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Sausage Making

A fine example of sausage making inside an Academy SR-71A Blackbird 

Elsewhere in this site I have referred to some of my model building techniques as "sausage making", based on the apocryphal quote attibuted to Otto von Bismarck, to the effect that "doing politics is like sausage making; you don't want to witness it happening." Below will be examples of some the crude model building that I have done to achieve an outcome that fortunately is hidden from view, once the model is finished. Sausage making at its finest.

Monogram F7F-3 Tigercat

Steel washers as ballast on Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat by Monogram

Closeup of single bank of resin engine cylinders glued to the front of steel washers, with steel BBs and solder bits inside the washer cavities, as ballast.

Plastic models of aircraft with tricycle landing gear (three main tires in contact with the ground when at rest, not two main tires and a very small tail wheel) sometimes require ballast inside the model, ahead of the two main tires, for it to rest properly on all three tires. Usually, there is room somewhere in the nose to conceal metal weights to achieve proper, three-tire contact. On this Monogram kit of the Grumman F7F Tigercat, I loaded all of the available hollow space inside the nose of the fuselage, ahead of the main wheel landing gear struts, with steel BBs, secured with a generous amount of extra-thick cyanoacrylate glue. A quick test balance of the assembled fuselage, sans wings and horizontal stabilizers, seemed  to indicate it had enough weight forward to serve.

Unfortunately, once the wings and tail surfaces were installed, it turned out I had a tail tipper (rests on its tail) model on my hands. The traditional fix for this problem usually consists of some sort of relatively unobtrusive little rod or dowel protruding from the underside of the fuselage, behind the main tires, to support the too-heavy tail of the model, and the Monogram kit contained one such support, molded in clear plastic, but I didn't want that look. 

Prior to discovering this tail-tipper problem, I had planned to install a pair of elegant QuickBoost resin castings of the double row Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines that were used by the F7F. Now, I thought about how to add weight to the only concealed area on the model ahead of the main wheels that remained accessible at this point: the engine nacelles. The need for the model to rest correctly on all three tires overode the cool appearance of the double rows of cylinders as seen inside the engine cowls, so I cut off the rear bank of cylinders to make room for ballast. 

I got the idea to replace this rear bank of resin-cast cylinders with steel washers, so I bought several washers from the loose hardware bins of the local hardware store. I had to keep adding washers to achieve the proper amount of ballast, until I had to sand away a fair amount of the backs of the front  row of cylinders of the resin engine part. In the end, I had to add steel BBs and tiny bits of wire-style solder in the hole through the stack of washers, to barely achieve the desired three-tire stance.

In an interesting analog to the real F7F Tigercat, it is the weight of the only heavy part of the aircraft, the engines, that balanced the Tigercat on its tires, and then only when the fuel tanks were filled, otherwise some Tigercats were tail tippers in real life. (Ginter, Naval Fighters Number 75)   

Academy SR-71A Blackbird

Here are in-progress images of building an Academy SR-71A Blackbird Strategic Reconnaissance aircraft.

Scale 1/72

Email: AtomicCannon(at)embarqmail(dot)com