Monday, August 19, 2013

Peco code 55 vs. Fleischmann code 80

Due to a question in a forum asking the main differences between Code 55 and Code 80 track, and more exactly how is Peco Code 55 track, I did some photos of both types of tracks that you can see in this post. 

I have them installed in my layout and mixed without problems. Code 80 is used only in a hidden yard and Peco code 50 is for all the rest. Nowadays I would use only Peco code 55, but when I started to lay tracks I didn't know there was a more realistic one and I had some Minitrix switches to use. Now all those Minitrix switches and point motors are giving me lots of headaches and problems, but it's too late to change them.

First, here you can see the differences between both tracks. Peco is in front and you can appreciate how rails and sleepers are smaller and more prototypical.

There is a surprise when you face one rail with the other, both have the same height. But if you look closer to it, Peco code 55 sleepers are lifted from the floor. Peco inserts a part of the rail in sleepers and that's how they build a more prototypical track but with the same resistance and consistency.

Leveling the sleepers with the floor you see the difference in height:

Answering the question if both tracks can be mixed, here is the answer. There is no problem and you don't have to adjust nor sand rails if you use Code 80 joiners. Code 55 joiners won't fit in Code 80 rails.

Another good point for Peco code 55 flex track is that it can be bent and it keeps the form. That helps a lot to plan track laying and cuts in rails.

And last but not least, the quality and realism of switches is far away from those Minitrix I started using:

Flex track is also produced with concrete sleepers, but it's not the case of switches. Switches are sold just with wooden sleepers, I hope they plan to have them also in concrete.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Star Wars B-Wing: Painting and weathering

I'm really sorry, but I didn't make any photo during the process of painting, but I have uploaded many photos of the finished model and I'll try to explain briefly how I painted it.

First some photos of the model lighted:

The tiny leds are really powerful, I had to user stronger resistors (500 Ohm) to dim a little bit the light.

I used the same techniques from the previous models, but this time seems the worked much better. To begin, a base coat of light gray and white. All the base colors will be acrylic, applied with the airbrush. I wanted to start with a really light color because I realized that after weathering all colors become much darker. After the base coat, I added white to the remaining paint in the airbrush and highlighted a side of each panel. Adding black color I darkened some zones like the base of wings working all the time with the airbrush.

Over the base coat, and masking the zones, I airbrushed the red circles and dark grey parts. Using a small razor you can remove the paint of the edges and simulate a typical wear or scratches of the ship. If you do it carefully the color of the previous coat will appear. 

The following step is protecting this base color for the weathering with gloss varnish because it will be done with oil paints, and this kind of paints must be diluted with turpentine or white spirit.

In my previous model I used turpentine, but I felt it too aggressive. I made some changes that finished in better results: This time I used white spirit (what we call in Spain "símil de aguarrás"). And I didn't use ear sticks to remove the excess of oil paint, just a soft brush. But let's go step by step. 

First of all I damped the part of the model to weather with white spirit. Not too much, don't let the white spirit to make drops or accumulate too much. In a small recipient you mix white spirit with a bit of oil paint, just what a small brush can hold (0/2 brush size). I used black and white oil paint (to have a dark gray) and added also a bit of burned umber. It must be diluted in a way that it flows smoothly when touching an edge with the brush.

Apply it to all panel lines and zones you want to emphasize. Apply it stronger to dirty zones like motors or weapons. Now be patient and let it dry during 5 or 10 minutes, try to not dirty all the model or you will have to clean a lot later. It's better to apply a second coat, that do it too much stronger at the beginning. Then take a soft brush and damping it softly with white spirit slide it like following the natural "air flow" of the ship to remove the excess of oil paint until you like it. 

To finish it I just added yellow and brown oil paint in the rotating gear wheel of the main cabin.

I hope you liked this B-Wing more than the previous ones. Keep trying, practice will make you improve a lot.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Star Wars B-Wing: Lighting

Another Star Wars model: B-Wing

It's from a MPC/ERTL triple kit released in 1992 and including also a TIE Interceptor (already done) and an X-Wing. It's a "snap" kit, quite well detailed taking into account how small is it, but with a poor quality of molds. All pieces need to be sanded and adjusted. First I started painting the tiny pilot and cockpit.

I used acrylic paints (from Acrilicos Vallejo). Interior parts have been airbrushed with dark gray and dry-brushed with Metallic Steal.

This model is so small that regular leds don't fit inside. But I bought a 300 leds set of different colours in eBay and flexible circuit board strips to mount them that are small enough to fit anywhere. Those led encapsulation is 0603, that means they are only 1,6 x 0,9 x 0,4 mm, but soldering is easier that expected.

But light is really awesome. I still don't understand how something so small can make so strong light. I put a sunny light led facing to the pilot to illuminate all the cockpit.

In the engines air intake I installed a super-warm white led.

Here you can see how versatile are the circuit board strips. You can bend them keeping the form, and it's easy to solder led, smd resistor and wires to it.

Here you can appreciate how tiny is the led used in the cockpit:

Some final lighting tests before masking and start painting: