Here it comes the most elaborated assembly step of the model. This step involved very few kit parts but lots of details and improvements to keep me busy for a couple of weeks. When one tries to make one accurate job regarding right shapes, sizes and positions, it takes patience and time.
I restarted the work where I left it, I mean on the hull with the corrected hybrid front.
Although in the beginning I thought the massive engine grill with those thick trenches and solid aspect was the weak point on the kit, I checked out later it is a quite good reproduction of the actual thing. However the small side engine grills cried out for some reworking doubtless.
After enjoying the goodness of resin bolt replacements, I decided to proceed along all bolts on the rear plate. Original ones were hexagonal but lacked of some thickness and definition.
I also had to erase some other small moulded-on elements.
Aside the side cutter, one #15 blade is a very helpful tool for plastic removing. Thanks to its small size it can reach compromised locations preventing side damage.
I recomend to mark the location of the bolts before sanding the surfaces. That helps a lot for a smooth replacement job.
Fiberglass pencil is priceless for sanding places unreachable for sanding paper without side damaging. Its important to move the pencil gently to prevent scratches on the surfaces.
The tiny holes to insert the bolts are easier to make with a pin vise than an electric drill.
In the corners of the engine grills small holes are required to saw the solid area off. Grills were removed leaving some margin to level the perimeter with a plain file.
Instead of just closing the bottom with some black painted styrene, I decided to rebuild the inner struts. I started by the rectangular base.
... and then added the walls.
I treated plastic with water sanding as much as possible. Its not strange that after removing details, there are some scratches here and there that needed some restoration with CA glue.
In the front plate, a modelling razor saw and a scriber are used to reproduce the cutting marks in the plate interlocking. The saw produces parallel marks and the use of the scriber permits to vary the depth and distribution of the lines. The tiny rectangular draining hole in the drivers visor bullet splash guard was made by pressing with pointed tweezers.
Better is to leave for the end the edge-thinning work because thinned parts become weak.
The casting texture was damaged in some areas due to all former work. In order to fix that, I first protected all surrounding areas with masking tape and proceed on the re-texturing with Tamiya liquid cement. This dense glue is really good for casting effects because it melts plastic but also contains resin that deposits on the surfaces and it can be worked with hard brushes for a while. The resin deposits permits to extend the casting texture effect to areas sanded off or treated with CA glue previously.
Over a glass I massed sections of epoxy putty to make weld cords. I leave them harder for a while before making very thin welding cords by rolling. Sharp pointed tooth picks are very useful to texture the welding cords.
Time is to close the hull. The kneadatite welding cords stick to surfaces very well.
Very thin welding seams are added on the rear plates too.
For the new engine grills I used I finest PE mesh I could get. I made a plastic frame to shape the mesh by pressing and make it looks slightly damaged and used.
Frame was made with thin styrene sheet over my own drawings.
The plastic frame was glued to the PE mesh and following the whole part was placed. The inner strut was primed dark grey and everything was glued with Gator Grip this time.
The inserted bolts do not need any glue actually but they can be secured by a light brush of Future.
Nuts and bolts by The Nutter made do really need a drop of future to glue.
1> The rolling method works pretty well to curve plain styrene strips as the case of the showel mount.
Customizing a model does not only requires to add/remove some elements.
2> One also has to leave traces of removed parts like welding marks.
3> To reproduce solid weld at same time you assembly parts, you can add a little excess of black CA cement.
4> Not always one can buy all buts and bolts you need. Some tiny ones are made from fine styrene sheet shaped by file and drilled, one by one.
I did not get much documentation of the left side of the tank, but enough to see the razor is missing. The razor mount was made with styrene sheet by using the original part as pattern.
New front fenders were made with 0.15mm styrene sheet.
5> Another valid way to reproduce welding cords is to use stretched plastic melted and textured by MEK.
6> Among all tiny elements in the front area, there is a tube for the front light connection made with a small section of Lion Roar's 0.4mm brass tube. In order to prevent elbow deformation when folding the tube, I inserted a small section of fine rod first. This way you can curve the tube safely and extract the rod when done.
And here everything under the turret is done finally...
One aside thought about detailing plastic kits. When one practices scratchbuilding, the required time and effort is rarely rewarded. Basically all I am making here is to bring the detail of this 1/48th scale kit up to similar detail level of same brand's 1/35th scale kit, plus some particular modifications, and all that with lots of work. Consequently, So far, I do not see any actual advantage on working on this scale for someone building kits like I do.
Okay, only the turret left. My impression is completing the assembly will be a smooth ride from now on.