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Ralph Nardone

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Posts posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. I find that acrylics tend to be tenacious when they start to dry on a metal surface, and the field strip is the best way to keep it clean.  I've tried everything else, including different products that are supposed to break down paint, but nothing beats a quick disassembly.  After a while, it doesn't take longer than 5 minutes to do.

    Lacquer and enamel users can get away with spraying thinner until it comes out clean between colors, but should still field strip the airbrush at the end of a session.

    This might be interesting to you, as well:



  2. You didn't same which model airbrush, or what type.

    I use a Badger 105 Patriot and a Grex Tritium TG.3.  Both are gravity feed dual action airbrushes, the Badger a traditional trigger type; the Grex a pistol-grip type.  Cleaning is similar for both...

    I use acrylics, and between each color I "field strip" the airbrush--remove the needle, tip, and nozzle and clean them thoroughly.  I use Iwata's airbrush cleaner for this, followed by a flush with clean water.  For stubborn spots, I use alcohol or lacquer thinner.  Tamiya's Airbrush Cleaner works well, too.

    I use twisted paper towels to get into those small spaces, or you can buy dental paper points online--they do the same thing.  Some folks use a torch tip cleaner consisting of small brushes.  If you can find a pipe cleaner that doesn't have a wire center, you can also use it.  IF you use one with a wire, be careful not to scratch anything.  Old paintbrushes and toothbrushes come in handy, too.

    After each cleaning, I use a dab of Iwata's "Superlube" airbrush lubricant.  Badger markets theirs as Regdab.  Just a dab will do ya.

    Every year or so, I disassemble the airbrush and inspect for worn seals, etc., and give it a complete cleaning with lacquer thinner.

    As with building models, the key is to be patient and careful.  Be careful not to bend the tip of the needle or deform the nozzle opening.  For the most part, threaded parts should be finger snug--no need to He-Man the parts together, even if they do require a wrench or similar tool.

    And, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

    Now, on to the disclaimers:

    Disclaimer #1:  Some airbrush manufacturers say you shouldn't use anything containing ammonia to clean their airbrushes--it erodes the plating and will eventually corrode the brass under the plating.

    However, you can use ammonia to clean--just be sure to give the airbrush a thorough flushing with clean water afterwards .

    Disclaimer #2: Badger says not to use alcohol--it is a drier, not a cleaner, they say.

    However, alcohol can do a good job of cleaning--it might take some more effort to remove small spots of dried paint.  Badger says you can use ammonia to clean the airbrush--the same comment about a thorough flush with water still stands.

    Disclaimer #3:  Most of them say not to use industrial chemicals to clean their airbrushes.

    They're speaking about Toluene, Acetone, and MEK, mostly, and they have a point--if you airbrush has any sort of soft seal (synthetic rubber), these chemical can cause them to either soften into goo or become embrittled.

    Some folks swear by carburetor or brake cleaner, but the same caveats apply.

    In all honesty, there hasn't been a case of a dirty airbrush that I have encountered that cannot be solved by good, old, hardware store brand lacquer thinner.


  3. 8 hours ago, ghodges said:

    You can use anything for seat belts....they "loosened" that rule a long time ago..below is a quote from the 2021 NCC Rules for OOTB... they removed the wording requiring "Tape" belts and generally allow the builder to use any material, and do not disqualify models with aftermarket belts.

    Exceptions vary from Class to Class, but allow for commonly accepted construction
    techniques and standards, while still maintaining the general OOB
    approach. These include but are not limited to:
    ● Add antennas, rigging wires, seat belts to Aircraft, as may be
    noted in kit instructions;

    Yeah, but there's that pesky "as may be noted in kit instructions" thing, though...  🙂

    I like thermal receipt paper.  It is thin and strong.  You can make the belt hardware from paper (card stock is ideal) as well. 

    Rolled epoxy putty (my favorite is Aves Apoxie Sculpt) can be used, too, for both belts and hardware.


  4. For figures, I will still splurge for the Windsor and Newton Series 7 brushes, and use them ONLY on figures with artists oils--despite them being labeled "watercolour" brushes.  If it was good enough for Shep Paine...

    I have tried a bunch of the others.  The Grumbacher line is pretty good, as are the Royal & Langnickel and Daler-Rowney brushes--these are all available at Michael's.  Some are sable, some are synthetic.  The "store brands" (Artists' Loft, etc.) are hit and miss, so shop carefully.  Incidentally, I find that shopping in person is important when buying brushes... 


    However, if I have to go online for brushes (or any other art supplies like pigments, oil paint, etc.), I like using The Merri Artist in McMinnville, OR.  I have ordered from them several times, and they are great.  The fastest I ever got anything from them (normal shipping) was two days from Oregon to South Carolina.  https://merriartist.com/

    If The Merri Artist doesn't have what I need, I turn to Blick Art Materials.  https://www.dickblick.com/

    I'll always support the smaller business first.  But that's just me...

    In the hobby world, the Army Painter brand gets high marks (I have yet to try them).

    You can do the sprue nub trick Rusty outlined above, you can use the eye end of a sewing needle or a short length of wire shoved into the eraser end of a pencil as a glue applicator.  I break a sewing needle in half--the pointy end gets chucked into a #1 handle and is used as a scriber.  I then cut the "loop" end of the eye (leaving a fork), shove the shaft end into the pencil eraser, and I have a glue applicator.  The smaller the needle, the smaller the eye, and the smaller the eye, the smaller the drop of CA that it will hold.  When I use wire, I'll put a slight kink in it--that helps it "grab" a bit more adhesive.

  5. I can't speak for Vietnam era (or any era) military aircraft maintenance, but in the civilian world, yes, axle jacks can be used on some types--it is a lot easier to jack at the axle than at the jack points, since jacking the axle takes one jack (the jack points requires multiple jacks and personnel).

    Aircraft with dual mains can also be "jacked" on a ramp--the wheel that isn't being worked sits on a ramp while the "bad" wheel is free to be removed.

  6. I get 300 medals at a time from Mission Awards for our local shows, and that lasts for two or three years (depending on attendance, of course).  The package is smaller than a standard box of copier/printer paper.  Extrapolating that out, 1,000 awards would likely be two copier paper sized boxes.  If you stick with the current format, you use about 600 category (1st/2nd/3rd) awards at a National show, which means there will be maybe 400 surplus medals.  So we're back to something the size of a copier paper box as far as goes shipping/storage.

    As far as how many awards should be purchased?  For a 1-2-3 show, this is easy--look at your historic numbers.  If your usage across the last three shows is 600 awards on average, buy twice or three times that. 

    Make this a National office duty--the 2VP adds this to their Convention planning punch list:  "Verify number of category awards on hand, order more if needed".  It can be done at the conclusion of the current show, before the surplus gets shipped to the next host.  And if the margins are shaky, order more right then and there and have them drop shipped to the next hosts.

    In 2016, we had some 60 plaques left over.  They are now sitting in my garage, collecting funk, since they are dated and themed and cannot be re-used (other than to pry the metal placard off and use the wood plaque as a base).  At $6 a pop, that's $360 that IPMS/USA paid out in that cannot be recouped--using standard awards, that money could be used for shipping costs.  And if you can't ship 600 medals (based on an order of 1,200 total--600 used at the current show, 600 left for the next one) for less than $360 bucks, you're using the wrong shipping company!

    And it isn't as if other stuff doesn't get shipped from one host to the next from year to year anyway...
    Attached is an image of our medals.  They are 2" die-struck medals with antique finish.  You can get them with or without the ribbon.  Our last order was made in April 2020, and including shipping ($36, for the record), the total was $861.  $861/300=$2.87 per medal.

    As Gil said, you can have a sheet of round Avery labels available so the entrant can record what the award was for.  In our first show, we actually made custom labels, as shown in the pics, and filled them out as part of the admin duties after judging.  It is labor intensive, though, so the next year we stuck the labels (again, customized for that show) to the medals and let the entrant fill them out.

    Here is our source: 

    Mission Awards, Inc.
    2030 Tonawanda Lake RD
    Grawn, MI 49637


    Phone : (866) 396-5481
    Fax : 231-276-7682

    I've worked with Tim, but anybody on their sales staff ought to be able to assist.



    • Like 1
  7. 34 minutes ago, Dakimbrell said:

    As noted, people care about winning. If not, no one would bet on the Supper Bowl or the World Cup.

    No one actually loses in this contest. What happens is is many don’t win. There is a difference. No matter how good you are, there will be someone who is just a tad better.

    In the end, it comes down to what the judges liked about a model more than what they didn’t like.

    And someone will still say they got it wrong.


    From Merriam-Webster:

    Contest: A struggle for superiority or victory.


    1 : the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist

    2 : achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties

    Lose: to fail to win (a game, contest, etc.)

    Look, I understand the gist of all this.  Yes, nobody really "loses" at a model show--but I know several individuals who had to be "talked down from the ledge" when they didn't win at the Nationals.  To many, the opposite of winning is losing.  They didn't win the big shiny, therefore, they lost.  The fact that they weren't told *why* they lost is what grated with them.  One of them never "got it", even when we started having hotwash sessions at meetings before shows to point out things that needed attention.  The other ones took what we showed them, and they learned. 

    Note that they didn't learn through osmosis, other modelers had to help them.  A modeler without a local club is further handicapped, but if IPMS/USA would do something official to help, it might be a good idea.

    • Like 1
  8. Yes, the IPMS/USA National Convention contest is open to all branches of IPMS with a valid membership card.  In Columbia in 2016, we had folks from several other IPMS branches (UK, Argentina, Canada, etc.).

    Judging format is all a matter of preference, but the overriding question is this: what is the goal of the contest?  If it is to pick "winners" and "losers", the system IPMS/USA uses does that quite well--as it should, it has been in use for decades.  

    If, however, the goal is to recognize more modelers for their work and offer some insight as to why it placed where it did, the open judging systems are designed to do just that.

    In recent years, some modelers have been asking for more.  So, enter the open judging arguments.  Whether they participated in one of the handful of IPMS/USA local shows that use a form of open judging, or experienced it with another organization, they decided it is the "better" method.  As I said, "better" can only be applied after one summarizes the end goal for the contest...and IPMS/USA wants to keep choosing "winners" and "losers"

    And as I've also said for years, I prefer an exhibition--no contest, no judges, just put out your models and show them off.

  9. ALL judges make mistakes, and ALL evaluation/scoring systems have flaws. 

    To me, the scoring system we use inherently scores creativity--we allow a fair bit of leeway on the final finish and degree of difficulty. 

    It is but one reason that, while I prefer the scored systems, I'd just as soon as not have an exhibition-only show.  Bring what you've built and show it off.  No pressure.  No worries if a judge will ding you for that antenna that broke in transit.  No fretting over whether or not the shade of RLM 81 you used is "correct".  No heartburn if your model doesn't "win".

    To me, anybody who shows off their work is a winner.  I have no pathological or physiological need for some trinket that says so.

  10. Open Judging is what many call the "Gold-Silver-Bronze" system, where each model is scored/evaluated (since some contests using this system don't do scores) individually, and multiple models in the same group can earn the same award, i.e., if the category is Armored Vehicles, Allied, 1935-1945 and there are 15 models in that group, all 15 can earn a medal. 

    That's why I try to state "open judging".  As far as I know, all IPMS/USA shows other than the National Convention contest are "Opens", as in open to anyone who wants to enter.  The only obstacle to entering an IPMS/USA National Convention is membership--you must be an IPMS (any branch) member to enter.


    • Like 1
  11. 4 hours ago, WasatchModeler said:

    Maybe I am naïve.  How is an open system bias? Don't they use a specific rubric to be graded on a theoretical standard?

    Why yes, yes they do. 

    They are the same exact criteria that IPMS/USA uses--well, at least they are in most of the shows that use open judging that I am familiar with.

    Repeat after me:  Straight, Square, Plumb, Fit, Finish.


    • Like 2
  12. Curious.  Since you seem to be addressing my comments but attributing them to others, allow me to retort:

    1.  I never made any assertions about judging qualifications in this thread.  Frankly, I'm over beating the judging dead horse--I have purposely avoided the judging question of late, simply because my opinion differs from the "Because we said so!" and "We've always done it this way!" attitude of the NCC. 
    2.  I replied to a comment on a way for IPMS/USA to reduce their ever-expanding awards budget.  Simple category awards, purchased in bulk, save money BECAUSE they can be re-used.  Spend the big money on the Class, Special, Theme, and Best in Show awards.
    3.  When I personally witness one man threatening to "beat seven shades of s***" out of a Head Judge at a show, I can make the comments I do about "Win at All Costs".  When I see it at multiple shows, that means there is a pattern of this bad behavior. 

    And yes, Jim, there are modelers in the world who look down their noses at people who have not won at the Nationals, whether you want to see them or not.

    You and I will NEVER agree on competition.  Let us just leave it at that, shall we?  As you keep saying, "What's the point?"

    With that, I'm done with this thread.  Have a nice day.

  13. I see that the word "cheap" has been used in the sense that it is a flimsy plastic tchotchke.  The medals we use are quality die-struck metals with an enameled front.  They have heft, and they serve the purpose of recognizing the category winners--which is the object of the exercise. 

    Using your award numbers, and the cost per medal of the last order I placed:

    603 awards X $2.85= $1718.55 for the category medals (1-2-3 in each category).

    Color sublimated plaques--about the cheapest non-generic thing going--run between $6 and $8 each at our local trophy shop.  I'll use the lesser figure...

    603 awards X $6 = $3,618 for the category plaques (1-2-3 in each category).

    And if you don't have three models in a given category or if the host even has a 1% or 2% overage, you have awards that go unused.  What do you do with the left-overs?

    A generic medal can be put back into the box and passed on to the next show.  The color-sub plaques are stuffed in a box and stored, never to be seen again.  If you can convince the trophy shop to take them back so they can re-use the plaques, fine, but they aren't going to refund any of your money.  And if you purchased laser engraved acrylics or some other elaborate award for the general category winners, you are stuck with them.

    Why is this concept so difficult to embrace?    Spend the big bucks on the awards you know will be given--Class awards, Theme awards, Special awards, Best of Show awards, etc.  For the entrant, what do you do if you want one of those Big Shinys?  Simple--Build a better model.  (Of course, this gets on the subject of "How do I do that?", and IPMS/USA has no real answer to that question other than to say "Build a better model"...) 

    Of course, could it be that some don't like medals because someone might mistake a contest that uses medals for awards as a show that uses an Open Judging system?  I can hear the argument now...

    "I don't want to go to that contest!  They use medals, they must be some of them Pinko Commie Open Judging subversives!  We're 'Muricans, dammit!  We wants us some real winners, not them pansy 'ticipation awards y'all hand out to ever'one!"

    To answer the other question, "What's the point?"

    What's the point in competition to begin with--especially on something we supposedly do as a pastime?

    Somewhere in the primordial days of IPMS, it was decided that a model exhibition would be a fun way to get together.  And hey, a friendly competition might be a good thing.  Oh, and maybe we'll give out trophies to the models a group of peers deems to be "good".  Somewhere along the line that concept got perverted into this Win At All Costs, "You ain't a 'real' modeler until you win at the National Convention", vision that far too many modelers these days hold in their noggins.

    As I asked someone, are you seeing these simply as a token recognizing your effort, or are you redecorating your home and trying to make sure your model awards don't clash?

    As I said, we put far too much emphasis on the award itself instead of what it (supposedly) represents...

    What's the point, indeed...

    • Like 1
  14. It seems that too much emphasis gets placed on what the award is vs. what it means.

    For the category awards, buy simple, generic awards in bulk.  Buy enough to provide for a few shows and replenish as needed.  A 5"X7" color sublimated plaque or simple medallion emblazoned with the IPMS/USA logo and "First Place" should suffice.  If you want to get fancy, add a customized label (10 minutes to design, print on standard Avery labels) to the back with the show name and date.  Leave a space for the modeler to record what the model was, what category, etc.  If you really want to put on the dog, you can get plaques with a photo sleeve attached to the back, where the entrant can take a photo of the model and attach it to the award--that way, five years down the road, they can remember what the award was for...

    We have used medals for our past three local shows.  Whether we used traditional IPMS judging or a scored system, the awards were a simple medal with the club logo on the front.  Cost?  $2.85 each.  We buy 100 each Gold (1st), Silver (2nd), and Bronze (3rd) place awards, and that one order lasts us for three shows.  If anybody is interested, contact me and I'll be more than happy to get you the contact information for our supplier.   

    I've heard the arguments against--"So-and-so did a nice sand sculpture for their awards", and "These guys had elaborate backlit acrylic tombstones".  And that's fine, if we're talking Class, Theme, or Special awards.  The Best in Class, Special, and Theme awards should be "customized" for each show.  Here is where you buy the backlit acrylic monolith (we like acrylic state map cutouts), sandcast geegaws, and the like, and include the theme artwork, show name, date, and all the rest. 

  15. 7 hours ago, Schmitz said:

    Watching the olympics this summer, I was surprised to see a tie in an event (high jump I think), there were 2 golds and a bronze. Apparently this happens fairly often. The rules seem to be that (olympic) medals go to the top 3 finishers in the event. If there is a tie, finisheres with same score get the same medal. If there are 2 finishers with the same fastest time, they both get gold, there is no silver and then 1 bronze. In theory you could have everyone tie for a of medal, but in practice its almost always 3 and never more than 5 medal winners.

    Actually, the athletes were given a choice--go to a run-off (jump-off?), or share the medal.  In this case, they agreed to share the medal.

  16. 9 hours ago, Dakimbrell said:

    I believe a nuisance fee is a good thing to keep out those that really have no interest, but just happen to be bored and looking for something to do. A fee of a dollar or two is fine. However, bigger fees work against us. I know few people who aren't serious model builders who would come in for more that a couple hours. They definitely wouldn't keep coming back every day.

    In 2003, I told a coworker about the convention and he brought his whole family only to be hit with a big fee which he wasn't willing to pay. He was really angry about it. No good will there. If you want to attract people, then let them in. Trying to make a profit on visitors is counter productive.


    I agree.  One thing that gets lost is that new folks to the hobby will get turned off if you're going deep into their pockets before they even walk through the door.  And it is often overlooked that you will get money from them sooner or later, either via raffle ticket sales, SWAG purchases (T-shirts, pins, and the like), or indirectly via the vendor tables.  That last one sounds odd, but the better the vendors do, the more likely they are to come back year after year, and the patrons will get that taste for the excitement that the Convention brings and they'll likewise keep coming back.

    That's one reason our local show doesn't charge for walk-ins.  Our vendor table rentals cover most of the venue costs, the contest supports itself, and the raffle fills the gap.  As long as we break even on our local show, we're happy.


    • Like 1
  17. Always a tricky issue.

    I believe a discussion was held on this forum years ago about how other organizations (I believe the popular one at the time was the AMA) charge much more (as in half again the member cost) for non-members to attend their annual convention, but the counter was that IPMS wants to encourage non-members to come it, look around, and see what we're about.

    If memory serves, we didn't do "Family Passes" in 2016.  We did offer a 4-day pass, though, and it was slightly more than paying a registration.  We used the goody bag as incentive to pay the registration--you save $5 or $10, and you get a pin, a decal, and (IIRC) coupons for special deals with various vendors.


  18. Modelers spend weeks and months researching what the relief tube looked like on some minor sub-variant of an insignificant airplane, but can't take ten minutes to review flag ettiquette before they use one as what amounts to a tablecloth?

    For those who weren't aware:


    Ignorance is no excuse.  "I've seen..." is no excuse.  "They do it..." is no excuse.  The code and rules of flag ettiquette for the United States flag are published and available to anyone who asks.  I found this by doing a simple Google search--it took all of a minute.


    • Like 1
  19. Another great tool to use, especially when sanding on something cylindrical, is a Flex-I-File.  It is a sanding belt held in an aluminum frame, and if you gently squeeze the frame, it puts some slack in the belt that conforms to the rounded surface.


  20. I built that kit, and with careful cleanup the seam is not too bad.  The key to the exercise it to test fit until the parts fit tightly together when you simply hold them together.  If I recall, I managed to get a tight seam that only needed a light sanding.  I used Tamiya Extra Thin cement, and applied a little pressure to the two halves once they were together to pop out a small bead of plastic that had been softened by the cement.  Let it dry overnight, and sand that bead of plastic down--you should have a smooth surface with no (or a minimal) seam to deal with.

    I use super glue most of the time when I need to fill a seam.  Work slowly and in small sections, sand it as soon as it can be sanded, and don't leave it un-sanded overnight--it gets harder as time goes on.  You can mix it with talcum powder, artists pigments, or microballons, too--it sands easier, but doesn't leave as smooth a finish.

    Try it on a scrap kit to get the feel for it.


    • Like 1
  21. And this is why that "survey" was doomed from the start.  The status quo crowd knew exactly what was on the table.  The open judging crowd couldn't define (as in "were not allowed to") what they wanted to do.  Yes, it was my statement about asking a kid what they wanted for dinner, pizza or something else.  The something else could be liver, it could be ice cream and cake.  I was happy to see that half of those who did take the survey opted for the "something else", but I suspect the other half voted for what they knew.  Or thought they knew--as I discovered in June, I would wager 98% of modelers who put a model on a contest table (any contest table, not just IPMS) never bother to read the rules in the first place.  But that's another story for another time.

    And I referenced the ladder system as something familiar to most Americans--to be a "National Champion" at most endeavors in the States, it is generally understood that that team had demonstrated that they are consistent winners at the division and conference level before they get to the playoffs, and they have to win in the playoffs before they can get to the "Big Game".

  22. 6 hours ago, noelsmith said:

    "How would a National Champion he chosen..."

    There is no requirement to crown a "National Champion" written anywhere--the highest award available at the IPMS/USA National Convention is Judges' Best of Show, but it is far from being a "National Championship".  There is no "ladder system" requiring models entered in the National Contest to have won before at (first) the local and (then) the Regional levels.

    The only requirement is to hold a "National Contest".  It is an open contest--any member in good standing can enter as many models as they please.  They can be previous local and Regional winners, or models recently completed.  

    The folly of "healthy competition"... 


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