ABS Plastic “The Miracle Super Structure Material”


Like a lot of battlers I hate making and fixing supper structure. I want something that is light weight, bb proof and easy to work with. ABS plastic has all of this covered and is really cheap too. You can pick up a 4’x 8’ sheet of the 1/16” black plastic from a local plastic supplier for only $25-$28. This is more than enough to build several ships. John Bruder gave me a left over section from his Barham and I made two CVL hangers decks, two NC super structures and part of the Mpls with it.

This is not something they carry at Home Depot. John Bruder found the Plastic Depot close to him. I found Crown Plastic here in Plymouth. Both of these stores are geared towards supplying industrial manufacturers. I also found 1’x 1’ sections of ABS on E-Bay. It was $6 a sheet, not as economical of practical as the big sheets.

This plastic is lighter than five ply plywood. It does not need to be sealed and for those of you who are really lazy (Or looking for a black ship) it does not even need paint.

Even the most powerful gun leaves only a small dimple when shot repeatedly at point blank range.

It is also really easy to work with. For my NC super structure I cut out patterns of the deck levels from the print and traced them out on the plastic to maximize the use of the material. Then I simply cut it out with a razor blade and a ruler. After three scouring lines you can bend the plastic and break it off. For small or round pieces you can trim them with a scissors or use a sander. On an NC many of the vertical surfaces are the same height. I cut long sections at this height to use as needed with the deck levels. For corners and the round gun cut outs I bent the plastic into shape. This eliminated several joints that would need to be glued.

Once I had all of the parts cut out I started gluing. There is a smooth side and a rough side. Keep that in mind when you are cutting and gluing. To have the best look you’ll need to keep the same side out. Kevin Bray and John Bruder both use CA glue and some balsa wood to make the joints. The CA glue can come apart during battle. Kevin & John have never had anything completely fall off, but do need to glue parts back together once and a while. I used some glue meant for electrical PVC conduit. Cantex 99 work the best out of the 3 brands I tried. It “melts” the plastic together making a joint that is difficult to break. I tested this joint with my guns and did not see any loss in the bb proof qualities of the plastic. At each joint I took some scrap pieces of ABS at heated them with a torch and bent them to a corner in a small vise. I also heated them up in my oven, but this was not as easy as using the torch. I put some of the glue at the edges of each piece to help make a more solid joint. The glue needs a minute and some pressure to set and about an hour to get to full strength.

When I first got the ABS plastic I thought about heating and bending all of the corners. But when the plastic is heated it is easily broken by my bb guns.

When all your parts are glued together you can paint it. I’m going to use grey spray paint. Pat Clarke was using dope to seal some of the wood he used at the joints and the dope melted the plastic a little.

Randy covers the ribs of his fiberglass hulls with it. This protects the ribs from cracking. You could make an entire hull out of it. It would be a lot cheaper than plywood and it would not need to be sealed.

Follow up. I used the NC for the first time in 2008. I was surprised to find cracks in the ABS. Several sections did get shot off. I think this is because of the glue I used. That glue is meant for PVC. It’s possible that the glue melted the plastic too much and made it brittle. The sections falling off are at joints. There is a similar glue made for ABS. But I think this might have the same issues. Using the CA glue and wood method might be the best application.

The 1st deck level pattern taped to the ABS plastic. A sharp knife and a ruler are used to cut it.

After scouring the plastic three times just bend and it breaks in a clean line

An “L” bracket after it is heated and bent.

The bottom of the first deck. You can see the “L” bracket I will use to bolt this to the deck. You can also see some “L” brackets glued into place holding the vertical section to the deck.


The finished NC top sides.