Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FF-01 Particle Stream Cannon

Finally, I've finished posting my back catalog (as much as I plan to for the moment) and am up to something current. Quite current actually. I just finished this piece yesterday. I've been in a real steam-punk mood for the past couple of months. I've been awed and inspired by the works of Datamancer, Jake Von Slatt, Prof. Albrecht Von Taggërt, and others. I'm still cutting my teeth, so I haven't made anything anywhere near good enough to be truly proud of, yet. But I think what little progress I have made is encouraging. I still have a very long way to go before I'll be turning out the kind of work to which I aspire.

I'm always amazed when I see what creative uses other craftsmen have made of the most mundane items. I am constantly looking at someone's project pics and saying "Ooo, that's cool. I never would have thought of using one of those." I try to keep my eyes and mind open to what things could be, instead of what they currently are, but I only rarely spot that diamond in the rough. Last week I happened to be strolling through The Flower Factory (a local wholesale club) and my eye was caught by an obnoxiously bright red and yellow crappy plastic squirt gun. I don't know why I even gave it a second glance. I wasn't interested in a good squirt gun, let alone a crappy one, but something made me stop and look at it for several seconds. I was just walking away when it hit me, "Hey, that thing actually has some pretty nice lines. Maybe I could do something with it." It was only $3, so I thought I would give it a try.

Man, do those Chinese love their little tiny screws. This thing has to have like 40 screws in it! And of course they have to hide at least one under another part. Once I got the thing apart, it was comical how simple the internal mechanism was. It could have been empty for that matter. It works even crappier than I expected (which is to say it barely works at all). Oh well, I didn't intend on actually using it as a squirt gun anyway (though that could have been cool too).

I wasn't sure what exactly I was going to do to mod this gun, but I knew I was definitely going to give it a good steam-punk paint job. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I wanted to paint the rear tank, and other bulbous parts, copper. Seeing the rear tank immediately made me think of a copper toilet float for some reason. That turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. I have like six different kinds of copper paint, and ironically, none of them look quite exactly like copper. I ran through all of them, and eventually settled on a multi step process which basically incorporated all but one of them. Finally, after some trial and error and about eight coats of paint, I got a finish I was happy with, complete with a mild verdigris patina around the edges.

Next I started looking at which parts I wanted to be brass. I used a gold spray paint for the brass parts, and surprisingly, it went on smooth as silk. It even covered in one coat. I went over it with a light coating of copper glaze (one of my myriad of copper products) to give it a little red sheen, hoping to get a finish that was less gold and more brass. It looks OK... until you put it next to actual brass. Masking off the areas that I wanted to be brass, but that weren't separate pieces, was tedious and time consuming, and my least favorite part of the process. I got lucky in that none of the paint leaked under the masking tape, and the tape didn't pull any paint off either. I gave all the brass pieces a wash with a dark gray paint that was supposed to be the top coat in a pewter antiquing finish. You brush it on, then wipe it off and a little stays in the recesses. Then I did a little dry-brushing with gold acrylic paint for highlights. I find that to make a finish look authentic, you need three layers; your main color, some darker shades in the crevices, and a lighter color for highlights. Those of you who actually paint well, are probably saying "Duh..." right now, but I'm self taught, so I consider this a milestone in the refinement of my technique.

I waffled a bit on what color I wanted for the main body. I actually painted each half a different color, to help me decide. Then, when I did decide, and I painted the second half the same color as the first half, the color didn't come out the same, because it had the second color underneath it, so I had to paint the first half the second color, then back again, so they would match! [I know that's a terrible run-on sentence, but that's how I talk.] I ended up using the same "hammered" metallic black spray paint that I used for the body of the Maverick Rev-6. It didn't "hammer" much this time either. Maybe it's defective. Hit the recesses with a black Sharpie, dry-brush highlights with some silver acrylic, and it's done.

I'm very new to steam-punk modding, so I only made a couple of small additions. First was the LED flashlight at the muzzle. It was one of those that you clip onto your baseball cap. I cut off the clip, glued it in what I thought was an aesthetically pleasing position, painted it to match the gun, and added a small piece of red cellophane to color the lens. I originally attached it with super glue, which was a mistake, because it was not strong enough. The light broke off while I was putting the guts back into it. I reattached it with epoxy. The glue is on top of the paint now, but you can barely see it. I also would have preferred to mount the light on the other side, so that it might fit into a right handed holster, but it would have been in the way of one of the screw holes.

The other small addition I made was the pressure gauge. I figured, "It's got a big copper tank... it needs a pressure gauge". I mounted it on the opposite side as the light, for balance. I created the gauge from scratch, and am only moderately pleased with. The main body of the gauge is made from a Coke bottle cap, and to me, it still looks too much like a Coke bottle cap. The dial was designed and printed out on my computer. The front rim is a brass plated insert for a wooden candlestick. I had to cut it'd neck down with a Dremel, then I glues a piece of acetate to the back side of it to serve as the glass for the gauge. After that was glued in place, I epoxied it to the side of the gun, using a brass hex nut as a spacer.

A quick cote of matte finish, and it's done! Because of the type of plastic it is made from, the paint is prone to scratch off easily, so I have to treat it a little gingerly. Next time I'll try a different primer. Also, next time, I'll be sure to paint the inside and outside. You can't hardly see it when you are holding the gun, but I noticed in the pictures that some of the bright red and yellow interior can be seen through the slot for the pump slider. Oops.

UPDATE: Ooh, I've just thought of a better name for it- the MRX Designs prototype model FF-01 hand operated focused fluidic hydrolizing vector discharge personal defense apparatus. I also changed the short version from FF-01 Beam Cannon to FF-01 Particle Stream Cannon. Because it shoots water particles... In a stream... Because it's a squirt gun. (waits hopefully.... sighs).

I've also created a Certificate of Authenticity from the manufacturer.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent mod esp. the certification of authenticity from the manufacturer