Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup Build Report 2: The Cockpit

The biplane adventure continues.

In the first build report, I covered my first attempt at reproducing wood grain. This time around, the focus is on the cockpit.


The Pup’s cockpit frame, like the rest of the plane, was held together by a combination of brackets and bracing wires. Though they will be almost entirely invisible on the finished kit, I decided to try my hand at rigging up the cockpit wires, if for no other reason than to get some practice before taking on the far more complicated wing rigging.

The most complicated thing about rigging the cockpit frame is drilling out the holes. The frame parts themselves are very thin and fragile. I would estimate the wood “beams” are no more than 1/16″ square, and probably closer to 1/32″. Drilling mounting holes is no easy feat, especially since those little micro drills tend to wander unless they’ve got a good guide hole.

I started out by using an old 0.3mm needle out of my Iwata HP-C+ as a punch, but it was so good at this that it could actually drive right through the plastic, so I ended up using it to make most of my holes. Looking back, though, I would have drilled everything out before painting, since the framing suffered a few scuffs here and there from handling while I drilled and punched.

One the holes were drilled out, I added eyebolts. These were made by wrapping thin Ultrawire over a thicker piece of wire, then twisting them. I found that making a “hook” out of the thicker wire, then mounting it in a pin vise, made the process far easier. Just hold the ends of the Ultrawire with a pair of tweezers or pliers, then turn the pin vise. Viola!

The eyebolts were then cut to length and glued in place. I used Gator’s Grip at first, but the thing is, while it’s great at just holding parts, and has excellent shear strength, it’s somewhat flexible, and on such a small surface doesn’t hold up under tension. I ultimately ended up going back and securing all the eyebolts with thin CA.

Once the eyebolts were in place, it was time to rig the bracing wires. For these, I decided to use some 0.5mm nickel tubing from Albion Alloy, and .004″ monofilament fishing line. I cut the tubing into small lengths by rolling a #10 blade over it on the cutting back, back and forth, until it cut through. This keeps the tube from collapsing.

The monofilament was fed through the tubing, through the eyebolt, then back through the tubing. Thin viscosity CA placed at the end of the tube did a fine job of locking everything down.

Tip: when applying the CA to the tubing, make sure that the two monofilament lines are separated, otherwise the glue will join them together.

Once cured, the monofilament was threaded through the holes bored in the bottom of the cockpit framing and again secured with thin CA.

The Rest is Cake

After the rigging, the rest of the cockpit was honestly something of a cakewalk. Fiddly in places, but not bad at all. The brackets and such were painted black, a few control cables rigged, the instrument panel detailed and decaled, and the seat painted to replicate worn leather.

Unlike many instrument decals, the Pup’s sheet includes individual gauges, rather than a single decal for the entire panel face. While more time-consuming, I definitely prefer this approach, since it’s easier to ensure proper placement.

Once the panel was done, the cockpit was assembled.

Not to bad for my first bipe pit, though I made a rookie mistake and installed the seat before fixing the harness, and once it was in place, the rigging made working it in place impossible. So I left it off.

Still…I’ll take these results.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bill L. says:

    Just starting this build and learning a lot!

    Can you give a source for “ultrawire”? Searching provided a lot of links, most of which appeared to be completely unrelated 🙂 Thanks!

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