Archive collection of Shop Blogs from 2017

31 December 2017

Oh dear, last day of 2017 and i'm finally updating my blog.  It's been busy in the shop, too busy since July. The reason I suspect is the number of model shops further afield having closed down, mostly due to owners retirement and no-one wanting to take on the responsibility of running a shop. We have been getting visitors from much further away who say Salisbury Model Centre is the closest model shop to them. While that is good in one respect it does mean both my own modelling and that for customers has taken a hit as I never seem to have enough time. 

Hopefully a recap here on my activities through autumn and up to Christmas will gain me some forgiveness from those still waiting for projects to be completed as well an appreciation of how crammed I have been of late meaning I haven't done any personal modelling since before October.  Luckily my entry to the local IPMS Model Club 'Wacky Race Night' had the majority of it completed well before the years end with only a respray of the legs needed. We hold the event on the last club night of the year as well as serving mulled wine and mince pies, and my walking tank went down well despite being to slow too actually win any races. If you haven't already seen it on FB, you can see it here. Walking T64 Tank built from Dragon T64 and Academy Spider Robot.

Also just prior to the busy December run-up to Christmas I travelled over to Ightham Mote, a beautiful medival moated manor located in Kent. The house (now owned by the National Trust) was rented-out in 1887 to American Railroad magnate General William Palmer and his family who during their time in residence let Ightham become a centre for artists and writers including John Singer Sargent whose painting 'A game of bowls' ( on loan from Sotheby's, New York) the trust is trying to purchase and return.

 What brings Salisbury Model Centre into this revolves around the General.  Palmer was an industrialist and civil engineer as well as a soldier. He helped build the Kansas Pacific Railway during which he met a young English doctor, Dr W A Bell. The two men are best known as co-founders of the Rio Grande after observing in Britain the practices of burning coal instead of wood for locos and the use of narrow gauge for railroads.  The Trust wanted to have an American themed model railway in the dinning room of the Manor, with it's theme tying into the work of William Palmer, his time in residence and the bond with John Sargent.  They did a great job as the picture below shows.

Two projects have given me great pleasure this last quarter, one because it was a satisfiyingly simple job, the second because it was considerably more difficult so the satisfaction came upon completion. Quite some time ago a built model of a Scimitar was dropped off at the shop with the request 'Please finish this model but don't re do what has been done so far' I guessed there must be a story behind the request but the first thing I needed to do was decided what the request would entail.  The builder will not mind me saying, it was not finished thus far to a high degree, drop tanks only touching at one end, big gaps, missing aerials and leg supports and a free floating cockpit. Yet the instruction was clear, finish the model not redo it.  In some ways that was liberating. I therefore endevoured to make it look as nice as possible.  Firstly a lot of filler was used to remove the gaps but the tanks were let in situ. It was actually helpful that the cockpit had become detached as it was painted up, some weight added to the nose and then re-glued in place. Filling to the spine removed some of the panel lines so the important ones were re-scribed and then the FAA scheme applied.  Most of the decals were still useable, though many broke into 3 or 4 parts. Only the roundels were replaced.  It belonged to a university student who had purchased the kit and some glue when stressed as a way of switching off from the pressure of his courses by doing a little bit of assembily each evening. His degree went well and he moved on but couldn't bring himself to throw away the model as it seemed part of the reason he's been able to stay the course yet it didn't really look suitable for display.  I'm glad he sought me to help as once done he was really happy and the model now stands as a reminder to an important time in his life.

The other task was to paint a very impressive piece of 3D printing that arrived as a single, fully moving cut-away model of a rotary engine. It was a beautiful object already as each piston was partly visable and when a crank was tuned on the rear the pistons all moved up and down in order. The brief was to make the engine look real so that when first seen the viewer would asume it was a real engine. Only on being introduced by the 3D printing company would they realise it was a model made as a single object on a Printer. Having never come across such a thing before I asked for a few material plugs to test paint on, the material being either Nylon filament or PLA with ABS specs which means nothing to me but I did want to check that different paints didn't react with the surface.  The engine was intricate so a lot of printing dust was still lodged in the nooks and crannies and the cut away aspect meant that reaching into the piston chambers was next to impossible.  Also the surface was porus with a fine rough texture almost like fine grade wet and dry paper, these elements meant painting would be challenging.  Removing the dust was simple, using an airbrush on high pressure to blow through the gaps.  Spraying paint for a base primer coat was not so good as regardless of pressure or diredtion the paint could not get into every void or spray around the intricate corners.  I must admit at this point progress stalled until I could think of a solution.

Soloution proves to be an apt word as the fix came by purchasing a plastic Sink bowl and mixing up a couple of litres of Black Enamel Wash using regular White spirit.  I dunked the whole thing into the solution and hung it to dry.  This had the glimmer of success but the porus nature of the Filament and that it was white in colour meant that after evaporation and absorbtion the engine was a very light grey.  However continued dipping and drying eventually got to a dary Anthracite grey that served as a good base.  The next thing I attempted was to completley Varnish the primed engine, carefully so that nothing become stuck as the varnish dried.  The reason for this was to try and smooth the surface so that paint would flow. It didn't fully work as the roughness and slight absorbtion remained but the effect was great as the surface developed a sheen just like metal.  Some Cellulose Metallics were also used for their bufferable properties but the roughness of the surface limited the effect.  I also used Bufferable Metal pigment powder, but this was a disaster.  The powder would not spread at all as the rough surface just gripped it in place, which also meant any accidental spills were impossible to remove so had to be painted over.

The base (also part of the same single print) I decided to do as if made from wood as well as a small knob on the crank.  This was a late decision as intially I was doing it red to tie in with the cut away areas. Once again after varnishing the effect was pretty good. The magority of the paints used were enamals by Humbrol, the colours remained vivid even with some absorbsion. Finally the red cut edges proved less difficult than expected due to the use of the excellent 'detail' brushes from Army Painter.

Vistors to the shop on the 14th October would have been surprised to find a shorter version of me, with a little more hair admittedly, standing in.  This was my brother who despite no modelling interest decided to help out by covering at the shop while I was away in Belgium as my arranged cover dropped out at the last moment. The event in Belgium was 'Plastic and Steel 2017' a great 2 day show that includes a competition as well as club dispalys and traders.  I have gone in different capacities for the last 5 years, this time travelling with my wife as a short weekend holiday as well as entering the contest.  The Contest is quite significant as can be seen by the number of tables above, and the standard is always high so I enter just for the fun of taking part, though I was delighted to get a Bronze in the sci-fi category. Affligiem is a great place regardless of the model show and despite it being in October the weather has always been good.  If you never caught the pictures I posted on FB feel free to look at the Album here

I hope you have all had a good Christmas and enjoy good luck 2018. While my good wife did gift me some great model kits on Christmas day i'm not sure when i'll be able to devote some time to starting something new for myself.  I'm back at the shop on the 2nd.  I have by way of a final photo built this, but it's not plastic.  In september my wife and I signed up on an 11 week pottery course, as much as to have some time together doing something rather than the act of being potters- no illusion of re-enacting 'Ghost' from either of us.  After making some rather shabby bowls and a couple of mugs that dramatically shrunk after being kiln fired I was wondering if there was anything I could do with the clay?  Obviously it was under my nose all the time- I make models and love to build Diorama bases.  A quick research of Normandy bridges on Google, a sketch in 1/35 scale which was then enlarged by 15% and duplicated ( to prevent the mentioned shrinking) and I was able to get to work on a bridge using 'Slab Work' to form a ceramic bridge.  This is how it looks after being kiln fired awaiting paint. 

Happy New Year.

26 July 2017

Having a selection of topics and pictures for a new blog leaves me with a choice but instead of using one of my projects i'm going to give the opening picture pride of place to Airfix'es relativly new 1/72 Mustang.  I'm very inpressed by the model in the following picture not because it was done by a girl (though there is no denying that the hobby is dominated by males) but because this was her first model kit ever. My daughter, who some may remember worked in the shop a few years ago, and still occasionally covers for me, did give her friend some advice on finishing techniques but all in all, i'm impressed.

So after that intro it's going to be hard for me to raise the anti with what i've been working on.  I'll try with the following full picture of the V2 at launch.  I was working on this during my last blog and put up a small preview, but as it was due to go into a competition I didn't want to reveal it and loose anonimity. It is the Dragon kit, reboxed at some point by Revell. It was a nice kit apart from the fit of the wings to body which seemed to have been designed by two different people. I have left the body able to be seperated to gain access to a torch fitted inside.  This faces down onto a tube of Acrylic rod that supports the missile and mimics the belching flame.  The dust and smoke is 'Teddy stuffing' teased out and airbrushed. Dry plants add to the base and when photographed looks like a frozen moment in time during a V2 launch.  I hope you agree.
That was a build for myself. For customers i've completed a white metal car, a 1/35 Tiger complete with figures, Zimmerit and mounted on a base, some very small Harriers to go on a birthday cake and finally some 1/24 spitfire pilots.  The Tiger tied in nicely with the theme we have had running in the shop window, and the finshed model did spend a few days on display before being collected.  The picture below shows it before being mounted on a simple base.  I thought this prudent as the model has a number of etched parts so handling it is made easier by permanently attaching it to a scenic setting.
The completed customer builds have already been replaced by new ones so time for personal projects will be in short supply, but I am keen to find some so I can reserect a diorama set in Iraq.  My re-newed enthusiasm stems from a gift from a customer who has been experimenting with home casting.  He has turned 1x goat into a handful which will help me realise the scene I have planned.  More on that another day I hope.
Shop matters saw me journey up to Derbyshire to collect stock.  I left after work on the Saturday and made a break of it as my son covered Sunday in the store so I took the wife.  We detoured and stayed over in Newark, I can recommend the place 100%.  The castle ruins are nice and have some short guided tours but the place I was most impressed with was the Newark Air museum.  For such a small place it has a lot of very interesting things crammed in.  I was mostly interested in viewing their SAAB Viggen but there was a host of other non UK aircraft on display from East and West as well as Royal Airforce, FAA and prototypes from the UK to look at.   The staff are very friendly and keen to pass on knowledge.  It is a long drive from Salisbury, I felt it after 3 hours driving the return leg during the hot sunny spell, but if you can make a weekend of it you'll enjoy the place.  Hope this link helps...
Mig 27 and 23 'Flogger' aircraft at Newark Air Museum.

28 April 2017

Sorry for the delay between putting up some pictures and adding text, I attended the Woodgreen Village show inbetween which kept me away from the computer. A small charity show that I have always attended set in the New Forest.  Once again the takings and donations went to the Cleft Lip Society and I was glad to be part of the event.  A small gathering but packed with unusual things.  This year had the normal large scale working Traction engines doing their thing as well as 2 outside railways that soldiered on until rain came in on Sunday.  Inside were some nice examples of model railways in N, 00, and O as well as a linear working Tram diorama.  It is only fitting to put a few pictures in at the head of this blog.

Working away on customer projects as always brings some interesting back stories.  The completed 1/72 Beaufighter below has a wonderful history, it was brought in by a lovely lady of senior years saying her dad had made it in WWII.  It was in a number of parts, missing its props and with worn markings also obviously the victim of many repairs over the decades as the wing roots had big lumps of glue still present.  I removed the evidence of repairs but was mindful not to remove the authenticity of the original modellers finish. I could not tell if this was a recognition model, or complete scratch build but could see the body was carved from hard wood and used cardboard and wood filler to get the wing fillets and contours around the engine. There was many tiny cracks in this filler, hardly surprising as the builder was a Ground crewman on a RAF base probably in 1944, this model was therefore about 72 years old.  The model was to be handed down again to a grandchild so as well as stabilizing the original model and limiting the addition of new parts, a base was also made with brass name plaque.  The wings, before re-gluing, were mounted on a metal spar drilled through the body and deep into the wings to reduced strain on the wing roots.
I put together the history and age of the model from what the lady told me when she dropped it off but was truley convinced of it's origin when I opened the box that the parts were bundled in.  It also belonged to the lady owner, she had used the box as a child after the war to store her nic-nacs and painted the outside so had forgotten what it was used for before.  It was the cardboard box that evacuees were given containg a child sized gasmask/ respirator.
the Beaufighter has now been returned, ready to be passed on.  The owner was very happy, not least due to it costing 5 times less than an antique repair had quoted.  I still have the Respirator box, I wonder if I should send it off to the AAC museum at Middle Wallop?
The next two pictures are also of customer work, above are 4 of 10 individually weathered and filled Mineral Wagons, a job I rather enjoyed, and below a white metal 1/43 car kit which was far less enjoyable, even with primer the paint finish has proved to be very delicate and prone to marking.  I think the delicacy of the finish has made me too hesitant in the build as I've made some errors simply caused by not committing to a cut here or clamp there for fear of marking the paint. Not much left to go thankfully.  It is being done to match a real car owned by the customer's dad for which an old black and white photo was provided.
I often use these pages to show of customers pictures as there is so great work out there that should be shared. The First one is by Mike B who has a wide interest in Military models so we always have a good chat as that is probably my favourite modelling genre too.  The Pibber Fast boat by Tamiya shown here was a salvage job from a part made (and then consigned to the dustbin) model.  Once done Mike placed it in his fish pond for a picture and was impressed with how effective it came out.  The second picture comes from Alex G, a fully lit Star Trek Enterprise A in 1/350 scale by Polar lights.  I'm impressed by the effect he has created as it takes a bit more than sticking a few lightbulbs inside a kit to get a realistic finished model.
In fact that thought got me to try out some effects on a new personal build, a V2 rocket at the moment of launch.  It is mounted on a length of clear rod with teased out 'teddy bear' filler sprayed to mimic kicked up dust and smoke. Illumination is done with a small powerful torch mounted inside the rocket's body which seperates above the fins.  The other personal build was a gift from my wife at Christmas and completed in record time- just 2 days.  My wife buys me quite a few models for Birthdays and Christmas.  While she can't understand why i'd want another when my personal loft stash is over 300 kits, she has long given up trying to surprise me with a non-model related gift.  So this year I received some of those hard to find Ma.K kits and in an attempt to show her that I do build things she gives me, cracked on with it on Boxing day and painted it on the 27th.  Pretty much out of the box with some additions to fit how I imagined the suit might be used.  I took both these to Milton Keyens to the Model Kraft 2017 show. If you have'nt checked out the album link elsewhere have a look here

9 March 2017
March already !  3 months into the year and I finally start a new Blog.  Not very good I must agree, but as always time is being taken with so many other things that putting a few model related musings down onto the screen keeps being pushed back.  I have sorted out the archiving, another thing I always struggle to remember as it is only done once a year.  Time pressure and work loads also brought about the decision to cease doing repairs as of the 12th March. 

I don't like turning people away but I'm getting more and more drop offs from further and further away and I can not keep up.  In one week alone I had 7 locomotives, 2 radio control cars and 3 Scalextric cars dropped off for repairs.  With one day off a week or evenings to spend on repairs, I'm just unable to keep up with the demand, and my commission work is suffering as a consequence. As these drop offs didn't originate from SMC the thought that it is all part of  'good will' generation is not proving true.  And perhaps mistakenly on my part I won't charge a fee if the item can not be repaired even if I've spent a few hours working on it.  I expect to receive a lot of disappointed criticism from people who just turn up at the shop with a 'loft find' or "Ebay bargain, only cost me £45.00 and I see you've got one for £79.00.  But it doesn't work and the seller has deleted his account so can you look and fix it?" but so be it.  I need to get the work life balance re-adjusted.   Services offered in store and fault issues with shop purchases remain unchanged by this decision and customer's consumer rights are unaffected.