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Update on the “Princess Cecile” scratchbuild

January 31, 2010

Plasma engines being cast

Well, a few things have intervened with the Princess Cecile scratchbuild. First, I finished the Flying Sub, One-man Sub and Diving Bell from the big Seaview project. (More on that in the next post.) Second, I finished a novel. Third, there was real life, and Christmas, and other stuff.

When I got back to it I had sort of an idea for the plasma engines. Drake describes them as having petals that open and close, varying thrust; this makes the ship easier to land and semi-maneuverable close to the ground. I envisioned them like the “turkey feathers” of modern jet engine nozzles. So…that’s what I started with – an F-18 1:72 scale jet plane model part. I added some detailing with small bits of solder. I used a rocket bell from a set of Japanese scratchbuilding parts I got from Starship Modeler to give it an interior. The whole thing is maybe a half-inch wide and three-quarters of an inch long.

My first mold attempts were thwarted by old materials. I bought a Micro-Mark casting starter set in 2005. The materials, which really have a shelf life of about six months, were no longer usable. I ordered some more from Micro-Mark.

The new stuff worked fine but it took me two tries to make a mold I was happy with. I added a little plastic vacuformed bulkhead from a set of parts I bought years ago from Apogee Rocketry, cut down, to the master as a pour-stub handle.

After that everything was fine. The image here isn’t very clear, but the parts came out well-defined. I only mix tiny amounts, less than 1/2 ounce, of resin at a time because I can only cast one part at a time. There is some waste. I need eight, and I will probably cast ten.

Next is to settle on a design for the High Drive motors. I have a few ideas about those, but none I’m completely happy with yet.

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