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USS Essex 1:350 Trumpeter Build

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  • 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 - 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 - 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


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