On The Bench 272: Paul M. Newitt – Filling the Gridlines

1/350 TOS-Enterprise Saucer Putty & Sand Procedure:

As promised, and to help out some modelers wishing to obtain more professional results on their Original Series (TOS) Enterprise kit, here is how I did mine, this is an abbreviated version from the upcoming SFAM book project. The photos are in order of procedure, as described below. This took me about four hours total to complete this for this article. It might seem like a difficult job, but its just basic model work that will burn off a lot of calories!!

All photos and text © Paul M. Newitt, 2015.

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1. First, pull the saucer top and bottom only out of the kit box. Wash the parts with soap and water, and dry. Next, carefully cut out the sprue pieces in the center of both saucer halves.

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2. With 350 “wetordry” sandpaper, wet sand the outsides of both saucer halves. This will knock down the corners of the grid sections, and remove the gritty texture added to the model for more realism (for the out-of-the-box kit builders).

3. If you wish to mask areas you don’t want to putty, do it now, with Elmer’s Glue, or masking tape. This would include the panels over the impulse engines (shown with black paint), and the concentric depressed rings on the underside.

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4. You’ll need a jar of “Liquitex Modeling Paste”, which you can find at an art store, such as Michael’s (the regular kind not the lightweight version). This is a ground marble suspended in an acrylic base. It dries “hard as a rock” in about 12 hours, and has the consistency of pancake batter!! I use it on everything I do, and strongly recommend it over other model paste (I do not recommend automotive paste!). As shown, you can cut the Liquitex with water, and brush into the tightest of corners on all your models.

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5. You’ll want to rub the paste into the depressed grid lines. By using a swirling motion, with a 1/2″ wide brush, (or your fingers in a latex glove), build up the putty as shown into and on top of each grid line. You can take a brush dipped in water to spread the putty as well as clean up the excess.

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6. On the underside, you’ll notice how the grid runs through the “landing gear” triangles. I chose to putty over the entire area, and then I cut out two (.010″ thick) styrene pieces to be glued in place later. This will add some more realism to the model.

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7. The parts are shown completely puttied. Allow them to dry overnight, then wet-sand them with 320 grit to remove the most of the excess. Follow up with 600 grit (or higher) to get a nice sheen on the plastic.

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8. An important part of this procedure is that you have total control of the grid feature. You can sand it down, or putty it just into the grooves, or cover it completely. You’ll notice this as you work on it. The final photo shows how well this works. IF you feel small bumps from running your fingernail across the grid lines, you’ll have to add more putty a second time, this time built up a bit, to cover them completely (then dry and sand off). Since this model is so large, you have the luxury of more sanding, until the surface feels completely smooth. A very smooth surface, almost a semi-gloss, will provide you with an excellent base to paint the hull color onto, minus the grid.

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This is not very difficult, and the Liquitex works very well into the tight spots. You can chase the putty out of anywhere it’s not supposed to be with an X-Acto knife or tiny file. Small port, or navigation light holes, can be cleaned out with a paper clip. Enjoy!!!

Paul M. Newitt

(originally posted on the CultTVman Fantastic Modeling Facebook page)

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