Model Rail (UK)
DAVE LOWERY’S TOP TIPS
In my experience of building kits – etched brass kits in particular – you plough through the main construction with reasonable care and endeavour, ending up with something approaching 80% complete. And then there are those final small pieces that, if left off, wouldn’t really spoil the model too much. But, at the same time, you would know that you really should have taken the time and effort to finish it off properly.
Such was the case with a brass kit for the Freightliner FLA ‘low-liner’ intermodal wagon, which has a lot of in-fills to the outriggers. Two such parts which fit into the centre ends of the wagon needed to be fitted.
I made sure the part was the correct shape for the hole it would fit into, before soldering a piece of brass rod to it so I could offer it into place. Only when alignment was perfect was the part soldered properly.
Because the main body is layered, there is a lot of brass involved. Therefore, to solder the parts into place requires a lot of heat.
When the soldering iron was offered to the job, it could only produce small tacking blobs of solder, rather than flooding the joint evenly. This was purely down to the volume of brass, which was effectively sucking the heat out of the iron’s tip. Clearly, a more effective source of heat was required, which is where my Proxxon mini blow torch comes into its own. After adding flux to the surface and applying heat, those tacking blobs of solder applied with the iron are re-melted. The flux encourages the molten solder to flow freely into the joints. Furthermore, the tack-soldered bond holding the aforementioned brass rod support was also melted, allowing the rod to be removed at the same time… a good result all round!
Once all the brass work is complete and the model washed in soapy water and allowed to thoroughly dry, it is time to remove excess solder after filling any gaps. For this job, I use milling tools to fit into my power hand drill.
I used an end miller to remove solder from the ends of the brass plates, flapper wheel sanders to remove solder on flat surfaces and small ball burrs to get into awkward areas to remove surface solder.
Once the model has been thoroughly cleaned, whitemetal castings and/or 3D-printed parts can be added. More cleaning will follow, before primer is applied and we’ll be ready to start painting.