When I built a scale model of a World War I German Albatros D.V, I needed to make some functional louvers. I powered the model with an Enya .53 four-stroke engine, and it was almost completely enclosed in the fuselage. To add sufficient cooling, I needed to make the louvers function, but at the same time, I wanted them to look scale.
I made the louvers using 30-minute epoxy glue and a 2-ounce fiberglass cloth. I made a forming mold so that all the louvers would look the same. Using a Dremel Moto-Tool with a Robart carbide grinding bit, I cut the shape of the louver into the edge of a hardwood block.
I coated the mold with wax to act as a releasing agent so that the epoxy would not stick to the mold. I melted some candle wax in a disposable aluminum foil dish simply by placing the dish on top of my covering iron. I turned the iron to full power and held it in a bench vise, then placed the dish filled with ordinary sealing wax on top. Once the wax had melted, I dipped the wooden forming mold into the melted wax to coat the surface. I did this several times until the surface was smooth and completely sealed.
With the wood form held in a small vise, I laid three layers of 2-ounce glass cloth on top of the mold. I used a disposable acid brush to apply the resin and to press the fiberglass layers neatly into the recess in the mold. Once the epoxy had cured, it was easy to remove the formed louver from the mold. I trimmed away the excess fiberglass using a sharp pair of scissors, and then I lightly sanded the edges smooth. After making two louvers, I recoated the mold with another dip into the hot wax.
To install the louvers on the model, mark the position for your louvers and cut the air-vent openings so that the louvers neatly cover them. Depending on the paint scheme of your model, you can prime and paint the louvers separately, or simply glue them into place and paint the model. This technique is quick and easy to do. Properly molded louvers add a lot to a scale model, and having functioning louvers will keep your model’s engine happy, too.
The louver shape is formed in a hardwood block using a Dremel Moto-Tool and a carbide bit.
The wax is melted in an aluminum foil dish on top of a covering iron.
Dipping the plug into the melted candle wax forms a smooth surface, which acts as a parting agent.
The hardwood plug is coated with candle wax.
Thirty-minute epoxy is brushed onto the mold, and three layers of 2-ounce fiberglass cloth is added. Apply epoxy between each layer so that all the layers are fully saturated.
Once the epoxy has cured, the louver can be easily removed. The louver can now be trimmed using a sharp pair of scissors. Be sure to leave a small mounting flange around the base of the louver.
To make the louver functional, air-vent openings have to be cut into the fuselage skin where the louver will be
Here, you see the louvers glued over the openings. For the Albatros, there are two louvers on the right side and two on the left.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN TANZER