Canada’s Upgraded LAVs

Light Armoured Vehicles, or LAVs, are the troop carriers of choice for today’s armies. Canada’s LAV III “Up” is the top dog in this class of vehicle.

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Based on the original LAV III, which excelled, while seeing heavy service in Afghanistan, the “Up” version adds more armour for improved mine and IED protection, upgraded fire control systems, and a new power plant, drivetrain and suspension. The fully upgraded vehicle weighs 29 tonnes.

Turkiya’s Armoured Shield – Altay

There’s no doubt about it, the nation of Turkiya is located smack in the middle of an extremely nasty neighbourhood. How’d you like to have such volatile neighbours as Syria, Iraq, and Iran? How about adding an increasingly proactive Russia to the mix? Or even Greece – a source of irritation since the dawn of time? That’s the situation Turks find themselves in, so they’ve taken the only sensible action – and armed themselves to the teeth!

The Turks currently hold about 1,300 M48s, 750 M60s, 170 up-gunned M60Ts (Sabras), 400 Leopard 1s, and 350 Leopard 2A4s. That’s nearly an astounding 3,000 tanks! Even with all those tanks insulating them from crazies all around them, the Turks still want more. Instead of shopping from outside sources, the Turks are now creating a homegrown solution – the Altay.

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Projected to weigh-in at a hefty 65 tonnes, and packing a locally manufactured 120mm smoothbore L44 main gun, the Altay is intended to outclass anything it’s likely to encounter in the neighbourhood.

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Other countries have produced comparable AFVs. Korea, Japan, India, and Italy all field small numbers of indigenous tanks. The difference for Turkiya is they hope to produce over a thousand vehicles. At that high level, domestic production makes much more sense.

I find the Altay to be an intriguing vehicle, and I’ll be watching its development. Given the instability in that part of the world, it may not take long for this machine to find itself tested in combat. 😦

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Modern Turkish Tanks

A Tip About Paint Racks – Build Them BIG!!!

Before building my own rack for storing paint, I looked at what others had done. Many others. By paying close attention, I think I avoided what seems to be a common mistake: making it too small.

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In so many instances I noticed modellers had two paint racks. They apparently started off building a small paint rack, quickly outgrew it, then had to build a second, larger rack. I’ve seen that in instance after instance…

When I built mine, I built it bigger than I could ever imagine needing. Mine is sized four feet by two (120cm x 600cm), with five deep shelves. I also got a bit crazy, building it from bits of maple left over from a remodelling project in our home. I mean, what the hell? I’m going to spend a lot of hours sitting in front of this, it didn’t hurt to make it look nice. 🙂

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My assembly method required lots of gluing and clamping. It was time consuming, but I enjoy the smooth look of the finished piece. You can see the plan for the project underneath the clamped parts (yes, I actually drew up a plan).

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For maximum strength, I used Gorilla Glue. “Water activated, it expands into materials to form an incredibly strong bond to virtually anything.”

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The only screws used secure the rack to its base, where they’re fully obscured from sight.

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Tung oil gives the rack a nice, rich finish, while protecting it from possible paint spills. The colour is actually quite a bit less dark than what the camera records.

When I stopped building models as a teenager, I probably never, at any one time, had more than a couple of dozen containers of paint on my workbench, so I couldn’t foresee, while I was designing this rack, buying more than maybe fifty or sixty bottles of paint or other products. A bit of good fortune came my way when I spotted an ad on Kijiji (our local buy and sell site) from a modeller selling off his entire assortment of paints. I had accumulated maybe thirty or forty bottles at that point, but this guy sold me another 200, or so, bottles for a mere $30. How often does a deal like that come your way!? Anyway, it looks like I’ll be starting with well over 300 bottles of paint in my collection – Tamiya, Vallejo, Model Master, Citadel.

It’s a darned good thing I built this rack as big as it is!

The Workshop is Finished (Sort Of)

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Workshop construction has wrapped up. There are still tweaks to be made, but I’ve moved in.

For months, I’ve been collecting the hundreds of little items I’ll need to get rolling. As soon as I started unboxing everything, I realized I’m going to need better storage options. Wall cabinets have always figured into the plan, but I’m going to need more storage than that.

I need some method of keeping tools and essential supplies organized and within easy reach. There’s a company in Poland, Hobby Zone, that makes really smart, modular solutions for scale modellers. Someday, I’ll sit down, go through their site, place an order, and resolve that problem. I enjoy building many of my own solutions, but Hobby Zone has put a tonne of thought into what they make, so they deserve support. I’ve seen some modellers use mechanic’s tool chests for shop storage. I love that idea, but I don’t have enough space in my little shop. Instead, I’m looking at getting a small storage cabinet from IKEA, that, when not needed, can easy be rolled under the benches.

I’m really not that far from being able to start. Considering what still needs to be done, and looking at my available budget, I’d say it’ll only be a few more months. Airbrushes and a spray booth are at the top of my list, but these are pricy items. I could get going without them, but I want to do this right. I always take my hobbies seriously, and I’m content to wait until I’m completely ready.

The Modelling News

I often see mentions of new kit releases, and I wonder where these announcements originate. I did some searching, and found this site:

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The Modelling News posts regular new product announcements and reviews. Since finding it, I’ve been checking in daily and working my way back through their archives. This is likely to become one of my most frequented bookmarks, and now I’m passing it onto you.

Finding a Way to Vent

Before winter sets in, and probably months before I actually purchase a spray booth, I’ve taken steps to ensure I’ll be able to vent paint fumes from my workshop. Our cold Canadian winters make it impractical to leave a window open, even for a few minutes. With that in mind, I constructed an insert that’ll permit me to run a spray booth, while keeping out that cold winter air. I can easily install this insert whenever I run the spray booth, and remove it when I’m done.

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The design of any such insert naturally depends on the style of window you have. For my shop window, an insert made from two layers of 7mm MDF board sandwiched together does the trick. I used a circle cutting jig on a router to cut a hole slightly larger than 10cm in diameter. Even though spray booths typically don’t move large volumes of air, I’ve taken steps to ensure there’ll be no restrictions by using fittings purchased from woodworking stores.

From the spray booth, I’ll use a short length of 10cm flex hose. The type of hose I have has its metal reinforcing coil on the outside, ensuring the inside surface is nice and smooth. The fitting that joins the hose to the window insert is angled downward, toward where the spray booth will be, to allow for the smoothest possible flow of air.

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When other scale modellers show off their venting system, I’m sometimes struck by how little thought they’ve given to unobstructed airflow – and it’s important not to overlook that. I have some experience with dust collection systems in woodworking shops, so I’ve learned this lesson, and I know where to obtain the most suitable components.

IKEA SÄLJAN Countertops

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Today, I stopped by IKEA and shopped for items to make the workbenches in my shop – a pair of SÄLJAN countertops, along with ten OLOV adjustable legs.

From the store, the packaged-up countertops are over 2.5 metres long. I had one heck of a time stuffing them into my Honda Civic, but they did, just barely, manage to fit.

Once home, I laid the countertops out on sawhorses, and set about trimming them to length. A big framing saw with a sharp blade made short work of the cuts. I used the old trick of applying masking tape along the cutline to prevent the melamine laminate from chipping. IKEA also provides strips of edging to refinish the cut ends.

When the countertops were resized, it was time to install the legs, five for each countertop. I want lots of unobstructed leg space, so I put three legs along the back, but only two along the front edge. These countertops are a chunky 37mm thick, so they shouldn’t suffer from sagging. I’m impressed by the OLOV legs. Being adjustable makes them ideal for my basement’s slightly sloped floor.

Once these workbenches get installed, I should have space to devote to a few of my hobbies. I’ll be able to move into the new workshop in a day or so, and I’m getting pretty excited! 😀

My New Air Compressor, the Badger TC-910

Here is my new airbrush air compressor, the Badger TC-910 Aspire Pro.21989506229_ec7504ab76_c

My review on YouTube

I’m completely new to the world of small compressors and airbrushing, so I’m not qualified to make informed comparisons between this unit and any others available on the market. I do feel comfortable, however, offering my general impressions of this machine. In short, I’m quite pleasantly impressed by this Badger.

There are several reviews posted on various scale model forums and some useful YouTube videos. I carefully studied each of them, then made this my final choice. It helped the Badger’s cause that I could make my purchase from a local retailer. Michaels Canada carries this compressor as a regular stock item, and I used one of their famous 50% off coupons to get it for half the regular selling price. Usually $430, I paid only $215. A comparable compressor from Iwata sells locally for about $700. I feel that’s far too much to pay, when a bargain like this exists.

I mentioned I had read and watched a number of reviews before buying this – something I noticed, the instant I took it out of the box, the design of this compressor has evolved recently.

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The layout of piping and other components has been nicely tidied-up, replaced by a manifold situated alongside the motor and air tank. This manifold is also where the pressure release valve has been relocated to. Addressing a complaint often mentioned in reviews, the pressure release valve is now encased in soft plastic, which prevents its pull ring from rattling around.

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The power cord has been moved, now exiting from the back of the motor. Previously, it attached to the side of the motor. The On/Off switch, which many reviewers noted as being awkwardly located on top of the motor, is now also placed at the back of the motor.

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Other minor changes I’ve detected are the bolder “Badger” logo, larger cooling slots on each side of the casing, and the airbrush holders are now both designed for gravity feed brushes (one used to be for a siphon feed brush). All these upgrades, together, make this compressor quite user friendly.

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The compressor sits on four soft rubber feet, which, I imagine, will help soak-up vibrations created while the motor runs. The air tank’s drain valve can be accessed via a hole in the bottom of the chassis.

The packaging states that this compressor is “Made in China, Quality Inspected in U.S.A.” That’s meaningful to me. I’ve seen interviews with Ken Schlotfeldt, the President of Badger. He’s very upfront, saying that Badger doesn’t make their own compressors, rather they source them from overseas, and take care to ensure they meet Badger’s quality control standards. I like that. I get an affordable product, with the reassurance it’ll be backed by a North American company with a long and respected history.

I’m happy I got this compressor, and at a favourable sale price. Unfortunately, it may be some time before I can really put it through its paces. Purchase of an airbrush will have to wait for a little while yet.

Arjun – the MBT You’ve Never Heard Of

Unless you’re a close follower of India’s defence industry, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the Arjun main battle tank. This tank has been under development for decades, and is intended as India’s homegrown answer to whatever AFVs Pakistan or China may field in the near future.

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Weighing in at more than 60 tonnes, this beast is built to win by slugging it out. It’s heavy armour gives it superior protection, but exacts a toll on mobility. On relatively level ground, this tank should be tough to defeat, but you likely won’t see them in areas of challenging terrain (such as the areas along the Pakistani or Chinese frontiers).

Although the Arjun hasn’t yet completed its entry into full service, an updated variant is already under development, the Arjun MkII. This new version is intended to keep Indian armour one step ahead of vehicles they potentially could meet in battle.

Arjun Tank Mark1 Documentary

I love the more obscure AFVs, and these Arjuns push obscurity to the limits. If these vehicles ever do make it into scale form, I’d love to get my hands on a kit.

The Shop Approaches Completion

I’m still making steady progress on the workshop. The ceiling is up and the flooring is down. Much of the trim work has been installed, but there are a few bits and pieces still to be added. I should have it all wrapped-up within a couple of days, then I can start assembling the workbenches (to be made from Ikea countertops). You can see the planned layout for the workbenches in the photo below.

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