Sunday, February 3, 2013

AMTronic on my mind

A while back I mentioned that the AMTronic ranch build gets many hits as a result of it coming up a lot in Google searches of ‘AMTronic’ ( it turns out the post about that observation now gets a lot of hits for the same reason). And now the stats are showing that the AMTronic ranch post is the most accessed post on this blog. I had picked up another AMTronic kit – the 2012 re-issue by Round 2 – at Udisco back in November and was thinking that the dead of winter would be as good a time as any to start to build it. That, and I need a break from the same old stuff I’ve been doing. This all may seem weird for what is ostensibly a model train blog, but as it turns out, the AMTronic is a rail-guided vehicle as well as an automobile! I guess we all need a secret identity to remain sane in this world, and that is its.

According to the print material included with the kit, the AMTronic is a '60s vision of a 21th century vehicle. For driving around town, its got deployable wheels, and can even separate into two pieces so that you can motor around in just the sporty nose-cone and impress your friends :-) For serious long distance trips, the AMTronic morphs into a ducted-fan lifted, streamlined, aero-surface steered, computer-stabilized, high-speed missile guided on its journey by electro-magnetic side-rails – that is, ‘track’.

This kit is notoriously difficult to assemble. Its got lots of positionable parts, and from my experience with the L’il Aqua and AMTronic ranch builds, they seemed not too well shaped or precise. The previous release of this kit from 2003 or 2004 rated itself as a skill level-2 build, but now Round 2 has rated it a Level 3. I’m going to wimp out and build this model in its long-distance, or rail-ready, full flight configuration. That simplifies the build considerably, and I also rather like its streamlined shape. 

This is going to be a box-stock build. Most painting will be will brushes except for the outer surface of the fuselage. My plan is to build up the model, mask it, and then spray paint it.Hopefully by the time I'm ready to spray it, the weather will be better.
 Here are some of the foundational parts of the fuselage and interior. I'm finding that even using sprue cutters to free the parts, it's easy to tear the plastic. There's going to be a little filling and sanding to get things fairly smooth.
 Here are the lifting fans. I'm not a big fan of chrome, so I decided to strip them back to the styrene.
 Here are the fans dunked in SuperClean.
 After about 10 minutes, all the chrome was dissolved away. They were then washed in soap and water before painting.
 The fans were then brush painted with flat aluminum.
 The fans are held in the ducts with kit supplied rivets. I had to squeeze the rivet into the fan with a clamp in order to apply sufficient pressure, but once in place they will rotate.
 And here's one of the ducted fans installed in the forward fuselage. At this point I've also glued in the doors that cover the wheels when the AMTronic is in 'flight'. The doors take a bit of cleaning up with sanding sticks, and they are a finicky to get installed. I think they'll need a little more clean up before this thing is painted.
Once the fan was installed, the interior bucket was glued in place. I mainly used Ambroid ProWeld to assemble this thing. It sets up quickly and the resulting bonds are very solid; however, use it sparingly.

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