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Aliens: Sulaco cargo lock release panel replica
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Mike Rush
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Location: Hertfordshire, England

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject: Aliens: Sulaco cargo lock release panel replica Reply with quote

At the end of Aliens, Ripley pulls on this handle to open the outer cargo door and blow the queen into space.



The prop was sold at auction a few years ago, which provided us with this single photograph.



Granted it's not the most well-known of props or even particularly recogniseable, but I couldn't ignore a challenge like that. Smile

A thread was started on the Aliens Legacy board and before long the red part had been identified by fellow member nick-a-tron as a piece of a portable television. Another member pvb found one for sale, and I went and bought it. It was very cheap.



Now I could use that black part to scale from. I drew up Illustrator plans and used them to cut foamex pieces which were glued together. The actual 'third dimension' of the prop is a mystery but I took some educated guesses.



This whole thing could probably have been laser-cut out in about five minutes, but I had no access to that technology. So, scalpel and superglue it had to be.

There are some bits which look as if they would have been screw inserts in their previous life. I was going to drill holes and scribe in little rings, but I was fairly sure that wouldn't look good. Instead I drilled larger holes and inserted short lengths of tube. I even chamfered the edges slightly to ensure that they would leave a nice visible line on the surface when painted over.



It was coming together. Nobody had been able to identify the 'casing' or the large handle, but I forged ahead anyway.



I extended the back into a box, with separate (for now) backplate. The four little squares at the corners provide registration - in fact the back 'clips' on.



The outer case was mostly complete!



I moved on to the handle/hinge block (at least that's what I call it). Since there is always free Foamex lying around at work that's what I used. Here I am sandwiching 5mm pieces together. My outline is stuck to the top. The green you can see is whatever was printed on the foamex beforehand. Yes, I recycle. Wink



A few minutes on a disc sander and the basic shape was done.



I then drilled holes for the hinge pin and for the two bolts. By choosing the drill size carefully, Foamex is just soft enough that the bolts self-tapped.



So here is the hinge-block assembly dry-fitted behind the fascia.



More tomorrow.
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joberg
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yo Mike Shocked Excellent project there mate! Love it when somebody does a "from scratch project)...eager to see it done.

Btw, could you describe the product you're using? (foamex).
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Mike Rush
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, Foamex is (apparently) a 'foamed PVC board'. It may, although I'm not sure, be the same as what the Americans call Sintra.

You get the nice flat surfaces of Plasticard, but much lighter and softer (easier to cut). However if you build something from it you get surprising rigidity. It also comes at various thicknesses; at work we have 1mm, 2mm, 3mm, 5mm and 10mm. So as you can imagine it's pretty quick to build up the shape you're after.

It can be sanded but retains a slight texture, especially on the cut edges. Of course you can seal and paint it. It's the same stuff I was using to make my MUTHUR box prototype.
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joberg
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Mike for the info...btw when you said it can be sealed and painted, you mean that it would be better to seal it before spraying it or is it like regular foam: allergic to oil paint?
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br64fan
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any chance of sharing the tv brand.I'd love to have a bash at making one of these for myself.Thanks. Smile
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Mike Rush
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a Ferguson 37800C or 37801C 16" colour portable (same model, one had remote control).

I paint Foamex with car spray primer first, after which I imagine any paint would do. I only mentioned sealing it, perhaps with one of those 'filler/primers', because the sides can be a bit hard to get really smooth. It's a bit like the edge of MDF - you can sand it finely but there always seems to be some texture left there.
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Mike Rush
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To make the handle I started by printing out the stripe pattern and wrapping it into a tube. Then I cut end-caps from some PVC pipe. One end had a 'gap' where the arm will attach.



That stripe pattern was the cause of endless debate, but in the end member b26354 worked it out.

Again, this could have been made quite easily on a lathe. If only I had one!

The shape reminded me of a certain Terminator prop.



Moving on to the long arm, I again stacked Foamex pieces to the right thickness, then sanded them to shape and drilled the holes.



The end was scalloped so that it would seat properly against the tube.



A temporary assembly shows the final configuration coming together.



And then the whole thing was dropped into my casing, along with the TV part to get an idea of the final look. I have also cut the markings from paper and laid them on as a temporary measure. The final markings will be done with self-adhesive cut vinyl.



You can also see two lights in position on the TV part. I got them from RS and I believe they are the correct items, although the blue lens cap is not the right colour (obviously).

Next I used Squadron Green putty to form fillets in the hinge block, taking away the sharp internal corners.



I also had to smooth the transition from the endcaps to the tube, and 'fair in' the joint on the handle. If this looks rough it is, but the final prop (or whatever the found item is) looks to me like cast metal so I think I'm not far off.



Finally a quick check to make sure nothing fouls.



More tomorrow.
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br64fan
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info
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joberg
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking good so far & tx for the tips
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Mike Rush
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sub-assemblies were sprayed with car primer.



I used white primer for the handle, and then some yellow primer for the grip area and the bolt-heads. What I didn't know was that despite its yellow cap, 'yellow primer' is actually a horrible mustard colour and consequently useless. I had to repaint the area with some yellow paint I found around the house.

Using a computer-controlled cutter, I cut precise stencils for the handle stripes from self-adhesive vinyl.



These were stuck onto the handle, to protect the yellow areas when I sprayed it black.



You can also see a few washers I used to emulate what I saw on the original handle.

The main casing was sprayed black...



... and then this little area had to be brush-painted red. It could have been masked and sprayed but frankly it didn't seem worth it.



From the single photo it was quite hard to work out what was going on in this area! But having stared at it for many long hours Wink I arrived at a solution that would match the look. I believe this small area has to be painted red to 'fill in' a gap at the foot of the TV part.

The more I handled the replica a few little spots of black paint began to chip or flake off. Funnily enough, I didn't mind at all as it matches the original more closely!

Having drawn up the decals I made them from, you guessed it, self-adhesive vinyl.



The next photo shows exactly how they work. Some are simply cut from the white vinyl, some are printed first and then cut out.



The little white rectangular label is done two ways: one as it appears in the prop photo, and one to represent it 'as new' - that is, how I presume the propmaker originally laid it out using lining tape or whatever. It appears that over time the lines have slipped. I didn't think it made sense to replicate this 'damaged' look, but until I made the decision I had both options available.

More tomorrow.
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amfx74
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking great.
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joberg
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes sir! Prop building at its best Cool
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Mike Rush
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks all. Smile

Now for the really fun part: attaching the stickers.



There was also a small extra part which needs to be attached. I almost didn't add it since on the original it does look a bit of an afterthought, but in the end I decided to go with it.



So: casing painted, stickers added, handle painted - here's a photo with the TV part loosely in position, just for a taster.



Behind the handle there is red visible, so I masked and sprayed the inside of the back panel.



The casing and back panel assembled.



The TV part is not used whole - the bottom section has to be sawed off. I was a bit reluctant to do this as I thought I might never see another one and it seemed a shame to ruin it. Hmm, what to do..?

More tomorrow.
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joberg
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As you know, there's a few options available:

1) Drop the piece into silicone.
2) Cut that sucker already.
3) There's no number 3
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Mike Rush
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, in the end I decided to cast it.

It was a hard decision, because a) I had to save up for the materials and b) I've never cast anything so complex before. I've done mostly open moulds and some simple two-parters and I'm not bad at it. But I knew that without pressure or vacuum facilities this could be tricky. However I forged ahead.

Because the part is quite intricate and thin in places, I decided to build up parts of the back with plastiline. I knew this would improve the chances of resin filling the mould, plus it would never be visible in the final prop.

I cut a plasticard surround to form the dividing line. Onto this I stuck lots of little rubber dome feet to form the keys. A box was built of Lego. I like Lego because when your first half of the mould is done, you just flip it over and build the second half of the box with more Lego. Smile



Addition-cure rubber was mixed (1:1) and poured. This photo may look as if I'm just dumping it in, but prior to this I had spent some time making sure it went into all the little details first.



When the first half was cured I turned it over and removed the baseboard and the keys. I then glued on lots of tubes to form risers (to allow the air to escape when I finally pour in resin). The tubes were actually cotton buds with the ends cut off - very cheap, and worked perfectly.



In the centre of the round feature I stuck a larger tube which would become the pour hole. The box was built up, a release applied to the exposed areas of rubber (so that the mould didn't stick together forever), and more rubber poured on.

When all was set I dismantled the Lego box.



Time to take the two halves apart! There were a couple of tense moments, but in the end it came open without incident. In this photo some of the risers are still on the piece but most are in the rubber. They were easily removed with tweezers. As for the mould, I was quite proud of the result. All of the detail captured, and next to no air bubbles. Smile



I dusted the inside of the mould with baby powder, then put the two halves together. They didn't need clamping as they're quite heavy and the fit is perfect so they 'pop' together - for now, at least!

Having calculated the amount of resin required, there was nothing left to do but pour it in!



A tense moment as I prise the moulds apart...



... and, success!



I tried a few more castings, not always successfully, until I had a good spare.

At last I could saw the end off this thing! Having measured carefully I used a razor saw to take the end off, then cut a strange little rebate into the side walls so that it would slip over the red-painted rail at the bottom of the casing.

Quick test-fit. The bottom is slipped over the casing first, then the top end pushed home. It was tight enough to stay put without any fixing!



In order to make this piece ready for the five lights I had to enlarge one of the holes, and then shave down the 'collars' on the back so that the retaining rings would reach the threads on the light housings. This would have been a perfect job for a mill, but I don't have one of those. Instead I used a new (to me) technique: I put an end-mill bit into my pillar drill, placed the work underneath, and raised the stage until it was at the correct depth. I then simply moved the work around by hand, shaving away material until it was all flat and neat, and thin enough to take the lights.

For the first time I could test-fit all five lamps.



More tomorrow.
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8th_Passenger
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one Mike.
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joberg
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love those tutorials: mold making & pouring 101...and yes, baby powder is the easiest and cheapest way to avoid bubbles in your resing: good job Mike! Cool
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Ki-Djowac
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is amazing work for sure. Looking forward to seeing more Very Happy
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andy
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely use of Lego Very Happy

Andy
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joberg
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you going to drill the hole at the end of the handle (Sigourney pic)?
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