Saturday, April 19, 2008


No, not the KISS album, silly. I'm talking about the Mangalore Rifle. Duh.

Here's the rifle with all of that nasty blue tape removed.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's certainly not perfect. There are a few spots where the paint crept under the masking tape, and a few spots where the masking wasn't perfect. But on something this size, it's hard to maintain a super high degree of quality control on the little details.

One remaining task is to rebuild a little detail piece on the top of the gun. Because the seam didn't match up too well on this part, I ended up grinding it from my casting. Figured I'd just replace it later. Well, that time is now!

Here's the mold, showing the piece in question. It's mirrored on both sides.

I used a trick I picked up from a friend years ago. I used metal plumbers tape on the inside of the mold to form a wall. Don't get the wrong idea; the tape does NOT stick to the inside of the mold. But because it's so good about keeping its shape, you only need to apply a tiny amount of pressure with your fingers to keep it in place.

I mixed up a tiny bit of resin, poured it in, then held the tape in place until it had kicked.

After about ten minutes, I pulled the pieces out of the molds. They came out great. Now I just need to clean them up, glue them together, paint them, and attach them.

At this point, the following tasks remain:

1. Finish aforementioned detail piece.
2. Scratch build a nozzle
3. weather
4. party

Friday, April 18, 2008

Copper All Painted

My progress tonight puts me back into one of those rare "light at the end of the tunnel" kind of moods.

With the copper assembly on top all back in place, well dried, primered, and looking quite snazzy, it's time to go in for a final coat of black paint on all the copper parts.

Here's where we stand as of right now.

Of course, this is only one side of the rifle. I still need to nail the copper tubes on the other side, and do any touch up painting that may be necessary after man-handling this piece for so long. Still, it's coming together nicely.

All that really remains is painting the other side, stripping off the masking tape, attaching the side detail piece, scratch building a nozzle, and casting up a replacement greeblie for the top. Not exactly a short list, but I'm getting there. I think if I put my mind to it, I might be able to finish by the end of the weekend.

And then I've got to weather it!!!

Oh Snap!

Just after I painted the top copper piece with primer, I went to move it and the curly bit snapped off. Turns out my copper soldering job wasn't as pro-style as I had hoped. No surprise there, I guess.

I was pretty upset, seeing as how it took me so long to get that darn piece together. To have it fall apart so easily was a bit depressing.

But now that I think back to the event, there's a bit more of a story to tell.

After the epoxy had set, and the assembly was firmly in place, I got ready to primer it. However, when I took a closer look at it, I realized it was mounted incorrectly. The part towards the emitter was closer to the body than the back part. Basically, the top pipe was angled, when it should be parallell to the barrel. Big bummer. I thought maybe the epoxy hadn't quite set fully yet, so I gave a tug on the assembly, and that's when it popped off. I was distressed, so I stepped away from the project for a week. From my R2 experience, I've learned that calamaties come in bunches. So when one hits, your best bet is to just step away to avoid the next few that are coming down the pipes. So to speak.

So I come back a week later, armed with techniques not only for fixing the angled pipe, but also for attaching the curly bit.

First was fixing the pipe. I started by whittling away as much of the epoxy as I could get to on the front. Cleaned it out pretty good, but it was still stuck firmly in place. So I whacked it with the rubber mallet until it came loose. Then I grabbed the piece that goes through the barrel with a pair of pliers, and whacked the pliers with the mallet until the top pipe was parallell with the barrel. With that all sorted out, I slopped in some more epoxy, and called it a day.

Now it was time to reattach the curly bit

I decided to use coat hanger wire to reinforce the assembly, and basically just glue the whole thing together. I didn't want to try to re-solder the thing, as I'd probably end up melting the rifle in the process. I also didn't want to have to remove the entire copper assy just to resolder it. Especially considering how weak my first solder was in the first place. Oy.

So I first clipped four lenghts of coat hanger wire. Then I bent them to approximately match the curvature of the end bit. I didn't make it a perfect fit on purpose, as I wanted there to be some tension inside the tube, keeping the hangers in place.

I then slathered in the epoxy, and shoved all four hanger wires inside.

I then used some wire cutters to help me bend the coat hanger wires at a pretty sharp angle away from the curly piece. I had to clean out some excess epoxy, as I really did manage to goop it up pretty good.

All that was left was to shove the trailing wires into the main pipe, after they were liberally slobbed with epoxy.

Good news is, it worked like a charm. I spent some time with the files and some sand paper cleaning up the joint, and it actually came out looking better than it did BEFORE I snapped it off. Now there's turning a frown upside-down for ya.

This last picture shows the assembly right before I cleaned it up, but you can tell that the original shape of the assembly has been restored. Looking good.

Copper Tube In Place

These photos and this information are actually about a week old. I did this work before I left for Seattle, which was late last week. But I digress.

I drilled out the holes earlier for this, the top most copper assembly. A little epoxy and five minutes later, and it's in place.

Then it was just a matter of blasting it with some grey primer, and it's ready for painting.

OR SO I THOUGHT! Next episode: Tragedy Strikes!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Padd Painting

The end is nigh. Near? Neigh? Sleigh?

Anyhow, I did one last wetsand of the padds, and they're looking really good. Today the santa ana winds are blowing like crazy, and it's really hot. That means it's prime time to do some painting. So I've laid down another coat on the two padds, and I think these surfaces are done. I just need to flip them over, and get the other sides, and then I'll call it a day on the paint jobs on these guys. MUCH more trouble than I ever would have dreamed.

Here's a picture I took off my balcony. Beautiful weather today. It's about 80 degrees. Must be nice. Oh wait, it is!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Butane Torch Frenzy

Late on Sunday, I wrapped up the last of the butane torch work. And I managed to do it all without burning the garage down. That's cool.

Here you see the fully assembled piece that goes on top of the rifle, and the smaller circular piece that goes on the front underside.

You'll notice that one of the legs is not soldered on. That is on purpose, as full assembly would make it impossible to attach to the body of the gun. So one of those joints will be held in place by epoxy. I'm not going to attempt to butane the thing while it's on the rifle, as that will no doubt cause trouble. I just don't see that scenario ending well for anyone.

Fire. Pretty.

Only three real remaining tasks on the rifle as I see it. I need to attach all of the copper assemblies, fabricate a barrel tip, and do the little detail piece on the top of the thing that I dremelled off a while ago.

I'd say there's a decent chance that this could get finished by the end of the month.

Bendy Copper

This post focuses on the copper tubing assembly that gets attached to the stock end of the rifle. I managed to get that all finished up this weekend.

Which reminds me that I'm finally making headway on this project. I beleive the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter. But the journey has not been free of peril.

I have to say that I was TERRIFIED at the prospect of using a butane torch to solder the copper tubes together. I've logged many miles with a soldering iron, but never a butane torch. Knowing how I am when I'm in my shop, and how I tend to always be knocking things over, bumping into things, and dropping things, I had my worries about the thought of deploying a tool that shoots a blue flame out of it. Know what I mean??

I'll flash forward and let you, dear reader, continue in comfort with the full knowledge that no Munsons or animals were harmed in the making of the copper tubing assemblies. It all went well.

In fact, from this first picture, you can see that I've already formed the first joint.

It's hard enough getting the copper to bend the way you want it to. It's actually quite tricky, especially at this thickness. You'd think it would be easy, but there's a lot of subtle work to it. Took me a while to get it right, and even then, I wouldn't say it's perfect. It's good enough for me though. But things get even more complicated when you start trying to join pieces together. Though I did my best to make sure all the tube sections were straight, lining them up on a flat surface always revealed little problems. Trying to fix those little problems usually created more. So it got to a point where it was really all just about compromise. I just wanted to get it "good enough", so that I could move on.

I would lay the pieces down on the concrete, and then tape them into place so that they wouldn't slip during the soldering process. That process is also something that is very trial and error. It wasn't until about my third joint that I finally got a feel for it. (and yes, I'm referring to the points where the copper tubes meet, not an illegal substance you smoke)

Here's the curly assembly all finished and ready to attach to the rifle.

Next, I drilled holes in the back side of the rifle where the copper pieces would go. Not a big deal really. The good news is that there was a drill bit with the exact same diameter as the copper I'm using. Snug fit!

I used some five minute epoxy in the holes to get the thing into place. Worked out pretty well. I'm happy with it.

Once it was in, I blasted it with some primer.

and then finished it off with some krylon. Looks great!

Like many of my projects, I did this in the wrong order. I probably should have drilled ALL the holes before attaching the tubing, as I'm now in a position where I not only need to be really careful when moving the rifle around to drill the other holes, but I also need to be delicate with it in general. Oh well. This is nothing new to me though. I'm a big believer in sacrificing long term benefits for short term results, when it comes to my projects. Of course.

Still, I don't really think it will pose a serious problem. Onward and upward!


I've got three separate entries that have been posted today, and this is the first. I'm trying to group entries by project, to avoid confusion to any reader who wants to breeze through the archives.

Cuz ya know, there's lots of readers who want to do that. Right?

Anyhow, this weekend, I did some more work on both TNG padds. Nothing to really show, as the photos don't seem to really capture what I'm working on.

Long story short, the Krylon that I'm using to paint the PADDs doesn't agree with the primer I used. This causes the occasional "freak spot", which is hard to fix. I generally end up just blasting the problem area with krylon, then wet sanding it smooth. NBD.

So here's the latest. The back side of the small screen padd, and the front of the large screen padd.

Krylon also doesn't dry really well unless conditions are optimal. Even a day or two might not be enough. So for now, I'm just going to let these little fellers cook.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More PADD Painting

I did a tiny bit of work on the TNG padds tonight, but nothing really major. I'm at a point where it's important to leave the paint to dry overnight, else I run the risk of leaving marks in it and stuff.

In my previous entry, I had wetsanded the back side of the padd to eliminate some imperfections, but along the way, revealed a freak spot where the paint doesn't seem to want to stick. So after the wetsanding was done, I took it back down to the garage and blasted the spot in question with a some more primer. When this dries, I'll sand it again, then do another coat of paint. OY, it's a lot of trouble!

And here's the other PADD. This guy is all prepped, primered, and ready for paint. I hit it with the first coat of Krylon tonight. Going to let that dry overnight and come at it again tomorrow. So far, so good.

Zorg Remote is DONE!

Strike up the band, and all that good stuff, as the Zorg Remote is officially done! YAY! Not that much work really went into it, it was just a pain to find the thing, as mentioned in previous entries.

I also did some wetsanding on what I'm calling the "long screen" TNG padd. I made the mistake of leaning the padd up against a block of wood in order to blast paint into the sidewalls, but this had the unfortunate side effect of leaving an imprint on the back of the padd. So I needed to sand that out. It works best when you pour a bunch of water on it. Keeps the paper clean, and the finish smooth.

More in a bit.