Jump to content

MPC's Pilgrim Observer (doing something different while stuck on the kitbash)

Recommended Posts

While I'm stuck at the point of designing and building open airlocks for the kitbashed patrol ship, I decided to do the ADD-ish thing and work on the recently arrived MPC kit of the Pilgrim Observer.

At beginning of this month I splurged on it and a book I'd been wanting: at 30 and 40 dollars each, I will certainly be eating cheap for the rest of the month!


It would be nice if Pilgrim Observer was same 1/144 scale as the ISS kit, which is also yet to be begun, but the PO model isn't even the same scale as itself! 😮 


This is a nice article about Pilgrim Observer and mentions the "well, it kinda depends" scale of the kit components, http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns2.php#id--Pilgrim_Observer


Deciding to assemble something on the Pilgrim Observer kit led pretty much instantly to making changes to it.

Chose to start with the command module capsule with its service module. Instructions appear to have back plate of service module recessed in to it to rest on a pair of semicircular tabs & the length of tab keyed rocket nozzle which locks CM capsule and SM together confirms that.

Um, no, not gonna happen on this one. And, besides, that would leave some vent louver detail on SM cylinder venting nothing. So with a bit of thin styrene sheet to shim the outer diameter of the back plate and a bit of thin strip inside to reinforce the join I glued back plate flush with end of SM.

Dug out some of my space books to flip through Sunday and yesterday afternoon and evening looking for ideas how I might want to add some details to engine thing for the Command Module;


There are a pair of 'mystery slots' at capsule end of SM, one each side, they are shown in diagram. Hmm ... Ah, how about fabricating some solar panels to go there - or better yet, found Paragrafix's etched metal detail set which has some. Purchasing it will have to wait until next month. http://www.paragrafix.biz/product_detail.asp?PPartNum=PGX143


At this point today the CM is starting to shape up in a way I'm pleased with. Am going to acquire Paragrafix etched brass detail set which has those solar panels mentioned earlier - they will be mounted at the mid-body mystery slots & the location Paragrafix shows them at will be taken by some 'radiators' thrown together out of I'm not sure what, yet. But I do know they will fold and rotate like the wings of those Grumman fighter planes. Index card and masking tape suggest those radiators. And, foil to represent insulation will cover aft end from ring around nozzle to edge of body.


Most fortuitously, one size on a variable leather/fabric punch pliers thing made styrene discs perfectly sized to drop in molded holes on service module aft plate: a little halfway gelled Plastruct Plastic Weld held them just fine.


True, the radiator mounts are in line with the solar panel mounts further forward, but they need to be kept out of plume of maneuvering thrusters which locate where pinhole in facing side of body is.

Am pondering mounting solar panels on a brass rod running fully through body for both sturdiness and to allow them to pivot, partly because I'm not yet too old to like models with moving parts 😁
Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit of progress - chrome removal. Used some model railroad paint remover to de-chrome part of the nuclear engine. Allowed part to soak overnight. Unusually, on all inside corners, on both internal and external areas of the part, there was what looked a bit like amber hued shellac and was a flaky/sticky consistency. 
After rinsing part and allowing it to dry, the whatever it was did come right off with the tip of a knife blade.

External surfaces are already done in picture.




Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Just had an idea - and at 06:40 in the morning even!!! 😮😁
Where there is the airlock for the command module, why not add another airlock for a leftover LEM from MPC's 1:200 scale Man in Space rocket set?
(Maybe even 2 more airlocks?) 🤔
I glued the Saturn stages together and didn't use the LEM inside, so why not use it (them) for this!
And expand the capabilities of the craft.

The 1:72 Airfix guys seem to be on board with the idea.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Took advantage of great weather to make this bit of Pilgrim progress.
Will paint over base with a mix of acrylic paint and fine sand.
I want it visibly textured and will use a couple different grades of sand.
Thinking about filling inside of dome with plaster.

And ...

Even though they are so totally NOT in scale, 2 of the Airfix guys are getting affixed to it.
And besides, if the model is already not in scale with itself anyway ...




An inch or so long piece of .015 music wire was inserted in to one leg of each figure, about 3/16 of the wire.

Then a slightly larger hole drilled in base for each figure.




Just went out to check mail.
The Paragrafix has landed! 😄 


Edited by southwestforests
add photo now that paint is less wet
Link to post
Share on other sites

In their support truss for the nuclear engine Paragrafix has included openings for a .100 diameter rod for purposes of support, or detail, or both.
What I'm going to do with that is use a series of fractional inch sizes of nesting brass tubes to support and strengthen the engine mounting.

The engine reactor casing now has 1/8 inch tube for a sleeve.
3/32 tube will be used instead of the .100 rod; and given it is .093 a bit of shimming will be required where it passes through the .100 holes in truss end plates.

1/16 tube is used to reinforce engine bell, which was molded with a through-hole at the narrow neck & not much drilling was required to open it to 1/16.

Plastic pin on front of engine nozzle assemble was cut off, the 1/16 tube will now provide the mounting.

And, no, the engine nozzle part is not going to stick out that far back, picture is meant to show how the nesting tubes are arranged to work! 😄





Edited by southwestforests
Link to post
Share on other sites

How does Amazon have so many idiots working in both California and Kentucky?
(according to their package tracking details)
The order with some magnets to do as once posted on manufacturer's site for this thing and make capsule and work bee attach magnetically is now,



Now expected June 15 - June 19

We're sorry your package is running late

We're working with the carrier to get your package back on track, and we'll let you know when your package is out for delivery.

Please come back Thursday if you still don't have it and we'll help you out.

Was expected today



Last week the Haynes International Space Station book & How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea, book missed delivery, were delayed a few days & then suddenly without warning Amazon sent me a refund for them.
The Haynes International Space Station book was a "Happy birthday to myself!" buy.

Went and ordered it from Barnes & Noble on the 9th.

It arrived yesterday.
And ... the stick and tissue airplane rubber motor strip (but is for a balsa wood submarine) I ordered from FAI Model Supply arrived several days ago.
And ... 2 library books I got through our rural library via interlibrary loan got here a few days ago.

So ...
Even though I live in a little burg on the Missouri River and the river is flooded,

The problem is not the US Mail.
The problem is not UPS.
The problem is not Fed-Ex.
They have and are successfully delivering to me and to neighbors this month.
The problem is not the flood.
The problem is Amazon.


Link to post
Share on other sites

And today continues to not be a day for success. ☹️ 

After getting the accursed chrome removed from those parts it is seen that the mold cavities are so far off register there is no point in trying to salvage and use, then be satisfied with them.
The more I work on this kit the more obviously it is certainly not designed and molded by Tamiya.

My body has health problems that (among other things) limit what I can do with my hands & trying to salvage these parts is going to be too much of that kind of work for the result.
So, since the kit parts are so deeply flawed, I am better off "using up" my hands in making something else to use for them.


Link to post
Share on other sites

On and off during the past week some hypothetical details have been added to the NERVA engine reactor core. 
First thing to do was file off the molded-on plumbing. It was low relief enough that only moments of work were required.
The long skinny 'fins' are supposed to be radiators & spaced to clear the 3 nozzles for chemical thrust engines when reactor is in the retracted position.
Call the cables and junction boxes, "performance and control sensors".
And while at it, why not decide on colors for the engine bell.
Mixed from classic Testors quarterfloz flat, gloss, and metallic, enamels. Which is what would have been used if I'd had this kit when it was initially released several decades back.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Magnets arrived Saturday, ahead of the predicted delay schedule, and progress has been made.
Remember that more airlocks will be added to the airlock ring, and those 2 LEM will be added as research taxis.

All will be held in place via magnets.
This size of 5mm  by 3mm just happens to nicely press-fit inside 1/4 inch outside diameter styrene tube from Evergreen.
I think, think, I remember reading somewhere that using a few stacked together increases the magnetic field strength, and experiments seem to support that.
So, 3 are being used in each capsule and LEM, and 4 inside at each airlock location.
The LEM ascent stages are stuck to the magnet sticks to make sure tube with magnets inside stays in place as glue dries on stage halves.
Interior of capsule nose had to be carved on a bit to take tube diameter.







Edited by southwestforests
Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, looks like that idea will work. Rod height on stand may need to be lowered a couple inches, that decision will be made when model is ready to mount.
I had an idea what rod length would look good then cut rods to be a couple inches longer than that.
Far easier to remove length than to add length.  😁
Yes, the 1/72 scale Airfix guys are far larger than the 1:200 the model is being assigned via use of the MPC 'Man in Space' Apollo and LEM in that scale.



Edited by southwestforests
Link to post
Share on other sites

While at the laundromat I had an idea. The front plate has 2 large notches for the removable atmospheric launch fairing halves & it is a pretty good bet the real deal wouldn't have such things.
So ...
What to do, fill them or invent a use for them?
Hmm ...

Well, those Canadarm remote manipulator arms have proven handy on the Shuttles and the ISS, so, hey, how about a pair of those from a couple 1/144 Revell shuttle kits where the bays are being assembled closed!



Link to post
Share on other sites

Had another inspiration; this one took about 8 minutes to do. The MPC 1/200 LEM from their Man in Space kit were designed to be viewed from their tops, not their bottoms as they will be in this project; therefore their descent engine bells were simple open cones in to the void of the descent stage.
Hmm, what could fill those bells ...?
Aha! What might be in those couple Man in Space kits which bought several years ago for project parts?
The Saturn IB engine bells, they will work!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have made a little more progress on the Pilgrim. Shapeways order arrived yesterday with part of it being a set of 1/100 scale Apollo command module RCS thrusters.
Tiny little things! 
Got the Paragrafix solar panels assembled and mounted on the PO command module.
And grapple arms on the workbee thing.

Decided to go for a larger value of three-dimensionality, plus some structural strength, and added a brass craft eye pin between panel and panel frames.
End of pin inserts in brass tube across service module so that panels can be positioned at various angles.

Last night my hand spasmed and I dropped the command module on top of some other parts and tools on workbench;

2 thruster nozzles broke off 😣

- miraculously 1 was found and a spot of superglue reattached it. 😁
I broke my social security disability budget for this month and about an hour later ordered another set after the 1 remaining broken nozzle refused to be as miraculous as the other.
After it arrives it will sacrifice, umm, donate, a nozzle to this project.


Span of either the solar panels, or the radiators I added, will interfere with rotating habitation pods.
Oh, well, such is life.
How about that since this model seems to be a hodgepodge of scales among its various sections we assume that on the "Real" one there is enough clearance.


Even with that, I am liking the way this is shaping up. 🙂











Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Found that HO scale corrugated metal siding/roofing material while looking for something else.

Judging by the price I've had it since at least the next to last decade of the previous century.
Had a couple inspirations for using it on this project.
These pieces will be trimmed to size after the glue cures.
Will be interesting to see if the super glue holds the aluminum.

(yeah, it has been around for a while, currently listed for almost ten dollars! 😮



Edited by southwestforests
Link to post
Share on other sites

Your additions are really making this project pop.  Watch out, you are going to turn a plain Jane kit into something pretty darn cool..


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...