|The most comprehensive motorcycling modelling tips can be found at Coaster's Motorcycling Modelling Tips. Instead of
reproducing those tips here, I have included motorcycle related tips that I haven't seen at other sites. Newest tips to the bottom.
I have published an article on Modelersite.com regarding realistice fork tubes. You can see it here. Then do an author search on
Below is a chart showing thicknesses of various motorcycle cables and hydraulic lines, and what they would be in 1:12 scale. This
is useful for finding the write diameter wire.
Dry Transfer lettering/White decals:
One of the most difficult decal problems is how to produce white decals with a clear background. A coloured background is usually
not a big problem, because you can print the colour onto a white decal sheet and the letters then show up as white. But printers
(except for the Alps printer) can't print white ink. I have used dry transer lettering used for model railroading. However, it is limited
in the fonts and sizes and can get expensive quickly (especially if you need more than one sheet to spell a word).
I found a company based in Vancouver, BC that prepares custom dry transfer lettering. You send them a graphic file and within a
week, they send you a sheet of dry transfer lettering, which is very opaque. The company is All Out Graphics and can be found at
www.allout-graphics.com. They prefer to have vector graphics files (like from Corel Draw), but I sent them a 300 dpi BMP file, the
results were fantastic and the price was very reasonable. I managed to finally get the lettering on the tank of the Honda VF750
Interceptor Superbike and the lettering on the Matrix Ducati 996. Here are some pictures of just the lettering results. For the
Honda, I just rubbed the lettering right onto the gas tank. For the Ducati, I first rubbed them onto a clear decal sheet, covered with
one coat of Krylon Crystal Clear, then applied them as a regular decal.
CA glue applicator:
Have you ever struggled to get just the right amount of the thin CA glue on joints? We've all ended up with CA glue where we
don't want it, including on our fingers. Go to a store that sells R/C parts and ask for 'control line conduit'. It is a tube of translucent
plastic, about 4.67 mm outside diameter (about 3/16") and 2.95 mm inside diameter (about 7/64") and comes in about a 3 foot
length. Cut off a small piece long enough so that you can comfortably hold it over a small candle flame (I use birthday candles).
After the plastic starts to sag, pull both ends slowly like you are making stretched sprue. Cut in half so you now have two pieces
with a very small tube at one end and the other end big enough to fit over the end of a CA glue applicator. You can now place CA
glue precisely where you want it on your model joints. The tube will occasionally fill with hardened CA glue. Just cut off small
pieces until you get to past the plug.
This tip is thanks to the Guelph Plastic Modellers Group.
BEWARE Future floor finish
Since decals do not adhere well to flat painted surfaces, it has been widely suggested that Future floor finish be used underneath
any decals. However, Future tends to react with water and leaves a milky residue that is almost impossible to get rid of. I had to
redo the Star Trek Enterprise because of this problem. I don't know if it's due to the formulation in Canada, or a lack of curing
time. I have since used clear gloss acrylic paint underneath decals on flat paints and then following with clear flat acrylic.
Mesh carburetor intakes:
Oftentimes, carbs on racing bikes do not have air filters. However, a wire mesh screen is placed over the mouth of the carburetor
to prevent large pieces of dirt from entering. These can be made from brass wire mesh which is available from hobby shops, often
in the model trains area.
Drill a hole in a scrap piece of wood about the same diameter as the carb throat. Place the mesh over the hole close to a corner
of the mesh. Find a dowel of a slightly smaller diameter than the hole. Sand the end so that it is rounded into a hemisphere and
then press into the mesh to form a dome. Making the impression close to a corner of the mesh allows some of the material to be
drawn into the dome and making it deeper. Cut the dome you have made out of the mesh sheet and superglue onto carb
opening. You will probably need to make a few extras because it is difficult to cut the mesh exactly. You can paint silver or leave
the natural brass colour.
There are two ways to add a spring to a kickstand, either a centrestand or a sidestand
perfect for a kickstand. You will need to bend the last loop on each end at 90° for attaching to the model. You will also
need to add a mounting pin and/or holes to attach the spring. The spring is quite stiff
Wrap small wire around a drill shaft to get the right diameter spring. Aluminum wire bend quite easily. If you want a stiffer
spring, you can use steel guitar string wire.
At the end of hydraulic lines (brake and clutch), there are banjo joints. These can be replicated by taking the appropriate sized
aluminum wire and squeezing in a pair of pliers or vice without any teeth. Drill a hole for a miniature bolt and file the piece to
shape. Shown on the right is a banjo joint added to a hyraulic clutch.
Brake Disks and poor man's lathe:
Brake disks that come in most plastic kits are usually thicker than they should be for scale realism. If you have a variable speed
drill that you can lock the speed at a certain setting, then you can thin these disks quite easily. You will need to find some way to
mount the drill so that it doesn't move, and some way of mounting the disk so that you can spin it in the drill. Set the speed quite
low to start and then use a file to remove material. You can't apply too much pressure, just be patient. I usually leave the scratch
marks on the disc if they are representing steel brakes.
In most plastic kits, the back side the brake calipers are usually left off to make them easier to manufacture. Filling in the back
can make the calipers more realistic, especially with spoked wheels. Add a piece of sheet plastic to fill in the back, making sure
you leave enough space for the disc. Below are two examples of calipers that have had the backs filled in.
In some projects, you may want to modify existing exhaust pipes, or scratchbuild a complete set. Two ways you can do this are the
Use household electrical wiring, with the plastic insulation still on - it's what was used on the exhaust for the Ducati 900SS
model. The kind with a single stand of copper wire inside is the best to work with. It doesn't hold its shape really well, can't be
sanded easily and the paint may not last as long on this kind of material.
Solder comes in various diameters and 3 mm, or 1/8", diameter solder can be used for 1/12 scale pipes. (36 mm scale
diameter). The solder can be a bit stiff to bend, but holds its shape well and is easier to work with than either aluminum or
steel. You can even polish it to get a chrome finish if you want. It can be filed at the ends to get joints using superglue or
epoxy. Below are some pipes built for a Honda Interceptor superbike.
Other Small Detailing:
The pictures below show a number of smaller details, with descriptions on how to do them. Just click on the thumbnail
New Motorcycle Tips (Jan 2012)
Over the years, I've learned (mostly the hard way) a number of ideas for improving my motorcycle models:
A number of older motorcycle kits have the gas tank, bodywork and fender parts molded in two halves. Here's my technique to
strengthen and reduce the amount of finish work on these joints:
- prepare a piece of strip styrene, 0.5 mm (0.020" thick) usually works well, to cover the joint from the back (hidden) side
- apply a liberal amount of liquid glue to the joint
- let it set up for maybe 30 seconds
- squeeze together to ooze the melted plastic out of the joint, once dry you may not need any filler for the joint
- glue the strip to the backside, using a liberal amount of glue and press and clamp to really strengthen the joint
A couple of examples from a gas tank and front fender from a Tamiya Suzuki Katana model are shown below
I always like to build and finish the frame completely before installing the engine. It allows me to completely finish all the frame
joints. This means using a bit of imagination sometimes to figure out how to mount the engine after the frame is completed. This
may include building the engine without the cylinders, installing the lower case in the frame first and then installing the cylinders
and carbs after the engine is in. It may also mean using threaded or simulated bolts for mounting the engine.
Sequence of assembly
I find that I rarely follow the instruction sequence for mounting certain parts. The ones I do last are now:
- engine side covers
Leaving these off last helps ensure that they don't get scratched or broken as the model is being handled.