Tag Archives: repair

Fixing a Broken Leg 201: joints

Last month I did a quick little tutorial on how to do a basic fix on a broken leg using wire. This month I find myself fixing another leg, this time more complicated because it’s broken right below a joint.

This fix uses a similar technique, but with a bit of a tweak to make it more stable.

Required reading: How to Fix a Broken Leg

The sad (and blurry, sorry) victim:

This break was half on purpose and half not- I was intentionally repositioning the leg, but failed to heat it enough before bending and it snapped. Oops.

Because the break is right below the bent hock, I need to use a wire join that is also bent to follow the shape of the leg so that it actually stabilizes the break.

weak join

strong join

The first step in the fix is simply to embed a piece of wire into the straighter side of the break, in this case the cannon bone (just like in steps 1-2 of the first tutorial). Once the wire is fully fixed in that side and the glue is dry, gently bend the wire to match the shape of the full leg (see below).

Since my wire joiner has a bend, the hole its going to fit into, in the upper part of the break, needs to match that bent shape. I used my carbide scraper to dig out a trench in the front of the bent hock. You could certainly use a dremel, but it’s not necessary.

Here I’ve dug my trench into the hock and fixed the wire, now bent, into the model’s cannon bone.

I keep scraping until the wire nestles fully into the trench and the leg lines up properly.

The wire nestled in its new home

Here I’ve got the leg just about where I want it.

As you can see above, I’ll need to do some resculpting (including removal) on that hock joint to make it anatomically correct. The important thing here is to get the bottom part of the leg securely where I want it to be on the finished custom, and then I can worry about the details.

Once the wire sits fully in the trench and you have the leg positioned how you want it, just fix the wire into the trench using superglue and baking soda. It sometimes helps at this stage to have an extra hand, or rest your horse upside down in a cup so you can hold the leg in place while still applying glue.

Once the glue is dry, make the fix even more secure by filling in the surrounding area with your epoxy of choice.

Ta da!

How to Fix a Broken Leg

One of my acquisitions from the last show was this free but broken G3 Stock Horse. Since I already had the dremel out, I fixed up his leg so he at least could stand on the shelf and await his customization. I took pictures so I could do a quick little tutorial on how to fix a broken leg.

Step One
Use a dremel to make a hole in both pieces of the leg. This break is at the pastern, so I drill up into the cannon bone and down into the hoof. Go as deep as you can without puncturing the outside of the plastic. This is easiest using a small dremel drill bit, but you can use a carbide scraper to dig a hole into each piece if you don’t have a dremel on hand.

Step Two
Insert a wire into one of the holes as deeply as possible. Use as thick a wire as will fit. Secure the wire in the hole using super glue and just a touch of baking soda. The glue-and-baking-soda resin should only fill the hole and not spill out. If it overflows the hole you’ll need to sand it back down, otherwise the leg will end up longer than it was originally.

Step Three
Trim the wire so that when you put the two pieces together they are snug and no wire is visible, as seen below:

Now you see it…

Now you don’t!

Step Four
Using just a touch of super or tacky glue, secure the exposed wire in the other side of the break. Make sure the sides are snug and that the hoof is positioned correctly. Stand the horse up to double check stability.

Voila! My horse has four legs again. He’ll still need some epoxy and/or modeling paste to smooth over the break, but it’s secure.

Strategies for those Pesky Acrylic Paints

I have tried to paint horses entirely in acrylics before but it’s always ended badly. I find it extremely difficult to blend acrylics properly, let alone get them to go down smooth. The reason I fell in love with pastel finish work is because both shading and smoothness are pretty inherent in the medium. It’s great.

But pastels are not very good for fixing chips or mistakes in finish work. With my recent rash of restoration cases, I’ve been forced to use acrylics- and, to my delight, to get better at using them.

Four strategies helped me in my endeavor to fix the finish problem or chips on Alpo, Doublet, and Troy Soldier.

First: Have plenty of applicable colors on hand. Any base color that might be a part of your horse’s lovely coat can be relevant. While doing these repairs I was constantly surprised by what colors worked and what didn’t. I was very happy to have all these different colors on hand in these great Ceramcoat bottles. I lucked into these at a garage sale for a pittance, but now that I know their awesomeness I’d be happy to pay full price for them. Besides, these little bottles hold a lot of paint and keep it neat and fresh much better than paint tubes, so they’re a good investment. Having so many easy to use, pre-made horsey colors made color matching much easier- and less wasteful too.

Second: Keep track of what works. I use my handy-dandy notebook to write down what base acrylic colors I’m using on the horses so that I can recreate the mixes- or another useful hue- when I go back for more layers or additional repairs. (When I saw the photo of Alpo below I immediately noted on his page “left front hoof needs filing!”)

Third: Work quickly in small batches, with water and a rag close at hand. Acrylics dry very fast, so it’s important to remove applied paint immediately if it doesn’t match. Happily, wet acrylic is easily removable if you act fast. I brush the offending area with water to liquidate the applied color. Then I soak up the water and pigment with a larger, dry brush, which I wipe clean and dry again on the rag. Depending on how much pigment you are removing, this may take a few repetitions. Be careful not to let it leave a line of color around the edges of the area- you may need to scrub the remaining pigment a bit with the wet brush to pick it up.

Fourth: Blend beyond the repair. The goal of finish restoration is of course to repair the part that’s damaged. But if you only put your acrylic patch there, even the best color matching is going to leave a funny shape. You want to concentrate your pigment on the problem area, but use that same color watered down to blend into the rest of the horse. Alpo had a weird “rain rot” mark in his pastel work, outlined in red below. That’s where most of my pigment went, but I brushed thinner and thinner acrylic over the rest of the purple-outlined area as well to blend the repair into his body.

Speaking of acrylics, here’s Lilah with some of her acrylic detailing mapped in. The orange in her mane and tail is a bit garish, but even with that toned down I think she’ll be quite a stunner.

Pony Problems

If all goes well, I’ll be headed to a live show at the end of March. I’d like to have some of my in progress horses done by then, but various problems are setting me back. Arg.

My ponies have problems:

grain

cat attack

rain rot

gravity

A month seems like a lot of time now, but I’m sure it’ll go by very
quickly.

Repairing Damaged Finish

Unfortunately, one of the wounded from last week’s Great Feline Attack was Rumble Strip, the star of my recently finished racehorse diorama. Not only did he break off from his acrylic rod and the diorama base, but he also suffered some damage to his finish.

I am not confident using acrylics to paint a whole model or really achieve any shading, but at least I can do some discrete color matching to fix these boo-boos.

First I identified which brown shades would go into his repair. Then I set about mixing and matching colors to find which matched his damaged spots. The nice thing about acrylics is that you can remove them from the horse with water and a cloth or paper towel if the color doesn’t work- as long as you do it right away. So I could mix a color and test it on a spot without doing further damage to the original finish work.

I needed some darker colors to mix the right shades and to fix the marred spot on his tail. It worked, although I squeezed the bottle of Charcoal a bit too hard…

Happily, it didn’t take too long to fix up the damage. He certainly isn’t LSQ, but he wasn’t before either- and now he’s back to his lovely presentable self.

Attaching him back onto the base was relatively easy. All I needed was super glue with a fine tip and a bit of patience. It’s not as neat as before, but I might be able to file down some of the excess glue- once I’m positive that it’s thoroughly dry. And now the race horses are back on the shelf where they belong.

Alas, the other repairs will not be quite as simple.