So, after building the Enterprise from PVC pipe, plumbing parts, MDF and junk, I thought I'd try another.
All of these projects tend to start with the realisation that something looks like something else, and the Falcon has been no different. My starting point for this ship was this PVC vent cowling...
...which is very obviously a Falcon cockpit in disguise.
I didn't use blueprints for the Enterprise, because it was a basic enough shape to build from measurements alone, but the Falcon is a bit more complex and detailed. Googled some diagrams. Scaled them appropriately. Printed them out. Stuck a billion pages together. Yay, blueprints. (If these are your drawings and you don't mind me using them, then thank you! If they're yours and you do mind, then, um, sorry. Whoops?)
So the plan is PVC pipes for the pipe-shaped bits and MDF for the flat bits, then kinda make the rest up as I go along.
Main shape is cut from MDF. Hull is two MDF sheets with some bits of 20mm timber in between like a sandwich. Had a heck of a time getting the "slot" that the tube goes into to work properly, but after a lot of filing and cutting and swearing, it slots in nicely.
The 50mm PVC vent cowl (cockpit) actually has an external diameter of 60mm, so everything is scaled from that. The bonus to using 60mm to measure from is that all of the round parts on the ship actually marry up to PVC pipe component sizes, so the circular cannon mount thingies in the middle are 100mm pipe caps (120mm ext. diam), and all of the round vent thingies on the rear will be 40mm PVC tube pieces.
The docking corridors (I'm making these names up as I go along) are getting built up to the right heights. I'm pretty much just "sketching" a shape here, trying to get all of the important parts to be a) fairly solid, and b) the right size.
Not entirely sure how I'll approach filling the ribs. Initial plan is expanding foam, then bondo. Failing that, EVA foam, then bondo (tedious to cut all the EVA foam up though, been there done that on the Enterprise saucer), failing that I might just make more ribs and skin the whole area with styrene. Who knows! This is an adventure.
I've added some extra pipe portions to the cockpit corridor. The piece on top appears to give the correct angle, I'm hoping it'll look "right" once the hull plates are snuggled up around it.
The round holes on the mandibles are bigger than they need to be (actually, the mandibles are also thinner than they need to be) because the whole front area is generously undersized to allow the surface to be built up with some layers of...whatever...to get the shapes and textures right.
My plan is to detail the entire exterior using whatever I can find that seems to look right, mostly junk, but we'll see what happens.
The only concession I think I'll make is that I usually don't use a lot of styrene sheet (because it's expensive), but I can't think of any other way to make a tonne of hull plates without losing my sanity entirely, so styrene it will be.
I'm at the point in the build where I start tearing out parts that I've already made because they didn't work so well, or because I came up with a better idea.
I wasn't happy with the "make ribs, fill with something" approach to making the dome shape, because I couldn't shake the feeling that there had to be something I could buy that was just the right shape. So I went hardware store hunting again.
BAM - a garbage bin lid. Obviously it has some issues, though. The centre part is raised. The total diameter of the curved part is not quite wide enough. And it has "60L" on it. Dremeled the heck out of it. Took the lip off, cut the centre piece out and re-insterted it without the offset. So far, so good.
I wish I had access to a laser cutter.....but I don't, so instead, I cut four pieces of tedious acrylic by hand, and messed about with them until they fit right. Also detailed the little round tubs on the mandibles with some USB thumb drive lids, lollipop sticks and cable ties for texture.
I'm happy with the shape of the "dome". It's still rough, but it'll be covered with little styrene hull plates, so the texture won't be evident.
We we have an engine deck. It's styrene, warped with a heat gun to the curvature of the bin lid, and raised above the surface on a few stacked strips of styrene. Worked fairly well. It has a few uneven areas due to heat gun brutality, which will require some filler later, but generally speaking, it's working quite nicely.
Dug some holes in the bin lid for the maintenance tubs, which will probably be detailed with chunks of old circuit board and piping from lollipop sticks and whatnot, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Messed about with the cockpit (plumbing vent) a bit. Filled in the lower "windows", added angled pieces to the upper windows. Still need to add some thin borders to the windows and some kind of glass. Drilled the end of the plumbing vent out, added a disc of styrene for the end windows. Decided to sacrifice one of the upper windows on the end of the cockpit for the sake of practicality, so there are three wedge-shaped windows on top, not four. I'm not losing any sleep over it.
The plan is to cut panels to cover the larger areas (each "pie wedge" of the round part, etc), then mark the panel gaps on the whole piece with Sharpie, then cut on the Sharpie lines and file away the visible Sharpie, theoretically leaving a bunch of correctly shaped panels with fairly even gaps between them. At least, that's the plan.
I forgot to cut the little notches into the edges of the panels, but again, I'm not worried, it won't look out of place for the turret to be missing notches. I'll put notches on the main panels. Whoops.
The below photograph is testing a theory -- I'm considering using flattened out binder clips for the engine flaps. It's not accurate, but neither is a garbage bin lid. I think they convey the concept of "engine flaps" quite well.
Paneling the cockpit tube involves putting masking tape on the tube, drawing the panels, peeling the tape off, sticking the tape onto styrene sheet and cutting out the panels. Not as difficult as it initially seemed.
Circuit boards from an old cable modem make great greeblies for inside the maintenance wells.
And there's our initial black wash. Now, it won't surprise you to know that I'm doing all of this 'wrong', and I'm not using expensive oils for my washes. All of the weathering is going to be done using acrylic paints (the kind that comes in tubes for a couple of bucks, school paint), some sidewalk chalk and the most outrageously expensive part of the whole weathering process will be a pack of artist's pastels. So...this should be interesting.
The first point of failure (sort of) has been the initial black wash. I forgot to include soap in the recipe, so there were some spectacular issues with surface tension and my wash retracting away from some of the greebs/edges/features. Oh well. We live and learn.
Panel detail. Weathered inside with artist's pastel and acrylic paint and water and whatever other stuff I could find to grunge it up in there.
So that's how I made that. And now it sits in my garage and collects dust, alongside the Enterprise.