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Modelling masterclass: transparent engine model and transparent parts

26 Dec

Modelling masterclass: transparent engine model and transparent parts,rc model plane

While the techniques for dealing with clear parts were touched on in Part 3, here I go over the preparation of these parts in more detail. As mentioned previously, clear parts should be protected in a separate clear bag, or wrapped in Tamiya tape, until they are ready to be used. When removing clear parts from their sprue a cautious approach is highly recommended. Start by using a spme cutter to cut the immediate sprue from the larger tree (Photo 1). Next, use the sprue cutter to cut away some of the sprue closest to the part you wish to remove (Photo 2). This is followed by carefully sawing off the part using a fine-toothed razor saw (Photo 3) – and do not hesitate to protect the canopy with some tape while sawing. With the individual part safely removed from its sprue, attempt to dry fit it. Any corrections can be done with either a file or sandpaper, or a combination of both. Just remember to protect the dear part at this stage by using a piece of protective tape on the area that is being worked on (Photo 4).

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With the part fitting correctly, you can move on to improving its clarity, or removing any scratches that may have occurred. On the worst cases some very fine-grit wet sandpaper will start the process. Just remember to press lightly and sand only in one direction. This will level the plastic to remove the scratch, but the area will need to be polished to regain its clarity and to give it a smooth finish (Photo 5). One of the better systems for restoring clarity is Novus. While it offers a three-part system, I have managed quite well using its pre-packaged, two-bottle and lint-free cloth, with instructions (Photo 6). This system works well, with only one drawback. I normally coat the inside of my canopies with Klear/Future to help prevent fogging when using superglue, but Novus and Klear/Future are not entirely compatible. However, Novus claims that its system helps prevent this fogging.

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Another ‘regular’ for treating clear parts is Tamiya’s Rubbing Compound. For application a cotton bud is the weapon of choice, since it will get right into the tight spots. As mentioned, Klear/Future is another material used in the preparation of clear parts and it can be applied using a disposable brush, as in Photo 7, or even by dipping the part in a container of the polish (Photo 8). Remember to put the treated part into a dust-free container while it dries overnight. These are some of the readily available products to polish a canopy but there are others. Do not overlook the disposable anti-static cloths used in tumble dryers. It is simply a matter of trying a variety of products and finding which works best for you.


The need to paint clear parts leads me onto the next step in their preparation. It is one of the most unloved tasks in assembling aircraft models: masking. There a variety of ways to mask clear parts, but they all require patience and careful application. Few things will wreck the appearance of a finished model more then a poorly defined or uneven canopy framing.
As one can imagine, most methods involve tape in one form or another. The first one covered here uses Bare-Metal Foil. This aluminum material is extremely thin, with an adhesive on one side. Start off by cutting a section of the material somewhat larger then the section of the 
canopy you are going to mask.

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 Peel the protective backing off and burnish the material in place with a cotton bud, following by a ‘proper’ burnishing tool (Photo 9). This will clearly show the canopy framing. Then you can very carefully remove the excess material using either new No. 11 or No. 12 blades. I cannot emphasise enough the necessity of using a new blade and, likewise, do try the No. 12 blade. Another regular for masking is Tamiya’s yellow tape. As before, cut a slighdy larger piece than required. However, if a section of tape butts up against a straight section of canopy framing then cut this straight section with a fresh blade and lay it in place. Next, burnish the tape into place. For this I use a lightly sanded wooden toothpick (Photo 10). This procedure is followed by marking the frame outline using a technical pencil (Photo 11). Then it is a matter of using this pencil line as a cutting guide and removing the excess tape. Perhaps the most common method for masking involves cutting the tape into narrow strips, aligned to the edges of the framing first, and then filling in the remainder. In Photo 12 we can see that the frame edges have been masked and that the corners are ready to be cut. For the latter trimming I prefer a new No. 12 blade, lighdy rocked back and forth until a clean cut is achieved. Once the edges are finished, the interior can be filled in with more tape, or any liquid mask. In this case (Photo 13) Micro Mask is used, applying it with a disposable paintbrush.

Models in transparent

Having looked at one of the ways of dealing with masking using opaque tape, our attention can turn to transparent tape. Start out using this tape as per the previous masking techniques, in that a larger piece then the opening is used. As before, if part of the mask lies on a straight section of framing then cut this first and start the mask there. Burnish as before. While one would think that a transparent tape would be ideal for cutting, this is not necessarily so. One of the tricks is to cut the masking while the canopy is posed over a mirror. I find that the reflection of the overhead light helps to ‘highlight’ the canopy framing and assists in getting a more accurate cut. Another tip is to use an acrylic sheet as a rest to cut the tape. It provides a firm surface for the delicate cutting operation (Photo 14). One of the clear tapes that can be used is Parafilm M. This material comes in a roll and must be stretched before it is applied to the surface. It can be cut in the normal manner (Photo 15) and is easily removed. One of the more challenging aspects of masking is dealing with curves. The forward panel of the Spitfire or Seafire windscreen is a good example of such a curved frame. To get it just right there is a little masking trick that usually works well. One will need a punch and die set or a circle template with a miniature swivel cutter. For this operation I use Tamiya tape. However, this tape will rip if used alone in the set. To avoid tearing, put the tape on some plastic card and then punch the disc out. Then it is a simple matter of removing the tape disc and placing it in the curved ‘corner’ (Photo 16).

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Mask sets

The final method for masking is perhaps the easiest. There are numerous aftermar-ket masking sets available (Photo 17). Some of the earliest, and the ones I use most often, are the red masking sets rom E-Z Mask.

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 A similar product is the Black Magic Mask from Cutting Edge and the final example is from Eduard. There are numerous other similar products, but you may find that some heat from a hair dryer is necessary to ensure that they stay in place. At the time of preparing this article the new Eduard masks made from Tamiya-type tape were hitting the market and perhaps these are the best there is (Photo 18).

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