Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nurgle Bike Pops A Wheelie!

Hey, folks.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to make a post, mostly because two weeks ago I didn’t get any hobby time in during the week due to family responsibilities. 

The Nurgle Bike and Lord with The Black Mace is finished.  But before I show it to you (that will be another post, once I get good pictures), what I wanted to tell you about is about the bike itself.  When I first put the bike model together, I made sure that both wheels would spin freely.  It was my intent to be able to “pop a wheelie” with the bike to give it some dynamism, and to have a cool in-game effect when turbo boosting or charging.  (Hey, if you’re gonna play with toy soldiers, make the most of it, right?) 

As I was finishing up painting the bike last week, I started working on the wheels, painting them with a basecoat of Abaddon Black.  As I turned the front wheel to paint the other half of it, the paint that I had already applied kept scraping off due to the closeness of the wheel housing to the wheel itself.  I eventually gave up on being able to spin this wheel, and glued it into place.   So much for that wheel.

But the rear wheel still moved.  I had glued the rear wheel down to the bike base at the rear of the base, so the bike was able to be angled up to pop a wheelie.  However, I had done such a good job of making sure the rear wheel would spin freely, and with all the metal of the front plate and bolters at the front of the bike, it meant that the bike had to be held up in place in order to affect a wheelie position.  This was not what I had intended. 

Also, another problem that reared its ugly head was that when I picked the bike up (by the bike), the front of the base would drop down, since the rear wheel could move.  This presented a real problem for me, as I am quite a klutz, and could envision myself snagging the dropped front portion of the bike’s base on other models and terrain when I tried to move it in game.   

This would not do.

So I pondered what to do for a while, and came up with several options.  One was to prop the front wheen up on something, like a fallen Loyalist Space Marine or a rock or piece of bark.  Another was to glue the rear wheel to the rear of the chassis in a permanent wheelie, and another was to just give up on the idea of being able to pop a wheelie when moving fast and just glue the front wheel flat to the base.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t do any of those things.  Last Wednesday, I was able to get some hobby time and headed over to Empire Games in the late afternoon.  Two of my friends, Aaron Smith and Dana Mork, were at Empire, and I brought up my dilemma and showed them how the front of the base would drop down when the bike was picked up.  I also explained that I was almost to the point of just gluing the front tire to the front of the base and being done with it.

But we bounced around a few ideas, and one thing Aaron said was that, since I’d gone to the trouble of allowing the rear wheel to move freely, that we really needed to take advantage of that.  Anyone can glue the front tire to the base, or to something to prop the bike up in a permanent wheelie, but it would be so much cooler to be able to pop a wheelie at will.

Dana then made the penultimate suggestion:  Magnets!  Of course!  I was fully stocked with a wide variety of rare earth disc magnets of various diameters and thicknesses, which I had purchase online some months ago from K&J Magnetics (  (I highly recommend any hobbyist get a wide variety of magnets from K&J Magnetics, as you never know when they will come in handy!)

So we quickly figured out that I could glue several thin, relatively wide magnets to the underside of the front of the base directly under the front wheel, and then carve out a small cavity in the bottom of the wheel where it touched the base and put a thin magnet of a smaller dimension in there.  In order to ensure that I would have a good magnetic bond through the plastic and paint that would separate these magnets in the finished bike, I patiently shaved down and thinned the plastic of the underside of the base using a hobby knife with a curved blade, and also shaved a bit off the top side of the base, to the point where I just broke through the thinned plastic with a small diameter hole.  I then glued three 1/4” diameter 1/32” thick magnets to the bottom of the base in the space that I had thinned out, directly under where the wheel would touch the base when down, and then sealed them in place with a generous amount of Green Stuff.  When doing something like this, you need the Green Stuff to make sure the magnets don’t pop off from the superglue if the model is dropped, or they get too close to another magnet and be ripped off from the superglue (this has happened to me before; those magnets are strong!).

I then carved a hole into the underside of the front tire, and superglued a single 1/16” diameter 1/32” thick magnet into this cavity so that it was at the same level as the tread side of the tire.  I then filled in the extra space that I’d had to carve out of the tire in order to get deep enough to fit the magnet in with more Green Stuff, and sculpted it the best I could to look like the normal tire before I’d taken my hobby knife to it.  I knew I’d be painting this part of the tire with Stirland Mud textured paint, so figured what I had was good enough.

This solved the problem of the front of the bike’s base dropping down when the bike was picked up.  

But that left the problem of how to hold the bike up in a wheelie when I wanted to.

When Aaron and Dana and I were brainstorming how to do this, we bounced around several ideas, including adding a kind of kickstand under the bike’s undercarraige that could be dropped down to prop it up, putting a strong spring under the undercarraige to push the bike up, or hanging a hook of some sort from under the back of the bike that could be hooked on the back of the base to hold the bike up.  I liked the hook idea the best, but as I was working on getting the magnets into the front of the bike, I thought more and more about it and realized that with all the Nurgly stuff that was at the back of the bike it would be next to impossible to get some sort of a cross bar up into the underside of the rear of the bike so that a hook could hang freely.  Also, judging the length of the hook would be a challenge.

As I chewed on this idea some more, I had an epiphany:  I still had lengths of chain from a nail clipper left over from when I’d made The Black Mace.  I could superglue the chain to the underside of the rear of the bike, anchor it with Green Stuff, and then let it hang down behind the rear tire.  If I put another three 1/4” diameter 1/32” thick magnets at the very back of the base and hung a smaller diameter, thicker magnet (1/8” X 3/32”) from the chain hanging down from the back of the bike (cut to the proper length), it would probably hold the front of the bike up, despite all the heavy metal that was on the front portion of the bike in front of the handle bars.

Well, it worked!

I used some more Green Stuff to make sure the magnet suspended from the chain would stay in place at both the connection point under the back of the bike and at the bottom end of the chain when I wanted to disconnect it from the magnets in the base and let the front wheel drop down again.

Now the front of the bike stays put when I pick the model up, and I can pop a nice wheelie at will when it’s time to turbo boost or charge.

Of course, I wish I’d thought of doing this before Josh had built up the Shrine to Nurgle at the back of the bike, but that’s 20/20 hindsight.

The effect is, I must say, very cool.  At least, everyone I’ve shown the bike to thinks so.  Please post a comment below and let me know what you think of this conversion.

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