by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
Water Crane USSR
Media: Resin, acrylic, brass and lens material
IntroductionThis review examines and builds Armor35ís Water Crane USSR (water column). The model consists of resin, acrylic, photo-etch and lens components. A water crane (column) was used to replenish steam locomotive water tanks. A preserved example with a steam loco can be seen at the bottom of this review at Click here for additional images for this review.
Water Crane USSRProject Armor35 packs this kit in a sturdy hinged top box, a color photo of the model superimposed over a sepia photo of a steam locomotive serving as box art. Inside are an instruction sheet an sealed baggies of parts:
11 x gray resin
7 x photo-etched brass parts on a fret
4 x lenses on a photo-etch fret
1 x metal wire
1 x acrylic base
The frets and some pour-blocks have part numbers.
This model is a watering column / crane supported on a base, a water valve handle, and a warning lantern crowning the structure.
Casting of the resin is super! I can't understand how pipe union detail is cast as a single piece with sharp bolt detail on reverse sides. This amazing ability of Armor35 rivals high-tech slide molding by big name injection companies. I found one area of flash that was so thin it detached and flew off when I blew on it! There are no unformed features, no air bubble holes and only the faintest of seams. Surfaces are smooth. Fidelity of bolt and other detail is incredible. The main pieces are attached to pour blocks by thin branches. They are so easy to remove that several components had already neatly separated leaving me with nothing to do but clean up.
Brass P/E parts are easy to cut from the hair-thin attachments. The brass is thin but not so much as to be fragile. Two parts to make a handle are scored for easy folding.
Lenses are printed on a P/E backing with the same quality as the main fret.
The acrylic base is sharply cut and protected front and back with an easily removed plastic sheet.
Curiously, the access plate for the base has two small holes for a handle and this is illustrated in the instructions. No handle is shown in the parts diagram.
DetailAgain, sharp and crisp. This water column was erected with several lengths of pipe bolted together at flanged unions. Space between flanges is hair-thin. Bolt and flange detail is amazing. The spout has a diminutive eye-loop at the end for attaching a drip bag or even to help train the nozzle to the train.
The lantern has two large and two small lenses to signal approaching train crews of the orientation of the spout: track clear or track fouled.
Instead of casting the hoods over the lenses Armor35 decided to use to-scale hoods of brass. These have fine escaloped fringes where they attach to the lantern.
Two lenses are supplied: large red and small frosted white. The red lenses have the internal concentric circles so common of the era.
Instructions and painting guideA cottage industry model maker recently told me that printing instruction sheets is a major effort. Thus I am impressed that Armor35 includes professional instructions with high-quality artwork. With sharp line art and a single colored item, it shows the parts to-scale and on the other side an exploded assembly diagram. It is very detailed, showing a 3-view of the P/E handle and mounting bracket assembly. Be careful during assembly -- the ink is not waterproof!
However, while I figured it out after scrutiny, the diagram and box art do not show how exactly the bracket is intended to attach to the column. I decided the "L" ends are intended to be retained on bolts on the underside of a union flange. Interestingly, these fine pieces have holes etched into them yet I did not find any bolt stem for them to attach to. Nor is there a stub on the handle to attached into a hole in the bracket body. Also, there is no indication as to whether one should flair the lantern hood fringes prior to attaching them to the signal. Looking at the company images of the completed model, I believe they are intended to be.
Painting is simple with four colors keyed to their respective components: black for the valve wheel, pedestal and signal lantern; gray for the base; white for the column and spout head; red for the spout. No paint brand is left to your discretion.
AssemblyThis was a lot of fun! The parts required only the briefest of clean up. Removing the P/E from their frets is very simple on a firm surface although using a blade into cardstock left a slight burr, as did using nippers.
Assembly was quick using CA throughout! The most challenging efforts were shaping the P/E signal hoods and figuring out how to attach the handle bracket. The brass is just thick enough that forceful rolling the parts with a steel bit did not work until I heated them. While malleable they are small and need careful handling to ensure they are rounded. I frequently test-fit each over their respective lens.
The one item I had to scratchbuild is the handle for the base access hatch.
Cleansed of release agents and finger oil the pieces were primed them with a light tan Krylon satin spray can. For black I used Lifecolor Rail Weathering Weathered Black and the other colors are Polly Scale Reefer White and Aged Concrete and a Lifecolor red. After the paint went on I noticed couple of inconsequential seam lines. I decided to show the model almost pristine -- with one exception.
The base is intended to be concrete and while Aged Concrete looks good, it is too uniform. So I mixed up washes of dirt, stone, sand and gray and flicked them randomly over the base with a stiff bristle brush. I decided to treat the plumbing access panel the same with a Lifecolor rust set. Otherwise I lightly painted streaks down the pedestal with Tarnished Black and declared the model finished.
Check back soon for the weathered version!
All in all this took about 5 hours.
ConclusionThis colorful model makes an impressive presence looming far above most elements of a diorama. The casting and etching is top-notch. The red lenses have impressive internal rings. All pieces are included except for the access panel handle.
The otherwise excellent instructions are vague as to where to attach the column handle bracket.
I certainly enjoyed building this model and it will make a super element for any scene incorporating a railway theme. Highly recommended!
Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on Armorama.
Click here for additional images for this review.