Building the Formations 1/35 Chaffee (Part 2)

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Lets pick up where we left off…

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Its time to start thinking about the details that will go on to the front armored plate. There is a bunch of them and its time to get them sorted out and make sure will all fit correctly on the scratched part before it gets attached to the model. These are the lift rings, it will take the same amount of effort to bend them out of brass as it will to get them off the pour stubs. This one looks close, needs a little more arc I think.

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This is a special tool for bending wire. Uh, I forget what its called. Round nose pliers?  These things come in a bunch of different shapes for bending.

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Time to get the lift rings into the bow plate. In order to get a perfect fit I do the following: I cut one leg of the lift ring longer than the other. Next, I drill only one of the holes for it in the plate (the right one in the photo). I insert the long leg of the lift ring into the hole and check where the other leg sits relative to the line. You will notice that the short end of the lift ring (on the left) is a tad shy of the mark.

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I make a starter hole shy of the mark, using the blunt end of a metal probe. I drill (these holes are .035). Insert the rings and super glue from the rear.

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Here is the trans plate. Its time to make the little raised ridge (for shell splash?) that goes around three sides of it. Make sure to eyeball your references at this point, so you can make the part right. Keep in mind that all of your references may not nessesarily be correct. The more references you look at, the more you will see trends and get closer to what you think its supposed to be. I’ve traced the outer edge here. Also note that Grandt line bolts have already been placed in the holes around the edge of the trans cover.
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I cut it using a flat chisel X-acto blade. Its easier to get it shaped correctly this way.

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Here’s a botched attempt at the weld detail for the light stalks. I thought I could put some tube cement on some plastic scrap, scrape the melted goo off and use it to make a weld seam. Interesting idea, but it didn’t work. Don’t be afraid to try stuff. Thats the key to scratchbuilding. I’ll scrape this off and try something different.

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The old way to make weld seams still works. This is Tamiya ribbon epoxy. You can dip your sculpting tools in 91% alcohol to keep them from sticking to the epoxy while you shape it. You can also brush it on to smooth out the finish.

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I started to look at the detail above the trans gear housing on the model (this is always dangerous, because then I end up wanting to “improve” it). I think those bumps above it are supposed to be an attachment point for a dozer blade. I checked my references and on the early Dubya Dubya two M-24s this this attachment point is not there. You can also see that I’ve added a lip to the frontal armour plate (the front is one full sheet which extends up).

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I back-fill the void with Tamiya Ribbon epoxy.

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Now I grind off the stuff I don’t want and its already filled.  Actually, I use a grinder to get the big part off, then use a flat file to finish.  I can use the file to follow the flat front to get it all to match up.

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Now one of the ridges is being glue on, yes? Wouldn’t you know it, I’ve lost the first one I made and the trans plate is glued on already. I’ve spent ten minutes looking for the old one…better just cut a new one.
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I still have the cut-out from the old one, so I’ll use that as a template to make a replacement. I usually save everything, never know what will be useful.

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Here is some reference pictures of the bow plate I found on the internet. (God love the internet!) I usually print out anything that I’ll be refering to, its a lot easier if I have it right in front of me while I’m working.

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OK, the ridge is on. I’m going to brush it with liquid cement to stick em’ down real good and give them a little texture.

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Raw styrene stock is very smooth and almost never looks right as armor until the surface has been worked somehow. A little this and a little that will give it some texture.
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Time to put the trans cover grab handles on. I use a square shaped plier. I mark right on them (with a sharpie) the spot where I bend them so both will be the same. Heres the matched pair.

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Here they are on the trans cover. I drilled one hole (as desribed, above) and noticed while looking at them that these handles should be noticably smaller in diameter than the lift rings. And they are too wide.

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I bent new ones from .016 brass stock (the larger one is shown for comparison).

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Getting the parts off those pour stubs is stressful. I have an X-acto saw blade that seems to work the best. The resin is extremely brittle.  If you try to snap them off you probably will break a chunk out of the part.

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These parts are from the Itelari kit and are the stops for the suspension arms. They are sitting on a photo of the real thing that I took of a Chaffee (at Cantigni in the Chicago-land area). These will get scrapped and I’ll make my own.  They are very mushy with sink holes.

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I’m focused on the suspension and front hull right now. Here are the Formations road wheel hubs, mostly off the sprue. I’m having trouble getting them flat. They are just too darn small to hold and sand properly. I also wasn’t sure exactly where the sprue ended and the part started. I started messing around with them and couldn’t figure out how to get them on the wheel so they wouldn’t be all cock-eyed. The kit parts already had nice flat bottoms with holes for the axle…if only I could use them instead. Not only that they are plastic, they would weld real nice to the road wheel….

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Here are the Itelari hubs (fortune has smiled, I left them on the rack). I have decided to use a combination of the two parts in order to make my “dream hub”. I’ll use the upper portion of the Formations part and the lower section of the Itelari one. This means sanding both parts down and glueing them together to make the new part. The Formations hubs need to be sanded down to the ring. The tops of the plastic kit ones gotta come off. Both have to be flat, level and true. OK, plastic ones first. I’ve double stuck them to a Jenga block. The sprue keeps them together and on the level.

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This one is the right height,all I need is the top part.  But right now all I need a flat guide that is the height that I want the plastic base part to be.  This plastic sheet is the right thickness (.040ish).

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So I cut a chunk of that .040 sheet and double stick it to the Jenga block next to the plastic kit hubs. It will end up being a guide to file them down all to the same height and get them nice and flat.

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File down right to the plastic sheet.  level your file on it to make the tops nice and flat. Here are the first two filed down.  The plastic hubs are the same height as the .040 plastic sheet two pics up.

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Now the resin ones. Measure using calipers (you can get a cheap pair for 20 bucks). Looks like .070ish.

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Got these at Menards for less than 20 bucks. If your going to scratch you need a full set of drills. I find the nearest size…

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….And drill myself a hole in a sheet of plastic. I keep using drill sizes one size larger until I get that nice tight fit. This sheet becomes a handle and guide so I can sand these suckers flat. Take your time and go slow.

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That first pic is “batman” style..whoa! Ok, you get the idea. Repeat. Try not to breath the dust.

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All flat and ready to go.  Now the .040 spot where the plastic bottom part will go is all gone.

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So here we are..a little closer to a finished model. Parts on the left and subassembly on the right. Today I wrecked the 10th resin hub on the lathe…wouldn’t you know it… Time to get on the rest of the suspension. My pics at Cantigni showed a few more things I want to change.  Yes, yes I’m a nut case (is nut case one word)?
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Holy Moly! Will you look at the time! Here’s some of the music I have listened to so far during this build: Mazzy Star  (So Tonight That I Might See), the Kronos Quartet & Philip Glass (Dracula) and Combustible Edison (The Impossible World). See you in part 3!