Tips and Information



When it comes to working with plastic parts, there are many different ways to get the results you want.  These are just some of the things we've learned along the way.  Please share any tips or techniques you come up with so that we can include them on this page for others to see, thanks.

General Tips

* We have found that CA works really well on plastic parts as well as other materials you will use with them.

*Where plastic has webbed on a part (this sometimes happens in a sharp corner), put some CA in the web seam inside the part before trimming or sanding the webbing off from the outside.  It's an easy fix.

*When in doubt, test fillers, glues or paints on spare pieces of plastic before using them.  None that we've used have reacted badly, but avoid product with really strong solvents.  We would recommend light sanding your parts before primer is applied.  We've had excellent results using automotive products as well as basic spray can products.  Epoxy resins are a safer bet if you are going to use fiberglass systems.  We recommend that you scuff sand unmasked areas of your clear canopy that will be painted on.  Acetone will melt plastic.  Use soap and water or alcohol to clean parts if you feel the need. In most cases a light sanding is enough to prep the plastic for primer and paint.

*Add flotation and reinforcement to the inside of the pieces where you think it is needed.  Some builders like to use a thin layer of fiberglass on the inside or over the cowls as reinforcement, but will still have to add flotation.  We have found that using inexpensive craft foam sheets (found in black and many other colors at most craft stores) is a great way to do both a the same time.  You can easily cut the shape you need and fit it into all sorts of spaces with CA.  You'll find many other uses for the foam sheeting too.  I use it to blacken out the inside of turbine air scoops and use it for black detailing inside of vents.  I even lay strips of it down in the shape of a canopy so I have a nice shaped edge to secure the canopy to.  I use it to make the floor to mount my canopy drivers to after I assemble and paint them.  I use small pieces of it inside my driver's head so I can have a surface to glue the front of the head to.  I make a drivers headrest with it and dash boards. I make the inside of my mirrors with it as it gives me a surface to secure the mirror to the outside of the canopy with. Get some of this stuff for sure.  You'll find all sorts of new uses for it.  It's so easy to work with and it adds very little weight to your parts.  If it's likely to get paint on it, you may want to put add it after the boat is painted.  Otherwise you can use black paint on it.  

Cowling Pieces

*Plan ahead after looking at the parts together.  Figure out where you will likely want to trim.  Draw lines on the parts first before trimming.  Spot glueing or taping parts together before permanent assembly is a good way to check to see if the parts have the fit you want or need to be trimmed some more.  Take your time and use photos of the real boat as a reference as to how high and at what angle the cowl should sit on the boat.  

*Whenever possible, we recommend fitting the stationary parts (those that will not be removable) to the boat first.  You can then fit the removable parts so that they fit flush againt the permanent ones.  Periferal parts such as air scoops and turbine pipes or stacks can wait until after the main cowl parts have been fitted to the boat.  

*It is recommended that you reinforce or completely replace the adjoining walls where the one piece of the main cowl meets flush against another (for example, where the front cockpit area meets the engine cowl on a modern turbine boat or where a rear cockpit cowl meets an engine cowl on a vintage boat.).  Use plywood or sandwiched balsa or craft foam for this.  Stronger, harder surfaces here will make for a sharper, flatter flush edge and could be used for mounting bracket or clips for holding on the removable part of the cowl.

*When your cowl is closely fit to your deck line, you can use a small trim piece (1/8" or smaller wood stringer or plastic strip) to fill any little gaps and give it a nicer finished look if you like.  A trim piece can also keep the cowl from flexing or losing its shape.  This really looks nice on the removable parts of cowlings as the real boats tended to have some sort of finished lip on the engine cowlings.  

*When joining two parts together (as in two side by side halves of a cowling or air scoop with a common seam) we recommend test fitting them first to insure you have the right finished width you want as that part likely will need to fit nicely up against a canopy or main cowl piece when it's done.  Trim from both halves so that your apart is not larger on one side. Again, take your time.  When you have the look you want,  you can tape the parts from the outside to get a last look.  When satisfied you can use a thin piece of plastic, plywood or fiberglass to run along the seam inside to join the halves.  You can fill any imperfections from the outside when you're done.  

Wing Pieces

*When it comes to wings, remember that they are not shaped like a wing on the edges when you get them.  You need to taper the sides of the wing so that they will be thinner in the back before you put them together.  Draw the taper on the vertical wings first and use a light sanding block to clean the sides up after you're done.  You can us strips of plywood or small rod material to stiffen the wing on the inside.  Craft foam is a great thing to add to the inside of wings.  Install wood or plastic doublers where you will be mounting your wing hardware into or through the wing and in the bottom of the wing to allow for mounting it to your boat in whatever fashion you choose.  I like using two plastic aircraft flap hinges in the bottom of each vertical wing. You can glue them to the craft foam or wood inside the bottom of the wing and into a slit in the deck of your boat.  You should plan ahead for mounting the wings when you build your boat so you have something solid under the deck to glue to.  

*Horizontal wings and canards can be cut to the width and length that you need.  You will need to make hard wood ends for them after you cut them to size.  This will allow you to drill mounting holes, insert pivot shafts (in the case of canards) or screws to attach rear wings to the verticals.  The ends should be shaped like a wing from the side as this is the shape of the plastic wing parts.  Carbon fiber tube or rod, wood doweling or stringer material running side to side is a good way to add strength and stiffness to a horizontal or canard wing.  Lining the wing with pieces of craft foam will also add flotation and strength.  Try and keep the wing on a flat surface when you glue things in place so that you don't end up with a twisted wing.  Plan ahead as to how you can make the wing adjustable or whether you want a fixed wing.  The addition of support wires secured to the inside upper part of the verticals and to a point on the transom not only makes a rear wing assembly very strong, it adds to the realistic look of the model.  


We hope these tips are helpful to you.  Building models is an ever growing learning experience and forever will be a work in progress.  Happy Building!  Let us know if you have any questions along the way.

Where you can find other 1:10 scale items you may need.

Scale Drivers for open cockpits of the 1950's - 1980's:  I like using action figures.  I cut them off above the waste and glue a dowel into the bottom of the torso.  I then cut a hole in the bottom of the cockpit floor. If you drill a small hole through the side of  the dowel, you can put a pin through it to secure the driver under the cockpit and remove the driver when you need to. Action figures should be about 6.5-7" tall for 1:10 scale.  The old Evel Knievel figures are great as the arms are bendable and the hand can grip a steering wheel.