Monday, December 15, 2008

Superman Returns Belt - IV

It's been a very productive weekend over here, though not necessarily dedicated to the belt project. Still, it's coming along very nicely. The pictures included in this post are not the most current pictures, but instead show the status as of friday. So consider this a brief journey back into time.

But let's start off with a few factoids surrounding the build, namely some of the materials I'm using.

For shallow holes, minor scrapes, and thin build ups, I use this stuff:

It's an air dry putty. It's NOT good for building up large areas, or filling in deep holes. Not at all. It also tends not to stick very well, so don't try using it on edges or the tips of angles, or stuff like that. It does have some benefits though. It doesn't smell AT ALL. This may not sound like that big of a deal, but trust me, an odorless product is often a godsend. It also sands really easily. That's probably its best characteristic.

For larger areas, or where you need some really solid adhesion, I use this stuff:

It's a high end auto putty, and is worth every penny. It's catalyst kicked, meaning that you mix in a little drop of blue stuff and that starts it hardening. Depending on how much catalyst (or "kick") you put into it, the faster it will cure. The stuff adheres like a mofo, and also stinks like one too. It cures VERY rigid. Often more rigid than the resin you're attaching it to, meaning that you've got to be careful when sanding it.

I know people who ONLY use bondo for ALL of their puttying needs. Now, don't get me wrong, Bondo is a fine product. (Technicaly, Bondo is a brand name, and they make a variety of products. But I'm talking about the large scale body filler that is very commonly available. You can get it at ANY auto supply store) But bondo is not perfect for every application. If you're covering a HUGE area, like a foot across and half an inch deep, I say go for bondo, then finish the edges with Evercoat. But bondo just doesn't have the same qualities as this Evercoat stuff does. Bondo tends to be clumpy, and a bit tacky. I don't mean stylistically either. I mean it has some low surface adhesion, even after it has cured. It's just not as easy to handle as Evercoat either. Anyhow, you can obviously tell where I stand on the issue!

Anyhow, let's move on to the project update.

This is a shot of one side of the belt strap after I had done an initial sanding, laid down some red putty, and then sanded that smooth.

You can see that there is A LOT of fine surface detail that needs to be cleaned up, as each spot of red stuff indicates something that has been filled. So yeah, it was a mess.

After getting that as smooth as possible, I blast it with a coat of automotive primer. I've recently gotten to really liking plasti-kotes self etching primer. Not because of its etching properties, but because of its color. It's a nice, dark grey. After it has dried, you give it a really light sanding with a high grit sand paper, and it reveals EVERY flaw. EVERY flaw. This is great in a project like this, as I am aiming to eliminate those flaws.

Here's how one of the straps looks after its initial blasting.

After that, it's really just a looping on those steps until you get the surface to the condition you want it to be. Each coat of primer reveals flaws that you then putty over, sand down, and re-spray. Repeat.

As of this very moment, I'd say I'm about two iterations away from being done. The buckle is proving to be a bit problematic, as there's so many little undercuts and hard-to-reach areas that require clean up. But I'm not going to go overly obsessisve-nuts over it, I swear. I think I'll put a moratorium on work for this belt at Wednesday. So no matter how far away it is from being "perfect", no matter what, I'll stop on Wednesday and start prepping it for molding. Otherwise, I'd just noodle it to death until the end of time.

Ok, that's it for today. Thanks again for reading.

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