Small World Models 1/96th Blueback Kit Restoration

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  • wlambing
    replied
    I dunno, I kinda liked the red nose!!! Reminiscent of the "Brown-nose" the 637s had after they got their GRP sonar domes in the 80s. USN called the paint black, but it was brown!! Much like they think dress blues are Navy Blue, but they are black. I guess just a hazard of allowing certain officers to have an opinion, much like the uniform changes the USN has undergone in the past 50 years!

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  • thor
    replied
    Here I am addressing that "train wreck" of a bow. I have decided to perform a "Skin Graft" by removing the lower section of the bow by Dremel and replace the damaged portions with an all-new pre-scribed skin of epoxy glass. But first a mold had to be made in order to be able to produce the replacement "skin".

    The following series of photos shows the progression of steps to get to the final step of placing the "Skin Graft" in place. It fits very nicely, but I need to produce an identical skin to be modified to fit the top. At that time both "skin grafts" will be set in place to check for interferences, adjusted, then fixed permanently in place with a thickened resin-cabosil mixture applied in a very even and thin coat.









    Last edited by thor; 12-27-2023, 07:21 PM.

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  • oldsubs
    replied
    This process is amazing. Most folks, I think, do not think of the detailed molding and materials knowledge that must go in to building an accurate, detailed mold master. A far cry from what I perceived as a wood, plastic and bondo process. Thanks for posting this.

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  • thor
    replied
    Here is the latest update as of 12/21/2023

    After three applications of thinned epoxy and overnight stays in the pressure chamber at 30 psig to drive the epoxy deep into the hundreds of cracks we now have a VERY solid BLUEBACK hull master. The cracks are all secured and surface filled with Nitrostan putty.










    I decided to fill in the sail indent in the hull. It was more trouble than it was worth and is a pain to incorporate into the final molded product. In the background you can see the first 3D printed Sail for BLUEBACK. It is just a test shot to examine the 3D model for print quality. It still has a lot of detail to be added before completion, but it looks really good so far and is right on for dimensions.








    Next job is to tackle this train wreck of a bow. The bow is missing a bit of detail from age and handling abuse. It will be all re-scribed and finished. The raised detail on this bow will be restored with paint masks and heavy build primer.



    Here she sits with the sail sitting atop the hull.



    There is not a lot left to the hull for restoration other than securing the aft tail cone which be presented in epoxy glass and be secured to the lower hull half. That glacier of a polyurethane resin stern will be eliminated for good. This will provide a much more robust stern and eliminate a very fragile joint that used to exist between the urethane stern cone and the glass hull.

    I will document that here, then it will be off to the mold shop! I hope to have these kits available through Bob Martin at the Nautilus Drydocks in early March. So far, we are right on schedule.

    Last edited by thor; 12-21-2023, 09:55 PM.

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  • thor
    replied
    If you look closely, you can see some of the more severe cracks and checking. These can be fixed but it is a very labor-intensive effort. To fix these cracks I will thin down some 3-hour epoxy to allow it to penetrate the surface and into the tiny open voids in the cracks. The thinned epoxy will be rubbed vigorously by hand into the cracks, then the surface will be wiped down to remove any excess epoxy. After a quick wipe, the hull will be placed into a pressure chamber and allowed to sit for 24 hrs. at 30 psig. This will assure that the epoxy will be driven deep into the cracks to fill and stabilize them from the bottom up. This may need to be repeated a few times to get these deficiencies taken care of permanently.


    Here is a shot of a couple of the more severe and deep cracks.













    This is the most prevalent form of cracking (checking) on the surface of the upper hull half. It covers about 70% of the upper hull. Because of this large chunks of the surface coating have popped off on me as I have attempted to clean up some of the scribing. To continue the restoration of this pattern requires complete stabilization of the surface coating before progressing further.






    Last edited by thor; 11-19-2023, 06:00 PM.

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  • thor
    replied
    Due to the nature of the construction of the Blueback hull masters I have been forced to glue both halves together permanently to stabilize the halves. The hull is covered in hundreds of small cracks that will all need to be addressed or this hull pattern will never survive the molding process. As I have been working on cleaning up the scribing the cracks have continued to propagate.



    Both halves have been machined down to establish a flat surface. Unfortunately, the patterns were not even close to flat. Both halves were cupped and twisted. I machined about .015" off each half to get them as close as possible to being flat in preparation to being re-joined to its other half.




    Both hull halves were indexed and drilled to install a 1/8" alignment pin. This will allow easy re-locating each half when the adhesive is applied.














    Here epoxy thickened with Cab-O-Sil is applied to the lower half.

















    Both halves are now ready for gluing.




    The two hull halves were placed together and LIGHTLY clamped. Great care must be taken here as the ren-shape masters are already full of cracks. Applying too much pressure will create more!




    Last edited by thor; 11-19-2023, 05:40 PM.

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  • thor
    replied
    Hi Gantu! I sent you a PM.

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  • gantu
    replied
    Click image for larger version

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    here some pictures.

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  • gantu
    replied
    Hi matt I think I do have a Trenchant hull.

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  • thor
    replied
    A bit of work was completed today. The Blueback masters are interesting to work with. The core of the masters is ren-shape (Filled Polyester Block) which is comprised of about a half dozen smaller blocks glued together with polyester resin. These blocks were hand shaped down the the final form of the Blueback hull and they are quite accurate. That is a testament to the quality of Dave Manley's original work.

    The black exterior that you see in these images is actual polyester gel coat. This makes the scribing repairs especially frustrating as gel coat is very brittle and likes to chip while being scribed. The other issue is the gel coat is 30 yrs. old which makes it a bit on the fragile side anyway. Because of the age of these masters every glue joint has flexed from mechanical loads and thermal contraction and expansion which transmits through the gel coat as cracks. Each crack has to be chased out, secured, then patched. Once the cracks are stabilized I will get the hull masters rough primed and start the long process of cleaning up the scribing.





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  • thor
    replied
    I have re-attached the lower-forward section of the bow permanently to the lower hull. Z cuts can be very finicky to fit up properly and they do weaken the hull requiring additional support at the cut. To make thing easier for the modeler the lower hull half will be presented as a single piece.

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  • sam reichart
    replied
    Hadn’t heard from you in a while. Was hoping all was OK your way. Those masters do look pretty good for how old they are. Always thought that this kit was an interesting boat. I know it was a popular model back in the day. Hope it will be again.

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  • thor
    replied
    Here are the Blueback Hull Masters laid out on a parting board for inspection. Overall, for 30 year old masters, they are in good shape! I have some filling to do and lots of scribe line clean-up. I will detail all of that here in the forum. This will take only a fraction of the time of what I was planning to do which was to create all new hull masters by pulling a very heavily laid up glass hull out of the very work out molds. Now, I can go straight to molding this kit up after repair and clean-up of the masters.



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  • thor
    replied
    After a short break in the action for work I am back on the Blueback for the rest of the year. I hope to have the first kits available shortly after the New Year 2024. After MUCH looking and digging into boxes of stuff Don & Bob were able to locate the hull masters for Blueback, Oyashio, Sierra, & Kilo! I am still missing Trenchant, but I can re-create a new hull master from the very worn-out old molds if we are not able to locate the hull masters for the kit. Many thanks to Don & Bob for turning their shops upside down looking for these! This new situation will make bringing these olds kits back to life much quicker and with greater fidelity to Dave Manley's original work.

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  • thor
    replied
    It sounds like you have a very good combination there. I like the E-Sun ABS-Like Hard, Tough Resin. It works well. It has even worked well so far as a good candidate for propellers. There are several new semi-flexible ultra strong resins that will be entering the market in the next year. Phrozen has two new super tough, semi-flex resins that are due out in the spring.

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