Last year I got my friend, Scott C., who owns a CNC milling machine, to make me a master Fuel Rats plaque – it’s 18″ across.
Making the mold for that thing took some work and about a gallon of silicone. When you’re doing a casting like that, you want to be very careful to dig all the air bubbles off the surfaces so there are no holes in the mold, and to degass your mixed silicone in a vacuum chamber before you start pouring it. My casting was good and bubble-free and clean.
I mixed a half a spoonful of alumilite gold pigment into the resin, then took a paintbrush and gave a fine coating to the silicone. The resin I used was “accu-color” clear polyurethane (much cheaper than the water-clear stuff!) – it sets up fast and runs up to about 200F while it’s curing – you have about 50 seconds to combine the resin and hardener and pour it gently but quickly and smoothly into the mold. Hint: make sure molds this large are on a levelling plate or a large board with wedges under the edges so you can adjust the level quickly and easily.
It takes only about 15 minutes for the resin to be rock solid. Be conservative and let it sit overnight if you’re not making massive fast production runs.
There are some bubbles in the edges where the gold pigment dust appears to have trapped some air. That casting is about a quart – about a liter – of resin, $25 worth. Screw-ups with large castings are not good.
The Fuel Rats asked me to make a plaque and send it to someone who had an amazing achievement (I will get to that) so I couldn’t send a plaque that was not top notch. So I spent 45 minutes cleaning the gold out of the silicone with soapy water and let the mold dry overnight so I could try again. Make sure you don’t get water in contact with urethane resin, it’ll foam up and be crumbly when it cures.
My favorite plaque look is steel and bronze. You can get powdered steel and powdered bronze on Ebay. It’s not cheap but it makes the resin heavy and metallic. It also needs to be polished a lot with steel wool to bring out the metal texture. It’s hard and dirty and tiring of one’s hands, but the results are worth it:
The Fuel Rats: We Believe It Ain’t Dead ‘Till It’s Overkill
Who earned this plaque and why? CMDR Malibu gets the plaque. A group of players drew a Fuel Rats logo on the galaxy by plotting their travel over the course of 1 million light years of in-game flying. A rough rule of thumb in Elite is that 1,000ly takes about an hour to fly. This was not a small effort.
You’re our kind of crazy!