It is possible, with available plans, to build your own torso. A big job. And this is one that I never planned on doing.
So I bought a torso and donut from B9Creations. As you can see it comes unfinished, but only a little touch up is required.
Finishing the torso is not a trivial job. Its very very important to do all the prep work before painting. In general
these are the steps:
1. Checking. Inspect the torso for any damage that will have to be repaired.
2. Cleaning, you can never be too clean.
3. Trimming and Drilling. There are five openings and over 20 holes that must be made and trimmed.
4. Sanding and filling. First of all there are always a few areas where there is excess fiberglass that needs to be smoothed
away due to the casting process. Other areas may need filling with bondo and then sanded smooth.
5. Priming. Use a suitable primer, one that is a primer/filler is nice.
6. Paint. Many people like textured finishes, this is the time to do it. Get the right color too.
While it is tempting to try and find suitable painting products at the local big box mega home improvement outlet
much better products are available at auto body supply shops. Auto body painting supplies are better and will give a better
job that will last many years. Of course if you have ever painted a car or even just a fender this is sort of a no brainer.
If you can paint a car you can paint a Robot...
This is automotive paint, a quart of primer and a quart of paint. There is also
a spray can of adhesion promoter (makes paint stick better) as well as the reducer
(makes paint the right viscosity to spray) and catalyst (make paint get hard) that you will need to mix together. Not pictured
is a flattening agent. While I did not want a textured finish I also did not want
a high gloss finish. The flattening stuff makes the paint less glossy and more flat.
Before spraying this paint must first
be mixed: 8 parts paint, 2 parts reducer and 1 part catalyst. Then the flattening agent is added. It is permissible to
spray up to 50% flattening agent but I decided to use less: Along with the 11 parts (8+2+1) paint I used 2 parts flattening
agent. Could of used up to 5.5 parts flattening agent. Took some of the gloss away but you may want to use slightly more.
This is the point of using car paint. You can get exactly
what you want. Paint out of a spray can just does not let you do this. And car paint will be much more resistant to chipping
Above is the torso after filling and sanding. There were a few areas that needed
bondo, nothing serious. Sanding is necessary to get good adhesion for both bondo and paint! The green microphone and dial
bezels were made from printed circuit board material epoxied to the torso.
|1978 Alfa Romero 45948 (751) paint color
As you can see this is a non-textured torso. But you may also see, at least I did,
that this is a bit too dark.
This paint color is supposed to be the actual color of the original Robot from TV. Its from a 1978 Alfa
Romero color code 45948 (751). After looking at it for a few days I decided it was wrong and I would repaint with a lighter
|1978 Ford 43523 (1J) paint color
Auto paint shops have an infinite number
of paint chip samples you can stare at till you go blind. I spent about 5 minutes and picked the above color. Its a 1975 Ford
43523 (1J) color. Quite a bit lighter then the Alfa color.
Why the difference? And more important
what has everyone else done?
The pictures we saw on TV were taken
under very bright lights were of a Robot with a heavily textured surface. This was done to prevent reflections. And it makes
darker silver paint seem lighter. Adding to this is the problem of accurate color reproduction from a 40 year old TV show.
So just exactly what color was used may be lost forever.
But what have others been using? It seems
to be quite common to use Rustolium hammered silver paint. I got some of this and sprayed it on a board along with the Ford
and Alfa colors. The hammered silver is quite good but along with the Ford color is much lighter then the Alfa color.
Lower left is the Ford color, lower right the Alfa color and top is the Rustolium
You may have noticed that the repainting
has exactly the same chest light area. Here is how it was done:
For the second and third season the makers
made the chest area a dark, almost back, color. I think it looks better, much more Robot like.
As far as I can tell this dark area was
painted on the original Robot. To get a neat job this had to be masked and then spray painted. A fiddley job to get just right.
I have seen many pictures of this done less then perfectly. So instead of paint I found a slightly different way to do the
By luck I came across some thin plastic
(about 1/16” thick) that had a nice texture on one side. And it was quite dark but perhaps not black. Layout and drill
the holes, trim the edges and heat to get it to conform to the curve of the torso, an
“Instant” dark paint job. And once this part is correct it can be used as a template to mark and drill the
holes in the torso itself. And since this is trimmed to fit exactly to the outline of the chest area there is no question
of masking problems, the edges look perfect. An interesting effect is the contrast between an un textured torso and a slightly
textured chest panel.
The only real problem is that on many torsos the chest
area is not exactly square. No real problem, a little sanding and filing and fitting and its perfect.
There is an interesting side effect of
doing it this way: Its much more “fault tolerant”. If you have an “Oops” with this plastic sheet,
so what, get some more. But if you made a goof in the torso itself… Get out the epoxy and the grinder and maybe in 4
or 5 hours you can try again.