Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser

trekriffic

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Origins...

The Leif Ericson model kit was originally introduced by AMT in 1968 in an attempt to cash in on the enthusiasm and popularity generated in the sci-fi realm by "Star Trek" and was the first in a planned series of Strategic Space Command ships.
Matt Jefferies, designer of the original starship Enterprise, was hired by AMT to design the Leif and its accompanying scout ship.

Here are some of his early sketches of the two:

Leif Ericson:


Scout ship:


Interestingly, the design shares some characteristics with the Botany Bay sleeper ship which Jefferies also designed, primarily the submarine-like "conning tower".

I myself built this kit as a boy.
Along with the Enterprise and Klingon models in my collection it was one of the few kits that included light bulbs for the engines.
The kit also came with a vinyl record called "The Sounds of Outer Space" that played 60's era "spacey" music.
You can listen to it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlHzAC_ye28

The Leif Ericson has proved to be an enduring design and it has appeared in one form or another on covers of several sci-fi novels and in CGI.
Most notably it served as the inspiration for the Battlecruiser MacArthur from "The Mote in God's Eye" written by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven.



Sadly though, the model was not a commercial success so it remains the only model ever produced in the Strategic Space Commad fleet.
Over the years, original kits in good condition sold for several hundred dollars on eBay.
The current kit I'm building now was re-issued by AMT in June, 2011 and now features red LEDS instead of light bulbs and is missing the vinly record.
My build will feature lit windows in additon to engines. I will also be building it with ParaGrafix's excellent photo-etch set:



To read more about the history of the Leif Ericson go to this link:
http://www.projectrho.com/SSC/index.html
 

trekriffic

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First things first...

Here are photos of the box art including side panels:






The model is molded in blue-green plastic.

Parts in bags:





Decals:



This is a much more comprehensive decal sheet than the oriignal kit had.

Instructions:






The backside of the instruction sheet features a Strategic Space Command adventure story involving members of the Leif Ericson's crew.
A nice little touch but I'd rather have the vinyl record that came with the 1968 kit!

Here's a link to the story:

http://frank.bol.ucla.edu/lestory.htm
 

trekriffic

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Step 1...

Drilling out and filing the windows to shape. The windows are either round (easy) or oval (harder).

Conveniently, the window are molded as raised details on the hull, no doubt as an aid in decal placement:



Here are the tools I'm using to open the windows:



After drilling I use my xacto style knife to remove excess plastic:



Whatever styrene AMT used for this kit is fairly soft in comparison to other kits I've seen which helps speed up this process a lot.

Finshed windows after shaping up with round and curved needle files:



I should be done with this step in another couple of hours.
All told I think it will take about 4 hours to finsih opening up all of the windows.
I know it would go a lot faster using a dremel and router bit but I like the control doing it by hand gives me.
 

Grendels

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Nice choice of a kit. I have this one in the stash and I have so wanted to open it up and get building on her.

Don't forget about the UFO mystery ship which was the glow in the dark version of the ship. That is the one I built as a kid.
 

Quaralane

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I've got the reissued glow version sitting on the shelf here.
Of course, mine is painted mostly, and uses the glow in sections only.

Looks like yours will be a much more ambitious build
 

trekriffic

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Could only spend an hour working on this last night but made some progress ...

Step 2: Light Blocking

So after drilling/filing out all the hull windows I shot the upper and lower hull inner surfaces and the insides of the engine shrouds with Testors flat black:



I did the same for the command tower and back panel:



While that dried I perused the instruction sheet again and noticed this:



A Phaser Projector! Yet another reference to Star Trek! How cool is that?

You can see the piece on the parts tree in this pic. It's chromed and looks like a funnel with a brim around it:



Upon closer inspection I noticed that the end of the "barrel" was solid plastic-no hole for the phaser beam to issue from.
Couldn't have that so I decided to drill it out and do my best to simulate a red phaser glow from the tip using red acrylic rod:



Test fit:



Light test:



Not bad! The red acrylic rod works just like fiber optic. I think this will work.

Next step will involve spraying the interior with gloss white for light dispersion.
Then I think I'll play with a little of the photo-etch.


Question for all you addicts... What's the best way to remove plastic chrome plating without damaging stryrene parts? I've heard of using bleach. How about Easy Off? Any other methods?
 

Quaralane

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Some nice work so far. Liking the phaser fix
 

Mr Atoz

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trekriffic said:
Could only spend an hour working on this last night but made some progress ...

Step 2: Light Blocking

So after drilling/filing out all the hull windows I shot the upper and lower hull inner surfaces and the insides of the engine shrouds with Testors flat black:



I did the same for the command tower and back panel:



While that dried I perused the instruction sheet again and noticed this:



A Phaser Projector! Yet another reference to Star Trek! How cool is that?

You can see the piece on the parts tree in this pic. It's chromed and looks like a funnel with a brim around it:



Upon closer inspection I noticed that the end of the "barrel" was solid plastic-no hole for the phaser beam to issue from.
Couldn't have that so I decided to drill it out and do my best to simulate a red phaser glow from the tip using red acrylic rod:



Test fit:



Light test:



Not bad! The red acrylic rod works just like fiber optic. I think this will work.

Next step will involve spraying the interior with gloss white for light dispersion.
Then I think I'll play with a little of the photo-etch.


Question for all you addicts... What's the best way to remove plastic chrome plating without damaging stryrene parts? I've heard of using bleach. How about Easy Off? Any other methods?
Bleach seems to work quite well.Just check it from time to time to see how it's going. As for the Easy Off,you may want to experiment first on some scrap parts.
Cheers!
 

Grendels

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Looking good!

I have used super clean to remove chrome with great success. It takes it off in seconds without harming the styrene.

I have also used 91% alcohol as well. Not as fast however. I also hear that coke works.
 

trekriffic

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Grendels said:
Looking good!

I have used super clean to remove chrome with great success. It takes it off in seconds without harming the styrene.

I have also used 91% alcohol as well. Not as fast however. I also hear that coke works.
Thanks G! I'm going to go the Super Clean route. Should have it at my local Walmart hopefully.
 

trekriffic

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Progress over the weekend and today...

Step 3:

Decided to have some fun with Paulbo's great photo-etch...

Here are my cheap diamond files which I found at Harbor Freight. Not fancy but thay do the trick:



First thing I worked on was the hangar bay...

A coarse sanding stick is used to remove the raised kit detail from the sidewalls:



Starting with the floor, I used a small angled chisel file to cut the piece away from the fret:



Paul has lines scribed in the floor for a basketball court. Very clever! There are also basketball backboards inscribed in the control towers at either end of the floor.

There are holes for landing lights around the perimeter of the floor. I used a sharp dental pick to mark where the holes are in the underlying plastic:



A pinvise is used to drill out the holes to allow light to shine up from below:



Holes are drilled in the end walls for LEDs to pass thru and light up the twin control tower windows at either end of the bay;



Slots are carved out behind where the observation windows are in the sidewalls. Later I will glue strips of thin clear styrene sheet into the slots:



Sidewall test fit. The white LEDs (from my Christmas tree light string) are glued in too:



Fits like a glove Paul!

The walls and LEDs are painted with fluorescent white acrylic paint to help with light dispersion behind the control tower windows:



Control tower with clear styrene sheet glued behind window frames with CA:



The two towers:



The tower on the left has had its windows masked off with Tamiya tape. Tedious work cutting little bits of tape with an exacto knife. The one on the right has just been glued together with CA; I used Gorilla Glue-good stuff!

I used thin strips of adhesive backed foil and taped them along the seam lines to help prevent light leaks. You can also see the thin strips of clear styrene sheet I'll glue behind the window frames:



Control tower glued in place to end wall. Any gaps are filled with Tamiya Basic Type polyester putty. Lacquer thinner applied with a microbrush is used to clean up any leftover putty from around the seams:



As of this writing both control towers have been installed and the entire bay (exept for the sidewalls) has been sprayed with grey Tamiya Fine Surface primer.

Step 4:

Command tower and phaser projector...

I routed and filed out a large hole in the top of the hull forward below where the command tower will attach. This will allow for light to shine up intothe windows:



Test fit with command tower. Will need some putty around the base but a good fit nonetheless:



The phaser projector was glued to the nose shield:



A brass tube was inserted from the backside of the projector and thru a hole in the nose shield for added strength.The red acrylic rod slid snugly inside the tube to project out the back and catch the light:



Test fit of the nose shield/phaser projector assembly and command tower:

 

Grendels

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Nice progress and that photo etch set is a must have. I have their set for the Mercury 9 project and it really added much needed detail to the command center.
 

trekriffic

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Thanks grendels. I can't say enough about Paul's PE. Can't wait to do the scout ship. Paul has provided three options for different landing gear to replace the awful kit provided upside down "cofee cups": skis, wheels, and skis with wheels! I'm leaning toward skis with wheels.

Last update for today...

Step 5:

Power jack installation...

So I had decided that I didn't want to mount the ship permanently to the base and I didn't want to try cramming in a battery inside the model sooooo...
I needed to install a DC power jack in the underside of the hull. Ideally I would have used the openings as molded in the kit but the hangar bay is located right over them and the jack is too tall to fit under the bay. This necessitated moving the jack further back towards the stern.

Here's the jack after initial install. Yep. It clears the rear wall of the bay:



I used Evergreen strip to build up a wall around the power jack then covered the whole thing with AVES apoxy putty for additional strength.



The underside of the hull showing the power jack. The original kit holes have been filled with AVES prior to sanding smooth:



Thanks for reading!
 

trekriffic

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Here are a few quick pics from last night...

After the AVES dried I sanded the lower hull down to about 600 grit.
Then I layed on some Tamiya polyester putty and let dry for an hour.
Then I went back and did the finish sanding and priming. Here's the lower hull after priming:



Can you see the orignal kit mounting holes? I can't! :)

Here's a pic of the hangar bay after priming:



The side walls have been sprayed with Tamiya Light Gray.
The rolling doors have been sprayed with Tamiya Ocean Gray 2.
 

Ravhin

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Even your priming looks damn good . Keep it up :)
 

Grendels

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Looks nice! Building this up to a good standard!
 

trekriffic

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More progress from yesterday night...

I masked off the entire bay except for the control tower rollup doors which I will spray with Ocean Gray to match the doors in the side walls:



The side walls are masked and sprayed with Tamiya Silver Leaf:



The same is done for the end walls:



Photo-etch is glued in place on the inside face of the hangar bay doors and sprayed Light Gray.
The grooved panels will eventualy be masked around and sprayed with Silver Leaf:



The end walls and rollup doors after masking tape removal:



The side walls after masking tape removal:



A piece of white reflective tape is stuck down where the kit stand holes were filled.
This is insurance against light leaks:



Next steps involve finishing the bay and the bay hatch doors.
I need to mask off the center of the floor and paint the perimiter with Tamiya Medium Gray.
I'll also paint the panels silver on the doors.


Thanks for reading!
 

trekriffic

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Step 6:

Filling the windows...


So I went down to Michaels and found something called Envirotex jewelry resin.
I'd heard someone on the forums say they used this so thought I'd give it a try.
A pack of Envirotex resin and hardener cost much less than the clear casting resin they had on the shelf and you don't have to buy a big can of it.

First thing was to mask off the windows from the outside with transparent tape:



Then I mixed up equal parts of resin and hardener and filled the holes from the inside:



For the round windows I just inserted clear acrylic rod in the holes.
So this only left me with the oval windows to fill.

After drying overnight I removed the tape and noticed several voids where the holes had basically just been skinned over by the resin.
There was also a lot of sticky tape residue on the hull that had to be wiped off with alcohol.
So I decided to fill the holes again but this time from the outside.
First though I clamped each hull half in a vise so the window openings were perfectly level.
I used a hypodermic type syringe and hollow needle to inject the resin right into the window openings filling them from below until the resin was even with the hull:



Hull halves set aside to cure. Tomorrow I can repeat the process to fill in the windows on the other side:



I'm optimistic my decision to use Envirotex turns out to be a good one.
I have to say the resin is extremely clear; in fact, it's easy to think the openings are empty uintil you look at the windows at an angle in the light and see the reflection of the resin in them.
The drying timne is 12-24 hours with full hardness in 48 hours so it's not the fastest method for filling windows that's for sure.

After cleaning up the unused resin from the measuring cups and washing my hands vigorously with warm soap and water (followed by 70% isopropyl alcohol) I went back to work and finished painting the hangar bay doors:



I also decided to modify the Sensor Ray Dome that sits up on top of the command tower. I didn't just want a chrome ball up there so while at Michaels I bought a package of rhinestones:



Then I sanded off the chrome plating and sanded off the top of the dome before gluing a rhinestone on with epoxy.
I'll paint the whole thing steel or maybe aluminum before installing it in the model:



I also soaked the engine Inter-Adapters in Super Clean overnight and, by this morning, was pleased to find the chrome plating was gone with no damage to the plastic underneath:



That's it for now. Thanks for reading!
 

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