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Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20 scale

By Neal “Off the deep end” Izumi

Check Out Club Meeting: August 2009 Meeting

Featured In: August 2009 Newsletter

Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20scale

HISTORY

The Jim Suit was developed by Ocean Engineering in the 1970's for commercial deep sea work and oil exploration. Oil-filled ball joints allow the operator mobility while resisting water pressure down to a design depth of 350 meters (1,150 feet). However, a Jim was used in 1976 to lay TV cable at a depth of 450 meters (1,480 feet). The suit maintains sea level pressure inside, so the operator does not have to go through decompression like a hard-hat diver. The bulky silhouette is reminiscent of early proposals for lunar space suits (as well as those funky MAK ZbV.3000 models which I am so fond of!). A Jim Suit appeared in the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only”, operated by villains who were out to do harm to 007.

THE KIT

Pit Road’s Jim Suit is an all-resin kit with one-piece arms, legs, and body. The lifting lug, ballast blocks, and manipulators are molded as separate parts. Brass wire is provided for the helmet hinge and two peculiar probes which extend from behind the helmet. Decal numbers are provided for two machines, one which represents the example on display outside of the Tokyo Maritime Museum.

Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20scale

The plastic base came with the kit, which is a good thing, as the model is very top-heavy.

The resin castings suffered from a few small pinholes and slight mold shift. Unfortunately, the worst cases of mold shift were on the arms and legs, making parts cleanup a chore. One of the legs also had a crack, which needed to be filled in.

A view from above reveals the black tether/suspension lug on the top of the suit.

The mold parting lines between the limb joints were deemed too difficult to clean up, so the individual segments were sectioned off using a razor saw. The exposed cut ends were much simpler to sand down and fill. The inner ball joints were replaced with heat formed sheet plastic hemispheres. Most of the hemispheres were cut down to form butt joints, but the knees were left whole to permit adjustments to level the feet. The wrist cuffs were sanded off and replaced with sheet plastic, tubing, and punched fasteners.

Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20scale

The scratchbuilt windows were made from sheet plastic rings, heat formed plastic, and punched hex nuts and round washers. A Nitto MaK Jerry kit provided the diver’s head.

Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20scale

The diver’s face can barely be seen once the model is finished.

The windows on the helmet were molded solid, so they were drilled out. The molded-on windows were cut away and replaced with sheet plastic rings. Clear acetate disks and heat formed sheet plastic cones made up the interior window detail. The glass on the real Jim is actually several inches thick, but I did not feel like casting solid truncated cones in clear resin. Round and hexagonal punch and die sets were used to make the nuts and washers on the window rings. The window assemblies were left off the model until after painting. The inside of the helmet was carefully routed out using a ball cutter. A 1/20 scale head from the spares box was painted and inserted through a window opening.

The instructions gave no detailed color recommendations, so the photo on the box was used as a reference. The model was painted while in a completely unassembled state to simplify masking. All parts were primed with Tamiya White Surfacer spray paint and checked for flaws. The white portions of the model were then painted with Tamiya Racing White, again from a spray can. This color is noticeably yellowish when compared to Tamiya’s Pure White. The back pack was masked off and airbrushed Floquil Signal Red. The color demarcation line was masked and painted Testors Flat Black.

Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20scale

The limb joints, manipulators, and window rings were spray painted Alclad Gloss Black in preparation of applying metallic colors. The inner ball joints of the limbs were airbrushed Alclad Stainless Steel, while the rest of the parts were finished in Alclad Duraluminum. The ballast blocks were first painted Duraluminum, then lightly over sprayed with a mixture of Testors Dullcote and Neutral Gray to simulate lead.

Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20scale

After letting the paint dry for a day, the decals were applied. I chose the Tokyo Maritime Museum markings, simply because I had visited the museum and saw the suit firsthand. The red dots on the manipulators were punched out from a solid colored decal sheet. The limbs, lifting lug, and ballast blocks were then added. The whole model was sealed with Floquil Semi-Gloss. The window assemblies were secured with diluted Kristal Kleer, applied with a fine pointed paint brush. Brass pins were used to secure the top heavy model to the kit base.

CONCLUSION

The Jim Suit was a fairly easy to assemble model of an unusual subject. The inclusion of decals and a stand were very thoughtful touches, making for a complete kit. Of course, being the kind of person I am, I managed to turn a 12 piece kit into an 85+ piece kit. Sometimes it is easier to walk 10 miles around a mile-high mountain rather than climb over it. Sectioning off the limbs made cleaning up and painting much easier. I felt that adding clear windows, while basically doubling the work bench time, was a worthwhile effort to personalize my kit.

POSTSCRIPT

Much to my surprise, the Jim took second place in the miscellaneous category at the 2007 IPMS National Convention in Anaheim. Pit Road made other diving suits, like Graham Hawkes’ bizarre Wasp, which looked like an oil can with a bubble dome and Robocon-like arms. The diving suits are unfortunately no longer in Pit Road’s lineup, so if I want a Newt Suit, it will have to be scratchbuilt.

Pit Road’s Jim Suit In 1/20scale

The Newt Suit. This suit employs rotary, rather than ball joints, to give the diver mobility.

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