Here we go again 2 weeks to Telford and I have so so much to do, and oh no not again, airbrush problems arghh!!!!!

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As  I sit here with just under 2 weeks to go until the big day, in fact in 2 weeks time I will hopefully be sitting somewhere reflecting on a wonderful weekend spent in great company at the biggest and best model show in the world. Two weeks is probably a long time to some however in my case it may as well be minutes as the panic of the fast approaching trip to the midlands sets in and my frantic behaviour ridden modelling time reaches fever pitch and I get really really close to completely losing my mind. As this last week approached I was looking forward to finally adding the finishing touches to my collection of models that yours truly had planned to be ready for the club stand, I had a whole weekend to finish the building and prepare myself for the inevitable bouts of pulling my hair out as I painted them and got them ready to be boxed up for our trip to Telford. Saturday arrived and I cracked on finishing off my mid production Tiger 1 with some etch brass Zimmerit and getting a good solid coat of red primer on so that I could make a start on painting it either Sunday or the modelling evening I had planned for later that week, the airbrushes were gotten ready with a nice clean in preparation for the next days spraying. Now I do not know about you but I have a great trust in how I feel about something and as the cleaning of the airbrushes commenced I had a feeling that something was not quite right however I put it down to tiredness as I put the 2 brushes away ready for the morning and indulged in some relaxing TV viewing.

As Sunday morning arrived I set out my day priming a few things for the long suffering partner in crime and added the finishing touches to the priming of the Tiger, before that I decided to check the airbrush that had bothered me the night before and low and behold that nagging feeling I had was a bent needle tip, see you should always trust your instincts, not too much of an issue as I have 2 other brushes I can use 3 at a push. The rest of the day was littered with stop start use of the airbrush and problems with air pressure, nozzle blockages and the like and I found myself spending more time cleaning the damn things than actually using them. Now I am not going to lie my issues with my airbrushes are a constant irritant, it is not some errant issue with them but it is me, they are used sporadically and as my modelling mojo fluctuates so does their use. Over the years I had definitely been going with the school of thought that anybody can pick up and use an airbrush to a decent standard however recently it has come quite evident to me that this is not the case and you do need to practice practice and practice some more, I do not see myself as an artist or with any kind of eye for art in fact it was never a strong point of mine in school even though many members of my family are very artistic yet that particular gene pool seems to have skipped me by. As my weekend slowly dragged itself to a frustrating close I found myself with one less airbrush to use and no closer to getting anything remotely finished.

After having the issue with airbrush 1 and the weekends frustrations I decided to put the 2 nozzles I possess for airbrush 2 in a bottle of airbrush cleaner and leave them soaking over night no disaster there I thought to myself and I was right, that in itself was not the disaster, what I did next was where the disaster manifested itself, I shook them in the jar not once but many times trying to clean out the stubborn remnants of paint in the nozzle tips, bad idea the tips do not like being shook and low and behold when I removed them from the jar I had bent the tips on both of them, if ever there was a time when my level of stupidness astounded me, it was now, how could I have been so stupid shaking the 2 nozzles around like I was shaking a pair of maracas, after bending the needle of airbrush 1, bending the nozzle ends of airbrush 2, what other calamities could befall my ever failing collection of airbrushes, have no fear more was to come. Speeding ahead just 24 hours and with just 1 airbrush left, my new Iwata HP-CH what else could go wrong?…..

For Telford I have numerous kits in varying forms of completion which includes the mid production Tiger 1 that was mentioned earlier and a 1/48 scale T34, so with the little tank, paint, and airbrush in hand I went off to the shed to commence my evenings painting, after a few minutes the choice of colour for my highlights seemed a bit too bright so I decided to put that aside and move on to painting the Tiger, so off I went to clean the green paint out the airbrush and get ready for some nice coats of desert yellow or dunkelgelb to those who care. Whilst cleaning my airbrush I decided to run a small  cleaning brush through the nozzle cap which although it cleared out some paint remnants it had also put a slight burr on the edge of the hole and a slight split near the top which of course was unbeknown to me, so back off to the shed it was with a bottle of  Mig Dunkelgelb and my airbrush to spray the first coats of paint over my lovely red primer what could possibly go wrong? as I sprayed the first line of paint the airbrush did not sound right, it was spluttering, thinking it may be a bit clogged I sprayed some away from the model and then had another go, nope still spluttering I also noticed the paint was just sitting on the primer and not really covering it, not to be put off I went and picked up my very little used Iwata TR2, now this is an airbrush that I have never really got to grips with but now was it’s moment of glory. Sadly it was to be a false dawn as the paint I sprayed from it just sat on the model and looked awful, so after laying the airbrush down I ran the 3 parts of my Tiger under the tap and washed the remnants of the paint off now this is one of the many good points of using acrylic paints, it is water based, so with paint removed I put the parts in the airing cupboard to dry off until it’s next date with paint.

After cleaning my airbrushes, putting them away and calming my nerves with a pizza I bit the bullet and spent rather a large amount of money with the Airbrush Company replacing all the parts I had managed to bend break or damage over the last couple of days and sat down for a bout of detail painting which oddly I found quite calming and very therapeutic. Is there a moral to this story?, possibly however we are not finished yet. Not only had I had suffered self inflicted airbrush disasters there was also the fact that there were issues with the Mig paint that had been used and that is where the internet and specifically You tube comes in handy and one video later I was fully  understanding as to why it did not take, you have to use the Mig paint differently than say Tamiya Vallejo AK or Gunze Sangyo and that is for another time, so I ordered some Vallejo and AK interactive paint to speed up that particular job.

So here we are less than 2 weeks until we pack up and make the longish trek to Shropshire with me being maybe a little closer to being ready than I was a week ago but not as far forward as I would have hoped and definitely would liked to have been. I have now got less time to get those projects over the line yet it is doable however I am now up against it and under more pressure than ever, last year I was still matt varnishing my Tamiya MKIV on the Thursday night and drying it with a hair dryer, I do not plan to be doing that this year, a Thursday night of a take away and relaxation would be wonderful so the countdown is on. Now the moral to this particular tail is this, my mum used to say to me as a child you should not put anything in your ear sharper than your elbow wise words indeed yet the same can be said about airbrushes, they are precision tools with delicate easily damaged parts and they need to be handled and cleaned with care (please take note Jason), I am now going to change how I clean my collection of airbrushes thanks to my friend and club mate Keith Forsyth and we will see how I get on with that, the clock for Telford is definitely ticking and I have so so so much to do…..

The Average Modeller

When it is all going well and then it is all going terrible wrong…..

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After getting over my shock of actually finishing some models ready for the Farnborough model show back in mid September modelling had sadly taken a back seat as life, work and other responsibilities had unfortunately gotten in the way. Last Tuesday I managed to return to the bench and look forward to the ominous spectre that is scale model world lurking somewhere in the very near future, whilst sitting in my chair I happened to notice my IPMS membership card hanging on the back of my work room door and as I picked it up to take a look you can imagine my horror when I discovered that somehow over the period since Farnborough it had somehow gotten wet and the usual clear information on it’s front had become a touch obscured, however after a quick email to Cliff Bassett IPMS UK membership secretary polarity was returned as he put my mind at rest as he told me that all should be ok as the relevant info was still legible, it never hurts to check these things especially with little over a month to go I did not fancy the indignation and disappointment of being told,  sorry you cannot come in.

I am not going to lie I have felt a little under pressure of late with that fast approaching trip to Telford and the need to get some things over the finish line, this weekend for me was a great opportunity to get my reluctant backside to the bench and try and sneak some things ever closer to that most sort after place, the finish line and with no football to ruin my day it was off to the workroom. To set the scene, I have been working on a Tamiya Tiger 1 mid production for a Tiger build challenge within the members of my model club with the idea of them being ready for our club stand at Telford, now for reasons only known to me instead of going for a simple out of the box build with maybe a Tamiya early or initial production Tiger I opted for a Mid production variant with the addition of some resin Zimmerit, some etch brass grills, a turned aluminium barrel and some metal tracks. Now being one that usually shy’s away from etch brass and resin it will come as no surprise that I was avoiding starting the project like the plague, unfortunately with time not really being on my side I had to bite the bullet and just get on with it. I thought with this build my approach would be slightly different as I was having to deal with some after market products and get it over the finish line and reasonably quickly, so I decided to actually follow the instructions and add the aftermarket as I went along, all was going ok until it came to the adding of the etch grills and of course the need to use super glue, now me and super glue have a sketchy past, occasionally everything goes according to plan, and other times everything goes to hell and back again and this tends to escalate quite quickly. Now I tend to avoid etch brass as it bends far too easily and some of the pieces of etch are so small they are very easily lost, pinging off into the atmosphere never ever to be found again plus there is the need to attach it with super glue. Surprisingly I only encountered a few issues attaching the four etch grills with only one needing an extra blob of glue to convince it to stay where I put it.

With the upper hull looking the part it was now time to turn my attention to the resin zimmerit, I have never used resin zimmerit before successfully, I had dabbled with an old Verlinden set some years ago this set from Atak was a lot different and I have to say this is very very thin resin, after deciding to tackle the lower chassis first I cut out the thin resin and glued it on, I am not going to lie it went on ok however I was having trouble with the glue drying too quick, I persevered though, the second part went on ok although I was still having trouble with the glue going off too quickly. Now if I had known then what was to happen later I would have stopped there and sourced myself some slower curing super glue, now as is the norm I changed tact, I went from using super glue to using some Gorilla white glue, sadly this did not quite go to plan and once again I  reached for the super glue. Feeling really pleased with how the lower hull was looking I moved onto the upper sides and once again the earlier issues were rearing there ugly head however I managed to get the complete lower hull finished within a couple of hours and sat back feeling really pleased with my work, not something I can honestly say I do very often.

With the lower hull complete I reluctantly moved my attention to the turret, now I perhaps should have started with the turret but being notoriously adept at avoiding things I do not want to do, I left it to last. They say hindsight is a wonderful thing and if it was possible to turn the clock back I would however without the benefit of either of these I turned my attention back to the turret and oh how I wish I had not, after carefully cleaning up the 2 thin resin turret sides I decided to apply my super glue, and this is where I went from complete success to an absolute disaster in one fell swoop. I had been using a micro brush to apply my super glue and my common sense was telling me that I should stick with this (no pun intended) however I did not follow the common sense route and decided to apply the glue straight from the pot and this is where my self made disaster manifested itself, now had the resin sheet gone on straight the issue of a bit too much glue could have been dealt with however it was not to be. The resin went on at a peculiar angle prompting a quick panicked response from me and within seconds I had a chunk of split and broken resin sheet stuck to the fingers of my left hand and super glue everywhere, luckily I keep a tidy and orderly bench otherwise the carnage would have been a whole lot worse. After a not so careful assessment of the carnage and a rant at my long suffering partner in crime Kerry I decided that the best and only course of action was to cut my losses and throw it in the bin, once carefully put in the bin I cleaned myself, the bathroom and my workbench up and after a short burst of exasperated huffing and puffing I retrieved it from the bin, setting aside the lower hull, upper hull gun mantlet and the spare unused resin parts I did my best to clean up the turret and the overglued zimmerit however it was becoming quite clear to me that I needed a new turret and some other kind of zimmerit to complete the project. As luck would have it I had a Tiger 1 turret that was going spare as part of an old project that I had long abandoned, all I needed to do is source some replacement  Zimmerit which I did via ebay and voila the day was saved.

The moral of this particular tale?, practice practice and more practice, I could not of envisaged the disaster that was going to unfold Saturday afternoon and as it was my first time using resin zimmerit coupled with my dodgy past with super glue the chances of it going wrong were probably high anyway, would I use resin zim again, probably yes after all if you never step out of your comfort zone, or never give anything new a try how are you ever going to know if you can do it or not, it is good to step out of it once in a while and after all we should have high aspirations and try and be better than our last project even though this is not always the case, we should at least try.

The Average Modeller