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Alclad Natural Metal Finish with Low Effort and Low Expectations

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  • Member since
    June 2023
Alclad Natural Metal Finish with Low Effort and Low Expectations
Posted by burrito king on Friday, October 13, 2023 9:28 PM

I got through the assembly and surface prep of my 1:48 Hasegawa P-38J Lightning.  It took over a month, mainly because the landing gear doors were designed to be with the gear down, but I am one of the tiny minority who likes to build gear up.  A lot of filing, putty, and sanding was required to make the doors fit.  I used various files and copious amounts of Vallejo Plastic Putty.  For final sanding I started with 800 grit and worked my way to wet sanding with 7000 grit.  It was tedious and frustrating, and eventually I got to the point where I said enough!  Below is a photo of the final surface prep.  I know it's pretty primitive, but I will never claim to be a skilled model maker.  I am doing this to have fun, and tbh there is a limit to my patience when it comes to surface prep.  Maybe there are others like me who take a more casual approach, and hopefully we can find ways to get decent results with minimal effort, skill, and expense.

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  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Friday, October 13, 2023 9:32 PM

Looks good in the pic.  I'll hit the plastic with Novus plastic polish (1, 2 & 3) once my seams look okay.  Doesn't take long and puts a nice surface on the plastic.

Thanks,

John

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Friday, October 13, 2023 9:41 PM

So today was the big day: priming.  I never ever primed a model before, but everything I read said Alcad needs a primer to adhere.  I read forums and watched videos, and primer application for Alclad seemed like mastering the dark side of the force.  Eventually I decided to use Krylon primer as stated on the Alclad website.  It says to use automotive primer, but the automitive primers I found were for metal, not plastic.  So I said F it and got some Krylon colormax primer from Michaels for $5.99.  The label says it's for plastic, so that was good enough for me.

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  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Friday, October 13, 2023 9:53 PM

It should go without saying that I am not a decanting type of guy.  I tested it on some scrap, then sprayed it straight from the rattle can.  I used several light mist coats and got good coverage with little effort.  It didn't obliterate the panel lines so I am happy.  My surface prep skills suck, so I was fully expecting to see horrible waves, scratches, etc. but to my amazement it seems to be ok.  Even the landing gear doors!  It won't win any awards, but it's good enough for my low expectations.  Tomorrow I will add some black primer to selected panels to get some tonal variation with the Alclad, then sand it with 8000 grit.  If all goes well, the Alclad will go on this Sunday.

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  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Friday, October 13, 2023 9:58 PM

Hi keavdog, thanks for the tip on the Novus.  Too late for this P-38, but I googled it and it would really help on my future builds.  Especially where I am trying for a polished finish.  I love F-104's with polished aluminum, one day I want to try it.  This P-38 is going to get a "working bird" finish, with oxidation, stains, worn areas, etc.  Like the photo below.  Except for the nose, there is no reflection.

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  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Saturday, October 14, 2023 12:16 PM

Since you like bulding your aircraft in wheels-up configuration, have you ever tried Apoxie Clay?  In situations where you want to close up the gaps around the doors, without eliminating them completely, Apoxie Clay is great for that.  Its a 2 part clay that is water-soluble/workable until it cures.  I like to mix up little bits of it, roll it into little ropes, and then work those ropes into gaps with a toothpick.  After that, there is no sanding involved.  Instead, you use a dampened Q-tip to smooth out the clay and remove any excess around the filled area.  Then you can take a damp toothpick and gently engrave nice, even lines into the clay at whatever depth you want.  Once you're happy with how it looks, just give it about 24 hours to finish curing and its ready to prime and paint...no putty, sand, repeat dance.  There are other water-soluble putties out there, but unlike those, this stuff is extremely strong when its cured, and doesn't become brittle, so it won't ever crack when subjected to flexing or twisting...or an impact, like those times a model slips out of your hands and comes crashing down on the bench top just hard enough to crack putty in a seam which you don't see until you're at the point of putting on decals. Angry  Hate it when that happens!  LOL

Alclad does best with a gloss black or gloss dark blue undercoat, and just so you're aware, its always going to be a fragile finish, no matter what you put underneath it.  You can get lots of different tonal variations and sheen variations with it just by how heavy or light you put it on in one area or another.  You get the best results by lightly misting it on in multiple passes, and you can vary how many times you go over a particular area to give it an uneven, marbled look if you are shooting for that.  You can also layer different colors and sheens of Alclad to get different oxidation and heat staining effects.  The stuff is a lot of fun to play around with...gives you a really good way to put some artistic expression into it when trying to re-create a real-world item.  Personally, I like to seal my Alclad finishes with AK Gauzy Agent Shine Enhancer.  That protects it and keeps it from rubbing off, without causing it to color-shift like most other clearcoats will.  You can mist on some flat clear coat after that in the areas you want to look more worn and oxidized.  Really makes painting and detailing/weathering aircraft engines a lot of fun and very rewarding.

Sorry about the text wall.  I get carried away with details sometimes.  Big Smile

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Saturday, October 14, 2023 2:48 PM

For super shiny try Alclad airframe aluminum - ALC 119.  Did this tiny DC-3 with it.

ALC 119 over gloss black

 

Thanks,

John

  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Saturday, October 14, 2023 8:02 PM

Very cool, Keavdog!  I'll have to check my collection.  I don't think I have that color yet...definitely need to get it if I don't already have it.

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Sunday, October 15, 2023 11:14 AM

Hi eaglecash867, thanks for the tip about the Apoxie clay. I am very grateful for the wealth of knowledge shared by you and all the expert modelers in this forum. And the detailed explanations are appreciated, my thanks go to you and everyone else for all the details! I have a list where I write down all of the tips I get, so I can bring these up when the need arises.

I have been wondering what to use as a top coat to protect high shine alclad finishes. Sounds like the AK Gauzy Agent Shine Enhancer is perfect for that. And I love the engine photos. The tone and gloss variations and the details are amazing!

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Sunday, October 15, 2023 12:22 PM

Hi keavdog, that is an amazing polished finish on your DC-3. The reflections are like a mirror. There are many different methods in the forums for the gloss black undercoat. Some say to use alclad gloss black base, some say that stuff never dries. Some say the earlier batches of alclad gloss black base had that problem, but has been cured in later batches. Some use decanted gloss black krylon primer. Some use tamiya gloss black primer, either decanted or from the rattle can. Some use testors gloss black enamel airbrushed. Seems like there are many ways to get a good result. One day I will try for a high shine polished finish. When that day comes I will probably try gloss black krylon straight from the rattle can. Mainly because it's cheap and available from Walmart or Michael's, and also because no special technique is required.

I am using regular alclad aluminum alc-101 for this P-38. So it doesn't require the gloss black primer. I am hoping for a smooth but dull satin finish. After that I will apply oxidation, stains, and worn spots. I want the plane to say, "I get into bare knuckle brawls with the enemy, my ground crew barely has time to keep me flying, and if I don't get shot down I'm going straight to the boneyard after the war."

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Sunday, October 15, 2023 9:29 PM

Getting through the process of masking random panels and painting them with black primer to get tone variations of the alc-101.  Also sanding the primer to get a decently smooth satin finish.  The alclad website recommends sanding with 1000/1200 grit for regular (not high shine) finishes.  Some of the darkened panels were matched to actual photos, but most are not.  I'm just using my imagination to select which ones.

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  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 12:39 AM

Just about done with the preshading, just gotta do final sanding before spraying the alclad.  I am hoping to convey a beat up warhorse that has been patched up numerous times by whatever pieces the ground crew could scrounge between missions.  Trying to get that beat up effect without overdoing it.

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  • Member since
    May 2004
  • From: Land of Lakes
Posted by cbaltrin on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 6:40 AM

Looks good so far. I like your idea. Very interested to see how it turns out. 

On the Bench: Too Much

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 11:51 PM

cbaltrin

Looks good so far. I like your idea. Very interested to see how it turns out. 

 

Hi cbaltrin, thanks for the encouragement. Today I went over everything with 1000 grit, then 3000 grit, then a damp cloth wipe. Feels pretty smooth, but is it smooth enough?  Not expecting or wanting a polished or even semi-gloss finish. I'm hoping for a smooth satin. Tomorrow I'm going to make sure the panel lines are ok and rescribe as necessary. Hopefully spray the alclad this weekend.

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Sunday, October 22, 2023 2:01 PM

Yesterday I sprayed the aclad regular aluminum alc-101.  The reuslts were mixed, below are my takeaways.

  1. there is a learning curve, and I have a way to go.
  2. i sprayed some test shots on a practice sheet of white styrene, it went on smooth and shiny, I thought I was good to go.
  3. On the model, I got a grainy surface.
  4. The gray primer required a lot of passes to get coverage.  Next time I will use white primer.
  5. The pre shaded panels were nicely visible from some angles, but not from others.  Preshade against a white background might give more conisstent results.
  6. I sprayed from too far, the aclad was drying before hitting the surface, which contributed to the grainy finish.  2 inches away seems to work best.
  7. My air supply consists of a tire filling air compressor I bought 10 years ago, a craftsman portable tank, and a $10 regulator from Harbor Freight.  Maybe I need an upgrade.
  8. I can spray acrylics really good.  I suck at spraying enamels and lacquers.

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  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Sunday, October 22, 2023 4:57 PM

burrito king

Yesterday I sprayed the aclad regular aluminum alc-101.  The reuslts were mixed, below are my takeaways.

  1. there is a learning curve, and I have a way to go.
  2. i sprayed some test shots on a practice sheet of white styrene, it went on smooth and shiny, I thought I was good to go.
  3. On the model, I got a grainy surface.
  4. The gray primer required a lot of passes to get coverage.  Next time I will use white primer.
  5. The pre shaded panels were nicely visible from some angles, but not from others.  Preshade against a white background might give more conisstent results.
  6. I sprayed from too far, the aclad was drying before hitting the surface, which contributed to the grainy finish.  2 inches away seems to work best.
  7. My air supply consists of a tire filling air compressor I bought 10 years ago, a craftsman portable tank, and a $10 regulator from Harbor Freight.  Maybe I need an upgrade.
  8. I can spray acrylics really good.  I suck at spraying enamels and lacquers.

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I used just a portable air tank for airbrushing for years. Even today if I sprayed this afternoon I'd be using my 8 gal compressor. Just air it up ahead unplug it and move it to whereI need it. A glorified air tank is all. I can do a lot of spraying before the tank gets down to 35-40 lb or so where I'd air it back up to 125.

As to the regulator, as long as you can get the setting you want and intial pressure drop doesn't keep falling off while spraying you should be fine. By initial drop, I mean when you press the trigger there will be a drop at the regulator while the air is flowing ( usually 1-2 lb). As long as that initial drop holds steady you should get even flow if thinned right and pressure set right.

The rest is mixing the paint, speed of passes and distance. Don't confuse spoon tests with spraying a model. In most tests we spray a limited amount of paint over a small area. That is very different from spraying 12 times the area lol !

 

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Monday, October 23, 2023 8:43 AM

Hi oldermodelguy, thanks for the info. Based on this information, I will hold off on spending $100 on a new compressor with regulator and tank. I will focus on improving my technique, including mixing, speed of passes, and distance. I reworked the most grainy areas by polishing with 10,000 grit, applying a light coat of white acryllic I have laying around, then reapplying the alclad. Keeping the airbrush closer and reducing my trigger start-stops seems to help give a smoother finish. So now the overall finish has a nice improvement. Like most things, experience is the best teacher.

  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Monday, October 23, 2023 12:25 PM

burrito king

Hi oldermodelguy, thanks for the info. Based on this information, I will hold off on spending $100 on a new compressor with regulator and tank. I will focus on improving my technique, including mixing, speed of passes, and distance. I reworked the most grainy areas by polishing with 10,000 grit, applying a light coat of white acryllic I have laying around, then reapplying the alclad. Keeping the airbrush closer and reducing my trigger start-stops seems to help give a smoother finish. So now the overall finish has a nice improvement. Like most things, experience is the best teacher.

 

Yeah, With a 5 gal air tank I doubt you need the compressor to fix your problem. As I stated, as long as your air pressure can be set correctly and the flow even. In due time it might get to be a pain in the butt to keep airing it up, but that's a story all it's own not connected to the issue at hand..

I'm glad you found better results. Save your 100 buck for some good Tamiya LP lacquers or some other good products. Keep practicing !

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Saturday, October 28, 2023 1:54 AM

I didn't like the presahded panels.  They looked like dark squares with silver paint on top, which makes sense because that's what they were.  So I decided to paint over them.  I wanted to avoid masking on top of the alclad, but I accepted the inevitable and used my 3M blue masking tape.  There were no issues with the alclad getting pulled off.  I got craft metallic acrylic from Michael's, they had a 40% off deal so I got two bottles for $3.00.  I mixed them with various combinations of acrylic black and/or raw umber to get different shades.  I used my airbrush, it had a tendency to clog unless I got the thinning just right.  I'm still navigating the learning curve, but eventually I got decent results.  They are a bit too prominent right now, but I will try to tone them down during final weathering.

I applied panel line and rivet wash using raw umber acrylic thinned with water and a few drops of detergent.  Next steps are to apply panel line post shading, exhaust and oil stains, and dry brushing.

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  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Saturday, October 28, 2023 2:26 AM

My goal was to convince myself (and maybe other beginners) that natural metal finish using alclad, although challenging, can be done with minimal skill and basic equipment.  The results will not blow your mind, but I think it is good enough for many models and skill levels.  There is a lot of great information out there, but imo the sheer mass and complexity of the info can be intimidating to beginners.  But fear not, I think you can get decent results with a lot less skill and effort.  Here are my takeaways for regular metal finish, not high shine polished finish.

  1. Surface prep is important, but it doesn't have to be perfect unless you want a highly polished surface, using the high shine alclad products.  I can see areas where I applied plutty, and other areas where my sanding wasn't up to par.  But for this model I could live with it.  I didn't worry about fingerprints, dust, etc.  I used regular sandpaper from Walmart and Amazon, not Micromesh.  I think sanding the plastic with 1000 grit before prmiing is good enough for non polished finishes.
  2. A high quality primer is not necessary for regular finish.  I think flat or gloss white is a good primer color, provided you don't want a deep polished finish where high quality gloss black is required.  I think sanding the primered surface with 3000 grit is a good step.
  3. I got best results sparying the alcald at 15 psi in thin coats around 2 inches from the model.  The gray primer required a lot of coats to get good coverage.  I think the white primer would be easier to cover.  My test sprays on white styrene sheet came out super smooth and satiny.  My P-38 is grainy, but I think I can do better on the next one.
  4. The alclad is easy to spray and goes on smooth with decent surface prep and proper spraying technique.  The alclad is easy to clean from the airbrush.  I have no complaints about the alcald itself.
  5. I got poor results with preshading the panels.  I willl use post shading for panel variation on future models.  Acrylic metallic craft paints thinned with water or IPA worrks good for this.
  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Saturday, October 28, 2023 3:50 AM

burrito king

I didn't like the presahded panels.  They looked like dark squares with silver paint on top, which makes sense because that's what they were.  So I decided to paint over them.  I wanted to avoid masking on top of the alclad, but I accepted the inevitable and used my 3M blue masking tape.  There were no issues with the alclad getting pulled off.  I got craft metallic acrylic from Michael's, they had a 40% off deal so I got two bottles for $3.00.  I mixed them with various combinations of acrylic black and/or raw umber to get different shades.  I used my airbrush, it had a tendency to clog unless I got the thinning just right.  I'm still navigating the learning curve, but eventually I got decent results.  They are a bit too prominent right now, but I will try to tone them down during final weathering.

I applied panel line and rivet wash using raw umber acrylic thinned with water and a few drops of detergent.  Next steps are to apply panel line post shading, exhaust and oil stains, and dry brushing.

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You can make up a basic thinner for spraying those acrylic artist and craft paints. And in it, if you add 8 drops of Liquitex Retarder Fluid ( don't mistake the retarder medium for the fluid, while medium will work the fluid works much better in the airbrush), anyway 8 drops for every 3oz of thinner you make up or have if using commercial thinner. That will stop your tip dry issues unless in a really dry climate then up that to 10 drops for every 3oz.. The time to buy the acrylic products is on those 40% off sales at Micheals for sure, or you can sign up for coupons. 20% off the entire purchase is common as well.

You don't need multi drops of dish soap, just a very small amount will work and the paint integrity is stronger. But you're on the right track.I put less than a full drop in 3oz of thinner and that is enough to break surface tension of the airbrushed paint.

Anyway it looks like you're winning the battle. Keep at it !

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Saturday, October 28, 2023 9:43 AM

That is----

      Wow, talk about a pristine P-38! I bet when you tone the sharpness down a little, she's gonna look awesome!

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Saturday, October 28, 2023 9:47 AM

Oh My!

         Now that's one shiny, Pretty Boidy! Have always always loved the D.C.-3 and all her iterations. My first airplane ride was in an American Airlines D.C.-3, from Buffalo N.Y. to Albany, N.Y. when a small child.  I have never forgotten that grand experience!

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Sunday, October 29, 2023 1:15 AM

Hi oldermodelguy, thanks for the tip for the Liquitex Retarder Fluid.  I checked on Amazon, they have Slow-Dri Fluid Retarder for $5.09 for a 4 fl oz bottle.  I will be using a lot of craft acrylics in the future so I ordered the bottle.  I reduced my detergent to one drop and it works great.  Thanks for the tips and the encouragement!

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Sunday, October 29, 2023 1:25 AM

Hi Tanker-Builder, thanks for the compliments.  I am adding stains and other weathering.  Once everything is done, I will look at it as a whole and start toning down things as necessary.  Here is one of the engines, I am trying to create the airplane version of the "thousand yard stare".  In my imagination, this engine has been run to its limits in desprate battles of survival against equally desparate enemies.

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  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Sunday, October 29, 2023 5:31 AM

burrito king

Hi oldermodelguy, thanks for the tip for the Liquitex Retarder Fluid.  I checked on Amazon, they have Slow-Dri Fluid Retarder for $5.09 for a 4 fl oz bottle.  I will be using a lot of craft acrylics in the future so I ordered the bottle.  I reduced my detergent to one drop and it works great.  Thanks for the tips and the encouragement!

 

That's the right stuff and that's also a good price for the Liquitex..

The dish soap is something I take a mixing stick, add a film to the end of the stick and put that into 3oz of reducer. When I lightly shake my reducer I get a slight foaming. And in thinning my craft paint with that I find it sufficient. You can also use a drop of glycerin, which I'm pretty sure is the main ingredient in the commercial flow aids. Personally I find the dish soap sufficient for my needs. I just don't use more than I have to. And everyones kitchen has it lol ! Dish soap in acrylic paint is very old school but if it works so be it I feel. And it works for me.

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Thursday, November 2, 2023 12:41 AM

Hi oldermodelguy, I plan to use a lot of craft acrylics in my builds, so these tips will be really helpful.  Almost done with the P-38, got it dirtied up and dulled down.  Just a few more washes, some light dusting with the airbrush for more oxidation, then do the props and canopy.  My alclad skills need a lot of work, but I think I did ok for my first try. With minimal surface prep and cheap primer.  Thanks everyone for looking, and for all the tips and encouragement.

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  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Thursday, November 2, 2023 3:02 PM

burrito king

Hi oldermodelguy, I plan to use a lot of craft acrylics in my builds, so these tips will be really helpful.  Almost done with the P-38, got it dirtied up and dulled down.  Just a few more washes, some light dusting with the airbrush for more oxidation, then do the props and canopy.  My alclad skills need a lot of work, but I think I did ok for my first try. With minimal surface prep and cheap primer.  Thanks everyone for looking, and for all the tips and encouragement.

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What you've done is certainly better than my first efforts for sure, keep going !

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Thursday, November 2, 2023 3:33 PM

Hello!

I think in the "top" shots the "odd" panels are too "in your face". I like the effect in the photo from the side very much though! Thanks for sharing and have a nice day

PaweĊ‚

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Thursday, November 2, 2023 4:46 PM
Hi oldermodelguy, thanks for the compliment! I had a lot of information and helpful hints from you and the other master builders on this forum. It was really helpful, and I am very thankful for all the information.
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