Pulse Rifle

 

by Simon

 

Hi!

Amy has asked me to say a few words about the hows, whys and wherefore-art-thous of creating a replica of the Peacekeeper Pulse Rifle. It's kinda a long story, but if you bear with me I can hopefully give you a few helpful tips on embarking on a similar quest.

WHY???

I've loved this weapon ever since I first saw Aeryn blowing chunks out of hostile beasties on the show, and having secured myself a pulse pistol, I decided that if I wanted a rifle I was going to have to build it myself. A lot of people keen on modeling think that the techniques of making molds and casting resin pieces is out of their reach or ability. This is not so! If I can do it, anyone can!  

The first step is to get hold of some good visual reference. I spent many hours perusing the various Farscape screencap sites and my tapes and DVDs. I also discovered that the Pulse Rifle is very similar to a real-lifle weapon, called the Steyr Aug. I actually purchased a cheap airsoft Steyr which I used as a basis for the dimensions of the PR (as it shall now be known). This is not necessary, but is a useful guide, if you have the money. 

Okay. Once you have your reference, draw up a plan to work to, with dimensions you are happy with. I did mine in Illustrator, but a pen and paper will do just as well. 

MATERIALS YOU WILL NEED 

Approx 4 kilos Polyester Resin

Approx 2 litres Liquid Latex

Large styrene sheet

1.5 inch diameter acrylic or other plastic tube (1 foot length will do)

Copious modelling clay

1/4inch  diameter wooden dowel (approx 6 inches length)

Milliput

Filler

Sandpaper

Sculpy

Black Paint (I use auto-spray)

LEDs (4 - optional)

Superglue

Two-Part epoxy

 

TOOLS YOU WILL NEED

Jigsaw

Electric Sander (strongly recommended)

Craft Knife

Dremel (the modeller's friend) or powerdrill

Small hacksaw

 

Tools are kind of a personal thing. You could get by with hand-tools if you have a lot of patience. 

MAKING A MOLD AND CASTING RESIN 

This is the fun part! Casting resin is a trial and error process. Practice on small pierces, and you will very soon find yourself moving on to larger, more complicated objects. I use polyester resin, mixed 1:1 with Microdol filler powder. This allows you to cast large pieces quickly and without any shattering problems. It's also cheap! 

I started out with the stock of the gun. Using modeler's clay, I sculpted the stock according to the drawings I had made, and reinforced the sides with hardboard panels cut out with the jigsaw. An hour in the oven under a low heat, and you are ready to make your mold. There are many ways to do this, which I won't go into here. I use liquid latex. You simply paint it onto the model, and it dries into a rubbery substance. You will have to do this quite a few times, until your sculpt is encased in a thick, rubber mold. The latex is self-releasing, so you can simply peel it off. 

The problem with liquid latex is its lack of rigidity. When pouring the resin for the PR stock, I found it necessary to build a plywood 'shell' around the mold so that it didn't go out of shape. On  a large object, the resin should be poured in layers. A catalyst is necessary to cure the resin, and is included in the price. While the resin is curing is can get pretty hot, so don't be alarmed. The curing process takes 1-2 hours with polyester resin. 

When you have peeled off your latex mold, you can see how your stock has turned out. You will almost definitely need to do a lot of sanding and filling pits and bubbles, but you should end up with something that looks pretty cool! 

I used styrene sheet on the sides and back of the PR to get the 'paneled' look of the PR prop. The detail on the bottom rear of the stock was sculpted and cast separately and the the pads on the left and right at the rear were shaped out of sculpy. I'm not sure what sculpy is, but it can be sculpted like clay and heated in the oven. It comes out like hard rubber. 

There are two LEDs on either side of the stock, at the front. You can see these in operation in 'Throne for a Loss' when John overloads the rifle. On my PR, I had one working LED and three dummies. You can safely drill the resin (I used the Dremel multi-tool) without it breaking. 

RECEIVER AND BARREL 

I used a cut-down receiver from an SA-50 airsoft rifle (happened to be lying around...) because I needed a hollow receptacle for the battery and switch for the LED. However, you can easily use the same process of sculpt, mold and cast. The grip and trigger guard were created as separate pieces, then glued together. 

The barrel is acrylic tube, with holes drilled at regular intervals, with the dremel, at the end. The emitter inside the barrel is our friend, sculpy, again. The barrel also has a shroud at the bottom, on the receiver end. This was cut out of styrene, then wrapped around the barrel, and glued in place. 

THE SCOPE 

The easy way to go is just to strap a flashlight to the top, but I always preferred the original scope. The two plumbing pipe connectors were glued on either end of a short length of acrylic tube. The longer, thin tube is wooden dowel in a plastic tube, and the tip of the scope is a 35mm film canister, cut in half!

All of these pieces have to be glued together. 

GLUE

There's a lot of gluing to do, and on a project like this, you will need two distinct types. Superglue is terrific for gluing all of the styrene sheet and detail parts of the PR. To glue all of the separate parts of the gun together, however, you will require something a lot more sturdy. You need to get a two-part epoxy glue for this, and you absolutely cannot go wrong with a product called JB Weld, it's marvelous!

The stock of the rifle is solid resin, and very heavy. I used JB Weld and reinforced with a steel bolt to be certain.

NOTES

Where the hell do I get this stuff!!! A large model and craft shop will be able to supply you with styrene sheet, acrylic tube, sculpy, dowell, and quite possibly liquid latex and resin supplies as well. A decent sized hardware store should be able to supply all the tools you require, as well as two-part epoxy and superglue. For LEDS and other electronics, try Radio Shack in the US or Maplins in the UK. JB Weld can be acquired in the UK from Halfords, but is a US product, so should be widely available there. If you have any problems acquiring resin supplies, check the net, there are many online stores. For some excellent tutorials on molding and casting, go to http://www.resin-supplies.co.uk.  This is also where I get all my supplies from, and is very fairly priced. 

Obviously, space prevents me from providing a really detailed tutorial, but if anyone wants to ask any questions at all, please mail me at birdie15@ntlworld.com.

Keep on Scapin' !

Simon