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2 - Making the Transporter's Base

Hvy Transporter with flatbed trailer (2)
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20 November 2001page first published

3,210 hits since 19 Nov 2001
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Finally, I Get Something Right

I'd painted the various parts individually, planning to glue them together as I attached them to their base. My usual practice is to glue vehicles to steel bases, so that I can store them in bins lined with magnetic sheeting (keeps the models from rolling around and getting chipped or bent).

I didn't know of anyone who made bases in the size I needed, so I contacted Renaissance Ink. They make custom bases, and when they found out this was for a Workbench project, they donated the items.

custom steel bases

Steel bases don't take a lot of preparation. One thing to look for is burrs - lips of metal where the bases have been cut. These interfere with the model lying flat on the magnetic sheet, and sometimes are sharp enough to cut the skin. As the photo shows, one of my samples had a slight lip on the end.

close-up of the bases

The simple remedy is to apply a file to the edge and whack off the lip - or you can be lazy and use a motortool, as I did with my Dremel, and see plenty of sparks fly!

Since I would be using these bases with magnetic sheeting, I examined the bases to see which side would lay flattest. (A curve reduces the amount of steel in proximity to the magnetic sheet, which reduces the magnetic attraction.) Three of the bases were perfectly flat and so it didn't matter which side was down, but one had a slight bend. I then spray-painted the bottoms flat black.

And then, an Experiment that Works

Usually, my next step would be to cover the top of the base with brown paint, then sprinkle sand on while the paint is still wet - giving a "desert" texture to the base. However, somewhere on the Internet (and I'd give the guy credit, but I just don't remember where!) I read a tip about using sandpaper as a texturing material.

cheap sandpaper

So I went to the $1.00 USD store (an inexpensive retail store), and bought some really cheap, heavy grit sandpaper. I sprayed a sheet with clear sealer to hold the sand particles on.

5-minute epoxy

How to attach the sandpaper to the bases? I wanted an adhesive that wouldn't flake off in a few years, so I chose an epoxy. This is a common type of adhesive found in hardware stores. It comes in two tubes, you squirt both tubes onto a mixing area, then stir them together to form a sticky mess. I use old yogurt lids to stir the glue, and use wooden spoons that I buy cheap at the $1.00 USD store.

clamping the bases while the epoxy dries

I smeared a thin layer of epoxy on the bases, laid them on the sandpaper, then used clamps to hold them together until the epoxy was dry. (The clamps also help squeeze out any excess glue, so the sandpaper and bases are tight together.)

the finished bases

When the resin is dry (in about an hour), I used an old pair of scissors to cut the bases out. Cut carefully so that you don't yank any sandpaper off the top, or leave too much hanging over the side. Then touch up the sides with a little paint of the same color as the sandpaper.