Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Revell USS Voyager NCC 74656

As a boy I built my fair share of both plastic and balsa wood models, mainly aircraft but also the odd battleship (in plastic). I returned briefly to this hobby when, a few years ago, a knee problem kept me off the hills but these were small Airfix planes such as the Spitfire and Hurricane along with the bigger Lancaster.

USS Voyager at just over 54cm long is the biggest and in terms of detail painting and attaching decals, all 162 of them, it's the most complex I've built.

I've learned an enormous amount about painting a model like this, mostly through making numerous mistakes not all of which were possible to correct. The tiny windows were well nigh impossible to get right even though I probably spent as much money seeking out and buying numerous small paint brushes as I did on the model itself and the Revell acrylic aqua paints. Later Lynne bought me a craft lamp with magnifier which would have helped.

My introduction to using modeller's putty on the seams was mixed: sometimes it worked, sometimes not despite watching many videos on how to do this seemingly straightforward procedure. The problem was that I painted the model before assembly which was recommended to me by anyone and everyone I consulted. Consequently smoothing down the dried putty invariably meant the paint was removed down to the plastic necessitating re-painting of that area.  Nevertheless I still think painting prior to assembly was the right thing to do because painting the assembled model would have been a real trial I think. Possibly a disaster.

My introduction to using masking tape was more successful but not on the numerous curved parts of the model. I now know that Tamiya make tape for use on curves.

The Revell paints are excellent though acrylics dry very quickly and need thinned, but water is fine for this. Several thin coats work better than a single thick one.  I needed twently one small pots but some colours were hardly used - a few drops on the end of a cocktail stick applied to the sensor arrays, for example. I chose to paint the hull in matt but would use silky matt in future since it gives a better finish but the final result is very close to the original studio model designed and created for the Star Trek Voyager series. The later CGI model was lighter in colour - as will be my next Voyager build (I've bought it already!)

Lots of people light the inside of the model with a custom LED kit and I considered this, but try as might I could not source a model with the lighting kit included, and no shop, online or otherwise, could obtain one for me - except from Revell Germany which came with wiring instructions in German. In any case all the tiny windows require to be drilled out and stories of some people ruining the model in the process put me off (for the moment).

The decals are the most detailed on any model I know of and most are very, very small.  Mostly I had no mishaps but a full extra decal sheet is on its way to me free from Revell via (excellent service) to replace the two single decals I damaged when applying.

Despite my mistakes and occasional frustrations when building Voyager - I started mid-November - this has been one of the most satisfying things I've done for a very long time and I've renewed my aquaintence with the story around USS Voyager and Star Trek lore/science in general. Lynne reckons I could go on Mastermind! No I couldn't.

Anyway, here are a few photos and a photoshopped one from my cousin Hugh, an expert modeller himself. The email correspondence with him while building this model has been incredibly informative and as enjoyable as building it;  many of the mistakes I didn't make were down to him. If only I'd listened to him about using primer! But overall I'm more than pleased with the final result.

At warp speeds the engine pylons rotate upwards


Friday, 15 September 2017

14 September - Pressendye  Graham 619m NJ490089. Map 37

Generally, this September's holiday has been wet with thick mist often hiding the hills. The persistent rain has, however, provided a good test for my Mountain Equipment Lhotse jacket and Lynne's equivalent, ME Manaslu. Both have performed flawlessly keeping us bone dry, the Gore-Tex Pro fabric proving extremely breathable with no condensation. [I make no apologies for using the term 'breathable' despite some - can't remember where I read this - objecting to the term because it isn't actually the same as breathing in a living organism. As if any of us thought it was...]
On some days respite from the rain has been found in beautiful Glen Lui, in the Morrone Birkwood, the Nature Reserve at Dinnet and Braemar Mountain Sports - shop and The Bothy. Amazingly I've not bought a single piece of gear, though admittedly the holiday isn't over yet. Coffee? That's a different story.

Pressendye's isolated dome is clearly seen on the drive from Tarland and much to our relief the parking spot just off the B9119 at the start of the road to Pett farm was vacant. Cars are no longer allowed to park at the farm, so parking space really is limited.

Pressendye rises north of Tarland and the Howe of Cromar. From the parking spot we took the road, bordered by fields of oats and barley, to Pett. This gave fine, open and unfamiliar views across the farm lands of Cromar. In contrast, the track from Pett led us through glorious Scots Pines which were eventually replaced by Sitka Spruce as we reached a wider forestry track.
Breaking out of the trees, open slopes led to the trig point where we were met by a strong north wind. Pressendye, isolated as it is from other hills, gives superb views: Bennachie, The Buck of Cabrach, Morven, Tap o' Noth, Clachnaben, Mount Keen and Lochnagar.

The large shelter provided a welcome place for tea and rolls, the wind howling over our heads.
Pressendye is a fine hill and in calmer weather there are other tops to visit and enjoy.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Saturday 2 September- Braemar Gathering. Tuesday 5 September - Mona Gowan, Graham 749m, NJ335085. Map 37

It was a perfect day for the Gathering and we joined others following the Ballater and District Pipe Band through the village around 9am. We watched band after band as they marched to the games field, the whole village being completely taken over by this annual event.

As usual the Braemar MRT had their stand set up and we chatted to a couple of team members for a while and said 'hello' from Allison Todd a former member.

We'd met Allison and her SARDA collie Midge last March on Innerdownie in the Ochils and remembered reading about them both in the team's book 'Mostly Happy Returns'.

2017 has been a relatively quiet year for the team because of the lack of substantial snowfall, although the rescue of a climber who'd fallen and broken his pelvis while climbing on Shelter Stone Crag was a highly technical affair. This was a joint rescue effort - and what an effort - with the Cairngorm and Aberdeen MRTs. 

Tuesday 5 September.

Mona Gowan lies east of the A939 in the rolling hills between Glen Gairn and Strath Don. No sweeping slabs of granite or wild lochs here.

A sign told us that this was adder country. It is also grouse shooting country which we'd completely forgotten - thankfully. The guns we could hear seemed to be coming from the hills to the west of the road so we wasted no time setting off from the car in case other shooting parties arrived on our patch and ruined our day.

It's all easy walking using narrow tracks through the heather or on grass with Morven dominating the view. Our route went over Scraulac and Craigangour Hill, a Graham Top, and so to Mona Gowan's huge summit cairn erected in 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubiliee.

Cloud and rain threatened, Morven being briefly lost. We departed and walked towards sunnier skies with Lochnagar and Mount Keen, obscured by thick cloud all morning, eventually coming into view.We arrived back at the road in time for a drive to Corgarff and some photos of the castle. In 1998 we'd had the guided tour after an ascent of Brown Cow Hill. Time flies.


Mona Gowan; Morven in distance; descending from Scraulac.