Ranger 3 and A+B foam - a cautionary tale....


Sr Member
It was going to be a simple build.

A couple of months ago, I picked up Timeslip's Ranger 3 kit, intent on making it the Season2 variant of Buck Rogers' shuttle. (Since the studio model had no cockpit, the sealed up windows in George's kit was perfect.) I proceeded to lop off the mount for the tail and start sanding the tail fillet, but was a bit worried about sanding through some of the thin spots as a result of the rotocast nature of the kit.

So, after careful consideration, I decided to fill it with A+B Urethane foam (the kind that expands - similar to the stuff you get in a can at Home Depot for your insulation). Unfortunately, even though I have 40 years of model making experience, I only spent about 40 seconds thinking it through. I mixed up too much and poured it all in at once. I can't remember how long it took me to think, "Uh oh....." - but I think it was pretty much straight away.

I thought I might get away with it. The leftover foam in the cup was starting to harden.

Then the creaking started. Really sweet sound. Until you realize that your $200 model is making it.

Then there was the pop. Not like a balloon, not like a paper bag. More like a tub of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls popping open after you hit them on the edge of the counter. Except that Pillsbury Crescent Rolls aren't a $200 resin kit........



The irony is - it didn't split along the "weak" point I thought was there. It probably would have been fine if I had LEFT IT ALONE!!

So, there you go folks - the "I-wonder-what-would-happen-if-we-filled-this-thing-with-TOO-much-expanding-foam" question is now answered.

Glad to be of service.....



It looks like if you carve out all the excess foam it might be salvageable though... fairly "clean" breaks.

Good luck!

Jedi Dade
Not that this will make you feel better, but Home Depot has this expanding foam which is "supposed" to only expand to it's confined limits and not expand further, preventing this common occurence happening to amateur home renovators. I haven't tried it myself yet.

Been there... done that. Had Dracula helmet with a hollow shoulder/chest base. Decided to fill the shoulders and did exactly the same thing you did. :(
With being a prop maker you always have to resist the urge to touch it or move it while it's curing. Not the first time I've seen this happen but it is salvagable.
Ewww, looks like the Thing from another world assimilated it. Ouch!

Look at the bright side though. At least now you don't have to worry about opening it up to mount bulbs if you wish to light it. It does indeed look salvageable to me though as they appear to be clean breaks. But I don't know if I would want to experience that horror story in person either, so thanks for the warning.
Wow. Taking that off of the list of things to try at home.

Thanks for being man enough to post a mistake like this. These kinds of lessons are just as valuable (if not more so) than the ones of things TO do.
Vent holes are absolutely necessary. I drilled vent holes into my Horizon ED-209 on each side of each part since I was tying to fill with foam in one pass. But I do the same for smaller doses of foam as well. The head took a good amount of foam all at once but survived....however, your model is huge and looks like it would take a lot of foam!

Not trying to school you, Gene, you've been doing this way longer than I have. I'm just trying to pass this info on to new modelers or those who haven't used expanding foam.

I hope the repairs work out!

......It does indeed look salvageable to me though as they appear to be clean breaks........

No, it's not. The foam and the resin are stuck together - in perfect (dis)harmony.

In other words - it's dead to me.

I hung it up in my garage, near some debris from Terminator2. I'll be adding Data's blown up shuttle from ST:TNG's "The Most Toys" (which I built for the show and still have) to the "Wall of Leftover Scraps".


Maybe I'll call it Ranger2.......

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Dang. Is the trailing edge meant to look like that, or is foam to blame there too?

Been there. At least this kit can be replaced reasonably easily. I'm (very slowly) restoring a 1929 Dodge tourer which had a hard-to-find pair of almost perfect windscreen stanchions. I dipped 'em in my acid bath to remove a couple of spots of surface rust. A few months later I'm thinking "where are my stanchions? Not seen them in ages. CRAP! They're not still in the acid, are they??!?".

So I check the bath, which has some crud and lumps of phosphoric concretion in it, and of course my stanchions...aren't there. WHEW. OK, I think, they must be somewhere else. I'll look later.

Another few months later, I think "I really must find those things...better doublecheck that acid bath"...oh THERE you are. Hiding under the crud. What was left of them - from 'near perfect' to 'bronze age archaeological find' in six months.
Just call it "Ranger Thing" as to me it looks and sounds even more like it got assimilated by the Thing. ;)

Major ouch.

And yes, the trailing edges on the Ranger 3 wings are supposed to look like that. It is a studio model with some fictional elements as opposed to being based on a factual shuttle. So the wings are a bit blunter than what one might find on an actual NASA winged vehicle.
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