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My Fireball 'Jnr'

badsimmonds

Alphans
Over the last few months I've been busy on three models at the same time which is something I won't do again, this has meant the last few builds have been posted after the models were finished. As this is not entirely satisfactory I've decided to post the third and final model of this group to get it over and done with so to speak.
I know my Superon tanker is still being updated so I hope you don't mind if I start on Fireball Jnr as I want to clear everything so what ever I build after this will be posted as its built.
I still had some balsa left over from my helijet and tanker builds so I decided to build Fireball Jnr as its one of my favourite craft. I always loved it when it landed on a planet and in fact in the early sixties I used to make 'Jnr' out of Lego which as you can imagine was rather angular, however it looked I had many happy hours playing with it.
I decided to make it about 10" long I don't know why its just a size that came out of the air.
I glued the balsa together using white wood glue and once dry started to shape it which is really easy with this wood. This took a bit of time to get the required shape as its cylindrical at the rear then slopes down on all 'sides' to a point.
The next stage was to cover it in fibreglass to give it strength and a good surface. To help with this I screwed in a couple of screw bolts into the base and held the model in the workmate using the bolts, this way it keeps the balsa clear of the surface and easier to fibreglass.
I put about three layers over the balsa and once dry it was down to sanding and filling as usual. This took some time to get it nice and smooth then it had its first primer coat.
The trouble with doing this particular model is the complicated cockpit it has and as you know cockpits are not my strong point but I'll worry about that later on.
 

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Nothing junior about this one.....

This is going to look tremendous. I never really saw any of Fireball, so I'm not as au fait with the main ship and Junior as with later Anderson craft. There's that balsa wood and fibreglass again - you make it look so simple, but I bet it's not always straightforward. Appreciate what you said about the cockpit as well, but I suspect that's one area that you'll nail to make the whole project come alive. It's amazing to think this famous ship is over 50 years old, and yet talented people like you are still breathing new life into the old girl.

As always, thanks for letting us look "behind the scenes", and keep up the great work.

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Patrick
Your comments on this site are always positive and enjoyable.
I've built four models using balsa but only started using fibreglass on the last three as it seemed the way to go considering the properties of balsa.
It actually is quite easy to cover my models in the stuff as I use Fastglass etc from Halfords which is enough for my needs. It is a bit messy, or maybe that's just me, but it does make a difference to the final look of a model and it makes it much stronger.
Unfortunately I have never moulded anything using the stuff and the thought of doing so frightens me.
Its hard to believe that Fireball is that old, I remember watching it on our B/W 405 line TV in Edinburgh. However I must say its not my favourite B/W Anderson series even though l loved anything to do with space, that falls to Supercar which I always thought was better made and strangely more adult with better characters.

all the best
badsimmonds
Malcolm
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
The rear of Fireball was rough and ready so the next job was to smooth and level this area off. I used an electric sander very carefully and as you can guess filler and sanding followed.
I used a bit of mdf that was lying around and turned it into a circle and angled the edge. Mdf is a good material to work with sometimes as you can achieve nice edges. To finish it off I used an off cut of plastic pipe, later on I will sand down the raised pipe edge and finish it off with filler.
I also decided to cut out the cockpit area so I can use it to mould a canopy, I finished off the cockpit edges with filler, its only the edges I'm bothered about as the floor and wall will be covered in plasticard later.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
Please excuse me if this build seems a bit rushed (well the posting anyway) but I want to clear up everything so I can start on my next project, this way I can post as I build which is better.
Although this post may be rushed the build certainly wasn't as it was spread over four months.
Back to Jnr, the next stage was the four stabiliser fins which I made from 2mm perspex which was salvaged from a picture. After cutting out the parts, I need two sides for each fin as I need to create a recess at the rear of the fins.
I glued the curved sides together but to keep a gap between the two bits I put a piece of balsa between them.
Once they were dry I poured some fibreglass resin in the gap to give extra strength.
Next was to sand down the curved edges and used the usual filler to get the final shape. Once this was complete I topped up the resin in each fin so it was just below the outside edge creating the recess I needed.
 

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Simple but very effective.....

....good use of "found material" as well. Looking forward to seeing them fitted to Junior!

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Continuing with the fins I decided to use my usual method of fitting parts like this which meant using metal pins to fix them to the body.
As the fins are quite thin I carefully drilled two holes in the base of each fin to a depth of about 1" or so.
I cut some lengths of steel rod and super glued them into the fins. Once they were dry I worked out the position of the fins on the body then used the steel rods to mark where the matching holes in the body should be.
As the rods were in a slightly different position on each fin I had to number each fin so it would fit into the correct holes in the body.
I just pushed them in at this stage as there is still some work to do on them. With the fins fitted its starting to look like Jnr.
 

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Sturdy, accurate and looking good....

Well done Malcolm - I understand completely how you can have four "identical" parts which all have slight differences, so that they all have to be numbered or lettered so that the right one goes in the right hole, etc.

Incidentally, if you look at some other threads on the ETF, you'll see people building the Skydiver submarine to fit on the back end of Sky 1, so I'm really looking forward to the eight foot long Fireball main body!!!

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Patrick
Yes I've been following the builds on the skydiver submarine as well. Having seen the large Skydiver by Mamas I'd have no where to keep it as its big really big.
The same goes for the rest of fireball, much as I would like to do the rest of it the size would be a major problem.
I have no room for any new models but I'll continue to build projects but try and keep the size down.
Having said that my next project which I haven't started yet will be about 2 foot long and the model after that will also be about 2 foot long.
We'll have to move house.
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Still working on the fins and I used the usual parcel tape and filler method again to create a perfect fit with each fin. Using this method on anything like this ensures two surfaces have the perfect contours to fit the other piece.
I also drilled some holes in the underside of jnr which will take the under jets at a later stage. To make a nice neat hole after drilling I covered a piece of aluminium tube the correct size for the jets in parcel tape and put some filler in the hole and pushed the tube in, once dry I removed the tube leaving a nice round hole.
During all this I discovered the shape of the body wasn't quite right so I did a minor modification using fibreglass. Once dry it was sanded down and fine tuned using filler.
 

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THis looks like another promising build - always amazed at the output, I cannot manage to finish repaints never mind model from scratch - all the best with Jnr will keep watch
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
I sprayed the body with the usual filler primer to get rid of blemishes but its an never ending job as the model will get scratched etc during the construction phase.
I've started to glue the fins on the body, well glue is not correct as I used fibreglass resin and poured a little into each hole then carefully pushed the fin in place. You have to put just the right of resin in otherwise it all comes out and makes a heck of a mess.
To create the four 'bumps' I used some old loo overflow pipe as it was hard plastic. I cut out an angled piece but off course the top of this piece is straight when it needs to have a bit of a curve on it. I covered it with filler then sanded down to create the desired curve. Once primed they look quite good. As they are hollow with very little surface to glue onto I used the repair putty which is a two part blobs which you mix with your fingers, I then put an amount on the inside of each part which will give me a larger gluing area. This putty hardens and can be drilled and sanded etc, its very useful for repairing chipboard when a hinge or something has damaged the board.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Patrick, what would we do without sticky tape and filler or even superglue. I take my hat off to the guys who built all these originals with possibly limited resources and tools that we take for granted today.
The fins are now in place and its time to fit the four 'thingy's' in between each fin. I just used superglue to fit them and because of the additional glue surface putty I fitted it was fairly simple. I only glue things in the middle if possible and very rarely glue anything along its edge as that could be messy if not careful. Later on I'll fit some mesh into the backs of these bits.
As you can see on the back view of Jnr its rather untidy and there is a bit hole where I stick a broom handle for support when painting, this will be dealt with lastly.
The cockpit area I cut out earlier it turned out was slightly the wrong shape so I had to redo part of using filler, this will be used to mould the canopy later.
 

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You're absolutely right.....

......as I've noted before, Derek Meddings mentions in "21st Century Visions" that they were using card, as well as the girder sections and "found objects". Foamboard, superglue and all these other newer materials just didn't exist. Look at the 44" Eagle itself which, unless I've got my facts wrong, was built by a third party modelling company at a cost, in 1975, of £3000.00. Bet an entire episode of XL5 didn't cost that much!

Gerry and Derek would be very touched to see a brand new Junior taking shape after all this time.....

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

Captain Sci-Fi

Commander
Staff member
That curve at the nose looks excellent, the curve is steeper than you think.

This is one of my very favourite early Meddings designs, keep up the great work. :D
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
The next stage on this build is the one I've been dreading - the cockpit.
My weak point is cockpits and I really don't like doing them and this one in particular is going to be a challenge for me.
I started by cutting plasticard to fit the back wall then I cut a small piece lower down where the door is. Next I cut out the middle section where the door is leaving two curved side bits which where glued in position, this creates a recess where the door is, I also cut out the floor to match. Talking of floors mine will be different front most other builds as you'll see later on.
Using a thin piece of preformed plasti strip I bent it round the door area to create a lip. I pre- bent it by simply rubbing it through my fingers to get it to bend without breaking.
The next stage was to form the first bit of girder with holes in it.
I cut out some plasticard and using my dremel I created the required curve.
Next was the holes. I taped the part to the bench and marked the hole positions and using my dremel with a small bit drilled out the holes by hand.
One or two were off so I filled them with filler and started again. Once satisfied I glued it in place.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
Continuing with the cockpit details I added more parts made from various bits of plastic card/strips I had.
One area I'm doing differently from other builds of this craft is the cockpit floor. I think other versions have had a flat floor, well mine will have a stepped floor. If you look at the title sequence and various shots in the episodes there are a couple of short steps up to the pilot seats. Some people might disagree but having steps is the way I'm going, plus I think its a bit more interesting.
I created more girders using the same method as before, I thought this would be very difficult to do this particular cockpit but it went faster and smoother than I ever thought, something's bound to go wrong.
I cut little groves in the floor to fit the curved sections otherwise the whole thing could end up being very fragile but its turned out surprisingly strong.
Over all I'm reasonably happy with the result, its starting to look really retro now.
 

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You know the drill by now.....

Malcolm, excellent as always. Really, really simple and clean method of drilling the holes - I only recently got a Dremel, so prior to that I would twiddle a small drill bit between thumb and forefinger to make holes in plastic (sore on the fingers, but good control!)

Did you use photographs to gauge the curves and angles on the middle transverse girders, or are you relying on your "keen eye"? Either way, the progress so far on the cockpit is great. Can't wait to see your canopy......

Keep us posted,

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Patrick
The curve of the girders was created with a mixture of eye, guess work and hoping for the best. I did actually have the canopy to help as well, I'll tell more about that later on.
After completing the girder work I then made up the seats from plasticard and the main control panel from plastic beading that usually goes along the edge of laminate flooring. Its not entirely accurate but I only wanted an 'idea' of details in the cockpit. The small side control panels were just bits of plasti strip glued together and mounted on another piece of plasti strip using very thin brass rod. The 'steering columns' were pinched from a toy truck you find in those money in a slot machine at garden centre's I used part of the suspension mount for the steering bits.
After this was all fitted in place I just sprayed it all grey primer which is the final colour for this model. I did not want to paint any details or have different colours in the cockpit, all the cockpits I do are only one colour.
Next was to make the eight little thrusters that fit into the back of the fins.
For these I cut a piece 5mm long from a hollow plastic pipe about 5mm in diameter. I then mounted it onto a piece of brass rod. Once all eight were complete I very carefully drilled two holes in the recess at the back of the fins using my dremel and glued them in place. There wasn't a lot of room as the fins are quite thin so great care had to be taken otherwise the fin might have split.
 

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