Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Day 56 - Dome former!

Taking a bit of a break from those ruddy shoulders, I decided to make my dome plug former.

I started out with the base, of course.  I wanted to have as level of a base as I could; I reasoned that I should use MDF instead of plywood because of the warping issues I ran into when building the fender.  I still had quite a bit of 3/4" MDF left over from making the neck rings, so I took it to the table saw and made a 2' x 2' square.

I went out to Lowe's, and the helpful hardware man there located some T-nuts for me to use on the threaded rod I had selected.  This made the rod quite perpendicular to the base when attached to both the top and the bottom.  One thing I forgot was to countersink the bottom one, but I'm okay with that.

(Oh, I should mention that when I selected the rod at Lowe's, I rolled it on the floor first to make sure that it was quite straight.  There were some there that had a slight bend to them, so I'm glad I tested a few out before choosing.)

Next was to apply the template I drew out earlier onto some additional 3/4" MDF.  First, I went to the table saw and trimmed everything to the minimum size it needed to be.  Then I went to the jigsaw and cut the curve and the chamfered edge.  Then I took 80-grit sandpaper and sanded to the line I had drawn to make it all nice and smooth.  Then I drilled a hole into the top.  I did this because I trusted the straightness of a drilled hole to the possibility of other solutions on the site not being so straight—namely attaching bent metal and bolting it to the former.  Also, it was easier for me to calculate where to drill the hole, and still have an even 26cm radius from the center of the threaded rod to the edge of the dome's parameter (the proper diameter of the NSD/Imperial Dalek dome).

I cut up ever-decreasing sizes of styrofoam that was left over from my bookcase, but it appears that I don't have enough.  Well, I have some thinner strips, and I can probably glue them on individually, which should be okay.  But I got bored, so I stopped, hehe.  I'll finish it all up later, but I may still have to buy a few more sheets at a craft store.  After this, I'll whip out the sureform rasp and start rasping away to make them into the dome form we're all so very familiar with.

So far, I'm very pleased.  If I take this one step at a time, I hope I get a very good dome out of this, indeed.  It's about time!

In other news, I bought a two-foot length of 1" aluminum pipe for the gun barrel from (specific item here), but the outer diameter is slightly bigger than the exact 1" hole machined into my two gun bosses. For tubing, I thought the tolerances would be stricter.  Not only that, it's inner diameter isn't a uniform .125", giving it an off-center look.  Overall, I'm disappointed, but at $5.00, you get what you pay for.

Someone suggested that it might be to do with the manufacturing process and whether the tube is "drawn" or "extruded".  Both types start as extruded tube, but then if more dimensional accuracy is required, the extruded tube is shaped by "drawing" the material through a die.  This process makes the tube stronger with a better surface finish and more accurate and constant dimensions than the equivalent extruded tube.

A brief search online, however, shows that the tube I bought is extruded, but there is a drawn option also available.  I ordered a 2' length of that, and I'll pick it up tomorrow.  It's about three times the price, but that's not too bad.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day 53 through 55 - Golly, more sanding

Well, I think I've pretty much had it with the Bondo/sand/Bondo/sand business, at least for the shoulder section.  I'm getting too bogged down with it, and it's sapping my initiative and motivation for the other parts I have yet to build.  And, since most of this work is going to be covered up with the armored slats, I think I'm going to call this DONE.  I put a bit of sandable primer on the front, just to check to see how glaring the pockmarks are, and they're not too bad.  I have Bondo spot putty, but I haven't used it yet.

My issue is that when I apply a new layer of Bondo (to fill previously discovered holes or to strengthen thin, squishy sections), I seem to find more and more pinholes.  My garage is awash in pink dust.  So, I'm going to make a few more passes with finer and finer grit sandpaper (320 and 600 (wet)), then reinforce it with fiberglass on the inside seams, and then prime it up.

My friend Matt thinks the shoulders are ready-to-wear.  I agree, but after priming and painting.  ;)

To increase my motivation, I think I'm going to try to tackle the dome.  I went and got a couple of cans of gelcoat (expensive stuff!) and four yards of thick chopped strand fiberglass matting.  Then, I followed AdamSt's instructions on how to draw out the dome template.  I bought a bookshelf a few months back, and the box contained several huge 1/2" sheets of styrofoam which I will cut up and recycle for the majority of the plug body.  It looks like there should be enough.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 48 through 52 - Bondo and sand, Bondo and sand, Bondo some more ...

So, it's been months, and I think I've racked up about five-ish days worth of Bondo and sanding in that time (honestly, I've lost count).

I applied some initial Bondo to the shoulders in November, mostly to the lower, flat area, and the part at the bottom of the front trapezoid.  Also covered were the upper and front areas of the gunboxes and the angled upper portion between them.  Once dried (and probably a few days or weeks later), I sanded them down with a combination of sureform rasp, file, 80-grit sandpaper, and orbital sander with 120-grit pad.

Some weeks later, I Bondo'd and sanded the top of the shoulders. No pic of that.

Forward the clock (or travel by TARDIS) to this month, just a few days ago.  I dremeled down the angled foam and applied more Bondo.  I also applied Bondo to the gunbox recesses with my finger.  This was sanded down a day later or so with the same tools listed above.  The gunbox recesses were sanded using a torn-off section of 80-grit all rolled up to the size of a pencil.

I thought I had trimmed enough of the foam down to make a fairly thick layer of Bondo (per Avonlea22's advice), but running my finger along the flat area I had sanded down months ago, I discovered that the Bondo layer was a little squishy.  I dremel-sanded down those thin areas between the spacers that were the squishiest and re-Bondo'd them tonight.

Also tonight, I trimmed off the upper corners of the trapezoid (and the weird areas behind the gunboxes) using the dremel and a box cutter, because they were also kind of squishy with the foam underneath.  Then I flipped the shoulders upside down and re-Bondo'd them.

Finally, since the whole thing was flipped, I Bondo'd the bottom of the shoulders.  So, now, all of that is curing.  I'll need to sand and put at least another layer on pretty much everything and sand, just to get all the lines tidy and bits ready for priming.  Ugh, this part is so bleargh.

One minor travesty—since I keep everything stacked up (fender, skirt, and shoulders, at least), I was at one point standing on the fender without really realizing it as I was working on some close Bondo detailing.  I heard a *crack*, and looked down.  One of the sections of the fender had separated from the one adjacent to it.  I think this was due to the interior of the fender not yet being reinforced with fiberglass tape.  I'm not too bovvered, though; when I get round to applying the fiberglass, I'll re-glue it the night before.