Monday, July 11, 2011

Micromodels Lifeboat

Warning: This is NOT one of my successful projects. If you want to believe model making is easy and everything works perfectly, go somewhere else today.

I'm not going to regale you with the history of Micromodels, you can read that here. Suffice to say, that they are small scale card kits popular in the 1950's and 60's. You didn't need a lot of space, the toolkit was limited and yet the range of subject huge. I've always been fascinated by them and spotting that you could buy reproductions taken from the original printing plates on eBay, resolved to have a go.

Micromodels Kit

I decided to go for set SXIV containing two lifeboats, fancying having a go at the motorboat. At 6 quid it didn't seem like an expensive experiment.

The kit arrived is a slim packet as a series of A6 sized cards. Construction starts by sticking the keel and formers to thicker card, I used Bristol Board, and then cutting the parts out carefully. Glues used were Roket card glue and balsa cement.

The basic boat formed easily enough. The card stringers were a bit bendy and one didn't seem quite long enough but at least it looked like more conventional, larger scale model boats under construction.

Basic hull

The problems came exactly where I was expecting them. The theory is that each curved side is clad on a single hit. Card isn't brittle, but neither does it bend that well. I fixed the top edge and it didn't fit.Then I started again and fixed the bottom edge. That was better but still didn't seem a particularly good fit. Several times, the part was carefully pared away and re-fitted but I simply couldn't get the bend I required. I'm not convinced that the parts fitted that well but with pre-printed card, it either works or it doesn't. You can't fix things with a bit of filler !

Part clad hull

At this point I knew I was beaten. I'd tried and failed. Maybe I should have picked an easier kit to start with. Maybe I simply don't have the card modelling skills for this sort of work. If I tried again, I would certainly replace the stringers with thin hardwood which would certainly stiffen up the hull for the subsequent cladding.I might even be tempted to stick the keel parts onto wood or thin plastic for added strength.

I don't know, but leave these suggestions for anyone else who has a go. In the meantime, that beam engine kit looks interesting...


Richard Hannay said...

Just seen this - and i've just bought the reproduced set too, despite never ever building a card kit before, so fingers crossed for better luck, but i'll take on your tip of using wood. Did you get the chance to work out what scale the boats come up as?

Phil Parker said...

At a guess - something between 1:87 and 1:100.

Richard Hannay said...

Just revisited the post - thanks for the follow up Phil