Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Williams Bros. Boeing 247 Makeover

After sitting on my office shelf for a while as a USAAC C-73, looking rather drab in its natural plastic gray, I decided to give my vintage Williams Bros. Boeing 247 a makeover. I wanted her to have the United Airlines markings the kit originally came with. So, I bought a new kit with good decals, removed the Turner racer windshield and installed the airliner one. The paint job was the tricky part. The Williams Brothers recommend an anodized metal surface appearing gray. The problem with this color is, what does it really look like? Photos of early United Boeing 247s before they were painted gloss gray are difficult to determine what the original metal skin surface looked like. In some photos the aircraft appear dark, while others appear light. Turner's racer 247D apparently had the unpainted surface, at least at first, and that is what the box top art shows as well. So I decided to model that using Testors Dark Anodonic Gray, brushed on with a wide sable brush to replicate the grains in the aluminum panels. Then I lightly buffed the surface with a tissue. After that I burnished the metalizer into a nice glossy metallic finish using a Dremel tool with cloth buffing wheel. The trick was to buff the surface hard and fast enough to bring it to a gloss without pushing too hard and melting the plastic. What I like about this method is the surface doesn't require any sealer, because the paint has been rubbed so hard into the plastic, it becomes quite durable. A couple spots are lighter than the rest probably because the paint was brushed on too thin. Next time I do a finish like this I might brush on two coats before power buffing.
I don't know how old the replacement decals are, but they held together during application, and you can't even see the film around them - they're perfect. The ship's interior was already painted French Blue with aluminum seat frames, so no changes were needed there. The airliner cockpit has a rather nasty seam running down the middle, but I wasn't in the mood for filling and sanding during this makeover, so I left it as is. All-in-all, I'm happier with it now, and may in the future build the Turner racer version because I have all the parts and decals for it.

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