Cleanliness is next to Impossible… I mean, Godliness

You would never know it to look at most modeler’s workbenches, but scale modeling is a game of cleanliness. You want a degree of sharpness in your build – uniform panel lines, obliterated seams, consistent alignment, crystal clear transparent parts – but to get there you need to be clean, too. You need to keep your airbrush clean, for example, and your brushes. The dust needs to be kept down, lest it get below a layer of paint or a decal and cause a fatal problem. Your paint needs to be under control or it could end up as a fingerprint or a spot on a paint job. On and on it goes.

The irony is that most of our modeling desks are catastrophes – junk yards, save for a 10-inch square where we do our immediate work. I admit that mine is a mess, and last Friday that mess got me.

I was packing up to go to my local IPMS chapter when I accidentally tipped over a bottle of thin super glue. Because I was not observing the cleanliness rule, there was no lid on this bottle, and when it hit several drops of glue squirted out. And, also because I was in too big a hurry to clean up, they went right onto the side of my P-51D. The painted P-51D. In natural metal.

It was not a fatal blow – I sanded the offending drops off later, and I’ll rescribe the panel lines shortly, too. The drops landed on the rear fuselage, ahead of the tail – probably the most accessible area on the model for such clean-up. But it did not have to happen, and it delays the already-delayed Mustang’s completion. I had the model in a mostly assembled state (fuselage, wings and tail all together) as a display item for the Obscureco wing and P-51D-5 conversion back in Anaheim – which is three IPMS/USA Nationals ago. It should not take three years to build a 1:72 P-51, but when you do stuff like what I did Friday, it elongates the build process.

I’m going to put a little extra into keeping the workbench clean this week; I have a lot of models at a somewhat advanced stage, and the last thing I should be doing is adding problems to them. Hopefully, by this time next week, I can show you a photo of my work space – a clean work space. Now that I have thrown down the gauntlet to myself, I have some work to do…

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