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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:00 pm 
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NHM,

Okay, I was afraid you'd say that.

My observation on the DP DLX is that the middle strip is of consistent width throughout, whereas on the Rubie's it seems to vary in width as it approaches the front face. Yes, there is some taper to the width on the DP but not as drastic as on the Rubie's.

I hear a Jedi voice in my head saying, "Grinding in your future, I see." and for some reason it sounds like Master...






.... Grover.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:37 pm 
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I wish the center strip was the only issue I with this dome. Don't get me wrong I'm not one of those super perfection people but when you look at the dome its lopsided in the back , the left flare over the eye is bigger than the right and the strip is fat.

I realise almost everyone that I know will never notice these things but they would drive me nuts. The wife tells me is cause I'm an obsessive compulsive. :rolleyes

I've stared at this thing for hours on end and just hit a brain block as to how to fix it.

My family owns an auto body shop so over the years I've gotten quite good at shaping and dealing with fiber glass but this plastic is a whole new problem for me. I just realy don't want to ruin it.

I love reading threads like this because I'm always hoping to find something that never occured to me.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:51 pm 
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The lobsiding in the back & the left flare over the eye being bigger than the right are iirc features found on the originals as well. What is wrong with the Rubies Supreme dome is the center strip, the thin flanges and the softness of the line separating the main part of the helmet and the flanges, if you know what I mean.

Some decide to get a whole new and more accurate dome to fit on their helmet, if they are not that skilled with fixing the flaws on the Supreme. I was planning on swapping it with a DP DLX copy dome... but that one had issues as well... and then I cut up my Rubies... and then the problem was solved, as I'm doing a Concept Vader instead.

But looking forward to seeing what you come up with! :thumbsup


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:45 am 
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T-VIRUS wrote:
I wish the center strip was the only issue I with this dome. Don't get me wrong I'm not one of those super perfection people but when you look at the dome its lopsided in the back , the left flare over the eye is bigger than the right and the strip is fat.

I realise almost everyone that I know will never notice these things but they would drive me nuts. The wife tells me is cause I'm an obsessive compulsive. :rolleyes

I've stared at this thing for hours on end and just hit a brain block as to how to fix it.

My family owns an auto body shop so over the years I've gotten quite good at shaping and dealing with fiber glass but this plastic is a whole new problem for me. I just realy don't want to ruin it.

I love reading threads like this because I'm always hoping to find something that never occured to me.



I think your points are valid. When I compare the dome to the Don Post Deluxe's dome, the DP DLX has asymetry aspects that give it character. Modifying the Rubie's dome accordingly is impractical. I understand what you're referring to in terms of the eyebrows of the dome not being properly pronounced, and I will have to assess this, but given current methods I may have to say, unfortunately, that reworking the dome's eyebrows is impractical.

However, people are going to evaluate:

"How much effort is the Rubie's worth in terms of cost and labor" and also "At what point is 'enough' enough"

Fans have written me asking me to do something with the eyes, or the nose, or the neck, or the dome, or the mouth, etc. And while I'm more than happy to do these things because doing so would make those individual aspects more "screen-accurate" the sad fact of the matter is that as a whole the Rubie's won't be completely screen-accurate after all these things are done. It has the potential of looking spectacular, but even after tweaking every imaginable discrepancy it will still not resemble a Don Post.

The Rubie's is a great for those on a tight budget but have a lot of time on their hands. Otherwise, expenses call for certain convenience power tools -- and in combination with the mateiral costs for tools of files, dremel, putty supplies, paints, primers, sanders, etc. you will have already exceed the cost of the helmet. At this rate, I might as well pay some extra on top of that dollar amount and simply get a good fiberglass kit that will require less work.

And I already have!

I really do wish that this tutorial could be a "holy grail" upgrade tutorial, and I am deeply appreciative of the wonderful feedback I've received, but I'm quickly reaching a "law of diminishing returns" and there are other projects I have to move onto, so I may have to turn certain requests down from this point onwards.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 6:28 am 
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darthvaderv wrote:
CSMacLaren the HOTH pictures are an invalid source helmet wise mate. That is an ANH faceplate with an ESB dome. The dome mech etc.. is very high and the angle of helmet is slightly off. It's not camera angles etc.. It's very short and they modified Vader's look pretty quick afterwards. You ever see the shot of Kenny Baker wearing this helmet in the promo pics? That's the HOTH helmet It's not true to ESB other than in those own unique scenes.


Fascinating. Knowing this gives us reprieve from Darth's "Doris Day" look!!!


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:07 am 
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Okay,

After careful assessment I've decided to proceed with modifying the middle "rib" or bevel (or "bump") of the helmet. The modification may end up having to affect the eyebrows of the helmet anyway. When you examine the front rim of the dome, they basically follow the eyebrows of Vader, and they meet near the center towards the edge. However, on the Rubie's this is not the case; it meets 2 inches away from the edge so it doesn't feel very pronounced.

It was not my intention to take away anyone's enthusiasm over this project, but I was hesitatant in doing anything to the helmet because I wanted to gear this tutorial for those who are budget conscious. In my observation, most who modify a Rubie's do so because they are financially strained. I therefore tried to stay away from power tools.

However, in order to do what I'm about to do, I have to use a belt sander. I fortunately have one. However, the same techniques could be used using a rasp, files, and a lot of elbow grease. The process would be painful.

Nonetheless, I do believe many of you are hoping that these efforts will take the Rubie's to the next level in terms of apperance.

I'll start work on it tomorrow.

Wish me luck. No, better yet, believe with me that the Force be with me!


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:56 am 
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I would definitely advise to keep power tools away from this helmet as they will melt the plastic. A regular, rough file works better and is easier to control - it takes a little longer, but I think the results will be better.

Just a suggestion. Oh... and btw: good luck! :thumbsup


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:17 pm 
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NoHumorMan wrote:
I would definitely advise to keep power tools away from this helmet as they will melt the plastic. A regular, rough file works better and is easier to control - it takes a little longer, but I think the results will be better.

Just a suggestion. Oh... and btw: good luck! :thumbsup



Power tools melt plastic, yes, due to heat build up which, in turn, is due to prolonged exposure. Prolonged exposure could be a matter of a few seconds. However, it's been quite cold here, and when I used a small bit to lower Vader's mouth vents, I didn't experience the gunk buildup that I did when I was first grinding out his eyes.

More on this later. First, bondo....


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 12:16 am 
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So, anymore work done?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 12:41 am 
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Yes, I lowered the mouth vents a little but preserved the incline because it looked kind of nice.

But here in California it has been freezing due to Arctic winds. All this talk of global warming, and our citrus fruits and oranges industry is going to suffer an $800 million loss due to frost damage.

It's been too cold to work out in the garage. I'll wait till it warms up. I'm going to rework the eyes a bit more and then "cut final".

The dome is a whole different matter. I'll have to figure out how I'm going to approach that.

Thanks for asking!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:24 am 
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Really glad to hear your working on the dome. I wish you luck. :toothy

I've set my dome aside for now in favor of other projects. As for power tools if I stared at my dome any longer the only tool it was going to see was my table saw...lol.

Not to get off track but that sucks about your weather. I live in the snow belt along lake erie and its been down right warm here. Buy warm I mean 35 to 45 even low 50's...it's supposed to be around 10 this time of year.

Good luck. :thumbsup


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 6:38 am 
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Thanks for the encouragement.

NEW DIARY ENTRY: Discovering the Value of PC-7

After reading various tutorials where the authors use PC-7, I decided to give it a try. I'm one of these kinds of people who feel nervous around anything where you have to take equal parts (or unequal parts) of two different chemicals and to have to combine them into a singular mix before I can apply them.

PC-7 comes in a double sided cylinder that basically contains two different kinds of paste. You have to use two spatulas to scoop the stuff out.

PC-7's website -- http://www.pcepoxy.com/ -- describes it as a paste, not a putty. It also boasts that it has 1 hour working time and it cures overnight. Hmm!

The consistency of the both parts of PC-7 is like a very thick, sticky peanut butter, and boy do I mean sticky. After I managed to get equal parts onto a piece of card paper and began mixing, I had an awkward time miximg the two parts. Basically black and gray make a dark gray.

Being so sticky, you might feel a little intimidated as a new initiate because you're thinking, "How the heck am I going to apply this in a way that it will look at least passable on the first pass?" However, the stickiness is actually a bit misleading. Let me explain:

I did some initial sanding of the surface that was going to receive the PC-7. Once I smeared it on and once it had a surface it could grip, it was actually easy to apply. Now, consider I had a bad start with PC Plumbing Epoxy, and that QuikPlastic was much better (not not perfect for all applications) this stuff spread like a dream

Once I applied it to the plastic surface, I wet my fingers slightly with water and began to spread the thick "peanut butter" on the receiving surface. And boy, was it easy! The problem with QuikPlastic is that any kind of spreading action would cause it to lift from the receiving surface, hence if you wanted to do any shaping, you'd best use a smooth, waxy plastic spatula or spreader (like the type used for applying Bondo) and press into the QuikPlastic (hint: wet it first so that the QuikPlastic doesn't stick to your spreader).

Now the ramifications of it being an easy spread is enormous (for me) because I now have options I didn't have before. It seems to have a good amount of working time before it begins to cure, so I can potentially use this stuff to cover large areas. Conversely, QuikPlastic is good for smaller areas like creating structural objects. PC-7, when semi-cured, can do that also, but with QuikPlastic I can do that right at the start.

The potential of using PC-7 to, say, thicken certain things is there too.

The disadvantage is that there is only a small amount with each package.

Now if Bondo behaves in a similar way I will be a pretty happy man.

One thing I've observed with all these epoxy products is that they don't stick to damp hands. That means that so long as your hands are lightly wet, you can do a lot of hand shaping.

Also, even though PC-7 is very sticky, it doesn't harden onto your skin like QuikPlastic does, and you can easily use water, soap and a rag to wipe it off your hands.

No need to reply, gentle readers. This is just a diary entry.

I've done yet another modification to the facemask (I'll explain later). Reworked the eyes to be more accurate.

I've already begun work on the dome.... more on this later.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:56 am 
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Okay, I'm back from the top of the mountains consulting Venerable Master about what to do next and got distracted by issues pertaining to the meaning of life in relation to why we're doing this level of modification when over 90 percent of fans out there won't ever know the difference.

Venerable Master still thinks I'm talking about Star Trek....

Last time on "MacLaren vs. Rubies"...

Patience

Image

Are we there yet??

I have decided that the eyes aren't as accurate as I'd like -- the bottom eyelids should run directly into the bridge of the nose and create a sharp corner, rather than be rounded off like that. So all that priming and foundation, etc. gets directly assaulted with a Nicholson file.

I've also filed the mouth vents to end a little lower per NoHumorMan's suggestion, but not as low as he might have liked. Again, I don't think that some fan standing 20 feet away in the crowds is going to yell out, "That guy dressed up as Vader isn't screen accurate! His vents should be 2 mm lower than what they are! Bwahahaha!"

So now that I've come so closely to beginning painting, it feels like I've gone back several steps. In filing away, I've gone right black to the black plastic. It does feel like starting all over again. A lack of patience is your worst enemy. But patience is also your greatest asset. Many people feel this level of detail is beyond their skill, but trust me: I haven't done handwork like this since I was a kid taking woodshop trying to make a birdhouse! If I can do it, you can too. All it requires is patience.

Image

So the above here is a very subtle change. The curve between the lower eyelids and the bridge of the nose is drastically reduced. Now why was that curve there in the first place? Well remember the bridge of the nose contained four clefts (or ridges) whereas the prop only has three? The bottom most cleft isnt' supposed to be a dip but a bevel line that sweeps down to form the lower eyelids. I added material to create this. Now I'm removing material.

I still have some work to do on the facemask.

Now some of you are wondering what I plan to do with the helmet....


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:35 am 
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The Helmet

Some people call the helmet the "Dome" and then collectively refer to the dome and face mask as the "Helmet". The ancient Japanese actually had very specific terms for each item. What we call the flange is actually a neck protector, etc. I'll keep with commonly used nomenclature but I'll stop short of calling it a "bucket"!

Now the problem with the dome is the middle rib that runs vertically down its center. It's very soft in detail and hard to make out. Like so:

Image

Many Rubie's modders have not touched the dome but instead have basically had their domes painted gloss black. The angle of light can help accentuate the middle rib but even with the best automotive professional paint jobs the mid rib is often hard to see under regular flash photography.

I have chosen a route that is more or less duplicable with manual tools but such requires a lot of filing, and your results will vary depending on your patience and commitment. I went and purchased a sander for a separate fiberglass kit project, so my investment has definitely helped here.

The plan is very simple. First, when people regard Vader, they look primarily at the front of the face. As it turns out, the front of the dome is where the mid rib is most soft. Conversely, the mid rib looks sufficiently pronounced at the reverse side of the helmet -- so why touch it?

So let's focus on the front. After all, very few people are going to try to run up the stairs to the second level to look down and see if you filled in the little injection-molding hole and point it out to embarass you. If they do, they're uber-geeks and if you ignore them, they'll go away on their own accord!

The goal here is to remove enough material on either side of the existing mid rib to accentuate it without compromising the dome. The mid rib of the Rubie's is just a little on the wide side but of very reasonable height. So you can reduce its width slightly and accentuate a drop on either side. You don't really want to force the mid rib to be 100% screen accurate in width using this following technique, but rather observe its natural structure and try to use it to your advantage. In other words, in trying to get it "screen accurate" to the milmeter, you might grind a particular area too thin and inadvertently create more work for yourself and raise the total cost and work investment.

First, I reinforced the interior of the front.

Image

This time around, I decided to use PC-7 to see what it was like. As opposed to being a putty, this is a paste. It's deceptively sticky, and once you scoop out equal portions you wonder how on earth you're going to mix this. But it actually mixes okay. Once you apply it, that's where the fun begins.

You do need to sand the receiving surface a bit to give the paste to grip onto, but a hint is that the paste will tend not to stick to wet/damp hands. It's like taffy or very thick peanut butter. Once it sticks to the surface, then you can actually spread it with your hands. I even wet my finger tips and used the wetness to smoothe out the surface. I don't believe a little water disrupts its hardenability.

However, being that it's been freezing cold, the curing time was more than overnight. It requires a minimum temperature of about 70F degrees, and it's been well below that here in California (okay, so much for global warming -- we have icicles hanging off of our oranges in the sunny Golden State!)

Image

With the interior reinforced, I proceeded to work on the mid rib. What I did was use a long rubber strip and laid down what I "felt" were the best lines given the available shape of the mid rib. Bear in mind it will vary in buldge and height throughout it's length. Once I found lines that structurally and visually appealed to me, I traced them against the rubber strip using a thin red marker.

What I did was use the dark brown cutting tool and started to grind into that red line very carefully, bit by bit (you may end up making slight mistakes. You can putty it up later.) Once I established my lines, then I used the same cutting disc to begin grinding away the material outside of those lines.

Now sanding is a real pain here so I bought a sanding tool (as seen in the previous post's shot of the lone shot of the facemask on my workbench). I used this opportunity to grind the "frown" of the helmet a little. On the prop, the frown ends downwards but on the Rubie's it runs straight across, almost like a bit of a uni-brow. The degree to which you can correct the flow of the frown's eyebrow lines depends on how much you reinforce the interior. Bear in mind that how much Bondo you put in the interior may impact how the dome lays against your helmet. How far you go is up to you.

I not only used the sander to smoothe out the surfaces to the left and right of the mid rib, but I also used sandpaper by hand to soften the drop of the left and right of the mid rib.

Now a note on the shape of the mid rib. What I'm doing here is emulating the ROTJ look slightly. On the Don Post Deluxe it sort of runs parallel but then tapers and narrows about an inch before the rim. However, I'm not mandating a consistent width here. My mid rib here has a more gradual taper. Again, I'm taking advantage of the stock Rubie's mid rib's original shape; I'm essentiall making the transition more abrupt.

Right now I've done a quick and dirty primer job on it (not photographed).

More to come...


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 12:47 am 
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Image

So here are the results of the first pass at refining the mid rib.

I have mixed feelings.

Image

From the front (which is the best angle) it defintiely achieves my goal. the mid rib is clearer and appears to be on its way towards an ESB style. However, the transition from narrow and refined to broad and soft didn't work out as I had planned. Either I didn't establish the lines correctly or the rubber strip that was the guide for my pen shifted while I was drawing the lines with a red Sharpee marker. So while it looks great from the front, the top view doesn't look great due to the bad transition.

Now I am currently thinking of how to approach this. My original concept was to reinforce the interior with an expoxy putty or paste, grind the top off, and establish a new one.

The method I used here could theoretically be continued though the mid rib's entire length provided that I proceed extremely carefully.

Either way it's a lot of work. I'll have to decide.

And the "eyebrows" of the rim of the dome seem to be begging for some treatment. I may have to sand them down and use PC-7 and build that out.

This project is going to take a while....


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