This will be a very text heavy post with only a few pictures. I had though that this post would be about building the monocoque, but when I got to that step and planned out my next few moves I realized that I needed to paint, decal and gloss coat all of the exterior chassis parts before moving on. This was due to my choice of gloss coat and I'll get into those details in a minute. So the planned post I had queued up went into the trash.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I'll be painting with Zero Paints. I sometimes skip the priming stage depending on what I'm building, but Zero Paints require a layer of primer before you paint. I used my go-to primer, Vallejo Polyurethane Primer. Make sure you shake the Vallejo primer for a ling time to ensure that it is well mixed. I start with a thin mist coat, let this dry for a minute, then spray a second wet coat. When this dries I inspect the piece for any scratches or dust particles that need to be sanded out or any areas where the primer didn't have appropriate coverage. I let this dry for 24 hours before touching it. If you attempt to sand the primer before it fully dries you'll end up ripping it off the model.
Zero Pants specializes in color matched paints. They have a massive selection of colors color matched to many famous vehicles. (For example, this is what a search for McLaren gets you.) I bought the three pack for the FW14B colors.
I used the Zero 2K Diamond Finish process for the clear coat. The following YouTube video goes over how to apply it:
Plan A was to paint the monocoque first and install all of the internal parts. I painted the monocoque blue and when I began to plan out decal application I realized that I needed to align some of the decals to other pieces. So I ended up painted all of the exterior pieces at once.
When I was planning out the next few steps for my build I ran into a few pieces that needed to be painted X-18 semi gloss black on the inside. I didn't want these parts to have the gloss coat on them, so I assumed I could mask them off then apply the 2K Diamond Finish. After doing some research I discovered that this was a great way to permanently attach the making tape to the model, safely sealed in by the impenetrable gloss coat - the Zero Paints Diamond Finish will dry and for a shiny, rock hard clear coat. Obviously this would not work. The plan was now to paint exterior colors, apply decals, gloss coat, then paint the interior color.
I built up my colors from lightest to darkest, carefully masking off each section to be sprayed next. I spent about eight hours masking and painting. I let this dry before moving on to the decals and gloss coat.
I did some more research on applying decals to the 2K Finish. Conveniently, the instructions tell you how to apply the gloss coat with decals. First you spray a tack coat, basically a light mist over the parts. Let this dry for a few hours, the apply the decals. The instructions recommend letting the decals dry for half a day then apply another tack coat over the decals followed by the wet coats.
Tamiya included decals for all of the blue sections. I'm sure this is to save inexperienced model makers time and effort in masking, but I'm not a fan of using decals for large painted areas. The major downside to this is that the FW14B has a red and white stripe separating all of the colors on the car. This stripe was printed onto the large blue decals. But Tamiya, being Tamiya, included extra stripes knowing that a lot of people would be painting their model instead of using the decals. I ended up cutting the blue of of a few areas with complex curves instead of using the extra stripes.
All of the other decals went on with few problems. I bought some aftermarket Camel decals on eBay as these are not included in the kit.
The clear coat looks great. After the first coat you can apply the next coat or two in thick layers. You'll see a lot of orange peel after the first pass, but it will smooth out nicely after the second or third coat. I was surprised by how much I needed, but this is a large model with a lot of surface area.
After the clear coat had time to cure (about 24-36 hours) I masked and sprayed Tamiya X-18 semi loss black to all of the underside pieces and exterior pieces on the monocoque that needed to be black.
While those pieces were drying I worked on the parts to be inserted into the monocoque. This included the drivers seat and the instrument panel.
Tamiya included material to make a very nice racing harness, shoulder pads and everything. It went together beautifully. I did add a drop of CA glue to the harness attachment points because I didn't trust that the adhesive on them would hold for more than a few days.
The instrument panel was assembled (two plastic parts and three metal brackets) and painted X-18. I let this dry for a few hours then hand painted on the details for the other knobs and switches. I applied the tachometer display decal and covered it with the clear part.
I also painted the pedals and fire suppression unit. I connected the throttle cable and glued the pieces into the monocoque and applied the last few interior decals. And nearly a week later I had finally finished the monocoque.
Going through this process emphasized the importance of doing your research and plannign ahead. Know your tools and how to use them. I almost always do a Google search on a new paint, clear coat, etc if I haven't used it before to see what other's have experienced. This saves a lot of headaches.