Monthly Archives: January 2008

Thinning, mixing, spraying and ‘washing’ with water-based model paints


Thinning

Because Polly Scale, Testors Model Master Acryl and Vallejo paints are clearly water based, I’ve used distilled/deionized water, or tap water, to thin them. As in anything with water-based paints, you start by thoroughly stirring, then consider your goal. Remember the stirring mantra, stir until you are sure its done, then 1 more timed minute after that. I’ve water-thinned Tamiya and Gunze-Sanyo paints as well, but I’ve never been completely happy with the results I get thinning Gunze-Sanyo. Both companies offer a thinner and if I had to spray one or the other’s product, tomorrow, I’d probably experiment with those thinners.

If you’re going to thin a water or alcohol-based paint for spraying, you probably want to pour some of it into a mixing/storage jar. People will tell you to never return thinned paint to the container it came in, but I’ve done it and nothing particularly bad happened. Poly Scale seems about right for brushing right out of the bottle. Model Master Acryl glosses seem a bit thick, and their flat paint about right. Vallejo’s little 17ml squeeze bottles seem just right for brushing, out of the bottle.

Spraying

For spraying or air-brushing, the paint should be thinned to the consistancy of whole milk. A little thicker and heavier than skim milk. This is a bit thin for hand brushing, which is why you should consider keep the thinned paint separate from your main supply.

Distilled or de-ionized water have the advantage of no mineral content to react to the paint. I’ll never forget the 1/72 Space Shuttle kit I decaled using tap water… which gave me rust stains on just about every marking! It shows up very well against white…. But I mostly use tap water and I can’t remember a problem in a long, long time. For spraying, if I want a thinner that will evaporate faster than water, isoproyl alcohol has always been my first choice. The 70% alcohol/30% water “rubbing alcohol” mix from the drugstore is fine. Use equal parts rubbing alcohol and water, for starters. Denatured ethyl alcohol might work as well. Experiment.

I’ve used my trusty Badger 250 Paint Sprayer for decades, with water and water/alcohol thinned water-based paints, especially Polly Scale, Works great. A number of people in my modeling club, The Silicon Valley Scale Modelers, airbrush with Gunze-Sanyo and I’ve done one airbrush paint job using it myself, with my Pasche double action cheapie ( model “H” or “V”). Thin, light, coats work great. Expect 3-5 to cover.

Mixing

Mixing water based paint colors can be very rewarding. Start by stirring the paints you intend to mix. Use a plastic lid, white or translucent, as a mixing bowl/container and put a drop of each ingredient on it. Use a fine paint brush to bring a bit of each color together in the middle. When you think you have the proportions, roughtly, try mixing by drops, to see how it’ll go. Always put in less of the strong color, more of a mild color. Less black, blue, and red, More white, gray and pink,

Now paint it onto something, using a good brush: the outside of the jar lid, a parts tree, the inside of some part, a light-colored ‘utility’ model kept for the purpose. Just like oils, the water/alcohol based stuff changes color as it dries. That’s why I started painting well stirred paint onto the lid of its container over 30 years ago. Its a happy habit.

I’ve sucessfully used Tamiya gloss Red to mix with Polly Scale (railroad) Utility Orange, and made minor mixes of Gunze-Sanyo, Tamiya, Polly Scale and Model Master Acryl in various combinations, but they ARE different chemistry systems and don’t mix as readily across product lines as I would like. (the Red Tamiya tended to separate from the Orange Polly Scale, if too much water was used as a thinner. I’ve mixed Vallejo and Gunze Sanyo blues, and mixed that with Polly Scale white, and got more or less what I wanted. Nothing has turned a wierd color or started smoking, but I wouldn’t mix half of one brand with half of another- if the proportions are that large, I use the same brand for both parts. Although RPM makes both Testor’s Model Master Acryl AND Polly Scale, they are different in formula and not all that happy with each other, in more or less equal proportions.

Washing

Before

First Wash

After soaking up extra and a drybrush with black

You can super-dilute water/alcohol based paint and use it as a wash, just like oil-based paint. The increased surface tension of the water means it doesn’t spread as easily as oil-based paint, and tends to bead up. Use a tiny hint of dish detergent, or watch it and brush it out as it dries. I’ve had very nice results using metalic and/or black washes over brown airplane engine exhausts, dark color washes to suggest depth. Unlike oil paint, when its dry, it won’t come up again, so you can’t do the “sludge” wash to and then clean off the excess for panel lines and the like. On the other hand, with water based paint, you can just blot it up with a damp tissue, paper towel, sponge, etc, if you don’t like how it looks.

Here’s links into my Flickr photo collection:
Before
During
Done

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Child-men and theory X of being an adult.


NPR had an interview with an opinion writer from the Dallas Morning News, who wrote this about the phenomena of “Child-men”

www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/points/stories/DN-hymowitz_27edi.ART0.State.Edition1.378ca5b.html

This was one of two pieces on the subject in the DMN on Sunday. I listened while I drove to work, then I wrote them:

I think it was Charles Darwin who pointed out how important female choice of mates was for us ‘higher’ animals. Judging from my experiences (I am 51, married, with a child and a mortgage, of many years), and popular literature back through Jane Austin, young women have been disappointed with their choices among young men for at least the last 200 years, in Western societies. Probably longer, and in other places, too.

Groups of young women “packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling and dining with friends”, (but not, apparently, *male* friends) may seem more appealing than groups of young men hanging, “out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3”, but neither sounds particularly adult to me.

Both the speaker’s piece and a companion piece in the Dallas paper take what I would call a “Theory X” view of growing up- women do it by magic, by overachieving, and (some) men don’t because (too many of them) are lazy. So (more) men have to be compelled to ‘grow up’, get a mortgage, have some kids, marry someone… And they have to do this because its good for them, whether they know it or not.

I can’t follow the reasoning. Frankly, guys who choose to be louts (or lads) when they are 26 are going to be louts when they are 36, maybe 46 too. In the bad old days they DID marry, they DID have children, and their unhappy and neglected wives and children are a cliche, as are they. And I don’t blame only the men, or only their mothers, Dr. Spock, etc, etc. It may have been great in the Garden of Eden, but here on Earth happiness takes more work and is less certain than either critic seems ready to acknowledge. Putting upper age limits on video game ownership would be a great ‘feel good’ but isn’t actually going to improve anything.

Leaving popular culture, ANY popular culture, to raise our kids, or even someone else’s kids, is foolish. In a world that includes ‘abstinence only’ sex education, gangsta rap, the sub-prime mortgage derivatives market, murderous ethnic politics and the dozens of other challenges that face a parent raising a child today, the underachieving child-man is a concern, but hardly in the top 10. When you remember that the current cohort of young adults in China has 50,000,000 more men than women, because of the 1-child dictate and the impulse that favors boys over girls, maybe our underachievers can find carriers as coaches….

Its not hard to find a copy of “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “The Maltese Falcon”, in print or video, if anyone needs reminding what it means to be a man. “Cider House Rules”, any version of “Emma”, “The Pursuit of Happiness”, “Raising Arizona”, “The Princess Bride”, the recent “The Great Debators” and about a quarter of all other popular entertainment cover it pretty well too. Including animated films (“Ratatouille”) and graphic novels (“Bone”). Even filmed comic books like “Saving Private Ryan” cover it.

Guys who can’t pay attention without fart jokes or handle anything more complex than “Star Wars” may be best-off NOT reproducing. Even if they didn’t read/watch any of the above, or read “All Quiet On The Western Front”, “A Lesson Before Dying”, “Huckleberry Finn” or “The Red Badge Of Courage” when they were assigned in school, they still can’t say they weren’t notified. You can lead a boy to culture….

“Water” based model paints. Testor’s Acryl, Polly-Scale, Tamiya, Gunze-Sanyo and now Vallejo


I build (or at least start) a fair number of plastic models, particularly airplanes and cars, but also the occasional ‘other’ – a ship, figure, military vehicle, space-craft, etc. Polly-Scale is my #1 choice for model paint and and Testor’s Model Master Acryl is #2. They are what I buy if I give a model and brushing paint as a present.

Polly-Scale has the finest-ground pigments, and I’m used to working with it, so I find it easier to use, in terms of brushing cover, ease in avoiding brush marks or drips and lumps, drying time, etc. Each of the major brands of ‘water based’ paints have distinct and unique solvent and drying systems and for flat paint I find Polly-Scale‘s system the best- it goes on thinnest and covers in the least number of coats.

Testor’s Model Master Acryl is my second favorite. It has a range of gloss-finish paints, unknown in Polly Scale, color matches to a wide variety of original standard military AND automotive colors., and straight-forward primary colors for doing one’s one mixing. It is widely available, slightly more so than Polly Scale, and it costs $2.99 a bottle versus $3.99 for Polly Scale. So the same $12 + tax gets you 4 bottles of Acryl, or 3 bottles of Polly Scale, at most stores. You can still get Polly Scale for $2.99 a bottle at some places, though….

Tamiya and Gunze-Sanyo are tied for third in my world- they use a water and alcohol solvent, not just water; they have a lot of gloss colors which are perhaps more demanding than Testor’s Acryl to apply well, they can become thicker on your parts than you’d really wanted, and they don’t seem to dry as innert as Polly-Scale or Acryl. Gunze-Sanyo gloss colors, in particular, don’t ever seem to dry. A topcoat is needed. Tamiya gloss feels firm and strong but wears very easily. Luckily, all of these paints react well to Future Floor Wax, so bringing up a gloss is no problem.
All four of theses paints require thorough stirring. Just like house paint. I use a little stainless steel paddle I got in Chemistry class many decades ago, but a nice piece of 12 AWG solid copper wire, or stainless steel or aluminum wire works nearly as well. Stirr the paint until you’re absolutely convinced it is completely mixed. Then stir it for 1 minute more. Remember to raise the stirrer from time to time to mix between the top and bottom of the bottle.

Vallejo, from Spain, are the newest kids on the block. They’re water based acrylics with a stunning selection, and all packed in 17ml squeeze bottles. I get a sense they started out aiming especially for the figure market- little metal or plastic warriors, fantasy figures or dinosaurs, although there are some airplane-oriented colors in their range. They sort chromatically, rather than by nation and branch of military service, or rail-line…. The paint itself is about right for brushing, maybe even a little thick. It sticks well, color is dense and the bronze green and dayglo orange I’ve used look good and stay in place months later. I’ll have to try spraying it or applying it over a large area some time…

Some historical notes:

It was a very long time ago that I first saw Polly-Scale, then called “Polly-S“, acrylic paint for model builders. Back in the 1970s. I’d used artist’s acrylics for various purposes and both enjoyed them and recognized their differences from oil based paints. Back in those days, there were two US model paint suppliers available widely, Pactra and Testor’s, and it was pretty easy to find Humbroil from the UK, in the little tins like miniature housepaint cans. There were lots of other model paints- seemingly every model company had its own brand of paint and glue during the 1960s, and there was at least one model paint company founded on providing exact matches for ‘official’ military colors.

Oil paints were very democratic. You could mix any with any other, thin them all with paint thinner from the hardware store, and they all had similar working characteristics. Testors and Humbroil seemed to have the finest ground pigments, and Humbroil had a seemingly vast range of flat/matt/matte finishes, which were a real step forward from glossy primary and secondary colors from the 9 bottle ‘paint set’- black white, red, blue, yellow, orange, green, purple and thinner. Actually, purple was so loaded with cultural meaning it was probably not sold in the sets- maybe you got gray or “flesh” (peachy caucasian skin tone, sorta) instead, or maybe the basic assortment was 8 bottles… Oil paints disolved in model glue too- so you didn’t have to be that scrupulous about scraping paint off surfaces to be joined, the glue would get through ‘some’ paint. Best of all, because of the vanishingly low surface tension of the hydrocarbon base, you could do a reasonable job of painting most colors onto your model with just one coat, and if you were reasonably careful, not many brush-marks. (yes, several, thinner, coats would have made for a better finish. But we’re talking 8-12 year olds here…)

Polly S was different. First and foremost, it was water based, Second, it was VERY flat and VERY thin- one coat wouldn’t cover much, unless you were painting a flat color over a plastic that was basicly the same color. So you had to apply multiple coats, and it would leave brush marks if you weren’t good at brushing it out thin.

On the other hand, you could work with it all day indoors without stinking up your room, or the basement/garage. And when it dried it was VERY inert- oil based enamels do undergo a chemical change as they dry, and simply applying thinner will not soften them and return them to the pre-dried state, but thinner and some friction WILL remove them. Not so Polly S. Once it was dry, you could sand it off, and that was about it. Ask me how I know… And it dried quickly too!

Open Letters To Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. No more squabbling!


I submitted these two to the two candidate’s web sites this afternoon. I wrote to Senator Clinton first, then Senator Obama, re-using as much as I could, since I had similar messages for both of them.

Dear Senator Clinton,
Dear Senator Clinton,
My wife and I are lifelong, registered, Democrats. We watched the debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus last night. We were appalled by the tone your negative, mud-slinging attack on Senator Obama set. We were nearly as appalled that he’d come prepared to wallow in petty finger-pointing with you, but you clearly started it, sustained it and lost the most by it.

You cannot seriously go back through every vote Senator Obama has cast in his lifetime in elected office, with your own vote to support President Bush’s dishonest war standing there in the room with you like the proverbial elephant. Don’t go there. You have no credibility. This is precisely the ‘old’ politics that we, the people, want change *away* from.

Nor should you go back into anybody’s prior legal work for ammunition to attack their character. You have nothing to gain. Many voters remember the mysterious appearance of your *lost* law records in White House.

Your behavior at the debate was not worthy of a leading candidate, much less a President. If you want to be President, you must *act* like a President. By all means, have a “war-room” somewhere that responds, quickly, strongly and truthfully, to rumor, inuendo, suggestions and lies. But don’t use your precious and brief time in the spotlight to generate more of that garbage, or even to respond to the great majority of it. The President of the United States of America doesn’t descend to petty gotcha politics.

The President of the United States of America has a full-time job understanding the situations we find ourselves in, both foriegn and domestic. They also have a full time job synthesizing a vision of where the country is going, and leading toward that vision. Not simply reacting to the events of the day, year or century. You need not farm out most of the job the way the present office holder did when he started, but you cannot micro-manage the executive branch. Jimmy Carter proved this for all time, by trying and failing. Even malignant egomaniacs like Richard Nixon deligated. You must too. And when you do, be crystal clear on what you want done, and hold people accountable. Starting with yourself.

At this point, the 2008 Presidential election is yours to lose. You took a big step toward losing last night. Don’t repeat it, and it will be forgotten. If you do repeat it, last night will be remembered as the beginning of the end.

Best Regards,
Bill Abbott
Dear Senator Obama,

My wife and I are lifelong, registered, Democrats. We watched the debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus last night. We were appalled by the tone Senator Clinton’s negative, mud-slinging attack on you set. We were nearly as appalled that you’d come prepared to wallow in petty finger-pointing with her. She clearly started it, sustained it and lost the most by it. You dind’t do yourself many favors, however, and you need a better strategy for the future.

You cannot seriously go back through every vote Senator Clinton has cast, without going into her vote to support President Bush’s dishonest war. You got that one right, but the challenge now is what to do. We cannot go back and fix the past. Senator Clinton’s descent into mud slinging is precisely the ‘old’ politics that we, the people, want change *away* from. If you feel the need to criticize her for a vote, stay in the top 5 you disagree with. Make your point, and move on.

Your behavior at the debate was not worthy of a leading candidate, much less a President. If you want to be President, you must *act* like a President. By all means, have a “war-room” somewhere that responds, quickly, strongly and truthfully, to rumor, inuendo, suggestions and lies. But don’t use your precious and brief time in the spotlight to respond to that kind of garbage, at least not the great majority of it. And don’t generate more of it. The President of the United States of America doesn’t descend to petty gotcha politics.

The President of the United States of America has a full-time job understanding the situations we find ourselves in, both foriegn and domestic. They also have a full time job synthesizing a vision of where the country is going, and leading toward that vision. Not simply reacting to the events of the day, year or century. You need not farm out most of the job the way the present office holder did when he started, but you cannot micro-manage the executive branch. Jimmy Carter proved this for all time, by trying and failing. Even malignant egomaniacs like Richard Nixon deligated. You must too. And when you do, be crystal clear on what you want done, and hold people accountable. Starting with yourself.

At this point, the 2008 Presidential election is Senator Clinton’s to lose, but I’m rooting for you. She took a big step toward losing last night. Don’t jump on the same, sinking, ship. I support you because I sensed you were less inclinded to that kind of politics. I gave the local volunteers a check for your campaign and I wear one of your buttons, today. Don’t make me regret that decision. Watch the tape of last night. Senator Edwards is the one who looks Presidential. I’m sure he’d appreciate my vote.

Best Regards,
Bill Abbott

The dangers we really face are much worse than radical Islamists.


Most of the people in our nation and even in our government are mostly
nice and reasonable most of the time. But far too many of them elevate
matters of faith- faith that any and all collective-ness is evil,
faith that The Man is ripping them off, faith that the poor are
ripping them off, faith that the Bible tells them what to do, faith
that Ronald Reagan had it all figured out. Faith that a vegan diet or
biodesiel or a bean-based diet or manditory yoga or free access to
psychoactive chemicals or a complete clampdown on psychoactive
chemicals or war with Iran or renunciation of all violence, let the
North Koreans come here and kill us if they wish, etc, etc, etc,
are the answer. The problem with all of these people is that they
believe in exceptions. They are suceptable to rational and reasoned
logic, generally, but they believe in their own expert judgements and
the expert judgements of their friends and idols, and they believe
that their belief has something to do with how things will turn out.
Dick Cheney and his band of buddies, on Iraqi WMD, for example. Any
number of Muslim extremists on the nobility of religion imposed by the
sword and the superiority of their take on Islam. Ditto Christians,
Hindus and Buddists, with adjustment of weapon and belief system.
Christians were killing Christians in Northern Ireland in our
lifetimes, and between the Serbs and the Croations it was the same
problem.

All these true believers who want abstinance rather than condoms to
solve the AIDS epidemic, who want third world farmers in Southern
Cupcakia to give up subsistance farming and become cash-crop
businesses that ship product into the world market and import staple
foods, all the people like Mike Huckabee who will tell you that its
possible to get a raise for working hard but “taxes” take it all.

I’m not saying ends justify means, but there’s way too many
unchallenged acts of faith masqueading as reasoned policy or political
consensus. I’d bet the average polician in the USA is well meaning and
sincere but DOES NOT RESPOND TO EVIDENCE OF SUCCESS OR FAILURE. They
do what they believe in whether it works or not, because its what they
believe in. And they pillory anyone who changes their mind about what
they believe in. Far better to be defeated in ignorance than to adjust
your beliefs or your programs, to the reality you find. Don’t
flip-flop. Never change your mind. Never learn a damn thing. Thats the
ideal.

The people who sell us out do so largely because they believe the
sellout isn’t important, the good done by sticking to whatever cult
belief they favor is is more important AND BETTER FOR US than any
downside that taking money for rolling a few logs could ever be. I
really believe that (!) For example, I think Jack Abramoff knew he was
doing wrong, but wouldn’t give more than 50:50 that Tom DeLay thought
a thing he did was wrong. Or Hillary Clinton.

Terry Gross had a nice former Colonel, the guy Sec. State Powell had
as his Chief of Staff, on the other day. He said that he believes that
both Bush and Cheney know they blew it in Iraq and secretly have
trouble sleeping because of it. He said, if memory serves, that the
only alternative is is that they are monumentally ignorant and obtuse,
and he couldn’t buy that. HA! Like so many bright people, he imagines
everyone is like himself. My money is on ignorant and obtuse.

In the last two elections, the President of the United States was said
to have been chosen because of percieved likability in ritual beer
drinking ceremonies. At least THIS TIME we’re talking about the
President’s job being to make policy, execute the laws Congress pass
and be Commander In Chief. We may still pick based on attraction as a
beer drinking buddy. But if I could waive a wand and dismiss all
corruption, stupidity and veniality, today, now, all the stuff only a
Omnipotent Deity would be aware of, I can’t believe the effect would
last 20 years. It might not last 10. Its like people who win the
lottery. It will always be with us.

On the decline of the dollar, the loss of Uber-power status, and the
danger of radical Islam, it all sounds very bad, but I think we’re in
more danger from ourselves than all the Islamic radicals put together.
Neglecting preventable deaths from smoking, poor food and exercise
choices, infectious deseases, fire, flood, military training and
non-automotive-but-transportation-related deaths, we suffer, every
year, 40,000+ traffic deaths, 10,000+ deaths from firearms (including
bad-guys shot by citizens and the police). 15,000 suicides and some
large number of drug-related fatalities not in the previous headings.

In their best year, the radical Islamists managed to kill less than
4,000 of us, and while I don’t count them out, or minimize the
murderous swine they are, they can’t tap our phones, lock us up in
secret jails in Poland or Thailand, keep us from flying, deny us
healthcare or even make us take our shoes off. They can kill us with
bombs, firearms, infantry weapons, IEDs, explosivly formed penetrators
and commercial airliners, if they can get at us. They can’t force us
to do cash-out refinances with teaser rate ARMs. They can’t force us
to lower our product cost. They can’t force us to employ illegal
aliens off the books, or through contracters. They can’t force us to
smoke tobacco or marijuana or crack, take heroin, cocaine or
methamphetamine. They can’t force us to drive SUVs or tolerate crappy
public tranisit. They can’t force us to subsidise the produciton of
some storable comodities, in particular sugar, corn, soybeans, and
other ingredients for unhealthy fast food. They can’t even force us to
invade Iraq and talk about invading Iran when they’re in Pakistan and
Afghanistan.

Make no mistake, we have to keep our attention on them and do what it
takes for a generation or more to prevail in what is clearly a war.
But there’s more risk to you within 1000 yards of your pillow than
among the faithful sitting around a fire and fingering their AKMs.

Cheers!
Bill

Term Limits, how we got them, whether we should change them.


California’s disfunctional state government has got “private enterprise” competition, in the form of pay-for-play ballot initiatives. The coming primary election will contain a ballot initiative that modifies the existing term limits for state offices so that instead of up to 3, 2 year, terms in the state Assembly and up to 2, 4 year, terms in the state Senate, future office holders could serve up to a grand total of 12 years, distributed as they see fit between Assembly and Senate. That’s good, IMHO, and I support it.

Unfortunately, the proposal, Proposition 93, then goes on to grant some “grandfathering” rights to 44 of the incumbants now in office. That’s not so good, and I’m disinclined to support it.

The present up-or-out system results in too many uninformed legislators trying to find the washroom when they should be doing my business quickly and efficiently. It also results in the legislator who maxes out spending 6 of 14 years as a lame duck in the chamber they serve in, and creates unnecessary susceptability to lobbyists in form of the bi-cameral switcheroo which amplifies the dire role of money even beyond the well known advantages confered by incumbancy.

Term limits were created by people who wanted to force Willie Brown and other carreer politicians, particularly Democrats, out of Sacramento, but didn’t live in their districts and/or couldn’t mount or pay for a successful campaign against them. It was a bad idea, and it hasn’t delivered what it promised. The legislature hasn’t notably improved in any measurable way (budgets on time? No. Balanced? No. Etc.) What has changed, as predicted, is that experise, such as it is, rests more with the staffs and lobbyists and state employees than with our elected government.

Prop. 93’s authors must have known the grandfathering clause would be a key weakness, Bad as term limits are, generally, its hard to argue that any group of 40+ legislators in the present or past state senate or assembly deserve special considerations. In the interest of fairness, I’m ok with holding those currently in office to the limits in place when they were elected. I realize this is somewhat arbitrary, but Life Isn’t Fair, and this won’t make the process look like it favors some players.

Which brings up the issue of government by initiative. This is a poorly constructed initiative, which does a big thing I want and a small thing I don’t particularly want. But its not severable, and there can’t be negotiation in the initiative process. So I am opposed to this version of a solution, and I’d like to see the term limit raised to 12 years, irrespective of
house. It’ll have to be by popular vote, because the existing limit was established by popular vote.

Better luck next time, Proposition 93 people.

Lets try this again…


Me

So here we are at wordpress.com instead of MySpace. Why? Because one doesn’t have to be a member of wordpress to read postings here, as far as I can tell. And my photos are up at Flickr, for the same reason. They’re being seen too- more than they were at MySpace. Since I’m not so much aiming for social networking and meeting new people as having a place to discuss ideas and share images with friends and other ineterested parties, this may work better.

My photos can be found at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wbaiv/

So far so good!