 8 - 40mms so it wouldn't break the bank to do it, but the Trumpeter guns aren't bad and the GMM PE set includes a lot of goodies to enhance them. Missing are the commanders' hoods for the top of the twin 5s, but I have them left over from the Eduard Missouri set. So I'm going to see how they build up and then decide if it would be worth the $$$ to upgrade. Also, looking at the kits, there's some very small finicky parts to deal with.

Just in case you're wondering or have forgotten how it is that I have all this excess Eduard PE after building a full-workup Missouri, it's becasue I had so much trouble with the Eduard parts breaking that they sent me another full set of four frets to use. As it was I did use quite a bit from that second set, but not all.

Eduard, like some other PE makers, etches the places where you're supposed to bend. The normal stock is 0.010", but it's half that at the bends. Being half-hard material, if it's bent more than once it can fracture. Some of these even broke before I got them off the frets. In some cases, more complicated bends fell apart in three or more pieces. There was some tricky railings on the Mo's superstructure that almost drove me crazy. Instead of being a single, nicely-bent piece, I was fumbling with sticking all these pieces on the model and trying to align the ends with stanchions with the three skinny pieces of brass sticking out where stanchions used to be. As a result, I like those companies that don't do this etching, but leave it up to me to measure and bend appropriately. It may take a little bit longer, but it doesn't break and therefore, takes much shorter.

You can anneal the brass to prevent the breakage (heat with a torch till it glows red and letting it air cool), BUT, and it's a big but, you now have a material that's so soft that it can't sustain its shape and this opens another hornet's nest of annoyance. (talking from experience here).

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, January 18, 2018 6:10 PM

Since I'm receiving no, "I can't see the pics" comments, I am assuming that PostImage actually works consistently. It's also fast, has no miserable ads popping up all the time, and seems very stable. Good suggestion!

I knew I had one more fret of Eduard Missouri PE that had some long railings on it, and finally found it. I was able to hack it up to get some very convincing longer rails to wrap around the fantial. The gun/director tubs break the rail in two. Eduard has opened the rails when they're opposed to deck chocks so I found chunks that did this for the Trumpeter kit. I had primed these rails a long time ago after dipping them in a vinegar bath to provide some "tooth" for good paint adhesion. I brush painted the Navy Blue after they were fixed to the deck. I also added a little chunk of rail on that stair well projection that sticks out of the starboard side. That may be a docking platform since this is the dock-side of the ship.

Notice how fine the Eduard etching is. It's one of their strengths. Here's the fantail basically completed except for the guns themselves. They will go on near the end. Because I have use more 40mms than included in the kit, I think I'm going to spring for the Alliance 40 mm kits. There are 6 per set and the model, I believe has 10 quad 40s including the two that I added on the sponson. This is a picture of the mount from Alliance. It's a terrific and very small model. 

Added a few other details (a port side aft 40mm tub and the platform that holds the ships boat) and then started paying attention to the bow. Since I filled the hull/deck gap in the stern, I was now compelled to do the same for the bow. The framing structure under the bow seems to be unaffected by the GMM PE, so I'll be able to glue all that in and air brush it, once I mix my own version of Navy Blue.

Lots of scraping and sanding to get the filler so it was decent. I wanted to add real anchor chain since this model does not have any molded on chain detail. I found two sizes in my ship modeling parts box. They scale out to 35" links and 25" links. 25" is more close to the real size (I think) so I went with it.

I chemically blackened the chain a bit and then drill a couple of holes where the chain disappears into the chain lockers at the base of the foc'stle. The trunks that feed the chain down are rather complicated based on drawings in my Intrepid book.

Now all of this is rather silly since you will be able to see practically nothing of what's going on on the foredeck since there's major structure around it, and then it's covered by the flight deck.

Having both a Iowa-class battleship and and Essex-class carrier at hand led me to compare their architecture. The carrier is basically an empty box, almost like a big Winnebego, whereas the battle ship is crammed with very heavy stuff. As result, the two ships are almost exactly the same length: Essex=880', Iowa=887', but their displacements are very different: Essex=25,000t, Iowa=45,000t. Their drafts are very different too reflecting this displacement difference:Essex=22ft, Iowa=33ft. And their speeds and this one is really interesting: Essex-30knots, Iowa=33knots, but the power to get them there also varies: Essex=150,000 hp with four turbines driving four, 4-bladed props, Iowa=212,000hp with four turbines driving four props (5-bladed inboard, 4-bladed outboard). The Iowa's had the highest horsepower powerplant of any ship in WW2.

I drew a plan for the base plate and have asked some friends with a wood shop if they'll cobble it together for me. I can do my own plexiglass work, but if I can find a shop in town that cut the plexi for me, I'd really appreciate that, since scoring and cracking plexi, for me, is hit and miss.

Drew this up with a combination of SketchUp and CorelDRAW.

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Thursday, January 18, 2018 8:31 PM

The overall, or more accurately, the waterline lengths are similar due to the dimensions of the Panama Canal locks.  Which is why later carriers have significant overhangs fore and aft.

The horsepower thing is related to the displacement, water moves aside at only so great a rate, and compresses very poorly.  What's slightly interesting is that both the Iowas and Exxex were designed to cruise (most fuel efficient speed) of 15 knots.  Which will beggard the imagination of landsmen, to think of 17 mph as "fast."  But, one of the major post-war design issues was how to get the Amphibious Forces up to a cruising speed of 12 knots up from 8-10.

All of your photos in the last post are sharp and clear.

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Thursday, January 18, 2018 10:44 PM

Images you just posted are clear and well photographed.

You folks who build carriers are completely insane! So much work involved in so many different areas. Of course those who build the large military sailing ships are nuts as well with all the cannons and rigging. This is why I like this site so much ... so many crazy people building fantastic scale models. Since I am given to fantasy and day dreaming (Walter Mitty style) this is the place for me WinkBig Smile.


"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by steve5 on Thursday, January 18, 2018 11:35 PM

couldn't have put that better myself mike .Ditto


  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, January 22, 2018 8:47 PM

Right. When one thinks about the density of metal in a Battleship it's amazing that they float at all. Thank you Archimedes. Just one gun without the breech block is over 250,000 pounts. I believe it's 275,000# with the breech per gun and there's 3 of them. 750,000 pounds not counting trunions, elevating mechanisms and then there's the turrets themselves. One turret weighs more than the entire island structure on an Essex. Whew!

Didn't work today, but my Alliance 40mm Bofors quad gun emplacements came with shields. 

These packages are tiny and the stuff inside is tinier still. They will be a challenge to build, but the PE looks cleanly done and with good cross sections. Sometimes PE gets so thin that it's completely unmanageable.


  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 7:55 AM



Builder 2010
What is Morrison's 3rd Law of Modelling?


That no matter the size of your workbench you will only have 2 sq ft of work space.

I think I got it right.


Love it!  I keep adding to my workbench and find the same thing!

I thought of making my bench U-shaped.  But I have drawers in my bench, and I am afraid I would not be able to have drawers (that actually open) in a U-shaped bench :-(


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 8:37 PM

Happy Tuesday! Got in the shop, but have very little to show for it. I plunged right into attempting to build those teeny tiny AM-Works 40mm Quad Bofors Mounts with Shield. My worst fears are coming true. Just because you can actually etch something, doesn't actually mean mortals can build it. AM has the same problem that Eduard, they etch the bend lines. This makes brass that's so thin as to break down before you can separate the parts from the fret. Here's an example:

Those tiny hair-like pieces still sticking to the fret were supposed to be part of the base plate with railings. These were supposed to fold back upon itself to...what?...reinforce the very fragile railing. But instead, they simply separated from the part while I was carefully making the separating cuts. 

Futhermore, those rear railings are supposed to engage with a very fragile square-shaped side rail. Only problem is the side rail is supposed to attach at the corner in a butt-joint to effectively a brass hair. There's simply no surface area to apply any kind of adhesive. Without a corner connection, both the side and rear rails deform at the slightest touch, bump, breadth, etc.

Next there's the guns. Beautiful resin castings, but oh so fragile. I attempted to glue the gunner's seats on, and got one... sort of, and the other went into the PE ether. So the first one I built was an abomination. The real rail is a mess, there's one barrel missing, no gun sites or seats. Oh and the rail on the right side is missing entirely since I had to amputate since it got so out of whack.

I am nothing if not persistant and tried again. This time I thought (wrongly) to add the gear sector on the gun's bottom as shown in the instructions. Unfortunately, with the sector glued on the gun no longer can go on the mount. So I attempted, carefully, to cut relief slices into the center of the mount so the sector would slide into position. This worked until it didn't when the resin base casting broke and had to be CA'd back together. So the sectors aren't going on either.

I got the second mount done as far as the cartridge ramps and the rear platform. I was in the process of bending the front shield and ran out of time. I'll continue tomorrow. I'm not sure I'm going to get any satisfaction out of the this exercise and may just substitute those beautiful gun barrels on the GMM brass 40mm fittings. I'm assuming the GMM brass is a little more robust and hope they don't etch the folds.

The barrels have beautifully rendered flash hiders and recoil springs. And they're very delicate.

Here's that second mount. At least the full rear railings are intack (so far) and I got it on upside down since the out-of-scale diamond plate is now on the wrong side. Maybe folding it backwards kept it from falling apart so fast. You can see the slots I cut for the sectors that aren't being used.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 5:46 PM

Plan B is now in effect. Plan B is to use Eduards gun mounts, base and shield, AM-Works guns, and solder as much of this together as possible.

While the Eduard bases have their own problems—seats, foot pedals and front railing-type-thingy—falling off before or during handling, the metal thickness is more capable of being handled and since it's all brass, the possibility of soldering it together.

When I built the Missouri's 40s 6 years ago, I didn't have the Resistance Soldering Unit (RSU), so when I tried to attach the mounts to the base, when I would try to solder the second mount, the first one would de-solder. And then when I tried to solder on the shield the heat would de-solder both gun mounts. This occurred with such frequency it would drive me to distraction.

Now, here's the process.

First I scrap off the primer in the places that I want solder. I then put a small drop of TIX liquid flux with a small artist's brush to further promote solder adhesion. I using a very small diameter rosin-core solder. I changed the RSU's tweezer points to get nice sharp points. I put the two points down on the base right in the little cleaned brass area, hit the foot pedal and wiggle them slightly to get a connection, and add a tiny amoung of solder as fast as I can. Repeat this for the other pad area.

I do the same for the as-yet folded gun mounts. On the Missouri, I also soldered the folder mount since I went overboard and line-drilled the trunions, and the Tamiya gun barrels and put a pin through them to hold it all together since I was having CA troubles. In order to stand up to the drilling I had to solder all the mounts so they were stable.

In this model I'm not doing that (yet) since I think it will work just with CA.

After attempting to CA the gun shield to the gun base with very little success (very little surface area for glue to adhere) I decided to try and solder them. I then had to clean and tin the parts of the base that would be in the joint. This is on the reverse side of the base. First I tried to tin the parts when they were all flat, but the solder was interfering in the fold line and results were dubious, so I changed routine and soldered the big pad for the mount when flat, then fold, and finally tin the areas on the side rails which would be involved in the shield joint.

To solder the mounts and base together—and this is where the RSU really earns its keep—I carefully place the mount over the solder pad, and then hold it down with the RSU tweezers. Since some of the area around this part is still painted, it took a bit of coaxing to get a connection. The RSU makes a very audible 60 hertz hum when the current is flowing through the joint. If you don't hear the hum, it's not conducting and you're not getting any heating. The Tweezers are putting pressure on the mount to both hold it in place and get a connection. Once the solder beneath the mount flows, I release the foot switch, but keep holding the tweezers in place until the joint cools. This all happens so fast that when I do the second mount, the first one doesn't de-solder at all.

The joints are very secure. It's not as easy as it looks since holding the tweezers steady with the right amount of pressure throughout the entire until it cools is challenging. I spent a lot of time positioning and re-positioning the mounts before hitting the foot switch.

As I said, CA'ing the shields wasn't working well so I decided to solder that too. Again I had to clean off the primer and add some solder.

I had trouble keeping my folds on the correct side on the base. I actually folded two on the wrong side and had to scrap one of them since when trying to re-fold it properly I generally screwed it up. You don't get a lot of second chances with PE.

Again, the most difficult part of soldering the shields to the mount was positioning and holding it steady enough with the tweezers so it could be soldered. Lots of time was spent doing this. 

I now have four mounts finished: one AM-Works mostly resin, and three Eduard-based units.

All of the units are hybrids with Eduard mounts, and either AM-Works or Tamiya guns. I don't have enough good AM-Works guns to do all 12 mounts. I've broken four AM guns already and have some left over from the scrap Tamiya Missouri. The AM guns are nicer, but they are ridiculously fragile and break if you look at them the wrong way. I don't know why they use a resin that's so brittle for these micro-parts.

Here's a Eduard/AM hybrid.

And here's a Eduard/Tamiya hybrid. Without magnification, you won't be able to tell the difference when in the case.

All of these mounts will be airbrushed Navy Blue and the guns picked out for some different colors, so all the heat discoloration will be no longer visible.

So... only 8 more to go. I'm getting 2 to 3 done per work session, but getting faster so I'll have these finished by early next week. Meanwhile, the GMM materials from Total Navy should get here by then.

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 6:57 PM

Builder 2010
the turrets themselves

The turets on USS Texas are about 1400 tons each.

The Iowa class turrets are 2500, about the same weight as a Fletcher class DD.  Each.

Boggles the mind even coping with the scale of things.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, January 25, 2018 6:58 PM

The Iowas were amazing vessels. I still think they're the handsomest battleships ever created. They had balance, the extra 200+ feet to give them speed also gave them a greyhound look. They sat low in the water and looked liked they were moving when standing still. 

I'm still working on building 40mm mounts. I'm getting better at this, but it's still a challenge. Believe it or not, the most challenging aspect is not the PE. It's the AM-Works very brittle 40mm guns. They're breaking faster than I can replace them. I've written them this morning and they're sending me more guns. I hope it will be enough.

Sometimes I know when I break them. Then there are those, like this one, that broke and I didn't know when. You can't fix them. You have to break out the old gun and replace it. I find the old Tamiya styrene ones, while lacking the detail of the flash hider and recoil spring, are softer and will bend before breaking. I only have a few more old Tamiya barrels left. With the new ones from AM-Works, I may be able to finish the 12 sets needed for the Essex.

I tried another approach to holding the shield still while I soldered it to the mount. I stuck the little brass tails into the surface of my soldering block. It worked... but...

It placeed the shield too low on the mount. I used this one, but had to cut the tails off so it would sit on the deck correctly. I then resorted to holding the piece in my hand as I clamped on the RSU. I was able to solder it so quickly that I didn't even burn my fingers. Perhaps a little more about my American Beauty Resistance Soldering System may be of some value.

Mine is a hobby unit, about 250 watts. I have both a Tweezer hand piece and a single electrode with ground clamp. I've only used the single electrode piece once since it's large and I'm always doing pretty small work.

The power unit is a transformer that turns 110 VAC down to 3 VAC. As we know about transforming electricity, when the voltage goes down, the current goes up and vice versa, so the system generates about 50 or more amps. When you pass high current through a less-than-perfect conducting metal, you get heat... lots of heat... and quickly. Since the heat occurs between the tweezer points it is highly localized. If you get the current knob adjusted to the right amount for the size of the material you're soldering, the joint can be made in a few seconds.

The tweezer electrodes are copper-jacketed stainless steel. I just found that out today. I thought they were carbon. The single electrode hand piece is carbon. You can bend the tips somewhat to get them to grip correctly, but they can side slip which makes holding the parts very difficult. My electrode set screws were camming out (the phillips head slots were disappearing) and due to the repeated heating and cooling, the screws work loose and you start having trouble getting a circuit. I wrote them today and they're sending me new screws and new electrodes. They're a nice to work with and it's made in the USA.

All of this is controlled by a foot switch. You clamp the joint, step on the switch, watch the solder melt, and release the switch still holding the clamp until it cools. 

My RSU is one of my most expensive tool purchases. The other is my Taig Lathe. It has enabled me to do solder joints that are difficult or impossible usng an iron, and it's ready instantly. It doesn't have to warm up and you don't need to tin the tips. You do have to occassionally hit the tips to remove any char that develops. This one is a hobby version and is about $500. They go up into the low thousands for industrial kilowatt units for doing production work. You can even do brazing with one of the units since it generates enough heat. If you ever have the desire to work in metals to build models, an RSU is pretty much a necessary tool.

I've got five more 40mm guns sets to produce. I may put them aside when I run out of gun barrels and wait for the AM-Works replenishment to come. I'm still waiting for the GMM order.

My friend in Albuquerque is producing a nice routed-edge oak display board for me and I made contact today with a local company that can cut the acrylic sheet for the showcase. I did my own cutting for the Missouri's case and it wasn't pretty. I used the score-a-line- about-half-the-thickness-and-snap method. Sometimes it snapped and sometimes it cracked. Like I said, not pretty. I want the pieces professionally cut and edge finished and I'll glue it all together.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, January 26, 2018 7:42 PM

I worked two hours to produce one very distressed 40 mount. Almost everything that could go wrong did, but I persisted and created one more 40. The side railings fell off on one side and I had to solder on a small brass bracket made out of the extra fret material. After soldering on the one side, I realize that this was more secure method of fastening on the shield and did it for the other side. During all this handling the back railing fell off. I had a fret of 40mm back railings that I got from GMM in the mid 1980s. The problem here is it was even too small a surface area to solder so I resorted to CA. It took at least 10 minutes to finally get it to stick enough that I could go back and add more to reinforce the joint. I finally got the guns on and had to go and take my grandson to tennis practice.

I also had one of the gun trunions fall off the workbench proper and hit the sliding belly tray I built to catch errant PE parts from disappearing. And of course this part disappeared. It just dropped 3 inches, but that's all it takes to go into the quantum rift. You'd think when something crosses the inter-dimensional barrier you see a flash or a puff of smoke as it disappears, like in a Harry Potter movie. But no... this part just silently vanishes. I swept the whole area for at least 10 sq ft, but nothing. I'm critically short of this particular Eduard PE part, and this doesn't help. 

I'm optimistic that I will come back on Monday and it will be sitting in the center of the belly tray. I've had that happen before. They disappear inter-dimensionally and then reappear a day later right in front of my eyes. 

So here're three 40mm mounts all different. The one in front is Eduard plus Tamiya guns, the middle is all Alliance Model Works, and the back is Eduard mostly, Alliance guns and GMM back railing. It's all mix and match. Lucky for me, enclosed in a plexiglass case, you won't be able to put a magnifying glass up to it to really see the difference. They'll all be painted and detailed and that will be that.

One more thing. I think I figured out why AM-Works PE is so difficult to process. The brass is only 0.004" thick. That's basically a piece of paper. Then they etch the bend lines, which makes them probably 0.002". Metal that thin unless dead soft is so fragile as to be unworkable. No wonder the brass breaks when it's still on the fret. I hope GMM is a bit more robust. By comparison, Eduard is 0.010" thick and 0.005 at the etched bends and it was very fragile also, but mostly workable.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, January 26, 2018 8:08 PM

This is very nice work. I've got two going- the Lex and the Hornet. They've gone together in very different ways, however it can't be stressed how much extra care is needed to assemble all of the hangar deck elements. If it isn't done with real accuracy, the problems on the flight deck and up from there are multipliers. 

I glued together the flight deck sections on both before attaching the one, the Lex, to the hull. I almost wonder if it might have been easier to add them one at a time. 

This is a really interesting WIP. You've gone the extra distance to document it, and thank you for that. I'm not saying it should be the plan, but it would be interesting to see a model with aviewable hangar deck with extra aircraft in the overhead.

Correct about Morrison's Third Law.


  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, January 29, 2018 6:04 PM

Thanks Bill. I too have been thinking about gluing the flight decks together and reinforcing the joints. I think this could be necessary since I will have a ton of PE to add with the GMM regular and extra sets with catwalks and galleries hanging under the flight decks.

I finished all the 40mms, but will have to go back and replace gun barrels when the extra set from AW-Works arrives. I suspect Alliance Model Works is a Chinese company since I can't find a mailing address anywhere on their website AND the fellow who corresponded had a Chinese name and English was not his native language. I ran out of AMW guns, my scaped ones from the old Missouri and resorted to making the kit's guns work on the last mount. That last mount will have a barrel change along with the others that have any broken guns.

I duplicate this post on the Modeler's corner and one of the readers suggested a way to handle that very flimsy rail that just sticks out to nothing. He suggested bending the side rail towards the free rail and tacking them together using Future Floor Wax. I chose to use the nuclear option and actually solder that tiny joint. I did it successfully two times and made two more AMW 40mm mounts, then I went back to using the remaining Eduard PE left over from the Missouri project.

Here's the part held in a spring tweezers and then in my Panavise showing the single rail in position to be soldered. The part is so frail that it's almost always deformed. I bend it every time I touch it.

Instead of using the RSU I chose to use my Weller soldering iron. I also violated my own soldering rules by, after fluxing the joint, to move a tiny quantity of solder from the iron's tip directly to the junction. The RSU's tweezers are just too clumsy to get neat that tiny joint.

Here's the joint actually soldered. It doesn't hold and better than any adhesive given the cross-sectional area.

Here's the entire base soldered and put back in reasonable form. It got distorted many times more as I glued it into place. The shield was not soldered in this case since it's connected to a resin casting, not a PE piece like Eduard uses.

Remember me talking about one of the trunions hitting the floor and disappearing into the quantum rift? Well... in this case, it disappeared under the wheel of my desk chair. Road Kill! It's not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. And it's certainly not the worst. The worst was when the Missouris SK main radar antenna (completely finished) got rolled over and turned to a flat mess. I had the extra set of Eduard and made another, but it did not turn out as good as the first one.

With that, I'm done with 40s for a while. I started working on the 5inch dual Mark 38 turrets. Trumpeter's aren't bad, but I had a ton of PE enhancements from the Missouri build and wanted to add them to these units. The enhancements include PE back hatch doors, ladders, commanders flash shield on the roof, and optical range finder outer doors. I scraped off the molded on back doors to accept the PE versions.

I then tried to do a silly thing... drill out a scale gun bore. It scales out to 0.014" and I have that drill size. Of course, I did one correctly, and then broke the next one, not when drilling, but when attempting to remove the sprue nubs. Then I lost another barrel to the rift, so right now I'm short one full set for one of the four turrets. I have all the Mark 38s from the old Missouri. I like the Tamiya barrels better since they're not so clunky. I don't want two different kinds of turrets even though they're very similar, the barrel thickness will be noticeable (to me at least). I'll build the three with the Trumpeter turrets and make a decision. I'm also toying with the idea of substituting brass barrels for the lot of them.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 9:01 PM

I awoke today thinking about making my own brass 5" Mark 38 guns to replace the plastic ones. I know there are commercial parts available, but I wanted to give it a try before shelling out more $$$. First I needed to figure out just how big these things are in 1:350. I found some good imagery on the web showing some major dimensions. I printed it out and measured the actual dimension on paper and divided that into the dimension noted on the drawing. The one I chose was the distance from the center of each bore to the centerline of the mount. It was 42". I doubled this to 84" which is the center-to-center distance between the guns. The scaling factor came out to 37.5. I measured the barrel's o.d. at the muzzle and where the recoil slide begins, and found that a piece of 0.032" brass rod is the right size for the larger diameter. The diameter at the muzzle is 0.024" in 1:350.

I chucked the brass rod in my Dremel flexi-shaft held in my Panavise. The vise was held with some quick clamps to keep it from moving around.

First I thought (incorrectly) that I would have to machine the metal off to make the taper so I chucked a small diamond-coated burr into my second Dremel tool and worked the two spinning tools together. This proved to be overkill. I quickly ground right through the piece. So I scraped that idea and went to Plan B, using a small file and sanding stick to reduce the diameter while the flex-shaft was running at medium speed. A light touch up with 600 grit emery finished it off.

The results were promising. I set my digital caliper to the 0.024" muzzle diameter and checked the size as it reduced. 

I removed the old barrels from an old Missouri 5" mount and carefully leveled the stub remaining. I pin pricked the center, drilled a pilot hole with a #80 drill and then opened up the hole with a 0.032" drill. Then I tried my barrels on. 

Results were very acceptable. So I finished up another 7 to give me 9 guns (I need 8 for the four twin mounts). Glad I did, because I promptly launched one out the needle nosed pliers. 

The only thing I haven't done is drill the 0.014" bore hole. I've thought about it, and if it was styrene wouldn't hesitate in doing it, but in brass, it's a totally different animal. Carbide drills tend to grab in brass. When they grab, they break and you have a hole with a chunk of difficult-to-remove carbide in it.

These barrels look so nice I may make them for the four open 5" since mounts. It only takes a minute of so to make a gun now that I have the routine down.

Tomorrow I'll build the remaining 5" mounts with the new guns installed. Then I'll start the single mounts, but I'm may be stymied since I'm waiting for that Total Navy GMM order, and I thing there's some PE details in there for these open mounts.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 6:51 PM

Built all the twin and single fives today. All the PE you see in this image is left over from the second Eduard Missouri PE set. I especially like those little hatches that are on the trainer's/pointer's/checker's telescope hoods. I lost one of the kit's 5" guns which I needed to provide the mantlet to which to mount the new gun. Luckily, the kit mantlet is 0.040" and that's a nice Evergreen styrene thickness of which I have some. So I made another little mantlet and drilled it like the others for the new barrel.

Notice the white t-shirt that's now covering my pull-out belly board. I don't know why I didn't think about this five years ago. Not only did I not lose a single piece of very small PE, the t-shirt cotton traps and holds the PE and it stands out very clearly, especially for those ladders and the hatch covers. The excess t-shirt was bunched over the edge and further blocked that channel to the workshop floor.

Does anyone know why PE will stick to my tweezers/fingers in deference to sticking to the model where it belongs. I'm constantly cleaning the tips becuase even a microscopic bit of wet CA will hold the PE. It gets very exasperating.

I did drill out the bores on the plastic 5" single open mounts. It's not hard. The key is getting the first pin *** as close to dead center as possible, then drilling slowing and checking in both directions to ensure you're going in parallel to the bore. You don't need to go in far, just far enough to show black. I thought about doing this on the brass barrels, but it wouldn't work. I found Master Model brass barrels that are drilled for a little over $12 plus shipping, but I'm glad I did my own. They also made 40mm barrels which are also drilled. They're really nice, but I coldn't figure out how they'd work with the plastic receivers. Something to think about on my next big 1:350 boat project.

Incidentally, that hole is the correct size for the scale using a #80 (0.014") drill. The plastic barrels are too thick.

So all the fives are now done and these singles are waiting for the GMM PE to arrive. I'm sure there are added railings that will enhance these. Master Model also makes a stunning resin/brass open 5" mount. Again... next time... maybe.

I started building the island late in the afternoon. Fit was so-so and it needed a little cleanup. I found a box of spring clips upstairs in the computer room desk and put them to use today holding these parts during gluing. I drilled out the portholes, but couldn't open any WTDs since I don't have any more left over from the Missouri. I like how the open doors look, and am thinking about any other ways to show them. Unfortunately, the backsides of these doors does not look like the front side, So I just can't make a hole next to the door.

Tomorrow I'll continue adding plastic to the island. This too is directly impacted by waiting for the GMM PE. I don't know if replacing the molded on ladders is necessary. They're in pretty good relief. I have ladder stock to use if I go that route.

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 8:23 PM

Builder 2010
I thought about doing this on the brass barrels, but it wouldn't work.

Well, if it's any relief, USN puts a tompion (& muzzle cover) on any rifle with a bore 3" or larger.

So, to sacle, you'd not see a hole, unless General Quarters had been called away

Which would want a hundred teeny tiny figures or more Smile

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, February 01, 2018 5:19 PM

That makes total sense. Just got the word that my GMM stuff is on the way, and just in time too.

Built the island as far as I'm willing to go before having the PE and the instructions in my hand. For example, I'm thinking about building all the masting in brass (as I did in the Missouri) to ensure they stay together and so I can solder the PE antennas to them when warranted. I did decide to chisel off all the molded-on ladders and will put PE ladders on.

The island needed a little filling here and there and I had to sand/file all the overhanging deck edges to remove the mold lines as I did with the platforms on the hull itself.

I installed the funnel and filled its joints too, but stopped putting on the funnel cap since I know there's PE going on top and may want to install that with the cap off the funnel.

With the island on hold I went back to working on the bow. I brush painted the decking Deck Blue and the anchor chain and chafing plating semi-gloss black. 

The wildcats aren't painted yet since they're Navy Blue 5N, which I did next. In this case I wanted to airbrush it. I thought I had none left of the Life Color 5N, and decided to attempt to mix my own and got very, very close. I wanted to use Tamiya color for my mix, and used Nato Black, White, Flat Blue and Red. First I tried using a darkened Field Blue, but it's a bit on the green side. Here's the swatch test I used in getting the mix.

The center color is Life Color Navy Blue 5N

After staring at test number five and the sample, I thought I caught a tiny bit of purple so I added a tiny amount of red and got it very close. #7 is my last trial and it's very, very close. So I went to find one of my mixing bottles (that have the same threads as my Badger bottle adapter) and what did I find? A 1/3 full bottle of Life Color 5N that was still okay and just needed a little thinning. So I used that to air brush the front bulkhead and the flight deck supports. I did the latter while still on the sprue so I could spray the backsides. l then glued these to the deck with med CA. I tried the front part of the flight deck onto the hull and you certainly can't see much of my fancy anchor chain and painting. But I know it's there.


  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, February 02, 2018 6:50 PM

With just over an hour in the shop I put on the bow 40mm gun tub and started installing the bow railing (an old GMM piece. I figured that being a dark blue color, you won't really be able to tell the older GMM from the new stuff that's coming next week. Besides I wanted to do some railing work.

For long railings a trick is to tape it to the hull where you want it before adding CA. Otherwise, you're wrestling with some very flimsy brass that will not cooperate. CA is applied from the back. You'll have to go back and touch up the paint to hide the shiny adhesive. I'm using Tamiya Tape which isn't too tacky. You don't want a tape that will pull the railing back off when you try to de-tape.

I located where the chocks were and removed a bottom horizontal rail at each location.

So that's one more rail down and lots more to go. When I was a kid building many, many box-scale Revell ship kits, I longed for the ability to add "real" railings to them. To me, railings make the model. Only one, the USS Buckley Destroyer Escort, was a large enough scale that it had stanchions where you used thread to create the rail. I loved that model.

On monday work will continue. When the rest of the PE comes, I'll get back to the island. I'm thinking about how to build the tripod mast out of bras.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, February 03, 2018 4:30 PM

News Bulletin: The order from Total Navy came today! And the new GMM PE is much finer than the old stuff I just put on the bow and is custom fit, so I'm going to rip off that on Monday and replace it.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, February 05, 2018 5:38 PM

Spent the weekend poring over the GMM frets. Some of the parts will be very challenging. Also working with some other naval mavens, we came to the conclusion about what additional mods are needed to make this a late-war Essex. In addition to the extra sponson 40s on the port fore hangar cat sponsor, there seems to be no other added sponsons that other in the series got. Many of the Essex-Class carriers had their bow and stern 40 tubs doubled, had an additional two 40 gun tubs hung off the flight deck in the aft third of the port side, and an additional three sponsons irregularly spaced under the island on the starboard side. Intrepid got these. Essex didn't get any of them.

But the Essex did have one of the 40 tubs removed from the fore end of the island and the flag pilot space pushed out so it coincided with the island body below. At first I thought that since I had already glued it all together, I couldn't make this change, but after studying the images and then the island I said, "what the heck! It's styrene. I can fix it."

In order to cut out the flag pilot cabin to move it forward, I needed to cut the island below so the saw could reach it. I didn't want to destroy the flag pilot front due to the porthole detail. I also had to remove all the galleries and platforms surrounding this area since all of this is changed and actually simplified.

Saw cuts, even using thin razor saws do leave a kerf and remove material. They are also not perfectly sqaure. So I had to true up the edges and remove any underdeck bracing castings since these will be replaced new with the new galleries. 

Notice the stiffening rib I installed in the island body and also in the chunk I took off. I needed this to keep the geometry intact now that the structural integrity has been disturbed.

Here's the other side. I glued a piece of 0.010" styrene sheet to raise the top surface to replace what was chewed off by the saw. I trued up the flag pilot front and it's just sitting aligned where it will sit. There is a gallery platform that I've started to shape out of 0.020" styrene. The shape of the new gallery is a half-circle in front of the flag pilot. The gun director on the kit is actually too far back and will be moved during the mod. I'm actually doing what they did to the ship in the 1994 shopping.

The countersink bit was being used as a temporary support when fitting up, and it shows clearly how small all this is.

Here's an image of the Essex's modified island front.

Here's a photo of the same.

So... wish me luck as I continue to mangle this kit. 

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 6:19 PM

One correction, yesterday's line drawing was of the Intrepid's modified flag bridge. The image below it is of the Essex. There are some minor differences. Since I'm doing an Essex, I'm relying on the photograph for most of the guidance.

Had a couple of hours today and got back into the island mods. I was at the LHS and got some more styrene needed for this model. I made the extended flag gallery which replaces the kit's gallery. I used an old ellipse template to give me the nicely shaped front edge. I used the precision sander to square the edge. 

I measured this part with the flag cabin in its final resting place to get the size and placement of the galleries and where the cabin will glue to the platform. The Sharpie line shows where the cabin ends.

I then stared at the photo and realized that the platform in front of the pilot house also had to be extended AND the director tub that used to be on the pilot house roof, is now relocated cantilevered over the front of the pilot house windows. I cut off the existing gallery and created a shaped piece that's butt-glued to the new pilot house edge. I used solvent cement and then reinforced with some CA.

It was time to glue the main pieces together. I added some connecting strips to reinforce the mating edges. The joint came out pretty good, but a little sunken on the starboard side.

Instead of slathering on a bunch of Tamiya filler, I added some sheet styrene to build up the sunken portion and then attacked it with flat-pointed riffle file. If you not familiar with these, it's a file with curved ends allowing you to file a specific place without filling what's in front or behind.

Tomorrow, I add the filler to bring those surfaces together. The port side joint was much better and a little filler with fix it all up.

I made a small rooflet for the pilot house to cover that large hole left over from moving the director tub. I'll trim the curved edges tomorrow.

Here's the structural work completed. The gallery rails will be 0.015" X .125 styrene strip which scales out to a little over 40" high which is just about right. It's thin enough so it will bend around all those contours. It will probably look better than the kit's molded rails.

It's going to all look okay once it filled and primed. I removed the door on the flag cabin to facilitate sanding all those joints and will replace it with a PE piece before the railings go on. Incidentally, 1 scale inch in 1:350 scale is a tad less than 0.003" (a sheet of paper), so even .005" PE is over an inch and half thick in scale, which is heavy steel plate (armor).

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 5:38 PM

The day started with adding some filler at the various joints. After sanding it, I shot it with a bit of Tamiya gray primer to highlight any troubles and then sanding it again.

I then added the gallery edge solid rails. I used solvent cement first and then touched it up with CA to ensure that it wouldn't break away. It came out okay so I added some 0.020" X 0.020" square styrene to simulate the underneath supporting ribs. In the prototype picture it shows the ends of the ribs and they appear as squares (to me). I originally was cutting them to length and then gluing them in, but realized that I could cut them long and clip them off with the flush cut cutters.

And here's what it looks like finished and waiting for PE and Paint.

I put this aside and then bit another bullet: building the brass main mast tripod/platform and radar supports.

I traced the kit's mast top and cut it out of fairly thin brass stock using a jeweler's saw with a very fine tooth blade. I hand filed the edges to even them out. I drilled the main mast hole 1/16" and then the smaller radar mast with a #56 drill. The kit's legs are almost exactly 1/16" and the top mast is about 0.045" so I'm using a piece of 3/64" brass rod. Both rods will match the kit's closely.

I then laid out the bottom ribbing to add substance to the assembly and, more importantly, provide a place where the back two angular posts are going to tie into the mast top. I cut the underpiece out of the same thinner stock, but thought it needed some more meat so I traced that piece and again using the jeweler's saw, cut this out. It's not pretty, but will be almost invisible since there's more PE trim/railings/support beams.

These two pieces were soldered together using the RSU using some silver bearing solder. I clipped a small piece and then flattened it with small hammer on a v-block. I used TIX flux and heated until it melted. I used the highest temp solder I have so this joint wouldn't re-melt when I solder more stuff on. I have three other heat range solders that I'll use ending with TIX to do any PE soldering on the assembly. It's sitting on a ceramic soldering pad from MicroMark. It's nice since it's very soft and you can use pushpins to hold parts in place while soldering.

So here's where we are now. I have to locate and drill the angular holes for the angle poles, make a jig to hold all the legs at the proper attitude while gluing. The GMM instructios for the lattice PE that goes in the middle has 1:1 drawings of the triangles making up the two platforms. I will be able to make a pyramidal wood block that will hold the legs properly for good soldering.

There's a lip that goes around the after portion of the top that I make using the brass on the PE frets. It makes good stock for scratch-building small stuff out of brass.

I can also make those little triangular gussets and solder them also... or not, or use CA. I have options. Thinking about building this stuff is worse than actually getting down and doing it.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, February 08, 2018 7:34 PM

First up today was trying out the new pedestals that will support the ship when it's finished. I got these from which I found when I googled, "Model Ship Pedestals". They're turned brass and look good. For the Missouri's pedestal I bought a lamp finial at a lamp shop. It worked good except that it's an unusual thread and I had to get different hardware to hold it all together. This one's going to have big bolts going through. I'm going to reinforce the ship hull's bottom with some thicker plywood and epoxy the nuts in place to facilitate gettng it all together. 

Then I got down to business of making and soldering the three legs of the tripod mast. Using the kit's tripod legs I cut pieces of solid 1/16" brass. The back legs are a slightly different length than the vertical middle leg. I needed to solder them at the proper angles. While there could be some minor adjustments, major shifts would break the solder joints.

To figure out how to do all this, I first glued the kit's styrene parts together and temporarily glued them to the ship with white glue so I could measure the geometry. I measured the spacing of the lets at the mast top and laid out my soldered piece to locate these holes. Although the legs go backwards at an angle I drilled the holes straight on the drill press since drilling angular holes is a pain. Instead, I shaped the ends of the 1/16" brass legs do they set at the proper angle.

I then soldered them with 60/40 rosin core solder which melted at a lower temp than the silver-bearing solder that I used yesterday to layer the mast top. After soldering the vertical, center leg, I used hemostats to act as heat sinks to prevent the previously soldered legs from unsoldering. Even with the RSU, when soldering to thick stuff, enough heat would soak to the others to remelt them.

After all three legs were in place I test fit the tower to the model and made minor adjustments to get the spacing dead on. One of the biggest tests of this geometry would be how well the PE lattice platform part would nestle into the tripod. So I decided it was time to dive into this very delicate PE work. 

The lattice platforms consist of three parts: the outside frame which gets folded twice sicne the middle bend is actuall a flat spot with two folds, the bottom platform with back rail and the top platform with its back rail. I use a large "hold-and-fold" from the Small Tool Shop, an essential tool if you're seriously going to do any PE work.

I thought about soldering this, but frankly, it's too delicate to get any kind of soldering tool anywhere near this assembly so I used CA. At the Scale Reproductions Inc, on Tuesday, I asked Brian Bunger (one heckuva model builder in his own right) about how he handles PE so it doesn't stick to his tweezers more than the work. His secret... he uses thick CA since it cures much more slowly, allows more working time, has more innate tackiness, and won't glue to the tools as easily. I tried it, AND IT WORKS!.

Here's the lattice platform waiting for the next step. The platforms had to wedge into the "V" created by the outside lattice. So far, I'm very happy with GMM's PE. It's etched on 0.006" stock which is a bit thicker than AM-Works. And it's not breaking at the bend lines. That's critical to keeping one's modeling mental health.

Then I had to fit this into the crotch of the tripod mast. It took a bit of fittings, adjusting the legs, more fitting until finally the legs contacted the lattice platforms evenly. I had to break on leg loose and resolder it to a slightly wider stance after I reached it elastic limit.


The wedge-shape reinforcing brackets that go under the mast top, were located on the standard set of GMM PE. I bought both sets: standard Essex and Special Essex. The lattice platforms were in the special set, but the top brackets were in the standard set. I glued them on, and then decided to ACTUALLY read the instructions. There was a tiny gap cut in the upper edge of the bracket which I wondered what it was for. It was to drop on top of the main yards stays which is all part of a single PE part. So I had to rip them off. Now Murphy's Law works in reverse sometimes. You can have a terrible time getting PE to stick when you want it to. And then you have a terrible time getting PE off when you've put it on incorrectly. In this case I darn near mangled one of the brackets trying to break it loose. I was able to reasonably re-shape it after removing it.

The yard arm is an annoying, very delicate PE assembly consisting of the center piece with all the details, and two very slim PE pieces that you apply to the front and back to triple-up the yard proper and make it stronger and look better. It was very had for me to get together neatly and it continued to break loose as I was handling it. I thought about soldering it, but decided to keep wrestling with the CA.

I filed some flats on the back tripod legs so there was more glue surface to install the yard. The very fine stay glues underneath the mast top.

I then went back and re-fit the brackets and CA'd them into place. They also wrap around the legs a bit which helped provide more gluing area. After taking this picture, I realized that the bracket was not positioned properly, I broke it loose and then re-fit it so the notch actually grabbed the yard stay. I'm going to add another piece of brass to the front of the legs that fully encases them and you can see in the photos.

According to the photos, the ship's bell hangs underneath the upper lattice platfrom. The kit does not include the bell, but my old Missouri had two of them and I was able to scavenge one for this more. I filed the bell's top flat and CA'd it to the underside of the top platform.

Tried on on one more time on the ship to admire it. Of course I almost had a catastrophe when I grabbed it improperly, bent the yard and separated those three parts on one end and had to sweat a bit as I got it to glue it together again. For the up-scale Missouri, I shaped my own main yard out of solid brass bar and may yet do the same here if it continues to be trouble.

There's still more work to be done on this very complex assembly: I want to put some angle brackets underneath, it gets a thick edge for part of the perimeter and then railing. Lastly there's the radar mast that goes on in back. I may solder the railing and definately solder the radar mast in place (or CA). All of this stuff is what makes looking at these models some compelling. As Gary Kohs of Fine Art Models described, "A fine scale model's detail, keeps you looking deeper and deeper and still finding new things of interest." I want this model to do that.

Due to the incredible delicacy of this piece I'm not installing it on the island yet. There's a lot of other stuff to go on the island including vertical and inclined ladders and lots of railing pieces plus a myriad of additional radar/radio antenna. I'm going to build each of these as a subassembly, maybe even paint them as such and then finally attach them to the island, maybe after the island goes on the flight deck.

I really thought this tripod mast project was the most challenging of the boat which is why I wanted to get it out of the way. I think that was the right decision.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, February 09, 2018 6:04 PM

Just in case any of my thread followers ever get the idea that I'm the "World's Greatest Modeler" or something akin to that, today will dispell that thought forever. That complex tripod mast that you all saw in yesterday's post is no more. Instead, I fought valiantly as I regressed through layers of work as things kept getting more and more desperate. We're not through yet, but it was not a very fun day. It was a tag-team wrestling match where the opponent had 3x more folks on his team than mine.

It all started when I wanted to add gussets under the mast top. These went on sort of okay.  As I was manhandling the mast to put all these pieces in place, previously glued stuff started to unglue. I don't trust CA and this was a prime example. The front brackets were little brass triangles that I made and CA'd. The rear ones was some very small sytrene strip since working the brass at this size started getting ridiculous. You can see in this pic how awful the yardarm was looking.

The yardarm was the first part to break loose. First the joint on one side broke followed by the other. I dissected it from the mast, cutting the stays that were still captivating it. I didn't like how it kept deforming more and more. I took a #11 blade and separated the three layers. I'm going to do what I did with the Missouri; make a solid brass yard out of small brass square stock tapered to shape on the belt sander. 

Here's the "debris" of the yardarm. I'm sure that when I make the solid one, the rather wiggly piece with all the detail will work out okay. Luckily, the GMM PE seems to be pretty tough and none of the tiny weather stations and antenna posts have broken off...yet.

I wanted to install a piece across the front as it is on the photo. This piece wasn't easy to install, and the CA wasn't working. Then the bigger brackets started letting go. During all of this, one of the leg's solder joint let go. Nuts! In the process of soldering that back in place, the CA in most of the brackets let go due to the heating. And to make matters worse, the delicate mast platforms broke loose. I got that out with doing more damage and will reinstall it after other things are done.

I decided that the flimsy PE brackets now had to go since they were a mess and made a set of some heavier gauge brass. You don't see these parts from their edge so thicker material would work. I traced the existing parts and made two new ones.

Instead of gluing these in, I soldered them using the TIX ultra low-temp solder. I had to re-solder that leg two more times until it was finally structurally sound. I also made a new front piece and soldered the new brackets to it which they overlapped.

The mast was now very solid and I wanted to add a band around the edge to thicken it a bit. This turned out to be almost an hour of utter frustration. It ended without completion. The problem appeared to be caused by several factors. First, I'm using the side pieces of PE frets as my brass stock. They typically use half-hard (or harder) brass for this since it has to maintain its shape in very fine cross-sections. As a result, the banding was very springy and didn't want to stay put. I thought about annealing it, but this requires heating it too red heat and letting it cool. This oxidizes the surface badly and would have to be abraded to give solderable brass and that would deform the heck out of it.

The other is how TIX solder seems to behave. If you get a good joint the first time, it seems okay. But if the joint breaks loose, re-soldering it seems to get worse and worse and it just doesn't want to make a strong joint. It was also a bear to hold in place while I was heating it. I tried pliers of all different shapes, but ended with the thing completely detached. I'm going to try again on Monday when my head clears and my nerves recover.

It was one step forward and three steps back all day. You get days like that. Like I've always said, I'm not patient, but I am persistant! I may put the railing on without that band around the edge. Again, I'm the only one who would notice.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, February 09, 2018 6:09 PM

Gussets under bridge decks etc. are B***. I hate those things too.

Chin up, lad.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, February 12, 2018 5:47 PM

Right Oh!

Nothing like a weekend to clear your head. First of all I was having trouble visualizing how the PE folded on the SK radar backing frame. GMM's instructions didn't help. On one of the other fourms that I post this tread (three total), one of the guys said he scans the PE fret, and then in the computer enlarges it about 300%, prints it out and then experiments folding the paper before screwing up any PE. Great idea! I did it and it really helped figure it out.

The my genius #1 grandson, who always has great suggestions, solved my problem of the getting the rim on the Tri-mast platform. He suggested soldering the ring together first and then fitting it on the platform. He's a very clever kit, doing great in school and loved solving technical problems. He heading to engineering school and is in mid-11th grade.

I soldered the ring using 60/40 solder so it was a higher melting point than the TIX lo-temp solder with which I will tie the ring to the platform.

It took a bitt of fiddling to get the ring onto the platform, but once in place, getting it soldered went relatively uneventful. I later filled the little gap in the rear with some J-B Weld epoxy which I describe in more detail further down this post.

I did a few other odds and ends today. The GMM PE attachment points are very fine and fragile and some are breaking loose just handling the fret. I needed to fold and deal with some of these now. Two of the long-range radio towers fell off and stood the risk of deformation, so I folded them and then soldered the mating edge ensuring that they wouldn't unfold.

Behind them you can see the lattice platform PE assembly. This not only came un-glued from its nesting place between the legs, but it also fell apart with the two side pieces separating from each other at the corner. Luckily, the inner platforms were still attached: the lower one to one side and the upper to the other side. This helped in getting them back together AND instead of CA, I epoxied these parts back together. I believe this will really stabilize the situation.

On the top of the tri-mast platform rear is the YE radar and its tower. I made the tower out of 3/64 brass, turned and drilled an aluminum ring for a platform, and attempted to solder the GMM YE screen to the top of the brass column. Didn't work so well. The little tab on the screen just couldn't handlie any handling at all, and it broke off. I then drilled the top of the column for a piece of 0.021" brass wire and soldered this in. I then epoxied the screen to this pin. Tomorrow we'll see if it's secure enough. I believe it will be okay.

I also had to attach the backing frame on the SK radar front. This backing is some really fine PE stuff and using my paper trial, folded it so the various contact pieces contacted the flat screen. Took some fiddling... lots of fiddling, and then I glued it in place with J-B Weld. For the uninitiated, J-B Weld is a 2-part dense epoxy that has steel powder infused in the mix. It dries dark gray and is very stable. I glued the antenna and guy wires on the Missouri with this and it's worked well.

In the background of the above you see a folded and somewhat mangled long-range antenna hinge cage that had separated from the fret and was loose in the GMM mailing envelope. The screening is so fragile that it got torn up when I was putting the other fret back in the envelop not realizing that this piece was floating around inside. I folded it and will use it, but I'm not happy about it.

Lastly, I needed to install a railing on top of the tri-mast platform. GMM doesn't include a rail for this location. I first tried using the left over Eduard railing, but was having trouble forming it without deforming it. I went to my grandson's idea and measured the circumference, cut it to overlap at the end, and then soldered the rail. I made the rail to sit on top of the platform, not wrap around it. And again, I used J-B Weld to hold it on. And again, we'll see how it worked out tomorrow. J-B Weld is a slow cure and needs overnight to set up hard. It can be drilled and tapped and can fix stuff that might not appear to be fixable.

This railing was early GMM which is a bit more crudely designed then their current variety, but I purposefully wanted something with a little more body so I could form it without wrecking it.

There's a radar that goes on the front of this platform while the YE radar goes into the hole in the rear. This front radar is another very delicated assembly job, and again I will turn the brass base for it on the lathe and J-B Weld the screen onto the base and base onto platform.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 8:27 PM

The J-B Weld worked perfectly and created strong, unobtrusive joints for both the railing and the top search radar screen. With this new found confidence I decided to build the next radar; the SP radar that would go on a mount at the front of the tri-mast platform. 

This is the instructions from GMM. I chose to do #1 (first...more about that later).

The spider in the back gets dish shaped. I turned a tool in brass to press in the shape. I have a spherical turning attachment on the TAIG lathe which is very handy. After cutting out all the tiny parts I pressed the tool into the surface of my soldering pad to make a corresponding dish impression, and then flormed the spider. I first tried to glue the spider to the frame using thick CA, but it wasn't working well so I switched to J-B Weld. 

This is kind of what it looked liked. I looked better in person.

I had it sitting on the bench above the belly board where I do most of the work in this location. I then needed to turn the conical base for this antenna. The instructions showed a full-size image of this scratch-build part. It was .150" o.d. and I turned it down from a piece of .250" brass rod using the compound slide on the lathe set to the cone angle. For  the top machinery I just soldered some brass pieces to it to provide a mounting point for the delicate antenna. 

I measured the ladder distance so I could cut some off the the ladder stock included in the basic fret and then cut and formed the ladder ends to wrap around the mast. I used thick CA for this gluing. I glued the top mast and the antenna mount using J-B, and started another antenna project, making the mount for the SK antenna.

This mount consist of a piece of 3/32 brass mounted onto a small triangular platform that has very fine (and fragile) triangle trusses underneath. I do not trust this flimsy truss to have any real structural strength to hold up the antenna, so I added a piece of 0.032" brass wire soldered on the bottom with a long pin sticking out that will go into a hole in the funnel. There's a similar bracket holding the aft mast on the Missouri and I know in my heart of hearts that this is the joint that will break loose if I move that model too much.

I J-B'd (new verb) this mast to the platform after sticking the pin into the side of my soldering block. This needs to cure overnight. A railing needs to go around that platform. That's no something I'm looking forward to.

I flattened one end of the brass wire using a vice grips so it had a nice broad contact area. As it turns out, the resistance soldering tweezer make contact with this very thin brass truss and vaporized a bit of it so it couldn't support anything anyway. I'm going to add brass pins to all of these cantilevered platforms since the SC-2 radar hangs on one of these on the other side of the funnel.

I also build two more long-range radio towers and they continue to break out of the fret, and then built the SC-2 Radar lattice mast. Like the other lattice structures, I soldered these joints, not CA'd them. The round platform is CA'd since it has a lot of contact support. There is a railing that goes around this platform. That's going to be fun...


While I doing all this other stuff. That fraglile SP antenna somehow got picked up? bounced? or somehow moved so it was now on the t-shirt on the belly tray. And it was no longer structurally intact. So I reglued it and had it sitting on that piece of black plexi in front of me. I moved something else and then it was gone! I mean really gone! Not on the t-shirt, not stuck to my lab coat, and not on the floor anywhere in the vicinity I was working. Into the quantum rift.

So I built the SM-1 antenna to mount. It's no longer chronologically correct since the SP was used late in the War which is when I'm modeling. The rivet counters will have to forgive. This antenna (#2 antenna on the drawing above) is a challenging build since it has a 8 piece spider behind and it's really, really, really tiny. I got the back frame together, and attached to the screen, and then got the three filigred dipoles on. I went to mount the antenna to the base now curing on the tri-mast platform, but found this to be "sub-optimal" to say the least. I removed the base since the J-B hadn't cured much at all, and then prepared to J-B the screen to the base. Of course, all those delicate dipole attachments came off. I'll attempt to get them back on when the J-B cures tomorrow. And if I don't it still looks infinitely better than the plastic ones it replaces.

To hold the base to the backing I held the base in a hemostat and then let it rest on the screen. I got it positioned well so it should cure okay... famous last words. You can tell just how small this stuff is looking at the looming size of the hemostat.

I'm going to fabricate a new main yard. I looked at some more photos and it looks like that yard was actually round. I have some very fine telescoping brass tubing that could work okay. Loren Perry is sending me a replacement of the brass yard for just a shipping charge so I'll be able to affix a good PE part to the stronger yard. I should be able to finish up the tri-mast tomorrow. I'm concerned that my leg spacing seems to have narrowed. I don't know if I can make it wider without wrecking everything I've done. Sometimes you have to know when to stop.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 6:06 PM

Short session, but made a couple of steps forward and a few backwards.

I adhered the SM-1 antenna assembly onto the platform using thick CA. I opted for this since I wanted it to cure fast. It's holding nicely. Sorry about the soft focus. My iPhone isn't so hot with macro photography. 

I added the ring plartform onto the SK mast using thick CA. I then needed to build a round railing using the GMM 2-rail style railing. I calculated the circumference measuring the ring platform and then multiplying by Pi (jr high math at work), cut the rail a little long to allow so overlap for soldering, and cut it from the long length on the fret. I soldered the ends with about a 1/32" overlap. It was the only way to ensure that the ring rail stayed closed.

I decided to solder this rail to the platform too. And I'm glad I did as I will regale you with. I'm finding a problem with my work... I tend to get myopic... I focus so intently on the tiny little spot upon which I'm working that I don't realize that how I holding the assembly is deforming some other aspect. The angle supports under the platform weren't doing so well and started to break away. I needed to attach them again. Sodlering was the way to go. As I was handling the assembly I realized that I had pressed against the rail and it was getting a bit weird. Becuase it was soldered it didn't break loose, just changed shape. I was able to massage it back to a reasonable circle. Ain't great, but it will be okay.

I cut the angle supports off of a platform style that I'm not using and used them to replace the original ones that were breaking away and badly deformed. It took a little playing around to get everything into position since the actual edge was only 0.005" wide and I had to try and hold it steady enough so the solder would solidify. I couldn't use the RSU since there was no way for the tweezers to get a purchase. And then the vertical posts J-B Weld broke loose when I bumped it. I re-glued that and will let it sit overnight. Having the brass pin was a god send since it allowed me to hold onto the assembly without depending on the thin PE platform. You can clearly see the pin in the jaws of the hemostat. That pin will go into a drilled hole in the funnel and will be epoxied for security. Those angle brackets will be for decorative only.

There's two more things to go onto this very small assembly: a railing around the platform proper and the SK antenna. The last thing to go on will be the antenna, and the it will go somewhere for safe keeping until it goes on the island. I can't solder the railing since any heat of any kind at that edge will de-solder those angle brackets. I'll J-B it.

Last thing I did was J-B Weld the lattice platforms back into the crotch of the tri-mast. This too needs to sit overnight. There's a long ladder which goes up the center leg that needs to be added too.

There will be some careful cleanup of the excess J-B. Paint will hide a lot of the funny looking surface you're seeing (I hope...). You can better see the SM-1 antenna in this picture. I attempted to get the dipoles on (again!) and lost them again due to the same myopic work habits as I noted above. I have to be more conscious of how I'm grasping these fragile assemblies to prevent damaging previously attached things. They're so fragile that you can't feel when you're applying too much pressure. The parts deform and then you see it.

Slowly, but surely, I'm getting all this finicky stuff under control. It does tax one's patience that's for sure.

My mast leg spacing does not conformd to the ship's holes. I'm going to shave off those bosses and then add my own doubles to add more meat for the mast legs to get good purchase.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, February 15, 2018 5:42 PM

Another day resolving catastropes. Some days I wonder why I punish myself like this. It's almost as bad as my attempts at playing golf. I did it for years and only got frustration. It was that kind of day.

It all started nicely. Since yesterday's J-B work was now solid I added the railing around the SK platform first forming the curve around a piece of brass. I attempted to use thick CA to glue the railing to the platform since I was afraid of un-soldering the angle brackets, but this wasn't working so I bit the bullet and soldered the railing in place. It worked!

I used J-B to glue the radar assembly onto the upper parts of the mast. I then set this in a vise on my secondary workbench and all was well with the world.

I then went back to the SC antena tower. It too needed a radial railing on the work platform and GMM included a specific piece of rail at the right length. I soldered the ends of the rail together and then soldered the rail to the round platform. If you look closely you can see the SC antenna with it's backing glued on with J-B. I added a piece of 0.032" brass rod through the hole on the top of the lattice tower, and extended the rod through the bottom so it will serve as additional support to the final assembly.

I also added the long ladder on the tri-masts vertical leg. First I tried to get it in place with J-B, but was having trouble so I soldered this also and didn't un-solder anything else. Then castastophe struck.

I was in the process of making my own yardarm in preparation for the new PE to arrive from Loren Perry at GMM. He found a spare Essex yardarm detail and is sending it to me for the price of the postage. I assembled the new yard out of three peices of very fine telescoping tubing. As I noted yesterday, a close inspection of the real yard showed a circular cross-section. Again, I soldered the three pieces together and then chucked the rod into my Dremel and files the joints smooth.

The smallest tub, which I believe is .5mm, has a hole in the middle that I wanted to fill with a piece of fine guitar string. So I attempted to find my piece of High E guitar string in a plastic container on the shelf over my work bench. There is a corollary of Murphy's Law called "the law of selective gravitation" that says that anything dropped will cause the most amount of damge". It came about from NASA when a wrench was dropped while making a space satellite and caused a million bucks worth of damage. As I moved the box, a bottle of MicroMark Pressure Sensitive Adhesive fell off the shelf. It landed on the plastic container that held some of the finished PE peices like the five long range radio towers. 

The box exploded its parts in every direction. I was able to recover all of it except for one radio tower. I simply can't find it anywhere. And believe me I've looked everywhere.

I'm hoping it will come back from the quantum rift tomorrow. Otherwise, I'm going to be building an Essex with only four of the five antenna towers. It might be a blessing in disquise since I have one wrecked base for them. But that wasn't the worst thing that happened!

I pushed my roll-around auxiliary work bench out of the way to search under it for the missing tower. In the process of pushing it, I must have contacted the vise that was holding the SK antenna assembly with the curing J-B. I had pushed it backhand not looking at the bench when I did it. Big Mistake!

When I next noticed the assembly, the SK antenna was no longer on the mast. I found a mangled back frame on the bench nearby and the antenna facing on the floor. This was J-B'd yesterday so it was cured, but now fractured. I spent a long time, re-forming the back frame, cleaning off all the J-B and getting it ready to reattach. I decided to solder the back frame to the facing, and it worked. Incidentally, I ordered and just received a solder paste and dispenser from Kester (Amazon) which will make it easier to precisely add solder to these micro-assemblies.

I then attemped to solder the antenna to the mast after cleaning off the un-cured J-B. This was a solid brass rod and the heat needed to tin the piece melted the J-B that was holding the mast to the PE base and it fell apart. The soldered railings and brackets DID NOT LET GO. So at least that worked.

I made a new mast, this time out of 1/16" tubing, not solid, so it wouldn't take so much heat to tin. I decided to solder the antenna to the mast first and then J-B the new mast back onto the platform. Meanwhile all this handling distorted the railings and brackets at least three times, and the round platform also broke loose (it was CA'd), and I put that back on after soldering the antenna. The antenna soldering worked also, I re-glued the new mast to the platform so it is again curing overnight, only this time it will be a complete assembly.

Whew! I'd like to say this stuff never happened before, but I suffered similar trials when building the Missouri. I rolled over SK-2 radar assemblies with my desk chair wheels and had one of the main gun director radars darn near destroyed when a piece of white cardboard (which I was using as a clean photo background) fell forward, hit the radar and crushed it. It was the last one I had and I re-formed is as best as I could. Stuff happens!

You can see some of the fine screen details have been filled with solder (more reason to use solder paste from a precision dispenser). And those railiings have taken a beating. I'm going to leave it alone... I've done enough damage already. Hopefully, tomorrow will be less eventful. This is a hobby and is supposed to be relaxing. Yeah! Right!

  • Member since
    July, 2010
  • From: Tempe AZ
Posted by docidle on Thursday, February 15, 2018 11:05 PM


Even with all the trials and tribulation, this is a great WIP. As for the PE damage, you can always go my route and call it "authentic" battle damage!





  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Thursday, February 15, 2018 11:08 PM


It's not always relaxing! It can be frustrating, anxiety provoking, and, on occasion, lights up the neurons between your amygdala and prefrontal cortex that switch on angry emotions along with the urge to break the work you've been doing into many, many irretrevable tiny, broken parts Super Angry. Ask me how I know this Big Smile.

But, that having been said, it's usually a very satisfying experience for me to see the results of my labor take the form of a reasonable facsimile of what I'd thought I wanted to build.

You, however, seem to be more demanding of yourself than most in this hobby. I empathize.

I don't try to scratch build anywhere near the parts you do. I am a "hack" at this hobby but I do enjoy it most of the time.

Your kit is coming along with amazing detail and I certainly appreciate your running dialogue on the process. Sometimes PE is bent beyond repair. Sometimes it's best to do what you're doing - leave it alone. And sometimes I would just spring for another set of PE. That's because I don't want to have a stroke trying to beat a ruined piece of brass back into shape. I just don't have the skill. You probably do have the skill. Your choice - your wallet.

In any event, I enjoy checking in on this thread. I believe you're an exceptional modeler and, in the end, you'll make things work.




"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, February 16, 2018 7:37 PM

Thanks for the moral support! It's what I like about this community of thinkers and doers that represent folks who build stuff.

I like to post the details; I like how people react to it and it's cathartic for me helping me process what's going on and giving me more ideas.

Today was a mixed bag. I actually finished the two main radar systems, shot them with some primer and put them aside someplace safe. First I got the SC antenna assembled. That required a bit of fussind and annoyance. I needed to make the base for it. It needed a hole to capture the piece of brass wire that serves as a mount for the screen. Here's how I build that pin attachment that I noted the other day. 

I flatten the end of the brass wire in successive steps in the flat jaws of a vise grip. I've used this trick to make all kinds of flat/round brass transitions. I then drilled it with a 0.032" drill and soldered it to the un-bent PE platform. I left the bending of them until the soldering was done.

I tried the Kester soldering paste for these kinds of jobs and it does have an advantage in that you can lay down a thin film of it, it alredy has flux and melts at a reasonable temperature. It really stiffens the little platform and the pin is terrific for both attachment and holding the assembly while working on it in a pin vise.

I made the mistake of fastening the screen and it's fragile backing frame onto the unit before I got it mounted on the pad. I also thought that the tiny PE ring that was part of the backing had the same diameter hole as that in the top of the lattice tower. IT WAS NOT!. It was smaller and when I tried to insert the support pin into it, the back frame popped off. I J-B'd it, and should have soldered it.

I attempted to get it back on again, and then it got lost again. It's now not on it and good riddance. I left that pin long and soldered the screen directly to it. That screen ain't coming off.

I put the lower pin through the hole that was continued through the platform and then soldered it from below. Oh... and the circular platfrom came loose when the heat got to it from the soldering of the screen. And the circular rail separated from the platform too. I got it all back together, resoldered the rail to the platform and CA'd the platform to the tower. So here are both major radar installations waiting for attachment to the island.

Some of the fine detals got filled with solder, J-B and paint, but from two feet away it will work. I know... the Missouri has similar flaws.

Next up was the Mark 37 gun directors. These things gave me fits when building the Missouri and based on how it went today, they're going to give me fits again. Part of the problem is my ham fisted handling and the other is the geometry of the modeling of this somewhat delicate full-size structure. The big radar on top was supported by a rather insubtantial tubular frame. The main frame juts out at an angle and is not simply supported directly underneath, and then you have the twin parabolic reflectors and other stuff attached to them. 

I went through a full set of Eduard PE and then Tom's modelworks PE before I assembled the four MK 37s on the Missouri. At least the Essex only has two. 

Before starting on the PE I built the plastic bases from the kit and then created a holder for them so I can add details without them moving all over the place. The base turned out to have a diameter of almost exactly 5/16". I drilled a piece of scrap and stuck the pieces into it. There were a bunch of other blind holes in this block since it's used as a drill press block so I taped them over so little PE bits down get lost in them. Then I had the idea to add some tape turned back on itself to act as "PE Flypaper" and catch dropping PE.

 Here are all the GMM bits that make up the radars for the two directors.

First the pluses. The base PE is good because GMM didn't etch the bends and reduce its strength. Not only did I bend it, but it got unbent, re-bent, bent again, etc. and didn't break. That was a good thing.

After bending I tried it on the top of the director and realized that the very small contact area didn't bode well for using CA to hold it down, but I couldn't solder to plastic. So I cut a thin piece of brass and shaped it to the same size as the director's roof and soldered it to that. It's strong! I will CA the brass plate to the director after all of the rest is built.

The PE flypaper was a non-starter and was more trouble than it was worth so I pulled it off.

I folded the GMM upper mount and then attempted to solder the little tab onto the flat part of the lower mount, and couldn't hold or get an angle that let me solder it any way I tried. It was also very flimsy and kept bending and deforming no matter how careful I was. I then turned to two left over Eduard upper mounts. These are much more detailed and realistic than the GMM, however Eduard DOES etch their bends and this comes back to bite me. I got the lower mount soldered to the frame successfully and then got the upper soldered to the lower in this hybrid deal.

I also soldered the sides of the frame so the arms wouldn't keep spreading. So far so good.

I'm not happy with the blotchy solder. That was the result of using the paste and having the plate not receptive evenly across its surface. I'll do better next time. Paint will hide some of this.

Then it was time to make the parabolic double screen. This is a Eduard part also and therefore has those etched bends. The first one I bent fell into two pieces are that bend line so I worked it as separate pieces. Then suddenly... they were gone. Somehow they both got off the t-shirt and into... what?... the floor?... not this floor, at least not in a 25 square foot area. Quantum Rift again!

So I bent the second and last set I have. This time it didn't separated into two. I decided to solder this also since it's an awful CA job. Got it all soldered, and then disaster strikes.

That joint kept breaking when doing the Mo and it broke again. This picture clearly shows the difference in sophistication between Eduard and GMM. I've got some ideas about how to fix the broken support tab by reinforcing it with a piece of solid square brass stock that will be soldered into the crotch of the joint and it won't break again. I also have Tom's Modelworks PE MK 37s and will attempt those if I can't find those lost parabolic screens.

I've taken thousands of pictures on models with my iPhone and never realized that the telephoto method of finger-pinching that's used to do telephoto normal pictures, also works at doing macro photograhy. I found it by accident today and went "Whoa! What was that? How did I do that?" I played with the phone and found that I could take dramatic ultra closeup pics like the above.

I also found that my old Missouri still had it's horn and it will now be re-purposed to be the horn for the Essex. 

I'm glad I found it since I didn't really want to scratch-build this. The GMM set has a PE whistle platform. Now it has a whistle to go on it. That old ship has done noble duty giving up its pieces for better projects.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, February 17, 2018 5:36 PM

Had a rare Saturday session. The weather was disgusting and it was a good day to do some more work. I also did one hour on the bike and elliptical so I don't feel too guilty. I spent almost 2 hours building ONE Mark 37 gun directior. This time I decided to try the Tom's Modelworks bracket and screen since it is a bit more robust, doesn't have etched bend lines and I have 8 sets of them. Unfortunately I don't have any extra lower bases. They were all consumed in making these things for the Missouri build, and I went through a ton of them.

I say unfortunately becasuse the front bent leg of the base finally fell off after about four resoldering sessions. So the base has three legs. You can't really see it, but it certainly has less structural integrity.

To reinforce that critical mounting lug, here you can see the piece of square cross-section brass rod that I soldered to the lug.

Again, I wanted to solder everything. It's forgiving (to a point) and if something isn't quite right you can re-position it. That being said, it was the constant attempt to get everything right that caused most of my troubles today. I wanted to get the radar reflector properly captured in the tips of the bracket. I had to solder and re-solder probably 5 or 6 times before it was right. And that was not just doing the soldering. Other bad things started happening the more I screwed around with it, including, the lug separating from the block, the base de-soldering from the brass plate (twice). Then I wanted to add the side parabolic screen. The first time I soldered it, it was off-center. The second time, sticking out too far. Then the screen detached...and so on for two hours.

I finally reached the point when I could CA the little IFF antenna that sticks out of the middle, and then the side antenna's lug broke when I attempted to file the brass plate to get it to conform to the plastic unit below it. I then soldered it on directly to its side with no reinforcing lug. And it was done. I may put a tiny bit of filler around the brass plate if I can do it without wrecking the whole deal. I've been known to do that... attempting to do just one more thing... and then it hits the fan.

There are still some more details that go on the director including a couple of ladders and a WTD in the base to let people get into the housing. Next session (Monday), I build the second director. I would like to think the second one will go easier than the first and this is usually the case, but not when messing with PE.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Sunday, February 18, 2018 5:40 PM

Well guys... I had and even rarer Sunday work session, and what a good session it was.

Instead of the two miserable hours building the first Mark 37 director, I got the second done in less than an hour without any hassle. Frankly, I should buy two sets of PE for every ship model I build; one for practice and one to actually make into a model. I added the ladders and WTDs to both and gave then a shot of Tamiya primer just to get an idea of how much of the yucky stuff was now hidden.

And here are both directors ready to go onto the island.

These are now set aside. I just looked a Trumpeter Essex on Pinterest built by a fellow from Singapore and he got all the extra bits onto those directors. I imagine he's a much younger person with much steadier hands. I've gone as far on these as I did on the Missouri and they look pretty good on that boat.

Next up was completing the tri-mast with the replacement yard arm PE sent to me by Loren Perry. Again, having a practice piece where I found out what was going to be a problem paid off. I was able to nail this one without a hitch.

The first thing I did differently was get the lenght of the made yard arm dead on. It's a telescoping assembly of Albion metals super-tiny thin-wall brass tubing. The inner is .4mm, then .6mm and finally .8mm. I didn't solder both ends, just one side to keep the tubes in place.

The next thing I did was file a nice flat onto this assembly to give good solder surface.

Finally, and the most important thing, was to do all the soldering of the PE to the yard while the PE was still flat and attached to its fret. I first tinned the two parts with a very thin film of solder. For those of you who aren't familiar with how solder works and why it's so strong is this. Solder actually infuses into both substrates. It forms a metalurgical bond, not just a physical one. Glue creat a physical bond to non-porous surfaces so solder is much, much stronger. And since its the metalurgical bond that provides the true strength, the thickness of the solder actually weakens the joint. More is not better.

I didn't want to fill any of the signal halyard eyes or other fine detail, so I was very judicious about the amount of solder I was applying. I used TIX liquid flux for all my metal soldering jobs even if I'm not using TIX lo-temp solder. This was done with the Weller soldering iron with a small chisel, not pointed, tip.

I then used the RSU to hold the made yard over the extreme end while aligning the other end with my fingers. The RSU heats so quickly that you can hand hold parts an 1/8
 away before it gets too hot (it depends on the mas of the metal you're heating of course). When that end joined I moved to the middle and then the other end. When it was settled in I went back and hit some intermediate locations.

The end result was a solder, true yard with no distortion and none of the details screwed up. Here's a comparison of my test piece and the finished one. Really makes the case about having two sets of PE, doesn't it.

The next step was to get this onto the tri-mast without messing anything up. I placed the yard under the platform with the yard braces tucked under the platform between the brass brackets and marked this location on the rear two mast columns with a fine-tipped Sharpie. I then, using a small diameter diamond coated cylindrical burr, ground a couple of cicular divots so the yard would have a positive location into which it can settle. I then tinned these divots with TIX solder. I didn't want to use 60/40 becasue the melt temp is too high and I run the risk of de-soldering anything.

I again used the RSU to clamp one side against that column and aligned the other side with my fingers and hit the foot switch. It heated quickly and melted the tinning and joined. Then I did the same to the other side and the job was done.

After I took the pic I rotated the two weather vanes to face into the wind, and set it on the island to admire how it looks. There are a couple of very small antennas that go on those straight stalks sticking up. They're pretty fragile and I'm going to wait until this is on the island before installing them.

There's the whistle platform to build, and a small mast and yard mounted to the aft of the funnel which I will replicate this yard making method and build that one. That yard is shorter and has less bulk so I'll build it out of the two smallest size of the tubing. Then I will start adding open WTDs (there are four in the GMM set) and all of the ladders I had scraped off the kit island. I need to add loads of little railings and a few inclined ladders, and then add in all the radar sets. I'm thinking about doing as much super-detailing of the island BEFORE I put in on the ship. Most of the rigging stays on the island. There are some guy wires that need to be installed on some of these non-lattice masts.

Again... it was a good Sunday!

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, February 19, 2018 5:12 PM

It was a great Sunday, but it could have been a disasterous Monday. Yesterday, when I took that last photo of the tri-mask posed on top of the island, I had an open bottle of Tamiya liquid cement behind that white cardboard backdrop. I had pushed the backdrop not realizing the cement was behind and tipped it over... forward.

When I got down to the shop today, I found the island solidly glued to the Corian work surface on my auxiliary workbench. Other stuff was glued down also since there must have been dissolved styrene in the glue. It was all dry so I got a razor blade and pried the island off the bench. I scraped all the remaining glue off the Corian. The cement does not attack Corian. Had it, I wouldn't have been able to separate the island from the bench... small blessing.

The glue melted and distorted the port side not quite up to the next deck level. It caused slight fissures and other distortions. I wasn't going to replace all the molded-on WTDs, but now I was forced to... another small blessing. I scraped all the doors off, and then filled the surface with Tamiya putty. Kind of poetic...Tamiya glue did the damage-Tamiya putty will fix it.

I did other stuff while the putty set and then sanded it off down to a level surface. I'm sure that it's still damaged and will probably shoot some primer on it to highlight the surface and then re-fill.

How the filler appears sort of shows where the damage was. It's miracle that the whole thing wasn't wrecked which either would have scraped the entire model or left me another very challenging scratch-build project. I probably could do that, but sure didn't want to.

While it was curing I built the lattice structure under the exterior elevator. Unlike the horror of the island disaster (and I'm not talking about Puerto Rico), the elevator went together perfectly. There are 6 PE trusses and that's covered with an elaborate lattice plate. The plate needs to be folded to conform to the trusses. I needed a template.

The easiest way I could think of was to put the PE Fret on a piece of white paper and lightly shoot some rattle can primer at it leaving a silhouette on the paper. I spray glued the paper and put it on some card stock, and cut out one of the images with a razor knife. I used this to get the fold angles right which really helped in the getting it on the trusses.

The trusses were CA'd to the styrene elevator. It was finicky, but went without any complications.

like the rest of the PE on this model, I try and solder brass to brass whenever possible. In this case it was the perfect solution. I tinned the lattice frame on all the vertical members for their full length, not knowing how much melting I would do.

I carefully put some TIX flux on all the truss edges and placed the lattice on top. Setting the RSU at about the lowest setting, I handheld the lattice on the low edge and got it aligned on the end truss and then, using the RSU tweezer handpiece, lightly (very lightly) held the two pieces together, hit the foot switch and released it as soon as I saw a puff of steam from the flux vaporizing. That took about a half second. It was almost instantaneous. Held any longer and it would have burned through both peices. 

I then went to opposite end's truss and did the same thing. To solder the narrow end, there wasn't clearance to get the tweezers in so I used the Weller iron and pressed the piecees together while I stabilzed the other end. With the ends done I went back with the RSU and did all the other trusses at their top ends and middles and used the iron for the bottoms. This whole activity was very quick and it's quite solid. I am relying on the CA to hold the trusses to the elevator, but there's a lot of pieces sharing the load.

It looks really nice and complicated. I would have hated to try and get that lattice to work with CA. Solder doesn't screw around.

I also did a small job; put the PE screens on the funnel outlets with CA. I need to make a couple more minor antenna sets and the small rear mast which I believe is also where the American Flag is displayed. These will be brass too.

I was getting ready to finish up all the railings on the island and now I just have to do some more stuff. I may remove the molded on piping and add real materials. 

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 7:02 PM

A reader on one of my other forums that I post this build suggested that instead of trying to re-finish that ruined island side, that I should laminate a piece of thin styrene to re-create the surface and get a fresh start. I thought this was a terrific idea and executed it.

I started by measuring the key dimensions and then creating a cardboard template and then transfer this to 0.010" styrene. It slipped under the angle brackets under the gun tubs and fit flush under the 2nd level gun tubs. Before installing I scraped off all the details and would replace all of them with 3D pieces.

Here's the cardboard fit onto the island.

The styrene was thin enough to wrap around the ends. I didn't like the seams on both ends anyway so covering them would be a plus. I would shape and fill the wrapped end on the other side. I used liquid cement to make the joint.

With a nice clean surface, it was time to add all the details. I located the WTD locations prior to applying the laminate and then marked those locations on the new surface. I have a new way to apply PE details. It consists of using a white, Japan-made, special "pencil" (well... it looks just like a pencil) that gently holds PE for placement. A slight twist after the CA glue sets releases the part from the pencil. The other is using Gel CA. It sets much slower, can be applied in a tiny dot that stays put, and gives you time to move the part around to align it. I previously used thin CA. While it set fast, it was almost unmanageable for me. Brian Bunger, the owner of Scale Reproductions, told me to try thick CA. What a difference!

I not completely happy with the hole I made for the open door. It's a bit ragged, but if I want it much smoother the hole would keep getting bigger and it's alrady about as big as it should be. I suppose it could be a little lower, but not any wider. I scribed lines for the portholes and doors so they would line up nicely.

You will also notice that I actually put eyebrows over the new portholes. I decided to try this and it worked pretty well. I first formed a coil about the right diameter using a round parallel jawed pliers that I bought from MicroMark. After forming the coil, I cut them apart with the flush cutters and then used the placing pencil to put them over the portholes. I also started replacing eyebrows ground off when I was doing all the filling after making the Flag Bridge mod. When I put them over the two ports in the flag bridge front, it turned out that the right side was canted towards the right and the left towards the left and it looked like the face of Wall-E. Too cute! So I had to redo it. For some reason, that redo took as much time as putting on the seven on the flat surface.

This small gauge brass wire is the fancy birds nest of twisted wire on the top of some Spanish Rioja wines. Besides being a good red, the bottle provides some added value, first with the wire, and then the foil which is also great scratch-build material.

So... it's not that you screw up. I do that plenty! It's how you recover. It's the same in restaurants, and in business of all kinds. Stuff happens! Good recoveries is where you shine.

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 10:05 AM

Hi Builder,

I am enjoying your build log and how you are doing the upperworks in brass.  The detailed photos your are taking is helping.  I am about to start the Lexington, but in 1/700.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 6:04 PM

Thank you! I don't even want to think about 1:700. !:350 is about as small as ever want to get.

Life is good!

Last year I had a purchasing dream come true when my wife and I bought a genuine Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. We had purchased a knockoff 37 years ago that was completely shot and we figured it was time to get a real one. One of the buttons on the seat cushion let go and it was a warranty item. They picked up the chair five weeks ago and shipped it back to Grand Rapids.

Today it was back. In the meantime, I was using the ottoman with a wing chair. It was all wrong, difficult to have my laptop positioned correctly and made typing all this a pain. Unfortunately, the chair was shipped in a new chair shipping box strapped to a pallet and dropped ship in front of my garage. The driver said he wasn't permitted to bring it into the house. He helped me move it in the garage and out of the rain. I then had to unpack it, and heft it into the family room.

Of course I slipped on the cardboard as I tried to move it down off the pallet and fell on my left side with the chair on top of me. I was being impulsive. I could have waited for my wife to return. I did get it in the house. I am now sitting on it and loving it, and have a sore rib, but otherwise I survived. I'm annoyed at Herman Miller for sending the chair back to a residence without having it set up in the house expecting the home owner to unpack it, get rid of a pallet, and all the cardboard, especially when they had two fellows pick up the chair in the first place.

Onto the model. I continued adding vertical ladders, and inclined ladders and ran into a connundrum. The ladders are etched with the bottom slant perpendicular to the deck on which it should sit. It may be prototypical, but it makes gluing them in a real challenge. You're attempting to super glue the ladder in place with a single needle point contact area. It's very, very insecure!

I thought I was bending the railings wrong. So I kept trying to un-bend them and bend them the other way, only to realize after screwing up a few of them, that I was being ridiculous and that the etching precludes changing that bottom angle. It would be much better for us model makers if the tapered base was parallel with the deck thereby increasing the gluing area by an order of magnitude.

So here is today's work.

Oh, and the other thing I did was put the reinforcing plate in place and re-drilling new Tri-mast mounting holes to accomodate the new mast. Again, this isn't prototypical, but it was more importan to me that the mast be properly attached, and the side railings which go on next, will properly disguise the interface. In the above picture you can see the thickness variance I had to create so the new plate would settle over the kit's wings that had the original mast mounting holes. I actually used the razor saw to slice the piece horizontally to reduce the thickness at that spot.

It's interesting to note that with just this little handling to test fit the mast I caused deformation of some of the yard arm details. Nothing permanent, just annoying. Every time I touch PE I bend something I don't want to bend. Sometimes I wonder why I even do this stuff, and then I look at how fabulous ship models look when all the bells and whistles have bells and whistles and it makes all the aggravation worth it. Kind of like childbirth and raising kids, only more important. Boy... am I going to get slammed for that one.

  • Member since
    February, 2018
Posted by JSamples on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 8:29 PM
Hey fellow Kentuckian. I new to the forums here. I also have the 1/350 Essex with PE set. I have no experience with PE and after following your build, I'm a little nervous about using it. I do plan on building other kits before starting on the Essex though. I have enjoyed reading your post and I have subscribed to it as well. Your pictures are very detailed and I look forward to future posts
  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:08 PM

Well... howdy! You can do PE without building brass masts, etc., but... and it's a big but... I'm trying to build a model that will stand the test of time and plastic masts with plastic cement can break down over time. I also find solder in small junctions has considerably more strength than CA. I do use J-B Weld when I can't solder and it's pretty trust worthy too. I also must admit, I am not a very good PE installer. I'm not really very steady. Thank goodness my son is... he's an eye surgeon. So I wrestle with it sometimes.

Today I built the mizzen mast and substituted a bigger radar system at the top. The one that was supoosed to go there was tiny and didn't go well. I have this sheet of miscellaneous WW2 radars from Tom's Model Works and took advantage of it.

I also built the secondary yardarm that goes under this mast. The mast is 3/64" brass rod, the platform was turned on the lathe and the ladder is from my left over Eduard set. The Eduard ladders as narrower and seem more prototypical.

I'm getting really good at making the hybrid yard arms. This was was a piece of cake even though it was a much smaller build than the main yard.

I added a soldered bushing on the mast's base to increase the gluing area and enlarged the hole in the funnel to accept. I enlarged it a little too much and glued in some plastic filler strips. I'm going to J-B Weld this in place when it's time to put it together. It also will have guitar string guy wires and will need an outrigger at the funnel's rear to accept the back guy. Similarly to what I did on the Missouri.

I started putting on the island's railings and of course, the inclined stairs got a bit beat up. The GMM stairs are particularly delicated and I kept bumping into the their railings. I'm running out of the Eduard version (a little more rugged) and am going to buy more of them. I also lost a few porthole eyebrows and one WTD. I'll go back and fix these later.

Tomorrow, I'll keep adding details...

  • Member since
    February, 2018
  • From: North Carolina, USA
Posted by Model Monkey on Friday, February 23, 2018 7:20 AM

Looking really good, both your Essex and your Missouri.

Enjoying your posts very much. Big Smile

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, February 23, 2018 5:44 PM

Thanks Steve!

I have only one picture today. That's because things went soooooo badly that one picture was all that was worth publishing.

It all started with trying to bend the stair treads on the GMM PE inclined ladders using an idea that was published on the Ship Modelers Forum. I found it searching to buy more inclined ladders since I was destroying them faster than creating them. I found that GMM sells a fret with just ladders. The idea to bend the steps didn't work on GMM or Eduard ladders, but was designed for Tom's which actually makes a provision in the etching to enable step bending. I did have some Tom's steps, but the fret was badly etched and the details were too thin a cross-section to permit adequate handling. 

In my searching for more inclined ladders to scavenge, I found a neat piece of Eduard PE that could be pressed into action as the outriggers for the mizzen mast. I drilled it to accept the mizzen base and then drilled it with a microscopic 0.015" carbide drill to accept .011" guitar string. Believe it or not, I did not break this drill and did drill both holes. Now that I figured out how to take really tight closeups, that guitar string looks huge. It ain't! The extra solder was deliberate to reinforce the Eduard etched bend lines since I wasn't bending those angle pieces as they should have been if used as the piece was intened to be use.

When I attempted to solder the mast into this hole, it didn't take. Furthermore, the yard arm detached. That when the proverbial stuff hit the fan.

As I messed with the yard arm, the PE laminate started separating and it was getting munged up pretty badly. I decided to remove the bad PE and use the other yard arm PE that I had. When GMM sent me the new main yard PE it was attached to part of the fret that also had the smaller PE yard arm. I soldered this onto the existing made yard and then went to solder it to the yard arm. Oh... and the ladder broke off.

Each time I attempted to solder the yard on the mast had a problem. They were (and could be more than one problem at a time):

  • Off center
  • Canted
  • PE not oriented correctly vertical
  • PE separating from the yard arm

I tried to put this together four times (at least), and of course, the PE was getting munged up like the first one.

Then I tried to free hold the assembly in the RSU's tweezers to just heat it enough to move the yard to the correct orientation, and the whole deal flew out of the tweezers. I found both parts. Then in another attempt to hold the mast in the tweezers since the platform at the top had re-melted and was now canted, and the mast flew out of the tweezers again, and the sound I heard from across the shop was the sound of a piece of brass entering the quantum rift. I wasn't able to find it. I'll find it where the radio tower ended up.

So now I'm starting all over again. This time I won't have PE to add to the yard, but I'll figure something else out. All in all, an almost totally frustrating day. You have them sometimes.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, February 26, 2018 7:40 PM

The nice thing about scratch-building is that when you really screw something up you have the abilty and where-withal to make it again, and that's what I did with the mizzen mast. This time I formed the yard out of a solid piece of 1/32" brass square stock. I clamped the piece in a vise grip and ground the tapered portions with the 1 inch belt sander and then finished up by hand. The mast was made the same as the first on with one exception, I turned the base to be a tighter fit in the hole drilled in the funnel.

To solder the yard in place I clamped the mast to the solder pad and went at it with the RSU. Again it took 3 tries (at least) to get it centered and square to the mast. But this time, the solid bar without the PE was a bit easier to manipulate. That being said, I also soldered a piece of bent 0.011" guitar string underneath to act as a place to belay the flag halyards that go up to this mast. That piece of wire was a pain. It de-soldered a few times, got lost 2 times (made new ones) and finally got it to behave.

The first time I soldered it with TIX, but TIX seems to have a problem. If you get the joint soldered right the first time, it holds nicely. But if it breaks away and you try to resolder, it seems not to hold at all. I tried several times to get it to work, and then reverted the Kester soldering paste which is a higher temp solder. I was reluctant to use a higher temp since I didn't was to de-soldered the platform, or (and this would be worse) de-solder the radar screen. To help forestall this, I clamped a spring tweezers between the heat and the screen to act as a heat sink. It worked. It never de-soldered through these multiple attempts.

I added back the ladder and the base using CA to not tempt the fates and keep the soldered stuff soldered.

It looks kind of crude in this extreme closeup. Since it about 1/4 this size, and painted it will look okay. The Missouri's masts looked the same before they were painted.

Next up I'll be finishing up the railings and steps on the island and then start putting it all together prior to painting. Glad to have this mast finished. I wasn't happy on Friday.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 5:25 PM

A pretty good day...

All work was entirely on the island. I added some Eduard small ladders to a step on the upper decks. Eduard PE instructions are among the best (if not the best) so I printed out their Essex set's instructions to use on this model. Their set is for the Ticonderoga, but much is very similar. I had these small ladders left over from the MO, but they were still too long so I cut them shorter.

I made some long platform railings using GMM's railing stock and some PE Fret brass from Tom's MW. I soldered the two together and then CA'd them to the island.

It should have been one long 8-section railing. I made a 4-section railing set and then checked my photos and realized that the catwalk went all the way to the WTD on the island side. I then made another 4-section piece. As it is, I would have had trouble soldering that long of a railing to that long of a walkway. There is a loudspeaker that goes right in the middle of that rail which will hide the joint between the two.

I changed the contour of the left most ladder way since it didn't allow a GMM inclined ladder to correctly sit. I took off part of the plastic rail and then widened the space and put a newly bent ladder in. This worked much better and cleaned up a mess.

I decided it was time to add the mizzen mast and its guy wires since it would take some manipulation and I didn't want any more stuff in the way.

I glued in the mast with thin CA and then back filled with medium CA. After it kicked, I built the outrigger out of 0.021" and soldered it using the RSU plus standard 60/40 rosin core solder, held in place on the soldering pad. It was an easy build and believe me, I needed an easy one. I cut the legs to length and drilled the funnel with a #75 carbide drill for the three legs. I angled all three holes to correspond to the legs' angles.

I glued the outrigger in with thin CA.

To hold the guy wires (high E guitar string - 0.011" dia.) I used a divider to space out their locations and drilled with a 0.0105" carbide drill. This drill is so small that if you pick it up the wrong way, accidentally touch the side of the drill, or drop the pin vise on your leg, the drill will break and disappear. It will also put a needle injury on your thigh. Ask me how I know...

I put a kink in the bottom end of the wire, fit it in the hole and then cut the length so it tucked under the platform on the antenna mast.

I used this length to approximate the length of the other foreward guy, and then used J-B Weld to glue them in place. I put a kink in the bottom of the rear guy so it would sit flat on the outrigger, measured its length and glued that in place also.

This all has to cure overnight. Tomorrow, I continue detailing the island and get ready to start adding the big assemblies before painting.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 6:46 PM

The Island is coming together... in fits and starts, but it is getting together. I first added a very small rail at the stair landing at the top of the left most ladder. I find that small rails like this, instead of being easy are a royal pain in the butt. They're very springy and if you grab them the wrong way they fly. They also want to glue too quickly before they're sitting just so... and then when you just want to tweak them a little teeny bit, they fall off and you have to start over again. I did that five times before I got one to be where I wanted it without being a distorted mess.

Boy, these models are not meant to look at this closely...

The J-B Weld cured nicely for the mizzen mast guy wires so I was ready to start adding more stuff. Next up was the whistle platform. In this case, I soldered a piece of flattened 0.021" brass wire for the mounting pin. I also did the same on another small antenna platform. I am so glad that I spent the effort to add these brass pins to the PE platforms. The angle brackets are useless, and are almost always bending and breaking off. You CAN NOT DEPEND ON THEM TO ACTUALLY SUPPORT THE PLATFORM! The whistle was scavenged from the old MO and I drilled the back of it to accept a piece of fine gauge solder that simulates the steam line to the whistle. I the line originates in the funnels fore port side. I can probably dress that line a bit better.

And then it was time to add all the rest of the antenna systems. The SK's railing was a mess and was interfering with installing it properly. I trimmed away part of the funnel top plate and then re-arranged the ends of the railings to wrap onto the funnel. It's not great, but cutting the GMM rails in the middle creates a non-controllable mess with the three bars just flopping around. It doesn't work. And I've tried soldering another vertical post in the middle to give a shorter section. It didn't work, but it could. I just have to perfect it a bit. CA'ing the vertical is a non-starter. The 0.032" pins worked, but they were a bit of push into the holes which worried me that I might use too much force, slip and screw up several hours of work on those antennas.

The tri-mast went in without a hitch. And I added the piano wire guys to that top mast on that platform too. I didn't attempt to drill any tiny holes in the brass. All that would have done was break a $1.50 carbide tiny drill and probably destroyed some antenna or another, so I just placed them there and will led the J-B do its stuff. It's starting to look really cool especially if you don't dwell on all those twisted railings. When it's painted and rigged with radio wires and flag halyards it's going to be very convincing.

While the J-B was setting up, I started detailing the structure that sits directly aft of the island: a two-deck tower that supports a 40mm quad gun tub and director. My research shows a couple of vertical ladders, a WTD at the 2nd level, and a landing and inclined ladder at that door. I was having a time making the small platform, again because you can't really have GMM rails in half-sections. I get this finished tomorrow and show it.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, March 01, 2018 6:48 PM

After sleeping on the problem of making that little ladder platform, I did attempt #4. This time, I did two things differently: I found a piece of railing in the leftover Mo set that was a short railing with another even shorter segment. And then I shaped a brass platform to match this configuration. I also added to folded angles to act as brackets to increase the gluing area many fold and solve that problem of not relying on the railing itself to aid in gluing. This closeup makes it look terrible. It's really not bad...a little off kilter, but it will work. The inclined ladder has to go on after it's glue to the deck... I think. I may want to glue it on now so I can paint it before installing it.

I then added the 40mm gun mount and the MK 51 director so this piece is ready for paint (except for the aforementioned inclined ladder).

The latest guy wire gluing went well too with the guitar strings firmly attached to the mast and deck. I then decided to add the wind deflectors. The GMM wind diflectors looked to me as a complete exercise in futility. It consists of some etched strips with little relief cuts and then a ton of little pieces to serve as the supports. I cannot, for the life of me, figure how to a) attach all those parts without going nuts, and b) then bending it around the deck rails and glue it in place without all of those tiny pieces breaking loose. I thought about soldering them in, but I'm not that good.

This image is bigger than it actually is. I can even imagine cutting all those pieces off the fret without losing half of them to the Rift. Sometimes with PE, just because you can draw it, expose it and then etch it, doesn't mean a mortal (like me) can build it.

So I did a plan B. You can really see the slats holding it on, so I took some wine bottle foil and a piece of 0.020" Evergreen round styrene rod to use as a spacer. I measured the PE strip at 0.037" and used the same digital caliper to scribe a line of that distance on the foil. I held a straight edge up to that line and CA'd the styrene to the foil, BEFORE CUTTING THE FOIL STRIP since I could not imagine getting the two aligned with that wiggly, strip moving all around. When the CA set I then cut the foil with a sharp #11 blade and the same straight edge.

By using the styrene as the spacer I was able to use Tamiya cement to glue it to the ship. 

A little forming and shaping was needed once it was glued. Again, once it's painted it should do what was intended.

Lastly, I started laying in all the added stuff on this complicated sub-assembly: Mk 51 directors, signal and search lights, MK 38 directors, 40mm guns, etc. Starboard Side -

Port side -

I did straighten out the steam line to the whistle. There's also a smaller diameter pipe going to that same area that I may add. Still to do are all the 20mm gun sets for the island (and the rest of the ship). One of the side-of-funnel searchlights is missing. There were supposed to be two of them, but the sprue attachment was very weak on these parts and both fell off (one of each of two identical sprues). I captured one for safe keeping, but have lost one. I'm going to scratch build one. If it works well, I may scratch build both. It goes in that sponson with the half railing next to the funnel.

I almost had a heart attack... notice how close my outrigger for the mizzen mast aft guy wire is to the Mk 38 director aft of the funnel. It just fit. In real life this outrigger would have been much, much smaller. I could have made it smaller since I was just winging it. I didn't even think about the director going so close.

I'm going to paint and detail all of this before gluing it to the deck. I may also add all the rigging that is contained within the island since it's much easier to do this while holding it my PanaVIse than to do it leaning over the ship.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, March 02, 2018 6:33 PM

Spent a lot of time today making some very small things...

I made another searchlight to replace the one that's missing. I turned a cylinder the diameter of the prototype, 36" = 0.100" approx. at 1:350. I then turned a pedestal. This came out nicely, but as you'll see it's a bit tall. I could have made it shorter, but didn't feel like making another. The only way you know is if you look at the ship head-on and see port and starboard lights at the same time.

Before parting the cylinder off the stock, I took it out of the lathe, put it in a v-block, filed a flat on the circumference so the center punch and drill would skitter off the circle, and then drilled with a 0.032" carbide drill in a pin vise. I had to drill through the center hole and had to be careful to keep it aligned and not break it. I use Tap Magic for brass when drilling and turnind which helps prevent grabbing which is notorious when machining brass with positively-raked cutting tools. Normally, brass tools are ground with 0 or negative rake angles to scrap the surface rather than cut into it. The rake angle is the back slope of the cutting edge. Positive rake has an acute angle falling back from the cutting lip. Even with drills, if they're large enough to do this, you can grind a small flat behind the cutting edge to reduce the rake angle.

I made the bail with a piece of PE fret brass and turned the base with a 0.032" base pin and pin for the bail. I needed to set the hole spacing for the trunions. The cylinder was .100", and the trunion pins would lie on the diameter, so I multiplied .100 X pi, and then cut that in half and added 0.020" for some clearance. I could have added more, but the bail did fit over the pins. After soldering it all together, I trimmed the bail and filed off the trunions. I filled the center hole with solder to make a face. I was going to leave the hole, but the trunion passed through the middle.

Here's the installed search light.

Next I built the GMM PE loudspeakers. They're a three-part affair with a folded box, a perforated screen and a small folded bracket. I decided to solder these together after messing around, unsucessfully, with CA. The first one I made (which eventually flew out of a tweezers into the Rift) I soldered the screen and then attempted to solder the bracket. This was a mess. The next one, I soldered the bracket first and then soldered on  the screen. This worked. But I lost a couple of the brackets, so the next two I made a bracket with a strap of PE brass. This actually worked even better. You can't see that microscopic bracket anyway.

So I only had three of them at that moment. I CA'd the first one to the front wall of the flag bridge as shown in one of my diagrams. The other goes on the rail in the island's middle. This didn't want to settle down with CA, so I went with J-B. Since it sets very slowly, I laid the island over almost horizontal by swiveling the Panavise base into that position. It will be cured on Monday when work begins again. You can just see it below the radar antenna racks facing upward. The 3rd loudspeaker, which was supposed to go on the aft end of the island, flew out of my tweezers on the way to put some CA on its bracket and went into the Rift.

I started building the 20mm gun sets. GMM includes four PE pieces for each gun: shield, shoulder rests, gun sight and elevating wheel. Of these, the easiest to install was the shield, but I did have to rough up the brass at the glue site to give the CA something to stick to. I also put on a set of shoulder rests. I tried, successfully at first, to install the tiny gun sight, but it fell off and then got lost. I also tried to install the hand wheel, and it too fell off. So it took quite a while to get one done. I got the second one underway before dinner time. I've got to build 13 of them just for the island. I have a full set of 20mm PE guns left over on my MO Eduard set. These are a folded deal that already includes the shoulder rests, but lacks a base. The base pin is about 0.020" and could work (maybe) with the Trumpeter bases, or I could just turn a set of custom bases and solder the whole deal together including the shields. I have to think about this over the weekend.

That's an #11 blade in the picture for scale comparison, so you can get a good idea about just how small that gun site is AND you have to rotate the circle site so it's perpendicular to the barrel. It just has that tiny base to hold it to the gun barrel. It's not a pretty thing and I'm not so sure it will be successful, at least for me. I am sure there are builders some where out there in this wide world that have the steadiness and techniques to build these micro-PE assemblies.

Here's the completed one. The Trumpeter barrel is WAY out of scale. The Eduard ones are much closer to scale, but they lack that base. Nothing's perfect. I've looked at some of those Korean and Chinese PE company products which have turned barrels and so much detail, but I can't figure out how you'd build the darn things. At 1:200, you'd have a chance, but at 1:350, it seems almost impossible, based on my experience.


  • Member since
    July, 2010
  • From: Tempe AZ
Posted by docidle on Monday, March 05, 2018 11:08 PM


Thanks for posting all these details shots and telling what you are doing. They really are a help! It is times like this that I wish I had taken shop in high school! I really need to bone up on my so “called” soldering skills.

I hope you’re feeling better after your fall.





  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 8:20 AM

A lot of nice metalwork there.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Sunday, March 11, 2018 1:04 PM

I taught soldering to about 2,000 people with some significantly positive results, so I could put together a pretty good tutorial on the subject. There's lots of soldering clinics on YouTube... some good, some dead wrong. You have to separate the wheat from the schaff.

I did an article in Classic Toy Trains in November 2001. It was the cover story. It was mainly concerned with doing effective soldering of power leads to model train tracks. For soldering PE, the techniques and tools are somewhat different. I'm still developing techniques for this, since PE, by its nature, is very delicate and tempramental. (this site doesn't have a spell check, and I think I spelled that wrongly).

You may wonder why a whole week went by without a post on the Essex. I had a stomach (intestinal) flu that was quite strange in that it was all cramps and nothing else. No nausea, diarrhea, vomitting... nothing. But the pain was significant and annoying and I didn't feel like sitting in the basement building those %@(*% 20mm guns. 

So instead, I decided to trade my time and frustration for $$$ and bought some new Blue Ridge Models 3D printed 20mm single gun mounts which include nicely formed barrels, shields, shoulder rests and ammo cans. They come 24 to a rack so I bought two. I'll just have to add gun sights (if I want to) and I'll have nice, scalish 20mms. I would have spent the entire week building the others anyway, so I probably didn't lose much productivity.

These things should work pretty well. Painted, they will look terrific. I can see you have to very, very careful cutting them loose from all the 3D supports. They're not cheap at $20 per unit, but I spent that much ($40) for the 3D printed architectural details for the Bronx Building, so I guess that's not too bad. 

As a result, I was looking at what it would take to have my own 3D printer. There is such a variety and now that the Chinese are flooding the market with functional filament deposit machines, there's a lot to choose from and a huge price range from less than $200 to multi-thousand and still be 100 micron resolution. I feel that for 1:48 work, you probably need 50 micron (or less). For 25 micron, you at the limit for filament machines and probably are looking at stereo lithographic ones. They are dear ($3000+) and are out of my price range by an order of magnitude. I'm not looking to make trinkets and curiosities, but want to make real functional parts for buildings and models. For instance, it would be great to print the two turret domes for the Nighthawks Cafe and not have to attempt to turn them on my tiny lathe.

There is a maker's club in Louisville that has 3d printers and laser cutters to use, but it is a $50 a month membership. I'm not happy with that and would have to think seriously about spending a third of my hobby budget just on the membership.

On the other hand, I'm not looking to get into another hobby. I don't want to buy a tool that has a steep learning curve and intensity requiring all that attention and experimentation. And, while I have all the skills to build a kit printer, again, I'm not sure I want to take the time.

I'll take some feedback on this...

Meanwhile, my alimentary canal is working normally. I had a blood test to rule out any pancreatic or gall bladder nonsense and the numbers were all perfectly nominal. So it was just a bug, and a strange one at that. Tomorrow, I'm back in the shop.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, March 12, 2018 5:46 PM

Back in the shop! Whoopee!

And the Blue Ridge Models 3D printed resin 20mm gun mounts arrived today. I had already started back building the modified kit guns, went upstairs for lunch and my wife said I had a small box arrive.

Here's another closeup of the array. They're held to the base with 6 supports. 

They're very, very delicate for two reasons. First, they're very small, and second, they're resin which is brittle. If you clip the supports with too much force, stuff can break. If you grab then a bit too hard, stuff can also break. I had some trouble with the shoulder rests and lost one side on three of them. I also broke the splinter shield on a few which I replaced with PE.

This is a telling shot. It shows the PE modified kit guns with their "massive" gun barrels and the complete 3D printed one. It was worth the $40 already in that I installed all of the guns in the island in the time it would have taken to cobble together two more mounts. And there's really no comparison about the overall effect.

Being resin, you must use CA to install. I finished up the island in a couple of hours.

In this next picture, you can see the ones where I had to replace the shields. I didn't want to scrap them becuase I'm going to need every one. The GMM PE shields are a bit shorter than the 3D printed ones. Will it matter... I don't know. Right now with the brass shining away, it's quite obvious, but when all paint navy blue, you may not notice the slight size difference unless someone told you.

You can also see those with missing shoulder rests. As I get more experience in preparing these little pieces and should break less of them.

On one, I broke off the tiny barrel. I drilled the stub with the tiny, 0.0105" drill and inserted a piece of guitar wire which was just about the right diameter. It was a bit long, so instead of pulling it out, cutting it and putting it back in, I (stupidly) tried to cut it with the Xuron hard-wire cutters and the shock broke off the gun top from the base and sent it into the Rift. I was left holding the base in my locking tweezers. Next time, I do it right. Incidentally, don't ever attempt to cut guitar string with normal Xuron cutters. You will be left with two half-moon grooves in the edges and probably an un-cut piece of wire. (experience talking here. "Good judgement is the result of experience which is often the result of bad judgement.")

The island is finally ready for a final cleanup and paint.

I'm going to start building the flight deck. Instead of putting the three pieces onto the hull separately, I'm going to fully assemble it with reinforcement at the two joints. I started prepping the joinery before the 20mms arrived. I intend on installing LED lighting on it and that has to be done on the total deck. There's a ton of added detail that goes on the flight deck sides including catwalks, added railings and small steps.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 5:51 PM

An odds and ends day...

Started by preparing and gluing up the flight deck. There were mold imperfections at the junctions, so even after filing it as flat as I could it still showed some significant gaps. Since I was not putting the decks into position on the hull and was going to be handling the entire glued up deck, I had to reinforce the joints as much as I could using Plastruct heavy H-beams... very stiff and glues well to styrene. When I first put the beams on, I had one in a place where the hangar deck structures impinged with it. I tested it again after I moved it and added another, and that too got in the way. Luckily, the glue hadn't set and I was able to move it to a better spot.

You can now pick up the deck anywhere and it holds together.

Here are the gaps which I will judiciously fill so they're be less noticeable. I will mask the deck area when I sand the filler if I need to so I won't sand off all the deck planking details.

Next up was putting the PE railings onto the 5" single mounts. Funny... it appears that trumpeter made these guns backwards. The guns load from the left side and the rammer wall should be on the right side of the breach area. In this molding they're on the left side, while the instructions show a drawing with the loaders on the correct side. As it is, the left rail which has the fuze setting machine is on the correct side.

As usual, no mortals will notice this.

Then I modified the 5" twin mount bases to accept a nicely perforated base replacing the thick plastic version. To do this you had to cut the base away from the top and substitute the PE for the removed plastic. I did this using the micro razor saw and then a #11 blade on the inside to inscribe the cut line. 

The pin on the mounts was slightly larger than the hole in the PE so I used a #40 drill to open it slightly and the gun fit in perfectly.

There is also one of these screens that goes next to each deck-mounted 5" twin, but first you have to remove the plastic version sticking out from the deck. I didn't do that today since the flight deck was not securely cured. I'll do that next session.

Lastly, I built the PE boat crane replacements using my fold-and-solder technique. It's moderately complicated fold, plus there's a separate piece that gets curved and installed in the crane's crotch. I really can't imagine how unstable this would be if you had to rely on CA to hold it all together, almost all the joints were handled with the RSU.

The PE part to fill that gap was the exact size and it kept falling inside when attempting to solder it. I cut some PE brass slightly oversized and made a lap joint which is much more secure, soldered easily and will not detract from the effect. You're required to cut parts from the ship's plastic cranes to mate the PE version to the ship. I'm going to think about this and take a look as some detail pics of the real cranes and maybe do it in brass.

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 6:52 PM


I think it's great that you found those 20mm guns on eBay. I wish I'd found something like that when I was working on my USS San Francisco. Such a PITA to have to put those guns together with the GMM PE!



"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, March 15, 2018 6:44 PM

You did them great! And they are a royal PITA! Like I said, it was worth the $40.

Finished building the hybrid Boat Cranes. GMM calls for removing the base and the upper works. I machined and soldered the bases, but did cut away and CA the upper works to the boom. Stuff actually went pretty well and was not stressful.

The hooks was a one piece PE that is CA'd into a small slot etched into the boom bottom. I didn't machine the base pin very carefully... it didn't matter... I just adjusted the hole size on the hull.

Next up was the flight deck. I removed those plastic outriggers next to the lower twin turrents and prepared the edge to accept the folded PE replacement. I also removed some of the alignment ribs under the deck that were supposed to mate with the hangar deck houses. They didn't fit well and I read a review that said the same thing. It was taking much to much pushing and shoving to get it to sit down and it would mean probably breaking something to get it together.

I used a sanding drum on the flexi-shaft and then cleaned up with a plastics chisel and files.

It fits much better with these guides removed. I'm sure if it was Tamiya or Hasegawa kit instead of an old Trumpeter, I wouldn't have to do this.

Lastly, I started adding the under-FD details, including some lift rafts and the box sections that support the catwalks. There are ejection pin marks on all the catwalks, but I think they're not going to be see when the PE goes in. I'm going to add the FD PE AFTER the deck is glued down. There's too much handling to get the deck in place and the PE would get whacked. I do have to add the forward 40mm mount and director before the deck goes down since it's really occluded by the deck overhang. That's the reason why later Essex series ships were built as "long-hull" ships with the flight deck moved back a bit so the forward 40mms had a decent arc of fire. As it is with the early Essex, they could only shoot pretty much straight ahead. You would have thought that they would have seen this in the design phase.

On the hull side, there is a door and a slanted raised rib that corresponds to an inclined ladder that I'm going to install, but I needed to have the FD in a near final form to see if it clears the upper ladder hand rails. I didn't want to glue this is only to have it crushed when the flight deck goes down. I also need to add the ribbing supporting the side elevators runners and detail the whaleboat.

This was a pretty short session today, but it was productive. Tomorrow I will start adding the lighting, and then paint the interior of the flight deck white before closing the lid.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Sunday, March 18, 2018 3:31 PM

It's Sunday, but I'm reporting on Friday's session...

Filled the flight deck gaps with Tamiya putty. I didn't want to damage any of the FD engraving so I masked (with Tamiya tape) very close to the gap itself, filled the groove without worrying about the overlap, and when the tape was pulled, it was just in the groove and nowhere else. It just took the lightest of sanding to smooth it out.

There were expansion joints on carrier FDs so these will be those.

I then wanted to attempt to fit the FD to the hull. I spent a lot of time doing this since I wanted to figure out where the clamps had to go, what was impinging on what and planning out how (and when) to do it. I had to remove more raised alignment lines that were going to be a problem. When I got it so it so it would almost drop in place I stopped since I'm gluing it on yet.

It was time to get the lighting in place. Let me start by saying, the end result of Friday's session is not satisfactory. My lighting scheme is too over-designed and bulky. I'm using CL2N3-G LED drivers to manage the 5 VDC input. These little packages take anything from 5 to 90 VDC and feed it to the LED at 20 milliamps. You can string as many LEDs in series as the input voltage will allow. In this case, I can probably drive 2 in series. They won't reach full brightness since each LED drops 3 VDC. To run them in parallel you have to gang these devices, since they only put out 20 milliamps. In a parallel circuit with two legs, each leg pulls 20ma, so the total current draw is 40ma and you'd need a driver on each leg.

The input side is on the left side of the flat. The center lead is no used, but supports the package if it's mounted in a printed circuit board.

I'm using small 2mm LEDs which I wanted to face towards the ceiling and then reflect downward to provide a more diffused lighting. So I drilled 2mm holes in some styrene, and CA'd and then epoxied the LEDs into the position with their lenses through the hole. I put down some aluminum foil with some pressure sensitive adhesive to make the ceiling more reflective. I let the epoxy drill all weekend. It's a composite picture which accounts for the slight distortion.

So here's the problem... I thought I needed to raise the LEDs off the ceiling to give enough clearance for the light to escape, which is technically correct, but when I put the deck in place on the hull to see how it all fits, it was terrible. The light assembly is too tall and almost touches the flight deck floor. When you peer inside through the side elevator opening all you see is lighting assemblies. Yuck! No room for airplanes and completely destroying the effect I was looking for.

So what to do? Ideally, the lighting should come from fiber optics (which I don't have). If I can't do that, I will probably mount the LEDs directly on the ceiling and have them facing downward not worrying about indirect, diffuse lighting. I can mount the circuitry very tightly to the ceiling so it won't be seen unless you're lookin up into the hangar bay. Otherwise, I'm going to scrap the lighting altogehter. I don't want to invest in fiber optics, although I may research it to see what's what. Tomorrow, I will rip it all out and go for plan B. With fiber optics, the light box can be below the hangar deck and I could bring the bundle up through the pipe I've installed to bring in the power wiring. I think I'm talking myself into this...

Addedum to post: found that I can get 100ft of 1mm fiber optic filament on eBay for less than $10.00 so I ordered some and will give it a try. I found a place called the Fiber Optics Store, which also advertised on eBay, but their website cart was not functioning properly, so I went onto eBay and bought from another supplier. I read a blurb on how to attach LEDs to the fibers using shrink tubing so that's how I'll do it. More about this when it comes in a couple of days.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Sunday, March 18, 2018 5:12 PM

I had a site for lighting that looked like sheet styrene. Can't find it now but will keep looking.

Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Sunday, March 18, 2018 5:36 PM

Found it. Look at these. I'm going to use them in my vintage 1/530 Revell ESSEX in the hangar bay.

Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, March 23, 2018 7:14 PM

That's an elegant solution... and here's another. It was suggested by Ken_NJ, one of my faithful followers on one of the other places where I post this odyssey. It was to use surface mount LEDs soldered to adhesive copper foil. It's a cheap solution. The LEDs are $0.29 each and 100 ft roll od adhesive foil was $8.00 on Amazon. It came yesterday so I had to test it today. Needless to say, it's an awesome process for interior lighting. I don't use the word "awesome" lightly. These things inspire awe!

Their design for machine insertion and soldering, but with careful attention can be hand soldered. The electrodes are on the bottom. The longer one is the negative side. There is a small gap (1mm) separating them. I placed the copper foil on a piece of scrap acrylic about that far apart, tinned a tiny spot onto each side of the gap, held the SM LED in place over the solder pads with a tweezers and heated the foil adjacent to the LED on each side. It took seconds to melt the solder and attach the LED.

Boy! These things are bright. They are wide dispersion (120 degrees) so they're going to illuminate a wide area. Because of their diminuitve size and the care needed to solder them, I believe you'd have to assemble the circuitry on it's substrate off the model. You could never effectively solder them in a vertical position. They are meant for machine insertion and automated soldering, but as you can see, you can successfully solder them. 

I've ripped out all of first attempt lighting on the flight deck bottom and will used this method to illuminate the hangar. It will be bright and the lighting will be totally obscured. I'll be back on Essex work next week.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, March 24, 2018 5:25 PM

Even though I don't work in the shop on weekends (as a rule), I did get some serious thinking time and I do most of my thinking in either SketchUp or CorelDraw. I drew up a pictorial schematic of the foil pattern that I'm going to use for the SM LED lighting. I can't mount the foil directly to the styrene flight deck because it won't handle the soldering heat, so I'm going to build the LED circuit on some thin ply. The soldering is quick, but it's still hot.

You can see the gaps for the LEDs. I had to work around those big chunk of Plastruct H-Beams that are reinforcing the fragile FD joints. I'm not going to have the five current limiting resistors on the foil. They'll extend too far into the hangar space. Instead, I'm going to attach the negative leads onto the foil, bundle all five wires together and bring them down the wiring tube and add the resistors below decks where they'll be out of sight. The ends of the buss bars is where I'll do a "Burglar alarm window foil turn" which I learned when I was moonlighting as an installer in the 1970. In that case it was lead foil, not copper, but the idea is the same, make a 90 degree turn without breaking the circuit. 

After soldering all the LEDs and connecting leads, I'll glue the ply to the FD styrene. After is glued I'll liquid mask the LEDs themselves and paint the hangar ceiling and walls white and the hangar deck some other color. 

Just what color is the hangar deck? Is it deck blue, or is it some other color and that ends at the doors? Then I'll join the deck to the hull and continue building.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, March 26, 2018 6:18 PM

So... I'm back to work on the Essex. Using the pattern, I cut a piece of 1/32" aircraft play, and glued it to the underside of the flight deck. Before doing this I further prepared the FD by scraping of the no-longer-needed aluminum foil and grinding down the remains of the standoffs from my now defunct first attempt. I used MicroMark Pressure Sensitive Adhesive to hold the ply to the styrene, but saw that it wasn't going to stay attached due to some warpage and the raised bumps of the kit's joint fingers. To make sure it didn't go anywhere I sealed the edges with thin CA. That did the trick.

I quickly realized that my pattern left out one major detail; the hole for the forward in-deck elevator. This really doesn't matter if I decide to build with the elevator in the up position, but I'd like to have the option. I first routed out most of the wood with a 1/16" carbide router in the Flexishaft, and then took the remainder away using a 1/4" Dremel sanding drum. I tapered the ply back from the elevator opening's edge so it wouldn't be seem from the outside.

I didn't put an LED forward of that elevator for two reason; it was overkill and there wasn't much room to run the foil around that elevator. There will be PLENTY of light.

In fact, lighting could to be so bright it's going to look like the Essex crew is growing marijuana in a greenhouse. I will also have to make sure that the paint film is thick enough to prevent all that light from showing through the hull sides. I may want to spray the insides first with Tamiya Primer, but it's solvent-based and that means I might have to paint it outside. I can get away with little, quick spray jobs in the basement, but nothing of this side. It would smell up the whole house. And the weather outside is still not good enough for outdoor spraying. It's either the cold, the wind or both.

I cut the 1mm gaps after all the foil was down, but not burnished with a new #11 blade. I used a Burglar-alarm-foil-corner trick to not have to so more foil joint than I had to, but did have to solder the joints where the other LED strips intersected the main feeder. This is a parallel ciruit becuase of the small 5 VDC transformer driving it. Two in series would drop 6 volts and underpower the LEDs. Before soldering I burnished the tape down so it was firm, flat and smooth.

I soldered the joints and applied tinning to both sides of the LED gap. I then placed and soldered all the LEDs. Before doing that I tested each to make sure they all were good. I then tested each circuit strip to make sure that the solder joints were secure. I did find one that wasn't fully soldered on one end and fixed it. I also blew one out when I inadvertently used my un-protected negative lead to test instead of the lead attached to the 470 ohm resistor. Getting direct 12VDC with no limiter guaranteed that that the LED lasted about 1/2 second. It burned out so fast I almost didn't catch the slight flash before it was no more. I replaced it with another and took more care picking which test lead I was using. I have the bare lead to test LEDs that are already protected by a current limiter, and the one with the resistor to test bare LEDs.

I've run out of 26 gauge black wire (it was wonderful wire that I bought a Conrad when I lived in Düsseldorf, Germany) so I'm substituting green for the negative leads. The wire has many, very fine strands so it's very flexibel and solders beautifully. I found materials that I bought in Germany for building my railroad were all superior. That includes wiring, lumber, plywood and fasteners. They had a great no-drill-needed wood screw with Torx head brand call SPAX that were the best wood screws I've ever used. They now sell them at selected Home Depot stores. My model railroad has literally used thousands of these.

There are four negative leads since each gets the 39 ohm resistor and there's one + lead since it feeds all the parallel circuits. 

Notice how little solder is necessary to hold these joints. The wire is a good example of a mil-spec solder joint. You must be able to still see the conductor in the solder joint and there are concave slopes of solder up to the top of the conductor. This image shows that the joint is fully wetted and that solder and substrate have become one. If there was a convex blob over the joint one couldn't tell if the solder was actually adhered to the copper. In fact, it probably wouldn't be and might be held only with hardened rosin flux. A shock or vibration could seperate the joint and lead to failure. The same goes for the LED joint itself. After tining, I apply heat to the copper foil and watch the solder melt and the LED settles down nicely. Once the FD is glued down there will be NO way that any repairs could be made. It must be bullet proof.

I had to run the wires down through the brass conduit that I put in several weeks ago, and I just guessed about where that would be when I bundled the wires together for passage. I used thick CA to form small wiring clamps to hold everything neatly. As it worked out, I guessed perfectly. The bundled comes down directly over that brass tube. Whew! Sometimes you win one. You won't be able to see the wiring or lights when the ship is buttoned up.

Four wires just fit through, but the + lead wouldn't, so I drilled a second hole through both levels of the plastic and inserted a smaller, 1/32" tube. It's held securely with some thin CA. Here's how the wires exit into the lower reaches of the hull. You can just see the forth greem wire peeking out of the tube.

And just to prove how fortuitous was my selection of where to clamp the wires, here's an inside shot of the wires going into the conduit. I aligned the deck properly before taking this shot just to make sure it would work.

So with the lighting system in place there's absolutely no reason why I shoudn't be painting the interior and getting the two decks joined together. That work will continue tomorrow.



  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, March 26, 2018 6:27 PM

In areas where the sidewalls aren't visible you can glue thick black paper. 

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 7:54 PM

Perhaps I'll try that. Aluminum foil also works as it's inpervious to light. 

Speaking of hangar deck walls, I masked the LEDs and airbrushed the undersides of the flight deck first with sky gray as a primer followed by 2 coats of Tamiya while. You're really not going to see much of the ceiling so I didn't continue to paint after 2 coats.

I then did the same for both the hull hangar interior and the island. 

For the hangar deck floor I decided to use deck blue figuring that when all the doors are open, the floor would be seen and should be deck blue. This may be incorrect, but nobody on any of the forums where I write this thread responded. I painted the HD walls with white, first and then brush painted the floor deck blue. I didn't do a great job on the floor/wall inteface and will go back tomorrow when all is very dry and do some back painting to get a really clean line.

This picture is very distorted since I attempted to do it as a pano and the slightest movement vertically as you pan shows up as a curved linear surface.

I'm not doing any extra detailing on the hangar deck interior since viewing it is really difficult. It's just to add a theme, rather than an actual representation.

After pulling the little pieces of mask off the LEDs they're nice and clean, ready to light up the place.

I you want to go crazy, there's a huge amount of structural steel in the hangar deck ceiling considering the weight of aircraft, the landing stresses and the armor plate that lines most of the flight deck. I've seen modelers who add this detail. Every person decides on where they want to draw the limits.

The island looks interesting now that it's showing its navy blue. It definitely neutralizes a lot of the inconsistencies from all the different materials I used in its construction. I'm going to shoot it again tomorrow, but with a little bit of white added to the blue to fade it just a bit. I'm not really going to weather the ship, but I don't think it would have been this dark once it was exposed to that South Pacific sun.

I will also look good when I pick out some details with black (e.g., the boots at the end of the Mk37 directors' long basis range finder, and funnel cap and screen) and some alciohol/India Ink wash around the doors, etc. to give them more relief. I may also mist the mizzen mast with some black to represent soot that it would experience sitting directly behind the funnel. As I've said, I think I'm going to do the flag and radio rigging when the island is still of the hull since it would be so much easier to reach in.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 6:48 PM

The day started with hand painting the deck blue/white demarcation line to clean up the hangar deck appearance. After going around the whole thing once, I went back and peered through the various opening galleries to see across the deck and pick out any inconsistencies you could see and then touch them up. The results now are passable.

I then masked all the openings so I could airbrush Navy Blue 5N to the hull exterior without fouling up all that white paint. The mask had to wrap in towards the interior on the deck so paint wouldn't get underneath. Anyway I approached it, I would have to close off the openings. Perhaps it would have been an easier masking job if I did the outside first and then masked and painted the white since the exterior of the roller doors is a bit less convoluted than the insides. But confident it will work okay when the tape is pulled. Any overspray will be easy to backpaint with white.

I flipped the hull over, laid it on a piece of Masonite and air brushed the blue exterior. Since I was spraying up from the bottom, I reduced the chance for blue getting inside. I later flipped it over to see how it worked and there are a few light areas that I touch up with the airbrush on a less aggressive setting.

The Life Color paint, like other acrylics (but not Tamiya) flashes off and appears dry, but it's still tacky to the touch and really shouldn't be handled until the paint is cured overnight.

I also shot the island under the overhangs where the blue was thin from yesterday's painting session. Later I started painting the underneath of all overhangs white. I've read where even with camo paint jobs, underneath surfaces were white. I ran out of time before I finished this step. It will take some more work before it works (recoating and backpainting).

I made a few more 40mm mounts to replace some of the ones that weren't right (broken barrels). In this case, I used the kit's guns and base with the GMM PE enhancements. So I now have at least four combinations of 40mm mounts on this model. I wouldn't recommend this. It is sub-optimal, but they won't be noticeable since they're very small, they're be very dark, and the all have four gun barrels. I also sprayed Tamiya primer on all the remaining PE railing et. al. to make it easier to paint them blue. I'm going to attempt to pre-paint all the main railings so I won't have to go back and airbrush the whole ship since the deck blue and navy blue has already been established.

I mounted all the remaining little bits on masking tape in prep for tomorrow's painting session. I've lost some of the little Eduard PE range finder shutters on the 5" Twin mounts. I hope I have some more to fix them. PE does that sometimes. When you WANT to remove it, it sticks like crazy, but when you want it to stay, they fall off spontaneously.

I gave all these a light shot of Tamiya primer also.

Another little bit that needed attention is the port side exterior elevator support structures. I've seen another superb rendition of this model that showed extra webbing added to these pieces and I did that today adding some 0.020" X 0.080" styrene strip. It was a fun little project and the picture shows the comparison.

I also added the PE to the whale boat. GMM's extra PE set includes a prop/rudder, a railing cage for the cockpit and two little ship cradles. This is also ready for paint.

So... tomorrow will see more painting. I need to prepare the bottom hull piece (props/shafts/rudder and paint hull red), but I can't finish and mount it until my friends sends me the completed base plate. I need to drill the hull and base plate at the same time to ensure the holes line up perfectly. But I will be able to join the flight deck to the hull once all the painting is done. So the steps will be: FD to hull, decorate flight deck, mount all the guns (except for flight deck) and then wait until base plate arrives. Once the lower hull is on, mask and paint the black boot topping and mount the ship to the base. Then I'll be able to glue all the other details on the flight deck, railings, antenna, guns, etc. I can't forget to install some planes on the hangar deck or there will be nothing to look at inside.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, March 29, 2018 7:03 PM

I've reached the point where the ship has to wait for me to make some aircraft if I want any on dispay in the hangar. I've painted everything except the flight deck itself which I'll do when it's glued to the hull. I finished the island painting and it's ready for rigging. I also painted all the other bits and pieces. When painted, you really can't distinguish all the different 40mms. They just look like guns with small barrels.

At this magnificaton you can see differences especially with the wider-spaced kit guns. But they really will work when I make sure to not put different species within viewing distance of each other.

I did have more range finder covers and fixed up the 5" twins before I painted them. I realized that the originals were knocked off when I was manhandling the mount to get them into PE base screens.

Technically, the top surfaces of the 5" twins and their base plates should be deck blue, but I'm having trouble actually seeing much difference between deck blue and navy blue. I paint them just because I have AMS.

I finished the island 2nd coating all the white and back paint and white painting ad nauseum. I painted the "flat black" funnel top. The quotes indicate that the flat black didn't dry flat. I then overcoated it with Tamiya flat clear and it still wasn't flat. Then I overcoated that with Tamiya Rubber Black, and that sorta worked. I don't know what was going on.

I painted all the gun barrels gun metal and the search light lenses with that amazing Molotow Chrome Pen that puts down absolutely reflective chome.

This shows the "almost flat" black funnel.

I mounted the whale boat and the elevator in prep for attaching the flight deck. I put a 0.021" brass pin through the boat and into the hull since the PE cradles have almost zero surface area to glue the boat the hull. This way it will not come off.

The elevator gave me some trouble. All that beautiful PE underneath was slightly wider than the spacing of the support structure and when I attempted to get the guide pins into the track, the PE at one edge started deforming and coming unglued from the elevator deck. I had to reshape and reglue it and trimmed a tiny bit of brass to help it clear. I then found that if I tried to push it to the bottom, it would deform more, so I set it at a mid-position and willl have an aircraft on it as it's moving to the flight deck.

I also brush painted the entire hull with vertical strokes to make the hull look less pristine. I'm not sure I like the effect, but I didn't want to air brush it again since I had pulled all the masking. The inside looks terrific.

This photo is a composite rather than a pan so I wouldn't get all the distortion. It's a really long ship!

I'll make a few aircraft for the hangar deck and then it will be a big deal day when the FD and hull are mated.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, March 30, 2018 9:54 PM

Short and Frustrating session...

The Rift attacks again. There are two PE screens that sit on the outer edge of the flight deck next to the 5" twins that are mounted directly on the deck. You have to fold them in half which gives the impression that there's a real structure under the screening. They replace a plastic molded curved bump on the flight deck edge. GMM would have you just CA it edgewise to the deck and this would hold about 15 seconds or less, so I soldered two 0.021" brass pins to the screen, measured their separation with a divider and transfer that the deck edge. Drilled it will the same sized carbide drill, and then inserted and CA'd the pinned screen to the deck. This is viewed from the ugly underside of the deck.

So that one worked perfectly. When I went to insert the second one (there are two 5" Twin Mounts fore and aft at the extremes of the island) and it slipped straight down from my fingers as I was trying to coax it into the two small holes... and then it just DISAPPEARED! Gone! Swept and searched and searched and it was gone and I really can't scratch build another. There is no possible explanation for its disappearance then to blame it on slipping dimensions into the Quantum Rift. I worked 15 minutes and searched for a half hour. Not a productive use of my time.

I gave up looking for it, and went back to building small airplanes for the hangar deck. I put together one Hellcat yesterday and lost one landing gear. Today and I built another Hellcat and lost ANOTHER landing gear. So I decided to scratch build a tiny landing gear so it would sit correctly. It's going in the hangar so it won't be THAT visible.

I used some of the same 0.021" brass wire and measured the wheel at 0.088". I had some 0.080" half-round styrene which I glued together to make a whole-round styrene rod. I then sliced off a piece to be a wheel. It works considering that the entire plane, minus the tires is going to be glose sea blue (late War naval aircraft scheme). Pardon the bad close-up focus.

I also put togher one TBF Avenger without any drama, and one Dauntless. If I want to use the Dauntless in the hanger, I'm going to have to figure how to fold the wings since the model of this particular plane doesn't have a two-part wing like the other twos have.

It's the weekend so no more work. It was funny. I lost one of the landing gear out of my fine needle nose Xuron pliers. When it went "Pwang!" it actually hit the palm of my left hand which gave me a clue about energy-level and trajectory, and I found it on the floor. Five seconds later, in the same tool, it went "Pwang"! again, only this time I had no idea of where or how far it went and it was gone along with the other landing gear and the flight deck screen. I literally spent more time looking for microscopic crap than actually building anything today. And I have to go to the LHS to pick up some sea blue to paint these things. These little planes are now a bottleneck on the critical path since I can't button up the flight deck with these planes inside.

I ordered and recieved a set of two airbrushes from Amazon. These are Chinese and getting two for around $35 was an offer I couldn't pass up. My faithful Badger XF-150 is many years old and has been rebuilt by Badger. They have a lifetime warranty and will rebuild their high line brushes. It was a good thing! I'm still keeping the Badger. The new pair includes a medium gun with a suction feed (like the Badger) and a fine-line top-feed gun. I wanted a top-feed gun for doing detail work. Now I have three. On a job like the Essex, having multiple guns with different colors loaded will be helpful.

The new guns, although a little less refined than the Badger, are actually nicely made and will do well for my use. 

To drive three airbrushes required a manifold. Incidentally, that Badger diaphram compressor dates back to 1977, so it's done yeoman duty. No complaints. I have a moisture trap, but having it sideways I think is probably not doing it any good.

I was able to source that at Amazon too. It has one inlet and three outlets. They use 1/4" threads with knurled nuts with O'rings so you don't need a wrench to make an air-tight connection. I also needed four hoses. My Badger hose uses an atypical 5.0mm fine thread on both ends so it needed replacement. I needed to get a 5.0mm/1/4"  adaptor to connect the Badger brush inlet to the rest of the system. And I needed another adaptor from the compressor's 1/2" female pipe-threaded outlet to the 1/4" hose fitting. So I now have four hoses connected to three airbrushes. I moved my airbrush holder to my roll-around auxiliary work table and I'm going to mount the manifold onto it and use a single hose from the compressor to the manifold. This will greatly increase my air brush reach.

Next thing is a new compressor which I'm buying after we return from a trip to New Mexico celebrating our 50th anniversary. Again, there's a Chinese twin cylinder compressor and reservoir available for a bit over $100. While I'm not over-joyed about buying Chinese air brushes when Badger still makes some of their's in the USA, I know for a fact that almost everyone's compressors are made in China. This includes Badger and Pasche, and they upcharge their compressors, but when you look closely, they're all the same product. My current aging compressor has no reservoir which means it's running continuously as I'm spraying, and has no pressure regulator which really reduces my ability to spray different materials effectively. I'll keep y'all posted on how this all works.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Saturday, March 31, 2018 4:38 PM

Happy Saturday Session...

I've said it before... I'm not patient, but I am persistent. My screwups are usually due to rushing or moving too fast. These little 1:350 planes are a typical example. The trouble I had yesterday was building them one at a time, not waiting for the solvent cement to really set, and then forcing parts to stay together with CA so I could keep going. Today, I took a different tack and it worked nicely. I'm building the rest of the planes (and more to come since I've ordered more Hellcats and some Corsairs from my LHS today) in assembly line fashion, fastening a single part on each, moving to the next while the first sets up and so on. It worked nicely. I'm building three more Avengers, three more Dauntlesses and the last two Hellcats. One of the Avengers' props is missing a blade in the sprue so that's going to be under repair in the hangar. 

This technique was especially important on getting the wing roots and those very small-glue-area tailplanes to stay put and aligned. I should of thought of this yesterday and would have had a much less frustrating day. That PE flight deck screen is still in the Rift and hasn't returned to this dimension, but I'm keeping an eye out. It's not on the critical path and I'm may attempt to figure a way to scratch build one. As soon as I build one, the real one will show up.

I bought some Vallejo AV Dark Sea Blue which I'm going to try in my new detail airbrush. I'm also returning some AK Special Acrylic Solvent since it appears to be completely incompatible with Life Color Paints (for Tamiya I use straight Iso Alcohol). It was separating like unmixed salad dressing. I scrapped that batch and used Testor's Universal Acrylic Thinner which worked perfectly.

I also bought some Vallejo Dark Gray Wash. I usually use India Ink/Isopropyl Alcohol mix to do fast weathering/aging, but I'm out of India Ink and thought I'd give a commercially prepared product a try. I report on how it works.

On Monday I'll get all the planes (I have) done, but probably won't attempt painting them until Tuesday based on that "glue drying" thing I discussed at the top of this post. And then Vallejo acrylic needs a good 24 hours to dry before handling and decalling. I'm going with a solid dark sea blue scheme which is what the Navy did later in the war. I don't know if the Dauntlesses did this. Speaking of Dauntlesses, I was told by one of my readers yesterday that they didn't have folding wings and were stored hanging from the hangar deck ceiling. Perhaps I'll do that, but the ceiling has no detailing and I may not want to call people's attention to that.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, April 02, 2018 6:34 PM

While I had a decent amount of time in the shop, I was doing lots of little punch list items that took a lot of time, but don't look like it. I finished up the planes that I currently have. Even with my program of letting the solvent cement dry thoroughly, I was still having landing gear and horizontal stabilizers fall off due to the very tiny glue surfaces. I also replaced several tiny tail wheels with some brass wire. I'd like to talk with some of the guys that put 70 or 80 of these little buggers on a flight deck and find out how they build Trumpeter tiny airplanes. I don't seem to remember having this much trouble on the SC-1 Seahawks on the Missouri, but they were Tamiya.

I chucked the SBDs. One of my readers who's very well versed in Naval Air said that they were obosoleted at the time I'm modeling the Essex and were replaced by Helldivers. Stevens International, where Scale Reproductions ordered my additional Hellcats and Corsairs, was out of stock on the Helldivers. I'll get them before the project's over.

I tried my new Point Zero detail air brush to today for the first time and it worked very well. I cleaned it using Windex which was a suggestion by Brian Bunger who owns Scale Reproductions, Inc., my local hobby shop. I used Vallejo AV Dark Sea Blue. Even though it's supposed to be pre-thinned for airbrush use, I found it needed some additional thinning with Testor's universal acrylic solvent. The first coat covered the top surface. Tomorrow I shoot the bottom and re-coat any surfaces that need it. Trumpeter should have left the recessed panel lines off these tiny planes. Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something. Even in bigger scales panel lines can be very exaggerated. At this scale, when an inch is a bit under three thousandths of an inch, the panel lines would be 6" gashes in the skin. Most folks overdo panel line painting as well. Most modern American aircraft are built so precisely and maintained so well that the panel lines on the real planes are almost invisible. I probably should filled them before painting. Having said that perhaps I'll fill them after the paint dries.

The landing gear is so fragile that I broke loose several just attempting to stick the planes to the reversed masking tape. To ensure that the planes don't break loose when in the hangar or on the flight deck I'm going to pin them with brass wire and CA.

Is there any way to paint the canopy frame lines on those tiny canopies? I've been thinking of painting some Scotch Magic Tape and cutting very fine little strips of it for the frame lines. I don't know of any other tape that would be thin enough to not look ridiculous.

I finished up the radio towers adding the long ladder to one side and this tiny "radio wire spreader bar". No soldering here, used CA since the towers were painted.

I detail painted the 5" guns and barrels of the 40mm. I scrapped the two 40mm mounts that had the broken barrels and made three more kit 40s that I'll add the PE tomorrow.

I also started building the frustrating Floater Net Baskets. Since these were not included in the kit, nor does GMM offer any positioning info, I'll have to rely on pictures to see where they go. Tamiya did include plastic baskets which were replaced one-for-one in PE. These are not very satisfying to build since they're very soft and fragile.

I'm ready to start rigging the island it's sitting the PanaVise on the work bench. I have a good drawing of the Intrepid's rig which should be close to Essex's.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 6:38 PM

Another day of punch list items and odds and ends getting ready for the flight deck/hull joining.

First up was painting the bottoms of the aircraft and fixing whatever landing gear broke off (again). Any that broke at this time were replaced with brass struts. Same went for tail wheels. In my other post of this topic one of my most prolific commenters noted that he too has trouble with Trumpeter and solvent cement. It could be something in their styrene compounding.

I went back and recoated any other areas that were thin. I painted the tires Rubber black and the inside of the cowling where and engine would be. Tomorrow I'll finish decorating them including decals and place them on the hangar deck.

I made three more 40s and discarded the ones with broken barrels. I have two extra incase I screw anything up which I've been known to do.

While rooting around on the floor looking for another dropped part, guess what decided to come back from the rift: the brass screen. It was lying on the floor directly below where I was sitting. I predicted that it would appear so. Now... it may have been stuck underneath my chair (how it got there I don't know), but my theory holds. These things leave our dimension. It's especially common with metal parts. Until proven otherwise, I'm going to stick to the Rift theory. I swept this floor at least four times since that part got lost. I removed and moved everything within 100 sq ft of the "departure" and to have that part sitting right below where I'm sitting is more that weird. It's positively metaphysical. I immediately put it where it belongs on the other side of the island area on the flight deck edge. To take the picture, I just pointed the iPhone straight down.

I got back to preparing the hull by building the two cable reels that site on the forecastle deck. I used some small diameter styrene tubing cut to the length of the PE cable stands middle width. I threaded one reel on a piece of 0.021" brass wire, CA the styrene spindle to this reel, added the second reel onto the other end and then clipped the wire with about 1/32" sticking out on each side. I then folded the PE frame up and over the axle stubs. I added CA to these joints so it wouldn't separate. I painted the drum a rope-tan color and Navy Blue for the frame. This was CA's to the deck.

I then started to add some really cool details: the upper catwalks leading to the front edge under the flight deck's front edge. This is a fragile, long-fold item. I'm using a fairly elaborate Hold-n-Fold from the Small Tool Shop. I reversed the platen so the long edge was in the middle of the tool and then used the long blade that came with it. It's a razor sharp flat blade that lets you fold the entire object in one go.

GMM shows gluing this part under the FD, but I felt that I wanted more control over it since it has to slip over the massive flight deck supports and secures to the front bulkhead. There's doors at that bulkhead, which are not called out in either the Trumpeter instructions AND the GMM instructions, but they're shown in the set of Eduard instructions that I downloaded. Eduard shows some more details on that bulkhead including a door in the middle that leads out to a small platform and inclined ladder, but it's buried in the dark and will NOT be seen so I didn't attempt to put it in there. They also show a catwalk that wraps around from the gallery to the side of the hull and I didn't put that in either since I didn't feel like messing with it. Having just written that, I realize that I CAN scratch build it since I have some much railing left over from the Missouri and can cobble something together. I'll see how I feel tomorrow. All this PE was pre-painted the other day. There are two small galleries that hang on the lower extreme corners of the flight deck front bottom. GMM includes these short ones for the Essex and short hulled ships of the class, and a long one (and different side galleries) for the long-hulled variety. You have to be careful to read the instructions and follow the etched call-outs on the PE frets.

I have to get those front lower railings in place now, and will experiment with adding more stuff around that front corner.

We're getting ready to leave for New Mexico for our 50th Anniversary (2nd Honeymoon?) so tomorrow will be my last report for a week and a half. Like building a house, the big parts go together pretty quickly and the small detail stuff seems to last forever, but that's our hobby, and it's especially true with large ship models.

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: EG48
Posted by Tracy White on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 10:49 AM

A couple of quick notes - there's no placement guide for the floater net baskets because each ship was different, and even each time frame of a ship could have big variation.

Dauntlesses didn' thave folding wings for what it's worth, so your decision to move to "the Beast" for the hangar is probably better for a number of reasons.

Tracy White Researcher@Large

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 6:52 PM

I guess I'll just wing it regarding the baskets. It won't be the first thing about this build is a little 'off'. Re: the SBDs, I'm not using them at all since I've ordered some 1:350 Trumpeter Helldivers from Free Time Hobbies (they had then in stock). They'll arrive before we get back from the trip so I'll build one or two for the hangar deck and the rest for topside.

My last work session finished up the coloring and decals for the air wing and I got the good bow rails in.

The Trumpeter small aircraft decals were thick and relatively unbending so I needed to use a lot of Solvaset and Micro Sol go get them to settle down. I also had much more trouble putting ID data on them since the decal film extended fairly far from the lettering so one letter kept pushing the other out of the way. And, since i'm going all sea blue, the black lettering didn't work at all. The TBFs had white or black lettering so I used the white, but the Hellcats' lettering was only black. Black on dark see blue is invisible. The decal registration wasn't so good with some white showing around the edges. I might go back and just do a tiny bit of touchup with some sea blue... or not. The stars are all the same size, whereas I believe on some of the planes like the Avenger, the wing stars were smaller than the fuze sides and I imagine Hellcat stars would be smaller than Avenger wing stars. I may be wrong, but I just built the TBM and the stars were different sizes.

Painted the cockpit area Chromate Green in preparation for fitting the transparent parts. I thought I would get done enough with the planes today to get them in the hangar and install the flight deck before the trip, but an errand took some time so it will have to wait. I probably would have rushed it and screwed something up. The props all have some little nubs that need to be taken off, but the blades are very small and I don't want to break any. I'll practice on the SBD props that I did save.

The GMM bow rails are nice and have cuttouts for the chocks. However, I think I mounted the port side reversed. Loren Perry said that there are too many chocks on the Trumpeter model so some would be next to unbroken rail anyway. 

I use the method to hold the rails in place for CA'ing by applying some Tamiya narrow masking tape at strategic locations that holds the rail close to the edge while I'm able to apply thin CA and hold the bottom rail down to the deck with only two hands. This method works pretty well with long rails.

Notice that yesterday's galleries are gone. I bumped the Starboard side and it's CA let go so I removed them both and will reinstall when the flight deck is in place. I can see there is much, much more gluing surface on the top brass than on the rail that I used to hold them to the FD support beams. 

So that's it until Friday, April 13.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, April 13, 2018 7:43 PM

Well gang, it's Friday the 13th, we're back from our New Mexico trip, which BTW was wonderful in many, many ways.

While we were gone, my order of Trumpeter 1:350 Helldivers arrived and I started building them today. I also did some work on the Ford Fairlane GTA which I'm posting on another thread in this forum. 

Again, I used the assembly line method to speed up the process while, simultaneously giving the glue some time to set properly.

Curtiss Helldivers were the replacements for the SBD Dauntless with significantly more power (the same R-2600 Twin Wasp as in the Avenger) and greater capacity, but they were a difficult design for Curtiss to master and didn't get into the War until 1944. They had teething pains and were hard to handle due to the their stubby aspect ratio. They finally were debugged and were effective, but it broke Curtiss' back. The appearance was due to the length limitations of carrier elevators in that era.

I got all the major parts on and they're ready for some sea blue. Their insignia is white star, blue circle as before, but now there are bars added which Trumpeter chose to make as separate tiny decals that need to be positioned. UGH! But at least they made the decal film coincide with the edges of the graphic so they'll nest together adequately.

I folded the wings on two of them, one for the hangar and one on the FD. On Monday, I'll give them the paint job. I'm waiting for the order of Corsairs and Hellcats to arrive, but I think they're all going on the FD and are not a bottleneck in the critical path.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, April 16, 2018 5:42 PM
Short session… I produced a set of decals for the tail diamonds that represent the Essex air wing. I measured the tails with the digital caliper, transferred this to a hand sketch and then drew them full-size in CorelDraw. I set up guidelines for the extremis of each dimension set for the three types of tails (Avenger, Hellcat and Helldiver) with the Helldiver being the largest and Hellcat the smallest. I'm waiting for the Corsair models to arrive and that will be a fourth tail decal to create. I am not looking at putting on the Hellcat decals being that they are about half the size of the Helldiver's.
I made more than I need, which I'm glad I did since they're tiny and fragile.
I printed them out on plain paper to check them out and then printed them out on white inkjet decal film. I put them in the gray squares since I didn't want to print the outlines since they're thick even at hairline considering the size of the decal, and white on white is invisible.
After coating with two coats of Microscale decal film coating, I was ready to apply them to the planes. The trick was to cut them out with a #11 blade and then, using a fine-pointed tweezer, to get them onto the model in the correct orientation. Notice that there are right and left hand sets. I had to refer to the prototype picture to get their correct contour. I used a mixture of Microsol and Microset to set them down on the exaggerated seam lines on the models.
While the coating was drying I painted the Helldivers Dark Sea Blue. Again I used the new fine line detail airbrush and hand held the models instead of attempting to secure them to masking tape. As it was, I still broke off at least 4 main gears and three tail wheels of which I lost some and had to substitute brass wire. I almost seems like the black plastic Trumpeter uses for the gear is not melted sufficiently solvent cement. When I reconnect the gear leg I use thin CA. I did fill those unsightly gaps where the two fuze halves join. And, as usual, in the process of final shaping, more landing gear fell off. Seriously… they just fall off.
And here's the first plane completed. 
While holding the airplane to apply the port side set, I broke the wing/fuze joint. In the process of re-gluing this joint, my fingers touched the non-dry port side decals removing them. They were damaged beyond redemption so I replaced them. I also had to replace one half of the starboard side decals when it folded over on itself. That's why I'm glad that I made so many duplicates. I'm sure I will use them all. There are also diamond patterns on the right wings of the Essex planes, but I've already applied the stars on last week's production. I may leave them off. Each time I handle the planes, more stuff breaks.
  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 6:50 PM

Once again, input from my readers solves a couple more challenges. I could have continued hand cutting all those little triangular decals to make the tail diamonds, but the suggestion I got from a reader to color the background to match the plane color so I could have a decal that covered the entire tail might work well.

Sure did! First I had to match the color. I went on CorelDraw and chose a dark blue, then several other blues near to it. I printed out four colored rectangles (the larger ones in this image), but they were too blue. I was working up in the office and had the window shades open so I was getting good north light to match colors against one of the little planes. I noticed that the Vallejo Dark Sea Blue had some green in it, so I made four smaller rectangles and printed four more shades, this time moved slightly into the blue/green part of the color scale and found one that was a pretty good match. It is the block on the lower right.

I put this swatch next to the page with the decal drawing and then used the eye-dropper tool to match the color of the swatch. I printed them using photo settings at high res to get good color saturation. The end result was a good match as you can see with the airplance almost disappearing on the decal sheet. After the ink was dry I brushed two coats of Microscale Decal Film Coating. Inkjet ink is water soluble and will be destroyed when you soak the decals if they're not coated.

It was much easier to cut out this decal since the tiny point intersection now stays intact as the entire design is in one piece. I applied one to a finished Helldiver with nice results. 

The other things you'll notice about this plane. First is the propellor is on and the prop hub is nicely reflective using the Molotow Chrome Pen. The other is the canopy is on AND  the frame lines are drawn using a brand new fine line Sharpie. This was another idea from a reader. I wasn't sure it would get thin enough, but it did. It's black and not sea blue, but it's so darn small, it just give the effect of a frame. I glued on the canopy using Forumla 560 canopy cement which is formulated from gluing on RC plan canopy. It's a PVA cement and dries clear and doesn't craze the styrene. Still need to add the yellow prop tips.

I'm still waiting for the additional Corsairs and Hellcats, so after the decaling, props and canopies for the remaining craft that I will put those in the hangar and get back to boat building.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:05 PM

Today, I finished all the planes that I currently have (still waitingo on additional Hellcats and Corsairs) by adding and lining the canopies, adding the props and painting yellow tips, and preparing some for mounting on the hangar deck.

I shot the following in four takes so I could get good detail of the planes. I hand brushed a layer of Tamiya Flat Clear to blend the decals into the surface. All the planes shown here  are not going on the hangar deck as you'll see shortly.



More Helldivers

And Avengers

I was ready to place planes permanently onto the hangar deck in preparation for attaching the flight deck, but was dubious about the ability of those spindly and fragile landing gear to hold them to the deck. Once the FD was in place, if any broke loose, I would not be able to reattach them. So I drilled each plane with a 0.032" drill on the correct angle that they sit and CA'd a piece of brass wire of the same size into the hole.

I drilled out the same sized hole in the hangar deck and implanted the planes were I wanted them. I had to be very careful when pushing the rod into the deck holding it with a tweezers carefully positioned around the landing gear. I didn't want to put too much pressure since if anything moved suddenly the planes could be destroyed. As it worked out, I only had to reglue one folded wing. Lucky!

There aren't many planes on the hangar deck, but they're in strategic locations so you'll see some planes through the door openings, especially with the lights on.

I didn't use any glue on the pins into the deck since they were a tight fit. But nothing moves when you turn it all upside down. I'm now ready to attach the hangar deck and get on with all the flight deck edge details.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, April 19, 2018 4:18 PM

Short, but important session. Got the flight deck and the hull merged.

First I scraped all the white paint off any gluing areas. Next, I put a piece of Masonite on one of my work surfaces (an old drawing board...remember what they were...bolted to an Ikea bar stool), laid the flight deck down bottom facing up, then the hull, and then wood blocks and finally quick clamps.

I liberally applied solvent cement around the perimeter and used a syringe to get it into blind spaces behind the FD gun tubs that line its edges. After giving it some curing time I took all the clamps off and found that it was a terrible job. There are many ribs on the FD bottom that are supposed to lie behind the hangar exterior walls and they are not easy to align. And they weren't!! 

There were humps all over the flight deck where these ribs were pushing up the FD where they should have been lying flush with the FD. As it was, so little of the joint was actually made, it took very little effort to rip it apart and do it again.

The second attempt was a bit different, but eventually used those same big clamps. This time, I spent a lot of time aligning all the joints holding the whole deal in my lap and using the small Quick Clamps to hold each section as I got it engaged properly. This took about 20 minutes. I had to trim some of the thin plywood holding all the LEDs since it impinged on the flight deck, and then secured each section with sovent cement and in some cases, medium CA.

I am SO glad that I pinned those planes onto the hangar deck since I was seriously manhandling it during this time and I assure you, if I had just glued them, they would have all broken away making a bigger mess. Furthermore, The pins are firmly embedded into the planes' fuselages and aren't dependent on those ridiculous landing gear.

Once I got it all glued correctly, I re-laid it back onto the table with the blocks and big clamps to hold it till it completely dries tomorrow. AND I did get the wires routed from the hangar deck to below decks before gluing this all together.

I'll have to go back and do some Navy Blue touch up air brushing to fix all the marks I made on the hull due to all this handling. The Trumpeter instructions have you putting on the flight deck in three pieces. Frankly, I can't imagine that being any easier since getting the sections joined evenly was not so easy either.

After dinner went down to the shop and pulled off all the clamps. This time, I have a good joint all the way around. The deck is solid and flat. I'm closing up the deck elevators so the misalignment below on the front one will not be evident.

This is a loooonnnng model. While the newer carriers are even longer, they don't appear quite so since they're much wider in the mid-section due to larger sponsons and the very prominent angle decks. Even the later mods to the Essex class (angle decks, modified islands and funnels, and hurricane flat fronts on the bow) reduce their long, lean look as they had in WW2

Here's an example of some of the clean up work that needs to be done. This joint should be continuous with the island above and the hangar deck walls below. I'll have to finish it up a bit and do the repainting.

I need to attach the 39 ohm current limiting resistors to each green wire and then test the LEDs. If they don't work, there's not a darn thing I can do about it. They worked before, but I did have to put some strain on the green wires when pulling them all the way through the brass sleeve and this could have broken conductors within. I can then get ready to put on the lower hull. If I chose to paint the lower hull before gluing, I am sure that I would need a lot of touchup at the glue joint. I'm going to have to mask anyway since the boot topping needs to be painting. I'm quickly reaching the point where I need the base plank so I can drill the plank and hull together so the holes line up. I will mount it to the base before doing the rest of the detailing as I did with the Missouri so everything will be nice and stable and enable me to move the model without touching anything.

Tomorrrow I have some errands to run... Corsairs/Hellcats arrived at hobby shop... so I may or may not get a lot done. I'll keep y'all posted.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, April 20, 2018 8:46 PM

I wired up the lights below the hangar deck by first tying on individual 39 ohm resistors to each negative lead and then combining all four together and adding a single negative lead that goes to the connector. I stripped and tinned the positive lead and then test everything. One light did not work as I suspected due to my excessive tugging on the negative leads getting them all down that brass tube, but 3 out of four makes a lot of light and I'm not too unhappy.

I then started preparing the bottom hull. Essex carriers have two struts connecting the shaft and bearings to the hull at each position, but Trumpeter only has a single vertical strut. This picture shows the Intrepid in dry dock undergoing repairs from an airial torpedo hit.

Using some 0.040" X 0.080" styrene stock I shaped it to an aerfoil shape approximating the molded vertical struts on kit parts. I needed to ensure a good joint so I pinned the upper junction with 0.021" brass wire.

I shaped the upper end of the new strut to conform better to the prop bearing housing, and then shaped the lower end so it would mate with the hull underside. I glue the new strut in place with solvent cement at first, but then resorted entirely to medium CA. 

The two inner shafts had long struts, but the outers had only one that needed doubling up. The forward strut was so short that making an angular one didn't seem to be very doable. I will clean up all the glue marks before painting which should occur next week.

With the shafts now "properly" supported I can rest easier when I assemble the bottom of the hull. Which reminds me... and I could have really screwed this up, but writing all this stuff down helps you think... I have to install the mounting hardware for the base pedestals. I really can't close up the hull yet... and I'm going to glue the lower hull on and clean up the joint before doing the hull red and boot topping painting.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, April 23, 2018 6:35 PM

It was time to paint the flight deck, but before I could do that I had to install the mid-deck elevators. They're held in place by simulated hydraulic pistons. You can't really glue the elevators directly into the deck since there is a gap all the way around and no lip so gluing would be a real problem. I hadn't fit these parts before the flight deck was glued in place. Had I done so, I could have glued in a lip around the bottom of the opening to provide a level gluing surface. When I glued in the pistons and tried the elevators in their spaces they were not flush. The elevators were below the FD surface by varying amounts. After measuring with the depth gauge on the digital caliper I found the mid-ship elevator about 0.050" low on one side and 0.020" low on the other. I shimmed the bottoms of the pistons to raise the elevator the correct amount.

I painted the footings with deck blue and the piston rod with the Molotow Chrome Pen, and the elevator bottom, white, to match the rest of the hangar ceiling.

The whole assembly was glued in place by medium CA on the piston feet and the result was a nice flush fit elevator. 

The forward elevator had similar alignment problems with the high size reversed in position from the mid-ship elevator. It was also less severe being level on one side and 0.020" on the other.

With the elevators in place, I masked the deck edges with narrow Tamiya tape and then with fat 3M blue tape. The Life Color Flight Deck Blue Stain is a much lighter color than the standard deck blue. I didn't want this paint on the hull or inside the hangar deck.

Before shooting the FD Blue, I wanted to lay down some wood tan. My plan is to lightly sand off the deck blue in the wear areas to expose the wood decking below. I used the cheap fine-line airbrush for this color.

Being Tamiya paint, it dried quickly. I first used my new cheap med-line airbrush for the FD Blue, but wasn't happy with how it was working. I mixed the paint about 40% Testor's Acrylic Thinner to paint. After painting for a while and cleaning the gun twice, I switched to my very old Badger 150 and finished the job without difficulty. I'm going to have to figure out what's going on with the new air brush. Just because it was new and cheap doesn't make it effective.

After the FD Blue set up I removed the tape and went around the model to do touch up painting. I added another 40mm gun director tub and platform on the forward port side. This little platform seems like it going to need a PE railing. In fact, there are tons of PE railings that connect the catwalks to each of the 20mm gun galleries. I didn't want to sand any paint until it was fully set up. Even though it no longer looked wet (I used the heat gun to force dry it), I can still smell resin and will sand it tomorrow or Wednesday when it's fully cured. I'm actually being patient here...!

While this was drying I started fine sanding the Ford GTA. I was working on the body and the window pillar on the driver's side separated at the base of the windshield. This was the area where I opened the body to make the driver's door operative.

So I went back to work on the Essex by starting to build the new airplanes that arrived. This time I decided to get rid of the overly dramatic panel lines by filling them all with Tamiya putty as I go along. It's nice that gull wing roots are molded in one piece so I didn't have to worry about getting that right.

Incidentally, this particular aircraft didn't come into the fleet until late in the War so Trumpeter has made the decal sheet for the Essex and has the diamond tail pattern, so I don't have to create another custom set. I was surprised and happy to see this little help. Or as Mark Knopfler sang, "You get lucky sometimes."

I have a couple more build days and then we're off on another trip. This time it will be our Springtime trip back East to reconnect with family and friends.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 5:57 PM

Continued building the Corsairs today with the filling and attaching the wings and the horizonatal stab.

Just started to put on the landing gear, got looking for my thick CA, and got sidetracked. In looking through my messy shop for a small tube of Henkel thick CA, I was looking at the "B" sprue and noticed three parts that weren't on the ship, but seemed like they should be. One part, a partition, I found noted on the instructions which I had missed. It sits on the port side aft just behind the 40mm gun tub that sits in the front of the space. The other parts were two similar 20mm tubs that should be hanging off the flight deck, but there was no mention of them in the instructions and I reviewed them over and over. There were two notches in the after end of the starboard flight deck that fit these parts perfectly, so I glued them in. Instructions showed the gaps in several images. Without these being there, there was no purpose for the galleries on either side. They had to be there. Trumpeter made a mistake.

One of them had provision for lift rafts. These needed painting: white on the bottom, navy blue on the sides of the splinter shields and deck blue for the horizontal services, but was not an airbrush candidate so it was all brush painted. Deck blue wasn't completely dry in this picture.

Last thing I did was more touch up painting and I decided that the lift rafts needed to be a different color so I painted them haze gray. I was unhappy that the edges were navy blue and the undersides were white. Now they're differentiated. I would imagine that life rafts would not be painted when the ship was. I'm noticing the un-filed sprue tabs on some of them... I'm slipping.

I may or may not get back in the shop tomorrow since we're heading East on Thursday for our Spring trip. If I don't, I be back reporting on this build during the week of May 7.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 5:57 PM

Did get some work in starting at 3:30 and finishing at 4:45. Got the Corsairs ready for paint and started on the last 6 Hellcats. In order to glue those pesky Trumpeter tiny landing gear into the wings I needed something different. At THD I found Loctite "Plastic Bonder". It's CA plus an "activator". The activator smelled suspiciously like CA accelerator, but it works. I believe the landing gear is Delrin or some other tough, flexible plastic, that's hard to glue with solvent cement. Loctite is owned by the company paying my retirement, Henkel of Duesseldorf, Germany, the best company I ever worked for. 

There's not much CA in the glue tube. I was mostly air.


You apply the activator which is a felt-tipped applicator and then give it about a minute. Then you apply the seems-like medium CA to one part and put them together. It seems to work. The gear are secure and none fell apart. Furthermore, I actually got all three kit gear on every plane without losing or breaking any. Whoopee!

So here are six, gull-winged beauties that will have to wait until we return from our trip.

I then got to work on the last Hellcats. Again, I'm filling all the visible seams except for flight surface joint (flaps, ailerons, elevator and rudder). I smeared the filler on the wing top surfaces, but not the bottom since it won't be seen. All of this will have over a week to dry since that's when it will be sanded off.

I also found a way to remove the props from the frets without a) leaving a nub which is next to impossible to trim, and b) not breaking any. I used a very sharp, new #11 blade to carefully trim them off, instead of using my flush cutters since on parts this small tend to have a little sprue left over.

Just for fun I decided to place all the air wing so far onto the flight deck. I will have a total of 19 aircraft when they're all done.

So until we return, have a nice Spring.

  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by steve5 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 7:38 PM

really enjoying this build builder 2010 . see you when you get back


  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 5:29 PM

Well Steve... I'm back. Had a very nice trip back East. The first weekend was so cold in State College (Penn State) that we had winter coats, hats and gloves. By the end of the week the temp was in the low 90s. Ah... Spring. Yesterday and today the Louisville weather was absolutely perfect and I got another color coat on the Ford Fairlane model and then got back to work on the Essex. 

I ordered the threaded tubes, nuts and bolts from Grand Brass Lamp Parts on the web. While I didn't buy the pedestals from them (bought them from, they had the same turned brass parts for less money AND they had many more different turned objectst that would make very nice ship pedestals. These are a 28 thread pipe thread that's specific to lamp construction. It's a straight thread unlike pipe threads which are tapered, but you won't find 1/2-28 threaded nuts at Lowe's. You'll need to get them at a lamp supplier. But the tube is designed to fit the pedestal perfectly. 

These parts are not particularly expensive.

Then I got back to work on the Hellcats. I sanded off all the excess filler that was not totally cured after sitting for 13 days, and assembled the parts. Got almost finished putting on the landing gear and got drawn away to go with our oldest grandson to get fitted for his Jr. Prom tux. His mom was out of town, so I'll finish the Hellcats tomorrow and paint both them and the Cosairs. By the end of the week the air wing will be complete and I'll be back to work on the ship itself. I should be getting the finished plank any day now and prepare the lower hull for mounting. I think I want to put all the gallery guns and railing AFTER the ship is mounted to the plank since it makes it very stable. That's how I did it with the Missouri and it worked pretty well. Once I get the plank and get the final dimension on the perimeter rabbet cut that will support the clear case, I'll send those measures off to the plastics shop and have them cut to size.

Notice, I did not fill the seams on the horizontal stabilizers. Enough was enough!

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, May 10, 2018 5:26 PM

Yesterday, I finished gluing all the Hellcats together. Only lost 2 tail wheels...

And then today I air brushed the Vallejo Dark Sea Blue. Took several light coats. Mixed the paint with about 30% (guesstimate) of Testor's Universal Acrylic Solvent.

Tomorrow I'm tied up and will not get much (if any) shop time, so the next work session I do have I will add the interior green, and flat black detail painting and start decaling. That should take a couple of days and then it's back to the rest of the ship. The plank is on its way and I may have to wait a bit longer to get the lower hull finished. I have other projects to work on during the wait. Can't order the plexiglass until I have the plank to take as-built measurements.

BTW: I ordered and received Bondic UV-cured adhesive from Amazon. I wanted to see it if would work for the landing gear gluing. I arrived when we were away so I was able to try it out yesterday. It does work, but it needs a roughened surface or it doesn't hold so well. It does cure quickly and stays gel-like until you shine the light on it... which is convenient. I wonder how well it will work in holding on PE railings? Only restriction is the light must be able to get to the gel. In a totally closed joint it will not work.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, May 14, 2018 5:53 PM

The day started by painting the details on the 12 new airplanes (black tires and engines, plus interior green cockpit area). I then started the decaling process by putting on my custom tail design on the Hellcats and began the stars and bars decaling. I got one plane complete and started one more, and then broke for lunch. The Trumpeter Hellcat and Corsair decal set has the stars and bars as separate decals. I know why they did this, but it wasn't nice. The earlier planes just had stars and then later added bars so having them separate let you choose. BUT... it makes putting on the decals soooooo much more annoying. I found you have to trim the circle very tightly on the the sides and do the same for the bars mating sides so they'll nestle in correctly. I used MicroSol to get everything settled down.

This close up shows the large clear area surrounding the printed area and this makes getting them close impossible. If you put on the star first, let it totally dry and then added the bars so the clear part overlaps the star, it could work, but it would also be a pain. Trimming close works better.

Then, during lunch, the mailman delivered my oak plank from my close friend in Albuquerque. It was packed within an inch of its life and came through unscathed. 

I masking-taped the top and bottom areas where the drilling would take place to prevent break out when the drill comes through. I located the center and drew a center line down the back side. My mount holes are to be 7 inches apart and I laid those out also. But they needed to match the ships layout and I couldn't drill them at the same time (safely) so I drilled a 1/16" holes in the hull at the proper locations and used a transfer punch of the same size to locate the two hole locations on the plank's bottom.

The bottom needs to be counter-bored so there's room for the threaded pipe and brass nuts and this is done with a forstner bit. It has a pip in the middle which then serves as the starting point for the brad point bit to make the clearance hole. I put it all together to test the fit and it lined up nicely.

The upper and lower hulls are NOT glued in this pic, nor are the fasteners epoxied inside the lower hull. I was able to take final measurements for the plexiglass and I'll order that tomorrow. The I noticed how close the side elevator is to the rabbet edge that holds the plexiglass. I put a piece of flat stock in that location and found that there was about 1/16" clearance. Whew! Then... while driving my grandson home from his piano lesson and describing this new addtion to him while he looked at the pics, I remembered that there are PE simulated safety nets that go on the elevator's outer perimeter and they will exceed that 1/16". 

What to do? The pedestals are wider than the holes with enought material that I probably can elongate the holes in the hull enough to push it slightly off-center and give myself enough clearance to add the elevator nets. When I initially meausred for the plank, I guesstimated where that elevator was going to fall and thought I gave enough addtional clearance. It will work, but not without a little anxiety thrown in.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 7:12 PM

(Pictures weren't loading today... Don't know why... Post-Image downloaded pics, but didn't display them. When it starts working again, I'll edit this post to show them.)

First thing I did today was elongate the holes in the hull to move the hull to starboard with enough clearance so the elevator safety nets will fit under the plexiglass cover. I held the pedestals over the holes and traced the perimeter so I'd know how much stock I could remove without exposing the hole. It gave me a good 3/16" which was all I needed. I then scribed the amount to remove and used a carbide router to clear it out. After again checking the clearance, I epoxied the brass thumb nuts into the hull. Again, I traced their outlines so I could correctly position them while curing. A little got into the threads on one of the nuts, but I got it out before it was fully cured. The nuts have a knurled edge with made it perfect for epoxying and will not spin or break loose. The thing in the middle is the connector for the 5VDC power source for the lighting.
Then it was back to the little airplanes. I got the insignia on all the Hellcats and then did the Corsairs. As noted the stars and bars are separate decals and need to nestle together to look right. I began to cut them en masse so I could work a bit faster. I also was getting hang of handling little decals with a tweezers. I never thought you could handle little decals with tweezers. You can see how close I had to trim the star and one edge of the bars so they'll nest together. BTW: the tail decals on the Corsairs are Trumpeter decals and went on well. Saved me design and printing time! The toothpick gives evidence of scale.
I always was under the impression that you had to "slide the decals off the backing paper onto the model" and with small decals that gets to be a miserable challenge. I saw a video where the guy was manipulating the small decals with tweezers. He'd pluck them off the backing and transfer them to the model. I tried it with these mini-decals and it worked very well indeed.
So I finished all the decals for all the new planes.
All that's left is canopies and props. They're not troubling and will be done tomorrow. The epoxy will be cured and I'm going to paint the lower hull with Tamiya hull red and then solder the lighting leads and attach the lower hull to the upper.
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 11:06 PM

This is progressing nicely!  I've never done a carrier.  Seems like you're build 1 big model and 50 little ones.  Looking good.



  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 11:10 AM

This is coming along well, you have progressed a lot since I was last here.  

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, May 18, 2018 7:18 PM

Thanks Guys! Didn't get much done this week due to family errands and buying a new refrigerator. The freezer was turing ice cream into...well...just cream. Small lead of Freon and it's a 12 year-old unit so it was replacement time. 

As promised here are the missing pictures from the last post. Post-Image started working correctly again.

This shows the little pieces of decals for the three-part stars and bars.

The epoxied knurled nuts for the pedestal hardware connection.

Today, I painted the hull Tamiya Dull Red... I wonder if that was a mistake since I'm sure that it should be "Hull Red", but the label read "Dull Red". I sprayed it in the garage with the door open since it started to rain. I actually got a couple of water drops on it and took it downstairs and force dried the first coat with the heat gun, and then sprayed another coat under cover. Wife had the Buick out of errands so there was plenty of room.

Paint was glossy as it was still wet.

Got back to finishing up the air wing. Found that Bondic was great for gluing on canopies. It's the UV-curing adhesive/filler that's sold in places like Amazon. It's not cheap (about $20 for a kit with two tubes of adhesive and the UV-LED light source), but it worked great. Since it doesn't cure until you hit it with UV, you don't have to rush in getting things positioned or getting glue on unwanted places since it just wipes off. A small amount under the canopy, position the canopy and then shine the light on it for about 5 seconds and it's solid. Since the canopies are transparent, the UV penetrates to the entire bit of adhesive and cures it all completely. I lost two canopies, one to the Rift out of a holding device and another got crushed. I was holding it in my small Xuron tweezer pliers a bit too hard to file the back edge of the canopy. Due to molding draft (the angle on molded parts that enables the part to be pulled from the mold), the canopies especially on the Hellcats was not nestling into the back of the opening. Well... I didn't know my own strength and the part simply exploded. 

So I was able to re-create the semblance of a canopy by using multiple layers of Bondic to build up the contour. I put on a layer, light it up, and then add another layer. It worked very well and after using the Sharpie to line it you can hardly tell which has a molded canopy and Bondic one.

Then a near catastrophe happened. I didn't realize how precariously the hull was situatued sitting on my O'gauge railroad tracked shelf. I was trying to neatly position the entire air wing and the entire ship and all the planes headed for the concrete. I was able to break the fall of the hull so it landed with no damage (miracle) except for the elevator being bent upward in its mounting... very correctable. And of all the planes hitting the ground, four were damaged: one landing gear - reglued, one prop - reattached, and one prop lost to the Rift - modified. The only plane that is being scrapped is a Corsair that lost a tail and can't be replaced. That tail was poorly mounted in the first place. 

For the missing prop, I took it as an opportunity to attempt to make a spinning prop simulation. The prop radius meausred to 0.215". So I made a disc out of 0.010" clear styrene and glued a broken prop hub into it after drilling a 0.038". I then mounted this tiny hub into the Dremel and spun it slowly and painted the yellow rim. I then hand painted the prop sweeps using flat black. It's not great, but it was worth the try. So the air wing is now complete. On this batch, I even went so far as to paint the oleo struts with the Molotow Chrome Pen. AMS rears its ugly head again!

Next session I will solder the lighting leads to the connector and then glue the lower hull to the upper and mount it to the base. Then it will be time to finish up detailing the catwalks and galleries, and mount many, many guns. I still have to rig the island before attaching it. It will be attached after I decal and weather the flight deck.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Sunday, May 20, 2018 8:45 PM

A rare weekend session and some progress to report. It was time to connect the hull to the bottom. I found that the width of the upper hull was wide than the lower hull and I was well beyond the stage where I could do filling. What needed to be done was remove the hull structural supports that Trumpeter molds in to strengthen the hull structure. When I cut, relieved and removed them I was able to pull the hulls sides in to match the lower hull's shape. 

I had to keep reminding myself to hook up the wires to the hangar deck lighting. Simple solder job. The center lead is the hot lead and even thought the connector in most electronics has three leads, only one outside lead is negative, the other is not connected. You have to do a continuity test to find out which one is real.

I was then ready to glue the two together. I used an old, short-bristle brush to smear on Testor's tube cement. I didn't want the glue to dry to quickly and any solvent cement would. I then fit the hull in place and used Tamiya masking tape to hold together any stubborn areas.

It was time to mask and paint the boot topping. I don't know the exact measurement and, unlike Tamiya, Trumpeter doesn't etch the positions of the waterline and boot topping, and I wasn't able to run a surface gauge around to scribe an even line. So I did the next best thing and used Tamiya narrow masking tape as a guage strategically place pieces around the hull touching the existing waterline. I then used the same tape to create the line. This was all done after I masked the lower part of the line with thin tape and then thicker tape and finally newsprint with 3M blue tape. For the tight curves  around the stern, I used a new product, Tamiya curve tape which is flexible and bends nicely around turns without buckling.

Boot topping was painted flat black. Once dry I permanently mounted the ship to the plank and then protected the exposed wood for the rest of the build with bubble wrap. I found some damage to the elevator due to the ship's fall to the concrete last week. I will repair the elevator as best I can... the PE looks pretty pathetic...and I'm going to install it in the lowest position which I couldn't do before. Making lemonade.

With the model mounted and base protected, I turned the whole deal upside down and rested it on the flight deck and finished installing the hanging catwalks under the bow. There are four of them. Two which I has installed before and that fell off, and two more just under the flight deck's forward edge.

I turned it back rightside up and started installing the catwalk railings. GMM includes a lot of standard railings to be glued to the plastic catwalks on the model. On the upgrade set, GMM has a catwalk that has 3 folds, a under-bracing, the perforated catwalk and the railing. You're supposed to cut all the kit catwalks off (which I hadn't done) and then edge glue the folded assembly to the existing spot. I was not happy about that so I chose to glue the perforated assembly directly onto the plastic catwalk. It's the best of both worlds since you can see the perforations when you look down on them, but they're much more secure.

Then I noticed something on the floor. It was one of the twin 20 mm gun tubs AND it was flattened by my desk chair wheel. It wasn't a lost cause, just a hospital case. I removed the crushed plastic splinter shields and the under-bracing and sanded the surfaces smooth. I then fabricated new shields and bracing using the same Evergreen strip that I used for the scratch-built railing on the island.

The end result was glued back in its place. No harm, no foul. The thinner shields look better, but it does make the tub a tad wider since I'm gluing the shields onto the perimeter edge and the kit's come straight up from the end.

The reason I was able to work on a Sunday was my number 2 grandson had another school project. He's in 8th grade and finals are next week. This time was project was creating a mouseleum and crypt to be used in a Romeo and Juliette discussion. He did most of the work and when I wasn't helping him I was building an aircraft carrier.

This was my first Trumpeter big ship kit and, while I understand the reason for the two-part hulls, I find the results to be sub-par. It's a very long glue joint that is very easy to have mis-fits. I can imagine that it does make building a waterline model easier, but it makes doing a standard build harder than it needs to be.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, May 21, 2018 7:52 PM

First, I thought I took a picture yesterday of the Tamiya curvy tape, and I had, but it was in my deleted photos on the iPhone, so I retrieved it and here it is. You can see how nicely it conforms to the curve.

Today, I turned the ship around and put in the catwalk rails. There were some wrinkles to this side since the rails go up and down around the places where the long range radio antenna go. You can just do a straight bend on these rails since it will impinge on the parts that bend at a different location, so some of the smaller bends were done the old-school way, pliers. There are simulated steps included in this piece of brass that gets folded at an angle to conform to the plastic and the railing.

Before the brass can go in place, I had to mill off plastic bumps that were used to locate the kit's antenna bases. It looks like heck, but it gets covered by the brass and touch-up painted. This is creative destruction. When modifying models you always go through this "demo" stage before it gets better.

In this pic there are two brass folded parts; one on the upper and one on the lower levels. The stair component is part of the upper brass piece. Really spiffs up the edges of the flight deck.

There are a passel of small ladders that go from the flight deck down to the catwalks. These are part of the basic GMM set. GMM doesn't specifiy where they're supposed to go and says, "check you reference material". I don't think they going into the gun tubs since there's no room. Besides, the model doesn't include ready-ammo lockers that would be near the 20mms I presume.

The above shows the catwalks after the first round of touch up painting. After I put these small ladders in place, I'll go back and do it again. I definitely can appreciate the delicacy of removing the plastic catwalks before attaching the brass ones, but I assure you, they would have been very, very fragile and prone for detachment if you happen to hold the model the wrong way.

I also added the stern catwalk that sits between the aft 20mm gun tubs. There was a diagonal brace that was supposed to be added to this facing rearward, but after fussing with it and not being very happy, I scrapped it. And after looking at this picture I noticed that crushed railing which I'll have to straighten. It's exactly what I noted above about PE railings being prone to getting zapped. The catwalk needs touch up painting that will happen tomorrow. I like how busy that fantail is looking.

I have some more railings to go on the hangar deck level, the ships cranes and the radio masts. Since the radio masts are not going onto brass, not plastic, I'm thinking that I may attempt to solder them with TIX solder which melts below 300 degrees. Otherwise, It will have to be epoxy. I may also try soldering a flat piece to the bottom of the antenna tower with a drilled hole and soldered pin, and drill the catwalk and pin it. I'll noodle in my brain awhile and see which method wins. I test fit the island and it needs some relieving to fit nicely over raised deck lugs. I don't want to force it and develop any undue stresses in this very complicated assembly.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 8:30 PM

Installed all the railings bordering the hangar deck today plus got some more stuff in place including the rest of the those finicky little flight deck/catwalk steps. You can't imagine how much trouble some of the smallest details can cause you...

I should have put the cranes in BEFORE the railings since I almost thought I couldn't get them in without doing damage. As it was, with some delicate coaxing, I was able to get their pins into the holes and installed. The railings spaces were measured using a paint of dividers and I took some liberties, especially on the port side, where I ran the rails across some bulkheads instead of individually cutting and gluing. I did this mainly because the sizes were not neat multiples of rail stanchions and would have had a lot of little tiny railing ends causing me problems.

After installing the lower rails on the starboard side, I used the fine-line airbrush to retouch all the Navy and Deck Blue and get the brass blended with the rest of the model.

This is the aft crane.

And here is the fore crane.

There was a cross hangar deck catapult on the as-built Essex. It was removed when they added (as I did) the two additional 40mm mounts. I'm not sure if the starboard catapult was still in place. I have that part, which is stowed vertically, to put on if it is correct to do so.

The port side has all those rails that cross between roller doors. I know what I did is not ptototypical, but it was expedient.

The foremost roller doors don't get railings since the sponson now has a splinter shield surrounding it. It did get just one little rail on it aft-most door. And then I added a railing around the gun director platform next to it. Incidentally, there are rails around the five inch mounts, but a) they weren't called out in GMM's instructions, and more importantly, b) I would have soldered them to the circular platform since CA'ing it seems like a exercise in futility. So I probably won't attempt to add them.

Here are the other areas that got these railings. Note, the port side has NOT been touch-up painted. That will come tomorrow, and I've already masked parts of the flight deck so the overspray doesn't ruin that lighter blue flight deck.

Notice the nice shiny new inclined ladder. There were two put on this side. Speaking of vertical ladders... I almost lost an entire fret of them. I had purchased an extra set of inclined ladders since I had ruined a lot of those included in the GMM set. This next bit is going to be a bit hard to visualize, but bear with me. My workbench is heavy plywood covered with Homosote (a press paper-board building panel). I used Homosote since it accepts T-pins very well and makes a great building surface for things that need to be pinned... flying RC models for example. There's a 3/4" ply wall at the work bench end and there's a tiny gap between the Homosote and the ply. This fret slipped down about a 1/4" and it was so firmly fixed in that groove that I literally had to take cutters and cut the fret away (after destroying half of the inclined ladders attached to it). The lower part is still in that groove. All I can imagine is somehow CA got in there and glued it in. I put a huge amount of effort in attempting to pull it out and it didn't budge. So I was able to salvage enough ladders to put the two on this ship. There's probably a few more that will work on a future project, but the rest are ruined. Murphy strikes again!

The companion ladder is stowed where it is supposed to go. And I see another spot that needs a railing... leading to that boat deck.

Tomorrow, I'll start putting in some guns (I think). I need to paint the prop shafts (anti-fouling white), and prepare the plastic props. I was thinking about buying G-Force brass props like I did for the Missouri. They look pretty good. I may still do that for this ship.

I will get the anchors in place, start preparing the flight deck for decals and weathering, and then start rigging the island. There are tons of antenna and flag halyards hanging on that part. I also have to install and rig those long-range radio antenna. What's the best way to fasten the aircraft to the flight deck?

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 8:04 AM
Actually, ESSEX CV-9, was commissioned with no catapults at all. The athwartship cat at the hangar deck level was never installed. The track for the starboard flight deck cat was installed, but there were no cats available. The catapult itself was installed 6 May 1943 and was a spare H II cat, designed for the Yorktown class. There were 2 H IV cats at Puget Sound designated for ESSEX in late 1944, when she still carried the single H II. EJ

Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 6:07 PM

Thanks! That's really good to know.

Today was part success and part struggle. I decided that before I attached anything that goings to stick out I better do all the flight deck treatments so I don't break anything. I did install two 40mm sets in the starboard aft tubs which is when I came to the conclusion that any more guns would be zapped, so I stopped.

I wet-sanded the FD to expose the wood tones below and this effect looked pretty good.

After sanding I tried (for the first time) to use Vallejo dark gray wash. I works, but it did darken the entire deck, not just in the crevices which is what I really wanted to do. So the flightdeck looks like it was painted with standard deck blue instead of the lighter deck blue flight deck stain. I'm sure those wooden flight decks took a tremendous beating and had all sorts of colors working between wear and tear, tire marks, fuel and oil spills, sea water, rain and sun exposure.

I then sprayed some Tamiya gloss clear to get ready for decaling. My first indication when I was putting on the first #9 on the fore flight deck was when the decal started falling apart. I hate when this happens. It was an old kit (copyright 2002) and the decal showed it. I pieced together the broken bits as best I could and then got the MicroScale Decal Film solution to create an new film on top of the old decal. The second #9 performed better, but it was touch and go.

To lay down the single center line dotted line decal I laid down some Tamiya tape to establish a datum and then laid the decals near it. The stripe decals came in many segments. I found a couple of them broke, but it was minor and didn't cause a problem. I then noticed that the 9s go on top of the stripe so I had to piece the stripe to get the same effect. 

Then came the white stripe decals that surround the mid-deck elevator openings. These turned out to be a total nightmare. I should have put on another coat of decal film since one coat worked momentarily and then they started falling apart.

For the broken parts of the fore #9, I hand touched it up with flat black and it will look okay after dull-coating, but these elevator stripes will not work with my hand painting. So I'm going to make the corrections in the computer and then make some white decal striping and see if it works. I really can't blame Trumpeter, although I'm generally not impressed with their decals. The best advice I can give is don't panic. Take as much care as you can, and if you suspect the decals are old, overcoat them immediately. And use two coats.

So here's what it looks like so far. I then have to dull-coat the decals after the fix and start doing some tire marks/rubber scuffing stuff.

I'm pleased with how the strip down the middle came out, and bummed by the elevator decals... so I'm batting 500. I took a top-down picture of the striping and measured the particulars with the caliper so I have what I need to make the correction decals. 

I also touch-up painted both sides with the detail airbrush. I like that tool even though it's definitely not up to Badger quality, but the price was ridiculously low. It's great for small delicate jobs.


  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, May 25, 2018 5:36 PM

Today's post is a two-fer since I didn't post yesterday, but did some work. First thing I did was test out an idea: a way to simulate polished brass (bronze) without spending $$$ on real brass and not being satisfied with any brass-colored paint since they're particle based and do not reflect light as a polished metal surface would. I first coated a piece of plastic with my Molotow Chrome Pen which does lay down a really reflective surface. When it was dry I brush-painted Tamiya Clear Yellow in two coats. The result, while be a bit rough due to my not-so-careful use of the chrome pen, was encouraging.

I then coated the propellors while on the sprue (for convenience) with the chrome pen and let it dry overnight. I made the mistake on my test piece to touch the chrome thinking it dries really fast and messing it up. It does dry fast, but I was laying it on pretty thick.

It's a very convincing metallic surface, unlike any model paint I've ever seen. 

Today I airbrushed two-coats of the same Tamiya Clear Yellow and am letting it dry overnight also. If I need to shoot it again, I'll do it the next session.

It's pretty convincing and I would consider the experiment a success. Next to buying G-force props, this would be a good way to go.

I spent a lot of time hand-painting the touch up of the broken elevator edge decals. I was trying to make my own white striping decals on CorelDraw, but it crashed my Windows environment on my apple and it was taking a long time to reboot so I chose to attempt the hand painting approach. I started weathering the flight deck. I did so with black weathering powder put on with a short bristled brush in directions that tire wear and skid marks would go. The white striping isn't great, but it will work.

I finished the powder weathering and had the screwy idea of putting some fuel/oil stains. I overdid it, and realized that oil on the deck would be cleaned up very quickly to prevent slips and falls. My reason for doing this was the light spot on the after deck that I wanted to hide somehow. 

I showed my wife this picture and she agreed that the spills were overdone. The oil stains were done with Tamiya Clear Smoke and is alcohol soluble, so I used a clean brush with isopropyl 91% and blended the stains back into the general grime of the flight deck. The flight deck grime now extends over the elevator lines further making them less pristine and noticeable to the viewer.

After this work I want to install the arresting wires. The ends are very small, folded PE to simulate the above-deck pulley system. The wires themselves are E-Z Line heavy gauge Lycra elastomer. Since these lines are actual a series of very fine fibers and as such, instantly absorb CA, and because of it's huge surface area, sets it immediately (whether it's thin or thick CA). I wrapped the line around the far brass cap before folding it down, added thin CA to secure the line and then folded the cap down onto the still-totally-unset CA. After all were installed I hand-painted them deck blue. When Essex was first launched it had arresting wires on both ends and GMM includes enough PE to do this, but  later in the war, they realized that landing from the bow was a bad idea and all those systems were removed. The units with the double lines are the pop-up barriers that were there to catch planes that missed the wire. They didn't have a bolter capacity since it was a straight deck carrier and the bow was not often clear for the plane to go through. It was why the angle deck was developed by the British to enable capturing AND launching at the same time and giving the aircraft a clear go-around path.

I think the wear and tear on the FD is okay, but I'm not weathering the rest of the ship. I'm wondering how soon after shopping would the flight deck show this amount of use without the rest of the ship following suit.

Next up was the Long Range Radio towers. The initial scheme I came up with was too fill the tower base with Milliput, 2-part epoxy putty. I filled the bottoms yesterday and let it cure overnight.

Today, I drilled the putty for a 0.032" brass pin and drilled the catwalk for same. Unfortunately, two bad things happened. First, the putty did not cure as hard as I would have hoped. The brass pin didn't secure well in it with CA. Second, when attempting to push the tower-with-pin into the hole in the catwalk I had grabbed it too firmly and deformed the heck out of the very fragile PE tower. After much messing with it, I got it reasonably symetrical, then proceeded to crush it at least three more times messing with that pin. I finally succumbed and put the pin in the catwalk, not the tower.

The brass pin did one more thing, it kept pushing the putty further up in the tower, negating it's value. I then did what I should have done in the first place; use Bondic UV curing filler to make the bottom plug. I did this and created a much stronger, harder base to drill for the pin. Armed with this knowledge I got the other three towers into place. They're not glued in yet, but I did paint them in place using a piece of cardboard to shield the rest of the deck from the Navy Blue airbrush.

I accept all feedback and criticism, but I frankly think that the grime over the white elevator striping seems to make it much more real. If you agree or disagree please let me know.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 5:49 PM

For some reason, FSM's website was unreachable yesterday, while all the other Kalmbach sites were active so I suppose they were doing some maintenance. So today's post is a 2-fer. 

Loren Perry at Gold Medal Models has come through again and is sending me replacement PE for the price of postage. I'm replacing all of the Long Range Radio antenna towers and the framing under the exterior elevator. He also said I'm going to get a lot more. I could also use the cage that surrounds the down leads on two of the LRR antennas. Hopefully that will be in this bunch. The under framing on the elevator is just a mess and really needs to be ripped out and replaced. With scratch-building you have the control to remake a poor job, but with commercial parts when you screw up, you've screwed up.
While I'm waiting for the PE to arrive (Left West Coast yesterday), I decided to add some railings that aren't in the kit instructions or GMM's. I've seen evidence of railings around the circular platforms for the elevated 5" twin mounts, along the flight deck outside of this gun area, AND a catwalk that runs parallel to the outside of the island's starboard side. There is no provision for this catwalk either in the kit or GMM's set. This was on a drawing of the Essex on NavSource and found clearly in this picture and it's a mounting place for nine floater net baskets. 
For the guns I formed some railing and wrestled it into place. The first one went very smoothly and lulled me into a slightly euphoric state that was quickly dispelled when I did the second. This one did not go nearly as easily and with persistence got it done.
There is also a railing along the flight deck that runs around the circular platform up to the elevated mount. While this looked daunting, it really wasn't so bad. There's another small snippet of a rail between the elevated mount and the 40mm elevated mount and then you come up to the area of the catwalk. In the below I've put the last Mark 57 director tower in place with a PE access ladder. All today's work needs painting/re-painting. This foredeck area will also get the railing that will go around the circular platform, but it's a bit shorter (i.e. easier).
To fabricate new island catwalk, I cut off a piece of PE fret which is same width as the kit's catwalks (lucky!) and soldered some straight rail onto it. I'm also going to add some brass attachment pins on the bottom so it will be easier and more secure to mount. BTW: PE fret brass is very convenient for scratch-building all kinds of small parts that you wish to solder together.
The last thing done yesterday was repositioning the companion ladder. It probably needs some rigging on the outboard end that will "support" it. You can see the damage from removal that will be touch-up painted. There's a small added 90 degree rail at the top of the ladder that was needed since it was open to the sea. Now this is really funny... I found that broadside of the Essex (above) AFTER I changed the ladder's positoin from lying flat against the hull to a more stair-like position. But guess what... if you look closely you can see this ladder flat against the hull as I had it glued in the first place. I now have it in the deployed position. But this means I'll need to rig it so it has some form of suspension since it's now hanging out in space. GMM's instructions simply said glue in front of or behind a specific place on the hull, but didn't really define its orientation.
With the new PE coming I won't have to settle on some very sub-par work that would have detracted from the overall beauty of a model of this caliber. As the late great Gary Kohs (founder of Fine Art Models) said, "A fine scale model has detail that draws you into it where you discover ever more complex things to see." My Missouri model is like that where you get an overall view of its complexity, but as you look closer you see things like the foot rest under the flag bags, a detail that's almost invisible unless you really drill down with you focus. This ship, I hope, will have the same result.
Now onto today's efforts. I finished adding the front railing around the foreward gun mounts. I then soldered (using TIX lo-temp solder) some Phosphor-bronze 0.020" wire pins to secure the fabricated catwalk to securely to the hull. I used the resistance soldering tweezers to solder the pins so they would be held in place while the solder cooled. The lo-temp solder melts before the normal solder holding the railing would so everything was in control. Before putting it on the ship, I painted it with a coat of Tamiya gray primer. I located the three mounting pins on the side of the flight deck edge very close to the top so the mounted catwalk would be level with the flight deck and drilled the three holes with an 0.021" carbide mini-drill. I added thin CA AFTER putting the catwalk in place to make it permanent. 
I hand painted all the newly added railings and gun director tower since I didn't want to have to mask the whole flight deck area. I also touched up the marred area on the hull from the ladder removal. 
It was time to put the props on...
Hard to tell they're not really brass...
I started adding all the remaining guns and whatever directors were still needed to be added. Two more Twin 40s, and the four single 5" mounts go onto the port side.
Lastly, I started adding the remaining 40, 20mm gun mounts. I don't have enough of these (DOH!) and ordered one more set of 24 from Freetime Hobbies. These Blue Ridge 3D produced tiny models are exceptionally fine and look very, very good. Plus you don't have glue microscopic PE shields, shoulder supports or handwheels onto very small plastic things.
Before gluing them in place I needed to paint them. On the island I painted everything with an air brush, but now all the gun tubs are already painted. So I air brushed the entire rack of guns before removing them from their mounting block. This included picking out the barrels with Tamiya gunmental.
I got five guns in place before quitting for the day. They look really spiffy! (IMHO).
Tomorrow, I add as many guns as I have and then start working on island rigging. Getting close folks. I'm expecting the plexiglass to be ready any day now and I have to put that together. I also need to have a brass plaque engraved (like I did for the Missouri) to tell something about the model with as much of a quality look as the base, case and model demand.
  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, May 31, 2018 8:56 PM

I put the remaining 20mms that I had in their various tubs and need 16 more which have been ordered from Free-Time Hobbies. I then finally bit the bullet and started rigging the island. When I did the island mods, the inner width got a bit narrower and was not slipping over the boss on the flight deck. I really couldn't force it for obvious easons, so I carefully scraped a chamfer on the inner edge to make it a bit wider and able to fit better when it will be glued. That will happen after rigging.

I cleared the workbench for action and held the island in a hemostat which in turn is held in a drill press vise. I started on the port side for no reason other than it was the one that was facing me. The first lines (E-Z Line fine-gauge black) are three radio antennas that belay onto the side of the fore island. I did the same thing here as in the Missouri; inserting some piano wire pins into drilled holes to wrap the E-Z Line around. When I say pins I mean pieces of high-E guitar string which is 0.010" in diameter. The drill is ridiculously small and fragile. I constantly break them just by laying down on the workbench improperly. This image is hugely enlarged since those pins look like big steel rods. Actually the pieces are so small that they almost invisible on the workbench. BTW: Don't cut this stuff with normal Xuron cutters. What you end up with is a half-moon shaped groove on the cutting edge and the pliers are effectively ruined. The piano wire is harder than the cutter's steel. You need to buy Xuron hard-wire cutters or use a nice pair of ChannelLock cutters which seem a harder cutting edges.

I don't think I'm belaying these lines correctly, but I'm not going to fret it. Because of the dark paint, you can barely make them out let alone determine if they're correctly located.

Then it was time to rig the signal halyards. Unlike the Missouri which had many long-range radio antennas strung between the fore mast and main mast and then belayed to a series of tall, insulated standoffs in the bowels of the mid-ships space, the Essex has most of the main radio antennas strung between the five lattice towers that aren't yet installed and are being remade with the new GMM parts. (phew! That was a long sentence). So there's not as much actual rigging needed on the island.

GMM is nice enough to etch some very, very small simulated pulleys on the PE yardarm lamination. I soldered this piece to the scratch-built solid brass replacement. The holes are just fractionally larger than the E-Z Line, and when conceptualizing this build I really wasn't planning on attempting to use them. But today, I thought about at least trying. It was where my "persistence" really came to fore.

E-Z Line is wonderful for this use, but it is very floppy, having almost no innate stiffness and this made threading the free end through this tiny eye very challenging. Add to that my innate shaky hands AND not being able to really rest my hands on the island or I'd break something else. So I braced my tweezers hand with the other hand that was supported by the vise under the island.

What kept happening is the weight of the string would pull the line out of the eye as soon as I released the tweezers to reach around the other side to pull it through. After about 10 tries I got the first line through. After that, I started controlling the back end of the line better so it's weight wouldn't be a factor, and I got better at letting go of the line without bumping anything since that little vibration was also causing the line to fall back out of the eye. Eventually, I got all the lines done on the Port side. Tomorrow I'll do the starboard side.

This view really shows just how small those eyes are. I could have just wrapped the line around the eye, but I'm glad I tried the hard way.

I finished up this side, by adding a blob of Bondic adhesive to the tops of the antenna wires to simulate insulators, and painted the pulleys white and the manrope hanging below the yard some Tamiya deck tan. Pardon the poor focus on this one.

When the starboard side is done, the island's going onto the ship. So what's left... 16-20mm guns, and a whole passel of floater baskets. I need to get a brass plaque made with some ship particulars and credits, and then build the case. Oh... and I almost forgot. I do have to rebuild the external elevator and build and rig the radio towers. This time will be successful.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, June 01, 2018 7:57 PM

Today was one of those milestone days... the island is now part of the ship and it really looks like an American aircraft carrier. Before placing it I finished the starboard side rigging and as predicted, it took 1/2 the time that the first side took and came out better. Wish I had another side to do. Unfortunately, I can't redo the port side because I CA'd the pulleys and would destroy that delicate yardarm if I tried to remove it. Again, only I know the difference. To the uninitiated, they won't see anything but lots of complexity.

To make a more secure surface to adhere the signal halyards I CA'd a couple of pieces of thin PE brass to the backs of the flag bags. This gave me a vertical (non-prototypical) surface to adhere the E-Z Line. If I was a better planner, I would have prepared those flag bags for receiving the halyards BEFORE that part was glued to the island. So if I ever build this again...

On the Missouri, the flag bags were arranged athwartships so it was easier to drill some holes to insert the halyards and give them a better finished look.

I further prepared the inside chamfer to ensure that the island would indeed attach properly to flight deck. It did, so it was time to glue it down. I used tube cement to give some more working time while I applied the glue on the insides of the island's lower lip and the placed it down and worked it so it was flush, all the while making sure that I was not applying undo pressure OR pressing on anything that will get destroyed in the process. The results were, needless to say, very gratifying.

I needed to build and apply the LSO's platform that sits at the port aft of the flight deck. I had some parts from the last replacement set that GMM sent me and used those. It's made up of four parts and went together very well. 

It still needs paint...

Just about this time, the mail came and GMM's replacement fret was waiting for me. Oh joy, oh rapture! to quote the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Here's what arrived.

As you can see it's almost a complete fret minus that part that's cut out. It's terrific. It has more ladders, more flight deck ladders (and I need those since a couple have come off), all the radar suite and, of course, the elevator framing and the radio towers.

So I immediately set about building the new elevator. What destroyed the last one was when I attempted to fit the elevator into a space that was marginally smaller than the elevator (with its attached brass) and the side pressure deformed all of the brass, popped CA joints and broke some solder joints. The more I tried to straighten it, the worse it got.

This time I pre-fit the elevator without brass to the narrower elevator guide frame. Most likely when I glued on the frame I moved towards each other a bit more than I should have, not knowing what the absolute spacing was. With the elevator relieved to make it a slip fit, I soldered the frame together and gave the same relief on the inside corners, so the frame wouldn't be stressed when assembled.

As I did before (only even better), I pre-tinned all the mating points of the bottom frame and the trusses using the Weller iron. I then used the RSU to heat and attach individual points on the frames starting in the middle and working outwards. Even with utmost care it was still touch and go. This is caused by the RSU heating the brass so fast that it takes it above annealing temperature and the brass becomes really soft and gets out of shape even easier.

You can use CA all you want, but on assemblies like this solder is so much stronger. To attach the frame to the plastic elevator I used CA. I primed the assembly with Tamiya primer, and it was ready to trial fit again.

And it fit very nicely without deforming anything. It's really a benefit to have a second shot at this. Every set of PE should include doubles of everything. I'd pay a few $$$ more if they would standardize on that. Unless you're really good, you're gonna screw up some PE, especially on a job as complex as this one. It still has to be airbrushed Navy Blue before I glue it in place permanently.

The last thing I did today was place two tiny TBS antennas onto tiny stalks on the yardarm. These pieces had fallen off the original fret, but there was a set on the first set of replacements. I wasn't going to put them on because they had a tiny hole that fit over a tiny pin and I didn't want the aggravation. I also was convinced that due to their frail nature, they would surely be wrecked in handling the island. But with the confidence boost from threading all those tiny eyes with the flag halyards, and with the island being now part of the ship and no longer being handled, I decided to give it a go.

The first one went on very easily so I thought it was a piece of cake. But of course, the second didn't go on and the CA dried making the pin too fat to get into the hole. So I had to carefully pop the cured CA off the pin by using a tweezer and pulling straight up and it came off without deforming the pin. I was then able to get the antenna onto the pin and they were both done. The arrows point out these antennas.

These two also need some paint. Would anyone miss them if they weren't there. Nope! Do they add to the already wonderfully complex appearance of a WW2 capital ship. Definitely yes! There's actually two more antenna that go onto the yardarm which look like little steering wheels. I may or may not put them on. They're really small.

Here's an overhead shot showing the ship with the island in place. Look'n like an aircraft carrier. Next work day... paint and install elevator, build the new radio towers, install the remaining 20s when they come from Free-Time Hobbies, and add a zillion floater net baskets which I even have more of with this nice shipment from GMM.

I still haven't decided how I'm going to fasten the air wing to the flight deck so they won't come loose when they're not supposed to. If I really wanted to be goofy, I could use E-Z Line and actually tie them down to the deck. It would look great and drive me to an institution in the process. I could use some ideas from the gang on this.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, June 04, 2018 6:29 PM

Happy Monday! Unlike most mortals, I like Mondays since it when I can get back in the shpp and build models. As a retiree, I made a deal with my wife that I would not work on models during the weekend, and I keep my deals. So... my fun begins on the weekdays. When working, of course, it was just the opposite.

I added to the newly re-built elevator the safety screens AND the ridiculously finicky horizontal braces. There are miniscule PE pieces that get glued between the upper edge of the elevator to the leading edge of the canted screens. I used Bondic for this since it sets solid in a couple of seconds by UV light and not CA accelerator, meaning... once you have it positioned you don't have to physically get near it to set the cement. It worked pretty well.

It looks pretty ragged in this ultra closeup, but it views better from normal distances. I stuck the upper side to some masking tape and primered and then airbrushed it navy blue. Then I dropped it on the concrete when separating it from the masking. The drop didn't do terminal damage, but it did disturb some of the lattice work and broke loose some of these finicky cross braces. I got it back in shape (mostly) and sprayed the upper side with flight deck blue and weathered it lightly with Vallejo dark gray wash. I put it on the hull with gel CA.

With the elevator finally on the ship, I did some other stuff. I got the anchors mounted. I drilled the hawse holes first so the anchor's shank would nest up inside. The way the anchor glued on without drilling really wouldn't have worked. I will paint and weather (rust) soon.

Finally, I built all five long-range radio towers. This time, I pre-tinned the mating edges to facilitate soldering them together and then also soldered the vertical ladder to the tower. I did not, however, solder the tiny antenna spreaders. In this case I used a combination of gel CA and Bondic UV. I wish I could solder them, but they're just a little to small and difficult to contain to make soldering a useful approach. I don't trust the glue since E-Z Line does exert some tension which could break them loose.

The last thing I did, which I learned in the first, aborted set, was to fill the bottom with Bondic (not epoxy putty) to prepare for the drilling and subsequent mounting on the ship. I just filled the bottom with the Bondic and shot it with the UV light and Poof!, solid plastic bottom. You can barely see it in the pic since it's very transparent. I also folded the protective screens that surround the towers with the radio leads heading downward. These parts were wrecked on the first sprue because they had disconnected before I was ready to use them.

The Bondic is terrific stuff and I'm glad I finally discovered it.

Next session: These antenna towers will get painted and installed and then I'll be ready to rig them. Although there are tiny eyes in the spreader bars, I'm not going to attempt to thread them, but will attach the E-Z Line around them. I think I got glue in some of the and it would be very hard to successfully remove. The extra 20mm guns arrived today so they'll also be installed. That leaves floater net baskets and some minor weathering, and the ship will be done. In this new set of PE from GMM I have another full load of floater net baskets so I'll be able to do the whole enchilada.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 5:52 PM

Got the Radio Towers installed today without mishap. Sometimes it's really good to get a do-over. This was one of those instances. The previous PE got so screwed up, that it reached the point that none coulld be effectively used. One got totally lost, 3 were distorted and the Farraday Cages (I think that's what they are) screens were ragged or completely destroyed. This time, I was able to carefully build them, keep the fret from getting damaged, paint and install them so nothing got damaged.

I drilled the hardened Bondic plug with the carbide 0.032" bit, but realized that the 0.032" brass rod that was already glued into the catwalk was not a slip fit. It was pushing the last batch over that pin...forcing I should say... that caused all the distortion. So I went back and re-drilled with a bit that was a few thousandths oversize. I used gel CA which filled the space and gave full support. I pocked some round toothpicks into the holes and painted all these parts, first with primer and then a couple coats of force-dried navy blue.

I was concerned about slipping the Farraday Cages over the towers since they could damage those delicate antenna spreaders, but there was sufficient clearance to carefully maneuver the cage around the installed tower and glue it down. I thought about putting the cages down first, but was concerned about getting the glue onto the pin or damaging the cage.

Here's the front view showing an array of towers. The ship's too long to get full views without losing a lot of detail.

 While most of the Essex class lost some or most of those antenna towers, the Essex herself, kept all of them for the duration of the War. I thought I could get away with installing less thinking that the Essex didn't have them all, but that was not the case. The ship was not cooperating. I had screwed up so many that I was hoping that I could authentically leave some off. Now, with the new batch, I finished the ship as she should be.

You'll notice in the above pics that all the slots are filled with 20mm guns. I also primed and painted them today and installed all the rest. The ship now has it's full compliment of armament. I painted the anchors and will do some minor weathering tomorrow. I got all the frets of floater net baskets (from now on FSB) painted and will be ready to fold and install them next time also. I have to put small end railings at the ends of all the open catwlaks and I keep forgetting to add a tiny railing leading to the boat deck on the port side.

Then I'll rig the long-range radio antennas and putting on the air wing. Saving that for last because it will be in the way and surely get whacked. And she's done.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 6:30 PM


It looks pretty ragged in this ultra closeup, but it views better from normal distances.Then I dropped it on the concrete when separating it from the masking. The drop didn't do terminal damage, but it did disturb some of the lattice work and broke loose some of these finicky cross braces. I got it back in shape (mostly) and sprayed the upper side with flight deck blue and weathered it lightly with Vallejo dark gray wash. I put it on the hull with gel CA




The elevator safety nets abord ESSEX when I was aboard (and most carriers I ever saw) were always bent up a bit. Ladder rails, railings, just about anything that could be bent, was bent a bit. To my eye, if you are going to go for a weathered look, a few dings and bends look realistic. I wish someone would do a kit hull with the plating "oil canned" a bit, as most ships look that way too.

Your build is looking great.



Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 6:56 PM

Thanks for the encouragement! I too sometimes feel that the ship looks more "lived in" when things aren't perfect, but that's not my goal. I'm always trying to get it right. Having a second set of PE really helps: one for practice, one for the ship. I generally get it right the second time. Only building the Missouri's catapults took three tries with four sets of PE (2-Eduard, 1 Tom's and 1 Alliance). I would be very impressed indeed if there are modelers out there who can nail all the PE on these ships with just one set without losing any or screwing them up. So far, both Eduard and GMM have been very kind in getting me replacements. In fact, Loren Perry and I are developing a professional relationship.

Today, I only had an hour so I started the floater net basket task. I got a full set from one fret cut out and started bending and installing them. Handling the PE chips off the paint so there will be some minor touch up needed when this is done.

I measured the width of the end cap which folds up to close it off, and found it to be 0.070" or thereabouts, and found a piece 1/16th (0.0625") rod to use as a mandrel. I held the rod over the PE putting pressure on it and then bent each edge up and around with a single-edged razor blade. The basket has a high side and low side as can be seen by the end caps not being on the center-line. I made sure I set the rod to account for this and it worked pretty well.

The upfolded ends are secured by a dab of thin CA and then with a tooth pick with accelerator to cure it fast. I use gel CA to adhere the baskets to the railings. It's touch and go since the railings themselves are not particularly robust.

I took the following image before I started putting on the baskets, but I wanted to see about using some big sheets of paper as a backdrop for picture taking. It's impressing even me. Sometimes it nice to step back and admire your work. 

I'll continue building and applying baskets tomorrow.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, June 08, 2018 8:51 PM

I was really unhappy gluing the floater net baskets (FNBs) directly to the ship's handrails. They were popping off as fast as I could get them on, and it took way too long to what essentially was a simple task. I did wrestle all the FNBs that were shown in my broadside picture of the actual ship, but wanted to find a more secure method.

I woke up this morning thinking about gluing the FNBs to foil and then wrapping the foil over the rail and gluing it to itself making essentially a sandwich with foil as the bread and the rail as the bologna. The foil I was using is wine bottle seal foil which has some body and I use it for all sorts of detail work. I first tried Microscale's foil adhesive, but it didn't have enough strength in such a small surface area. That left me doing it with thick CA. 

I measured both the amount of foil needed for the FNB interface and then the depth of foil that would fold over the rail. I cut off a strip and measured the width of one FNB, and folded it in my PE folding tool so the fold was nice and square. I glued the high side of the FNB to the foil and then glued this assembly to the rail. Here is the foil measured to hold four FNBs together. This also made gluing mulitples easier... not a lot easier, but easier all the same.

The idea actually worked, and the connection between the FNB and foil, and the foil to the rail was much, much stronger. I glued up singles, doubles and four-in-a-row and completed the entire port side. I toyed with the idea to remove the starboard side's FNBs and redo them with this method, but decided against it leaving well enough alone. So there is a visual difference between the two sides. I surmised that going back and attempting removal would result in some rails coming loose and I didn't want to deal with that.

On the starboard side I attempted to brush paint Navy Blue to clean up all the mess, but this resulted in some FNBs falling off creating more mess. So I stopped that and decided that I would airbrush all of them when finished. I did some selective masking to keep the  spray off the flight deck and did the touch up painting. But, before doing this I did add the two tiny missing railings buried in the port side; one to the boat deck and the other on a ladder platform next to an access manway. You can see this railing in the below.

This reverse angle view shows what you can see of the foil. I think it's a decent solution to an annoying problem and, while not prototypical (I actually don't have a clue how the FNBs were hung from the rails) it does not look too obtrusive and at least the port side's FNBs won't fall off. Can't say the same for the starboard's. I would think that the real ship probably had some form of framing behind the baskets that actually tied them to the ship. I can imagine that they would be quite heavy especially if awash in seawater spray.

The last thing I did today was locate a single bar railing and put it on the FD to guard the elevator opening. This railing was pretty messed up and I fiddled with it until I had a stretch of railing that would cover the distance. Again, it's not really pretty, but it works. The other method would have been to drill the deck, use some guitar string rods for stanchions and string it with E-Z Line, or fine copper wire. My first choice worked. In this image you can also see the small rail on the boat deck on the right side of the picture.

I really not happy with the whole FNB exercise. I don't like how they come out when folded and glued since there's a lot of variation between them. And as careful as I tried to be, they're sitting at all kinds of angles and don't look very shipshape. I thought about leaving them off, by AMS set in and I was compelled to do it.

What's left? Putting on some end-of-catwalk railings which are simulated with a chain top string, and then rigging the long-range radio antennas. Finally, putting the planes on deck. A very fine modeler, David Koeleiski, says he glues his with CA. I suppose that's how I'm going to have to do it too.

The plexiglass should be getitng here soon. General Plastics and Rubber's router broke and the part was supposd to arrive yesterday. My work is on the top of list. Regardless, I have a Ford GTA to finish and a half-built structure for the railroad, so I won't get bored waiting.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, June 11, 2018 7:07 PM

Well, dear readers, we are on the home stretch. Speaking of home stretch, how about that Justify? Being a Louisville resident, we're very attentive to great horses. He's going to spend some time at the stables at Churchill Downs. I got the long-range radio antenna rigged, added a few of those little end railings (pain in the butt), added two inclined ladders to go up some minor elevations in the port side catwalk system, weathered the area around the anchors and, finally, started adding the air wing and the little people. The model will be done TOMORROW!

Rigging the antenna towers started by running the horizontal lines (4) from one end to the other. For the aft towers this was just two. For the foreward towers the lines led through the middle one to each end. I simulated insulators with a drop of Bondic. It worked very, very well for this purpose. In fact, I would recommend it. After curing it for a couple of seconds I colored it with a touch of Tamiya clear green. The lines are just CA'd directly to both sides of the towers for the up and down lines and to the outriggers for the athwartships lines. 

For the downrunning lines, I first belayed the lines to the bottom rungs of the towers and then just touched them with thin CA where the two lines touched. As noted before, once the CA hits the E-Z Line, it will cure almost instantly. That's a blessing and a curse. If the lines accidentally touch they will stick there too.

Here's what the front set looks like rigged.

The aft towers came out the same. Whew! This was one of those steps that could go very, very well or very, very badly.

I then attempted to add some rust around the anchors. I'm not happy with the result and will redo it tomorrow. It's too much. I just want a touch of rust where the anchor would naturally bump the ship.

It was time to install the air wing. I decided to just put a dab of thick CA onto the landing gear and set them down. I first laid them all out in a logical arrangement, then started in the front and worked to the back.

I then put the first little person on the deck, the plane starter.

I have to decide how I'm going to arrange the folks. They're all deck people with different colored shirts. With plane ops underway, many of the armorers, fuel guys would be in the catwalks and out of the action. The deck would be full of yellow shirts. I don't have any brass. There's another fret with officers types that I don't have.

Of course I couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to jiggle one of the planes to see how the thick CA is holding. The plane I touched was the last Avenger. One side was not attached, and when I attempted to remove it to add more CA, the landing that was stuck was really stuck and unglued itself from the air plane. So I had to get it off the deck and reglue it to the plane. Then the other gear came off. And lastly, I dropped the darn thing on the floor and one of the horizontal stabs came off and the prop. The more I messed with it the worse it got. Tomorrow I will rebuild it and get it back on the way or the other.

Lastly, I treated myself to a new lab coat. The last one served well, but it was so gross, my wife insisted that I get a new one. Here's me with it.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Monday, June 11, 2018 7:54 PM

This has been an amazing build to follow. Your trials and tribulations are similar to mine. I sometimes think it would be easier to do my builds on the floor, as I spend a lot of time down there looking for stuff I dropped. Your perseverance and humor has been fun to follow, plus, I picked up a few tricks along the way. The build has turned out very nice. Thanks for posting everything.


PS - nice jacket!



Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Monday, June 11, 2018 10:49 PM

Builder, Your perserverance, skill, and determination to get it right has already served you well on this build. I can only commiserate since we (modelers) - certainly me and I would imagine most of us - have taken three steps forward and two back more than a few times in the building of complex kits.

It's looking very good and I'm always in awe of the amount of work a project like yours requires.


"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 5:08 PM

Thanks guys! I think I have one more monster boat build in me: either Gallery or Trumpeter LHD ship (Wasp, Iwo Jima, etc.). After that I really don't want to struggle with micro-PE stuff flying in and out of another dimension.

Had just a few moments in the shop today after exercising and doing errands, so I fixed that semi-wrecked Avenger and got it back on the flight deck. Now I'm not touching any of them. I tipped the boat 90 degrees and nothing fell off so I'm good to go. Tomorrow, I'll add all the folks that makes sense to.

I fixed the landing gear using Bondic. Bondic has an advantage where you can cure it instantly without having to touch it. I find sometimes using accelerator on a toothpick to set the CA, that the CA sticks itself to the toothpick which then pulls it off the work piece and pulls the part out of position. With Bondic, if you can hold it still while shining the light on it, you're good to go.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:33 AM

I too have the Gallery LHD-2 kit. I've collected some stuff to convert her to ESSEX LHD-2.

 Reasoning, She is part of our organization,

 USS ESSEX Association,CV/CVA/CVS-9/LHD-2. 

 I've done the CV, Not done a CVA with a SCB-27A, working on a CVA/CVS SCB-125 (thats when I served on her), and the Gallery Wasp conversion to Essex LHD-2 in the wings waiting it's turn.

 Would love to follow your build of an LHD.



Assistant Treasurer, USS ESSEX Association

Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 10:34 AM

This has been a very informative build and it turned out very nice.  

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, June 14, 2018 6:12 PM

Well... I'll just have to get that ship and get started. Won't be for awhile since I've got other stuff in the queue. Finished completely yesterday and took the beauty shots. I used the Canon EOS and mulitple exposures for great depth of field followed by image stacking software (ZerenStacker) to blend all those various focal point pictures into a cohesive whole. Here's the lineup.

Here's Essex sitting with another great ship that served in the Pacific. Both ships are configured in Late WW2 dress. I'm still waiting for the Plexiglass to finish up the case. I don't like all that detail being exposed to dust and spiders.

This was a heck of a build. It took about 6 months and thanks to all for following along with the highs and lows. To build Out of Box would have taken a couple of weeks. Once you add all the enhancements you're in for a much longer ride. The results are truly worth the effort.

So what new did I learn on this project. 
  • First of all, I continued to advance my skills in soldering PE and developing more secure ways to fasten stuff onto the model. 

  • I continued building skill in making my own decals. 

  • I further developed fabricating techniques including cutting the island and repositioning the flag bridge without screwing anything up. 

  • I discovered Bondic and found it very successful for things that I hadn't thought of. 

  • I discovered 3D printed tiny guns that saved many hours of work (and frustration). 

  • I also found that using a fine-line Sharpie made reasonable canopy frames for tiny canopies. 

  • And lastly, I learned a ton about the Essex Class in doing the research to make an updated model.

After I cleaned up the shop a bit, I got back to work on the Ford Fairlane GTA which I blog on another thread here at FSM Forum. So thank you all for following along and making terrific comments!

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Friday, June 15, 2018 9:01 AM

Looks wonderful my friend!

Lots a good work done on this build, espeically your metal working.

Hope to see more on the Fairlane build.  That is a beautiful car.

Now I need to get off my duff and start the Lexington.  Like the Essex, everything is blue on the ship.  


  • Member since
    January, 2015
Posted by PFJN on Friday, June 15, 2018 12:19 PM

Your build looks great.  Expecially the aircraft.  All the effort you put into them really paid off.Smile

1st Group Build

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, June 15, 2018 5:50 PM

Thanks guys! The only problem with the "all navy blue" scheme is that it hides the details you work so hard to create (it also hides all the screwups). Haze gray is much more revealing. Are you going to post the Lex build? If so, I'll be watching.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 6:00 PM

Yesterday I picked up the cut Plexiglass and today built the case. While the case was setting I attempted to add some call sign signal flags. "Attempt" is the action word here. I aborted the plan after trying to fit the first flag and didn't like how it was turning out.

I found signal flags on the Internet, imported the JPG into Corel PhotoPaint and then scale them to about 1/8" high matching the flag decals that were on my Missouri. I printed them out on white decal paper in multiple sets since I was planning on putting the same flags on both sides of the island.

I placed the decals onto aluminum foil which is what I was told to do so it would give them some body and enable you to put some furl in them. 

But, as I tried to put the first flag in place on the port side signal halyards it wasn't going well. It didn't fold in the center and I was fussing with it too much. My hand was bumping into things and I was afraid that this minor detail addition could lead to big troubles so I pulled off the flag and quit the process. Sometimes you have to know when to quit.

The Plexiglass was cut on a router so it didn't have obvious saw marks, but it did have edge chipping which didn't make me happy. I have a sanding fixture that I built to sand square edges on balsa sheeting to make wing skins on large scale RC planes. I put this to use to finish up the edges. You're supposed to sand with the length so the groove trap the solvent cement by capillary action and don't leak out.

You tape the box together and then run a bead of liquid acrylic solvent (Methyl Chloride and some kind of alcohol) using a squeeze bottle with a very narrow metal nozzle. 

You're supposed to remove the adhesive poly wrap off all the surfaces accept the one resting on the work table. I had a problem applying the solvent. The darn bottle was leaking at the screw top and every time I tipped it over to apply glue to the seams drops were pouring out on the interior surface of the top. It was a mess. I let them dry without touching them so they're visible, but not when looking at the case from the side.

I also got leakage around the masking tape and this was much more noticeable, and made a mess. After it dried I worked with my multi-grit finishing system and got them so they're less obvious. They're still there, but don't smack you in the face.

I was very, very pleased to see that all my dimensions worked and the case both fit the base plank AND cleared all the ship's extenditures. (word?)

Unlike the Missouri case, where I used 1/8" material (a bit flimsy), I used 3/16" plexiglass and it's much sturdier. The case is good enough for what it's intended to do which is keep the model in a pristine condition. I cut the opening in the back for the LED light power cord so it can be illuminated with the cover on. Here it is all protected with the Missouri. I feel much better knowing it's under cover and I can't bump into it and break something I can't fix.

Man! Was I lucky in my sizing of the base. Another inch and it wouldn't have fit the shelving and that's the only good place to display it in the house. While I was testing the case fit in the basement, I then got worried that it was too high. It measured 11-1/2", and I got the tape and went upstairs to measure the space. It was 13" so I dodged another bullet. I set up the base and case dimensions just to fit the model, not fit the space. So it was just luck that it worked out okay. I could have made the case lower, but I was uncomfortable how close the case top came to the Missouri's radar and didn't want that to happen again. When I measured all the case dimensions the island was not yet built so I had to guess. Better to have a littlle too much clearance than not enough. You get lucky sometimes.

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 11:54 PM

Wonderful work! It's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Just brimming with the fine building that you've let us watch for a while now.

I look forward to whatever your next project is.


"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Thursday, June 21, 2018 3:18 AM

I know nothing about ship models, but that is a really nice looking model.  Well done!



  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by steve5 on Thursday, June 21, 2018 3:47 AM

incredible work builder , I can't use that many letter's , so what mike said .



Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.


By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.