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"Help me find a better filler" Topic

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Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 12:36 p.m. PST

I have started to fill in the hollow spaces of my naval vessels, to create a flat bottom on the miniature ship where I can write the vessel's name and class (for aesthetic reasons I refuse to put the vessel or its info on a base). My 1/2400 GHQ models tend to be filled with cheap putty, but on the newer generation of 3D printed plastic vessels, I use lead dust in the filler to add weight to the model, which helps immensely with handling during gaming.

I've been looking for a substance to make a good bottom surface, and so far I haven't found one. I'm looking for suggestions.

I've tried a couple different Liquitex and Golden acrylic medium products – Molding Paste and Hard Molding Paste. These dry white and sandable, but unfortunately, seem brittle. I have chunks falling out of the bottoms of my vessels, and the pen I use to write on the bottom tends to engrave the material more than write on it.

Standard model putties just dry too fragile and chalky, and don't withstand writing at all.

Wood putty tends to develop cracks as it dries. It's really not made to cover so much surface area.

Epoxy putties are just not easy enough to use. It's very difficult to gauge the correct amount, it's very difficult to evenly spread into a shallow gap, squeezing it into place makes an overflow mess to clean up, and the cleanup of the overflow is actually an emergency because it will harden quickly on the visible outer surface of the ship and ruin the contours.

Viscous epoxies don't really work for this application. They're really sticky and difficult to get into place. The miniature has to be stored upside down while the epoxy cures. The epoxy cures harder than the plastic, so sanding it smooth afterward is tricky and prone to errors (like a permanent list). Many cure with a slightly rubbery consistency, which is bad for writing or painting.

UV cure glue (e.g. Bondic) is also difficult to use, also dries to a rubbery consistency, and is expensive.

I once tried gluing a plate of really thin plastic (0.010" styrene sheet) under a vessel. The end result worked really well, but it was far too much work. It's especially hard to get the edges to integrate, and on small vessels it makes a noticeable addition to the vessel's freeboard. This is also the kind of thing that absolutely has to be completed before painting, so I can't go back and add it to painted models.

I'm out of ideas. What am I missing?

- Ix

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 1:20 p.m. PST

I don't know if I can explain this well enough to be of any help, but this is maybe one solution.

To add weight to the models you might consider using BB's. Fill the cavity and then dribble in superglue to bond them together and to the model(obviousily, you don't pile them higher than the bottom of the ship grin).

Then, put the ship on a sheet of white paper and draw an outline around the hull bottom. Put your info on the inside of the outline, glue the ship over the outline(print side asway from the model) using Alenes(sp) Tacky glue coat the p[aper and attach to the ship bottom, let dry and then trim away the excess paper outline and Bingo!

Just a suggestion.


Kelly Armstrong12 Jul 2020 2:07 p.m. PST

A self-leveling RTV may work. Also known as concrete crack filler. Not sandable but with the "self-leveling" you should not need to "smooth it out"

wtjcom12 Jul 2020 2:16 p.m. PST

BBs are probably too large for the available hollow area inside many 1/2400 scale 3D printed models, but you could try something in the range of #9 through #12 lead shot. The #12 shot is less than one-third the diameter of a BB and would give you the most complete "fill."

I like the idea of squirting superglue in and letting it set. Doing that in a couple of layers might allow the innermost portions to fully cure.

Unfortunately lead shot (especially #12 which is a specialty size) is usually sold in 10 pound bags!

HMS Exeter12 Jul 2020 2:38 p.m. PST

I've never felt the need to do this, but if I wanted to try, I'd get some basic spackle, the lightweight paste they use to smooth out drywall. It dries hard and sands easily. I'm not sure how much of a shrinkage issue you'd encounter. Someone in here might shed some light on that as a possible issue.

Zephyr112 Jul 2020 8:18 p.m. PST

Hardware store: Durham's Water Putty (it's like plaster. You can add your lead dust to it too.) I'd also use a paper label on the bottom instead of trying to write/paint the info there.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2020 8:59 p.m. PST

You could just go with paper, or adhesive backed labels, or paint/mark the undersides instead.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP13 Jul 2020 4:49 a.m. PST

I didn't think BBs would come small enough, so I went with powdered lead, and it works really well. I pour it into the hollow of the ship, tap it until the lead powder is level below the rim, then start dropping thin CA glue on it. The CA glue cures really quickly when it drops into the midst of the lead powder (or pretty much any powder).

I thought about paper, but haven't tried it. Paper is vulnerable to water, which worries me.

I haven't tried spackle. I didn't have much luck with it on other projects in the past, but it might be worth another try in this application. It just isn't very easy to spread. Any brand recommendations?

- Ix

Sgt Slag13 Jul 2020 5:23 a.m. PST

You could try Sugru Glue, but it does dry to rubber-like consistency. A paper label on the bottom would be necessary. Not a great solution, but an option to explore.

Try using blue tac to hold the ships in position, then mix up liquid resin (add in a tinting ink, of the desired color, to make it easier to write upon it, when cured). Use a syringe, minus any needle, to suck up the epoxy, and then squirt it into the ship bottoms, carefully filling them. Wait until it cures, Then write on it with a Sharpie marker. Cheers!

Syrinx014 Jul 2020 5:40 p.m. PST

Another vote for Durham's Water Putty as a perfect filler or base with minimal shrinkage. One $8 USD can will last a long time. I would agree you would still need a label on the bottom.

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