Sorry for the long delay in updates
Please check out the 1/1 scale drones page
Have been very busy trying to get these models up to speed
Please note these are not going to be sold in kit form, for serious collectors only once complete these are the full size set of three drones Huey, Dewey and Louie - my representation of The Silent Running Drones
Here follows the story of the build, photos of the finished articles can bee seen at the foot of the page
With our garage kit of the drones now complete I have turned my attention to making an 18'' (3/4 scale) drone. This is a commision, the customer had seen the quality of my smaller versions and asked me to make this larger size. The customer has requested for this model to be made from fibre glass so therefore I will have have to produce moulds for this subject.
Firstly I am producing the patterns from 6mm MDF, this was quite a simple task of transferring the measurements onto the MDF board then cutting them out and assembling them the same way as i did with the smaller versions. Surprisingly it went together quite quickly as I had learned a lot from making my first drones. This time I am spending a lot more time on the prep work (filling, sanding, spraying) as when I mould these I want them to be perfect. At the moment I am spending many hours on this to get them just right. My next step when I am happy with the finish will be to make the rubber moulds for these. The photographs of the progress so far are shown below.
With the majority of the patterns made for the drone I cast them in RTV rubber , this is just a simple case of using MDF offcuts and making a box ( or former) around the patterns then just pouring the rubber into the former, making sure beforehand that all surfaces were absolutely level. Once i was happy with this I poured the rubber in and left to cure.
With this project I wanted to cast all of the components seperately as opposed to the smaller version where many parts are cast as one. This way all the parts can be painted seperately giving it a better finish which I think is important on a bigger model as it makes it more believable. The goal for me with the finish of this model is to have it looking like it has been produced on a production line ie like a car where all the components are finished seperately and then assembled on a production line.
I have been working on this project lately and I have pushed it along to the point where I have now started to lay up in fibre glass the shoulders and the front shroud panel, pictures of this to follow shortly. For now here are pictures of the foot/ shin/ top panel and all details and front grill panel which I decided to cast in the fast cast resin.
This week I have moved on to the fibre glass work, I have only ever used fibre glass once before when I made my Pulse Rifle shroud, so I haven't had much experience with this medium.
As before I took RTV moulds of one shoulder and the front shroud of the Drone. Once these were left to cure ( 24 hours) I was ready to go. First I worked on the shroud. I started by using gel coat, once the second coat of this was tacky I used choppies ( chopped fibre glass strands). I sprinkled these on to the gel coat, this worked well for me before I used the fibre glass matting to get in all the hard to reach areas. Once left to cure I pulled them from the moulds and I must admit I am very pleased with the results, by the time I had produced my third shroud I think I nailed it.
Now I felt a bit more confident I felt I could tackle the shoulders. I wanted them to be quite strong because I didnt want them to flex or bow so I made them 3 layers of fibre glass matting thick. This I did by pre-cutting the matting to size first before laying them up into the mould, this time I gel coated the inside of the mould twice and I didnt use chopped strands- I went straight on with the matting as there wasnt as much detail involved. Again my first pull was good but could definately be improved upon, but with a bit of P38 filler, rubbing down and a couple of coats of filler primer they looked as good as the original pattern. I have now pulled all 6 shoulders and think I have improved on my skills in this field as each pull was better than the last.
I haven't enjoyed the fibre glassing process ( mainly because of the smell) but knew it had to be done as due to the size of this Drone it would need to be mainly made from fibre glass for the strength and weight aspect.
Moving on to the central core, this time I tackled it a little differently and settled on producing a fibre glass mould for this.The reason I wanted to make a mould for this rather than make a perspex box was not only to challenge myself but also to do with the strength of the model as everything is attatched to the central core. This time i made the mould in two halves as I thought it would be a lot easier to do it this way. To make this mould I waxed up the MDF master I had made and then began to lay up in fibre glass the mould in two halves, this went well and I was happy when I quite easily removed the MDF master. Now with loads of confidence I began to wax the inside of the fibre glass mould or 'tool'. I then gel coated the inside with 2 nice thick coats and once dried I laid it up in fibre glass. I left this to dry overnight and the next morning I was up bright and early to see my handiwork. This is when disaster struck, the central core was stuck fast to the mould. It took over an hour to get it out and when it came out the gel coat had adhered to the tool and left the finished article damaged by exposing some of the fibre glass. As it turns out I had given the tool a 'last minute' coat of wax -a 'one for luck' but this was the wrong move as it was not dry properly and when I painted in the gel coat part of it stuck to the inside of the tool. All was not lost as I repaired both the tool and the casting which only took a couple of hours and when I went to do the second central core I gave it 3 coats of wax allowing it to dry properly.
My next task was fitting the front facia panel to the central core of the drone, I did this by gluing a 4mm piece of perspex to the face of the central core to make a box. I did this by cutting the perspex 10mm bigger than needed all the way round and then flushing it off with my router, I then glued the front facia panel onto this. Once this was dry I filled any gaps and I am really pleased with the results. I have also attatched the shoulders pro-tem to see how hes looking.
4/4/10 Our latest update is that I have spent many hours trying to get the finish of all 3 Drones* to the same stage this has taken a lot longer than I thought it would but I know it will be worth it in the end, my goal is to try and create a flawless finish as though they have been factory made. Once I am happy with the finish of the bulk pieces ie the fibre glass sections- bodies, shoulders etc then I can move on to some more interesting parts of the Drones. I have already drawn up the manipulator arm and ordered all the E.M.A tubing to produce these. I am looking forward to this part of the project as I feel I will be doing a bit of 'real' modelling after all these hours of sanding/ filling/ spraying. I am aware this is a big part of modelling to get the perfect finish but that doesnt make it any less boring, I cant make myself proceed onto the next stage until I am happy with these components.
Steve - who has comissioned Dewey has sourced the extraction hose for the legs and the blue paint which we should recieve soon. The project should hopefully move along a little faster now as I am becoming more confident and once the manipulator arm is done I would like to see them up on their legs not long after.
*I am working on 2 Deweys and 1 Huey. 1 Dewey is a commision and the other 2 drones will be up for sale once I have taken enough pictures of them.
This week I have been working on the panels and the central disc for the shoulders, the panels were an easy job to do, I just worked out the size and shape and cut them from plastic card, radius the corners, cleaned them up taking off all the sharp edges. I then placed the plastic card into position on the shoulders and drew round them and used masking tape as a guide when I superglued them on permanently.
The central discs for the shoulders were produced in 2 parts, the central 'handle' section was formed by heating plastic card and pushing it onto a pattern already made by me in balsa wood. I like to think of this part as a handle either side of the drone on the shoulders whereby they would have been lifted if necessary if was reality. The other part is the outer disc was simply cut by drawing first on plastic card and cutting with a stanley knife. Once this was done they were glued together, cleaned up and glued into position.
I have also turned my attention to the back panel which I want to be removable to access the inside if need be ie. the wiring for the light and led. This wasn't difficult I used 2mm perspex as it was more rigid than plastic card, I used perspex also to produce the 2 rails (top and bottom) which the back panel slides into, using a spacer of 0.5mm plastic card to allow the back panel to slide easily in and out of position. The usual filling/ sanding and spraying followed until I was happy with the results.
Also I have sourced some nuts and washers from my local hardware shop, I sanded these so that the paint will key to them as they are made of steel. I superglued the washer to the nut then superglued a plastic rod into the middle to act as a pin, drilled a hole into the shoulder for each one and superglued each one into position. I did it this way as I felt they would be more secure and wouldn't be easily knocked off.
I have found these last few stages more enjoyable as although they are quite time consuming they are little touches that are bringing the character more to life and making him more interesting to look at. Hopefully the models should move along a little easier now as I have conquered a lot of the preparation work which is a job that has to be done if you want the best results.
Over the last couple of days I have been working on the arm, I have put this off for a little while but once I got started it came together quite well.I wanted the arm to be poseable and more detailed than the smaller version. I also wanted the pistons to move when you opened and closed the arm to make it more like the film version. From looking at the screen grabs from the movie its quite difficult to make head or tail of the arm mechanism it seems to be a bit messy to me and I to simlpify it and tidy it up a bit. I am not too keen on the working manipulator arm from the movie because it sticks out too far from the main body and I don't like the fake one on the drone because it just looks like it has just been stuck on there. I wanted a version in between the two, I spent the first day of working on the arm building a prototype from EMA tubing and plastic card. I first produced the frame for the arm from plastic card and by glueing strips together it was surprisingly strong, I found plastic card was a good material to work with on this project, once I had the framework opening and closing to my satisfaction i turned my attention to the pistons. These were simply made from EMA tubing, plastic rod and a couple of pieces of brass tube, after a bit of trial and error I found the correct way to position the pistons both for looks and functionality , I am really pleased with the prototype and only need to make a few adjustments for the final versions.
Also this week after receiving the hose which has been made specially to the size required for the legs, I assembled the leg components together and decided I wanted to see him up on his legs to get a feel for the final look and size of the Drone. When I was assembling him I decided I wanted his body to pivot slightly so he could look either up or down as it gives him more character in common with the film versions. Now I am happy with the height and look of him I will start to primer the shins, feet etc which i will be doing next.
This is a long overdue update. The build has been progressing really well as I have been working on them for 5 weeks solid. I am now at the stage where they are painted, weathered, up on their feet just waiting on a few finishing touches. You will see from the latest photos how far they have come. I am quite proud of the finish of them, I had the paint made up from a Company quite near us in Canvey Island, Essex(C.A.R.S). The numbers on the front I had cut from vinyl by a local company in Aveley, Essex called Eurographics although I chose to draw out my own numbers for the back and cut them from plastic card as I like the idea that the slightly raised effect is in keeping with the other panels etc on their bodies.. I am now looking into the lamp for the drones, it will be a working lamp but I want the reflector part of the lamp to have a chrome finish. I am not having any luck achieving this myself so I am now making enquiries as to whether a local company can chrome these pieces for me.
There are more recent pictures on the home page.