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Thread: Must haves to assemble a plastic kit?

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    Default Must haves to assemble a plastic kit?

    I've avoided plastic kits. I had bad experiences with them years ago. I tend to stick to laser cut wood for the ones I want to be just so, or to the pre-built structures ready to drop on the layout.

    However, my 6 year old is now interested in building a module so I have her two nice new T-Trak bases. Of course the kits that caught her eye are simple plastic kits. Of course she wants the thing dad isn't good at! Ha!

    So what's the tips and tricks on a plastic kit? What sort of adhesive works best? What tools do I need to make this come out ok?

    I'm thinking I need one of those metal bases with the magnet pieces to hold the walls while drying. I have a sprue nipper and plenty of x-acto blades of all sizes. I've used CA and Testers Cement in the past, and found both hard to control.
    --
    Leo Bicknell

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicknell View Post
    I've used CA and Testers Cement in the past, and found both hard to control
    Of all the cements, liquid plastic cements might be the easiest to get consistently good results if you use a small paint brush or cement applicator tool (Micro-Mark). The brush that comes with the bottle lid is unsuited for making "clean" joints.

    Oh, and replace the overpriced Testors stuff with a pint or quart of MEK from your local hardware store. Same stuff, works just as well, and won't break your budget.

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    A lot of the tools would be the same.
    Work surface.
    Good knife (Xacto)with replacement blades.
    Fine sand paper and/or modeling files. But a nail file can work easily.
    I prefer an engineers square for squaring up walls but this is not 100% necessary, especially for basic kits.

    I wouldn't stress about the magnetic base system yet.
    Common liquid model cement can be found at any hobby store. Often comes with it's own brush applicator in the lid. (dedicated Paint brush does help)They dry/cure fast enough that you can hold in place for a few moments until it is firm. Then let fully set while you move on. The tube cement is a bit thick in my opinion.

    Once you get a kit under your belt, you'll have a better feel for what will work best for you.

    Good luck. Great age to start.
    Unsolicited advice - let them build one and make their own mistakes. Life changing moment for me as a 6 year old.
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler..............Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life..............Web-Folio

    The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1802


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    I use my X-acto knife to sever parts from the sprue, but for a youngling you might prefer to use nippers. With my knife I can then whittle away the leftover flash. I set a piece of sandpaper down on a flat surface, so that I can run the edges over this and get all the flash truly gone. You might want some small files to deal with flash that can't be sanded away in this manner. You'll need some form of putty/filler unless you're very good at assembly, and of course if you need to use putty then you'll need to paint later. I assume you have what you need for painting since you work with wood kits.

    With a wood kit, you might brace the corners while assembling; you can do a similar thing with plastic kits, by taking a sheet of styrene (a hardware-store For Sale sign is a ready source) and cutting it into little triangles, roughly an inch on each side of a right triangle. Glue the two walls at their designed mating joint first, then right after that glue has set enough to hold them together, glue in the brace on the inside. Usually kits are designed so that once everything is together, things are braced (the roof braces the wall corners for instance), but since I like to build in sub-assemblies and not glue everything together fully, I need to use this method of bracing to augment the kit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WP&P View Post
    I use my X-acto knife to sever parts from the sprue
    Ditto. But does my left hand count as a sprue too?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    Ditto. But does my left hand count as a sprue too?
    How else are ya gonna check if the blade is still sharp?
    ~ Moose (Co-founder of the Mt. Tahoma & Pacific Railroad, located some where in the Pacific Northwest)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose2013 View Post
    How else are ya gonna check if the blade is still sharp?
    Actually I prefer to use a blade that is a bit past its prime. The tip may be dulled, but there are portions along the length of the blade that are still sharp enough to whittle with. A fresh blade can gouge the plastic too easily, and hurts when my left hand slips into its uncaring path. With the duller blade I can let it slip at times without drawing blood.

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    Nearly all of the buildings on my layout are plastic, except for the ones I have carved out of foam.

    I prefer Model Masters cement over the Testors because it has a better, finer applicator. I also keep a tissue handy for blotting. For example, when joining two walls I apply glue to both sides of a joint, then blot both sides before putting them together. This melts the plastic on both parts for a stronger, faster bond, without ugly glue over-runs.

    It has taken me years to learn to spray paint parts with flat colors while still on the sprue.

    As others have said, sprue cutters, Xacto knife, files, a very fine sanding block. I don't have a magnetic block or table, but wish I did. I certainly will before building the next layout! I also use a diamond hone to keep my Xacto blades sharp. I rarely buy blades.

    Enjoy the process, and let her achieve this without too much instruction or interference.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    I use Revell's Contacta Professional for plastic kits ,



    And MEK on Styrene.

    CA doesn't work with plastic

    I don't think I've ever used the magnetic tray with plastic kits , the glue sets so fast there is no need for it.

    I do use a good sprue cutter, surgeons knife and sanding sticks ( made for nail polishing ) .

    And most important , I always paint plastic, resin, styrene and such.
    As long as I can model in N-scale, I know I'm not old

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    Faller glue for me - the pin point tip is excellent to get glue where you want it. Clear glue for the windows. Spruce cutter. Sharp knife. Sanding sticks of varying grits. Machine squares to hold the corners - I use 3-2-1 blocks but a lot of different ways to skin that cat. Tamiyra tape to hold large parts in place while you test fit. Blue painter tape works too - just hit the sticky side on your jeans, etc. a few times before applying it. With these tools, there aren't too many plastic kits out there you would have trouble building. If you are building a lot of Pikestuff models, then having a set of chisel blades makes some of the jobs required much easier, but not a requirement.

    Oh, don't forget a good cutting mat. Not a requirement, but they sure come in handy.

    https://www.faller.de/App/WebObjects...Glue-25-g.html

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    If you use the Revell or Faller glue have a lighter at hand to unclog the metal tube tip, if it clogs just heat it with a lighter.
    As long as I can model in N-scale, I know I'm not old

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janbouli View Post
    If you use the Revell or Faller glue have a lighter at hand to unclog the metal tube tip, if it clogs just heat it with a lighter.
    I use a tip of a pin for mine, but a lighter is a good idea. Have to be careful as about half the crap we have around our bench area says "Highly Flammable" on it.

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    Patience. Knowing when to put it down for the day and let everything 'set', or when to walk away from a challenge and let one's brain fester on it for a while is key. Patience is one of the great assets of the hobby, if you don't have it now, you soon will or you'll take up a different hobby.

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    Quote Originally Posted by P-LineSoo View Post
    Patience ... if you don't have it now,
    But I need patience RIGHT NOW!


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    Plastic kits usually look better painted. If you don't have an airbrush, spray cans can get you most of the way there. Light coats. Mask for trim.

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    What Ender said about Plastic kits. And I like using brushes, to be honest. Especially for the details, like dirt, grime, etc. And for weathering brick and changing brick color -- in the Cheese State we have a lot of buildings built with what's known as "Milwaukee Cream Brick", which is a peculiar brick circa the late 1800's that has a golden or cream colored hue when clean and can fade down to nearly black when filthy. About the only way to get it in N scale is to paint your own. I've come pretty close to simulating it, but haven't quite found the 'magic bean' yet.

    But any plastic kit will look better if you paint it. That molded plastic look is just so....plastic-ey.

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    Plenty of good suggestions already so I will simply say a good flat surface to work on and good lighting.
    Cheers!
    Maurice
    Attempting to apply the K.I.S.S. principle to Model Railroading.

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    A first aid kit, and a safe place to put dull no. 11 knife blades before disposal elsewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    A first aid kit, and a safe place to put dull no. 11 knife blades before disposal elsewhere.
    Dull blades? It takes less time to sharpen a blade with a diamond hone than to change the blade. I can't remember the last time I bought a blade.
    Cheers!
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-LineSoo View Post
    Patience. Knowing when to put it down for the day and let everything 'set', or when to walk away from a challenge and let one's brain fester on it for a while is key. Patience is one of the great assets of the hobby, if you don't have it now, you soon will or you'll take up a different hobby.
    @P-LineSoo... Kudos to you for bringing this up. This is such an important point to remember (which I'm only starting to follow now). I'm finding that walking away from the project for a while (especially when something isn't going well), makes the whole process easier and much less frustrating.

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