Model Of The Month: Ford Tri-Motor (Zorn - 1:33) in SCADTA colors

Discussion in 'Aircraft & Aviation' started by niebla de fuego, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Last week I printed two kits to build. A coin decided the Ford would be the first of the year (the Savoia with the late engine will come afterwards).

    The model is the Ford Tri-Motor (scale 1:33) designed by Peter A. Zorn, Jr. and originally published by Crown Publishers in 1982. As some of you may already know, Mr. Zorn allowed the digital restoration of the kit, and its free release. It can be downloaded from

    The airplane is Ford Tri-Motor 5-AT-D (cn # 111) serving for the Colombian airline SCADTA with register number “C-61” and the name “Cartagena”. The model I will build represents the plane as it looked in the following photo:


    Photo form:

    As far as I know it is the only existing photo of the “Cartagena” on the web. On the background you can see Tri-Motor 5-AT-D-106 “Tarapaca” also from SCADTA with the wing cargo compartment open. You can also see the burnt remains of the fatal crash of Tri-Motor 5-AT-B-6 “F-31” from SACO. That SACO Tri-Motor is the same plane in which legendary tango singer Carlos Gardel died, so we know the photo was taken at Medellin the last week of June 1935.

    The digital kit of the Tri-Motor offers 11 different liveries. But this SCADTA version is not included. I re-painted this version on December 23rd, and has some slight changes respect to the original kit:


    Since the kit is for a 5-AT-B version with rounded door and small window behind the cockpit, the details were modified accordingly. The 5-AT-Ds had a square door and the small window behind the cockpit was removed. Seats were redesigned because 5-AT-D planes used aluminum seats (not wicker). Some small details were also modified on the nose. I decided to keep the circular bathroom window because I plan to detail its interior, and it would not make sense to put details inside if they can’t be seen.

    It will not look exactly like the original, but I’ll be happy if I can make something very similar.

    The kit was laser-printed on 150gsm cardstock. After measuring with a caliper I found the thickness of the sheets is 0.27mm, which is quite good since the pages of the original 1982 book are 0.26mm thick.

    The model is built from the inside, and the first step is to assemble the seats.

    First: print the parts. The arms and legs of the seats were slightly modified to make them look more like the ones used in “D” Tri-Motors.

    Second: carefully score, cut, and fold. Don’t forget to color the edges. I use Prismacolor pincels for the edges.

    Third: calmly and precisely glue the parts.
    Trimotor_005.jpg Trimotor_006.jpg

    Fourth: repeat until you have enough seats for your Tri-Motor.

    Fifth: thank God I am not building a 400-seat Boeing 747.

    Next in the process is to assemble the passenger cabin and the bathroom.
  2. ASC Mclaren

    ASC Mclaren Member

    Nov 19, 2011
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    Very nice!
  3. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    Agarralo con fe y fuerza! :)
  4. Albert: yes, the engines look difficult because of the many parts.

    ASC McLAren: thank you!, hope you keep watching.

    John: el kit es muy bonito y amigable. Very nice to build :)

    Work continues on the interior.

    First, I would like to show one of the additional details: the fire extinguishers. According to the 1929 instruction manual, there were two on the Tri-Motor. One near the door can be seen in some photos strapped on the floor behind the rearmost seat, and in some cases hanging besides the toilet’s door. The second is attached on the floor behind the pilot’s seat. In some photos the second extinguisher can also be seen hanging from the front bulkhead, besides the pilot’s door.

    Apparently, the extinguishers used in the airplanes had a handle used to pump the chemicals out of the nozzle in the other end.

    The kit does not include parts for the extinguishers, so this is scratch building.

    I tried to get a similar shape by means of a tightly rolled piece of paper, a pin, and a couple of triangular pieces of paper. After assembled and glued they were painted with golden ink to give it a metallic finish.


    Those “extinguishers” are just 12 mm tall (half inch). The straps and bracket were made with paper and cardstock respectively. I know they look terrible in the photo, and not well-proportioned. But in real life they are so tiny and look so different! (Damned unforgiving macro photos!!!!)

    The first extinguisher is installed before the rear bulkhead is mounted for easy positioning.


    This side photo shows all the seats glued plus the extinguisher, the toilet, and the water tank. The toilet is included in the kit, while the water tank is also scratch-built.


    The right wall accessories are mounted before glueing the wall to the rest of the cabin. The wash bowl is included in the kit. The design is quite simple but very effective.

    I have not found direct photographic evidence of how the cabinets looked like, so they are just my guessing. I only know they were aluminum parts painted with lacquer. I opted for a simple look, which should work just fine and in accordance with the rest of the design. The cabinets are simple scratch-built box-type objects, very easy to design by hand in a couple of minutes. I spent like fifteen minutes building them and adding the accessories.

    The white smaller box inside the left cabinet represents the first aid kit that was included as standard equipment in the Tri-motors. There is spare toilet paper too (just another tightly rolled paper). On the right cabinet you see the hand towels. They were imitated using tissue paper. Both cabinets are barely half inch tall (12mm tall).


    Inside the rear bulkhead you get the hinged door, and the toilet paper.


    Now… why to put so much detail in the toilet compartment? As I use to say: even if it can’t be seen, I’ll know it’s there!!!

    Next posts shows a couple of more images.
  5. After details are added, is time to glue the right wall.

    More angles of the work until now. You will see one cabinet has a mirror (a piece of kitchen aluminum foil).

    Trimotor_014.jpg Trimotor_015.jpg

    Trimotor_012.jpg Trimotor_013.jpg

    The only thing that is left to be added is the “jump seat” used by the flight assistant, located just on the door. I will add it later when the cabin is fully closed.

    One final note: the seats of the Tri-motors matched the interior walls. However I decided to use the green cushions because that color adds more contrast and life to the overall looks. And since the interior of the fuselage will be mostly dark once closed, a bit of contrasting color was needed in order to see something through the windows.

    See you soon!
  6. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    I am going to try and find it, but I believe I have one of those fire extinguishers, or at least one very similar! (A real one)!

    I can't believe how much of this you have completed in such a short time. Excellent!!:thumb:
  7. That would be really interesting to see!!!!
  8. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    Still sick (enfermo!), but I know right where it is, just have to go into the basement. I'll post a pick, it's probably much newer, but they used that design a long time. :)
  9. rockpaperscissor

    rockpaperscissor Member

    Mar 4, 2006
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    Very precise build. Detailing is terrific. Just look at the legroom! An added plus, no one hanging over into your square foot of seating area like on today's flying sardine tins. Nicely done!
  10. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    Quite comfortable, for sure, but structurally, VERY Sardiney! :)
  11. Closing the roof is a bit tricky. Not difficult, but it requires certain care. The original instructions suggest gluing the arch flaps as the final step. I found it was easier for me not to follow the instructions this time. I glued first the vertical side flaps (A), and just after that I glued the arch flaps. I glued the side flaps (B) and the rear flap in the end. By doing this it was easier to glue and hold the arch flaps and curve the roof. The same applied for the smaller front ceiling (first glue the vertical flaps, then the arch flaps, and finally the side flaps).

    Here’s a picture of the closing of the ceiling, and a photo of the interior of the fuselage once the roof is finished.

    Trimotor_016.jpg Trimotor_017.jpg

    After the cabin is finished, work starts in the cockpit. You can follow the instructions step by step, or work each piece separately. In the end the result will be the same.

    First, I went from this:

    To this:

    And from this:

    To this:

    I confess I didn’t like much my work with the pilot seats. Not clean at all, and pieces were damaged too much in handling.

    The fit of the seats is very tight, and it is even more so because of the cardstock. I had to trim a bit here and there to adjust for the thickness of cardstock. So be patient dealing with the seats.

    And don’t forget a useful trick to get the shape of the backs right: use a cotton tip slightly damped in water to wet the paper, and a small rod to torture the paper until it gets the proper curve.
  12. It definitely was not my day when cutting. The pedals were not anywhere near accurate or clean:

    So I hid my mistakes with some silver ink.

    In my defense I can argue that with those pedals we are talking about 0.5mm cardstock frames. Something that is difficult for me.

    One more thing about the pedals: the upper part must be folded thrice in order to make a spacer (1mm folds). That can be a nightmare with 0.27mm cardstock. I decided to add instead 3 layers of cardstock to get the thickness.

    The body of the cockpit is not difficult at all, but you must remember that you may need to trim a bit here and there to get everything fit properly. And if at some points the instructions look a bit unclear, don't worry: use your modeling instinct ;)

    Here’s a photo of the cockpit bulkhead as seen by the passengers (including the second extinguisher):


    And now we can take a look inside through the door window.
  13. Hmm… the door opens to reveal more details, like the hydraulic brake lever made with the help of a pin, a drop of glue and black paint.


    And here are two more views of the cockpit.



    The first major step of the build is complete with the attachment of the cockpit to the cabin. After this, work will start on the exterior of the plane.


    Macro photos and good lighting provide interesting and detailed views. However they also reveal all the mistakes not seen by the naked eye :(
  14. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    Excellent workmanship. I always have a psychological block when it comes to closing up models with interiors like this. I feel like I "can't get in there" anymore. My son always takes the figures out of any toy he gets. If he is playing a dog fight scene, the enemy plane has a dude but his is empty. I asked him why, he said because "He is in there". I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! You have done a beautiful job on this. This will make Mr. Zorn very proud and should be too! :)
  15. Vince

    Vince Member

    Jul 27, 2011
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    Amazing detail! Great job!
  16. paper hollywood

    paper hollywood Member

    Jul 10, 2007
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    Awesome build so far, Ruben. This is one of the the most detailed card model downloads I've seen on the web. The 308 pages are a bit intimidating until you realize the file includes several skin versions. I like that the designer even includes suggestions about printing and enlarging/reducing the model. I've got to build this one.
  17. peter taft

    peter taft Senior Member

    Jan 15, 2010
    Likes Received:
    This is an extremely wonderful build thus far. Plenty of photo's of the interior put into a Photo frame to stand at her side, would show off all the great work :thumb:
  18. Goncalo Mendes

    Goncalo Mendes Member

    Oct 25, 2007
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  19. rdajunior95

    rdajunior95 New Member

    Aug 24, 2008
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    Amazing build. Truly beautiful.
  20. rbeach84

    rbeach84 New to Paper

    Feb 5, 2010
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    The saga continues!

    Ruben, now you've come full circle with the Trimotor. Beautiful job on building this wonderful work.

    Regards, Robert