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1/24 Airfix F6F-5 Hellcat "Kicked Up A Notch" Apr 12/22: Finished!


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Chuck, I'd also suggest checking the lengths that Airfix so thoughtfully includes in the instructions. It could have been me and my ham-fisted building, but their recommendations were a bit too long. Suggest cutting some solder or something with similar properties to the Any-Z stuff before wasting some expensive AM bits.



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37 minutes ago, easixpedro said:

Chuck, I'd also suggest checking the lengths that Airfix so thoughtfully includes in the instructions. It could have been me and my ham-fisted building, but their recommendations were a bit too long. Suggest cutting some solder or something with similar properties to the Any-Z stuff before wasting some expensive AM bits.




Good idea Peter.  I have plenty of lead wire of various widths to experiment with, to get the length just right.  This should be fun.  ^_^




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On 12/5/2021 at 7:05 PM, chuck540z3 said:


Thanks Nigel for your kind offer.  Yes the central core is way oversized and a bit oval, but with lots of sanding I was able to make it workable as shown below.





No worries Chuck, 


You're doing a sterling job with that engine.. they look amazing when done up with wires and cables.



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Dec 14/21



Well I got a lot of the engine completed, wiring and all, and it was quite a journey.  I learned a lot of things, made a few mistakes that weren’t really my fault, but also made some discoveries that I think will be beneficial to anyone tackling this engine assembly in the future.  Here’s what it looks like today.






So here’s a step by step guide of all the major components and what I did with them.  Thankfully I tried to dry fit the (intake?) pipes (J30) to the assembled engine and found that there is just no way to fit them cleanly and even if you tried, you would scrape off a lot of paint doing so.  I have no idea how others have accomplished this task, but the simplest thing to me was to cut off the base “foot”, which has no clearance once the engine parts are assembled.  Further, the pins on the end of the pipes that fit into the cylinder heads are much too long, while the entire pipe assembly is full of big seam lines.  Here are the unaltered parts on the bottom with cleaned up ones on the top.






Like I always do, I painted all of the engine parts with Tamiya gloss black lacquer (TS-14), then masked off those areas that I want to remain black, before I sprayed most of the parts with Alclad Aluminum and Steel.






All painted and waiting for assembly.  Note that I have used straight ANYZ sparkplugs for all of the cylinders, including the back of the front cylinder bank on the left.  I should have left just holes here, as I will explain later.






Engine assembly begins with sliding the engine cylinders and related parts over the central core tube, which as mentioned earlier is way too wide and oval to do cleanly.  After lots of sanding, the parts will slide into place with no need for glue.






The kit instructions call for #125, US Dark Grey for the engine color of the front and back, which looks almost black on the color chart.  No way.  Checking dozens of pics of the real deal, there is a whole spectrum of grey paint, both light and dark, with most of them having a slightly blue tinge to them.  I was going to mix a batch of grey paint and add a little bit of blue, when I remembered the Ocean Grey camo color of both my Spitfire and Tempest builds were a bit blue to begin with, so I went with that color instead.  I think this color looks just about right, no matter what brand of paint you use.






Same color on the rear.






To add spark plug wiring to this engine, I will be handling this engine assembly a lot and other than solvent, nothing strips paint more than the oils of your hand.  I found this out the hard way when detailing the Merlin engines of my Mustang and Spitfire builds, where I was always touching up paint erosion.  The partial fix is to wear a glove on the hand that holds the engine, but I find that rubber gloves are a bit too hot, so I bought a bunch of “jewelers gloves” that are made of cotton, are soft and they breath.  If you’re not picky about fit or quality, you can buy about 20 pairs for $25 on Amazon or eBay.






One common characteristic of assembled R2800 engines that I’ve seen, is that there is a small gap at the ends of the pushrods where they touch the rockers.  It’s not huge, but by adding a bit of thin CA glue to the ends with a microbrush, the gaps are closed and, in many cases, it didn’t harm the paint at all.  The key is to just touch the join with the brush without rubbing it.






Another angle.  All push-rods touch.






Here is the back view, where the twin pipes fit on the right side of both front and back cylinders.  While the shorter pipe that fits on the left is fairly straight, the longer rear pipe is angled and crowds the spark plug a great deal.  As mentioned, I should have just left holes and left the plugs out, since you really can’t see them very well anyway.






I heard from others earlier in this thread, that the ANYZ braided lines are tough to glue, because CA glue wicks up the thread, changing the color of the line and making it hard.  One solution by Brian (Out2gtcha), is to melt the tips of the lines with a soldering iron, which creates a partial block to the wicking.  So I set out and did a number of experiments, using thin CA glue, thick glue and melting the ends of the lines.  While melting the tips did help some, it didn’t take much for the glue to completely take over the threaded line if you got too much glue on, so I was a bit perplexed at what to do.  One long shot was to try a totally different glue, so I experimented with Gator’s Grip hobby glue, which I understand is no longer made.  Too bad, because it worked great!






The key to using this glue is drying time.  The glue doesn’t really start to take hold much until about 10 minutes of drying time.  After 20 minutes, you have a good and flexible bond that you can stress a bit with a bend.  Wait too long- say 2-3 hours- and the glue is a bit too hard and might break is you stress the join, although it always remains at least slightly flexible.  The perfect time window is when the glue has turned from white to almost perfectly clear.



Here you can see some plug leads that I have cut, added a droplet of glue to the end, then held them against the end of the spark plug for a few seconds to set a bit.  The engine is almost vertical so that the long thread isn’t fighting gravity, so it remains fairly straight.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly straight, but the straighter the better.  The end of the spark plugs has a small depression, which is perfect for accepting glue and creating a better bond.  These leads were left to dry for 20 minutes, then I carefully threaded them through the plug wire guides at the top of each cylinder.  Despite the significant bend to the thread, the bond did not break and if it did, it usually meant that I didn’t have enough glue on the tip in the first place.  Note that I have two wires on the right side already.






As Peter mentioned earlier, I should check the lengths of the lines that Airfix has suggested.  The Airfix lengths are good if you are just stuffing a line into a hole, but with the spark plugs, this length should be shortened by quite a bit.  Through lots of trial and error, I think these are the best lengths if you use ANYZ plugs.






For the shorter leads at the front, the weight of the lines is almost inconsequential and they tend to remain relatively flat without too much trouble.  Again, let them dry for 20 minutes, then bend the outside tip into the wiring harness according to the instructions, which brings up a few points.  I bought the ANYZ “Kit” for this build, which includes Rust Brown thread in 0.5 mm (AN011), Silver thread in 0.8 mm (AN015), resin spark plugs (AN013), and two sets of wiring connectors (AN016, AN017).  If I could do it all over again, I would just buy the brown thread and the spark plugs, because I’m not using the connectors at all.  The kit wiring harness fits the thread perfectly and if you use the connectors, these hollow receptacles need to be cut off.  While it can look great if you do, getting this wiring done to this stage is a ton of work already and you risk a second chance for the wire to break off.  Once glued into the kit receptacles, they are rock solid and I will take that over esthetics any day.  I don’t mind having all these other ANYZ parts, however, because they will look great in future builds of cockpits and landing gear wells where connectors are used all the time.



The other thing I discovered is that the L-shaped spark plugs (like on pic above) are super fragile and were more of a PITA to use than the straight plugs, so I drilled them out and left holes.  For the very front wires, I glued on a plug off the engine, then installed the plug with more Gator glue after another 20 minutes of drying time.



You are probably wondering just how strong this glue actually is.  Well, it’s not CA glue by any stretch, but within the wiring harness it is very hard to remove once the glue has dried thoroughly.  For the spark plug connections, it’s pretty strong, but it won’t let you grab or bend it without breaking off, but that would take a real effort, either on purpose or by accident.  The good news is that for all spark plugs, other than the rear of the front cylinder bank, replacement is easy.  More on that in a bit.






With the wiring out of the way, more parts were added to the front of the engine. The rear plug wires should always drape over the cylinder tubes, not underneath them as you sometimes see.  At least that’s what my reference pics show.






Side view






Here is the problem area I have referred to a few times above when I glued in the pipes with CA glue at the base of the pipe join.  When that pipe at the rear goes to the opening in the cylinder, it bumps the spark plug and you may break off the wire, which is next to impossible to fix with the pipes glued into place like you see here.  Since you can’t really see the rear of the cylinder very well with the pipe in the way, I wished I had just put the plug wires into holes and left the plugs out.  There would be lots of clearance and a repair would be relatively easy if a wire pulled out.  Of the 9 cylinders, I broke 2 of them off which I was able to repair, although not cleanly.  Thankfully they were at the bottom where they will never be seen again.






Another angle showing that most of the rear wires are still OK.












Bottom, where we have another problem.  The tube (J26) on the bottom of the engine collides with where the spark plug for the bottom cylinder should be.  I suppose I could have fashioned a wire replacement to give it more clearance, but at this stage I’m sick and tired of wiring and since it’s on the very bottom and will likely be partially if not totally hidden later, I just ripped out the plug and stuck the wire in the hole.  J26 doesn’t really fit the parts at all and there was a hole missing in the bottom of the J2 ring where you’re supposed to glue it to, so I drilled a new hole and kind of forced everything together.  Good enough!






As pretty as the engine looks, it can’t be super clean for a war time bird, even if it’s in the latter stages of the war, so I dirtied it up a bit.






Here I used mostly the water-based wash, “The Detailer” in Brown rather than traditional black, because I think it looks a bit more realistic.  It’s super easy to use and you can modify it with just a touch of water until you get the look you want.  Even the plug wires had some of this wash applied, to knock down the bright color and the small black parts were dry brushed with silver.  Finally, everything was sprayed with dull coat to knock down the shine.









I added some Tamiya pastels in “Rust” to give the pipes a bit more of a corroded look.







Done, at least for now.  The next step is all of the super complicated exhaust pipes, which like the other pipes, will need lots of work to clean-up. 



So in summary, here are my recommendations:



1.  If you want to go with the ANYZ upgrade, just buy the spark plugs (AN013) and Rust Brown thread in 0.5 mm (AN011)



2.   Don’t place any spark plugs into the front cylinder bank until the end, when only the front ones will be used.  For the rear of these cylinders, just place the plug wire into a hole at the back



3.  Glue the thread with Gator Grip or similar white hobby glue, letting the glue dry for 20 minutes before bending it



4.   Always wear a glove when handling the engine to help prevent paint erosion



5.   Glue plug leads 3 to 4 at a time at the top of the engine in a rotisserie assembly line, allowing the leads to rest on the engine with gravity



6.   Cut the bases off the pipe parts, Part J30


7.  Take your time, especially when you need to wait for several 20 minute intervals.  I bet the wiring alone on this engine took me 6 continuous hours, although if I had to do it again, maybe 4 hours.





Thanks for your continued interest in this build.





Edited by chuck540z3
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  • chuck540z3 changed the title to 1/24 Airfix F6F-5 Hellcat "Kicked Up A Notch" Dec 14/21: P&W R-2800 Engine!

Excellent work, Chuck - the engine turned out great! I've used colours similar to Ocean Grey for US engine fronts in the past, too, and they really look the part.


With regard, to Gator Grip, I believe that the guy making it has resumed production, thanks to popular demand.



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Chuck - you must have known that I would not pass up a chance to comment on your R-2800.  


First - WOW!!  What a professional job.  It looks almost like a real engine that you took snapshots of.  I know you worked your tail off on it.


Second - I got deja-vu so many times reading about the part clashes you wrestled with, especially with the spark plug leads.  For instance I had the EXACT same issues on the Corsair engine with the intake pipes and the little oil tank on the bottom of the forward cylinder row.   


Third - I have a recommendation.  The big boss on the bottom of the reduction gearbox housing on the front of the engine is in fact just part of the big casting in real life.  So it should be the same gray color as the housing itself, not black:




Even the pump on the bottom of it ought to be gray (ignore that errant red arrow):




Fourth - As you have stated, the spark plug wires from the back row drape over the connecting tubes on the front row cylinders.  In real life, as the above photo shows, the wires are actually clamped to the tubes. 




Were I you, at this stage, I would probably ignore that.  Nobody else does that (except I did it after a fashion in 1/18 scale).  But I am not you, and you can do miracles that I cannot do.  So your choice.


But what an engine!  You must be very proud.

Edited by JayW
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  • chuck540z3 changed the title to 1/24 Airfix F6F-5 Hellcat "Kicked Up A Notch" Apr 12/22: Finished!

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