Final Detail & Riveting


I had purchased the Dzus fasteners from Cine-Scale when I began the project, and carefully sanded each one down as best as I could.  Pulling them out now to put on the fuselage- I see that they are just not of the quality and consistency that I want for this build.  I decide to make my own from styrene and actual screws.





Each one needs to be drilled, have the screw set, and the styrene sanded to follow the contour of the screw on one side. The screws are from Micro-Mark, and the set is often on sale for $9.95 which is an absolute steal.  





Rather than try to cut each one exactly, I made them all just a tiny bit long, then made a jig to mark and cut them all to exactly the same length.  






Once they were done, the screws made it easy to attach them to the fuselage!  I drilled holes in the fuselage at the precise mounting locations, then screwed them in.  A little CA wicked under the body of the connector finishes the attachment.  You can see the Airwolf Blueprint, which has a somewhat different rivet pattern from the photos.  I think that when they made the blueprint, they re-worked the rivet pattern to look "good" at the size of the print.  




Next, I wanted to attack this detail.  I had hoped to get the parts from Cine-Scale as well, but that never happened, so I decided just to make my own.





I fashioned a 2-D part out of styrene, then pressed the part into slabs of clay (REALLY not the best material for this, but it was handy at the time).  Actually, clay is probably one of the worst choices as it will not release the part at all, and has to be scrubbed off!  Anyway, I filled all the molds with West System Epoxy and waited until the parts cured.  I made LOTS more than I needed, as I assumed (correctly) that the yield of acceptable parts would be low...





Here are the completed parts!  Looks easy doesn't it?  Well, this took about a week of meticulous sanding and shaping to get all the parts just right.





A Laser is handy when transferring rivet lines from one side of the airframe to the other.  It helps you make sure both sides look the same!





What is this doing on my bench?  While ordering the kit for the new "Sunami" helicopter from Indy Helis, the opportunity arose to acquire the prototype as well!  I just could not let the opportunity pass, so the prototype arrived, beautifully built by Indy Helis!  Having this will make it much easier when I build my own!  Stay tuned, as this build will begin immediately upon completion of Airwolf!  We also have a photo shoot of this beautiful helicopter planned, and we will be adding a Gallery page for that as well.




With Airwolf back on the bench, we start riveting.  I decided after looking at all the options, that the only real solution was the Starwood Rivet kit.  This kit uses a green-hued water-based glue and a syringe with interchangeable needles.  Using a rubber band to apply an even pressure to the plunger, you can lay down a line of rivets relatively quickly. 





Here is the completed tail section.  The detail came out quite nicely I think.






When all the riveting is done, some of the rivets while drying had somehow dried with a "point"  This not only looks bad, but can poke through the paint.  I cured this by lightly sanding all the rivet lines (also allowing me to reduce some that were a little heavy), then wiped the rivet heads with a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol.  This softens the surface of the rivet, giving you a nice smooth "bump", but dries quickly enough that you don't remove or reshape the rivet entirely.





Now we begin masking for paint!  I took the wheels off the landing gear to more easily mask the wheel wells.  Since the fuselage is resting on it's surface, I used a stack of bath towels to protect it from the bench carpet.  Over the build, the bench carpet has lots of "hard spots" from dripped glue, epoxy and CA.  We will replace it when Airwolf is in the paint shop.





We mask the door opening from the inside, and the inside of the door as well.  This will allow Bryan to paint the door jambs.  I know a lot of "purists" and builders intending on competition feel that there is something intrinsically wrong with not painting the fuselage yourself.  In competitions, there is a "hit" for not painting yourself.  Since I have NO intentions of competing, and I want this to be done a perfectly as possible, I would be crazy not to take advantage of the fact that one of my best friends and neighbor, Bryan Barba has built and painted award-winning custom classic cars for most of his life. 





Here we are, all masked up and ready to go!  I have mounted a plate in the fuselage which will allow Bryan to hang the fuselage from his ceiling.  Basically, this is just one of those "wall sander" plates with a screw-adaptor for a wooden pole.  When we see this next, it will have the color coat on it!!





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