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Mechanical Solar System Build Log


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Hello all,


I've just started collecting a partworks magazine to build a mechanical solar system, so I thought I would start a build log of sorts. Clearly doesn't belong in the ship build logs so I thought I would post it here in the Shore Leave section. Hope you all find it interesting.


Its a weekly magazine by Eaglemoss, although they send out batches of four weeks at a time, and should take around a year to complete. I picked up my first batch today.







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The package I picked up yesterday contained the first three issues and an introductory issue. Each issue comes with a selection of parts that gradually build up the orrery over the year, like the partworks Victory and Bismarck models.


All the parts are either solid brass or brass plate, with a few plastic washers and clips. So far looks really good quality.


The parts I have received are the baseplate and calibration ring, the central column and drive shaft, the Sun and the start of the drive section for Venus.






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First step I have decided to take, after looking at some advice on Sky at Night forum, is to use boot polish to colour the etched markings in the base plate so that they stand out nicely.


Bought a tin of black kiwi polish, and using my finger gently rubbed the polish into the engravings in the baseplate. Once an initial coverage had been applied I gently used a rag to wipe away the excess polish. I'm please with the result but I think it will probably require a couple more 'coats' to get full and proper coverage and get the best detail to stand out.






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Traditionally wax is used but your supplied parts may well be laquered so the waxing process would damage that.  Maybe try black paint and wipe the excess off with rags or paper towels.  It will dry and remain hard - I suspect boot polish will come off.


If you use acrylic paint you can probably let it "almost" dry and wipe the excess with a damp cloth - leaving enough to fill the engravings.

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Onto the first real stages of construction with the unpacking of the second week's items.


The main column support was attached to the bottom of the base plate with three screws. I'm very aware that the screws are brass and could be very easy to strip so very carefully threaded them in and then tightened with a hex key multitool.


Secondly added the main column to the main support, flush at the bottom and then fixed in place with a grub screw.


This gives the main support structure for the orrery. After this is the addition of the sun and planets and the various gearing mechanisms.










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Next stage is adding the drive shaft.


At the top of the shaft is the Sun. This is a brass plate and weighs an impressive amount. The sun simply screws onto the top of the drive shaft. After this the driving gear is slid onto the driveshaft up to the sun and fixed in place with a grub screw. This gear also has a couple of holes for attaching the support for Mercury when it arrives with the next batch.






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Finally part of the gear arm for Venus can be added to the support column. There will be two gear wheels attached but the second will be sent in the next batch. Two interlocking pieces of plastic are used to hold the gears in place with a tapping screw. Attached the first gear and awaiting the second.


The gear arm is currently loose on the support column as, again, the grub screw to attach is sent with the next batch.


Well, that's the first set of parts used and the basic structure is in place. Got to wait a month now for the next parts, but the mechanism should start to come alive then!






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  • 3 weeks later...



The next lot of parts have arrived and I will be able to update the Orrery to add Mercury and Venus. 


First step is to finish off the Venus gear arm.


Firstly, a second gear wheel is attached using a screw and then the gear arm is fixed to the main support with a grub screw.





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I think I'll avoid the Pluto flap, although I do have an opinion :)  I love the finish of Mercury!  I didn't realize this sort of thing was available - I may need to look into one of these too!  Thanks for sharing, Jim.  I will be following along with great interest.



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Augie - fair enough! I'm still right though ;)

Landlocked - it's £6.99 a week so around £350 overall

bhermann - if you're interested it published by Eaglemoss I think

Brian - not sure if it was the same kit you made but this is made from solid and plated brass and looks excellent so far

Edited by jim_smits
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Onto the next section of parts.


This is primarily construction the gear wheels that also mount the Venus arm.


This comprises a brass ring, two gear wheels and a plastic hub. The hub is mounted in the  brass ring and fixed with a grub screw. The gear wheels are then mounted into the hub with three screws each.


The assembled part is put aside and will be slid onto the main bar when the next pieces are complete.








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The next pack contains another very nicely engraved brass part.


This is a large gear that will provide the ability to rotate the Earth/moon system so that the moon orbits the earth once a 'month'. It is also engraved with two historical planetary positions - the millennium and star of Bethlehem.


As with the other engraved part I have used some black boot polish to pick out the engraved markings to nice effect.



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The last set of parts contains the gearing for the Earth/Moon system and the Venus arm and planet.


I've shown the construction of the Earth gear arm on its own but in reality it is constructed around the large engraved gear. It was just hard to image and show what was being put together.


Once this was complete, the gears constructed in my earlier post were slid onto the main support by followed by the large gear wheel and its attached earth gear arm. This was then attached to the support post with a grub screw.


Final part was to attach the Venus support arm with a grub screw and insert Venus into the holder.


The mechanism is starting to come together now and nicely shows the differences in orbital speed between Mercury and Venus.


Before anyone asks; no it doesn't take into account the precession of Mercury's orbit due to relativity...










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hi Jim, If I turn my head slightly right I can see my Orrery built by my son & self about 5years ago(I think).I only realised it had been re released the other day when I saw an ad on the telly.It looks really impressive when finished. Enjoy putting yours together!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The next set of magazines have arrive along with the orrery parts.


This group of parts will form the Earth / Moon arm. The plastic spindle is inserted into the earth support arm, and a pair of gar wheels are attached, a smaller 47 tooth gear wheel and a much larger 92 tooth gear wheel, using three screws each.












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The two arms are threaded on the main shaft. The lower gear arm is then attached firmly using a grub screw.


Once this is place the earth/moon system can be added. A spindle is threaded into a small gear wheel and inserted into the earth support arm.


Three planets now, and the rotating moon looks the business!




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  • 2 months later...

Hello all,


Slightly enforced break unfortunately as Eaglemoss couldn't source issue 12 and sent 13,14 & 15. This meant that I couldn't proceed with the build until this week when I finally got issue 12.


Anyway, on with the build!


The first set of parts can be assembled to create a gear sandwich that will form part of the power chain and also provide the mounting point for the Mars arm.








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