Card Model Deterioration Over Time

Discussion in 'General Card Modeling' started by damraska, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. damraska

    damraska Member

    I've just had a very unsettling experience. I keep about 30 completed card model aircraft in storage at my mom's house. The oldest was completed about 4.5 years ago, the newest perhaps 3 years ago. They sit in a closed, fairly dark, dry room, well out of direct sunlight. The models are clearly deteriorating. The once smooth skins have shrunk over the underlying formers, something like tissue on a balsa model. The white glue (I experimented with a number of white glues back then, but the effect seems universal) is starting to appear at some joints as a very glossy, almost crystal clear strip. Some formerly tight seams are starting to burst. Along some edges, fibers have begun to fray and pull apart. Later models were sealed with clear acrylic spray. I edge with archival quality, acid-free pens. The collection includes models by GPM, Halinski, Fly Model, Betexta, Maly Modelarz, and a few printed on acid free card stock. Almost every one shows some signs of deterioration.

    I expected something like this to happen eventually, but not so quickly, especially in such a dark and dry environment. So then, is such deterioration universal? If not, what can be done to prevent it as long as possible? Could some other factor be causing such rapid decay?

  2. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

    Think this is the ultimate fate of all models... Have you tried spraying some kind of matt surface finish on?
  3. dansls1

    dansls1 Member

    The ME262 you can see in my sig was built for the most part 7 years ago. (Basically landing gear and fillets between the engines and wings were done this year). White glue, no edge coloring, no spray. There are no signs of anything you described as deterioration (just my less than perfect build ;)).
    Just wondering - is the clear acrylic spray possible to blame for quicker deterioration?
  4. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    Does the humidity fluctuate greatly where the models are stored? Like in a basement? Just a thought but there must be something environment wise causing the problem. That is quick to deteriorate.

    What kind of glue was it? Maybe it was bad glue? Kinda thinking out loud....
  5. Fozzy The Bear

    Fozzy The Bear New Member

    It's the entirely dry environment that's the problem. Paper shrinks as it dries out.

    The other problem is the glue. A good PVA Glue will bond with the paper by embedding itself in the fibre of the paper. It sounds like the one you used faild to make that bond properly.

    There is probably nothing you can do to salvage the models now that it's noticable.

    Best Regards,
    Julian (Fozzy The Bear)
  6. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    Intimations of mortality, I am afraid. You come out of the printer utterly pristine and perfect, you grow up full of hope and promise, by the time you are fully assembled there are a few cracks and squiffy folds, the odd blob of something where it shouldn't be, you start to fade a bit and get a bit grey with dust, then everything starts to get dry and stiff, and your ribs start showing, bits drop off , and finally.....

    We are all stardust, including our paper models! Rejoice! Thousands of years ago some caveman was bemoaning the mildew on his favourite arrows, and in thousands of years some biomech will be cussing his hydraulic seals for giving out....

  7. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    Yeah, I bet that boimech will be working on my build q that I have going right now too ;)
  8. MOS95B

    MOS95B Member

    Wowwwwww.... That's deep man.....

  9. badgerys

    badgerys Member

    After finishing my models I always spray them with clear satin finish paint from a pressurepack.Sofar there have never been any of the syptoms You discribe.I do colour my edges using markerpens and use PVA glue that is used in furniture manufacturing.It is cheap in a 500 ml bottle and works just wonderful.Some of my models are 10 years old with no signs of deterioration.
    Kind regards from Down Under
  10. sakrison

    sakrison Member

    I have several models that are pushing 10 years and I'm seeing none of the symptoms you describe. Occasionally, glue dries out and parts fall off but I chalk that up to poor technique (or weak design) during assembly. My models get handled regularly for exhibit at IPMS meets and EAA Museum events, and they are holding up surprisingly well.

    I have one model mounted on the wall next to my window. It's faded badly on the sunward side (after 3 years of exposure). No surprise there.

    The cardmodel Osprey (fish hawk) that my daughter and I built 16 years ago still looks good despite hanging in an un-airconditioned room all that time. The wingtip feathers are drooping a bit, probably from the weight of all the dust and cat hair that has collected on the wings.

    Most of my models have not been sprayed with a clear finish coat.

  11. damraska

    damraska Member

    Thanks for the input. I think Fozzy probably has it right.

    Some more information, in the hope it will help someone else:

    The room is above ground, not a basement, but does not get much sun. There is a computer in the room that runs 24/7, and it sometimes gets pretty hot.

    As I stated in my original post, some of the models were sealed with flat clear acrylic; some were not. They all show signs of shrinkage. The ones with the clearcoat are in better shape, but they are also the newest models.

    I experimented with a half dozen different glues, all PVA. At least one Elmers brand glue was tried, but never basic white glue. Most were built using Aileen's original tacky glue, which I like the best. Not all models show the 'crystalization' effect, but I lack additional data.

    About 15 years ago, long before I learned about commercial paper models, I scratch built a series of paper spacecraft for wargaming. Those models show little or no signs of deterioration, but they were mostly built using lamination and completely different cardstock. I have no idea what PVA glue I used.

    There are a dozen plastic models in the same room, some 20 years old, and none of those show any deterioration. I need to check the seams more closely to see if putty dried out and cracked.

    I am wondering if it got too hot in there, and if perhaps a cycle of humid/dry weather from winter to summer caused the paper to repeatedly moisen and then dry out, shrinking the paper.

    It looks like I may be out of the card model business and I am not pleased.

  12. 46rob

    46rob Member

    I don't see any of the problems you describe inmy collection--some models are over ten years old. Aileen's tacky glue is not my glue of choice, as it has very poor penetration qualities, compared to the original Elmer's or other PVA glues, like Titebond. I use Aileens for rush builds, to check alignments, etc, on new designs....but when it comes to building for keeps--I stick with what I know works best. I live on the Gulf Coast--the weather here is absolutley the pits for preserving paper. So far I've had no problems.
  13. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    Paper is not 'Dimensionally Stable' as my Instructor informed me. =)
  14. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    aileens comes highly recommended by many builders. I have never heard your issue before Rob, maybe its time to revisit that glue thread if I can find it :) I like to try new glue and have been really happy using aileens in the gold bottle. Much better than the plain elmers I think.
  15. John Freeman

    John Freeman John Freeman

    I have several small Willhelmshaven ships that I built 35 years ago and they are still in fine shape. They are just sitting on the shelf in our quite ordinary house. I can't imagine why yours are coming apart! Obviously it's not old age!

    John Freeman
  16. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Do you live around any manufacturing facilities?

  17. cmdrted

    cmdrted Active Member

    Gil, I think you may be on to something. Or more at home, does your Mom do any hairdressing etc. in her home? Perms colorings and such. Or for the SiFi nutters, see any evidence of temporal waves or even a big blue box in the corners?
  18. damraska

    damraska Member

    Hi Gil,

    It's a track home in a residential neighborhood of a small town. It's about a mile from the water (Carquinez Straits). It has central air. She does not use any exotic chemicals I know of, but she does own an aqarium. I thought that might contribute to a humid/dry cycle, but the room is far from the aqarium (opposite sides of the house) and I have never felt much humidity in there. However, I only visit perhaps a dozen times a year.

    She does own two cats and I have noticed a litterbox smell on many occasions when I visit. However, that room is closed and forbidden to the animals, so the smell does not get in there. On the other hand, after walking past the litterbox I would not detect a light oder in the storage room.

    My girlfriend also pointed out that my mom just fired off a bunch of bug bombs in the garage.

    So, is it amonia from a litterbox that does not get cleaned promptly enough? Is it cycles of humidity and dryness caused by an aqaurium, central air, and a dry climate? Is it bug bombs? Or is it all of the above?

    The biggest problem, by far, is paper shrinkage, so I still believe they just dried out.

  19. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    An Electric Clothes Dryer?


    An electric clothes dryer with a leaky exhaust duct might be the problem. Many dryers have an electric ozone bulb to help condition the air. If any of it is exhausting into the house it can cause all sorts of interesting problems. I won't go into how I became aware of this but it will lay a layer of rust on steel faster than you'd care to believe. It's also very destructive of wood, paper and PVA type glues. Hope this isn't the case as it can also cause severe health problems...,

  20. I have a model of the Titanic that I built in 1980. I did not spray it just plain card stock. Aside from some yellowing she looks the same as the day I finished her. This one still sits over my desk. 4' long and still amazing. This was my first card model, been hooked ever since. back then you had to buy them and there weren't many around. You couldn't make mistakes and just print a another page. But I have experienced some fading on a few of my models that I sprayed with Krylon Acrylic. It does not have UV protection. Now I use only spray with UV protection.

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