- Safety First! You'll be using a low-intensity flame for this procedure, along with a hot soldering iron, so think ahead and make sure your work space is cleared of anything flamable. Cap off your paints and thinners, get any paper or card products away from your work area, ditto any fabric (particularly rags that might have paint or thinner in them), and move anything you could knock over with your hands or tools. Make sure your work area is ventilated too; if you accidentally set the sprue on fire it's generally not a big deal, at least if you cleaned your work area when we told you to, but styrene fumes are toxic. Think ahead, and remember: You're responsible for your own safety here, so take the appropriate precautions and THINK before you start.
- Get a heat source. I use my dad's old (from WW2) Zippo lighter. Back in those previously mentioned Old Days a lot of folks tried to use candles, but candles don't produce consistent heat. Use a lighter.
- Clip a piece of straight sprue from a kit. Silver, gray, and clear are good choices, but you could also use green or olive (if you have a kit molded in that color) if you're trying to simulate flying wires of that hue. Be sure to cut the sprue piece long enough that you can grip it from both ends without burning yourself on hot plastic. That goes back to that Safety First thing, and I'm not responsible if you hurt yourself, folks, so be careful! Use sprue of a decent quality, preferably from a mainstream kit made by someone such as Tamiya, Hasegawa, or Eduard. There is a difference in the plastic they use, and you'll notice it when your end result is of inconsistent diameter because you used plastic of a lesser quality from some other kit.
- Now for the One Hard Part (but not really) of this entire operation. Ignite (a fancy word for "light") the heat source and hold the sprue over it until it starts to sag. If it catches fire, pull it away from the flame and blow it out. All you want to do here is get the stuff in a semi-molten state so you can stretch it; a limited goal of sorts, and Mr. Fire is not our friend in this particular aspect of the hobby. When the sprue sags, pull it away from the heat source and quickly but gently pull it apart. When you've stretched it, hold it by one end and let the other end hang free. This will insure that your brand new rigging material doesn't curl up and make things difficult for you later on. Extinguish your flame if you haven't already done that.
- The plastic filament that resulted from what you just did will be thicker at the ends than in the middle, but you should end up with several feet of usable rigging material when you're done.
- Take a pair of draftsman's dividers and measure the distance to be rigged. (I usually do this part by guess and by golly and accept that sometimes I'll get to do a line twice. Go with what you know.)
- Cut the rigging to length, with just a little bit left over. Dip one end in a tiny puddle of white glue and attach it to the appropriate place on the model, then carefully swing the other end to, where else but The Other End, and attach it. If trimming to length is necessary use a really fine pair of manicure scissors, snip off just what needs to be removed, then use the tip of a toothpick (trimmed to a fine point) or similar to put a spot of white glue where the line's going to end up. Let it dry (but you can keep working too--just don't mess up what you've already done).
- Once you've rigged the model you're probably going to notice a line or two that's sagging a little bit. That's pretty much inevitable, so go get your soldering iron (preferably a pencil iron with a really tiny point), let it heat up to temp, then pass it close to the cured rigging. Your loose rigging will sag just a bit, then magically tighten up right before your astonished eyes. Please note that if you aren't careful with that iron parts of your model may conceivably melt before your astonished eyes as well, thus making a good point for the practice of Situational Awareness. Pay attention to what you're doing, ya'll! Don't melt that model!
- Sooner or later you'll break one of those sprue lines, even though the stuff is a lot sturdier than you might think. When that happens, pull the remains of the line off the model, then use a damp toothpick or the tip of a new #11 blade and remove the tiny spot of the dried glue. Re-rig as required.
Pretty easy, huh? There are other ways to do it, of course, and one of this days I'm going to invite a master such as John Seaman to explain his methods to you, but this is how I've done it pretty much forever. It's simple, and it works.
What's That Thing You Rigged?
Today's object of affection is an Eduard Albatros DV in 1/48th scale. This particular kit was one of Eduard's ProfiPak offerings and came with photoetched parts, a few of which ended up on the completed model. The markings are also from an Eduard kit, but I honestly don't remember which one; it might not have been the same one that had the PE in it. While this isn't a kit review by any means, you should know that the Eduard DV and DVa kits are getting a little bit long in the tooth now, but still make up into excellent models, although there's a major issue with the undercarriage and the way it makes the airplane sit---sure wish either Eduard or some aftermarket company would address that particular issue for us---and they're easy to build, making them a good introduction to biplane modeling too. Build time on the one you see before you, including the rigging, was about 20 hours.
The markings are, as previously mentioned, from one of Eduard's many boxings of this venerable kit and represent a machine from Jasta 12. Most of the paint colors were mixed from enamels in the ModelMaster range, and in that regard please note that the colors on the upper surfaces of the wings have fairly sharp demarcations. Weathering is absolutely minimal.
What's That Thing The Thing You Rigged is On?
As it happens, that's actually a base for a different Great War project that hasn't been started quite yet. The wooden part is a cutting board, obtained from the Friendly Neighborhood Giant Discount Store of your choice. The dirt is actually dirt, gathered years ago for just such silliness and sifted to get a consistently fine texture, while the green stuff is a blend of several shades of Woodland Scenics grass; you can find that stuff at any hobby shop that sells model trains. The ground cover was bound to the board with a watered-down application of artist's polymer gloss medium.
I'm told that it's possible that you may be receiving an e-mail telling you when this site has been updated, at least if you decided to register as a follower. That updated thing may be a nuisance for you, because I often go back into these pieces to edit them after the fact, because I don't ever catch everything on the first pass and I want what you're reading to be as good as I can get it. The problem lies in that updated e-mail part of the evolution, because you may be getting an e-mail every time I catch and correct a spelling or point of grammar. If that really is happening I apologize, and promise I'll try to get the editing done before any given piece is posted. I'll try. I can't guarantee the results, though, 'cause like I mentioned a whole bunch of times before, I'm still learning! Anyway, we're all bozos on this bus, right? (The Congress of Wonders said that way back in 1969 or so and it's still valid, I think...)
Until next time,