ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

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Lucky13
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ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:48 pm

As many on here know, I love modifying and building models. I do it to enter competitions, for my own pleasure and for other people who commission either copies of real cars or something they would like to have in miniature.
I get some questions all the time. Like "How do you price your models?" or more often "Why are your models that much?" I even had a guy ask me to ITEMIZE the price I quoted him. So I decided to start this thread to give everyone a peak in the making of a custom ordered model. I will start with something simple, like making a Ferrari 458 Spider for the owner of the real car.

Just to keep some sort of track on costs, I will "charge" a rate of $10/hr. (as a comparison, the McDonald across the street from my house pays $12/hr for newhires) So, for this project I started with a Ferrari 458 Spider by MAttel Elite. Cost with shipping - $100 Once the model arrives, it is carefully disassembled, all parts are divided by groups in little plastic bags and put away in a box with a sealed lid. Those bags are not that expensive and they are bought on bulk, so I am going to put a cost of $1. The box can be reused too, so a cost of $1. For all this to be done the proper way, without braking anything (which is getting harder and harder considering that a lot of things are glued now) and not displacing any screws or parts, it takes an average of 3 hours. So cost of $30. To recap, before any work has started I am at a cost of $132. Of course you will need a bunch of tools, some of which are very common, like screw drivers and Exacto knives and some are not so common, like different metal and wooden "knives" and spatulas. With the new era of models you will most likely need a Dremel tool and a bunch of different attachments. I am not going to put a cost to this, as it is accumulated over the years, but it should be kept in mind.

to be continued……...

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StratosWRC
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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by StratosWRC » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:50 am

Oh I know. I am doing a relatively simple upgrade on a model with a set of spare wheels, a photo etch upgrade kit, and decals, and, not including the model, it's already into $150 dollars since all the parts needed to be shipped from Europe. The model itself will cost another $100. Obviously I'm not charging myself for the work done, but if I was, I'd be charging more than $10/hour. That's a steal.

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Oldtimer » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:43 am

I am currently working on a project that I probably should try to showcase here (I've got a thread going over at the Diecast Pub if anyone is interested, I am "ibj40" over there). Anyway, I want to make a replica of a car that I once owned and raced:

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So far it has required the donation of a body from a 1982 Welly Corvette ($50 +/-); the chassis of a 1969 Carousel 1 L-88 Corvette ($125 +/-);, and the engine and interior components from a GMP 1996 Trans Am Camaro ($100 +/-, it was used and had some issues).

Duplicating the rear flares required the services of a professional sculptor who charged me $400.

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And then my labor started in ernest.

Sample picture of the modified chassis.

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Certainly not trying to hijack your thread, but I know what you are saying, these things are both labor and capital intensive. And many times, you've only got one donor part to make it work, and after that, you are on your own.

This weekend, I will build a thread on my custom, and strip these comments from yours.

Lucky13
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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:45 pm

Oldtimer, you don't have to remove your comments. They are welcome. Looks like you have your hands full with your project. It is coming along great tho.

Lucky13
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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:19 pm

So, next step after everything is divided and stored is to separate the parts that need to be painted. In the case of the 458 Spider most parts that need to be painted are metal, there is a piece under the rear hood that is plastic. However some models have a lot of plastic parts to be addressed.
All the metal parts are sprayed with aircraft remover. Nasty stuff, that will irritate your eyes, skin and lungs. So you need extreme caution with this stuff. Cost of a can - $10. You will also need rubber gloves and mask and also a container for the sprayed parts. The plastic parts will need to be sanded by hand, as the aircraft remover will melt them. After the parts have been soaking for a while you need to wash them really well with dishwater detergent. You will need a wire brush a metal pick of some sort and a couple of different grids of sandpaper. It should take about two hours. After all the parts are washed, they should be left to air dry. So total cost of this step should be about $40. Which Brings our grand total to $172

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:47 pm

Next step would be primer. Here I should mention that I like the aircraft remover, because it will kill, destroy and clean anything that is on the casting. Any chemical contamination will be gone. The very important part is to seal the surfaces after all the parts have dried. Not only seal them, but also create a uniform base for the paint, no matter if the parts are from different materials. This is very important in order to achieve uniform color and long lasting finish. For the purpose I use a two part PPG primer/sealer designed for use on 1:1 cars. It works pretty much like epoxy resin, except that you can spray it trough an airbrush. That is also very nasty stuff, as its hardener can go in your blood stream through your skin, eyes or lungs (it absolutely odorless) and then crystalize in your lungs, where it will stay 'till your last day. So you need a good mask ($40) gloves, goggles and a good plastic jacket. The mask is good for 40 hours in open air. So basically two or three models. I'll put it as $15 cost. The primer is about $100. Total time of set-up/clean-up/painting is about 2 hours. After this dries you need to sand everything, because a paint job is only as good as what is underneath it. so about $5 for sand paper and another 2-3 hours. Then you need to spray the model one more time to seal it with another coat of primer, that is thinned down a little. (I forgot you need reducer too - about $20)You are not going to use all your primer all at once, so let's just count $15 for it. That is about another $100. So now total cost is $270.
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(I did not have picture from the described project, but the idea is the same )

Next step is paint. It should be applied within a certain time window after the primer in order to adhere properly. In this case it is Griggio Silverstone. If you manage to obtain the proper paint code from the manufacturer (some colors are guarded as secret) you need to take it to a good paint shop to mix it for you. The code is pulled in the computer and a formula is delivered. Most of the time in order to replicate the exact formula, no less than 8oz have to be mixed. In this case at the price of $42+tax. Set-p/Clean-up/paint about 2 hours. That adds another $65 (Tricoats, like verde ithaca or giallo tristrati are at least double that).
So, this far before the clear coat we are at total cost of $335

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by StratosWRC » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:05 am

Holy moly. Question: how long after you apply the paint do you clear coat it? I heard the paint should "breathe", or "gas out" for at least a month. Is this true?

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:08 am

The short answer is - NO.
The more complicated one - sometimes, it depends.
My problem is actually the opposite. Let me explain. When you wash all the parts, you want them to dry by air, so you don't touch them. This is why I mount them on their painting gigs before I wash them. But you don't want them to sit too long and get contaminated. So then, when you mix the primer and the hardener, you have a two hour window to spray it, because then it turns into rock, no matter if it is sealed or not. It is a chemical reaction. So you don't want to spray paint before the primer is dry. It feels dry to the touch almost right away, but it needs to cure for at least 2 hours. But per manufacturer instructions you want to spray paint within 6 hours. Here is the tricky part. The paint is solvent based and the primer is not. So the paint can not eat into primer, but it can "grip very strong if sprayed within 6 hours. Then you cover this up with a two component polyurethane clear coat. This is pretty much like the primer, so it can not eat into the paint. However if you spray it right away, you can end up with tiny pinholes all over the finish, from the gasses that are coming out of the paint. So you need to wait a couple of hours before you apply the clear, but if you go over 12 hours you will need to scuff the paint before the clear. And if it is a metallic you will need a fresh coat of paint, because if you scuff metallics you mess up the orientation of the metal flakes and then it will look one shade off in that area. In other words, you are better off to do everything in one day. This means planning, down time and a 12 hour day out the window.
I like to put all emblems under the clear, so it seals them. Polyurethane clear, when applied correctly, will seal everything and then shrink. This will leave a nice detailed finish instead of filling in detail. In other words if you put a nice photo etched Ferrari script under the clear, it will still feel textured.
Here are the pieces after they are painted, have cured for two hours and then the emblems are applied and waiting for clear coat. In this case there is also carbon fiber applied, but we'll get to that later.
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This model had its brakes done in yellow. Now while you are waiting for other things to cure, you can paint these parts, but then you can contaminate the finish. You can't see it, but there is microscopic paint dust that sticks to everything. Next thing you know, you spray your brakes yellow, everything looks fine and all of a sudden when your clear coat dries the left side of the model is just a touch more yellowish than the right. Then you start over. This is why the brakes are sprayed only after the other parts are taken out of that space. Which brings the issue of having enough rooms/space for this.
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Anyway….Can of tamiya yellow $6. Decanting it, running it through an airbrush set-up/clean-up/application 1 hour. All the decals, emblems and photoetched pieces I'll put a cost of $15. So now our cost is $365

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by StratosWRC » Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:35 am

Excellent info. Thank you

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Swede70 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:57 pm

Just as an aside this, but rather on-topic too...

It seems a pretty common although largely unremarked upon problem of scale modelers who unknowingly invite trouble for undercharging customers and clients for work they cannot help but apply high personal standards to. It's such a trap; i.e. being flattered into accepting work or entering into a verbal contract consistent with delivering some finished product, and the failure of all parties involved to appreciate the enormity of time and materials investment involved. Your thread should hopefully enlighten some and prompt others of us to take upon the difficult and necessary task of calculating (and indeed even itemizing) what our labor is in fact worth.

An example of what can happen absent such control I provide below, whereas I'm sure many of you reading this post could likewise contribute similar unhappy tales. I recently met a large scale automotive builder who was deeply flattered to undertake the construction of a late 1960's sports prototype topic of reknown for what would seem a cool $3,000. Sounds like a lot - sounds like an epic story and solid validation of the efforts of an otherwise isolated and skilled builder who like many lightly entertains the possibilities of 'going pro'. So far, so good...

Problems with the client for slow delivery? - not at all. Hmmm - what could be the problem then? Well, imagine if you will the builder in question assertively scratchbuilding an entire 1:12 Porsche 917 spaceframe from brass - and he's done it. Short of the body which is a substantially modified plastic production casting, everything about the chassis is scratchbuilt and done to a very impressive standard. Imagine my relating to you to employ your best practices, your best research and your best tools and built me a Saturn V rocket and maybe you can sense where this is leading.

For this fellow the project is now into year three, all the work done performed is most impressive, whereas at club meets he is teased for his 'inability to follow through and/or complete anything'. His time isn't his own, more time and commitment is always required (the model looks fabulous don't get me wrong), but something about the whole setup is soul killing to observe. Is your entire experience of the hobby for sale for $3,000 across multiple years? Everybody - please be careful, whereas if we can each better refine and mature our business practices and telegraph out what is truly involved in the captivating scale 'one-off', so much the better. Kind regards...

M.K.
Last edited by Swede70 on Fri Jul 18, 2014 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

Lucky13
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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:04 am

Next All the carbon fiber details need to be applied. On the real cars, different carbon weave is used for different pieces. On top of this, the same carbon fiber creates different effect when it is inside or outside on the sun. Recreating this in scale can be very tricky. One way is using different scales and manufacturers of the decals and another is using different clear coat finishes. Anyway…
A sheet of decal is roughly $15. I am using two different ones, but not using the whole sheet, so let's put the price at $15. Then you need some solutions, brushes, very sharp X-acto knives, tweezers, masking tape, blow dryer/heat gun and tons of patience. This particular model had just a little carbon on it. Steering wheel, center console and the panels behind the doors. Still that was a good couple of hours. So let's put the carbon cost at $35, which brings our total to $400

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Lucky13
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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:18 am

Swede70 wrote:Just as an aside this, but rather on-topic too...

It seems a pretty common although largely unremarked upon problem of scale modelers who unknowingly invite trouble for undercharging customers and clients for work they cannot help but apply high personal standards to. It's such a trap; i.e. being flattered into accepting work or entering into a verbal contract consistent with delivering some finished product, and the failure of all parties involved to appreciate the enormity of time and materials investment involved. Your thread should hopefully enlighten some and prompt others of us to take upon the difficult and necessary task of calculating (and indeed even itemizing) what our labor is in fact worth.

An example of what can happen absent such control I provide below, whereas I'm sure many of you reading this post could likewise contribute similar unhappy tales. I recently met a large scale automotive builder who was deeply flattered to undertake the construction of a late 1960's sports prototype topic of reknown for what would seem a cool $3,000. Sounds like a lot - sounds like an epic story and solid validation of the efforts of an otherwise isolated and skilled builder who like many lightly entertains the possibilities of 'going pro'. So far, so good...

Problems with the client for slow delivery - not at all. Hmmm - what could be the problem then? Well, imagine if you will the builder in question assertively scratchbuilding an entire 1:12 Porsche 917 spaceframe from brass - and he's done it. Short of the body which is a substantially modified plastic production casting, everything about the chassis is scratchbuilt and done to a very impressive standard. Imagine my relating to you to employ your best practices, your best research and your best tools and built me a Saturn V rocket and maybe you can sense where this is leading.

For this fellow the project is now into year three, all the work done performed is most impressive, whereas at club meets he is teased for his 'inability to follow through and/or complete anything'. His time isn't his own, more time and commitment is always required (the model looks fabulous don't get me wrong), but something about the whole setup is soul killing to observe. Is your entire experience of the hobby for sale for $3,000 across multiple years? Everybody - please be careful, whereas if we can each better refine and mature our business practices and telegraph out what is truly involved in the captivating scale 'one-off', so much the better. Kind regards...

M.K.
I am not ignoring your post, but I would rather answer/use it later on, where it will fall in its place :beer:

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 3:10 pm

Next step would be the clear coat. It is a two part polyurethane nasty stuff, just like the primer. And will run you a cool $90. You have to go through the same steps, prep and precaution as with the primer. You spray it, let it cure and then do "paint correction" wet sanding. Of course the clear has to cure first. After it has been wet sanded, it is prayed one more time. Then it is wet sanded, gone over with rubbing compound, then buffed with polish and finally waxed. The spraying part is a total of 4 hours between the two coats. Polishing is another good 4 hours and total cost of materials I would put around $50. This adds another $130. So now we are at a whopping $530

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Lucky13 » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:12 pm

:geek:
Last edited by Lucky13 on Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ANATOMY OF A HANDBUILT MODEL

Post by Mikey MKIV » Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:54 am

Lucky13 wrote:Next step would be the clear coat. It is a two part polyurethane nasty stuff, just like the primer. And will run you a cool $90. You have to go through the same steps, prep and precaution as with the primer. You spray it, let it cure and then do "paint correction" wet sanding. Of course the clear has to cure first. After it has been wet sanded, it is prayed one more time. Then it is wet sanded, gone over with rubbing compound, then buffed with polish and finally waxed. The spraying part is a total of 4 hours between the two coats. Polishing is another good 4 hours and total cost of materials I would put around $50. This adds another $130. So now we are at a whopping $530
I am most definitely not belittling your work, or saying you are exaggerating. I just really am curious on some of the steps you outline in this thread, you really need 4 hours to polish a 1/18 scale body? I think you mentioned something to that effect for sanding down the primed body. Really, 4 hours?

Again, I have seen your work, and think your end products are pretty damn nice.

Mike

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