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@grfd59 posted:

Why couldn't you use an appropriate sized drill in each of the 4 corners to get the correct radius of the curve?  You would want to make sure the shell cannot move at all.

Gene Anstine

 

Hi Gene, I’m going to try your method using a flat sheet of aluminum to see how close I can get.  

For a a car shell I think a drill press would be best as @Hancock52 mentioned.  The big problems would be securing the shell so it does not move on the drill press and then not damaging the soft aluminum shell with the clamps that are holding it in securely place.

@Pingman posted:

@T.Albers, thanks for the descriptions and photos.  

I've ordered the pen you referenced previously; however, I've had zero luck on line trying to find the HobbyLite Filler--well, I actually found one vendor who wanted $6.99 to ship the 8 oz., $4.99 item.   I struggle with some of the shipping charges.

As Hancock52 mentioned the use of a wood block to support the backside of the work side of the car, have you tried this?  I ask because I would be concerned with the aluminum tending to flex under the pressure of the pilot hole and/or Dremel cutting tools.

Hi @Pingman using a block of wood inside to support shell from flexing under is good advice.  If the drill bit is sharp you should not be using very much pressure.  Let the drill bit do the work, its going to go right though the soft aluminum, almost too fast.  Same with the high speed Dremel bit, it cuts through the aluminum scary fast.  But during the file step you will be using lots of pressure.

@T.Albers, unfortunately, Hobbico HobbyLite Filler is nowhere to be found at least not from any web-based vendor my internet searches have turned up.  It's usually shown as "out of stock" and/or"discontinued;"  the latter due to Hobbico's recent bankruptcy and acquisition by a competitor offering a similar product at twice the price.

If you have a suggestion for an alternative product, please offer it.  Otherwise, I am familiar with the Squadron, Tamiya, and Testor's filler products and will probably try them for this application.

@Pingman posted:

@T.Albers, unfortunately, Hobbico HobbyLite Filler is nowhere to be found at least not from any web-based vendor my internet searches have turned up.  It's usually shown as "out of stock" and/or"discontinued;"  the latter due to Hobbico's recent bankruptcy and acquisition by a competitor offering a similar product at twice the price.

If you have a suggestion for an alternative product, please offer it.  Otherwise, I am familiar with the Squadron, Tamiya, and Testor's filler products and will probably try them for this application.

Good Morning @Pingman several years ago I did use another brand of light weight micro filler to rebuilt the upper decks and main cabins of this 1937 RKO movie prop.  I appreciated working with this type of filler because it was lightweight, sandable and easily accepted paint.   That's why I choose a micro filler again to fill-in the tiny gaps on The Little Nugget's windows. 

Mona

Sorry, its been a long time and I don't remember that other brand fillers name.  I would suggest checking with your local hobby shop that carries R/C planes for a recommendation on their current brand of light weight and sandable micro filler for balsa wood airplanes.  

  

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Before I try and answer Carl’s question, I should say I have taken the bait and tried to work out which RKO 1937 movie the scale model pictured above is from and what it represents. @T.Albers if you have worked on things of this kind you have some (more) serious modeling experience (than I do).

RKO made numerous interwar films that fall into the genre of “preparedness” movies, as in, “We’re not in the war yet, but . . .” The 1937 film  that I think fits the bill is “Sea Devils” which is actually a Coast Guard film. This screen grab shows the model, which is of a cutter that might have been named “Taro” (the movie dialogue I have heard is indistinct):

E3D1F70F-C984-4853-9233-EA3140FC4B90

Plus there’s this highly melodramatic YouTube clip “Distress Call” in which the cutter goes to the rescue of the burning S.S. Paradise, which is having a Titanic experience:

Back to the filler. I used lightweight/balsa aircraft filler a long time ago while building car models. Unlike the styrene fillers of the time, which dried rock hard/inflexible and had a tendency to crack, balsa filler was light and sanded into contours easily. These products tend to be discussed only on balsa plane model forums.  They are still used by RC aircraft modelers, some of whom actually recommend Elmer’s light wood filler and ordinary spackling paste as an alternative.

That suggestion makes sense because if you are only filling very small spaces between metal and a plastic infill that is flush with the metal surface, you do not need a filler that is going to produce a noticeable edge where it meets the plastic surface. Nor do you need to cover that whole surface to make the painted insert appear to be a continuation of the metal surrounding it.  I have used Alclad grey micro-filler to prime plastic parts that need as near as possible a perfect finish i.e. if a simulated metal finish is going to be applied over them. Fortunately ordinary acrylic paint finishes are a lot more forgiving.

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Last edited by Hancock52

@Hancock52  It took me 16 long, long,,  years of going to the Academy of Motion Picture Art Library to find the name of that old RKO movie, LOL.  At that time they only had microfiche.  You found it in a single afternoon with a Google search.  Yes, the movie is Sea Devils and the person that build the boat was Vernon L. Walker.  Vernon is the same guy that build the movie props for RKO's 1933 King Kong.   

I passed on getting the Coast Guard cutter "Taro" because it was a smaller movie prop at only 4 feet long.  I went for the 8 foot long yacht called Mona.  The Mona was sank at the end of Sea Devils during the climax when the hero went down the the ship (yacht).  The movie's scrip only gets 3 1/2 stars but the quality of Vernon's special effects for this RKO movie gets 10 stars.   Over his career he was nominated 4 times in Special Effects for an Academy Award. 

Mona

Back to trains... My grandfather put in sealed bid on a large pile of trains in an old warehouse at Paramount in 1988.   He won the bid and the trains were delivered (still in a pile).  As he dug through those old RKO and Paramount movie props from the 30's, 40's and 50's he found they gave him more that just the trains.  There were three silver B-36 bombers with 9 foot wing spans (I found out much later these were from the Jimmy Steward movie "Strategic Air Command").  His plan was to sell all the trains so he put an add in the local paper and got a great response from collectors.  He was not happy the black steam engines went first without the cars.  Eventually he sold all the box cars but it took months.  These trains were all hand made with tiny nails and wood.  They were larger than G scale and I remember they looked like British trains to me.  Most had evidence of being blown up in the 1940's war movies.  Only the three bombers and two boats were still left over at the end.  He gave me the Mona if I promised to restore it.  The Mona had a lot of water damage and was wired for 120 volts to power the interior lights.  It did not have a motor or RC because back then they used divers under the boat to move it around.  At 214-lbs it looked real good in the water on the flooded sound stage's ocean scene during the final ship wreck.   It took twenty years to restore but I finally finished it.  Unfortunately my grandfather passed away before it was done.  The Mona sits on a shelf behind me as I type this.

Back to trains...  nope, I don't have more modeling experience.  The first time I used Micro filler was for restoring the Mona.  The second time was for The Little Nugget.  I was hoping someone would jump in and give some better modeling advice than I had.  I have heard there are other types of fillers out there but since I still new to the model train hobby and have not used any others I could not give a personal recommendation.   Thank you for jumping in with helpful advice!  

 

   

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Well, thank you @T.Albers  for telling the story - I thought that there was more to it than the partial photo of the model but the full saga is really compelling!

I don't think it would be off thread if you could be persuaded to post a complete picture of the boat as you have it displayed. 8 feet is pretty ginormous but in the past there have been photos on the Forum of people's semi-scale ore boats that were no less than 14 feet long! Or in one case I think that a guy was only able to model the bow of the ship to fit it in his O scale DM&IR ore depot. Anyway it's your thread.

Incidentally, while Hobby Lite filler might have ceased production there is a similar product called "Model Lite" that is also made for lightweight filling applications and comes in both natural wood and plain white colors. RC shops like Tower Hobbies (who I have dealt with before) appear to stock it.  

Thanks again.

Last edited by Hancock52
@John4884 posted:

I'm down for one of the B-36's if they are still around!

Good Morning @John4884 The fate of the three B-36 Peacemakers movie props did not end up well.  They were made of solid wood, difficult to move and very heavy.  No landing gear on any of them but each Peacemaker had an increased level of detail.  The most detailed one could have been displayed in an Air Force museum.  I have not seen the 1955 movie Strategic Air Command but I'm sure the model makers put the prop with the most details closet to the camera during filming. 

It was summer 1989 and at that time nobody wanted to buy the B-36 bombers.  He had already made a profit by selling all the miniature trains and boats to movie prop collectors.  He tried to store the bombers until somebody wanted to purchase them.  Because of there massive wing span each one had to be placed on top of one of my grandfathers antique cars.  It took two strong men to lift each plane and the heavy planes smooth belly pushed down on the roofs of each car.  Their demise came when a bomber accidentally got knocked off a roof and severely damaged the car it was sitting on.  The last time I saw the bombers they were just small silver wings and fuselages parts in the bottom of a dumpster.   Back then if he only new the name of the movie... If he only knew a big star like Jimmy Stewart was in the film...   If he only had Google the bombers might have found a good home.

At least the movie prop collectors purchased all the miniature trains and boats and those items were saved for future generations.

 

Last edited by T.Albers
@Hancock52 posted:

Well, thank you @T.Albers  for telling the story - I thought that there was more to it than the partial photo of the model but the full saga is really compelling!

I don't think it would be off thread if you could be persuaded to post a complete picture of the boat as you have it displayed. 8 feet is pretty ginormous but in the past there have been photos on the Forum of people's semi-scale ore boats that were no less than 14 feet long! Or in one case I think that a guy was only able to model the bow of the ship to fit it in his O scale DM&IR ore depot. Anyway it's your thread.

Incidentally, while Hobby Lite filler might have ceased production there is a similar product called "Model Lite" that is also made for lightweight filling applications and comes in both natural wood and plain white colors. RC shops like Tower Hobbies (who I have dealt with before) appear to stock it.  

Thanks again.

Hi @Hancock52 , sure but first here's a photo that shows why it took so long to restore.  It had lots of water damage after being sunk at the end of the movie.  Also, check out those glass AC light bulbs used on the side.  

Mona 1989

Today the Mona's in much better shape.   So readers of this O gauge forum can get an idea of the boats size I put a Lionel caboose next to it.

Mona Aug 2020

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Last edited by T.Albers

Wow, great work and I understand why you took on the job of restoring it. Actually, good as the workmanship on the original was, it was made for a purpose which was temporary and could have destroyed it. I think you've actually improved on the original, not just preserved it.

The largest model loco set I have is on the rails now - the three unit MTH UP 80 coal turbine - but it's no more than half the length of that yacht (makes a lot of smoke, though).

Last edited by Hancock52
@Hancock52 posted:

 

Incidentally, while Hobby Lite filler might have ceased production there is a similar product called"Model Lite" that is also made for lightweight filling applications and comes in both natural wood and plain white colors. RC shops like Tower Hobbies (who I have dealt with before) appear to stock it.  

Thanks again.

The folks who bought Hobbico's HobbyLite out of bankruptcy, sell "Model Lite" which is a $12 product compared to the $5-6 for HobbyLite.  Just a bit of whining--I am sure I'll succumb and buy the higher priced spread when it comes to filling in windows on aluminum pax cars.  The project cost of using an inferior product is simply too high to go cheap.

 

If you are putting what is essentially a plastic "plug" in an opening in an aluminum body, as T.Albers says it should be the same thickness as the body shell to ensure it's flush with the exterior surface. With this sort of exercise I have found that it's best to put a backing on the "plug" that extends past its sides to ensure it's held in place - otherwise you are relying on the small amount of glue that gets between the plastic and the shell to hold it in place. If the shell and the new piece are flush on the outside, the amount of filler that should be necessary to cover any gap between the shell and the plastic on the exterior side of the car should be limited and not cover the plastic surface.

All this also relates to a subject we have not discussed, which is how these mods look when viewed through the windows on the other side of the car. (I always find that visitors will peer inside of any lighted passenger with a full interior and at such close range all manner of things become visible.) You can't do much to conceal them other than to paint them the same color as the inside of the shell was to being with, which with aluminum shells from Lionel and K-Line was usually standard interior cream or light green. Many prototype streamliners had wood panelling on the interior walls but I have not tried to duplicate that (yet). 

Some window inserts can't be concealed and basically you have to live with them. All of Lionel's 21" ABS cars fall into this category. Earlier models with window strips are a lot more forgiving.

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