Monday, October 9, 2017

So on this nice and hot day today

So on this nice and hot day today, I grabbed out the modules I had worked on last Saturday and found that, surprise surprise, the plaster was still wet. It had set, but was still holding a heck of a lot of moisture. Another reason I like foam - no water retention. 24 hours after using my special No More Gaps and Paint mix or No More Gaps and Vermiculite mix, it is dry and ready to use.

On closer inspection you could see that the Gauze Bandage one was much drier than the other two, as it has the most plaster in it and little actual material in the bandages. The Paper Towel module was holding a lot of water as you would imagine, since paper towels sort of are for mopping up water spills. The Chux module also held a lot of water as you'd expect.

Anyway, they still felt a little flimsy as well, so I decided to add a few more layers of Paper Towel and Chux to those relevant ones, whereas the Gauze one was actually pretty strong as is.

Once I had added some more layers and a bit of a slap of plaster over them, I left them in the sun for the rest of the day. I then brought them in at the end of the day and left them near the sunny side of the shed to get a few days of radiant heat. Normally you wouldn't leave them in the sun, but let them dry slower, but I am in a hurry.

Then it was time to shape the foam module. On Sunday I had glued a few bits of it together so I got out the 3 sizes of Surform rasps and hacked into the 2 different foams. 

The beaded Expanded Foam was first - it's the blue one in the pictures. I prefer the Expanded foam for carving as it is less dense and cuts with the rasps better. the Extruded Foam is more dense but also much stronger, but also a tad harder to carve and rasp. They both cut nicely with box cutters and hot wires and such.

When shaping both, they do make a mess that will blow around in the wind, but at least it does not stick to things like plaster does.

Expanded or Beaded Foam is on the left and the Extruded Foam on the right.

Now, when shaping with the rasps, DO NOT go super heavy handed at it. What will happen is that it will rip chunks out rather than shave the foam. In the shot below, the upper foam has been rasped lightly whereas the bottom one I went at it pretty hard. Mind you, you might be after that sort of ripped up structure - nice and rugged.

Here you see the Expanded Foam and what a good rasping looks like. The top of the photos shows a good rasping and the bottom what a knife cut looks like.

Once I have made a nice little mess I got the broom out and swept up as much as I could and then hoped for a bit more of a breeze to spring up to finish the job for me. The next job was to patch any holes or gaps I had in the foam with the patented miracle cure from PK Pty Ltd - nah, just pulling Scooters leg a bit. I can't remember where I read about it, but No More Gaps, I LIKE IT !

So here are my little spatulas and paint scraper. The spatulas I got at a RIOT art store. The Vermiculite was purchased at Bunnings in the gardening section for about 9 bucks for a 5 litre bag.

"Gap Filler" from Parfix. I get it from Bunnings and it is almost half the price of No More Gaps. Always remember, whichever you get, you want the water based one.

So I got some brown kiddies poster paint out and squirted a bit into my ice-cream bucket. I am always on the hunt in art shops, cheap 2 dollar stores and such looking for kids acrylic paints since I use it on all my sceneries. I use it for my patching and coating of foam as it gives a dirt or rock colour to the surface in case a chip of scenery comes off in the future. That way you don't see a white patch.

Anyway, then I put in a really good squirt of the cheap version of No More Gaps,  I add in about equal parts water and then stir it all up. Always mix the paint and Gap Filler before the next step - the adding of the Vermiculite. I added in a cup or so of the Vermiculite and then stirred it all up, or rather I folded the Vermiculite into the Gap Filler mix (think Sara Lee). If you go at it hard and stir like crazy, you end up crushing all the Vermiculite up and then it defeats the purpose. You should end up with a mix the consistency of Cocoa Pop Crackles.

Then you just get the mix and your spatula of choice and start puttying up your gaps, cracks and creases. You can squeeze the mix and flatten it out so it fills all sorts of gaps - the magic of Vermiculite is that it is like puffed rice and can be easily squashed.

You can even use the mix to make bumps and such to add more variety to the foam shape itself. Add a bit of water every now and then to the mix to stop it drying out. I also find that misting the mix after I have put it on allows me to smooth out the finish of the job and it is much less rough at the end.

So that was it for today. Stay tuned as I will do the second part of using Gap Filler to finish the foam on Wednesday or Thursday, I think. But definitely before the "Model Railways for a Day" convention next Sunday

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