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Sutcliffe Meteor

Part 3 - nearly time to paint...

But first time to make a new hatch...


I have an original to copy.. it's 1/4" thick. I'm not sure what the wood is but I have some mahogony (from Hobbies) which seems ideal..

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The hatch was initially staines with a 'cocktail' of varnish, stain and thinners. I gave it 2 coats of this, then flatted off a little and varnished. I'm quite pleased with the way it has come out - I've made one before and filled the grain so it looked like glass, but when compared to an original it looked rediculous - far too good! This one is a bit 'rougher', much more 'Sutcliffe' !

The hull has now been prepped, mist coated (so I can see what needs more work) and then lots more work at increasingly detailed level.  Now the entire boat is re-primed with a couple of coats of filler primer. (underside 1st, then top side)


This primer dries extremely quicky so (lots) more work can start within 30 mins or so....


If you are going to get a paint finish like a factory produced boat, you are going to have to do FAR more work than they did! The surface needs to be smooth as fresh tinplate, so the the whole boat needs to be flatted off with 600 grade wet and dry (used dry) and then 'polished' with fine (the finest you can get) wire wool. It will take a long time but you don't stand a chance of getting an excellent finish if you don't do it...

Applying The Top Coat

It's true to say that you can't get a good finish if you have not put in the hours of effort needed for a project like this, but alas it's also true that you can wreck the job in under 5 seconds flat!


Before you even consider pointing a spray can at your pride and joy, you should have tested and LEARNED the paint you are using. All paints behave slightly differently - even two paints in the same 'range' will have different properties because of the different pigments used in them. Some will be quite 'forgiving' when applied too thickly (it'll pool and dry with a good gloss), others won't and will 'craze' over. Reds and creams (thankfully!) are quite 'easy'. Shades of grey are vry different; there is a very fine line you have to tread to get it right.


I use 'swatches' of tinpate - approx 5" squares cut from a sheet with tin snips.  These can be used to test colours, see how the paint goes on and also check how the paint behaves when 'baked' (more on that later!)


So you have selected the paint to use and have  practiced with it. Before painting, the job has to be thoroughly checked for any dust, bits of fluff etc - there WILL be some so find it!  You don't want to get into the situation of trying to remove fluff from wet paint - that NEVER goes well! I run my (freshly washed) fingers over every part of the boat and look VERY closely.


If you are painting outside, chose your position carefully. For a start, it must not be too hot, too cold, too damp or too windy! (leaves about a day a year to paint in the UK!) The job must be positioned to that you can get to all angles very quickly and easily. You will have about 30 seconds so apply a coat to 'pretend' to paint it before you do it for real! Make sure all  masking is taped down firmly - a gust of wind will make it fold up and wrap around the job!

Ready to start? Not quite! The paint selected must be tested on the day. Spray a 'swatch' - has it worked?  Give it 5 mins and make sure the paint is drying with a good gloss (too humid or moist then it'll bloom). If so, stop. Don't let impatence ruin all your efforts!  Also, nozzles can get blocked and it'll cause the can to 'spit'. So always start the spray OFF the job and bring the can across with the paint already coming out. That said, some cans/paints just seem to spit so if so, junk them!  The yellow (above) did that no matter what I tried so I selected another brand.


First coat (of 2) applied. I love this bit... it transforms the job in seconds (about 15 I'd say) but I always take my time getting ready. Prep, prep, prep, mixed with LOTS of patience!  I painted on a sunny day, in the shade, on a table that I could get all the way around and the newspaper was ALL taped down! The job was on a piece of MDF that I could pick up and move if I needed to. The stand is custom made for the job and will eventually get a paint job to match. It turned out well thankfully.  Mind you, still plenty of time to wreck it, but painting the top side is the hardest bit out if the way :-)


In preparartion for painting the underside, the template has been attached to the hull with 10mm spacers. This is a 'stand' for the boat while it is upside down.


Some time later... the hull is blue. I broke all my own rules - I did it in a hurry, it was too windy and my spraying conditions were cramped, but I got away with it. Once I have painted anything, I give it about 20 mins then pop it in the over at 50 degrees for about 45 mins. Then take it out and let it cool. It should be pretty hard by then.


A note about masking... I was in such a hurry I fogot to take any pictures, but the most important thing is to use very high quality modelling masking tape. I use tape made by Tamiya and it's excellent. DON'T use the stuff from the local hardware shop. It's rubbish and will 'seep'. Also, take the tape off within 5 mins of painting and BEFORE you bake in the oven - it allows the 'seam' to soften while the paint is still wet. Also, don't use newspaper, the news print will rub off on the paint!


Now time for some finishing touches...


Lots of careful masking to paint the inside of the vents. Accidently dripping paint on the fresh deck would be BAD!




I picked up a very rough RACER 1 on ebay a while ago for about £15 - so far it has yeilded a motor, prop shaft assembly and prop, a bung and now a plastic windscreen! Bargain!

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I nice new decal is put in the foredeck. This is not original, I have made this one.

I was fortunate to obtain an original METEOR decal. It's from the 60's 12" clockwork boat but it is almost identical to the pre-war verison (just a bit bigger).


See the finished boat....

PART 4..