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My Thunderbird 3

badsimmonds

Alphans
Its been sometime since I finished my Explosives Truck and since then I've started some projects which I ended up scrapping before completion so I spent ages thinking - what next?
Well since this is Thunderbirds 50th year and its my favourite Anderson show its time to build an actual Thunderbird. I have built four or five 'guest vehicles' so I should really build a TB1 or 2 or 4 or all of them. I've deliberately missed out TB2 as I don't think I could do it justice and TB5 is well TB5.
I've chosen TB3 to start as its a fairly simple design ( I hope) As usual I'll be using what ever I have lying around and will only buy something if I have to.
For the widest part - the base - I used some waste pipe which was about the diameter I wanted to make a model around 30" high. Once measured and cut I decided to make an internal frame to make it stronger but also to help support the three engine pods later on.
I hand cut out three circles from 12mm ply, one with a large hole for the base and another one with a hole for the top the same diameter as the next stage of the rocket, I also made a solid circle again for the top.
Gluing the two top bits together created a nice round depression which will help to keep the next tube in position. I also glued and screwed three wooden ribs inside which the engines will fit to. The screws were placed so they will be hidden by the engine mounts.
The first angled section was carved from ply glued together and took ages.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
After spending ages sanding down the angled part I covered it in p38 and sanded that down. For the next size of tube I bought an acrylic tube from Ebay which was the diameter I needed plus the sides were 5mm thick so it was nice a strong.
After cutting it to length I dry fitted it into the space I had made earlier to get an idea if it looked ok. Next I used some old drain pipe which again was the correct size and fitted that inside the previous tube.
There is another sloping section which joins the two different tubes and this time I used an old EMA cone I had. Once cut down and sanded it fitted over the black pipe and rested on the top of the bigger pipe. To give more fixing area I cut out a circle from 6mm mdf and glued it inside. Everything is still dry fitted at this stage.
To make the black pipe sit in the centre of the acrylic tube I glued some wood strips round the base which will keep the pipe centralised. It might look a bit rough but they will be out of view.
 

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Three's company?

Great to see you embarking on this project. A design classic, never to be repeated or bettered....

With typical badsimmonds ingenuity, the graceful Three begins to take shape.
Mind you, from what I've seen with other similar builds, it's as much to do with the delicate paint job as the construction itself (all that panelling). Thank you for letting us see all of your progress M - keep those pictures coming!

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Patrick its good to hear from you again.
As you know the final paint job is something I always dread as thats when it could go pear shaped. There are some great builds of this vehicle on this site so I hope mine will turn out ok. Yes there are a lot of panel details and other sections of this model I'm worried about doing so I'm trying not to think about them at the moment.
Although I spend a little time each day on this model it will be after Christmas before I post another update.
Have a great Christmas and New Year Patrick and everyone else on this site.
Till next year.
Malcolm
 
Enjoy the break.....

HI Malcolm, personally speaking I always look forward to watching your work. The very best of luck with your Three - and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and those closest to you. Here's to a successful launch in 2016!!!

Kindest regards and a ho ho ho,

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Time to get back to the model. I cut the black tube to length so it stops where the white collar will go. I cut out some circles of plywood so I could fit them inside the tube to provide anchor points for the three external struts later on.
Although they were very tight fitting I poured in some resin at both ends (not at the same time I might add) as this will definitely stop them moving.
I finally glued the lower parts together and filled any gaps with P38. It took more than one go before I was happy with the finish. As it was a bit difficult to glue the black tube into the perspex one I decided to pour resin down the inside to lock the parts together. Once dry I filled the gap at the top with filler to provide more gluing surface later, the masking tape was there to stop the filler going where I didn't want it.
The next step is to create the nose section out of balsa. I chose balsa as its light and easy to work with though it will be fibre glassed to provide a good smooth strong surface. The nose section will fit into the black tube and the collar will hide the join.
 

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Not just a pipe dream......

Hi Malcolm, as ever I would imagine your Thunderbird Three will stand up to any amount of handling due to the construction techniques employed! Am looking forward to seeing how you execute the fabrication of the three pylons as well. Of particular interest is the balsa wood nose cone - wouldn't mind seeing how that skin of P38 goes on - do you have to treat the surface of the balsa first?

Anyway, hard to believe that it's now THREE YEARS since we lost poor Gerry - how quickly the time flies.....

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Patrick
The advantage of balsa is its easy to shape though you have to be careful as sometimes you can take off just a tad too much. If that happens then its easily sorted with filler and/or fibre glass.
After creating the basic shape I fine tuned it until it looked right. As usual I decided to cover the nosecone in fibreglass. I don't do any pre prep when I do this as the resin soaks into the balsa quite well. I was going to use some tissue matting as its much finer, however it caused a lot of trouble as it was like wrapping the cone in cardboard. I hated it so much I ripped of the fibreglass before it set and just used some rougher matting I had.
Once dry it was just a matter of sanding until nice a smooth, this was followed by some P38 to fill any defects. The filler goes on without any problems and its just a matter of repeating all this until the surface is as smooth as the plastic pipe. I just use my finger to spread the filler over any surfaces as its easier than using any sort of tool.
At times I wish I had a lathe as it would make life easier and quicker, but I don't so I have to create the shapes required by eye using an electric sander to get the basic shape.
Most of the times its ok but as I said before any mistakes are easily rectified.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
To make the docking collar I just cut it out of plywood using a jigsaw for the centre hole and by hand for the outer edge.
I know it looks a bit rough at this stage but to tidy it up I used the usual filler & parcel tape method for the centre hole. I used an off-cut of pipe for this and once dry slid it off and sanded smooth, the outer edge was hand sanded and filled until satisfied then it was down to priming/sanding/filling endlessly.
The next stage was the three engine pods which would be made from balsa.
This is where I wished I had a lathe but I don't mind making them by hand.
The advantage of balsa is its so easy to work with but also too easy to take too much off. After much carving, sanding and even more sanding I ended up with three pods.
 

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Lord of the (docking) rings.....

Great stuff Malcolm. So simple yet so effective: thanks also for the description of how you strengthen the balsa.

Kindest regards

Patrick
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi Slate
The other day I test fitted the engine pods which allowed me to measure the whole thing and it comes out at around 31"
When I started I wasn't working to a particular size as it all depended on what pipes I had lying around.
 

Slate Mcleod

Alphans
Wow that's gonna be big ! Mine is 18 inches and I had to make a shelf to display it on as it's way too big for the old Ikea cabinet. You are making great progress so far !
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Hi everyone
I've managed to create a space for TB3 but anything I build after this is going to be a problem as there is no more space. The wife always asks when I start a new project 'where are you going to put it?' I just answer by shrugging.
I'd love to have a room where I can keep my daleks, K9, R2D2 and all the models together as they are spread over the house at the moment.
I took this photo a while ago when I was redecorating and took the opportunity to get some of my stuff together.
 

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badsimmonds

Alphans
Before I returned to models I started with K9 followed by a Dalek and then R2. By this time I was told we had no room which is why I started models again. I would have liked to have my daleks in the picture but it was too much hassle to move them, this pic is out of date as I've added more models since.
 

badsimmonds

Alphans
Still working on the engines and have finally shaped the three of them.
I always hate making more than one of the same thing as I get bored easily but as these were balsa it didn't take long to get them done.
After loads of sanding it was time to cover them, usually when using balsa I use fibreglass but as I didn't have any suitable matting I used the method a lot of people use and that's resin.
I mixed up some fibreglass resin and painted each engine three times which left a nice hard surface ready for sanding and filling. Its not as strong as using the matting but I thought it would be enough for this project.
I've included a photo the main body as it stands at the moment, the collar and nose have been fitted in place and the whole lot primed, though it will have many more coats before its ready for the final paint.
 

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Slate Mcleod

Alphans
I think this is going to turn out just GREAT Malcolm. What are your thoughts on the graphics so far ? Print your own or get some one to make them in vinyl ? I think you would get away with vinyl at this scale for sure. Otherwise you are going to need someone with an ALPS printer, which is getting rarer these days. I only know of two/possibly three fellow modellers who have them and all are in this group. White decals are a bitch to produce as no modern printers have white ink as far as I know. You could maybe have a PM with Uncle Bill and ask him nicely if he can upscale some for you from his 18 inch masterpiece. Trying to mask and spray the lettering without a single mistake Dave Sissons fashion is beyond most of our skills I would think, but I certainly wish you the best of luck on this project ! I know what you can produce and it's brilliant ! (I have a few sheets of very rare and very large Letraset in white and in the correct font for the "3"'s which I will prob never use. If you need me to measure it let me know, and if you need it I will post it to you to for free mate.) I think you will need full custom decals though because of the unusual size, but you did okay with your Fireball Junior, so I guess you are not worried. I get the feeling that you're like me - we just go for it and build it and worry about all the other stuff later :) And then panic lol :)
 
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