View Full Version : Functional Art

2012.08.25, 10:52 AM
After completing my 1st custom Giro-z Bridge (http://mini-zracer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=37970) I was given the opportunity to manufacturer an improved version:p I learned a lot of fabrication lessons on mine that will hopefully make this one easier to build and perfect right out of the gate.

First build

To begin with, I order 90% of this stuff from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/) simply because it was more cost efficient. I'm sure i could source these materials locally but the enormous amount of time i spent attempting this the 1st time has led me to Amazon where you can buy just about everything, competitive pricing and free shipping for Prime members. I will update this materials list as they are purchased.

Aluminum 6063-T52 U-Channel, Square Corner Style, AMS QQ-A-200/9, ASTM B221, 1/8" Thick, 2" Base Width, 2" Leg Length, 36" Length - $25.29

Stainless Steel 303 Round Rod, Annealed Temper, AMS 5640, 1/8" OD, 72" Length - $2.50 each

Loos Cableware SL2-4P 25 Piece Zinc Plated Copper Crimping Sleeve Set for 1/8" Diameter Wire Rope - $13.14 box of 25

Cables To Go 27267 Shielded Cat5E Molded Patch Cable, Red (25 Feet/7.362 Meters) - $11.20

Krylon (http://www.krylon.com/products/) Indoor/Outdoor Satin Black - $3.98 (already have)

Tamiya (https://www.tamiyausa.com/articles/feature.php?article-id=222) Masking tape $3.00+/- (already have)

1x1/2x double line clamp and 3/16 fasteners - $5.00+/- (already have)

M4x16 cap head screws - $.80 (already have)

nylon washers - $.56 (already have)

black cable ties - $4.54 (already have)

1/8 ferrules- $1.48 (already have)

M4 hex nut - $.80 (already have)

2012.08.25, 11:46 AM
I immediately dove into the 'art' portion of the build which is dressing the bridge channel. It starts with of course the 2x2x36 aluminum channel. This sounds like a lot of surface area to work with but the limitations of working within a 2" vertical dimension gets tricky.

36" just fits the width of a two tile wide RCP (http://www.rcptracks.com/) 50cm track. These come in various widths and can easily find a length that will fit a 3 tile wide track however that limits you to only 3 tile wide tracks that are infrequent in our parts so it's best to stick with 2 tile wide.

First thing to do is sand the surface to clean off any residue and surface anomalies. This process also helps with paint adhesion so it's worthwhile to do. I typically use a fine grit foam sanding block (http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Wood/Working/ProductInfo/Product-Catalog/?PC_7_RJH9U5230GE3E02LECFTDQ0HT6000000_nid=GSBVZ2L WL2gsL01Q14SW8BglBCGNN0169Sbl) you can get from any hardware store. Always wipe down the surface with an appropriate cleaner to remove all the dust, finger oils, etc. Its then onto covering the canvas with masking tape. I always use Tamiya (https://www.tamiyausa.com/articles/feature.php?article-id=222) simply because i can buy it locally and it works. I've had great success with it so no reason to fix something that isn't broken. There are other quality products out there however this works for me so go with what your most comfortable with it your doing this or something similar. I can't stress enough how important it is to start with a quality masking tape. It can make or break your paintwork.


You will want to minimize the overlapping as much as possible as it simply makes it harder to complete delicate stencil work through multiple layers of masking tape and overlap joints. I used the 40mm tape for the job as it allowed me to cover the entire surface in 4 strips. 3 would have been better...maybe next time. This tape is different from the normal 18mm tape i use. The tape less pliable and the surface tension is greater than the thinner tapes. I typically only use the 40mm tape for larger coverage areas without curved surfaces.

I did not get as many pictures of this build so far so I will use examples from the previous build when needed.

I use Photoshop, Autocad, Word or whatever works best and available at the time to plan out the text, character spacing, font choice, etc. to scale and proper fit for the area it is intended and print out on whatever paper it available. If i had the resources, you can get stencil cutting printers that would create the masking stencil for you eliminating a few steps in this process but alas, that is not in my budget so I'm bouncing between masking tape, paper and cutting knife.

Example of various text stencil options i print to choose the one i like most when looking at the actual channel. I feel it's important to review the options as they would appear on the material vs. deciding off a screen or print.


Simply tape the stencil pattern (call it what you will, it serves as a pattern for my use) to the location where it will be applied. I use the Xacto (http://www.xacto.com/products/cutting-solutions/knives/knives/X2000-Knife.aspx) knife with rubber grip as it's easier to hold for long periods of time and less prone to slipping in my fingers. when i do this again, I'll pick up one of the stenciling knives as the blade looks like it will be much easier to control vs. the standard #11. Use the knife to trim out the letters. Its much easier said than done at times. when you push to hard you end up fighting the grain of the metal and it's very easy to apply to much pressure when your going over areas of overlapping masking tape. The metal also dulls the blades very quickly so the longer one is used, the more force I need to use to keep clean cuts. I don't always change them enough so i am often cutting into the surface of the metal. A professional wouldn't even scar the metal surface but i'm no professional.


When the stencil work is completed and masking tape removed it looks like this


For this commission I included some logo's and graphics as well as text.




For this commission I also included a personal touch and stenciled a biblical quote, Ecclesiastes 9:11 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+9%3A11&version=KJV). I thought it suite this particular club very well and thoughtful prose applicable to the activity.
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Let me tell you, I was not prepared for all the cutting it took to get this done. I spent 1-2 hours a night for 3 days cutting out this bible quote. I'm confident that it was time well spent and will look fantastic when finished. It also took 2 days to peel the masking tape off as well. I peeled it back in two rows, first the bottom half and then the top half so i could ensure the lettering came out cleanly.



2012.08.25, 11:52 AM
Short follow-up this time...

For the club title, I printed half a dozen options at least before settling on the final selection. I believer it's a good fit for the club, it's mission and personality. It was not the easiest option for sure but I feel it fit the best.



2012.08.26, 01:56 AM
Excellent work Arch! A great mixture of artwork and craftsmanship :cool:

2012.08.26, 10:42 AM
Great job on that Raymond. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished results. I'm sure it is going to look fantastic.

2012.08.26, 06:05 PM
I started painting yesterday. The inside of the channel was painted with a flat black to keep a dull finish. I paint the exterior with a satin black. The process starts off with light coats and each builds on that.




With The final coat, I back up an inch or two to give it a slight texture. I prefer this over trying to get a glass smooth finish.


There are some slight paint bleeds and peels but overall it came out really well.





2012.08.26, 06:08 PM
It took over an hour to peel all the letter of the biblical quote.




2012.08.26, 06:11 PM
Awesome work!
Looks fantastic.

2012.08.26, 06:51 PM
That's nuts, and in the best way possible. I thought you'd be anodizing the aluminum at first so when you masked everything off with the standard tape I thought "WTF? You can't just do that." :p But this looks great, pretty much like a slightly rougher powder coat. Are you going to clear over it/does clear even stick? I'd hate the see that paint flake after a couple years of use.

2012.08.26, 07:55 PM
Yep, just the finish I was going for so it worked :cool:

Yes, I did clear coat the last one I did with enamel clear. I've already started a test patch for clear coating with the Krylon satin to make sure it doesn't react badly.
The finish is fairly durable and has not flaked or chipped off so far on the previous bridge. It doesn't see a lot of abuse just sitting on the floor and moved occasionally which makes it easier on the finish as well. I would love to have done anodizing but I don't have access to that kind of service. If I did, it would all be anodized with laser etching. I'm dealing with tools and limitations of what I can do in my home with common tools and materials though so it's all store bought materials and finishes.

Learned one thing already.
The Maryland flag should have been placed on the side with the club title and Mini-Z Racer logo on the side with the Kyosho logo. Hindsight is always much clearer.:p

2012.08.26, 11:33 PM
Very nice work. I especially like the biblical quote.

2012.08.27, 09:11 PM
fantastic work... thanks for sharing... :D

2012.09.01, 09:17 AM
well, took out the metal rod i purchased on amazon and it is simply way to soft a material to use for support legs. the bridge would sway with every breeze. it's unfortunate but i'm sure i can use it later for some other project. in the mean time i need to go find what hardware store i purchased the 48" length metal rods. one had 48" the other had 36". i hope to do that today. i'd like to pick up some clear coat paint as well. the test sample i made looks fine, no orange peeling, wrinkling, etc. the test sample happened to use the last of the rattle can though so back to the store for that as well. need to look for a satin finish as i don't want glossy. this is supposed to fade away, not draw attention to itself.
might as well pick up some extra screws, etc. as well. i always like to have extra. you always get a defective piece once in awhile and things get dropped and lost. not that i need an excuse to want to wander around a hardware store... always liked looking at all the various fasteners, tools etc.

2012.09.01, 04:32 PM

i bought another can of the very same clear coat i used on the last bridge and it wrecked the paint on this bridge! absolute disaster. the paint bubbled up and the paint peeled smeared all over. i had to wipe all the wasted paint off and sand the surface back down but i still can't seem to clean it off completely. at this point the week of work on the biblical quote is a complete loss. :mad: the time it would take to clean down to bare metal again and by shear magic stencil all the letters to the exact outlines already cut into the metal would be impossible to replicate.

I literally wanted to throw the whole thing into the woods. loosing all that work actually made me sick to my stomach.

absolutely livid! my test panel dried fine, no problems what so ever. *




i absolutely HATE clear coating. 1/2 the time it ends up in disaster for me. for whatever reason the process just doesn't agree with me. i should have stuck to future floor polish, that has never gone wrong for me.

2012.09.01, 04:41 PM
new theme! weathered and broken in ;) leaving the sanded edges and repainting the top face. when thats down i'll use future to cover it or leave as is. the paint doesn't flake off at all so it's really durable enough as is. has a soft worn look to it now. when the repainted face is dry, i'll go over that with fine sand paper to bring all the faces to a consistent finish.

2012.09.01, 08:07 PM

finished the 1st support and got it all right this time, i hope. managed to get it all out of one rod to which is a plus.

the tricky part is making the 2nd as a exact match. it's darn close, off by about an 1/8" of an inch in one spot.



estimated bottom of skirt height is 13 3/4". my previous bridge i had to modify the supports to get down to 14 1/4". the estimated pick up zone will be slightly under 16"x44"