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1:72 Shuttle Tile Detail Set


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A project I have spent the past few months working on is starting to near completion.

I felt I should give you guys a preview of *** just some *** of the parts before I go any further with it.

I am producing a set of shuttle tiles for the 1:72 Monogram orbiter. My goal has been to provide an accurate set of tiles for a near-seamless fit to the kit, saving countless hours of scratch-building and detailing (as well as fixing a few of the kit's inaccuracies in the process). The parts are being created using CAD drawings of the shuttle tiles provided by NASA.

vq5fg0.jpg

Preview artwork

In the above low-res pic are a few of the parts that will be in the kit. What you don't see are the tiles for the vertical stabilizer, the tops of the wings, the backs of the OMS pods or the tiles for the nose of the orbiter. That's because I haven't entirely finished those areas yet. You'll also get a detailed hatch, ground support umbilical panel, and some extra tile strips to fill in the smaller areas.

The belly tiles are one big piece - just think, the days of having to fill and sand those pesky seams to perfection will now be over!

I hope to have all of the parts produced on .15" styrene sheets, but I may have to bump up to .20" if the die requires a thicker sheet to make the tile impressions without cutting through. I won't find out until it comes time to give the finished die lines to my friend at the plastic company who will be producing them for me. I want to keep the sheets as thin as possible, because some areas may require bending with either boiling water or a heat gun and I don't want any detail to get melted off during that process. I also think .15" styrene is the ideal thickness for a seamless intersection of tiled areas to thermal blanket areas for those who choose to represent those areas with medical tape.

The kit will not include tiles for the windows or the area around the crew compartment. Dutycat has already done the work for that with his excellent Beanie Cap add-on. So, a shuttle modeler who purchases my tile set and Dutycat's Beanie Cap will have what they need to cover 95% of the tiled areas if they are building Discovery, Atlantis or Endeavour.

The cost of the kit will all depend on how much it costs me to have the parts made. I'm thinking my friend can do it pretty cheaply. I'm not going to try to make much if any profit from this, even though I have many, many hours invested of research, drawing, and trial-and-error testing. If I can keep the cost under $50, how many of you would purchase a set? Higher quantities will help me get the per-set costs down. Respond to this message and let me know if you are interested in a set. I expect to have the first sets ready to go in the next 2-3 months.

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Hotdog, This is a great idea and I'm sure will look great when done! :thumbsup: However there are a few thoughts that come to mind.

These parts will have to be tested for fit and ease of use. Even a 1 piece decal isn't the easiest to apply to the bottom of a shuttle. There are curves in all directions. Sheet styrene may not work well unless it's in sections. You'll need to do tests.

On Astrazoic's 1/72 shuttle he used .010" sheet styrene for the HRSI tiles, which still has some depth to it. Maybe .015" will work but I think .020"(.5 mm) will be way too thick to make it around curves such as the fronts of the OMS pods and might look to high against even the thickest medical tape, if used for the AFRSI blankets.

You might also want to consider adding the tiles for the windows and the area around the crew compartment for those who don't have Dutycat's beanie cap or those who wish to modify the windows or use the AMP windows. Just a thought...

A set modified to fit the Revell 1/72 Shuttle would also be a very good consideration. There are still many of those kits around, most likely more Revell kits then Monogram kits exist. I've also seen quite a few 1/72 Monogram stack kits built using the Revell 1/72 shuttle. In some cases the Revell shuttle is chosen for it's better windows.

Well, these are just a few thoughts that immediately come to mind. I hope you don't mind. :)

Mike.

Edited by crowe-t
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No problem Mike! All input is appreciated. Rest assured I am testing this on my own orbiter first, which is part of the reason I haven't updated my build thread lately (because I've been tinkering with this tile stuff!). I have been using sheets of blank styrene as tests. There will be a few areas where a heat gun will be needed to make the styrene sheet bend into the shape of the object its to be applied to (OMS pods for example), but it's no big deal. I've spent months on this, going back and forth to get the shapes right. So far everything fits or will fit with very little modification. There will always be some variations from kit-to-kit I'm sure, but I think it will still give modelers a solution that they've never had before that will make a tremendous impact on the look of their finished model while saving a ton of scratch work.

I will get my plastics guy to test .10" and .15" styrene. If the .10" works then I'll consider going with that. I was thinking the .15" would be safer for the tile impressions while still being thin enough to bend and shape. It's still a work in progress so we'll see!

And I haven't forgotten the Revell kit, I just wanted to do the Monogram first since I'm currently in the process of building one. Once I have all of the parts made and in production, I can then purchase a Revell kit and start modifying the die lines to fit the unique shapes of the Revell kit.

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Hotdog,

I really appreciate your effort to make those tile sets. I for my part will certainly buy probably more than one from you. I also agree with Mike here that you should consider adding the window section to the set. There are perhaps modellers out there that aren't comfortable to do greater modifications and are satisfied with just a nice decal set. Since I also have the Revell kit in my stash I also appreciate that you care for this one as well.

Keep up the good work..

Cheers Ralf

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Very nice idea! If you don't mind some input, one thing you may want to look into and see if it's a viable option is to see about doing it in photo etch, perhaps in sections. I think that would allow a much thinner product that's easier to blend and would still be sturdy enough for shipping and construction handling. I think it also would be a bit more subtle since the actual tile seams are pretty smooth. Just a thought. But either way you go, I think it will make a great addition to a shuttle model. Can't wait to see a prototype! And one more minor critique if you don't mind, the real nose gear doors are not symmetrical, one is slightly wider than the other (can't recall which is which). It's a minor detail but since you're near perfect on the rest, might as well get it all.

BTW, I think you mean .010"-.015" and not .10" to .15"? Otherwise, at around 1/8" thick, that's some pretty thick stuff to be gluing on the belly. :whistle:/>

Bill

Edited by niart17
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Thanks for the input, Bill! Always good to get your thoughts and perspective on things.

I have no experience with photo etch. Can it be heated to form over rounded shapes like the OMS pods? Another thing to consider is that the shapes may not fit exactly the same from kit-to-kit, so how would you sand the edges of the sheets to shape? And I wouldn't know where to start as far as how to go about producing photo etch (I would think it would be more expensive). I just happened to know a guy at a plastics company who said he could produce some styrene sheets for me pretty cheaply so that's why I chose the styrene route.

I did notice that the nose gear doors were not symmetrical, and something made me "fix" it in the artwork (a bit of OCD, perhaps?). Thanks to another issue, I am going to have to re-do the gear doors anyway so when I do that, I can make the adjustment.

I will be doing a test run with some .015" styrene sheet in the next day or two. I'll keep you guys posted on how that goes.

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...I did notice that the nose gear doors were not symmetrical, and something made me "fix" it in the artwork (a bit of OCD, perhaps?)...

:woot.gif:/> I totally get the OCD thing. My wife is like that and would probably paint a painting of the leaning tower of Pisa straight because it would bother her painting it leaning. That is if she didn't try to get them to straighten the original first. And the Golden Gate Bridge would be GOLD, like it says! :coolio:

Bill

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The base configuration is Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. Columbia and Challenger builders will have some scratch-building to do to finish it off, but the kit will give them a good start.

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I'm hoping to have them ready by Christmas, but football season is starting :woo:/> ...but hopefully that won't slow me down too much! I'll be keeping this thread updated with my progress.

Edited by Hotdog
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Outstanding.

Hotdog, we have discussed this project before. I am glad you are making progress on it. It looks like it will be very nice.

Since Hotdog mentioned it, if you are wondering about the beanie cap's availability, rest assured it has not gone away. I ran through the first production run pretty quickly last Spring as there was fairly constant demand once I started selling them. I was able to cast a few more, but then the mold started to deteriorate.

Based on my personal experience installing one on my shuttle, I decided to make some minor changes to the master before remolding. But has been a busy summer, I had some other projects in work, and now the new school year has started. If you know any teachers, you may have heard how that is.

For those that bought a beanie cap from the first production run, thanks. If you are waiting for one, just hang tough for a little while longer and they will be available again.

-Gil Gregg.

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I'm in for at least one Monogram and one Revell. I read through the first time and thought I saw "injection molded." That's not the case is it? If so you could have them cast to shape. Or perhaps just cast the compound shapes like the OMS pods. I, too, would recommend 1 or more parts to replicate the tiles around the cockpit windows,etc. If you're taking on the OMS pods, I don't think the windows would be any harder. How are you or the modeler to deal with the edge of the tiles at the nose cap? The nose would have to be built up, yes/no?

Just to beat the drum twice, I hope you'll do a complete set of HRSI tiles at least. People keep making decal sets that never quite include ALL the HRSI tiles, Warbird being the latest.

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I read through the first time and thought I saw "injection molded." That's not the case is it? If so you could have them cast to shape. Or perhaps just cast the compound shapes like the OMS pods. I, too, would recommend 1 or more parts to replicate the tiles around the cockpit windows,etc. If you're taking on the OMS pods, I don't think the windows would be any harder. How are you or the modeler to deal with the edge of the tiles at the nose cap? The nose would have to be built up, yes/no?

No injection molding. Just simple, flat pieces of thin styrene sheet. In most cases, the styrene will easily bend and glue where it's supposed to go without any shaping necessary. So far, the only parts requiring shaping are the OMS pods, but its not too difficult to do with a heat gun - just hold the piece in place on the pod and blast it with the gun while using your fingers to mold the shape.

As far as the nose cap goes, modelers will probably want to cover it with a thin layer of milliput in order to seamlessly blend it in with the tiles on the nose. The same will go for the leading edges of the wings.

I may consider adding the cockpit window tiles to the first release, but doing so will likely delay my plans to have this set ready by the end of the year. My idea was to include the window tiles in a later edition of the kit, since Dutycat already has an all-in-one solution for the windows and window tiles.

Just to update you guys, here is a recent test I did to make sure my OMS pod tiles would work with the heat gun:

DSC05421_zpse503054a.jpg

That's a piece of .015" styrene, cut to the exact shape the tile part of the kit will be.

DSC05429_zps6c0ee8f4.jpg

Here it is after molding it to shape with the heat gun (it's being held onto the pod with a piece of scotch tape). It's a bit tedious to handle, and requires a glove to protect from the intense heat blast, but as you can see it can be done. The whole process took maybe five minutes, and I may include a couple of extra pieces in case your hand slips while fumbling with the shaping.

DSC05435_zps5acffcf6.jpg

Here's another shot showing the molded piece, along with a printed paper sample of the part.

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Hotdog, As far as the nose cap is concerned even some putty will blend it in with your tiles.

The piece you molded to the OMS pod looks perfect! However I still feel that .010" styrene will be a bit more in scale.

Mike.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hope everyone is doing well as we recover from "the great forum server crash of 2013". Just before the crash, I posted an update on my tile kit progress. It seems that post didn't get backed up and was lost. So, here is a repost of my update from September 7th:

25gunwy.jpg

Here you see a preview of the parts I have created recently... detailed payload bay door hinges, tiles for the overhead window frames, the tiles that go around the tail, and open ET umbilical panels for modellers who choose to build shuttle stacks. I'm hoping this detail transfers over well to the sheet styrene. Like the service mast umbilical panels I posted before, I'm thinking the ET umbilical panel parts could also be sold separately as their own kit.

I'm also giving you a sneak-peek at the details going into the forward RCS tile parts. I still haven't finished that one yet, as I've been trying to finish up the tiles that go around the rear RCS thrusters on the OMS pods.

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Great job on these! And yes, I would sell the umbilical's as separate units as well if possible. Perhaps all 4 in one pack? Also keep in mind, those panels are open a lot more than just on the stack. They open them shortly after touchdown and they are open for processing as well, so unless you're building a shuttle in orbit, they more than likely would be open. I would suggest making the door and the panels separate though. The panels are recessed into the belly and the doors would stick off the surface when open. I'm sure you knew that, just wanted to point it out in case.

Keep up the great work.

Bill

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Excellent work on these! :thumbsup: I agree with Bill that umbilical's with work better as separate parts.

I assume you are also making the black tiles for the edge of the vertical stabilizer as well as the top edge of the wings(along side the RCC panels).

Mike.

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I would suggest making the door and the panels separate though. The panels are recessed into the belly and the doors would stick off the surface when open. I'm sure you knew that, just wanted to point it out in case.

Although shown together in the above artwork, the door and the panel for each of the ET umbilicals will be separate parts. And, like the TSM umbilical panels, they will require the surgery of cutting into the fuselage in order to get that perfect, recessed look you mentioned. Or, if you're lazy or don't care that much to invest all that effort to do the surgery you can just drop the panel parts into the cutout for the opening in the belly tiles since the part is the exact same size and shape of the tiled door covers.

I assume you are also making the black tiles for the edge of the vertical stabilizer as well as the top edge of the wings(along side the RCC panels).

Yes, I have most of the vertical stabilizer tiles done. I just need to finish the spine. I have the tiles for the top edges of the wings finished also. I'm also considering making parts for the RCC panels for the wing leading edge, since the detail of that area seems to be destroyed after sanding and puttying the seam that runs down the middle of the wing edges. Like the OMS tile parts, it will require a heat gun to shape and form it around the curvature of the wing edge.

Thanks guys for your input! Good to be back on the forums :)/>

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