Preparing for the overhaul...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Progress, and a Note on Primer

Onward and upward!  I'm moving (slowly) along with the kits; life continues to be fairly adventurous, here.  Since I've been doing a fair bit of filling, sanding, etc, I thought this would be a good time, too, to tackle the subject of primer.  Obviously, everyone's going to have a slightly different approach; this is mine.

Primer can be great--when it's necessary.  If you use it when you don't actually need it, you can end up with some really disappointing results.  There are certain situations, in fact, when you shouldn't use primer at all.  Testors metalizer sprays, for example, must be applied to bare plastic; they won't adhere, or buff, correctly if applied over primer.  Also, too, if you're spraying a coat of matte black over a piece of plastic that's already black, there's really no point in using a primer coat in between.  It's not going to help you achieve better coverage--usually the opposite, since sanding primer tends to be gray--so all it's going to end up doing is obscuring detail.  This paint is designed to bond directly to plastic, and will do so very nicely in most cases.

That being said, there are some situations where you definitely do need to use primer, and in the past few days I've encountered a few of them.  The first situation is when you have to fill in gaps in your model--which I had to do, with the parlor stove chimney column.  I filled in the gap using contour putty, then let that dry.

This is a really good, fairly easy to work with product.
There's no point in trying to get it perfect; you'll have to sand it later.  Also, here, too, I find that using several very thin coats (and allowing ample dry time in between) works best.
The stove, mid-fix.

And after I'd sanded down the putty.
 It's very important to use primer over any kind of filler or putty.  It seals and protects the putty, and allows the paint to adhere evenly.  Another situation where it's a good idea to use primer is when your ultimate color is very different from your base color--for example, if you're trying to turn a piece of black plastic bright red.  Also, too, if you're not 100% happy with the smoothness of your plastic, you can spray on a couple of thin coats of primer and sand with very fine sanding film.  Sanding film is (naturally) a Testors product, and it works really well.

I'm using primer, here, because I'll be painting this bathroom set blue.
When it comes to metal, though, I personally don't think primer does anything.  Plus, I kind of like the look you get, when you use plate aluminum over the original silver-ish color.  Here, I'm just starting to spray the various stove parts.  This is what's called a "buffing" metalizer, which means you can buff it (duh).  This is when the shine really comes out and, I think, the piece starts to actually sort of mildly resemble metal.

After a coat of metalizer.

The same piece, after it's been buffed.
 One thing that's important to keep in mind is that buffing is not sanding.  I know this sounds obvious, but it's not.  You want to get your piece as smooth as possible--or, at least, the texture you ultimately want it--before you use the metalizer.  Then, once it's dry, you (gently) buff it to a dull shine with a q-tip or, for larger pieces, a soft cloth.

The same piece, after its final buff.
 After I gassed myself with fumes (and I was working on a screen porch!--ventilation is key!), I went back to the stove pipe.  This picture didn't come out so well, but, basically, I sanded the putty, then sprayed on an initial coat of primer, then sanded that down, too.  Sometimes it's hard to see any lingering imperfections in your surface until after that first coat of primer is on.

It's getting there!

Back when it still needed a ton of sanding.

The other parlor stove hood.

All nice and smooth--finally!
Then I sprayed another coat of primer on, and sanded it down again.

Don't forget the back!  Even though I'll never be able to see it, I'll know it's there.  But I'm a stickler for those sorts of details...or maybe just really OCD.
I used a very fine grit sanding film to sand the platforms to a very high polish, then sprayed them with another coat of metalizer, which I buffed.  This gave them a nice, dull finish.  Below are my "before" and "after" photos.

After sanding...
And now, after a final coat of metalizer and a good buff.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but the plate has a satisfying depth to it.
Sometimes you lose sight of what the "metal" looked like before, until you see "before" and "after"--or even "during"--side by side.

Quite the contrast!
 So while I was waiting for all that to dry, I started working on the toilet.  I do not like this toilet--or, at least, the way it arrives out of the box.  When you glue the pieces together, the rim of the bowl ends up looking very...pointed.  You can definitely tell that it's two pieces of plastic joined together.  So, modeling putty to the rescue!

The toilet...

After some sanding, and a tiny bit of modeling putty.

The joins are really obvious.

Starting to sand them down...

And a little more modelling putty...
What I did was use successive (very thin) layers of putty to slowly build up the inside rim until it had a nice, rounded appearance--a curve, instead of a point.  Obviously, I'll need to sand the heck out of this later but, for right now, the goal is simply to create the basic shape.  Modelling putty tends to discolor with oxidation, but that's not an issue, because I'll be priming and painting this piece later on.

This is the final (or, rather, after drying time, primer, etc) the fun begins.
 In the meantime, I decided to make a different sink support.  I'm not 100% on the one I ended up with, but it's a start, and it's better than the brackets.  I'll also probably make one out of wood later on, as I've seen several nice examples of that style.

Some extra sprue...
Playing around with parts...
Still playing around with parts...the final product shall be revealed in a later post!
Now, in real time, it's the next day; everyone has to sleep sometime.  And focusing on this is a good way of relieving stress...or, rather, not thinking about some things.  There's just plain too much going on in the real world right now.

Fitting the potbellied stove sub-assembly.
I dry-fitted the feet, as the glue was drying, to make sure everything will fit together later.
A note on sanding: I, personally, am of the opinion that you can never do too much of it.  If you're having trouble sanding, here are some tips.  First, make sure you're using the right kind of glue.  I use Testors polymer-to-polymer glue, usually the non-toxic kind.  It smells like oranges.  I often use sanding sponges, but I also really do like the Testors sanding film.  I just start with the roughest grade and work my way downward.  This method has consistently given me very smooth, seam-free results.

The stove pipe, after one section has been sanded.

The stove pipe, after all the sections have been sanded.
Well, that's it for now, folks...


Giac said...

Hi CJ,
Another great post and thank you for more great tips. i'm really happy you took the time to explain all the details involved with transforming plasitc kits.
I can't wait to see more progress.
All the best,

Maria Ireland said...

Fantastic work thank you for all the wonderful tips.
Hugs Maria