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Ralph Nardone

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Posts posted by Ralph Nardone

  1. Along with Richard's advice, look at what the other authors do in their articles and take your cues from them.  You'll eventually develop your won style, but in the beginning it helps to have a trail guide, so to speak.  

    Another thing I do--once I think the article is finished, I save it and revisit it the next day.  I usually find that I need to tweak some aspects of the text.  If you have someone else who could give it a read-through, do it.  Two sets of eyes are better than one...



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  2. That is one of the USCG's P4Y-2G's, and that SAR nose was peculiar to them.  Nobody I am aware of makes this as an aftermarket canopy set, so you'll have to make a form (buck) and thermoform one.  It isn't as hard as it sounds--the buck can be made from wood or air drying clay.  You'll want the buck to be slightly smaller than the final item.  When you have it shaped, make sure it is smooth and then seal it with a few coats of a clear gloss until it is smooth and shiny.  Make some sort of provision to add a  dowel "handle" on the back side, then securely clamp the handle in a vice.  Take a sheet of clear plastic (PETG is best, but if you want to experiment with water bottles, go ahead) heat it over the stove, then, once the plastic is soft and pliable, pull it down over the buck.  Let the plastic cool, trim to shape, and attach to the model.

    The canopy is also different, but you could probably sand and polish the frames off of the kit canopy to get it to look like the photo.

    Note too that the airplane in the photo is a "Super Privateer" with the R2600 engines and nacelles of a B-25.

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  3. I'll play...

    My models on display.  The Hasegawa Beaufighter illustrates part of my "Model Building 101" seminar, as does the Revell Voodoo.  The other two were long-term projects that finally got off the bench and on to display bases--the Hasegawa F-111F was built as "KARMA-52", the aircraft lost during Operation EL DORADO CANYON, and the ER-2 is Special Hobby's kit.  They're all in 1/72 scale:



    The helicopters--four Hasegawa UH-1H Iriquois, and an Italeri OH-6A Cayuse and CH-47 Chinook (backdated from CH-47D to a CH-47C "Super C") for the Fire Support Base RIPCORD project, then still in progress.  If you want to see the completed project, we have a Facebook page dedicated to the project, and it is also going to be the centerpiece for the Vietnam display at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia, SC.  The helicopters are a tiny part of the 1/72 scale diorama, and were built by various members of the clubs involved.  I built one Huey and the 'Hook, and painted all of them.  Decals, like most everything else on the project, were bespoke--Jodie Peeler did the artwork, and Michael Portaro of IndyCals printed them.

    (You IPMS/AMPS dual citizens are reading about it in the latest issues of the Boresight.)


    I can't knock anybody who puts together a display featuring the High Hatters.


    Insanity in brass.




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    Our show committee met this past week and made our final decision for the 2020 South Carolina Scale Model Mega Show:

    We have decided to cancel the show this year. 

    There were several underlying factors, but South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster's Executive Order 2020-21 was the prime reason we made this decision.  Contained in the EO is this passage:

    …I am directing additional emergency measures in response to the threat posed by COVID-19, to include temporarily prohibiting restaurants from providing certain food services for on-premises consumption and prohibiting events at government facilities that would convene fifty (50) or more people in a single room, area, or other confined indoor or outdoor space...

    Unfortunately, our show venue, the National Guard Armory on Bluff Road, falls under this restricted occupancy mandate.  Clearly, it would be impossible for us to host a show under this condition.   Additionally, with the continued rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Carolina, we see no reasonable possibility that this restriction will be amended or lifted within the next 45 days.  Finding another venue of the same size and cost would, at this late date, be impossible.

    Therefore, with heavy hearts, and in the name of the health and safety of all our modeling friends, we made the decision to cancel this year’s show.

    Vendors and sponsors will be receiving individual notifications shortly.  We appreciate your patronage and cooperation, now and through the years.  We look forward to working with you all again when conditions improve—hopefully, that will be sooner than later. 

    We fully intend to host our show next year in 2021, tentatively scheduled for roughly the same weekend in June.  We hope that you will once again join us.

    Thank you very much for your patience and support for our show. Stay safe and we hope to see you soon.


  5. I usually set my pressure with the trigger depressed--it gives me more of an idea what the pressure at the gun will be when I'm spraying. 

    I used to return thinned paint to the original jar, until I had several jars solidify or turn to jelly on me after a day or so.  I learned then that if I wanted to save extra paint to do so in a clean jar, that way the original won't be compromised.  I've had this happen with both enamels and acrylics, the lacquers don't seem to have this issue.

    I use acrylics almost exclusively these days, so after each color I'll start by spraying cleaner through the airbrush until it comes out relatively clear.  Then the airbrush gets field stripped (head assembly comes off, needle and nozzle get pulled)--not so much because I'm afraid one color will pollute the other, but because as the acrylic dries, it can clog the gun and create additional clogs.  I wipe the parts down, reassemble the gun, and then spray airbrush cleaner through the gun again.  I use Iwata's cleaner--I used to think it and needle lube were nothing but snake oil that the airbrush manufacturers sold, but once I started using them, I won't stop.

    Beware that using ammonia (or products containing ammonia like window cleaner) to clean an airbrush might void the warranty--I know Grex says this, and Badger says to flush it out with water after using ammonia.  Ammonia erodes the plating and will oxidize the brass.  Several people I know ruined their Iwata airbrushes by using WIndex--after repeated use, the nozzle froze in the body, and when they tried to remove it, it broke off at the threads.

    Oh, and if you use acrylics, don't use alcohol--alcohol is a drying agent and will cause the paint to dry inside the gun.  Or that's what Badger says--and seeing as they've been in the airbrush business for many, many, years, I have little reason to doubt them.

    Once a year, I will do a full strip and clean using lacquer thinner to get any residual paint out of the nooks and crannies.  At this time, I examine all seals and gaskets and replace them if they are worn.



  6. On 6/16/2020 at 11:03 AM, DWaples said:

    I have made a personal decision not to go to the NATS this year.  It will be the first one I've missed in some time.  My decision was based on COVID-19 and social responsibility for not being part of the problem.  I suggested previously that all NATS be pushed back one year which was disregarded.  I fear that this is going to be a financial disaster for the Texas team and they're going to need some help.  I'm not sure what that is going to look like yet, but I'm considering sending in my registration fee, even though I'm not attending.

    We took a poll with our club which was meeting on Zoom and nobody was going this year.  There were different reasons provided such as vendors pulling out, poor attendance, etc., all of which is driven by this virus.  


    You weren't disregarded--several people explained that it is not that easy to just "push everything back by one year"--Vegas and Omaha (the next two hosts in 2021 and 2022, respectively) have already negotiated their contracts (contrary to popular belief, even though IPMS/USA takes care of the finances, each host negotiates their own deals with venues and hotels), and to push everything back would not only require San Marcos to renegotiate, it would require Vegas and Omaha to do the same.  Unless and until the Texas government decides to enact some sort of lockdown or shutdown, IPMS is at the mercy of Embassy Suites if they unilaterally decide to cancel, even with a Force Majeure clause in the contract.  Right now, Vegas and Omaha have zero reason to let people out of their contracts, so instead of taking one hit, IPMS will take three.  One will be bad enough.

    Now, if the Texas Governor orders a shutdown down this year and the show gets cancelled, I am all for slotting the Texas guys into the schedule to host in 2023, after Vegas and Omaha.  They've worked their boo-hinds off, and they deserve to host a convention if theirs gets canned.

    If I had planned to attend this year, I would have cancelled when we started seeing how unpredictable and lethal COVID-19 was.  To me, a model show is not worth jeopardizing my health over.  But right now, that decision has to be made at the personal level--some people are still raring to go, which is great.  Others have already cancelled, which is also okay.  As Bill said above, everyone has to decide for themselves if it is worth going or not. 

    As the kids say these days, you be you.

  7. Gloss:  Future (or whatever they call it these days).

    Flat: Either Vallejo Matt Varnish or Liquitex Matte Varnish.  In all reality, they're probably close to being the same thing.

    Semi-gloss:  Either Vallejo Semi-Matt Varnish or the Liqitex Matte Varnish, un-stirred and unshaken.

    I thin Future with Isopropyl Alcohol, about 50-50.  It is certainly thin enough to spray from the bottle, but I find the alcohol helps it to dry faster, and it does not dry to a mirror gloss but rather a smooth, slick, almost eggshell finish.  I leave it to dry/cure for 36-48 hours before I start applying decals.  If you get frosty patches from decal solvents, simply overspray the model with another coat of Future before you apply the final matte or semi-matte finish.

    Be careful with the flat clears mentioned--it is really easy to go just one coat too fat and wind up wit a white haze on the model.  I normally invert the bottle once or twice (no shaking or stirring) and apply it in a few light mist coats.  It doesn't take much.

  8. I'm going to deviate from the Testors demise just a bit.  I'll circle back to it, I promise...

    For years, we've heard the lament that "the hobby is dying", and to a point, it has--it is no longer a pocket money hobby where I kid with a few bucks ($2 in my day, closer to $20 in this day and age) in his pocket can build and paint a model.  Plastic modeling is going (and has been for two and a half decades, I think) the same direction as model railroading--it has become a hobby that attracts, for the most part, older men with disposable income.  That's not sexist, it is what I saw every day I worked at hobby shops in two states and three cities on three separate occasions between 1995 and 2017.

    Who do we have to blame?  Look in the mirror.  We "serious" modelers demanded better-fitting and more accurate kits with exquisite detail and elaborate decals.  We demanded accurate paints that are easily applied with brush or airbrush, that matched all color standards, that flowed like water, laid down like a satin sheet, and stuck to the model like a second skin.  We demanded weathering products that were available in a one-stop shop. 

    So, we wound up with $90 hyper-detailed kits that won't assemble correctly if there is so much as the thinnest film of paint overspray on the gluing surface (i.e., they fit like the proverbial glove), $8/bottle specialty paint "systems" with all the requisite additives (reducers, thinners, flow enhancers, retarders, etc.), $20 decal sheets with the most microscopic stenciling you've ever seen, and a range of custom weathering products at $8/pop.  Is this necessarily bad?  No, it is what we as a group asked for.  But what happened is that the companies producing these marvelous products stopped making products to the older standard, which left a void in the market.

    What did we do in the past?  WE learned to deal with fit issues.  WE made the models more accurate.  WE added the details.  WE researched the markings and improved them.  WE figured out that dried herbs make great scale leaves, and that driveway gravel makes great ground cover.  WE figured out that we could buy several 4-ounce bottles of dry artists' pigments for less than the cost of one of the custom-mixed AK or Mig bottles.  In case you haven't figured it out, WE=The Modeler.

    In our local clubs, we have several new modelers who firmly believe that they cannot become a "Master Modeler" without shucking out the big bucks for the name brand products.  Several of them have learned, but there remain a few who continuously preach the Mig, AK, Wilder, or Rinaldi bibles--and send these firms their dough.  And yeah, in the day we had Paine, Verlinden, Ray Anderson, Roscoe Creed, etc.--but, for the most part, they were using stuff you could find in the local hardware or drug store.  Of that group, Verlinden was the only one to package a standard product and put his name on the box--usually in smaller quantities at an inflated price.

    We now have so many different products that, as we used to say in the hobby shop, we now have too much stuff chasing too few dollars.  When you have a company like RPM, with shareholders, you have to answer to them.  If your product isn't making the numbers, you have two choices--keep constantly explaining the perpetual loss to the shareholders, or axe the product.  RPM chose the latter route with the Model Master, Pactra, and Aztek products.  Whether or not the "original" Testors stuff (square bottle enamels, cheap brushes, generic aerosols, and glues) soldiers on remains to be seen--we've seen, in the space of two weeks, conflicting reports.

    But again, all is not gloom and doom--see my earlier post.  Just as we learned to do things with what we had on hand, so will the next (perhaps smaller) generation of scale modelers.  Most of us learned that if we wanted to visit the hobby shop, we had to ride our bicycle, or bum a ride.  Modelers now will figure out that the online hobby shops are there and they'll figure out which ones can get them what they want--just as we did with the old brick-and-mortar, Mom-and-Pop hobby shops back in the day.  We learned to save our allowance or wait for birthdays or holidays for those big-ticket items.

    It will be a big change, but not an insurmountable one.



  9. Apparently, things have changed in even the past two months.  Our local HobbyTown (Columbia, SC) was informed in March that the only Testors products that would be available were the square bottle enamels (in boxed sets only), generic aerosols, and the glues.  Think back to 1975, and that's what they were laying out as their "new" lansdcape for 2020.

    As I've posted on several other forums, this may seem a shock, but there is precious little Testors produced that can not be found elsewhere.

    Do you like enamels?  Humbrol is still available, as is Xtracolour.  Also, True North Precision Paints makes an alkyd enamel that, from reports I've read, are as good as the Testors Model Master line.

    Lacquer fans abandoned Testors years ago when they squashed the original Floquil line.  Now, we have Mr. Color, MRP, and Tru-Color.

    Acrylics users never really liked the Acyl line (I must be one of 50 people who got good results with few problems).  Today, just look around--Vallejo, Mig, Lifecolour, AK Interactive, Mission Models Paints...

    Putties?  Testors putty has always been the shop vac of suck anyway, and most people steer well clear of it.

    Brushes?  There are literally dozens of places to buy paint brushes equal to or superior than Testors.

    Glues and cements?  The last time I used Testors tube glue, I was still buying Monogram model kits for a dollar.  The last time I used their liquid was to thin Squadron Green Putty (the old stuff, $1.98 a tube!) to a brushable consistency.  Since then, I have used (in no particular order of appearance) Weld-On #3, Weld-On #4, Plastruct Plastic Weld, Ambroid, Tamiya Extra Thin.  All are still available (the Weld-On products in quantity through Tap Plastics).

    See where this is going?  Even the specialty products like flocking (which has been gone for a few years) can be found elsewhere.  Metalizers have competition from Alclad, AK, and Vallejo.

    The only products I have heard lament for (outside the Model Master enamels) are the bottled Glosscote and Dullcote.  I might add the Metalizer Sealer to the list, as it was a superb, near-bulletproof clear gloss.  But even those have equivalent products available.  You just might have to order them.  And there is the rub--more on that later. 

    What makes it a shock is that we lose a long-time, well-recognized, name branded product that was available in most any hobby shop and arts and crafts store--and, before that, drug stores, dime stores, discount stores, department stores, hardware stores, convenience stores, toy stores... 

    As much as it pains me to say this, in all but a very few cases the brick-and-mortar hobby ship is on life support.  I'm finding that I have to get more and more hobby stuff online.  I do buy from the local shops when I see it, and I try to have things ordered through them when I can, but because they can't get everything, I have to do what I must.  Look at the short list I gave above--those places also used to carry model kits...

    By the way, Rustoleum, contrary to what people seem to believe, does NOT own Testors (despite the Rustoleum logo on the recent bottles).  Testors (and Floquil/Polly-S, and, later, Pactra) were acquired in the 1980's by Republic Powdered Metals, now RPM International.

    RPM also owns Rustoleum, Zinser, Bondo, and several other related companies.

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  10. On old decals--you might want to get some Microscale Liquid Decal Film and apply a few coats to the decal sheet--this should give you insurance over splintering into a gazillion bits.  You will have to trim each marking, as you have, in effect, created a single decal.  If they are merely yellow, taping them in a window and allowing the sunlight to bleach them might work.  if they're brown, that is probably the adhesive itself, and no amount of bleaching will help.

    On a replacement canopy, you might just have to go Old School and carve a master from balsa or basswood, then vacuum-form a replacement.  If you haven't totally assembled the model, try using an epoxy putty or air-drying clay to make the master--tape the fuselage halves together, block off the cockpit opening with clear packing tape, then place a blob of the putty/clay over the opening and shape it.  You can shape epoxy putty with a wet finger to get it close to the shape, let it cure, then sand to the final shape.  AIr-drying clay is easily shaped, but it is grainier and more porous than the putty.  Whatever you do, after the basic mold is made, apply several layers of lacquer primer and sand until it is as shiny as glass before you try to form a new canopy.


  11. This is precisely why most RCs will ask the Chapters in their Region to carefully review the Charter Renewal Fact Sheet rather than just rubber stamp it and send it back.  Frankly, I can't see how a Chapter can be rechartered if the Chapter Contact information the RC has is incorrect--if the CC doesn't get the paperwork, how can they recharter?  And if the RC knows the CC info on file is no longer accurate, then it is on the RC to correct it.

  12. The particular fonts you are looking for are Amarillo USAF and Long Beach USN.  Check your font menu on your word processing program--Amarillo may already be there.  Long Beach used to only be available through TLai Enterprises, but dafont has a passable version listed as "USN Stencil" font.

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