Lighting & Final Assembly (before paint!)

          We have completed Issues 89-92 and its hard to believe that final assembly has begun with only 8 issues left before we are finished.  Gasp.  On this page we will be featuring an aftermarket LED lighting kit as well as the installation of the cargo hold and passageways.  Issues 93-96 will focus on the joining of the upper and lower hull along with a major decision to be made with regard to the installation of the landing gear.  Here goes...

The John Holland Lighting Kit....   

         One year ago, I discovered an aftermarket lighting kit produced by an individual in the UK.  It features 3mm and 5mm LEDs and all of the lighting components have been prewired.  John Holland and his wife produce these kits which are nicely packaged, well made and add white and red landing and warning lights to an already uber detailed millennium falcon.  Despite excessive delays in shipping and sometimes confusing installation instructions, I am generally pleased with this kit.  Pictured below are the red warning lights installed.

       The 5mm LED landing lights are installed by drilling holes into the outer hull using the drill bit generously provided in the kit.  Instructions were not particularly clear and are not included with the kit.  Although there are some decent guidelines posted on John's website, this was one of the only complaints I had about the lighting kit overall.

      Once the hole is drilled, you glue a nylon fitting to the interior hull, insert the LED and secure with heat shrink tubing which provides stability and light blocking at the same time.  See picture above. 

        The wiring looms plug into the kit's original control board.  The sublight engine LED's share the same port on the control board but John's kit does a nice job of providing a wire loom that will handle both lighting features. Pictured far right.

     There are two ports on the forward cutaway that are begging for additional lighting.  We took 5mm fiber optics and widened these ports to accommodate the fiber optic threads.  Pictured left is before the mod, center picture reveals the addition of LED lighting.  Big difference.  These 3mm resin grills were nice upgrade to the LED landing lights.
Final assembly has begun...   

    There is a lot going on in Issue 93-96 which is the second to the last installment until the Falcon is complete.  During Issue 93, we complete the fiber optic and LED connections and then secure the upper hull to the side frames.  I was surprised how well everything matched up.  The cockpit and corridor has been added as well as the upper hull plates that cover the cargo hold.  Pictured below are the side plates with added greeblies along with the port and starboard airlocks.  Installation required some additional sanding but we are pleased with the result.

 ​        Issue 96 focused on the hull plates that cover the engine compartment.  There are lots of greeblies and detail parts. Most of the side panels have been assembled and installed on the Falcon.  The engine cover (below) has been installed as well but there is a HUGE amount of remaining greeblies to be added in the final step. The landing gear is also included in this particular issue.
Landing Gear Upgrades...   

    The MF kit was designed with two mounting options in mind- one featuring the MF in flight firmly secured to the wall or ceiling using a really slick TV mounting bracket, or the second featuring the MF with its landing gear extended mounted or standing on its own.  At first, we thought that this was a no brainer that the MF must be mounted in "mid flight mode" screaming through the galaxy but when we stumbled across some landing gear mods on the Model-Space website we suddenly had second thoughts (see left).  Sooooo.... we ordered up some spare parts, placed an order on Shapeways, purchased some guitar strings, 3/32 brass rod, plastruct strip, heat shrink tubing and wire and quickly got to work.

Front Landing Gear

    Okay, there is a lot going on in these photos pictured above.  We purchased new part packs which offered the landing gear components.  The 3D printed upgrades from Shapeways provided additional detail but I must admit to being disappointed with the overall quality and brittle nature of these parts.  Following Ian Lawrence's suggestions on the Model-Space forum, I cut braces from styrene strip and modified the landing pads to accommodate this new feature (#2).  I cut pieces of 3/32 brass rod and used heat shrink tubing to make pistons for the rear landing gear assemblies.  Very slick I might add (#3).  After drilling mounting holes I used super glue to secure the 3D printed pieces to the rear landing gear (#3).  In addition, I used steel guitar strings to simulate cabling that hangs down from the landing gear bay along with black insulated wire for more detail.  These were added to both the front and rear landing gear (#4).  So far so good.

    One feature that was not included in the original kit were landing gear covers or doors.  I did not realize what a difference these structures would make towards the overall appearance of the landing gear until I saw Ian's work on the M-S Forum.  OMG.  The resin pieces actually came with the upgrades from Shapeways but had to be carefully cleaned of any plastic residue before adding primer.  Next, I cut pieces of 3/32 brass rod, bent them to shape and then expoxied  each brass piece to the inside of the landing bay doors.  Holes were carefully drilled into the base of the landing gear providing enough space for when the entire assembly is secured to the underside of the Millennium Falcon.  Hint: Dont glue the doors in place until you have test fit the landing gear assembly inside the MF.  

     The last picture on the right show the landing gear with not only the landing gear doors installed but the cabling as well.  The guitar strings really made a difference and will be painted a rust color before installing.

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