Tamiya 1/12 2007 M1 Yamaha: The Assen Assasin
Paul Adams builds another 1/12th scale MotoGp bike, this time using resin and decals from French manufacturer, Renaissance.
In the January 2008 Update, I reviewed the 2007 Assen GP Renaissance transkit for the Tamiya 2005 M1 Yamaha. The TK was to convert the kit into an early 2007 season bike, complete with Day-Glo paint scheme and 1950’s artwork. The TK was incomplete at that time, as the manufacturer hadn’t included a revised tank, exhaust and new for ’07 rear wheel. Some months after the release, Renaissance began issuing kits with these parts included, for an additional 22 Euros. I picked up the extra parts direct from Renaissance a few months back. [1, 2]
The title of this article hints at the particular success of this bike during the Assen Gp. Valentino Rossi had qualified poorly and race favourite and championship leader, Casey Stoner, started on pole and was expected to race off into the distance. From 11th place on the grid, Rossi relentlessly picked off his rivals and caught Stoner with 5 laps left. He made his move with 3 to go and won by 2.5 seconds in what was the race of the season.
With Scale Modelworld looming just four months away, work began on the model, which hopefully will form part of a Rossi display on the Les Garagistes Italian themed table.
I began with constructing the kit frame and swing arm – all very much straight forward, which would be needed to ensure that the resin parts would fit correctly. I trimmed 10mm off of the front air intake and attached the three-piece fairing, tank, seat and lower cowl (Tamiya part) before any cleaning up. The air intake was cut back to allow for the fairing `nose’ which has part of the intake mould in, unlike the Tamiya equivalent. Immediately I found that, to my surprise, it all went together with what seemed like minimal adjustment and clean up. I’m beginning to enjoy working with resin! I then went through each part using 600 and 1200 grit papers and finessed the resin to achieve a paint ready finish. The side cowls, tank and seat needed more work than I had first seen. A step existed on both side cowls and on an awkward edge on the tank, and once rubbed down the step was checked using Mr Surfacer 500. This product is great to ensure seams are removed and small blemishes filled. The seat was good, but the vent toward the rear was misshapen. I used Tamiya epoxy putty to good effect and after another flurry of sand paper it look much better. I found a few pinholes. The best way to correct these is to drill out the hole fully and fill with a blob of superglue, set using Zipkicker. The resultant bump can then be sanded smooth. This is a much safer way, than just filling the hole without clearing away any weak areas surrounding it.
The side cowls use the Tamiya kit vents and these fitted particularly well. Blending in was done with Mr Surfacer 500 and some Tamiya’s epoxy putty once more. In all I am very impressed with the Renaissance parts, much improved over the resin contained in the Honda NSR500 Mugello kit. As well as body parts, the TK updates the rear mudguard and clutch, with a top yoke and some footguards too. I cleaned away another step on the mudguard and test fitted it to the swing arm. Once again the fit was great so I went onto attach all of the body panels for a first photoshoot.
The process in turn highlighted a couple of issues. The upper nose fairing was a little thick at the rear edges, so these were thinned out and a square hole was carefully cut in the front to represent where the tiny Tv camera would live. I also noticed a small problem with the seat, which is better demonstrated in the pictures. Some epoxy filler was used to ensure both sides looked the same. [3,4,5]
The 2007 bike used a shorter silencer and this is represented in the kit with part of the exhaust pipe too. After assembling the Tamiya pipe it was cut at the lower weld join as called out in the instructions. I inserted a 3mm diameter piece of aluminium tubing, 10mm long, into a hole drilled in the Tamiya part and another hole in the resin piece ensured a strong join. Some cleaning up was done on the resin pipe and the two pieces glued together using the frame and engine as a jig. I decided to remove the moulded in bracket and attachment point on the seat and replace these with etched parts from Studio 27. With help from my Hold and Fold a U shaped bracket was formed and test fitted to the seat. The down `hanger’ bracket was bent to shaped and cleaned up ready for painting later. The picture shows these parts alongside the out of scale plastic kit part. I think this is a good decision, but fraught with problems later as to how I get these parts together during final assembly. Solder looks to be the best bet. We’ll see. 
The frame needs updating to. Etched footrests were added in place of the mould on kit par’ts, new footpegs from Top Studio and a revised rear brake master cylinder completed the look. All of the moulded in boltheads were sanded away ready for etch parts later. I drilled a new hole just behind the weld seam, which is the bolt location for the seat on the newer machines. Etch parts were added to the swingarm too. A lot of sawing and filing was needed to add and the tension adjusters and stand hooks. It all looks great, but they are very fragile and prone to breaking off as I found out! 
I as now facing a dilemma, which is holding up the build. The Renaissance decals call for Tamiya TS23 light blue to be used to match the blue on the sheet. I have had Zero paint mix a match for me – but it doesn’t! Either the Zero paint is wrong or the Tamiya colour isn’t a match. I contemplated spraying all of the blue areas as I was keen for there not to be a disparity in shade. That task is no easy one and will involve very careful and precise masking. The alternative is to use the decals and attempt to mix a shade myself…the answer lies out there somewhere!! 
I ordered a can of Tamiya TS23 so I could compare it to the Zero light blue. At the time of writing I have yet to test this paint against the decals, but the cap colour looks promising. I’ve become so frustrated with this problem, that I have been considering doing a different paint scheme. The test bike looks a good option, but its 100% carbon finish may prove too big of a hurdle to complete before mid November!
As the body parts were stalling, I set about painting smaller parts, which I normally take an age to get around to doing. These parts are essential, but nevertheless, not as much fun as the body parts!! I started with the engine, which after gluing and cleaning up was given two light coats of grey primer. The 800cc engines now used in MotoGP differ from the 990cc replica in the Tamiya kit. Not much but a few parts have been moved about. As it’s largely hidden when finished, I decided to just apply the correct colours to it. I applied two light coats of Zero black and painted the cylinder heads with Alclad Steel followed with a couple of coats of acrylic flat varnish. The heads were then masked off leaving the crankcase exposed. Another coat of black and two coats of 2 part clear readied the surface for Mr Hobby plate silver. I’m unsure what secret ingredient the Japanese have in their water, but my goodness, can they produce some superb paints!! The silver yields a very good, machined aluminium finish unlike any other paint I’ve used. The cam cover was airbrushed Humbrol steel and later polished. The smaller parts were given various treatments of Alclad, finishing with the clutch cover coated with a mix of Alclad burnt metal and aluminium. A little detail painting and the parts were brought together. The picture shows the engine 90% complete. 
The resin wheels were primed and airbrushed again using the Zero Jet Black and clearcoat route. A Hobby Design turned valve help finish off the look. The tyres on all bike kits have an annoying seam that requires removal and this task is completed using 800 and 1200 grit sandpapers. A clean with acylic thinner to remove debris and marks was followed by the `Michelin’ decals. I discarded the Renaissance ones for some freebies from Dexter models. The weathering was done on them with acrylics mixed from buff, orange and flat black. The Tamiya front disks were used painted with Humbrol and Tamiya Gunmetal paints. The finish is far enough apart to demonstrate the different materials used. A photoetch ABS sensor sits in the middle of the disk. The rear disk is photoetch with just the centre painted Humbrol Gunmetal and gently buffed. 
The frame and swing arm had been together for sometime, but purposely left without paint. When I am happy that the test-fitting phase of the build is over, only then will paint be applied. In this instance Halfords Satin Black was used to imitate the anodised black finish, a standard colour seen on factory Yamaha’s for many years. I struggled a little to get a smooth finish, and only after the last heavy, wet coat, did I get the look I was after. The shock absorber parts were painted in various Alclads and the Tamiya upgrade pre-painted yellow spring inserted. This assembly simply screws into place on the swing arm. 
I have managed to start the lengthy task of covering several parts with carbon fibre decal. The complex shape of these parts requires a template (made from laying strips of Tamiya masking tape over the part) to be created which then forms the basis for the shape of the decal. Some parts get just one oddly shaped decal, others two or more. I completed the rear mudguard, exhaust shroud, clutch cover and fork protectors with Modellers carbon decal. I think I use the wrong weave size, as it can barely been seen beneath two coats of clear! I’ve still several other parts to do, including the airbox on the frame. 
The exhaust pipe has provided another frustrating job. After priming I used Zero black for a base upon which Alclad Duraluminium was added. Over this went Tamiya’s enamel clears of blue and orange and Testors purple pearl. The result isn’t bad, but I’m not happy with it. The first two thirds look fine, but the silencer end is just not accurate enough for my demanding standards!! Before stripping the paint off, I will try and correct the problems as I see them. Close but no cigar! 
I’d finally decided on a blue paint to match the decals and things went ahead as planned. Tamiya TS23 blue was chosen and I planned to paint a little more of the scheme than originally intended. So, following three coats of Tamiya’s very nice fine white primer, I airbrushed three coats of Zero Pure white basecoat paint. The next day the relevant areas were masked off for the blue. I used Tamiya masking tape to create the division and covered the other areas with Mr Hobby Neo liquid masking fluid. The Tamiya TS23 was decanted from the aerosol and left to `gas’ out in a handy and clean Bolognese sauce jar. An hour or so later the paint was airbrushed on, lightly so as not to build up a ridge of paint that I’d have to smooth out later. The resultant finish looked perfect and with a nice satin sheen.
It is written somewhere that it’s best to clearcoat Tamiya TS paint within one hour of application and having previously achieved this on another model I went ahead and removed the masking and shot three coats of 2 part clear. I went to bed that night a happy man…. 
The next morning I reviewed my previous days progress. It was only now that I noticed that the masking fluid had stained some parts of the white paint and the clearcoat has mysteriously broken up the Tamiya TS paint – leaving a faded, dissolved look. Quite why this has happened remains unresolved, but to say the least, I was miffed!!! Excuse my rather poor attempt to indicate where the problems were and it’s difficult to see on the pictures, but to the eye it was all too visible. [15,16] I really must learn to use Photoshop…(Ed: I’ve had a go!)
The other thing that became apparent was that the chosen blue was way too dark to match the actual colour and so too was the blue parts of the decal sheet. I had no choice but to strip the paint off and start over.
The parts were soaked in IPA for an hour. This miracle worker normally allows the paint to just fall away from the parts without affecting them Off came the clear and Zero white, yet the Tamiya paints refused to budge. I resorted to gently scraping the paint away with a modelling knife (it was too gooey to sand) and cleaning the rest off, with 800 grit sandpaper. I took two weeks of evenings to get back to the beginning. Or at I thought so. I re-primed and discovered the all of my fine filling work with Mr Surfacer and putty and been undone by the IPA. Pinholes and blemishes had reappeared. Yet another round of filing and sanding whiled away several more hours.
As I write this, the parts sit in white Zero basecoat paint awaiting a decision on the way forward. The blue decals are not going to be useful to effectively create a replica. I have mixed a light blue that comes close to matching the actual bike. Further checks with photocopied decals reveals some fit issues and the possibility of painting even more of the scheme!
On a positive note, I managed to repaint the exhaust system and I’m much happier with the look this time. Of course getting there was another trial. The second painting attempt went awry when I dropped the exhaust on the floor, 80% through painting, breaking it in two and demanding another stripping and filling session.
The model is now partially assembled ready for its work in progress debut at the Nationals and on the table in the `I ran out of’ class! Now for an excuse..
On with with the build
At this stage I’ve still 40% of the model to complete, most of which involves completing the paint scheme.
I’ll begin with the body parts. After last months disastrous first painting attempt, the parts were stripped, sanded, filled and primered again. I used Zero paints pure white to get the parts back to the `beginning’. To be frank, I’ve messed about for too long trying to decide the best way to tackle the paint job. Both Renaissance and Museum collections (MC) decal sets are inaccurate, in different areas. On both sheets the blue is way too dark and the fluorescent colours barely exist on the MC sheet. To satisfy my need for accuracy, I took the decision to paint all of the main colours. The paint scheme has 17 swatches of colour, most of which involve straight lines, converging somewhere toward their end. I could only see a potential problem with the tank as the demarcation line was curved. Unperturbed, I set about masking up. I used Tamiya 18mm masking tape, cut into 1.5mm widths. Why not use a thinner tape? Well, by cutting each piece with a sharp hobby knife blade, you get a cleaner, crisper edge than that provided by the manufacturer. [16,17]
I applied the thin tape along each area to be painted, burnishing the edges down with a cocktail stick as I went. To help place the tape correctly, I photocopied the Renaissance decal sheet and cut out the relevant areas to use a templates. After several hours, lots of checking and measuring, I arrived at five parts ready for green and red paints. I would use Zero Fluorescent green and red paints. The red was a good match, but the green was too yellow to pass as an accurate colour. I feared another blunder was looming so I slept on it overnight.The next morning I mixed the fluorescent green with a Kawasaki green, about 50/50, and found a good compromise in colour. Unfortunately I had removed most of the masking the previous day, and so I had to re-mask, following my lines very closely! Anyhow, the re-spray turned out better than expected and matched the red tonally very well. Next up is to re-mask and paint the blue areas from another colour I have mixed. More on that next time. [18,19,20]
I’d mentioned last month that I had repainted the exhaust. Again, this was after several blunders, but the end result is much better than my earlier attempts. Alclad paints work very well if the preparation is done correctly. I used Zero Jet Black over grey primer and cleared it all with 2K (2 part). Allowing the exhaust to dry overnight I followed up with Alclad Polished Aluminium. I weathered the exhaust with Tamiya clear enamels, however, I believe next time I will try the Alclad `Hot Metals’ range of paints. I picked up each of the four colours at Scale Modelworld, and though they are designed for aircraft, they should help create an even more realistic finish. 
I’ve completed the carbon fibre deal application too. All of the minor parts have been done including the instrument binnacle and footguards. I used Modellers fine carbon fibre decal and cleared them with 2K. I also completed the fiddly task of decaling the air intake in the frame. This part is moulded in and so presents a bit of challenge to get a good result. This shot shows the decaling job before clear is added. 
Buoyed by the success of the first two colours of the paint scheme, I quickly moved onto masking up each part for the blue. You’ll be aware that this colour has caused much conjecture since I began this project and eventually I decided to mix my own blue. Using the Zero TS23, I slowly lightened about 30ml of it in a new jar, using Zero pure white. I believe the mix ended up around 65/35. The airbrush was primed and the blue went on with any issue at all. These Zero paints are very similar in application to a Tamiya, Gunze or Hannants acrylics, slow application, building the colour, evenly, and without the need to worry about a glossy finish, they are very easy to work with. [23,24]
The masks were carefully removed, avoiding any peeling of the other paint’s, and the next task was to paint the `dancer panels’. These areas are too covered by the decal sheet, but once again, they are too small to fill the void. Masking involved lining out each of the red and green areas using 2.0mm widths of Tamiya tape, masking off the areas to be blue, or dark blue and spraying away. The last colour to go on, the dark blue was done with Zero BMW Williams F1 blue. Not an exact match to the decals, but close enough. After one day of masking and unmasking the task was complete. 
I next did some painting that later I realised I didn’t need to have done! These areas were for the carbon fibre decals. Normally, the decals are slightly opaque and need a black base to work. I was using Modellers carbon decal, a brand I hadn’t used before. I subsequently discovered they are black backed, and don’t show any colour through whatsoever. Unaware of this, I proceeded to mask up and spray the relevant areas. With the black complete, I was finally able to seal the paint scheme in with three coats of 2k clear.]
Applying the decals to a model is always an exciting part of the building process. The markings really bring things to life, and none more so than the bright, vivid markings of this bike. I had sprayed the clearcoat in a cooler temperature than normal (what’s normal?), probably less than ten degrees and paid for it later. The clear had some texture to it, and each part was gently sanded with wetted Micromesh 4000 grit and polish with Mer car polish. I began with the dummy fuel tank as both sides wear a large decal that forms part of the paint job. Both decals went on without a problem, and fortunately lined up nicely with the curve of the painted parts.
A little Microsol was used to get the decal nice a snug around the curves. The blue section of this panel will be masked off after clearcoat, and painted using the mixed blue I’ve used elsewhere. With the other markings, application was simple and I quickly moved onto the side panels. The Museum Collection decal sheet has a small advantage over the Renaissance version in that some of the sponsor’s logos are separate, rather than `built in’ with the paint scheme. This enabled me to utilise markings that otherwise I would have had to cut out from the Renaissance sheet. The Fiat `Notes’ were from the MC sheet as well as the dancing pair and starbursts. Once more all were applied with the aide of Microsol, particularly the Fiat logos, which were very thick and need copious rewetting and the hairdryer to get them to conform. [26,27,28]
The nose received the Fiat badge and race number, which sadly is not quite thick enough to prevent bleeding. The last part I tackled was the seat, or tail section as it is often referred. 
The multicoloured underside decal was cut in half to allow easier application. This proved the correct choice it is was a little undersized, but still it lined up with my earlier painting. I placed the race numbers on and then set about applying the carbon fibre areas underneath. These areas would then have more sponsorship markings partly covering them. Once complete the love `note’s went on and the remaining small sponsors decals. At the time of writing I have still to complete the lower cowl. 
With all of this success, the modelling world needed some sort of disaster to balance things out and this arrived shortly after completing the tail unit. I dropped it on the floor and broke a stress bearing part off. Six and half months of work later and I’ve still another mountain to climb. 
So, with my second major disaster behind me it was time to regroup and find a way forward, and quickly. It’s very easy to become bogged down with problems when working through a project, and I find it’s important to find a solution and quick. These are the foundations of one of those models that never see the light of day again.
I figured after breaking the tail that it could be repaired, but not without damaging the paint and decals. So needing to purchase decals anyway, I decided to obtain and replacement tail and at only 5.00 Euros, it was cheap, and would save some time in repair and stripping the broken part for paint once more.
I got straight onto painting the new part as soon as it fell through my letterbox. Although cast from the same mould, there were some differences in the quality of the finished item as I had a lot more cleaning up to do on this one. I chose the same sequence of painting as for the first version, white Tamiya primer, then Zero pure white followed by masking up for the red, green and blue painted areas. Keen to avoid differing shades of paint I even undercoated the green with fluorescent green as I done on all the other green sections, before repainting with the Kawasaki/flo green mix (see Decembers update). One advantage I had now was I could use the first tail as reference and from this I was able to assess the demarcation lines far easier, and improved the blue line so much so, that I have now virtually hidden the bleed I had before. .
Another improvement was made to the red and green panels by sweeping the masking line back to form more of a point at the tail and this now looks more like the real machine. The picture tells a better story. 
After coating the paint with clear, it was on with the decals. Once again I had the benefit of hindsight and applied all of the decals in half the time of the first! I decided to make some changes to the carbon areas beneath the tail, as I checked my references and found I got another bit wrong on the first one. The central strip is now wider and the angle has been softened where it blends into the area that would house the fuel tank. The new tail unit is seen here on the right. 
I allowed a few days of drying and then shot 3 coats of clear through my Iwata CR Revolution airbrush. I was very pleased with the finish, which only needed a short session of polishing. 
While decaling the tail I also completed the remaining decals the made up the ‘love note’ on the seat. The larger part on the tail had been carefully aligned, so that the final decals that went across the tank would line up nicely. Before completing the decalling on the tank however, I needed to mask off the small blue strip on the side and spray it light blue to match the other painted areas, a job quite frankly I had been dreading!! This was achieved by masking off the cleared decal to reveal just the darker blue section. I then airbrushed a base white using Zero pure white and covered this with 3 light coats of my mixed blue, which I have now christened ‘Assen blue’. To my surprise it turned out very well, with my careful masking paying dividends once more. I clearcoated the paint and left this to harden off for a few days. I could then apply the last part of the ‘love note’ and clear this with two nice wet coats leaving a very pleasing finish. It’s difficult to seen the difference all this work made, but once on the bike, the evidence was all too visible. It’s all in the details!! Picture 6 shows the blue on the decal for comparison. [37, 38]
With the main painting out of the way, I could now progress onto adding detail to the frame. 
Reaching The Finishing Line
After completing the main tasks it was, with relief, onto the small details. The frame was adorned with 30 plus photo etch rivet and bolt-heads from Top Studio’s new assorted details set for MotoGP bikes, TD23027, fixed in place with pva glue. More fasteners were added to the cowling parts, these from Hobby Design, which replicate the sprung ½ turn fasteners, which on the real machine attach the fairing to the frame. This wasn’t without its problems as a shallow hole 0.6mm wide needs to be drill in each location and getting that wrong would leave unsightly holes. Each one was carefully drilled after making a small indentation in the finished paint and the fastener glue in place with more wood glue. Each pack of fasteners contains 20, enough to do one Yamaha M1 kit. My pack had 16! After yet more expenditure I was able to complete the job. The finished effect is very realistic and in scale. 
One job I’d been dreading was the windscreen. The transkit provides a vacformed piece, which after trimming simply would not fit. I hit upon the idea of modifying a Tamiya kit screen using the vacformed one as a template, which worked after 3 attempts and further expenditure to replace the two I’d used from other kits! The TK decals were used, though I found the ‘The Doctor’ decal too big and I had to fit this at an angle on the screen. Some Top Studio 0.7mm rivets, painted with white enamel, were used to finish things off 
The fork bottoms received machined 1/12th hex nut’s, again from Top Studio as was the wiring and connector for the velocity sensors. 
Before I could get the tail unit fitted to the bike for the last time, I had to attach the silencer bracket. This was made up from 3 etch parts and the instructions called for solder to be used the hold the thing together. I was concerned that too much heat applied in the wrong place would render the lot useless, so I pursued the use of thin plastic rod, made from heated and stretched sprue as rivets. I experimented with shaping one end into a mushroom shape by applying heat via a solder iron at a slight distance (about 2mm), which yielded a nice result.
The right-angled bracket was glued into position on the tail and the two plastic rivets inserted into the holes. I then added the carbon finished down bracket with glue at first and then secured with two more rivets. I followed up by screwing the tail unit to the frame, at which point I discovered that the down bracket needed some adjustment to line up with the silencer. After some judicious bending and nerve shredding, it looked much better. The last piece was the retaining ring around the silencer, which only just fitted and was under tension when the two halves were brought together. With the bracket in place I inserted the rivet, held the ring, bracket and rivet together with a wide pair of tweezers and quickly mushroomed the other side of the rivet, held my breath and took the tweezers away. To my surprise it all held together at my first attempt, so I then flattened off the rivet heads with some light sanding and applied some photo etch bolt-heads. The result was well worth the stress as it gives a very in scale and detailed look to this area and a vast improvement over the Tamiya screws normally used.
I added a Renaissance brass aerial base and black wire for the camera signal, though I have yet to source a suitable camera! 
With most of the detailing complete I then carefully fitted the cowlings
do my utmost to avoid scratching the finish. Some juggling with the screws and the sequence in which they were tightened, I eventually got everything in place. I had planned to use some Hiroboy screws, however these were a little too big, and so no wanting to risk damage I opted for the Tamiya screws.
The lower cowl required a little glue to keep it in place. Some final details were then added including the foot guard and some exposed bolt-heads that would have otherwise been knock off had they applied earlier. 
The final detailing task was to add the chain tension screws from Tuner Model Factory or T2M, which were not even available when I started the project! I waited seven weeks for these to come back into stock, but they were worth the wait. Two 0.6mm threaded rods were inserted into the end of the swing-arm and the threaded nut screwed into place for a very authentic look. 
So with the last details added, it was just a matter of performing the housekeeping duties on the model with a little Tamiya wax, and then take some photos.
The Renaissance transkit is not without its faults, but it helps transform the 2005 Tamiya kit into a good likeness of the 2007 machine. The Assen Fiat 500 decals however pose a whole set of problems if your looking for accuracy.
The decision to paint the livery wasn’t taken lightly, but fortunately it’s paid off, and the mishaps only help to form an understanding of which direction I should go on future builds. It’s all about learning! [46,47,48,49]