Build Log – Part 11
It’s been a while since I’ve written this log, so my apologies go out to anyone who’s been waiting…hope it wasn’t too long.
When last we were here, the nacelles had just been wired, all the internals were light-blocked and fixed in place, and the nacelles were finally sealed up. This episode, we’re going to clean up the gaps in the model, and paint a few details here and there, along with sanding sections that need it.
First, before getting into the nitty-gritty, I protect the exposed lights (the front floodlamps and the rear anticollision strobe) and the wiring that connects all that lighting work. A nice bubble of Humbrol Maskol (or whatever your favorite masking product might be) over the small lights covers that. A little bit of masking tape around the warp crystal assembly on top protects that one. For the wiring itself, I made a small paper envelope just by folding some regular Xerox paper and taping it shut. I want to make sure those wires retain their labels and colors, so that envelope is pretty crucial.
At the front of the nacelles where the bussard collector mates with the two side halves there are some fairly significant ridges and gaps, and these require a bit of elbow grease to sand down into shape. Those were my first goals here, and with a bit of time and work they settled in. I puttied the gaps up with Tamiya fine putty, and re-sanded till smooth.
Next, the rear of the nacelles also had some rather ugly gaps, and the PE rear cover had a little teensy gap line all the
way around that needed addressing. I filled the gaps with Tamiya, scraping the excess away with the edge of a razor, and went at it with some 600-grit sandpaper to clean up the remnants. The outboard fins also needed some help, so I treated those the same way. Getting putty into that tight little angled corner on the top was probably hardest, and getting it cleaned and flush with the surface was a bit of a challenge, but a good razor knife can work wonders in this regard.
The tops of the nacelles were next, and these had some really serious ledging issues – not gaps, but places where the two parts simply don’t fit flush with one another. I used 120-grit sandpaper at first to get them as level as I could, then 600-grit to fine out the scratches from the prior sanding. Feeling for the ledge with fingertips generally reveals if you’ve done a good job here, and later when the hull coat is reapplied any fine ledging will be shown as the paint dries. As you’re doing this, it’s likely that you’ll end up sanding away your light-blocking if you did it on the outside, so mask off the clear parts and reapply as needed. It’s also good to remove the masks once you’ve done one or two coats and reapply masking afterwards, in order to avoid paint buildup in “mask lines” on particularly long-used masks.
Once I was satisfied that all the parts were smooth and matching their partners, I re-masked all the black areas and hit the whole thing with a fresh coat of white. Came out looking good, and what few spots remained that still needed smoothing became very evident. A little more sandpaper and another quick blast of white, and everything looked fine.
On the front of the engines to either side of the Bussards there is a marking in duck-egg blue that extends under the “chin” of each nacelle. On the kit parts, this is demarcated with a very shallow trench in the plastic (you can see it in the above pic). This trench didn’t exist in the film version, and although I left the trench on the thruster corner of the fin (that trench didn’t exist in the film either, but it’s so small that it won’t be noticeable), I decided to fill this trench in. I used “Perfect Plastic Putty” to do this job – it’s a water-soluble polymer putty that goes on white and dries pretty quickly. I roughed up the inside of the trenches with some folded sandpaper (to give the putty more surface to grip to) and applied with a fingertip, then cleaned off the excess with the back of a knife. Once it was dry, a little sanding and everything was totally smooth.
I then masked it up and airbrushed the duck-egg blue on the front, and also on the inside of the forward sections of the inboard and outboard chillers. I used shining silver on the band that stretches from inboard to outboard across the face of each nacelle. Once these were cleaned up and dried, I reversed my masking and went back to check the black chillers on both sides (masks are not always 100%, and some white did bleed through).
The fin tips where the thruster ports are got painted with some signal yellow by hand. I also tried to fill in the holes with gloss clear acrylic, but they refused to fill – the paint just kept draining away into the interior. I’ll try again later once everything is dry again.
In the instructions for the kit, those forward rounded sections of the chillers are supposedly copper, but in TMP they’re quite clearly black. I hand-painted them with matt black while doing my corrections on the regular chillers.
Finally, once everything was dry and clean, I applied a light gloss coat to the entire nacelle, all around. I’m not going to do the decals on these just yet. Decals will have to wait until all my subassemblies are done, because I have some special paints I want to use on the decals themselves before application, and it’ll require me to do the entire set to make sure I don’t miss any spots.
Meanwhile, once dry, I sanded away any discolorations, and went back to reapply a few spots where the duck-egg blue came out a little funky (something about Testors’ version of that color just doesn’t seem to want to go on evenly). A second zap with gloss coat, and then I’ll bag them and move on to the next parts.
That’s it for this episode – next go around we’ll start on the officers’ lounge and the recreation deck!