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On-Line Build

The projects in this section are presented as step-by-step journals. Our intent is to delve deeper into the nuts and bolts of constructing and finishing a particular project while giving a sense of how long it takes. The subjects will range from simple kits to complex dioramas and everything in between. Authors will range in skill level, and include hobbyists and professionals.

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Previous On-Line Builds

  • Simon Mercs Lighted Millenium Falcon
  • Gil Brumana's Lighted Romulan Bird of Prey
  • Simon Mercs Lighted USS Enterprise-E
  • Simon Mercs Lighted Flying Sub
  • John Lester's Fleet Repair Ship
  • Simon Mercs Lighted C-57D Starcruiser
  • Larry G.Johnson's Heavily Weathered Gustav
  • Simon Mercs Lighted USS Voyager
  • Alfred Wong's Scratchbuilt Betty
  • Back to the Main On-LIne Build Page
  • Nautilus

    [Click to enlarge]

    Project type: Multimedia kit

    by Simon Mercs - images & text © 2005

    This is a straightforward (I hope!) build of a large, limited run resin kit.

    Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12
    Day 13

    ^ The main parts are resin

    Image: The mit includes many resin detail pieces, clear vacuform styrene

    Image: and white metal.

    Image: Parts are cleanly cast with few flaws.

    Day 1

    Homework stage: this is when I take a look at historical documentation on the real item, if it exists, and the Nautilus did. Today I am poring over some actual pics of the real Nautilus and its expedition to the Pole. The kit is a 32 inch resin cast version of the Disney Sub. It should be a fairly straightforward assembly as I am not commissioned to light this one, too bad! All parts are laid out for inspection while I plan tomorrow's moves.

    ^ On the bench

    Image: Bench-mounted vices and heavy clamps keep the pieces together while the glue sets up.

    Image: Nice detail on the midships window area

    Image: Ready for primer

    Image: Paint is applied in thin coats so I don't bury or blur the surface details ....

    Image: ... of which there is a lot.

    Image: Bow

    Day 2

    Today I begin with the large sections that comprise the main hull sections. Several clamps are used wile the glue sets to get a good clean join. While that is setting up, I have a lot of sanding and prepping to be done on all the metal and resin parts in this kit.

    Once the glue has cured on the hull I apply the first of many thin primer coats.

    ^ Cleaning up the stand parts

    Image: Mold seams and flash are cleaned off the metal pices

    Image: Parts soaked in thinner and then scrubbed with a toothbrush for good measure.

    Image: Cleaning up the stern

    Image: The stand makes a good .... well, stand.

    Day 3

    Today the stand is assembled as it is a good base to work on the rest of the sections of this build. Next, all parts are trimmed and finally cleaned off. Paint will not stick if you don't prep the parts first. Acetone or paint thinner is a good cleaner for the mold release and other residues on all parts. The pictures show the simple process. Do this in a well ventilated area.

    ^ All the parts are cleaned and primed

    Image: The exterior of the wheelhouse

    Image: Detail part

    Image: Test fit

    Image: Again, from beind

    Image: I need to grind off some of the upper hull to get the best fit

    Image: Detail pieces, painted.

    Day 4

    Today I begin the "WheelHouse" section of the build. This is the primary detail of the kit. The interior is seen through the bubble portholes and is highly detailed. All parts were first primed to allow for good paint adhesion and an even texture. The "WheelHouse" fits pretty well but requires a bit of refinement. The first detail paint is done on the inside walls of the "Wheel House". I'm using print-outs of archive material to help me with the color scheme. After priming and painting, I leave all today's work under the drying lamps.

    [Licensed to drill]

    ^ Licensed to drill

    Image: The bulkhead details go inside the wheelhose structure

    Image: Fit check

    Image: Other side

    Image: Wheel and ballast tube

    Image: Engine telegraph added

    Image: Everything painted

    Day 5

    Wheel House assembly work continues with the attaching of inside wall panels. The tiny steering and speed controls are put into place and then detail painted. These tiny parts require patience to place and paint. Tiny tarnish details are added to give the look of brass dulled by exposure to sea air. The ballast flow tube is cut from a clear plastic tube, and a blue gel strip is put into it to give the illusion of sea water. The hatch in front of the wheel house is placed to give a placement lock on the front of the wheel house "canopy". Lastly, the deck of the cabin is painted in deck steel color.

    [Click to enlarge]

    ^ Too bad a lot of this detail will be invisible once the parts are glued down

    Image: The rear clear piece is very carefully installed

    Image: The cotton swab holds it in place withought scratching

    Image: The wheelhouse is finally glued to the hull

    Image: Another coat of primer

    Image: It's beginning to look like Nemo's sub

    Day 6

    The external details like the glass section on the rear of the wheel house are tackled today. This takes a little thought and a cotton swab to assist me. Using clear epoxy resin as a 'glue' I get a nice strong bond, and no streaks on the "glass". The wheel house canopy is finally glued onto the hull section and the porthole openings masked off to prevent the internal details from being messed up. The entire sub is once again primed in gray to unify the top and bottom section, and fill seams that would ruin the clean lines at the meeting point. I also have to be careful not to mess up the many "rivet" details that make up the entire exterior of this great kit. Limited sanding and very careful glue application are the order of the day throughout this construction.

    [Click to enlarge]

    ^ Setting the screw

    Image: Superglue smoothes out the screw hub

    Image: Cleaning up the screw guards

    Image: Guards in place

    Image: Struts in place

    Day 7

    Short day today. I spent the time I had attaching the screw to the rear section, and then building the caged strut section that surrounds it. These are all metal parts and require some bending to get the alignment correct. I gathered a lot of reference material to get a good idea at the angle and location of these parts.Once the details are etched out correctly, I proceed to prime this area and blend it in with the rest as before.

    [Click to enlarge]

    ^ The model is really starting to come alive today

    Image: A hatch here ....

    Image: ... a hatch there ....

    Image: ... then the dogging wheel detail.

    Image: Impressive

    Image: Anchor

    Image: Worm gear

    Image: More detail - in this case, a bollard

    Image: Stern view

    Image: Preparing the clear bits. The domes from the googly eyes ....

    Image: ... are easier to clean up and install here than the kit supplied vacuformed plastic.

    Day 8

    A lot of work accomplished today! Hull structures, hatches, anchors, dorsal fin, forward fin, ffeboat and many other detail metal and resin parts are attached and primered. The Nautilus is really starting to take its familiar shape! This is a slow and careful stage as the large size makes carefull handling a must. Grab at the wrong place and the last hours work is crushed or knocked off. The stand is very useful in the assembly process, as it is a sturdy design and holds the weight without any problems.

    ^ Raw materials

    Image: Portside ladder installed

    Image: Getting there ....

    Day 9

    One of the most time consuming parts of the build was the ladder outside the wheel house. The supplied parts are thick brass rods that didn't look in scale to me at all. I substituted small upholstery staples that were much closer to the right size and shape. Careful bending of these parts and cutting finely to get the right span, the ladder began to take shape. The holes for the rungs were filled after insertion and primer was applied to unify all once again. This is more difficult than it looks and I spent a lot of time on it.

    ^ First color coat

    Image: Rust

    Image: Accent color

    Image: More

    Image: Still more

    Image: Some really dark accents

    Image: More

    Day 10

    Today I apply the first of many color coats to the exterior hull of the Nautilus. Most builds I have seen limit this to a Rust or Dark Tarnished Brass color. I wanted mine to be a bit more complex and have some serious sea weathering effects. First the Rust was applied as a base color. Then some Gold accents were painted on several areas where the real prop had shiny Brass showing through from friction on the high sea. Then, I went into it with various dark shades of Flat Black, and Dark Iron to really start bringing out the various shades of a large metal structure with many weathered parts. You can see how the Dark colors start to merge with the sprouting of Brass colors here and there. All is allowed to dry overnight.

    ^ Weathering

    Image: Midships

    Image: Anchor

    Image: Salon

    Image: Bow

    Image: Wheel house

    Day 11

    More weathering, now moving on to the algae effects I remember from the ride at Disney World. I always thought that made the sub look really cool! You can see various sections being done in this style. The idea is built-up algae on the hull, in nooks and crannies, around grilles and hatches, running out of ballast tanks, and lots of other places you would expect to see this growth. This is all done with dry-brushing, and if done right, gives great looking results. Not too much, but part of the overall look of our model.

    ^ You only get one chance to make the cuts right

    Image: Placing the clear 'bubbles'

    Image: Windows in place

    Image: Wheelhouse window

    Image: Painted

    Image: Frame in position, with final weathering

    Image: Wheelhouse light, weathred

    Day 12

    Some of the last parts are applied today. All those little round bubble domes and the larger ones are placed carefully after being cut to fit. This takes patience and a lot of slicing and dicing. I cut myself a few times with the exacto, but nothing worth doing is easy. Some are painted yellow to simulate lighting, others left clear. The salon iris is closed on this kit, so I built up a nice algae effect around this to give it an authentic look. All remaining touches are finished up and allowed to dry under the heat lamps. Tomorrow, final beauty shots!

    Image: Port side

    Image: Wheelhouse

    Image: Stern

    Image: Bow

    Image: Right/front view

    Image: Dorsal spine, from behind

    Image: Anchor

    Image: Under the bow

    Image: Atop the wheelhouse

    Image: Another detail view

    Image: Builder and model

    Day 13

    After a last look over to make sure I didn't miss anything, I take some pictures of the model inside and outside where the colors really come to life. At 32 inches (nearly 1 meter) long, this is an impressive piece. It's going to a doctor's office in their lobby, in a presentation case.

    I hope you enjoyed this one!

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    This page copyright © 2005 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 27 October 2005.