AXM 1/144 Space Shuttle Atlantis

Discussion in 'Space & Aeronautics' started by Cap'n Davo, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    I've started a build of AXM's 1/144 scale Space Shuttle Atlantis... specifically as she was flown for the STS-34 mission which launched the Galileo Jupiter Probe.

    As there is no payload available (and since my long term desire is to build the complete shuttle stack and transporter) I'll be building the payload bay closed configuration and using the modified Orbiter belly files (showing the "weathered" tiles instead of the clean tiles on the maiden flight files).

    After a few days of cutting the parts out I'm ready to set aside the pile of clippings and begin coloring the edges of the parts as appropriate. I like to use markers for coloring the edges. I'm using 67 lb (148 g/m2) card stock.

    Wish me luck! :thumb:
    Cap'n Davo

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  2. Vince

    Vince Member

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    You've chosen a great model. Alfonso is a master of the art.:inw:

    I actually got into papermodeling because of Alfonso's models. I wanted a space shuttle wallpaper for my computer, so I Googled "Space Shuttle Wall Paper" and the AXM site came up. My first paper model was Alfonso's Challenger, which of course needed the stack assembly, which of course needed the MLP, and the Crawler, then a T-38 Talon, ... 3 years and a good dozen models later, still hooked. Alfonso's shuttles and stacks aren't too complicated, but the MLP and crawler is pretty advanced, and I messed up a lot. One of these days I'd like to rebuild them, but I've already got more (free!) models in my flash drives than I'll build in the rest of my lifetime. And of course, I still haven't finished the Grasshopper!
  3. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    Thanks, Vince. I too have more models to build than time to build them (its what I love about this hobby and the paper modeling community). I'm determined to complete this particular model to show my wife that I can actually finish them.. not just start them (see photo of my work bench). :mrgreen:

    ... however, the same day I started this model I also bought a 1/50 scale Japanese WWII "Betty" bomber model on eBay. <sigh> so many models, so little time.

    But back to the Atlantis. In looking at the parts I think I'm in pretty good shape with the exception of the OMS pod and attached RCS Thruster pod (see photo). That one is a little complicated and I'll have to do it twice (Right pod and Left pod). I've looked at photos of the real shuttles so I know what the part is supposed to end up like, I'm just not sure about my skills getting it there. I have a feeling I'll be building several of these until I get it right or get lucky (which ever comes first).

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  4. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    First up is the payload bay. Its an important piece as everything else hangs off of it (the cockpit, the wings, the engines and tail). I added some additional cardboard stiffeners to each of the four sides but not the bottom as it needs to be able to bend a bit going from the rear of the cargo bay to the front. To give additional strength to the payload bay walls I added a few cross beams of balsa wood.

    I've set it aside to dry before going to the next step.

    P.S. While waiting for it to dry I actually picked up a 1/33 RAF Typhoon kit from off my desk and considered putting a few pieces together... but I'm sticking to my guns that I'm going to finish the shuttle and not get distracted. So tempting...

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  5. sjsquirrel

    sjsquirrel Member

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    Good start!

    Looks like you're off to a good start Capn. I want to build this one someday as well so I look forward to following your progress. No pressure though. :thumb:
  6. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    Ever have one of those days when model building doesn't go "quite like planned"? And then you make it worse by trying to "fix" it? Well, St. Patrick's Day was that day for me. My decision to reinforce the cargo bay went awry when things got all slanted on me... and then I tried to fix the cargo bay skin and ended up making it worse. After that the centerline of the cargo bay skin wasn't on the centerline of the cargo bay so the cockpit piece looked slumped off to one side... and then I had to decide whether to line up the windows piece with the nose section or the payload bay (I tried to split the difference, which made both alignments look wrong). The nose section of the cockpit got very crowded and flattened at the same time.

    This is usually the point where I put everything into the Drawer-of-Unfinished-Projects and start a different model. Instead I've decided to start over and this time just follow the instructions and design without trying to "improve" it. :thumb: Pictures of the aborted attempt included below.

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  7. sjsquirrel

    sjsquirrel Member

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    The flaws you describe aren't really apparent in the pictures, but if you're not happy with it, you're not happy with it. I applaud your decision to start over rather than dump the whole project. That's what I like most about the hobby - if something gets messed up you can just do it again. It's all a learning experience.

    Looking forward to round two.

    Steve
  8. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    Shuttle Atlantis, Take Two. :mrgreen:

    Construction goes much faster when you aren't trying to second guess the designer! I'm back to where my challenges started on Take One (see first two pictures).

    I think I figured out what caused my challenge on my previous build. In reviewing the Assembly Manual I realized that in my earlier build I was trying to get the hinge-line of the payload bay (see third picture, green arrow) to line up with the bulkhead corner (yellow) while still having the center lines (black arrow) line up; this was causing all kinds of perceived alignment issues (which I then tried to correct but made worse); after looking closer at the real shuttle I realized that the cargo bay hinge-line is actually lower than the bulkhead corner. So if I just line up the centerlines (black arrow) and start gluing out to the bulkhead corner (as the manual indicates!) then things should line up correctly with the forward cockpit and the rear engine mount assemblies.

    As my highschool chemistry teacher used to say... "If at first you don't succeed, read the instructions. If that doesn't work, follow them."

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  9. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    What a difference a week makes!

    I had started over (and followed the directions this time) and went slowly and miracle-of-miracles... I got a payload bay-to-shuttle cockpit seam and alignment that I was very happy with. I'm still not sure if I got the nose section of the cockpit formed correctly but its good enough for me this time around and I'm moving forward. Next step will be to create the wing box supports (from one of the modified files at AXM) to give the wings their proper shape when installed, and then put on the belly section piece and glue it to the rest of the shuttle. On the side I've also been working patiently on the right OMS pod (with the tricky RCS thruster pod grouping) and on the main engines.

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  10. micahrogers

    micahrogers Active Member

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    looks great so far keep up the good work
  11. sjsquirrel

    sjsquirrel Member

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    Looking very good Capn. I'm glad to hear it's going much better this time around. Persistence pays, doesn't it.
  12. paulhbell

    paulhbell Member

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    Looks good. Nice to see that you didn't give up.
  13. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    Thanks for the support. :) Yes, it does feel good to push through a challenge and make progress (gives me hope for the six or seven models currently occupying my Drawer-of-Unfinished-Projects).

    I've installed the two wing box supports and I can tell they're going to be a huge benefit in giving the wings the proper shape. I have also attached the belly section and it went on without too much difficulty, although if I had it to do over again I would put an alignment mark toward the back of the cargo bay structure in the center and the belly section in the center ... the belly piece is pretty large and I can tell that even though I started out straight at the nose by the time I got to the back end in gluing I ended up just a little off. (see the second picture and notice the centerline of the cargo bay and how its not lined up with the middle of the belly piece).

    Next up I'll install the rest of the wing top surfaces and the aft engine compartment.

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  14. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    Good progress made lately, though installing the wing tops and the aft engine section proved more difficult than I had anticipated. In my last email I noted that when I glued the shuttle body to the lower belly section I was a little off at the back end on my alignment... well that "little off" resulted in the wing tops and engine section not aligning correctly when I went to install them. I was able to work around it but for future builds I definitely will pay more attention to that body-to-belly alignment. I have the right OMS pod started and next up will plan to finish out the shuttle (complete the OMS pods, install the engines, install the tail).

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  15. Rhaven Blaack

    Rhaven Blaack ADMINISTRATOR Administrator

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    This is coming together BEAUTIFULLY!!!
    You are doing GREAT WORK!!!

    I have to say that I have always buut partial to the Challenger though.

    I will be following this thread.
  16. Vince

    Vince Member

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    When I built my Challenger, I had the same problem lining up the cargo hold with the outer skin walls, and ended up doing the same thing you did - starting over. I chose to worry only about lining up the black lines, and ended up like yours did - except I thought thought I was doing something wrong. I guess I accidentally did it right!
  17. Cap'n Davo

    Cap'n Davo the new guy

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    :) Model complete!

    The OMS pods were a little tricky to install so that they met up with the cargo bay but I'm happy with how they turned out. I definitely learned a lot on this build and I'm tempted to start a new one but have instead decided to press on with the shuttle stack (because I'm just having too much darn fun with this). The ET is taking shape and soon I'll have something to mount this nice pretty Orbiter on.

    I chose the Atlantis STS-34 mission because that was the one that I worked on straight out of college working in the "Post-MECO" Ascent Design Group at Rockwell. I waited till the crew was safely back on the ground after the flight before telling them that this was my first mission out of school and oh-by-the-way could I have their autograph. :thumb:

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  18. Rhaven Blaack

    Rhaven Blaack ADMINISTRATOR Administrator

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    The shuttle looks FANTASTIC!!!.
    You did an AMAZING JOB on it.
    I am looking forward to seeing the rest of it.
    GREAT story about your first assignment fresh out of college.
    KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!
  19. sjsquirrel

    sjsquirrel Member

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    She turned out well indeed Cap'nDavo. Persistence pays doesn't it? Glad to see it finished and glad to see you kept at it. Thanks for sharing the build and I look forward to seeing the next phases.

    Steve
  20. zathros

    zathros -----SENIOR---- Administrator

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    Hi SJS!

    Great looking shuttle. I mounted one of these on a ESTES rocket and balanced the Shuttle out, throwing it off of a hill many times. I was quite surprised how well it glided back to the ground after a really high flight, I used a "D" engine.. Yours looks fantastic, I don't think I could ever toss something like that. It would be hard enough letting anyone else hold it! Great workmanship. :)