A tour of
Classic Warships
Casting facility
By Timothy Dike
While at the 2004 IPMS Nationals in Phoenix I was fortunate to hook up with Steve Wiper. He was there with the other ship modelers showing off the fruits of his new shop. It is finally finished and Classic Warships is casting kits again. Like some of you I have been waiting for a long time to get my hands on the new USS Helena in 1/350 scale. Steve quickly sold what he brought to the show and offered to cast me one. So we took off one morning heading south toward the border. We arrived in Tuscon, Arizona and drove to a secret location.
The Shop
As F-16's circled overhead we entered the secret production facility where the sign above the door says it all.
Upon entry I was was impressed by how organised and clean the shop was. Here is an overview of the casting portion of the shop. Note the air supply piping and the exhaust ductwork.
These are the On-off valve, regulator and timing devices for each of the six pressure casting stations.
The kits are cast with two part polyurethane resin. 
The "Resin Cart" makes it easy to get the resin to where the action is.
Classic Warships has gone through a whole bunch of used resin buckets filling backorders for their kits.
Here are some Resin hull parts curing racks to allow the resin to cure on a flat surface.

This is the "Big" pressure casting chamber for the large 1/350 scale hulls. Note the "race car" suspension part used as part of the door hinge.

The nearby supply rack is a convienient place for casting tools and supplies.
Here is a Vacuum station for mold making. Note the hands are quicker than the camera.
Here we have one of the Mold storage racks.
Resin small parts curing table. This is where many of the small parts are separated from the resin wafers and readied for packing.
Cured resin small parts and white metal storage rack.
Resin small parts with part list sheet from a 1/350 kit.
The Resin casting process.
Step 1, put on protective clothing - latex gloves and a good apron.
Step 2, Spray mold release into mold cavity.
Step 3, talcum powder dust on the molds helps.
Step 4, Mix and pour the resin into the molds.
Step 5, Pick out the larger air bubbles and finish pouring in the resin.
Step 6, Place rubber flats on top and wrap up the plastic under sheet.
Step 6, Carefully load both hulls into pressure chamber and apply air pressure.
While those parts are in the chamber we can go about mixing resin for a mold of small parts.
Here is one of the small part mold in pressure chamber ready for resin.
Here we have Steve pouring resin into mold. It is important to pick out the air bubbles before proceeding. Bubbles left in place here will show up in the final part. Next we close lid, apply air pressure and set timing device.
Times up for the main hull parts. 

Release the air pressure after curing time in pressure chamber, and remove molds from the chamber.

Remove hull casting from mold and place on the hull curing rack.
Remove small part castings from mold and inspect for quality. The parts that are well cast get sorted and become part of Classic Warships kits.
Those that don't........
......end up in the Rejected castings file, also known as the "Circular File".
Final Notes
These are what empty boxes look like!
In this business one needs to becareful about who is checking you out. Here we spot John Sheridan spying and taking notes!
 The Classic Warships reference library.
The Warship Pictorial book inventory.
Classic Warships design studio and pattern making shop. Here are future kits in the making.
Hope you enjoyed the tour and see what is involved in serious resin kit production. This tour was made on a "Banzai" run down to Tucson from Phoenix on the Friday morning of the IPMS National Convention in Phoenix this past August 2004. The actual purpose was to retrieve a package for Yankee Modelworks.

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