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USS Excelsior NX-2000

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As I get closer to start the build, I've finally began looking deeper into the vacuum forming process. In doing so, I discovered that it's highly likely that the heat from the hot styrene will most likely damage if not destroy my masters due to the materials they are made of. I just ordered a large amount of molding and casting material to copy my masters. The molding material can take up to 450deg F. Plastics require up to 375deg F to successfully soften the plastic to form properly. I'll have the option to pull the plastic down into a mold or cast copies of the masters and use them as bucks.


Before all that, I have to start the corrections to the nacelle struts. This will be the last of the corrections, but there is a list of smaller scratch-builds to accomplish. In addition, the work on the 3D print for the main cargo bay is already in the works.



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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Some rendering on the main cargo bay details for the secondary hull are underway.












The majority of the images above are up-side-down. The ceiling, forward bulkhead, and the inner walls of the secondary hull within the Cargo Bay appear to be lined with layers of various designer screen mesh patterns. My plan is to pick out several of the best patterns and mold copies into thinly cast resin sheets. While the ceiling and forward bulkhead are flat, the inner surface of the secondary hull is continuously changing in curvature. Heating thin resin should make it much easier to get the castings to conform to the interior surface.



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  • 5 weeks later...

The above Cargo Bay details are finished.


The aft torp launcher, and warp nacelle greebles are receiving further tweaks.


I did find another shape issue with the Primary Hull's Superstructure. The outward walls were mastered in the pure vertical. This image from the aft end of the superstructure of the studio model actually shows it tapers - getting wider at the bottom as seen here...



Simple fix is to laminate a pre-determined strip of styrene to establish a new broader base then resurface the tapered side walls in with Smooth-On Apoxie Dough.


Pics to come.



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A small update on progress. The details that are on the warp nacelles under the forward cowlings are almost done.





If they look familiar to some of you Star Wars fans, that's because the studio model's greebles were from the MPC Darth Vader TIE Fighter kit. It's the hatch!

These should be ready to print soon.


A shot of this detail on the NX studio miniature.




Edited by Vidar_710
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This should be the final fix to the Primary Hull's Superstructure master. The top taper has already been resolved. The plan is to laminate a 1/16" strip styrene at the base then sculpt in Apoxie Sculpt to create the new tapers.



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  • 4 weeks later...

New updated version of the aft torp launchers and the addition of the forward torp tube inserts.

Much more accurate surface detail on this latest modeling.






I recently ordered the Egeloo Saturn 2 8K resin printer bundle. Half of it has shown up so far. I was spending a small fortune on Shapeways, so I took the plunge.



Edited by Vidar_710
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  • 7 months later...

Preliminary work on the graphics for the decals thanks to Mike Hazelwood. Plenty of tweaking to do.

Secondary Hull Pennant




Pinstriping on the Warp Pylon Junction





Bottom of the primary hull graphics






Top Primary Hull graphics



Soooo many more graphics to go.



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A little scratch-building done. The aft Torp launcher cradle/platform.


3-n-1 blocks keeping things flat and square.





Checking the fit to the hull.





The 3D printed launchers in place





Assembly positioned on the aft end of the secondary hull master.







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  • 2 weeks later...

While mapping out the shapes of the superstructure to tweak the graphics for the decal, or potential paint mask for (what I call) the Egyptian Neckless, I discovered the chines on the master are asymmetric. 


I scaled up an image of the studio model to my scale and made a parchment paper template traced from one chine, then made two styrene bucks to use as a guide to add sculpting dough for sculpting and later sand to shape against the templates.


Chine templates in place



Stops cemented at the ends to ensure both chines will be the exact same length.



Sculpting material was added, shaped in, then later sanded back to match the molds.



Now both chines match as close as possible doing it by hand.



Graphics work can now continue.



Edited by Vidar_710
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Getting closer to molding the masters. But first, a few more tweaks.  Since the upper half of the saucer was corrected to the right profile, the bottom of the superstructure master has to match that new profile.

Aluminum foil was put down of the top to protect the saucer, then mold release was sprayed over the top of the foil. Free Form Air Sculpting dough was packed in around the edges of the superstructure master then it was pressed firmly into place allowing excess dough to squeeze out. A sculpting tool was used to clean up the edge.

I'll give it a day to cure then I'll remove the superstructure from the saucer top. Hopefully, the mold release will do its job and the aluminum foil will peel right off.


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  • 2 weeks later...

No way to put it. I screwed up!


I assumed the superstructure was dead center over the saucer's center. While plotting the deflector grid details, I discovered the bridge would have sat an inch off center to the starboard if I hadn't discovered it before pulling the parts.


All this work from above had to be ground and cleaned off the master so I could start over.


The leading edge of the superstructure had an established center while shaping the front. The raised platform that the bridge sits on - the same. The saucer master also had an established center from fixing the saucer's upper profile earlier. To align all three levels, I drilled pin holes into the superstructure, the platform, as well as the center of the dome of the saucer master. Using a straight pin as an axis to maintain alignment, I was able to correctly re-sculpt in the superstructure's base to match the saucer's profile.


The results without showing the work all over again...


edit: once I'm happy after ensuring no shrinkage in the sculpting medium, I'll deeply scribe into the saucer the superstructure's shape. When the vacuum formed part is made, a demarcation will show up to be used as a cutting guide to remove that material so a vacuum formed part of the superstructure will neatly slide into place.





Edited by Vidar_710
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  • 1 month later...

Experimenting with the saucer graphic. The first option was to scale Round 2's graphic by 222%. It was a close match to my master and would have required some minor tweaking. I was NOT happy. This was the re-paint version of the graphic, and not that well done either.


This has been abandoned and have decided to paint a master for scanning myself.




To start, I needed a template of my superstructures shape to base the graphic on.



The decal that had been scaled up was too narrow for the NX version. The subtle differences were numerous but the one that sticks out the most is the dual pin striping around the base of the superstructure for the NX. The re-paint was a single pin stripe and the slightly darker blue boarder around the edge was not included in the re-paint.


Here the entire shaped is established.IMG_20230826_020605676


Here the sheet styrene palate has been primed with flat white.

The Exclesior's early configuration was with 16 deg radii on the top saucer grid. 15 deg has always been the radii for the bottom grid of the saucer. Here, 16 deg radii were lightly penciled in as a guide due to the forward section of the graphic matching with the radii in the grid pattern.



Everything is taped off to mask the white details. Note how the graphic matches the radii up forward. One hint of the 16 deg pattern is there are no 90 deg radii port and starboard.


Once I get the paint color the way I like it, I'll spray in the tan sections first. The tan will be masked off, then I'll shoot the blue. Before shooting the blue, the spacer masking's to ensure alignment will be removed to reveal the dual pin striping you can see here around the base.


NOTE: This was the last re-naming of the studio model before receiving the new paint job for the graphic even though the impulse engine and bridge configuration changes had already been modified from the Trans Warp configuration.



The pencil scribbles are where I'll shoot the tan color first.




I'll share the paint job as soon as I get it done.



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A test printout of the scaled up Round 2 decal is used as a testing pallet for progressing mixes of paint. I finally settled on the colors at the lower right. Yes, they are a little bolder than the images, but those are over-exposed due to the studio model being photographed outside on a sunny day.




Masking off part of the Tan panels complete. I didn't want to be too aggressive with the masking and pull all that tiny pinstriping masks off.



Tan panels done.



Here, the spacer masking only has been removed revealing the double pinstripe detail. From here, the tan panels get masked off after they fully cure, then I'll shoot the Blue.



More to come!



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Masking off the tan panels and the core of the superstructure's template is completed. IMG_20230901_125856356


The Blue is shot...



Masking removed completing the preliminary part of the paint work. Some clean-up to do, then on to the layered detail paint to come.


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The last image above had an error in it and has since been corrected. The next layer of paneling had to be cut by hand as a stencil using Tamiya tape.



Stencils set,



Paint applied.



Masks removed...



Touch ups made and the darker blue boarder is airbrushed in.


Calling it DONE!



The painting was then scanned in, tweaked digitally, then test printed on to printer paper to check the fit to the masters...





Here the test print is laid down over an image of the studio model...



My finished graphic on the left compared to a scaled up Round 2 decal image on the right.


Think I nailed it.  🙂





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Since I was able to pull off the graphic for the primary hull, I've decided to create decals for the superstructure as well. This part will be a lot easier.


Scratch-built NX bridge sitting on its paint template.



The studio model reference for this bridge configuration.





All the templates hand cut to the size and shape of the masters sitting in their respective positions for the decals.



Reference for all the paneling and pinstriping that will be hand painted onto their styrene canvases to be later scanned, digitally tweaked, and printed.



Paint results to come.



Edited by Vidar_710
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Masking finished, ready to shoot the two blue colors.



After drying, I could help but see how they looked placed on the masters to see if everything lined up.


Pretty happy with the results. I do have quite a bit of clean-up to do from leaked masks. Then I'll scan them into my PC.



All the paint masters all together.


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