What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Have any questions or tips and advice on how to build those bits that don't come ready made.
daleks04
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What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby daleks04 » Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:20 pm

Hi all! After some advice from any of you experienced modellers who make things from scratch/modify engines or even buildings.

What is the best material to use? i.e. plasticard/modelling clay?
I am really not very familiar with this. Some people have said try milliput? I have probably not had any experience with such things before but would like to make a start with a few projects.

For example if modifying a hornby loco body to add on a firebox or wheel-arches, what would you suggest? Most modelling clay I have used does not give a fine finish - Just cracks and crumbles, doesn't particularly stick very well. I am probably not using the right/fine enough tools and materials.

When using platicard what glues/finishers would also be recommended? Is there a specific 'modelling sandpaper' to use or primer or even something like a filler as well?

Any advice would be much appreciated!
Many thanks in advance
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flying scotsman123
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby flying scotsman123 » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:26 pm

Hi there,

I'd suggest plasticard would be the way forward. Guaranteed smooth surfaces, easy to cut to shape and generally work with. A plastic weld solvent such as Mek-pak is best, as it leaves no residue whatsoever and gives a pretty strong bond. You can sand/file it with anything, sandpaper, needle files edge of a blade. I rarely bother to prime plasticard, straight to enamel paints, and I don't often have problems.

Modelling clay has its place too for filling odd bits here and there, but use something like milliput or a proper model filler rather than any old modelling clay, as that does tend to shrink and/or crumble as you've found. That stuff is more suited to scenic work.

For the sort of thing you have in mind, a peruse of Manna's thread may be useful, loads of loco bodies hacked about with plasticard etc. there.

Hope that helps.
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Mountain
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Mountain » Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:13 pm

What scale are you modelling in? I ask this because the larger the scale the more potential materials one can use.

Example, if I was modelling just in 00 gauge I would be just using plasticard and prehaps brass and maybe balsa wood using liliput as a filler etc.
As I am modelling in 7mm narrow gauge (0-16.5) I can get away with using ordinary pinewood in the form of wooden dowels (Excellent for waggon chassis) and things like lollypopsticks, tea stirers, old tin cans, resin casting etc., and I tend to use DAS modelling clay as a filler as it is a budget friendly filler. I also use those same 0-4-0 chassis as 00 gauge use.

The problem I found with 00 gauge is if I used lollypop sticks and tea sturers etc, they tended to be somewhat overscale so needed more work to hide their overscale proportions, yet when I went up a scale but used the same track width so I could keep to budget chassis and wheels etc, it opened up a whole new world forme when it comes to scratchbuilding. I even use drawing pins and paper clips as centre buffer couplings to save cost and they actually look ok.
The other bonus is I find the larger scale easier when it comes to brush painting, so for me, the change of scale for my type of modelling was ideal.

Here is a link to show examples of what I get up to...

viewtopic.php?f=22&t=52212

And a link to PNP's interesting models in the same scale and gauge...

viewtopic.php?f=29&t=52217

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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Ex-Pat » Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:23 pm

I would advocate Plastikard (see https://slatersplastikard.com/plastikard.php) - Mek-Pak is their own solvent, and in my (limited) experience, the best. However, be prepared to have to resort to anti-warping tactics if modelling large buildings - I have found it necessary to use brass square section to combat warping.

flying scotsman123 also refers to Milliput which is a very useful filler material, and comes in various grades, see https://www.milliput.com/ .

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stuartp
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby stuartp » Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:09 pm

Another vote for styrene sheet here (Plastikard, Evergreen, other brands are available), especially for modifying RTR locos and stock as that is (usually) what these are made from. You can buy fancy sanding tools etc but the ones I use most are those flexible sanding sticks Boots and Superdrug sell for filing nails. You can get them in all manner of grades from coarse to polishing.

Styrene is hugely versatile as well as building things from flat sheet you can laminate it and sand it to shape, (or laminate sheets and curve them) then use a bit of filler to get a smooth surface if needed. Humbrol and Revell both do tube filler which should be widely available. Milliput may take a bit more tracking down, it comes in different grades, white being the finest, it can be moulded and sculpted into solid shapes (like plasticene) a bit more easily than the tube fillers.

Styrene has it's foibles, because it is fixed with a solvent any thin sheets (5 10, 20 thou) can warp and distort if you overdo it and lather the stuff on, but nothing that can't be avoided if you account for that during construction. I tend to use Revell Contacta for most applications and Humbrol Liquid Poly (which is fairly benign) for delicate work.
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby End2end » Wed Sep 23, 2020 1:40 pm

I don't make or repair loco's so this is just about buildings.
I use a type of plaster called Tuffcast with LINKA moulds ( https://www.scalecast.co.uk ), plastikard, wood in varying forms including balsa wood, tooth picks, coffee stirrers, card/cardboard (see below) bits of old sprues - good for pipes ;) , plastic packaging for windows, various other bits of scrap like the cogs from inside a watch.

What I don't use...
Card/cardboard for walls and Paper wall coverings. I've seen too many sagging buildings on layouts and it really spoils it for me, although some are experts at it and it shows in their buildings longevity and the price of card kits speaks for itself if budget is limited or the scene needing to be filled is large.

I also want to just point out another glue specifically for windows which is GLUE AND GLAZE by deluxe materials. A great glue which you can even MAKE windows out of by adding the glue to an open aperture. :)
After failures with other glues for windows with the glues making the windows opaque, I found this to be great stuff. :mrgreen:
Hope it helps.
Thanks
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Bufferstop » Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:06 pm

All of my modelling is in 00/4mm scale, don't feel that you have to use any particular material, manufacturers often use a what might seem a poorer choice because it makes machine production simpler and they can compensate for its deficiencies. Do the same sort of things, make a chassis out of plastikard, put brass bearing bushes in the axle holes and stiffen it with hidden cross pieces. No special tools needed, the plastikard is very easy to purchase, the brass bearings take a little bit more looking for but are still available once you ask someone who they get theirs from! The more modern diesels and electrics with their rounded edges and flowing lines are probably the worst to make, with the exception of the streamliners steam locos are built up of sheets of flat material (sometimes rolled into tubes) with small cylindrical bits which can be bought ready made or fashioned from the already mentioned milliput, or even turned from wooden dowel or plastic rod using a small power drill clamped horizontal and a couple of files and some sandpaper. Card has a bad reputation that it doesn't deserve. By all means use empty cereal boxes under scenery providing it gets a coating of varnish, but for buildings and rolling stock you need to search around for higher quality card, shock horror even be prepared to buy some, smoother stiffer thinner stuff can be found in craft and office supply shops as A4 pads, craft stores will also have larger sheets of thicker artist's mounting board. Again you need to seal the surface and edges with varnish. Strength comes from using stiffening ribs and internal partitions, many models finished in textured plastic sheet are often hanging on an internal box of mounting board. Thin sheet boxwood or ply seems to be more readily available these day as it is stocked by the craft superstores like "Hobby Craft".
I haven't mentioned metals, the learning curve to use them is a bit steeper for the beginner, and they are a bit more expensive. Many of the other materials require similar techniques, with the exception of soldering, and provide good practice in developing those skills.
Have a go with anything that you think you can handle, a few minor disasters, later overcome, build experience, and the successes boost confidence.
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Mountain
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Mountain » Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:22 am

Examples


Wood (And home made resin axlebox sides)....

IMG_20180629_134252.jpg



Metal (Old re-wheeled Triang cast metal bogie as an underframe with old rusty baked bean tin as a body)....

IMG_20171019_151631.jpg



Wood (Tea sturers, lollypop sticks, wooden dowel, matchsticks etc.)....

IMG_20171118_235520.jpg



All these were made simply so that if I need more they can be easily copied. I don't really do finescale modelling but rather I prefer to enjoy making things to my own designs.

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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby End2end » Thu Sep 24, 2020 11:23 am

Baked bean tin. Ingenious Mountain! :mrgreen:
Thanks
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GeraldH
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby GeraldH » Thu Sep 24, 2020 11:56 am

Here's a few bits that I often use...

Cereal boxes & other card from packaging
Cotton bud shafts for pipe wagon loads
Perspex packaging for glazing
Coffee stirrers for benches, fencing etc.
Old plastic pens
Damaged plastic items e.g. broken intrays from work.
Coke cans provide thin sheets of aluminium.
Nails & panel pins for fence posts, finials etc.
String, cotton & button thread.
Bargain styrene strip from https://dorspring.co.uk/collections/styrene-strip.
Tester pots of paint from Wilko.
Bits of sprue from kits.
Linka reinforced with diluted PVA for walls.
Used tea-leaves for ballast with wallpaper paste.
Crushed coal to represent the real thing.
Matchsticks for creating bearings in open axle box Triang rolling stock.
Polyfilla mixed with black powder paint for roads and rocks.
Milliput.
Old gears, wheels etc. for scrap wagon loads...
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My layout: http://www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk/Fo ... hp?t=28854

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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Dad-1 » Thu Sep 24, 2020 12:19 pm

Oh my GeraldH has covered most things,

Literally whatever you think may work.

As to fillers, Milliput is great stuff, but for fine filling I use Green Putty from Squadron Signal
products of America, may go under MMB or something now. Always used it on my fine scale
aircraft models.

Scenic work, Sand, seeds, pine needles, as I said, try anything !!

Geoff T
Remember ... I know nothing about railways.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=32187 and Another on viewtopic.php?f=22&t=28436&start=60&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

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Mountain
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Mountain » Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:13 am

Some more rusty and then repaInted baked bean tin can along with some Peco code 100 rail and a pair of H0 box car wheels made this...

IMG_20171015_143043.jpg



Cola cans were mentioned. I make nameplates from them.

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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Firefly16 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 12:03 am

To the above I would add Tetrion, similar to Pollyfilla, very versatile - I have used it for things as different as infilling a half timbered building (for which DIY battens cut into scale sized baulks and roughly shaped provided the actual timber) and fashioning a replacement chimney for a Hornby 'Arthur'. Another useful source of styrene sheet is the supermarket ice cream 792g size ice cream tub, the top and bottom of which provide two thicknesses.
Then there are the inner tubes of bic type ballpoint pens the outer casings of which are also handy, to say nothing of the approx. 4mm dia siphon tubes from detergent dispensers. And last but not least, there is the humble cocktail stick; in the days before the restrictions on logging ramin they made excellent functioning miniature dowels for structures such as jetties made from this wood. They are still useful for a variety of jobs - filed to size and shaped, they make strong stretchers for scratchbuilt coach underframes.

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GeraldH
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby GeraldH » Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:09 am

I've just discovered that candy floss and toffee apple sticks can provide very nice square section timber that is thicker than matchsticks and stronger than balsa wood, although these might have been replaced by plastic in some cases more recently?
Balsa can be used to make effective seating in non-corridor Triang coaches including clerestories.
Sawn off Triang coach bogie rivets are quite useful too. They can reinforce or create body fixing points that take self-tapping screws. I have quite a supply from replacing old open axlebox bogies :) .
Gerald H - BNR Correspondent :)

My layout: http://www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk/Fo ... hp?t=28854

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Mountain
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Re: What to use for modelling/scratch-building (Materials?)

Postby Mountain » Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:07 am

GeraldH wrote:I've just discovered that candy floss and toffee apple sticks can provide very nice square section timber that is thicker than matchsticks and stronger than balsa wood, although these might have been replaced by plastic in some cases more recently?
Balsa can be used to make effective seating in non-corridor Triang coaches including clerestories.
Sawn off Triang coach bogie rivets are quite useful too. They can reinforce or create body fixing points that take self-tapping screws. I have quite a supply from replacing old open axlebox bogies :) .

What did you do with the bogies?


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