Some Basic Questions

Discussion in 'Weathering Forum' started by Christopher62, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

    I'm getting ready to re-enter the hobby. I wanted to build a basic model structure (plastic or wood) and weather it; just to have something to get my feet wet and get me motivated until I can start the actual bench work. However, I am overwhelmed by the different types of paint, chalk, ink, glue... What is Floquil? Pollyscale? Primer? Is it possible to build a decent model and weather it without having to spend a bunch of money on an airbrush? Can you weather to any dregee of realism with just brushes and spray paint? And what is "drybrushing"? How about glue? There's twenty different types of glue for crying out loud! I'm so confused!

    Let me ask it this way... if I wanted to put together let's say a basic starter kit for model building and weathering - some paints and glues - what would it contain?

    Thanks in advance everyone for the help.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Welcome to the hobby, and The Gauge!

    Let me try to answer your specific questions first... You may have to read all the way through a couple of times to get the answers straight... ;)

    Basic structure kit: DPM, Walthers, Atlas all make "basic", if somewhat generic, structures that can be glued together with "airplane" type model glue. They require little if any painting, and can be weathered with chalks, drybrushing, etc.

    Floquil and Polyscale are paint brands. I believe they are solvent based, so may have a detrimental effect on plastic if proper care is not taken. I try to stick to water based paints (acrylic) when I can. "Primer" simply refers to a base coat of paint - usually white, grey or black (depending on the finish colour of the top coat) that helps the top coat stick better and look nicer.

    No airbrush - no problem. It is possible to get decent results without an airbrush.

    Brushes and spray paints - yes, they work well for completing models.

    Drybrushing is painting with very little paint on the brush. You basically remove most of it by dipping it lightly in the paint on your pallette, and then wiping most of it off on some paper towel. You then lightly pass the brush over the model, leaving very, very little paint. It should take a while to build up the effect. If you see paint right away, you have far too much on the brush. The advantage is it is very effective at creating dust and grime and road spray, for example. It builds up very slowly, so you can control the effect, and there are no brush strokes visible.

    There are all kinds of glues. Here are some of the more common types:

    CA, super glue, crazy glue - the instant (or almost instant) setting glue. Very useful for building resin kits, and some wood, although the thin consistancy means you must have a tight fitting join, or run the risk of having the glue run/bleed all over (especially wood). There are also "gap filling" or "gel" CA's.

    "Airplane" glue - plastic/styrene cement that comes in both toxic (orange) and non-toxic (blue) tubes. You may remember this from building planes when you were a kid.

    Styrene glues - like Tenax or even laquer thinner. Works by melting the plastic, which then fuses together when it hardens again. Not really a glue.

    Wood glues - white (non-waterproof) or yellow (carpenters, waterproof) both useful for wood, paper, cork roadbed, benchwork, etc. Yellow glue is stronger, but the white is probably better suited to scenery techniques.

    Contact cements - like Walthers Goo. Useful for joining dissimilar materials, like metal to plastic. Cot both pieces, wait a minute, press together in alignment, 'cuz it don't come apart again...!

    So in a starter kit, I would include:

    Appropriate paint for the material(s0 in your structure kits
    "Weathering paints" - I use dollar store craft paints for this
    Good brushes for painting
    Cheap brushes for weathering
    Appropriate glue(s)
    Xacto knife with #11 blade and/or single edge razor blades
    Small clamps or clothespins
    Miniature drills and pin vise
    Magnifying lamp
    Tool tray
    Paint pallette & water (or solvent) cup
    Scale ruler
    Flat workspace for assembly (I use a thick piece of glass)
    Set of jewellers' screwdrivers (Phillips and standard)

    I also use a few "specialty" tools that aren't absolutely necessary:

    Sprue cutter (special cutters for removing parts from the "molding frame")
    Cross clamp tweezers - these stay shut, instead of open, when you let go
    Screw picker - a little device with a four-fingered claw to grab and place screws and other tiny parts
    Kadee coupler gauge - to check for proper installation of couplers on rolling stock

    I am sure you'll get many more ideas, but I hope that helps to start.

  3. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member


    Thank you so much. That is exactly the type of cogent response I was hoping for. Now I am not so intimidated. I'm going to print that out for reference and visit the hobby shop after work. Thanks again!
  4. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    Polly Scale can be thinned with water... unlike floquil... and covers nicely. It's an acrylic with some sort of alcohol mixed into it, so it does have a funny smell... but at least it washes up easily. Otherwise, Masonjar's advice is solid... :)
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Thanks for the correction. I had a nagging suspicion that the Polyscale is waterbased... hamr

    And Christopher, I am happy to go to the store with you! ;) Just let me get my wish list... :D

  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Christopher: One of the newer developments in structures is the laser-cut wood kit. This cuts out (most of) the job of cutting the parts from the sheet. I've now done two of these (very small); I painted with floquil or similar (non-water-based paint) and finished with acrylics; glued with carpenter's glue.
    Watch out for model airoplane glue. The ones that were labelled airoplane glue used to be for balsa models and didn't do much for plastic, although you could change your mind and take them apart.
  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The model cements in a tube contain a solvent and a filler. The solvent is what makes the bond, while the filler is what makes the mess. :D :D In my opinion, the all-around best cement for styrene is lacquer thinner. It's cheap (about $10.00 a gallon around here), easy to use (apply it with a brush suitably-sized to the job at-hand), and makes a neat and strong joint. You can also use it to thin lacquer-based paints such as Floquil, Testors, Scalecoat, Accupaint, and Humbrol, to name a few, and it's also good for cleaning brushes and thinning contact cement.
    When buying brushes for painting models, get the best quality that you can afford, and get a range of sizes suitable to each particular task. Natural bristle brushes are generally the best when using solvent-based paints, although some of the newer synthetics can give comparable results. Clean them promptly and thoroughly: a good-quality brush, well-cared for, will last for years. As Andrew notes, brushes for weathering can be of lower quality where broad effects are desired, but your "good" brushes are useful for detailed weathering work.
    Andrew's "starter kit" is pretty complete: I'd add an X-Acto #17 chisel blade, which is very useful for shaving off unwanted details, like cast-on grabirons. Most how-to photos show it being used improperly though: when shaving off details, the bevelled edge goes against the work, and you alter the angle at which you hold the handle to suit the task. The flat side of the blade, held at a slight angle and dragged, rather than pushed, across the work is useful for scraping minute imperfections or even for removing stubborn factory lettering.
    I'd also add some pliers to the kit: A small needlenose, a small square nose in both smooth and serrated jaws, and a larger serrated jaw type for adjusting the trip pin on Kadee couplers. A pair of side-cutters for cutting wire is also useful.
    Finally, for holding things in place while you work, a roll of regular masking tape, and some elastic bands.

  8. Relic

    Relic Member

    I also got some of those teeny tiny cloths pins at the dollar store their great for holding teeny tiny things
  9. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Another useful clamping device for very small items can be found at the costume jewellery counter. Look for cheap clip-on earrings or, if you can find them, the type that screw on. Simply remove the glass or plastic baubles, and you've got mini clamps. Spring-loaded hair clips (the small ones that are used with rollers) work well too, and aren't so strong that they'll crush delicate items.

  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    You may also want to add a "razor saw" in the event that your structure or rolling stock needs more major surgery... ;)

  11. stary

    stary Member

    get yourself a copy of the Kalmbach book "BUILDING MODEL RAILROAD STRUCTURES" for answers to all your questions. Kalmbach books are availible at hobby shops, online from many hobby and model railroad dealers, or from

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