The Escape Pod Project

DaveG

Sr Member
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As my Y-Wing project is going to take awhile to do, I thought it would be fun to start on something simple that could be completed in less time. The Escape Pod from Star Wars:A New Hope. The shot of it dropping away from the Blockade Runner is just perfection in it's simplicity.

As with the original model, I'm starting with a couple of 5 quart paper paint buckets. Rather than fill them with foam I used the buckets like a roto mold to build up a thin shell. The first step was to cut a couple of 1/8" particle board discs with the CNC. The smaller disc fit snuggly inside the bottom lip of the paper bucket, the larger disc snapped into the indent for a lid near the top. Both discs were secured in place with hot melt glue. The discs served two purposes, the snug fit held the bucket round and the holes in the centers allowed the bucket to be rotated on a pipe. Before glueing the large disc in place I sprayed the inside surface of the bucket and disc with a couple coats of clear lacquer followed by an application of paste wax as a mold release.


The bucket assembly was slipped over a pipe set up so that the bottom side of the bucket would be level. The idea being that the resin would self level as the bucket was slowly spun. this proved to not really be all that critical. For much of the cure time I took the bucket off the pipe to rotate it. I used Silcast II resin which has about a 7 minute working time to which I added a thixotropic powder to make it thicker and coat better. I did the resin in two pours to build up a thickness of about 1/8".

For additional strength and rigidity a single layer of fiberglass was added to the inside of the fully cured resin. I prefer to use an epoxy resin for glassing. It's pretty expensive but if far less toxic and doesn't stink up the whole shop like polyester resin does.

Following a 24 hour cure the paper buckets were peeled off and I had two nice hollow resin shells. A bit of trimming and they were ready to go.

I wanted to do a simple armature with a single mounting point out the nose. For this a spoked disc was machined on the CNC router and a short piece of aluminum tube turned to fit into the hub. The resin shells were epoxy glassed to opposite faces of the disc forming the channel around the equator of the pod.

The conical sections at each end of the pod were turned on the lathe from 30 pound density rigid urethane foam. The surface of the foam was filled with automotive putty and sanded smooth.

And with that I've got an Escape Pod hull ready for detailing.
 

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bwayne64

Well-Known Member
Dude ! When do you sleep or do you ? ;) Another awesome project. Man to have your motivation. Cheers,

Joe
 

Pro Mod

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Thanks for letting us see your build methods.
Would you mind sharing the overall dimensions of a 5 quart paint bucket, as paper cups that size aren’t readily available in the UK - I have looked, honest!
Subscribed.
 

DaveG

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Royal - the only progress recently on this project has been drawing laying out the styrene plating patterns and acquiring kit parts. The Y-Wing Project has been taking all my time in the Shop.

Pro Mod - Here is a full scale drawing of the hull shapes based on the shells that were formed in the buckets. Hope this helps. Although it would be pretty expensive, if you want to cover the cost I'll ship you some 5 quart buckets...

NOTE - THIS DRAWING IS BASED ON CONTEMPORARY 5 QUART BUCKETS WHICH ARE MOST LIKELY NOT THE SAME SIZE AND PROPORTION AS THOSE USED ON THE ORIGINAL MODEL.
 

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Pro Mod

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Thanks for the great drawing Dave, with this drawing I can fabricate the body and don't really need the buckets - I do appreciate your kind offer.
 

DaveG

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Ok, time to get back to it! The styrene plating was worked out first on the 3D computer model, then patterns exported that could be printed and used to cut the pieces by hand out of .030" styrene sheet. The cut parts were taped in place and glued down with water thin super glue run around the edges. The same pattern files could have been used to laser cut the plating but styrene doesn't cut very cleanly with the laser. The edges tend to get a little melted, not as sharp as you can get when cutting with a good sharp blade. I used a Nibbler tool to cut the 1/4" notches on some of the edges, just as was done by the original model makers.
 

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wasili

Sr Member
Ok, time to get back to it! The styrene plating was worked out first on the 3D computer model, then patterns exported that could be printed and used to cut the pieces by hand out of .030" styrene sheet. The cut parts were taped in place and glued down with water thin super glue run around the edges. The same pattern files could have been used to laser cut the plating but styrene doesn't cut very cleanly with the laser. The edges tend to get a little melted, not as sharp as you can get when cutting with a good sharp blade.

http://i1053.photobucket.com/albums/s480/GoldbergArts/Escape Pod Build/IMG_2554_zpsmn3xmucv.jpg

http://i1053.photobucket.com/albums/s480/GoldbergArts/Escape Pod Build/IMG_2552_zpsljsq0pqi.jpg

http://i1053.photobucket.com/albums/s480/GoldbergArts/Escape Pod Build/IMG_2557_zpspd59bby6.jpg

http://i1053.photobucket.com/albums/s480/GoldbergArts/Escape Pod Build/IMG_2556_zpsxh1hi8p9.jpg
Pretty cool. Btw, you have a cnc router, right ? Then you could have easily cnc-ed the styrene. Been doing that for 20+ years now, so i know it works. Anyhow, look forward to seeing more.
 

DaveG

Sr Member
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Wasili - Yes, I thought about cutting the styrene on my CNC but decided to just cut it by hand. It was fast and I'm fine with the slight "hand made" variations and imperfections. Contributes to the model's character!
 

DaveG

Sr Member
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More styrene work and a few kit parts. I've got a fair number of the correct doner kit parts but not all of them. For the parts I don't have I'm just going to scratch build a reasonable substitute in styrene or substitute with something similar. It's okay with me that it's a little different from the original. Makes it my own!

Speaking of accuracy, I've come to the conclusion as I've been laying out some of the other kit parts, that the 5 quart paper buckets available now and which I used for the hull are not the same size and proportions as the buckets used back on the original model. I spoke with Jonathan Erland, one of the original model makers on ANH and he recalled that they used "left over greasy Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets". Looking at photos of vintage KFC buckets on Ebay it's obvious that they are wider and shorter in proportion than the 5 quart buckets I used. That would fit with what I'm seeing, that the main section of my hull is too small in diameter at the base (engine end) and a little too long. It doesn't bother me all that much, I'll just modify the parts to fit but if someone out there is looking to be 100 percent accurate they're going to have to find some old buckets on Ebay (hopefully without the grease stains!).
 

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DaveG

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Thanks Gene, I've actually got the majority of the parts needed, including the rare stuff like the SeaLab parts. Besides, it's a BIG galaxy, there's bound to be a bit of variation between Pods!
 

DaveG

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
There's a function in Rhino called Unroll which will accurately flatten out curved and conic shapes.
 
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