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Astyanax's Poor Man DLT-19 Build


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Ah, the moment of truth: will it hold together?


The first thing I did was glue the plastic inner barrel to the grip. This involved covering about 1" of the sanded end with E6000 and very slowly inserting it into the barrel base. Then, with some pushing and twisting, it was done. I waited for it to cure a few hours before moving on.




The outer barrel was extra tricky. First I did a test fitting to make sure my inner barrel length was right. Once sure, I slathered a bunch of E6000 on the end of the inner barrel and once again VERY SLOWLY ran the outer barrel over it. As I got to the end, I then applied a bunch of E6000 on the four "fins" near the base,as well as a good quarter-inch around the outer barrel and slid it all the way down. A little twist to line up the holes and I was done. 


I laid it flat, with the barrel end supported so it would stay straight and waited overnight.




This morning, the barrel is very solidly holding! It worked!


After that, I spent a few minutes peeling off excess E6000, and barrel assembly is done!




A tiny bit of E6000 residue is visible on the inner barrel through just a couple of those holes, but it looks fine, almost like oil or something in one of two spots. Gives it a used feel. Also a quick spray with primer when it's time to paint should help tone that down, but I'm not concerned.


The whole blaster is about an inch short of the 48" length of the original, but I think this is mostly due to the fact that I could have beefed up the stock even more. Completely unnoticeable.




I'm really excited that it's coming together, and now I can work on some of those signature details.


Next post, I'll be making the bipod cocking handle.




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(So sorry, this is a very long post for a very small part of this build. :) )


I started working on the bipod, but got sidetracked while thinking about the cocking handle and bolt slider. One of the problems to solve here is storage. If the cocking handle sticks out all the time, this can make it harder to transport, to hang on the wall, etc. The cocking handle really needs to be removable.


After brainstorming with my wife and then discovering this post from MEPD, I realized you can use a mini flashlight handle as a cocking handle, and if mounted correctly, you can screw and unscrew it as needed.


So the first thing I did was decide to saw off the "bump" that is on the right side of the BYOB grip, right where I want to put the cocking handle. But I did some damage!




The tricky thing here is that this bump is hollow, so grinding it or sawing it off can cause particles or plastic bits to fall into the grip housing. I didn't want to contend with rattling plastic in there, so I had to do it all upside down! I took a bare hacksaw blade and carefully sawed it off. I wasn't careful enough, and I cut into the housing a little. But, after some sanding and a little Bondo spot putty (which cures fast), I was back in business:




The moral of the story is, don't hacksaw upside down! ;)


But with this damage, I started looking at the reference pics a little more closely, and made a couple realizations. First, the cocking handle is attached to an entire slider, which looks like this:




The slider is an opportunity for a couple small details. Here it is pulled all the way back:




Notice the extra rectangle with two bumps on it? I can copy that, and at the same time, cover up my damage!


Also, I noticed the position of the cocking handle relative to the trigger:




On the BYOB, it's going to be an inch or so farther back. I don't see any way around this without getting it in the way of the black ammo-box-looking thing. Since it's meant to slide, and since other makers (such as DoopyDoos) put the handle in different positions, my "hole" in the BYOB is still going to be a fine position.


First order of business was to find a suitable flashlight. I had this one lying around (poor man, you know):




It's a "Brinkmann Rebel", but I've had it for 6-8 years, and the new versions of it are a lot more expensive than the few-bucks-with-no-features I paid back in the day.


I knew that due to the positioning of wires and the thin plastic walls of the the BYOB, there was no way I was going to recess this flashlight end, like in that MEPD post. But a flush mount is workable in this case because the flashlight is nothing but thin plastic itself. No weight at all, and a little E6000 should do the trick.


This is the unscrewed back end of the flashlight:




After ripping out the spring, clips, and button with a pair of pliers, I noticed that the plastic threads could work for me. I took the coping saw this time (bad hacksaw, bad!), clamped that end tip down to my work bench, and very slowly cut the threaded piece off. After also tearing off the rubber casing of the flashlight handle, this is what I had:




The back of the black threaded "ring" had to be sanded a few times so that I could be sure it would stand the handle up straight and not at an angle; it wasn't a straight-cut to begin with. I then cut the flashlight handle length to just over 2-1/4" (a figure I also found on MEPD). Then, I sanded the whole thing lightly, and these pieces are now my handle:




For the rest of the slider, I went back to my trusty Plastruct (styrene) pieces, and cut the following:


1. A 5-9/16" x 9/16" piece

2. A 9-1/16" x 1/4" piece

3. A 2" x 1/4" piece


I could have cut the two larger pieces as one, but I really did want a clear seam between them, like in the reference pics.




These pieces were all glued together using superglue (liquid for the butt-joined parts, gel for the little piece).


After curing and sanding off the glue residue, I took a semi-sharp knife and re-traced that seam between the larger two pieces. I want it to show. I also rounded two corners with sandpaper.




And what about the bumps? I went to Michaels, and found this pack of small and tiny brads for three bucks:




Using a small wire cutter, I snipped off the brad "legs" of two of them, and superglued them to the rest of the slider.




Then, I used E6000 to glue the whole thing to the side of the BYOB grip, and also used E6000 to glue on the threaded ring from the flashlight. After curing and removing excess E6000, this was the finished slider section:




It was time to screw on the handle and see if it would hold. Perfect!




The handle screws on nice and tight and looks the part! I'll just have to remember at painting and weathering time that this whole section is mostly silver/gunmetal, not black.




Yes, I know the handle is not knurled, and at first I got really hung up on trying to find a flashlight handle that was light, knurled, and affordable. But ultimately, this DLT-19 build is going to result in a design than is simpler than the real thing. I can give up the knurls!


(By the way, sorry for so many pictures this time, I'm really wanting to document all the details. Thank you so much for reading! :) )


NOW it's time to really take on that bipod. Already have some good progress!



Edited by Astyanax
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13. BIPOD (part 1/3): FRONT MOUNT


I have finished the bipod! This turned out to be a pretty good sized project in its own right, so in the interest of not overwhelming this thread with pics and crazy-long discourse, I've broken it up into three parts, all of which will be posted over the next 1-3 days. Aw, who'm I kidding, it'll be too many pics and lengthy discourse anyway. ;)


By the way, this is going to be a non-functioning bipod. No stormtrooper I know of ever got on the ground with a DLT-19 in a Star Wars movie, so I'm not feeling lots of pressure to make it work. It just needs to look cool folded up.


On to the front mount!


First off, I consulted various images on the internet, especially this one:




To start, I used a few pieces of craft foam to build up the collar around the barrel tip where the front bipod mount is anchored.




This piece can be printed at full size and used as a template for the craft foam (2mm from Michaels). I also cut two 3-7/8" x 1/4" strips:




The pieces are mounted around the rear end of the barrel tip, with the "window" of the largest piece facing up, making sure the side holes are exposed. The two strips are used as front/rear borders around the underside part of this strip.




Once these pieces were superglued together, I painted them with three coats (1 hour apart) of white glue. This hardens the outside, stiffens the foam, and makes it more readily able to accept paint. I did this for ALL of my foam pieces in this project.


Next, I cut this "wrapper" out of foam:


This can once again be printed at full size and used as a template. That hole in the middle is cut with a brand new x-acto blade.


Then, I collected the following:




1. The foam wrapper I just made

2. A 1-1/2" long piece of 1/2" ID PVC pipe, carefully cut and sanded to be even

3. A 3/4" long piece of 3/4" wooden dowel, again sanded to have even ends

4. A 1-5/8" long star-tip deck screw (I had a bunch of these from a previous project)

5. A 1-1/2" long flat-head wood screw (again, had it lying around)

6. An electrical wire nut to serve as a screw knob (had it lying around)


The wrapper was superglued around the piece of PVC, but not all the way, leaving parallel "flaps" coming out in one direction.




At this point the wrapper was painted with those three coats of white glue. Trust me; this is necessary.


I then drilled pilot holes through the dowel and the back wall of the PVC, and screwed the wood screw through the dowel into the PVC, with a layer of E6000 between them. Notice that the screw does not go in all the way. In fact, it has to leave room for another screw going through the center of the PVC pipe.




I hot-glued the wire nut onto the end of the screw, making it look like a knob. Then, I drilled a pilot hole all the way through the center of the PVC pipe and wrapper, vertically straight down. I then screwed the deck screw into it part way.




After a liberal application of E6000 between the parts about to be mated, I carefully aligned this new assembly onto the underside of the barrel tip collar, and screwed it all in very tightly. Before the glue cured, I carefully made sure whole thing was aligned just right.




For side caps, I twice sanded down the end of a piece of 5/8" dowel until it was small enough to fit into the PVC pipe, and cut off an end to use as a cap. I sanded them to get the sides nice and square.




Then, again with an E6000 application, I tapped the caps into the sides of the PVC pipe.




I used some Bondo spot putty to try to hide the deck screw.




The Bondo didn't do the best job, but it'll disappear further when I weather it later.


For screw heads, I found this pack of screw covers at Home Depot for a couple bucks:




After clipping off the small posts with a small wire cutter, I superglued one onto each of the wood caps. For cutting the screw slot, I started with an x-acto blade, and then did some scraping with a tiny file and a sharp knife until I had a slot. The trick with these slots is to go slowly; the plastic is a bit harder than it seems.




I don't have a picture, but the last thing I did here is self-explanatory: I glued one more of the screw covers onto the bottom surface of the dowel piece, but did not carve a screw slot, since it's meant to look like a swivel, not a screw.


Front mount is done!



Edited by Astyanax
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14. BIPOD (part 2/3): REAR MOUNT


Since most of the bipod's rear mount is covered up by the bipod itself when it's folded, I really only needed to invest some effort into the block that attaches to the barrel. I used a piece of 1"x1" balsa for this:




The piece was first cut to a length of 1-1/2". I then sanded down the round part by taking a piece of 1-1/4" PVC pipe and wrapping a 220-grit piece of sandpaper around it. This allowed me to sand down a perfectly round and perfectly-sized shape.


I then sliced the piece down its length, thinning it to 3/4" deep. After this, I gently rounded the corners, and smoothed it with 400-grit sandpaper.


I glued the piece onto its proper place on the barrel using superglue gel.




NOTE: Later I decided the piece was sticking too far off the barrel, so I sliced another 1/8" or so off its height.


Once attached, I painted the balsa block with three coats (1 hour apart) of white glue. This helped protect the soft wood and make it easier to work with. I feel this is a crucial step, given the abuse it later had to suffer when I attached the bipod!


To hold the bipod struts onto this block, I prepared a 1" round-head screw and a couple of washers, planning to "sandwich" the edges of the struts between them. Balsa won't hold a screw, so I planned to use E6000 glue to hold it all together. But not till the bipod was ready. 




If I'd had a slightly longer screw I would have gone with that, so it could anchor into the pipe. But E6000 worked fine. But I did not glue it yet.


Quick and easy, that's the entirety of the rear mount. I'll post the rest of the bipod assembly later today.



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15. BIPOD (part 3/3): STRUTS & ASSEMBLY


This is where it all comes together. This post is pic-heavy and verbose, so I apologize in advance. But if you're following along, I hope it's helpful!


First off, I scoured the internet and the reference pics section, finding these most helpful:






Following some suggestions from TK861's site, I picked up a pair of 12" shelf brackets from Home Depot, for about six bucks.




I then sawed off the ends with the curved attachment points, and hammered out (on the ground) the remaining cut ends until they were flat. Then I bent the ends just a tiny bit with a pair of pliers, creating a semi-rounded attachment point. The plan here is to glue these ends onto the dowel of the front mount.




Time to shorten the struts. About four inches back from the attachment ends, I cut out a three-inch section with a coping saw. Then, using E6000, I glued the short ends over the long ends, clamping them down with about a one-inch overlap. It is important at this point to try to get the two struts to the exact same length. The E6000 gave me a minute or so to do that.




I don't have a picture, but I next broke out my dremel grinding tip and seriously rounded the corners of the "paddle" ends. You'll get a sense of how much in the pictures below.


At this point, I decided to challenge myself and try to do something cool with those paddle ends, maybe making them look more like the bipod feet of the real thing. Rather than wait more than a week for more Milliput to arrive via eBay, I decided to try for the first time real Bondo, the 2-part body filler stuff:




After using this, I must say I am a real fan. It sands much faster than Milliput, but is not brittle like the Bondo spot putty. But this is NOT a clay or putty; this is more like an epoxy consistency and needs to be applied as such. Not with fingers! In a small dixie cup, I took a plastic spoon and mixed about two heaping spoonfuls of the Bondo with about a half-inch squirt of the hardener. I stirred it vigorously and then applied it to my paddle ends:




Notice the difference? On one of the paddles I used my hands (with nitrile gloves) to apply it. With the other, I used the plastic spoon. The spoon application is MUCH smoother, and left me with far fewer gaps and divots that would have to be repaired later. Dixie cup and spoon application works really well. And this stuff cures, ready to sand, in an hour!


Next up was lots of sanding. I started with 60-grit to remove lots of material and do basic shaping as quickly as possible, then I smoothed it with 220-grit and finished with 400-grit. It probably took about half an hour for each piece, but came out really nice!




I used spot putty afterward to fill any gaps or divots. For one or two larger spots I mixed more real Bondo, since it cures so fast. About 1/10 parts of hardener to Bondo.


Next up, I cut some 0.060" thickness Plastruct (styrene) into the following triangle shapes to build the pointed tips on the feet:




The larger rectangle is 1" x 3/4", sliced diagonally to make off-center triangles. The two smaller rectangles are 1/2" x 3/8", prepared similarly. By the way, Plastruct is most easily cut by scoring with an x-acto knife and then "snapping" apart with pliers if necessary. It makes for a nice clean cut.


I then used superglue (gel) and tweezers, to glue smaller triangles to each side of a large triangle. I only needed to hold them together about 10 seconds and blow on them for them to hold together, so this step was surprisingly easy.




Once the superglue had cured, I superglued the completed star points onto the bases of the foot paddles.




Next, I wanted to add a couple more details to the struts before mounting them, so I took a piece of thick craft foam (6mm from Michaels) and cut these pieces:




The strips are 4" x 1/4", and the circle is about 3/4" in diameter. Probably a little large, but it's about the smallest I could make look nice from the foam. I ended up pushing my flashlight handle end really hard down on the foam, and then very carefully cutting with a brand new x-acto knife, holding the blade as vertical as I could. For smoothing, the dremel with grinding tip works really, really well, but takes a light touch.


I then superglued the pieces onto the struts. I will coat them with white glue, but not till final mounting is done.




Mounting was actually somewhat difficult, but clamps really helped a lot here. After test fitting, I realized I needed to cut a small notch (really just one slice into the foam) into the barrel collar at the front mount:




This helped the struts seat better, closer to the barrel.


Next, I used a dab of E6000 on the rounded ends and attached them to the dowel. A small clamp (CLAMP #1 - see below) attached right past the foam strips helped a lot here.




Then, I put some E6000 on the screw on the rear mount, as well as on the balsa block where the struts come into contact. I then slid the strut edges between the two washers and pushed the screw in (reality check: the edges ended up under both washers :D). Twisting with a screwdriver helped push the screw in.




At this location it was helpful to use a large clamp (CLAMP #2) to hold the struts to the barrel, right between the foam semi-circles and the screw. I also kept my screwdriver BETWEEN the struts to make sure there would remain a separation between them as the E6000 cured.


It was necessary to add one more large clamp (CLAMP #3) up front by the dowel, holding the struts down toward the barrel so they would not slide away from it too much. Here's the whole clamp/screwdriver shebang:




This was all a little tricky and it took a couple tries. The good news is you can always pull it apart, tear out the E6000, and try again.


I then followed up with some extra E6000 around all of the connection points, applying with a small piece of Plastruct as a tool (you can use a popsicle stick), and let it cure overnight.


Once cured, I removed the clamps and pulled out the screwdriver; it had settled into the right position! I spent another half hour with some sharp tweezers, removing excess cured E6000. I followed up with a little superglue gel here and there for good measure, just to be safe. It is now rock solid! I can pick up the whole blaster by grabbing the bipod.




And finally, I applied the three coats (1 hour apart) of white glue over the foam parts, and I was done!


This was a much larger project than I expected, but I'm really happy with the result:






This puppy's starting to finally look like a DLT-19!




Next post, I have no idea what I'm doing next. Probably something small and simple. Time to take a breather for a day! :)



Edited by Astyanax
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Hey guys:


So I went with something that's turning out to be more difficult than expected. I need a few more days to finish out this step, but here's a teaser:




Oh my! If this doesn't pan out as it is in my mind, I may have screwed up my entire build...hopefully this will come together over the next couple days as I settle into sanding hell. I love/hate Bondo....



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Really nice build Bill, great pictures and step by step instructions !! If I ever tackle an home made DLT-19 project, be sure that I will use your tutorial !!


Thanks again and great work !!


Now...I just have to find a BYOB kit...

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You will be fine. You got the skills. I was thinking about just using a piece of wood for that part and not going all the way around. Just doing the "bump" side.


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  • 2 weeks later...


Hey guys, so sorry this has taken so long to update, but I have had to delve into techniques that I've never tried before. I hope that this post might provide a little bit of exposure and maybe a lesson on Bondo (I'm talking about the real stuff, not the spot putty, but the actual body filler). I used a ton of it to make this block and so far, it's going according to plan. I'm posting this section without having finished the whole thing, so this is being done with all my fingers crossed! :)


Also, once again, I apologize for the extra verbosity and 3x too many pictures. But I hope it's helpful. Let's get started.


First off, the barrel jacket is that outer barrel that I've been drilling holes into. At its base is this oddly shaped "block", which also serves as a pivot point for the barrel to swivel away from the main body of the MG34 rifle for disassembly and servicing. It also has a "collar" behind it, similar to the collar by the bipod mount, but this will be done last. These are the most useful reference shots so far:








To build out the "bump" that comes off the right side, I started with a 3-1/2" long piece of 1/2" PVC pipe, and two "plugs" of wood made by sanding down the end of a 5/8" dowel until it could be fit into the pipe and then cutting it off at about a half inch.




On one end, I applied some E6000 to the plug and pushed it in all the way until it was flush.




On the other end, I did the same thing, but let it stick aout about 1/16" or so.




To give it some extra detail, after the glue had cured I drilled it about 1/16" deep with a 1/2" forstner bit, and then drilled it all the way through with a 5/16" standard bit. The center of the dowel diameter had to be located perfectly.




To make it sit flush to the side of the blaster, I cut a 2-1/2" piece of Plastruct (styrene) and glued it onto the right side, as near the centerline as I could make it.




Then, I glued the pipe onto the blaster, aligning it on the centerline as nearly as I could, with the back end slightly in from the rear sight, lined up like this:




Now, it was time to fill up all that space with Bondo. But It had to be contained somehow, like in a "cage" or mold. Not only did this cage have to hold in the Bondo, it had to not stick to the Bondo. Very tricky!


So I developed these three patterns:


build16i0-thumb.jpg  build16j-thumb.jpg  build16k-thumb.jpg


Clicking on those patterns will open up full-size versions that should be printed at 100% and reused if you like. You will notice that one of the pieces in the next few pictures looks different from its counterpart above. I realized after applying Bondo that I made an error in shaping my "cage", and had to correct it later.


The three patterns were printed onto card stock and white glued onto cereal box cardboard, for stiffness.




Then, a layer of parchment was white glued onto each of the pieces. The parchment is covered in silicone, and I was betting the bondo would not adhere to it. I was right.




The parchment does want to bunch up when it gets wet with glue, but the bunching is minimal if you flatten it under several heavy books while it dries.


I then cut out the pieces with scissors and an x-acto knife.




I took the smallest piece and attached it behind the PVC pipe. I used hot glue to stick it to the pipe, since that peels off easily later.




I took the 3/4-circle piece, folded it along the dotted line, and attached it right in front of the smaller piece with hot glue, with the folded tab flush to the rear sight. Again, the final version of this piece should be a little clipped from what you see here.




Finally, I attached the largest full-circle piece on the front, using the protruding dowel tip as an anchor to hold it on while I hot glued around the outside of the rim.






Notice that the parchment sides face inward to each other. Also, notice that the hot glue is only necessary in 2-3 spots for each piece. This makes it easier to remove later.


Time for Bondo! Bondo body filler is a two-part epoxy/putty, but it is much thinner in consistency than any typical putty, so you can't mix it together in your hands. My formula for success involved mixing my desired quantity of the main stuff in a dixie cup with a small squirt of the hardener, which comes separately in a little tube. The proportion is very little hardener to lots of Bondo, maybe 5% or so. Too much hardener and it cures really fast. I used a plastic picnic knife as a stirrer and as a spreader. This works really well.


My first application of Bondo was for the sloping side on the top-right:




Then, after curing (less than an hour), I moved on to the other side of the top:




Then the bottom in a couple applications:




After full curing I was able to peel off the cage pieces and clean off the hot glue residue.










Now you can see my error:




There should be Bondo all the way back to the end of the pipe, not cut short like this. By trimming back the cage card piece in the middle, this section can be filled properly the first time.


Sanding time! I did this in stages over several days, thus far only with 80 grit sandpaper in a sanding block. I noticed that 80-grit removes more material in this case than 60-grit does, so that's my recommended starting grit.


First, a straight, level bottom, flush with the blaster:




Then, diagonal on the right to the PVC pipe:




Then, flat and level once again, but this time on the top. When I then got to the upper diagonal surface, I realized I needed more Bondo. I love that this stuff cures so quickly!




Sanded upper diagonal:




For the left side, it's supposed to be somewhat rounded. This was my first pass:




Then more Bondo:




Then, sanded smooth:




Finally, some light sanding on the front and back of the block. You can see the full shape of the block here:




(The PVC pipe appearing to be at an angle in this last pic here is an illusion. It's actually parallel to the barrel, but the Bondo rolls off it at an angle. It'll look fine when it's painted.)


I have not moved on to finer sandpaper yet, because there's still shaping and details to be carved out of it. I'll probably use a dremel for the most part, but we'll see how it goes. I intend to use the spot putty for filling small holes, but not too much just yet, because of the extra shaping and carving that comes next.


Hope you liked it so far. Next post I will finish shaping the block and add a collar.



Edited by Astyanax
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Wow, Bill! This is truly impressive so far. I'm also loving your confidence in risking new techniques on something you've already put so much time and effort into. I still get nervous every time I ink-wash a model after only a couple hours of work.

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