Glossary of Terms

AM – Aftermarket parts. There are many manufacturers that make detail sets (usually resin, but not exclusively, sometimes there are photo-etched parts, sometimes film) to fit commercial kits to bump up the level of detail, to change a kit from one variant to another, or to correct sections of the commercial kit that are inaccurate.

BitB – “Boys in the Back.” Over the past 40+ years I’ve been involved in LOTS of creative stuff. I draw, write, worked as a wax-worker and metal finisher in art-casting foundries, studied and taught karate, to name just a few (sewing…I could write a book!) (enough sewing books have already been written and mine would probably be obscene). All of these endeavors require a fair amount of creativity. Along the way I’ve noticed something that used to puzzle me. My very best work, I didn’t do. Yeah, sure…I was holding the pencil, tool, keyboard, etc. So it looked like I did the work…only I know I didn’t. Essentially, I was along for the ride and was often even more surprised by the quality of my work than the audience (or opponent…it depends) was. So I came up with a hypothesis.

The mind, even one as basic as my own, is a labyrinth. It’s complicated. The guy sitting here tapping these keys is the one I call the Front Man. He’s the one tasked with interacting with consensus reality (y’know, that thing you find Out There when your eyes open in the morning?). He’s sort of like the Ringmaster at a circus. He’s not the act. Where the real work gets done is by the Boys in the Back.

They don’t talk to you. They don’t balance the checkbook (which in my case is much like trying to stretch a 3″ string to 12″). All they do is solve problems…and they’re very good at solving problems. They’re so good at it that they make ME, the Ringmaster, look like I know what I’m doing…which I do, sometimes. However, I am NOT as good at Things as the BitB makes me look.

They work quietly and out of sight of the audience. Ever go to bed with something on your mind, a problem that needs some sort of solution that is evading you as you pull the covers up to your chin, only to wake up in the wee hours (or sometimes even before you go to sleep) with the total and complete solution right there? YOU didn’t figure that out. You were clueless! So who did figure out a solution?

I call that function of my brain the Boys in the Back.

Brain fade – This is commonly, and mistakenly, referred to as a “brain fart.” It’s not. Brain fade is where you’re aware, awake (not always the same thing), and seem to be paying attention. And then the awareness/intelligence just…fades. It’s an insidious condition that can happen to anyone at any time and it offers NO warning it’s about to happen. Most often the person experiencing brain fade only realizes it’s happened when they look at what they just did, realize it’s wrong (sometimes VERY wrong), and can offer absolutely no reason why they did what they certainly know they should not have done, not even the phrase, “It seemed like a good idea at the time” (frequently heard in the ER) can explain it. I blame Loki and/or Eris.

Brain fart – This is what happens whenever a politician (doesn’t matter the party) opens their mouth and speaks.

Buck – A form used to create a shape over. A buck is used when something in sheet form like aluminum, plastic, and/or lead foil needs to be shaped (sometimes a relatively complex shape).

CA – Cyanoacrylate adhesive; commonly known as superglue.

Dry-Fitting – Putting a part or assembly in place without using adhesive; it’s done to check fit.

Kit-Bashing – This is when parts from two or more kits are used to complete one model. Parts from one (or more) kit are used to upgrade detail of a build or to create a variant not available otherwise.

Molding rubber – A two-part compound comprised of the rubber (most often, “RTV”, for room-temperature vulcanizing; it doesn’t require heat to cure) usually silicone, and a hardening agent.

Parting agent – A thin lubricant, sprayed on or brushed, that keeps things from sticking that shouldn’t stick in the molding process.

PE – Photo-etched. A sheet of brass or stainless steel is coated with a photo-resist chemical and then a pattern is used with a light source (usually of a required brightness level) to “set” the photo-resist. The unexposed chemical is then washed away and the metal is immersed in an acid bath to remove sections of the flat sheet and/or to add details to the surface of the sheet. The PE part is then cut from the sheet and very frequently bent and folded to its finished shape.

Pot life – How long a mixed compound can be worked before it starts to set up and cure and varies from compound to compound.

Pre-Shading – Something else that addresses the psychology of sight. “Light” things seem that way because more light is reflected to the eye than from “dark” things of the same color. Pre-shading starts with a coat of flat-black paint (usually…), most often on the underside of things but, as in the cockpits of a model aircraft, not exclusively. With the black laid down, the color coat is misted over the surfaces. The recessed or underside of objects get a very light dusting of the color coat and the top surfaces are (almost always) completely covered with the color coat. The result is that very small things don’t look very small. Small things reflect less light than big things and if you look at a photo of the model, your brain will tell you, “That’s small.” Pre-shading fools the eye into thinking is much larger.

Rattlecan – A aerosol can of paint. It’s called “rattlecan” because of the metal sphere inside the can that aids in mixing the paint and rattles when the can is shaken.

Resin – Essentially a task-specific epoxy. Resins come in enough varieties to require a separate, in-depth, article to cover them all (presently I’m using a urethane resin). Resin is what gets poured into a mold to create multiple and identical pieces.

“Rubber band” tracks – These are the tracks for a tracked-vehicle (aka, treads) that are one continuous strip, too often molded in a substance that doesn’t respond to adhesives and aren’t too fond of keeping the paint on once they’re bent…which they must be in order to mount onto the suspension.

Scale color representation – This involves the psychology of sight. We see things because visible light bounces off surfaces and our eyes pick that bounced light up. The optic nerve brings the signal to the brain where it is interpreted. A person can match a paint color perfectly to a sample, yet when that perfectly matched paint is sprayed onto a scale model, it looks too dark. The reason for this is the amount of light involved. For example, if I’m trying to accurately replicate the color of a surface that’s six feet long and four feet wide in 1/48 scale, that means I’m working on a surface that’s actually an inch and a half long by an inch wide. A LOT less light will reflect from the scale surface than will from the actual surface I’m trying to replicate. When that light is interpreted by the brain it results in a color that looks darker, even though it’s not. And since modeling is about how things look, that needs to be addressed. The way to get a scale color representation, the color(s) being used has to be lightened. That’s done by adding white. I use about 25% white for 1/48 scale and about 18% white for 1/35 scale. The added white offsets the too-dark affect my brain’s interpretation of sight creates.

Squidge – When two (or more) pieces of plastic are in contact and glued with a solvent-type glue, the solvent melts the plastic of all the parts it touches. Once the melting has started, pressing the parts together causes the melted plastic to ooze out at the join. The stuff that oozes out is the squidge.

Sprue – That’s the “tree” that kit parts are attached to. What it really is is a channel cut into the dies (molds) that brings the molten plastic into the hollow cavity that, once filled, becomes the part. Sprue is really handy stuff! Heating it (GENTLY) over a candle allows it to be stretched, and if you shape the sprue first (like for a bolt head you need), it retains that shape when it’s stretched.

Tooth If paint doesn’t bond with the surface it’s covering, anything will make it flake off. “Tooth” is a term used to denote the process where the substrate of the paint actually “bites” into the surface it’s covering and creates adhesion. A good tooth for brass PE parts is a short immersion in vinegar. The acidic vinegar micro-etches the surface of the metal providing tooth for the paint.

YMMV – Your mileage may vary.

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