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22 July 2018

Today was a big day!! I’ve been waiting to get onto the engines as they are the last of the big stuff and bring it all together.

This morning I got two sets of engine formers printed, stencilled and cut.

Thanks to my friends Patrick for the CAD drawings and David for the packaging ply. I had just enough to get them all done.


25 July 2018

Intake fans. I’m really excited! I’m starting to design some of the moving parts in the engines. The only way I can make sense of the intakes is that they are louvres that can change pitch to seal shut in space, but open in atmosphere. It’s not a very well thought out design, as from an engineering perspective, there are far better ways to do it.

They look fixed and are off centre, so they certainly can’t spin. I wish they could. It would look so much cooler if they did.

Using the first two formers of the starboard engine, I’m experimenting with some insulation board. I’ve bent it around and taped it in place, to see if it develops a curve memory overnight. If it does, I can then trim it to fit in between the boards. I’m also trying a heat gun to see if I can help it along.

27 July 2018

I’m going to try making them as fitted radial louvres and see how I feel about it. If I don’t like it, I will make the intakes spinning fans. To create the angle I have screwed some large wood screws into the timber behind the blades, using them as elevation gauges and a stop to set the height, then screwed down the trailing edge of each blade. I’ve painted the backing board a mat black, so it looks like you are looking into a dark engine cavity through the gaps in the louvres. Subject to change of course. Let’s see what happens.

4 August 2018

I tried it. I don’t like it. I remade it.

A spinning fan, when stationary, looks pretty much the same, so I grabbed an old pedestal fan motor and re-made the fan with oversized and overlapping blades this time. I have to source some thrust-bearings to square up the fan-plate and take the wobble out of it, but it is symmetrical, balanced and looks great in motion.


The fan has to go inside the ship’s fuselage just behind the cockpit, but that’s really no biggie. Even some of our modern day aircraft, like the Harrier Jump Jet have a similar design. I cut a slot in the side to allow for the fan.


12 August 2018

Modular breakdown of the engine nacelles. The engines are 2.41 metres, even before the exhaust goes on the end, so I’ve decided to break them in half for ease of storage, transport and assembly on site. Today I got the first half of the port nacelle framed up and formers spaced apart.

14 August 2018

The race against time! Once you open a can of this stuff, you have to use it all in one go or risk it going off in the can, or leaking propellant so you end up with a can of glue and nothing to push it out. It’s amazing how solid and rigid the structure becomes with all the polystyrene glued in place. I also reinforced it by gluing in a double wall behind the skin once it set. Ready for sanding.

18 August 2018

Welding engine frames continued.

My fortnightly Saturday off to work on the project has been building up. Friday afternoon I picked up all the steel to finish the engine frames.

I had to settle for galvanised steel as they were out of stock of the plain blue painted. I hate gal. Been poisoned badly before, welding this shit. Lots of extra grinding of the joints prior to welding to reduce it. Window and shed door wide open, fan on full blast…let’s get this over with.

25 August 2018

Starting to skin starboard engine nacelle. Each engine is 2.4 metres long, with approx 1 metre of exhaust cone behind it.

4 September 2018

This part has been dangerous! Trying to prop the engines in position alone, against the side of the Viper to check for fit. The modules aren’t that heavy for a one person lift, but they are EXTREMELY cumbersome. Mainly because they haven’t got a hard shell on them yet, so I can’t grab and lift from convenient edges.

Now they are in position, I can plan and weld on the attachment struts from frame to frame, using engineering geometries to strengthen it for support.

15 September 2018

Fitting the starboard engine.

27 October 2018

Top engine nacelle.

31 October 2018

3 November 2018

12 November 2018

This afternoon I ran the new orbital sander over the top engine nacelle, with a 40-grit pad. Wow! This thing does an awesome job!

13 November 2018

Outside surfaces all shaped and sanded. Inside of intake also. Some preliminary detailing next. Love this little orbital sander.

14 November 2018

“Turkey feathers”. These are the parts around the exhaust cone that can contract by overlaying to reduce the aperture and increase thrust.
For the first one I plotted out, I had no real dimensions on it. I judged the thickness of each based on recognisable objects in some photos. I can adjust as i go. I need to make roughly 20 per engine.
I’ve taken one turkey feather to completion to use as a benchmark and painted it primer grey, aluminium silver overcoat and a light spray of black over the top for that burnt, carbon-scored look. I’ve also made a template to trace for the rest.
File reference photo from one of the BSG Auctions.
I have lots of concurrent activities going on now to make the most of any spare time I have.
While I am working on the exhaust cone outers and their interior turbine assemblies, I will also be continuing to skin the rest of the Viper and start installing all the ports for the reaction control system, (RCS). These mini thrusters are positioned around the spacecraft to provide attitude control in space. Aerodynamics there obviously does not apply but instead, Newtonian physics takes over. RCS can help by, “pointing” the craft in the desired direction while thrust rearward is applied. To reverse direction, thrust is cut, RCS flips/inverts the craft, then thrust is re-applied in the opposite direction to slow down, stop, or power into a new direction.
One of the reasons I really like this sci-fi ship, is because of this reasonably scientific application of space flight, instead of flying around in curves like you see in other shows. No more force-fields, beaming tech, lasers, or aliens. Bullets, bombs, missiles, nukes, armour plating and badass robots.

18 November 2018

I need 20 of these, “Turkey feathers”, for each engine exhaust nozzle. By the time I’ve added a frame, lining and internal details it’s starting to get pretty heavy. The box-full you see below is enough for one nozzle, each feather comprising three shaped layers of plywood. To reduce weight, I’ve cut material out of the bottom layer with a hole saw. It’s made a big difference.

I’ve moved the top engine nacelle out of the workshop and next to the Viper so that I can work on the rear exhaust and get my workshop back. I had to keep climbing under it to move around my workbenches.

Tonight I continued skinning the engines with recycled polystyrene produce boxes. I can’t wait to hit this with the sander later in the week!

24 November 2018

Welcome to the Taj Ma Baz. Now that the roof is off and the tarp is up, I was able to finish skinning the top of the Viper and put the top engine on. All the top and side surfaces are now skinned and glued, with a little skinning left on the bottom.

15 December 2018

I’ve been working on concurrent activities all over the ship, but while some things are on hold, waiting for the right moment/planets to align,. my workbench at home has the engine exhausts on the go.

I toyed with roll-forming steel rings to make a cage, but the hollow section profiles proved problematic at best, so I have gone back to wood.

Here’s the top engine exhaust under construction.

After working on the spacing a little, I ran out of reasonable hours to keep making noise, so I started planning out the turbine fans in aluminium plate.

17 December 2018

Painting time!

20 December 2018

Scratch-designing my turbines at the rear. I know I am taking a lot of licence inside these engines, especially after being so careful to stay faithful everywhere else…  but something the X-Wing fighter on display last year, at the Tuggeranong Hyperdome showed me – is that some static displays suck.
Sure it LOOKED similar to the fighter from the movies, but close inspection revealed it to be flat, static, flimsy, rough molded and BORING. My engines will be multi layered, have depth and moving parts. Light, sound and motion.
Bear with me…
I have used a combination of lightweight and easy to source materials, sacrificing a little bit of weight for weldablility, as I can’t weld aluminium to save my life, so I’ve used steel.
This last one has everything just sitting on top at the moment. Once assembled, it will be lower profile.
21 December 2018
Today I cut more sheetmetal to make the platform in the centre of the vanes and the cone to mount over it. I beat the sheetmetal into the cone shape with a rubber mallet over a steel edge. Five minutes of welding later…
22 December 2018
I got it all in and spinning with 5mm clearance all around. Now to put the motor on it. I put the drill on the shaft and gave it a spin… CRIKEY! It puts out a fair breeze out the back!
It’s nearly 2am, so time to go to bed and take this up in the morning.
My one day per fortnight to get stuff done.
I spend most of the day re-configuring the shed and moving benches, building shelves and getting rid of rapidly accumulating scrap materials. Enough is enough.
I also solidified a big work bench and put it in the centre of the shed, comfortable work height, some space for projects and tooling and able to walk all around it, while still having access to the lathe and other parts of the shed. The beauty is, with a new flat surface on the top, (removable and replaceable), I can draw and measure stuff on it to get things flat, level, and correct. A nice touch was routing an extension cord over the rafters, to hang down directly over the work bench, so my power tools don’t trail cords all over the workshop any more.
Finally, about 2 this afternoon, I got back to the Viper. I finished securing the internal workings of the top engine exhaust turbine and gave it a test spin.
After that, I started assembling one of the two side engine exhausts, but ran out of turkey feathers, so it was back to tracing templates. I’ll take them to the bandsaw soon.
Finally, I started plotting the dimensions for the side engine rear turbines, ready to cut the spider vanes. Hopefully I can source another old aluminium sign to make the fans from, like the last one.
4 January 2019

I’ve had a few wonderful days home alone to work on the Viper. It’s strange, I haven’t uttered a word. I could get used to this.

Anyways, I went out to my work and spent a night on the bandsaw to cut all the turkey feathers for the other two engines. Much quicker and neater than my jigsaw, plus the belt grinders there have an extraction fan right next to them, so I sanded and shaped them all too. I can do this at home, but with no extraction, the dust is pretty unbearable.

Back at home, I’ve had a mad glue-up for nearly 24 hours. I had to keep going back to Bunnings for more glue, having underestimated how much I needed to do to finalise all the foam. That’s all done now, so I started sanding the whole ship and engines with the orbital sander. Not comfortable under the tarp in temperatures in the high thirties, but I really want to take advantage of the time I have.
13 January 2019
Mounted the top engine exhaust module and started work on the first of the side engine exhaust modules.
30 January 2019
A few demolitions and clean up in order to continue the build beyond the wall.
10 February 2019
Building the last exhaust module and starting on the rear turbine fans.
12 February 2019

Take two. I’m approaching the engine maintenance panels a different way. A large plastic barrel idea I tired, didn’t work. Now trying wooden arcs of different diameters, shaped and carved then sandwiched together.

I’m using pieces of timber from my demolished pergola to make engine forms.

14 February 2019
One completed inspection panel on the port side of the Viper’s engine nacelles, made out of scrap ply and some timbers from my demolished pergola. The thing that strikes me humorous is the air filter/water trap that is not only installed upside down, but probably wouldn’t work in zero G anyway. Still, it looks cool. I think I’ve got it pretty close, considering the limited materials and detailed photos I have at my disposal.
16 February 2019
Today’s work. Take three on the engine inspection panel. I don’t like the angle it is sitting on at the specified height so I’ve smashed it off. If it was a complete barrel, the top would be outside the nacelle housing. Keeping the details, but changing the sides and base to adjust the angle once installed.
That’s looking better. I put a lean-back on it, so now the representation of the whole, by seeing only a part, is more effective and convincing.
20 February 2019
Starboard engine access panel fuel lines complete. I’ll tidy up the ends and re-paint. One of the props had an extra pipe so I put it in.
7 May 2019
Rear turbine fans and cages. I’ve started assembling these, after my friend and employer was good enough to plasma cut the vanes for me on the big machine.
11 May 2019
Finished the two side engine turbines and installed.

15 May 2019

The next and one of the final outer detail jobs, are the mechanicals under the top engine cowling. Surprisingly easy to replicate, once I stopped to study it.

Here’s a reference photo from the screen-used prop.

Again, lots of leftover materials used, but I had to buy a length of PVC pipe that was a specific diameter that I didn’t have. My next door neighbour gave me a heap of old 50mm pipe. Design work chicken scratches on a bit of old ply, after using a tape measure up on the engine and my blurry MkI eyeball. Gets the job done.

21 May 2019

Starting to fit mechanical into the top engine nacelle.

4 June 2019

29 May 2021

Adding top nacelle engine details using an old bucket, scrap sheetmetal welded together and some copper pipe.



One thought on “Engines!

  • donny smeets

    Great stuff, to see rhe past progress all together on one page! The girl is almost ready to kick some cylon ass! 🙂


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