superstructures from acrylic plastic
I've been working on faster and cheaper ways to scratch build
model boats. One of my most popular methods is the "prefab" windows and
doors technique I developed using clear 1/16" acrylic plastic.
Most clear plastic comes with a film on it to protect it from
scratching. It's important to leave this on till ready to glue
structures together. I usually mask off the plastic over top the film,
but sometimes the film keeps coming off. In that case I remove the film
and put masking tape on both sides of the plastic to avoid scratches.
Then I cut out the walls for the cabin superstructure. While I'm cutting
the walls out I mark them to make sure I know which wall goes where.
When all the walls have been cut out I proceed to use a scale
ruler and pen to mark off all my window and door locations making sure
everything is square. After marking off all doors and windows I go back
and double check all the locations making sure everything is correct.
Next I use an x-acto knife with a #11 blade and a metal
straight edge to scribe around the frames of the windows and doors. If
the window has a horizontal or vertical post I usually scribe a line
spaced a little bit apart to each side of the post line. Then I remove
the little strip of tape and when it is painted it created the center
post of the window.
This photo shows the windows and door masked and drawn ready for
Here shows the technique of masking off a door
for the opened effect. If you don't plan on detailing the area open to
the door, then paint the inside of the door opening black. Notice the
tape on the center post of the window cut out.
Here is the technique of doing a closed door with windows. Scribe the
door and windows then remove the tape from the door section while
leaving the tape over the window part.
After all doors and windows are scribed, excess tape removed, it's now
time to glue up the structures. Notice door window taped off on inside.
The door opening is masked off as for an opened door then the window is
scribed on the inside and the door is painted from the inside to imitate
a door that opens to the inside.
Here's the painted pilot house. A tip here is when you have a detailed
interior, paint the interior color first and then overlay the exterior
coat. This gives you the color for the interior without the hassle of
masking and aligning the windows and doors inside.
Here is the finished product. Notice the blacked out open door in engine
room, The recessed door that appears to open in, and the opened door on
the pilot house. Also check out the center posts
on the windows.
To remove tape adhesive
for structure prior to painting, use
It works very well. After the paint has dried and masking tape
removed from windows and doors, I use mineral spirits with Q-tips to
remove any adhesive. Be
careful not to rub the paint off around
windows and doors. When painting structures, make sure it's masked off
to keep over spray from getting on the inside of the window and door
openings. Of course you don't have to worry about that if you have
blacked them out.
Building a fleet
deck with acrylic plastic
Take a piece of clear plastic and scribe the size of the deck.
Don't cut it out yet to make it easier to scribe the grid lines.
Carefully scribe lines approximately one scale inch apart across the
deck layout. Now scribe across those lines with lines approximately
three scale inches apart. After all lines are scribed go ahead and cut
the deck out. Brush on some enamel paint, being sure to get it down in
the scribe lines and then use a rag with a little mineral spirits to
remove the excess, leaving the paint down in the lines. TIP: Be sure
when making the fleet deck to have the three inch lines running parallel
to the pilot house. Reason being, on the prototype they can see down
through the deck. When the long line run horizonal to the pilot house,
they can't see through the deck. It appears as a solid deck. See
examples below on prototypes.
View of mv. C.D. Wilson's fleet deck
A fleet deck built the wrong way. Notice how the grid work looks like a
Make handrail mesh from nylon screen for doors.
Just cut in lengths with the holes making a diamond shape, paint and
glue in place. The same can be done for smaller scales using pantyhose.
Photos below show how easy it is to do.
Pantyhose is also good for making
Tips for working
When heat forming plastic,
adjust the oven between 200 & 350 degrees
To remove scratches from plastic
use a muslin buff with a diamond or plastic compound. Be careful not to
cause heat build up.
To smooth edges use a file then
scrape with a flat edge of steel. A hacksaw blade is useful.
To simulate rusted metal. Paint
with light earth and add Tuscan in places. Streak the
paint with a brush and thinner. Next rub in some dirt and spot some
places with thinner.
How about a fire monitor?
If you tow barges with flammable cargo you need to have a fire monitor
for emergencies. With some brass or copper tubing and some careful
soldering, the fire monitor could be made operational. Most fire
monitors are mounted next to the pilot house for fast access though I
have seen some mounted in the middle of the fleet deck. The photo here
shows the 4" supply pipe elbows into the cabin just below the deck.
Some, as in the fleet deck arrangement, run straight down through the
I have been asked, "How do I make the boom and
tackle operate on the crane?" It's really a simple technique. I
use a 24 rpm geared motor for the winch
with a sewing machine bobbin epoxied to the
shaft for the cable drum. It takes one unit for the boom and one
for the tackle.
In the photo you see the tackle winch. Barely visible
is the winch drum for the boom. The winch motor is nestled in the cabin
area at bottom of screen.
This diagram shows how the switch is wired and tripped with a servo.
Use a double pole, double throw, momentary
on, center off switch. You need a
momentary on so when the servo is released the switch will return to
it's center off position. Use an "X" arm on the servo centered with the
switch so that when you throw the joystick in one direction it will trip
the switch and when you throw the joystick in the opposite direction it
will trip the switch the other direction. With the switch wired in an
"X" on the outer poles it will reverse the motor when the switch is
pushed the opposite direction.
This is all you'll need with an "A" frame type crane.
With other type cranes, you'll need a motor to turn the crane cab. For
that you'll need a geared motor that turns about 1 to 5 rpm.