Even though I've been involved in researching SS kit donor parts since '97 or '98, I'm really not that experienced in scratchbuilding. I wanted to know some things about vacuforming.
I've never vacuformed before, and I live in a very small studio apartment. What should I watch out for so I don't let the plastic melt down onto the heating element in my stove and start a fire? After I do it a couple of times I should have enough of a hang of it to do it more. But I don't want to screw it up the first couple of times.
Has anyone tried to vacuform plastruct gray ABS sheet? How's it work out? From what I've seen it's very, very nice for scratchbuilding. But I suppose Styrene is a bit cheaper.
I've learned that the size of the Plastruct hemisphere for the SS TIE Fighter is 5 1/4". Before I thought it was 5" and was hoping to pick up some 2.5" hemis to make a 1:48 TIE. Then I was disappointed, but then I found some 2 5/8" hemispheres (right size for studio half-scale). These hemis are made out of 'virgin' High-Impact Polystyrene, and are really nice for this project. But I need to vacuform over this shape to build the rest of the ship.
Is this possible? Will the heat from the softened sheet warp the hemisphere? Again, it's 2 5/8" diameter and about 1/16" thick.
By the way. The fact that the SS TIE hemi is 5.25" in diameter has some interesting consequences. The Fine Molds TIE marked as 1:72 is too small. It's about 1:100, and the "1:48" I would imagine is still too small. The ERTL Darth Vader TIE Fighter (whose wings and front window frame are used on the SS TIE Bomber) is 1:48, almost exactly - half studio scale. Which would make the TIE Bomber also 1:48, and would make this kit roughly in-scale with the ERTL X Wing. The AMT TIE Fighter double-pack and TIE Interceptor kits are also too small for 1:48. Those kits and the 1:48 TIE from Fine Molds (probably) are about 1:72.
Anyway, any help, advice, vacuforming wisdom would be appreciated. Thanks!