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Taking the Spin Out of Magnetic Flight Stands


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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

I've tried something like that, not sure if it is the same. The one I tried was often out of stock.

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31 July 2020page first published

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

I keep playing around with different concepts for magnetic flight stands.

Hurricane on magnetic flight stand

In the Hurricanes & Magnets workbench article, I showed a simple technique for mounting aircraft to flight stands using magnets. While this works, it has two drawbacks: the models easily change facing ("spin") on the stands, and they can be knocked off the stands by sudden motion.

Aeronef 'dog on simple magnetic flight stand

In the Simple Magnetic Flight Stands workbench article, I showed how to make a sleeved magnetic flight stand – the cylindrical magnet on the model slides into a brass cylinder on top of the flight stand, with a second magnet in the bottom to hold it in place. This technique provided a sturdier connection with less chance of the model being knocked off the flight stand, but did not entirely solve the accidental rotation problem.

Upper hull of plastic Chaos spaceship

For this project, I'm using some Games Workshop Battlefleet Gothic Chaos starships. Above, you can see the upper hull of one of the three models, which I've already begun to customize.

Magnets

This time, the magnet I'll be planting into the model will be square cross-section instead of round.

Drilling

The picture above shows the drill passing through the lower hull. Because this is a plastic model, the hole's diameter should match the side-to-side measurement of the magnet. A hobby knife or a square-sided needle file can then be used to carve out the 'corners', giving a nice, snug hole to glue the magnet into. Do your best to orient the magnet so that it is perfectly vertical.

Magnet in hull

Gap-filling superglue works well for this, or you could use two-part epoxy – you want something that will grip the ceramic magnets. Make sure you've got the magnet polarity right! Wait a day before doing any further assembly.

Plastic critters

I also wanted to experiment with using soft plastic toys to add more Chaos to my ships. In the picture above, I have cut the spongy plastic toys apart, drilled holes, and superglued wire into the holes.

Modified Chaos ship

The new parts could then be inserted into holes drilled in the plastic hull, and gap-filling superglue was used to fill in any gaps. The ship shown above received tentacles, as well as a seahorse head and tail. I also used other weapons and masts from my bits box.

Modified Chaos ship

The magnet conveniently sticks to my tool, turning it into a holder!

Painted Chaos ship

Then the ships were painted. The model above was modified with the addition of a spare Lord of the Rings troll weapon as a ram, and some new masts.

Painted Chaos ship

Keep the magnet clean of paint, as that will interfere with sliding into the flight stand.

Flight stands

Meanwhile, I grabbed three random flight stands out of my bins, and following the technique from my previous article, added hollow brass to the top (with a magnet on the bottom). Be careful to keep the brass vertical, and oriented to however you want your ship to face. Also doublecheck the magnet's polarity! I added a steel disk on the bottom for storage purposes. The stands were spray-painted gloss black.

Chaos ships

So here's the finished fleet on their new magnetic flight stands. "Spin" problem solved!

Chaos ship with ram

The 'ram ship' looks nice and level, but why is it facing the point instead of the base side? Oh well…

Chaos ship with seahorse head

The 'seahorse' ship seems a little bow-heavy, probably an issue with mounting the magnet in the hull.

Chaos ship with seahorse head

And the facing is off, but that's because I used the same flight stand for both photos. grin

Chaos ship with fist

The third ship is also a little bow-heavy – could it be the flight stand, not the model? Hmmm…

Chaos ship with fist

This ship has a demon's hand forming on the rear deck.

Summing up: These bases solve the "spin" problem, but I had some problems getting them straight and true. The magnets work nicely, but are they necessary? Would a purely mechanical slide-into-place system work as well?

Also note that if you try this on a metal ship, you'll probably need to drill a hole with a diameter equal to the distance between the points on your magnet. That's because you can't cut metal like you can plastic.

Lastly, also note that this technique won't work on very small models, because drilling the hole is likely to weaken and destroy the model.