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My Scratchbuilt Helijet

Odahs

Alphans
The result certainly looks the business. I quite like the drastic approach, far better than shaping the perspex and fitting it to the side of the mount which I might have been tempted to do. (It would have probably come out wonky on either side and fell off a few hours later)

RC model plane construction would have seen the aerofoil shape formed in the mount first then the winglet placed in the waiting gap. But this method works just as well (if not better with the chance to screw the thing in solid) and makes the original shaping of the mount much easier I would think.
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Many thanks for your comments.
You hit the nail on the head, I chose that method mostly because of the difficulty in getting the wings straight using the slot method and as you said they would likely get knocked and fall off.
The drastic method is more stronger but needs a lot more filling etc.
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Work still commencing on the winglets.
Although I don't think you actually see the top of the helijet in Thunderbirds I did find some photos with a shaped depression on the top of the mounts so I decided to include them as well.
It was quite easy to achieve using a dremel and as the core is just balsa I soon had the shape. That was the easy bit as it needed a lot of sanding and filling again to get the edges/walls nice and smooth, I wasn't bothered about the rough area at the bottom as I would smooth that off by just mixing and pouring a little fibreglass resin in and let it level itself.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
These fins are quite fragile so I decided instead of just butting them to the edge of the wings I decided to cut a slot in the upright parts. I notched the wings so the upright can slot into place and be a stronger fix, to make sure they were vertical I just used a piece of wood to keep them in place.
It took two attempts to get the front uprights fitted as the first ones I wasted as I did them the wrong way round.
All that's left to do is the little details on the outside of the fins, the front ones are basically just triangles while the rear ones are long shaped things.
 

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Inspiring!

Great work, badsimmonds, great work. Completely understand the rationale for choosing this method, and I really like the close-up photos. The whole heli-jet's looking very impressive, even at the unpainted / undetailed stage. You should be very pleased with your progress so far.

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

techno

Alphans
This is Looking Superb! Hope You Keep at it,You're Doing a Top Notch Job! Stay Cool & Keep up the Superb Work! Dan
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
The next stage are the legs. I wasn't quite sure how to do them as they have a slim profile and they have to support the entire model which is getting heavier.
My first attempt was to make them out of MDF with steel rods to strengthen the bend. Once dry I covered them in fibreglass to really bond them together.
However once dry and roughly sanded I decided they were a bit too thick and I couldn't sand them down anymore so I decided to scrap that idea even though they were very strong and would be simple to fix to the body.
My next attempt was to use two layers of bent aluminium. As they were only about 5mm thick I used perspex to thicken them up a bit. After a lot of filling and sanding I decided to use this method though I admit it wasn't as strong as the first lot.
To fix them in place will be more difficult than the other legs as I will have to drill large holes so the legs will fit and that means one thing, loads of filling.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
Continuing with the legs its now time to connect them to the body. The two side pods were solid wood as I knew the legs would need something solid to fix into. I preferred my original mdf legs as they would just be fitted by using steel rods, however the new legs require more work.
First I drilled and chiselled out the two holes, a lot of fine tuning took place before I was reasonably happy. The only way I can fit these legs is to pour fibreglass resin into the holes and then push the legs in as far as they can go.
You have to get the resin level just right otherwise it all oozes out as you fit the leg.
I taped the legs into place while drying, this took sometime to get them both right. I left them for a day before I attempted the remaining two legs. It was just the same procedure as before however I had to make sure all legs were in the correct position and the helijet would sit level so just before the resin went completely off I turned the model correct way up and gently sat it down and adjusted things till it was level as the resin set.
The next stage is the usual filler etc which took ages as the underside of the legs has two levels of aluminium strips which was an almost impossible task of filling and sanding down those pesky internal corners. Fortunately being underneath no one will really see them. In the end I got fed up constantly sanding them so I cheated and sprayed umpteen coats of filler primer into the corners until they were smooth. Its not the way to do it but it works.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
With the legs finished? it was time to go back to the two raised sections.
Although they are finished build wise they still need to fit better onto the curved fuselage. Normally on some models I make things like this removable but I decided not to this time. To help fix them in place I installed a steel rod into the base of each one and drilled corresponding holes in the body.
I used the usual method of filler and parcel tape to obtain the correct tight fitting. When I finally fit them in place it'll just be a matter of putting a little filler along the joins, though to make it easy to work on the model I'll leave them off for as long as possible.
When I used the filler/tape I had great difficulty in removing the section from the body as it had a real grip, I had to use a screwdriver to ease them apart, I think I put on too much filler.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
There are two areas I hate doing on any model, one is the final painting as that's when something goes wrong, and the other is cockpits.
With the basic model construction complete it was time to attempt the nose.
I cut out a section of the body and used that as a mould for the clear canopy.
First I had to make a vacuum box, I just used what was lying around some 2x1, hardboard etc, then drilled what seemed like a million holes into the hardboard.
I only had enough clear sheet for two attempts though if you heat it up again it will go back to its original shape. I tried using a heat gun but it wasn't enough, next I put it in the oven which is much better then quickly put it over the mould with the hoover on full. It worked, just, it took two attempts to get it reasonable. I'm really not skilled in this perhaps one day I might practice more. I also need a second hoover to beef up the suction.
To even out the cockpit floor I poured in resin then started to detail it with a few bits and pieces. I made a couple of seats and control desk, I was not following any particular interior as I intend for it to be almost invisible. I'm really not very good at this time of modelling.
 

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But that's amazing!

For perhaps the first time, I begin to understand how moulding a canopy / windscreen is actually done. What a gloriously simple method - just cut out the bit where the canopy goes, use it as a mould and away you go! What type of plastic did you use to make it? This is great stuff, this is what it's all about, this is somebody using initiative and skill and coming up with something wonderful.

Keep us posted badsimmonds - cannot wait to see the next stage!

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Patrick
I had to create a vacuum box before I could do anything, I made it out of bits and pieces I had lying around. I only had one hoover, I really need two for better results.
I first tried using a heat gun but it wasn't powerful enough so I put it in the oven as its hotter and more even. You just wait till it sags then quickly push it down on the mould creating a seal then let the hoover do the work. To get the best fitting for your canopy the mould should be fractionally smaller than required as the plastic will make up the correct size.
The plastic was just plasti card bought online from somewhere.
This was the first time I've used this method but the second time I've moulded.
The first time was for my UFO Interceptor and I used a different method as the required shape was simple and smaller. I first carved and smoothed a piece of balsa to the shape ( making it slightly smaller) anchored it well clear of anything, heated up the plastic using a heat gun for this then simply pushed it very firmly down onto the balsa. After a few seconds you have a perfect cockpit!!!!
I'll have to practice more as another model I'm currently working on also needs a cockpit.
I'm certainly no where near an expert but the theory is quite simple and if I can do it anyone can. I hope my explanation makes sense.
 
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Odahs

Alphans
Did you have a good seal around the frame and the vac form bed? Just wondering as one hoover is usually enough! I use draught excluder tape. Sticky on one side and like a strip of spongy foam. Stick it on the bed to match the frame and I get a good seal for the vac forming.

[ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/PIECE-DRAUGHT-EXCLUDER-SEAL-WINDOW/dp/B004GXISJC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1403079322&sr=8-2&keywords=window+insulating+tape"]http://www.amazon.co.uk/PIECE-DRAUGHT-EXCLUDER-SEAL-WINDOW/dp/B004GXISJC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1403079322&sr=8-2&keywords=window+insulating+tape[/ame]

Not done any vac forming for ages, in a world surrounded by bits of plastic it is amazingly satisfying to make your own bits of it!
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Odahs
My first attempt was without any sealer so on the second attempt I used the draught excluder which makes a difference. Its possible the plastic I was using was a tad too thick hence my hoover struggling. When it comes to my other model I'll try thinner plastic and see how that goes.
 

Odahs

Alphans
It might be that the plastic cooled slightly before you got the frame over the former, or that the former took a lot of the heat out of the plastic on contact.

I've often found that to be a problem. When it goes right for me the frame is sucked down solid. Not to say that it always goes right for me every time! Warming the former first can help, but depends on the material used as to how far one can go with that.
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
I'll try warming the former next time, anything to make life easier. I was very quick in getting the frame to the right place so much so I got burned on the oven as I was in so much rush.
Another thing I found was to sit the actual mould/former on something so it was clear of the perforated base, this way the plastic can be sucked down and past the edges if you know what I mean.
I'm building two other projects at the same time, one will need another cockpit and the other I've done in a completely different method which I'll show when I post it.
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
With the cockpit moulded I next trimmed the edges and after a lot of fiddling about it eventually fitted. I did have to add a thin strip all the way round the outside lip to help keep the cockpit in place, once painted I hope it won't be too noticeable. As I said before cockpits are not my thing so I'm just making it up as I go along.
I made a control panel out of shaped mdf and a couple of seats from plasticard. I know its not quite like the original but hey its my model and to be truthful I'd rather not have an interior at all.
Its getting near the final stage as I've been spraying it with primer filler and have started to scribe some panels. I'm keeping the two wing mounts off for as long as possible as they will make life difficult.
One thing I forgot to say, the depressions in front of the engine intakes (pic 3) were created by simply removing some material with my dremel and then shaping it using filler, it took ages to get it the shape I wanted and needed a lot of sanding & filling as usual
 

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