Spitfire – The Rollout

Well, I’ve finished it! Today was the last day of the “Great Spitfire Build”. I started this back in January 2016, there have been periods where I haven’t done any work on it for various reasons (e.g. eye trouble!), however I have been gradually chipping away at the  outstanding tasks over the last couple of months,.

After the main assembly was completed at the beginning of March, I gave the model a couple of coats of Humbrol matt varnish spray, this was to give me a decent non absorbent surface ready for painting.

Next up was painting. I used Humbrol enamel paints – the same as I’d use for plastic kits. I didn’t want to use acrylic paints as those are water-based and I wasn’t sure what effect that would have on the tissue covering. The upper surfaces were painted in Dark Earth and Dark Dreen (Humbrol codes 29 and 30). I had wanted to use Duck Egg Blue (23) for the underside but this was impossible to get hold of (and I was getting a bit impatient by this time!) so I went with Aircraft Blue (65). RAF fighters of the period had their undersides painted in either one blue or the other so it wasn’t as if I was committing a major historical faux pas. OK, WWII pedant alert: that’s apart from the ones painted half black and half white. Moving on.

Next up, the markings. The kit was supplied with roundels and tail markings printed on a sheet of thin paper, so I cut these out and glued them in place using diluted PVA. I also wanted to add some squadron markings. I couldn’t find any suitable decals so I made some stencils using “Frogtape” masking tape. The result is a bit rough but I think it looks OK. “Good enough for Government work”, as American WWII pilots used to say.  After that, just a bit of detail painting (gun port blanking, undercarriage, exhaust pipes, etc.) and a final finishing spray with the matt varnish.

Job done. I think it looks quite good, particularly as it’s the first non-plastic model I’ve made.

A note on the markings – I’ve painted it to depict Spitfire EB-G of 41 Squadron, flown by Eric Lock DSO DFC and Bar, on the 5th September 1940 when he shot down 3 enemy aircraft in one sortie.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Spitfire model topside

Spitfire model underside

The Spitfire model takes shape

Since my last post on this topic, I have been quite busy with the model but haven’t had time to post the individual steps. So, since then, I have done the following:

  • The fuselage, wings and tailplane have all been covered with tissue. The surfaces have been sprayed with a light mist of water and allowed to dry – this causes the tissue to shrink thus tightening the surfaces.
  • The various parts have been assembled and the gaps between the components have been infilled.
  • The propeller has been fitted into the spinner and the assembly attached to the fuselage.
  • The minor parts (radiators, exhaust pipes, etc) have been glued in place.
  • The canopy has been cut out from the rough moulding and glued in place.

So the model is almost complete and beginning to look more like an aircraft. It is now ready for painting.

Spitfire model - top viewspitfire model - underneath

You can see where the nose covering is a composite of paper and tissue, this is for strength. In the case of my model it’s probably not necessary because I have not installed the motor as I’m not going to fly it.

 

Valley of Gold

View - The Golden Valley panorama

As part of this summer’s Geolympix event, the team set some caches in the gorgeous ‘Golden Valley’ on the Ashridge Estate. Landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, the Golden Valley is a lovely place to walk with magnificent views of Ashridge House.

Well, I missed the Geolympix due to eye ops, and today was the first chance I’ve had to start the huge, hopefully enjoyable, task of seeking out all the geocaches set for the Geolympix. I thought I’d start small with this mini series of 5 caches. Having said that, I started with a cache which had nothing to do with the Geolympix, a cache placed recently by my mate Bob – GC6P5ZD A Fine Pair #652 – Little Gaddesden. The national ‘Fine Pair’ series is all about combining a red telephone box with a red post box (more info on the cache page). That was an easy find so then Skye and I set off the the Golden Valley.

View - back along the valley

Aiming for the first cache, GC6K9ZE – VoG1: The Valley of Green, I arrived at the waypoint to find I hadn’t. What I was expecting wasn’t there, which was a bit puzzling until I realised I was at the second stage of a different cache. I must have selected the wrong WP! Knowing I would eventually need it later, I made a note of the information before plugging the correct WP for VoG1 into my GPSR and off we went again! VoG1 was itself a multi-stage and so first we had to get to its first stage. Once there I spotted an AAND which to be honest, based on the hint, was not what I was expecting. So I duly worked out the coords for the final and off we went again!

Finding the final was easy enough and I then thought, well I have part of the info I need for  VoG5 so I may as well pick up the rest. I had planned to do the caches in numerical order but what the heck! The second stage of VoG5 required me to find a plaque but arriving at the general location, a substantial brick-built bridge, there wasn’t anything which ‘leapt out’ at me. Skye and I spent a while scouting all around the bridge before I finally spotted the plaque. That gave me the info I needed so it was then time to ‘do the arithmetic’ and obtain the final coords.

view of the valley from an old bridge

Off we go again! From the map it was clear that this cache was not in the general direction of the remaining caches. I didn’t have time to do all of them on this trip so I decided to complete VoG5 and return for the others another day. And so it was that I arrived at GZ for GC6KA4R – The Hill of Pain. I have to say that yes, it was a steep hill but no, it wasn’t painful to climb. Maybe because I hadn’t walked the entire route. Whatever, the wet grass did make for a sometimes interesting ascent but, once we were on the flat once more, it was an easy walk to GZ. Now you know that I don’t include spoilers in my caching tales. Following the hint I homed in on the location. Low down in what I can only describe as a very bushy tree, there was the hint item and a convenient dark hollow. Which was empty! Casting my eyes around and about I spotted another likely hiding place and was rewarded with a tupperware box. Yay!

So that was it for today. It’s a great location and I now have to come back to get the other three caches.

 

Chipperfield

I had to take my Freelander into my Land Rover dealer today. I needed them to fix the passenger side exterior mirror. They’d replaced the glass and motor a while back but the adjustment controls were all muddled up: moving the joystick down made the mirror go up instead of down, and vice versa. It was driving me nuts but this was the first chance I’d had to go back.

It took two of the dealer’s excellent Americanos before they’d finished but it was worth the wait, as I had time to check out the local geocaches on my iPhone App. There was one cache very close by which I had been meaning to do on previous occasions (it had been temped last time I was here) so once my Land Rover visit was complete I made the short journey to GZ for a very easy find.

Funny thing was, the cache had been renewed within the last few weeks and only had one find between then and me finding it today. That last cacher had signed the cache page with a ‘no pen’ log, which I found puzzling as there was a perfectly serviceable pencil in the cache container. Then I noticed that their last find – just the day before that- had been a geocache in Zanzibar. Armchair cacher? Owner of a teleport device? Or maybe they got their dates mixed up.

Ho hum. I was just pleased to get a cache, something of a rarity for me these days.

So I’m not the master of timing…

In our local geocaching circles, the Geolympix 2016 has been a long time coming and has been something I have been looking forward to. As it turned out, something better has taken priority in the form of the NHS. They gave me a date of Thursday 28th July for my second cataract operation which, for me, was fantastic and not something I would postpone for anything. It’s so good to get my “proper” sight back but it’s a pity that I can’t sensibly attend the Geolympix. The hospital’s do’s & don’ts mean it’s unadvisable to risk damage or infection by going geocaching, plus there’s the issue of regular application of eye drops, etc…

So I’m reluctantly going to be missing out on this Mega Event. Once I’m “allowed out” again I fully intend to mop up all the new geocaches the Geolympix team have placed specifically for the Mega. It will be fantastic to be able to search for caches using the unbeatable “Human Eyeball Mk I” once again!

By the way, there was another special moment this evening:  an excellent overhead pass by the International Space Station which I was able to see with my newly restored vision. Haven’t seen one of those for a long while. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Anyway, in case this is the first you’ve heard, here’s a last minute plug for my dear friends’ Mega Event:

Geolympix banner

If you haven’t heard and fancy going, see these links:

The GC5XXYY cache page and the official GEOLYMPIX 2016 web site

And if you know nothing about the Geolympix or Geocaching, there’s this on the BBC.

Oh, and if you are interested in reading more about the saga of my retinal surgery, etc., you are welcome to visit my eye surgery blog, see the link towards the bottom of the sidebar under “Quite Interesting”.

 

 

Spitfire parts

I’ve been constructing more small parts for the Spitfire build. Everything starts off laser cut from flat sheets of balsa, so items thicker than that are made up by laminating 2 or more parts together. For added strength some of these laminations are cross grained. Once the glue has hardened, the part can be shaped to achieve the desired profile. For this I’ve been using a combination of modelling files, scalpel and fine glass paper.

Here are some of the items I made earlier:

small spitfire parts

From left to right: Undercarriage assembly (with the legs and wheels already shaped), Oil cooler, Air intake and Radiator. Above those are the exhaust pipes. All these have yet to be sanded to the correct shape.

The big radiator was a bit of a pig, as you can see it is curved and the flat rectangular panel has to be glued to the curved sides to create the correct shape. Of course the balsa has a natural desire to stay flat, so it has to be clamped onto the sides by hand until the glue sets. This proved impossible as for once the PVA refused to hold and the panel kept pinging off. After a couple of goes I grew impatient and resorted to using cyano adhesive. Job done!

Not shown here is the propeller assembly which has also received some attention.

I’m nearly ready for the next major milestone: covering the airframe. Can’t wait!

FTF !

These days, I normally don’t react to the new cache alerts and one I received today was no exception. This is because our local FTF champions are usually on QRA and are hard to compete against.

However…

This evening Bob contacted me suggesting that a nearby cache was still unfound, so it was that a short while later we were in his car and heading towards Berkhamstead. This was a Bus Stop nano and at 21.30 we had the place to ourselves. After a short search I found the cache, something of a rarity when I’m out with Bob. A clean logbook – Yay!

That followed on nicely from yesterday, when I’d been out with Skye for a country walk. (we are both out of practice and need to build our walking up once again). We combined the walk (We? Who am I kidding, Skye doesn’t know anything about route planning) with a few local caches. 6 found and a nice walk to boot. So I’m hoping this is the start of me getting out caching a lot more this year.

Geocaching on Leap Day

I filled my caching grid day for the 29th of Feb last time we had a leap year but I thought it would be good to pick up the 2016 souvenirs. There was an event up near Woburn that evening so I went with Bob. After the event we drove a short loop to pick up a few caches on the way home. First off was GC5VJ1F, followed by a puzzle cache  GC5X7WP. This was quite easy to solve and find. Next was GC5XJW6 and yes, we read the cache page right to the end. If you read it you’ll see the funny side too. Lastly we found GC5TB99 before rejoining the main road and heading for home.

Including the event itself that was a pleasing 5 finds, bringing my total for the 29th Feb to 38 finds. However I’ve still only found 14 this year so I’ve got a long way to go to equal my best year (as it happens that was 2012, the last leap year).

Spitfire bits

Recently just some sporadic work on the Spitfire build. I’ve been making up some small parts: the nose assembly and the wheels. These have been made by laminating sections and then sanded the finished article to shape. The nose had to be sanded to blend in with the front of the fuselage which was not easy as it has to be done ‘by eye’. Although the plan has a cross section this is only in one dimension and is thus more of a guide than anything. I had rediscovered a set of modelling files which I bought many years ago and these have proved very useful. I used a scalpel to remove the bulk of the unwanted material, then used the files to get the basic shape, then glass paper to complete the job.

I’ve also cut lengths of piano wire and bent them into shape, these will be the strong parts of the undercarriage. The other thing I’ve done is research the paint scheme I want to use. I’m not going to fly the Spit once I’ve completed it (I couldn’t deal with the inevitable damage from the crash landing following her first flight!) so I don’t have to worry about whether painting would add too much additional weight and cause aerodynamic problems.

One more thing. Piano wire has very sharp ends.

 

 

Today I actually went caching

Well, actually, I started to go caching yesterday. It was a lovely sunny day so Skye and I headed off to the park for our walk. While there, I remembered that a new cache had been published at the nearby church. There used to be a multi there but that has now been replaced by a new Church Micro (GC65YV7 – Church Micro 8651).

So off we went, Skye hunting the pesky squirrels whilst I sought out the required info.

Skye - 1

Once I had all the info, it was on to the final. However, when we got there we decided there was too much muggle activity for a proper, stealthy search. So this evening, under cover of darkness,  I went back to GZ. At first I confess to being a bit misled by the clue (Hmm. I know the CO is tall but the T rating is low, so…) when I realised my mistake. After that a quick search was all it took. I think it’s all connected with my somewhat sporadic geocaching outings of late. Well that’s what I’m blaming it on anyway.

And when I went to log it I found that it filled in another day on my grid. Excellent!