Now for the REAL Internal Armature
Sorry for the delay in updates folks, Things have gone slowly while I agonized over the Shuttlebay and the Armature. I decided to make the armature out of aluminum as the machine shops I talked to were too busy and I could work on aluminum myself at the shop at work. The basic parts were cut from 3/16th in thick aluminum. Easy with a bandsaw. After cleaning up the basic platform piece I bent its tab over at 90 degrees. This tab will be where the main support attaches. The next step was to have the strut that runs up through the dorsal welded on. I clamped things together with a wood block for alignment so my local welding shop could do the welding without altering the setup.
Next came the hard part, the struts that run up through the pylons. This alignment has to be close to perfect as the plastic has no chance to deform the metal on assembly. It took two try's and an alignment jig to get this right.
In order to get the struts right I used apoxy sculpt to align them down the centerline of the pylons. Then to align things to the jig I assembled the top of the engineering hull and the tops of the pylons with the armature (unwelded) inside. Finally I used some more apoxy sculpt covered with saran wrap on the top (didn't want it to stick to the armature) placed on the wooden supports under the struts. This allowed me to press the pylons / struts down against the wood supports and keep everything aligned. This worked and the welds came out ok. Take note that the welds will need to be cleaned up and filed down so they do not interfere with the plastic pieces.
For the side support I have used a 0.75 in OD, 0.125 in. walled piece of aluminum tubing. An approximately 1 inch length would be welded to the side tab on the armature. here again the tubing will hacve to line up with a hole in the starbord side piece of the engineering hull. I first marked and carefully drilled, then filed out a hole to allow the pipe to slip through. With everything in place I used a 0.5 bit that was a slip fit in the tubing to mark the drill center on the base tab. With the hole drilled in the base tab I was able to put a brass 0.5 in. OD tube down the center of the aluminumtube and the hole in the tab. With a bolt and some washers everything was held in perfect anlignment for the final weld.
The last part is the pipe support that will be in the stand and allow the wiring out of the model. Since the support is from the side, I had to put a 90 degree bend in the same 0.125 in. wall aluminum tubing. This took filling the tubing with water and tehn freezing it before using the pipe bender. This trick keeps the tubing round.
Here is the end result.
If you look close you can see the join line where the stand pipe meats the short armature pipe section. Also note the drilled hole just behind the dorsal strut. This allows the saucer and dorsal wiring to get through the main plate and to the stand pipe. Finally the "Y" formation will be bolted to the dorsal strut once things are farther along. The saucer supports were done in this manner to allow interior spot light lighting without shadowing from the supports. Here is another view with the pylons and engineering hull assembled around the armature. The nice feature of this approach is it allows even my expanded shuttlebay assembly to fit underneath the armature's main plate and does not interfere with the arboretum.
Overall I am pretty pleased at the way this has come out. It provides much more of a "floating in mid air" effect than the strut up through the bottom approach. It will look even better when the support pipe is properly covered.