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3 - Assembling Janus' Front Turret

Janus Mk VII
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Janus Mk VII
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10 March 2000converted to new format
24 December 1996page first published

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In the comments which follow, I may be more of a perfectionist than you are - or I may be less of one! I am not trying to prescribe the One Right Way to build miniatures. I am just trying to describe how I happen to do it.

First, I'd noted when dryfitting it to the hull that the neck was too long (the turret stood up above the hull). I didn't think this was what the designer had intended, so I trimmed the neck with a flush cutter until it was the right length.

Now that I could dry-fit the turret closely to the hull, I noticed that the sensor blister on the turret would collide with the right hull flange when turned in that direction. (The sensor blister can't collide with the left flange, since the turret can't rotate that far due to the gun barrel.) This wasn't much of a problem, since the turret would rotate - it was just that sooner or later, it would scape a bit of paint off the hull.

Therefore, I took a jewelers file and filed a bevel into the bottom of the sensor blister, and checked against the hull until I'd trimmed enough to allow it to rotate without colliding.

Turret Seams

Next, I checked the turret for imperfections or seams. The turret reminds me of some of the WWII cast turrets - a bit rough, a little bumpy, which reminds you that it represents a piece of heavy armor and not some stamped-out aluminum structure. I like that style.

There was a hairline seam which ran just above the bottom edge of the turret. I could have left it on, figuring either that:

  • the real tank might have a seam there, or
  • the seam was so small that the primer might cover it

but I instead took a few swipes at it with a file. Since this was a round object, the trick was to keep moving the file to come in from different angles, so not to file a flat spot onto the turret. I didn't remove all of the seam, but I did knock off the worst spots. While I had the file out, I also flattened the mantlet (where the gun barrel will be inserted).

Gun Barrel Seams

Examining the gun barrel, the only flaw I spot is the same flaw you always get on a gun barrel - two seams, very minor, one down each side.

The usual technique on an object of this size is to swipe the seam with the edge of a knife, carving it away. The risks (for the perfectionist) are that you'll use a heavy hand and make a flat spot, or hit a rough spot and knick the barrel.

However, my preferred tool is a Flex-I-File. It conforms perfectly to the back of the barrel, and easily takes out the seam. However, the front end of the barrel is both too narrow (the band is wider than the area to be sanded) and too complex (two surface levels), so the Flex-I-File is inappropriate here (it would start to sand the step between the levels). Therefore, I make some whacks with a knife edge until the seam is no longer noticeable.

I also swipe a file on the firing end of the barrel, to eliminate a minor seam there.

Mating Turret With Barrel

The two pieces attach by means of a pin on the end of the barrel, which slides into a hole on the turret.

The immediately problem is that the pin is slightly longer than the hole is deep. (And perhaps my filing of the mantlet made this worse than it would have been.) The easy answer is to shave off some of the pin to make it shorter, but I'm worried about getting as much pin into the hole to make this joint as strong as possible.

Therefore, I use a pin vise to lengthen the hole. It only takes a few turns of the drill before the hole is the right length.

Gluing It In There

The next question is which form of adhesive to use. The major choices are:

  • superglue - adheres to almost anything, but doesn't always hold heavy objects well over time
  • epoxy - stronger than superglue, but two-part epoxies require you to open two packets of material and mix them to make the glue

I decide to go with superglue for the convenience. (If the barrel comes off later, I can always epoxy it then.) Superglue comes in "runny" or "thick" (gap-filling) versions. I don't have a gap problem here, so the runny version will do.

What you want to do it put just a little glue into the hole, but you don't want to fill the hole because inserting the gun barrel will squeeze the glue out onto the turret (and your fingers). If you are worried about putting enough glue down to form a nice seal between barrel and turret, don't worry - you can always add a touch more glue after the barrel is glued in.

In this case, I accidentally squeeze too much glue in, but fortunately it doesn't get on anything crucial.

There's a lot of wiggle-room with this particular barrel and turret, so after inserting the barrel, I'm carefully checking to make sure it lines up correctly from the top (i.e., pointing the same direction as the turret) and the side (i.e., firing parallel to the turret). You'd think the gun could be elevated, but in practice it just looks wrong (to my eyes) that way.

Also make sure the vanes on the barrel end up as you like them. The kit label seems to show them with the vanes perfectly horizontal and vertical, but there's no reason not to make them all at 45 degree angles if you prefer that.

The assembled front turret

The glue dries quickly. Inspecting the final result, I'm suddenly convinced that I've screwed it all up - that the barrel is pointing off to the side! It's actually a bit tricky to find the "front" of the turret, but as it turns out, I'm only confused because I'd been looking at the turret from the bottom (it does look funky from this angle). It's actually fine.