Building the Formations 1/35 Chaffee (part 5)

Is it done yet? Almost! To some this process may seem much too labor intensive, but honestly, I enjoy making all this stuff. For me its the fun part. Its like solving a puzzle… figuring out the best way to make some part. Like this one…


…The drivers folding windscreen. This is a place holder part, just to get some sizing, see if it will fit, you know wrap my brain around it.


Here is the real deal. (This is a scanned photo from Axis-Allies magazine. I couldn’t find this reference anywhere else and you need to see it in order to understand the part that has to get made). This is the kind of stuff I like to see on a model. It shows purpose. Its cool because it has glass with heating wires in between and a wiper with an exposed motor, very utilitarian. Trick is, its not a part you can just “glue” together. Thats because a lot of it is so thin around the edges, almost .015 or less. It needs to look like sheet metal. Thats just to thin to use strip stock and glue around the outside, not enough meat to hold it all together. In order to make this part, you have to make it from the inside out. Basically this means making the inside narrow channel of the frame first, then grinding away everything on the outside.  You’ll see.


Here is the Formations bracket (they do not include the windscreen). The plastic sheet under the tweezers is .080 thick and will become the thin outside edge. The little square of plastic is .010 thick and will become the back.


Glue on to the back (use super glue, otherwise the part will curl when the glue shrinks).


Actually that was a test part (fooled you!). Uh, I need to make a cleaner part. I took the time to mark it up…


You can’t cut round interior edges easily, but you can use a drill to make them.  Drill, then cut the straight stuff out. Remember, this will become the interior wall of the windscreen.


Here I’m using 200 grit sand paper to knock the edges down. When I get close I’ll go to the 400, then 600 and so on.


At this point you can see the edges are still thick (about .060 or so) and I have left one side long to use as a handle. The handle should be on the side easiest to cut off, in this case the straight side.


I made these to clarify the process. Note, I use a chisel X-acto blade to knock out the center section. Cut close to the line, then file.




This illustration is inaccurate.  I left off the handle. Its really important when fabricating small parts to leave them connected to a handle so you can work with them.


Ok… uh… this center part will become the inside edge of the hole.


…like so. Rough it out. I use a motor tool bit that is cylinder shaped with flat sides.


Finally, I use a file (and yes, a big one) to shape the inside contour. For the inside round edge use a file with the same radius.


There you have it.


There were a few parts that I need to re-cast, such as the vision blocks, because the Formations one are not clear. I decided I wanted to cast them in clear. While I was at it I cast the windscreen. This way it would be more homogeneous and I’d have multiples to play with.


It’s a simple open face mold. I only need a few parts.


Oops.  This is not good. I accidentally mixed part “A” with part “A” for the resin. Usually this wrecks the mold, because you cant get all that gunk out. So I cleaned it out, poured resin in a few times to grab the gunk and finally got a good pour.  The simplest things…


Here are the new clear vision blocks.


And here is a casting of the windscreen.


What a grind. I left it on the pour stub because it gives me a really big handle.


Roughed out…you know where this is headed.


Cleaned up.


Ready to rock. You will see the other details in later photos.


The pioneer tools live in a cluster on the right side of the tank. I didn’t have any close up shots here, so I just had to figure it out. This is a shovel from that new DML M3 halftrack. Thought it might work better than the Formations one. Its different.


Here is that central bracket in that cluster. It took a bit of trial and error to figure this one out.  It holds everything.


I replaced the all the tool handles with wood left over from a ship model. There are a bunch of other tools that nest in there, held in place by leather straps.  The tool handles will get treated with tounge oil.


This is the bracket that goes under the first-aid kit.


I took the tie-downs from the On the Mark photo etch fret off and tried to bend them (man… are they small!). They were so fragile that I couldn’t do anything with them at all. Besides, they didn’t look right, they were flat and the real tie downs are round. (Thats kinda anal, isn’t it)?   So I needed to figure out how to make my own. I tried bending them all different ways, but I needed a method that yielded consistency, as I needed a million of the little buggers. Its always easy to make one, its hard to make more than one of anything that are supposed to be the same. Ok…Ok… I took these pliers…


…and thought, “hey I can file this thing to the shape I need to make these parts…”


…Like so…


Now I have a tool I can use. I made three sides square and flat. This thing is great for bending photo-etch.  Actually, I found all kinds of uses for it, like making Fruiel tracks…


Here’s how I make those teeny grab handles. This is .016 brass wire.




Nip off the ends…


like so.


Use another flat plier to grab each end on the square side of the new tool. Make sure it is flush up against the bottom, so that each one you make will be the same.  Then bend (it takes practice).




Bend the other side.


Now you need to squish the part that gets glued to the model. This simulates the weld there and also gives you a little flat spot to glue these babies on with.  Brass flattens nicely.


File the burr off (from when it got cut).


Viola! Now repeat about 40 times.


Attach to the model. In reality the handles should be a tad smaller, but I had already started to make them and …I am so very tired…


So, there you have it. Next time you see it, it will be all grey.


Here is that rear torsion arm detail I promised.  Its very visible from the rear.


Another shot.


Front, showing driver’s windscreen with details.  It’s all stuck on with double stick and I have made the wires, plug socket and switch panel.  They are too small to stick on with double-sided tape.


Turret.  There will be a whip antenna, pulled down with a cord from the bustle.


Right side.


All I need now is one of those fancy-smancy Tasca .50 cal MGs (or the one in the new Lion Roar half-track set). If any one from Lion Roar sees this I ‘ll wash your car in trade for one of those new MGs….

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As usual, I listened to Star Wars (!), some Beck and Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra.


Will you look at the time!  See you next time.