Hi Wolf and thanks for chiming in. That pic of your engine still makes me cry. We are not worthy!!
I guess I didn't explain myself very well in my post earlier, which is posted again below:
"The top and much of the rear is totally exposed, so the upper electrical conduit and plug leads can be seen fairly easily, but forget about the side plug leads, since you'll be lucky to get a wire into the plug holes as it is, much less a plug cap. I'm going to be using lead wire, so it is very flexible and can crush a bit if required."
What I was talking about is the metallic spark plug cap assembly at the end of the wires, which sticks out from the engine, not the wire itself. I was going to make them until it was pointed out above that it would be both hidden and in the way if it was raised at all, which it is. I should have known in hindsight, since it's the same way with the P-51D kit which I've built already.
Now a tiny update.
As with the cockpit, there's always the dilemma of what to paint and when, if you're going to add wiring and hydraulic details. For my Mustang Merlin, I painted the engine entirely, then added the detail later so that it stood out from the engine with different colors and finishes. This required a LOT of handling of the tiny engine, which resulted in me rubbing off the enamel paint in several areas with my greasy fingers. Repainting these parts was a pain and the final paint finish was nowhere near as good as the original. Lesson learned.
For this Merlin, I'm still going to paint the engine first again, but this time I'm using Tamiya gloss black lacquer (decanted from the spray can), which is more tolerant of handling than enamels, but also a coat of Tamiya gloss acrylic X-22, to seal the paint from my greasy hands. This also brings up another point that I've mentioned before in my other builds: I never use flat black any more, even when I need flat black. Flat finishes are naturally a bit rough, to reduce reflections off the paint. The problem with using flat black on a tiny engine like this one is that the finish is also rough, usually too much for scale. I get a much better flat black finish by using gloss black, followed by a clear flat coat, where I can also control the degree of flatness to the paint.
Below is the assembled and painted engine, with the following build strategy in mind:
1) Assemble major engine components as units, drilling out holes for subsequent plumbing and electrical detail, then paint them individually before final assembly. This method allows you to paint the parts in recessed areas cleanly without air turbulence and the resultant "paint dust" that it can create.
2) Glue the sub-assemblies together, leaving off smaller parts that should be painted a different color, like aluminum, etc.
3) Spray the entire engine with a good coat or two of acrylic X-22.
4) After the X-22 has dried for 2 days, add wiring, etc and handle the engine all you want, without fear of ruining the paint finish.
5) Brush paint small detail in different colors as required. This part I sort of hate, because I'm not very good at using a brush, although I'm getting better.
6) Dry brush the entire engine with silver or similar metallic color to make detail "pop" and show wear. Add extra wear to those areas that require them to show contrast over the rest of the engine. This is when to add a tiny spot of silver paint to all those fasteners! If you do this earlier, much of it will rub off with handling.
7) When you're happy with the above, spray a coat of either semi-gloss or a flat finish- or both as required. The valve covers are pretty flat while the rear of the engine can be fairly glossy, so a bit of both can look very realistic.
8) Apply weathering washes as required to dirty up those areas that should be.
So here is where I am today with this engine. All sub-assemblies have been painted and glued together, with several small parts left off or dry fitted for these pictures. In order to create a realistic looking Merlin with lots of wear and oil staining, you need to start off with a perfectly painted engine- or at least as good as possible. It turned out pretty good it I do say so myself.....
So how do I get such a smooth paint finish? I cheat, with an Iwata Custom Micron-C Plus, which has a very tiny 0.18mm needle, allowing me to spray a very fine mist at very low pressures. It's very expensive, but for a painting task like this, it is priceless.
Next up, if I can ever find the time, will be the wiring and hydraulic detail. Meanwhile, I soldier on with other parts of this build, like the engine cradle and fire wall.