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My First Build : SHADO Moon Mobile


Ever since I joined Eagertrainspotter, I've been thinking about what Gerry Anderson vehicle to build.

Perhaps a Hawk? Hawks are largely kitbashed, with large chunks of the body coming from various Saturns, and carving the nosecone out of extruded polystyrene foam would be fun. I'm already halfway through an own-design with a fairly Thunderbird2-y nose, and so I know how to do that. Unfortunately, a Saturn 5 costs 50 Euros, and a Saturn 1 costs 30, and don't even THINK of the Harrier Jump-jet unless you're prepared to re-mortgage, and, right now, being in the middle of setting up my own firm (one of the reasons I've come back to modelmaking is to get away from computer screens, and wet-sanding is soooo relaxing..) cash is short.

So perhaps dive in at the deep end? An Eagle? Hmm. Not something I'd really want to start until I had more experience with soldering brass.

OK, how about something no-one's done yet? The Satazius? Tempting, but it's a huge thing, and I don't really have that much space. Then I set eyes on Dione's rescue ship. That looks much more achievable. For a start, I can get a fairly large egg shape in transparent plastic....

Then I found the original Moon Mobile build by Bill Oram, from wayyyy back in SIG that I kept meaning to follow up and build, but never did.

Looking at the Moon Mobile, it is mainly made up of simple shapes - boxes, a cylinder, and two spheres. Now I could have gone and bought a pair of EMA spheres, but they're expensive, and, along with the transparent hanging egg decorations, you can also get spheres. In fact, you can get a 10 cm diameter plastic sphere for 1.49 Euro, which satisfies my inner Scrooge. There's some brass soldering to do for the legs, but in comparison to an Eagle, there's a lot less piping and it's a lot simpler : ideal to practice on.

So, I started off by grabbing a few pictures of the originals from round the web, and doing a bit of scale drawing. Once I'd got that sorted, I started working out how to mark up the spheres and cut them for the windows and the airlock. The SIG build requires a bit of reading between the lines - and some elementary maths. Once I worked out that the "27mm" measurement was actually the hypotenuse of the right-angled triangle formed by one quadrant (eh?) I could successfully scale up everything. I then had to wrap the spheres in paper tape so I could make the marks without damaging the plastic.

Once I'd got through marking the windows, I noticed that they seemed way too big in comparison with the photos of the original model, and so had to re-scale them from my drawings. Moral : What works on a table-tennis ball isn't necessarily going to scale up correctly to something bigger.

The rear airlock didn't work either : nothing to do with Bill's instructions - my spheres are separable into two domes, whereas he was working with a table tennis ball. The airlock came very close to the edge of the dome, and that would have caused weakness and possible breakage during the stress of cutting, so the airlock needed to be moved up and round. Some swift measurements on the drawing and the photos and I had the right dimensions.

Finally I had markings I was happy with. The next part of the process : actually cut the openings with a Dremel tool and cutting disk. This is another advantage of the cheapo plastic spheres : if you make a mess of one, you've lost 1.49, in comparison to considerably more for an EMA sphere. The downside is, although the walls of the sphere are 2mm thick, they are made of the same plastic as the transparent sheets you get in B&Q for making cold-frames. Now, I'm no stranger to this stuff, as I've cut several sets of side-screens for my kit car out of it (though I ended up getting proper ones made out of polycarbonate). It's cuttable, but you have to be careful, as it can melt. It's also brittle if over-heated, and can't take much point stress (say, round a screw). So, I set the dremel on the lowest setting to cut it, then tided up the cuts with a file. When cut with the dremel, melted plastic swarf can build up behind the wheel, jamming it, so I had to cut slowly, moving back and forth. Once you've cut the stuff and pop the bit out you've cut, you can literally snap off the worst of the melted swarf.

Whilst busy chopping out stuff, I decided to try out some superglue on two spare bits of sphere to see if there were any adverse reactions. There didn't seem to be, other than the glue causes crazing on the plastic, but since this is all going to get painted over, it isn't an issue. I'll probably attach the transparent plastic windows using something like PVA, so it doesn't react.

The next thing was to drill the lights. It took ages to work out where to put them. Finally I drilled small pilot holes, then drilled out the main holes with a proper driller and an 8mm steel bit, with the driller set on a very low rpm.

Once I had the spheres sorted, the next thing was to make two spacers to wrap the cylindrical part of the body around. Four of these were cut out of plastic card, with a hole in the middle, and then small pieces of square wood dowel glued in-between. These are currently drying, ready for the cylinder tomorrow.

(photos to follow..)


Great idea for your first Anderson craft.
I also tried Bill Oram's SIG article and made a very small SHADO moon mobile. If you haven't seen it:
I intend to build another one, in the same size as Bill's. (Table tennis balls) but right now the father of the Eagle has to wait until the grand father is finished: Captain Scarlet Moon Hopper. There I am in the "decaling" phase...
Looking forward to you pictures.
Viel Spass!


Great idea for your first Anderson craft.
I also tried Bill Oram's SIG article and made a very small SHADO moon mobile. If you haven't seen it:
Viel Spass!

Excellent work on the moonbase. I always liked the UFO moonbase, especially in comparison with the rather boring one on "Moonbase 3".

I remember making a little Moonbase model in the 80's that was heavily influenced by the Mike Trim design. It was made out of the Airfix SRN1 side pods and two football-shaped pencil-sharpeners. I wish I had it still.

Vielen dank! Hoffentlich sehen wir bald wieder!


So, whilst the rest of Germany has been screaming "'Schland!" at the TV and drinking copious amounts of beer, I've been progressively ruining my eyesight and health at work on the Moon Mobile.

I started off by cutting the remaining circles for re-enforcement of the tube. These are made out of a big sheet of acrylic (50cm x 50cm) that I got at Bauhaus yesterday. (nothing to do with dodgy 80's pop groups or schools of architecture : this is the German equivalent of B&Q). This requires a lot of scoring, as if you don't score deeply enough, the plastic won't break properly and you risk messing up the part you're cutting. As I've only got a cheap compass knife which is really only up to thin plastic and card, this takes some time, and is making a mess of the compass knife, so I've got to go and find a heavier-duty "Kreisschneider" tomorrow.

Once I've cut out the circle, I cut the centre out by scoring both sides - which is easier once it's out of the big sheet. Just a small twist and out pops the centre. These two remaining disks are then glued to the existing styrene sheet and wood spacers, which are then going to be glued to some wooden battens to hold the spacers straight.

Next, the window cut-outs. The windows aren't 90 degree cut-outs, as has been pointed out elsewhere. They are angled like the ones on the Lunar Module, presumably for similar reasons - maximum visibility of the surface, and anti-glare. I started by cutting out yet another disk of acrylic - this time 96mm in diameter, to match the inner width of the acrylic domes. It turns out that the domes are not completely even, having thicker edges than centres. This is probably reenforcement.

I've since realised that I didn't need to cut this disk, as the craft shop that sells the spheres also sells a perfectly-cut one for dividing the ball into two. I'll probably buy one to make the actual viewport, as circle-cutting the acrylic without scratching it isn't easy.

I cut the disk into two halves : fairly easy, just scribe a line across the centre, hold it at the edge of the desk and whack it. This made it easier to get the half inside the dome so I could mark the circumference for the opening. Once that was done, the 90 triangle was scribed, then I could work out the 45 degree angle for the actual edges, scribe them, and snap them off. The pieces for the first window were taped into place with paper tape, and then glued by running superglue down the back and letting capillary action take its course.

And that was most of the evening.

Missing Photos from Yesterday :
Drawing up Plans.

Marking up the spheres.

Spheres (erroneously) marked up.

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Correcting the Airlock and windows.

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Cutting out the door and windows.

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Cutting and attaching the spacers.
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Photos of Today's Work :

Cutting the spacers.

The window segments held in place

gluing the segments.​


Great job, you're off to a good start. Excellent work on your drawings! The back door looks a bit more round on the photo reference but other than that it's coming out great


This weekend's work doesn't have many photos. I've spent most of it looking for a heavier-duty cutter, which was rather fruitless as all three of the big DIY superstores didn't have anything remotely like what I wanted, so I ended up getting one through Ebay.

In the meantime I've carried on working on the two spheres, watching episodes of UFO on youTube, and trying hard not to be too distracted by Gabrielle Drake and Tracy Reed. I've been thinking about making an inside for cockpit. I was never very happy with the Moon Mobile cockpit as depicted in the series, being just a redress of the Mobile cockpit with a gun rack discreetly hiding the mobile side window. I suppose they wanted to avoid the expense of a spherical set. Pity, as a sort of two-seater 2001 pod comes to mind. (Come to think of it, a 2001 Pod would be a very good project to do with one of these spheres..) But the main upshot of this is the set doesn't seem to "sit" very well in the space provided.

I'm also busy on the back, making the airlock. I've made the back bulkhead, and the step in front on the door, and I'm thinking of making the airlock door hinged, so I can use it as a battery compartment. I've also finished adding the second window, and have filled and sanded back some little irregularities, then wet-sanded the window area.


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.. Progress has been slow this week, mainly due to a nasty bout of gastro-enteritis courtesy of the local Chinese, and selling Thunderbird 2, my aging Rover 620. Well, it's off to Africa, if you believe everything the buyer tells you.

Meanwhile, Today I have been mainly ruining sheets of acrylic, trying to cut the body. Snapping long sections can be very difficult if you haven't scored it properly or if you don't get the pressure nice and even. However, I have managed to slice out a reasonable baseplate, with some additional hacksawing and dremel wheel assistance. The trick is to deepen the score with the cutting wheel. I've managed to shatter one wheel. I can see me buying a table saw at this rate...

The Baseplate.
Not shown : the wreckage.​

Once this had been cut out, I went round the edges with a file, straightening them (you often get little protuding bits where it's snapped unevenly, and dressing them to a 45 degree angle. This will facilitate the joining of the sides without any visible joints. Hopefully.

I then pulled out the bits so far and proceeded to arrange them. Firstly, the rear sphere, which has now been cut to sit straight on the baseplate. The halves and airlock are held in place with tape.

The back end in place.​

I was then able to check the spacers and the front sphere, which hasn't yet had the chunks cut out so that it will sit on the box-section.

Everything together.​

I then tried to cut some side pieces, using some of the remaining acrylic. Disaster struck with the first one, which snapped. The second one I managed to cock up the measuring of the angled section for the rear engines, and it ended up too short. It did prove that the 45 degree angling seems to work, as long as I'm careful enough.


So, now that Germany have given up at football for the time being, here's a bit more work on the SHADO Moon Mobile.

Today, I have been working on the box-section of the body. I have cut two sides, and angled their edges, and used some of one of the messed-up sides from yesterday to provide the front. The box sections have been stuck together using bits of wood as gussets, to provide a bit of strength, as well as holding everything approximately at right angles. You might also see two acrylic gussets in there at the front, to provide strength.

The next thing was to start on the bottom section. I've decided to make the bottom in sections, with a removable area for access to the innards of the model. I decided to start work on the back section, as that's the most complex area, containing the engines. Cutting the shape for the two engine housings was done with the dremel. The engine area was then cleaned up, filed and more bits of wood added. This is where I discovered I've cut one of the engine areas a bit short. I've decided to leave it like that, and I'll repair it by cutting another piece of acrylic, then gluing the two together with a piece of thin plastic card, once I've got the back-end sorted.

The next thing was to cut the inner angled section of the engine housing, and the inside. The inside was a swine to get straight. Eventually I stuck a piece of wood on it so that it held it in place, as nothing's glued yet. It's all held in place by tape.

I then decided it was time to have another little test-fit, to see how far I've come along.


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Alas, the weekend has been largely wasted by the return of the stomach bug from hell. What do you mean, weak stomach? Have you seen how far it's going?

Meanwhile, I eventually picked up enough strength to carry on with the Moon Mobile.. First order was fitting and gluing the back engines. These were an utter pain, and I'm not that happy with them. I fixed the over-shortened engine by gluing a piece of scrap acrylic to a bit of scrap styrene, and then skimming it with filler.

The engines at the back.
Note filled section and badly-fitted back plates.​

I also had to come to terms with the fact that filing the edges as angles hadn't worked very well. This required even more filler. The squares inside the engines aren't perfectly square either, and will require a bit of filling, but it's a bit of a pain to get into.

More filler than a 2nd-Hand FIAT.​

I also cut and sanded a removable bottom. Fnarr.

The hole where the bottom goes.​

Next in line was to build the angled section of the back. This was put together with a bit of tape, then glued.

Not a good idea.

Bad idea! The superglue then makes the paper tape difficult to remove, and it didn't go together square. This meant a bit of time spent rubbing the thing down to get rid of glue marks. Next time, I will stick (ahem) with the trick of using small wooden dowels to get the pieces square to each other. I had to cut a small piece of acrylic to go in the bottom section as a spacer, to stop the sides from bending in.

Back box mounted on the main box.​

Fitting it to the main model showed that a few inaccuracies had crept in due to tolerance stacking, even though I had calculated in the width of the acrylic. It seems to me that the acrylic is not a uniform 2mm. Either that or the messy engine sides caused it. Either way, attacking it with the file soon "altered" the tolerances enough.

Now that I have the basic box-section together, I'm beginning to think about mounting the landing gear. Holes have to be drilled so that I can have a good mount for the brass rod. I'm thinking of backing these holes with more wood, so that there's a bit more than just the acrylic there (which is famous for it's low point stress tolerance, as I learned from using it as a sidescreen). Backing it with (Edward?) wood would presumably give it a bit of a spring, in that the wood will have just enough give, if it gets dropped.


Well, last night I managed to glue myself to the parquet flooring. Stupid UHU superglue : no matter how I try, whenever you pierce the metal cover with the applicator, a load always squirts out.

Tonight's work : building and sanding down the half-hexagon block that sits in front of the angled centre of the engines. This time, I took a lot more care in measuring the plates for the bits and calculating the tolerances. I also put in a chunk of wood and plastic to act as a spacer, which would hold the two main sections parallel to each other. Of course, with superglue it means that you have to be extra careful lining everything up with a set square and a makeshift jig, which I did.

The thingy that sits in front of the wotsit.

Surprise : If you manage to put together one part perfectly, it will only show you how skew-width everything else is.

That's it for tonight : I have a jazz gig tomorrow, and I have to go to the skin specialist tomorrow as well.

Hopefully they'll be able to get the parquet plank off my foot before the gig. It's upsetting the other musicians, especially when I beat time.

Captain Sci-Fi

View attachment 7869
Not a good idea.

Bad idea! The superglue then makes the paper tape difficult to remove, and it didn't go together square. This meant a bit of time spent rubbing the thing down to get rid of glue marks. Next time, I will stick (ahem) with the trick of using small wooden dowels to get the pieces square to each other. I had to cut a small piece of acrylic to go in the bottom section as a spacer, to stop the sides from bending in.

Hi Steve,

Plastercine is useful stuff to hold parts while I glue them. I think a small ball between the larger flat sides to maintain their spacing would have saved you a little work. A second option is to use a small block of wood (perhaps balsa) and a clamp, something like a bulldog clip or spring clamp to make a temporary sandwich and hold things firmly. I am a woodworker and holding work in clamps or trying to figure out HOW I will hold the work is 50% of the job. :D

It soon becomes second nature.

I Like what you are doing so far, it's quite ambitious for a first project and a great model to build.

I started with the desire to have a model of Stingray and tried to make it learning as I went. This is not an approach I would recommend as it follows a lot of scraps, redo's, makeover's and general frustration. I now think about how I will divide a model up into smaller assemblies and solve the construction of the tricker stuff before I make anything.

Watching your progress with great interest. :thumbup:


Plastercine is useful stuff to hold parts while I glue them. I think a small ball between the larger flat sides to maintain their spacing would have saved you a little work.

Plasticene! Aha! (sound of penny dropping). Thanks for that.

Further discoveries to date : thin styrene and Revell Plasto do not mix well, the solvent in the plasto causing the styrene to warp. Fortunately I discovered this before doing the circular body section, which is planned to be made out of styrene.

I'm glad I chose acrylic as the main material for the body, as it takes the putty very well, and files and sands well, too. The only problem is cutting the stuff accurately.


Hi Steve,
I started with the desire to have a model of Stingray and tried to make it learning as I went.

I had much the same learning curve. I have a picture of me meeting Matt Irvine years and years ago when I was 15. It features an Airfix Eagle where I had painstakingly carved away all the struts to make it look at least a little like the studio models.

I also spent a lot of time on building a kit car (A Sylva Striker, which I used to take to Prisoner conventions at Portmeirion), and mucking round with Minis, which helped with a number of skills that I'm now drawing on again.


Don't worry, the bass is now back in the case and will remain there during the summer. :thumbup:

Aah well , if you're a bass player that's o.k then ! :clap: