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The issues with scratch building

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Posted (edited)

Any of you, aside from me, run into issues with scratch building? 

My biggest issue is that if I stay with using plastic for my builds I run into one huge limitation: Strength VS. Rigidity 

Say I want to build a radiator fan and I want to make it to scale. So then I find myself using 0.1mm styrene sheets. Ok cool... No problem right? Wrong. Once I start using sheets that thin they tend to be flimsy, because hey, it's plastic and as thin as a sheet of paper. So the alternative? Use metal... But then when I use metal, it doesn't always bond well. 

I can already hear you guys saying "just use ca glue with tin" but then I run into strength issues. Ok so use brass instead... And I can solder that. But when I mix aluminum with brass in a build I need another solder type. 

Or if I want to build a wishbone suspension, I need a plastic tube thin and small enough to fit in another tube... And again, I run into the issue of strength VS rigidity. Not only that try finding 0.3mm plastic tubes... Almost impossible. 

The alternative? Albion Alloys... They have amazingly small and useful metal tubes. But it gets expensive and quick. 

So what issues do you run into when you scratch build? What do you do to resolve them? And most importantly how do you keep the costs down? 

Keeping the costs down is my main reason for scratch building, second reason is that the part I need doesn't exist so I have to make it. 

Edited by IbuildScaleModels

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Posted (edited)

Ive never had good luck bonding small bits of dissimilar material together with CA or even Epoxy type adhesives.

I stick to styrene as a medium. BUT there are lots of examples here on the forum of superbly talented modelers

doing just that.

One skill that I envy is the ability to source just the rite parts from just the rite kits and assemble them with not as much trouble.

I don't have that kind of model kit knowledge for this on my own but ask here and you will get immediate information.

I'll give these examples that may give you something to think about.

Sourcing small styrene tubing is limited, so try drilling rod to create the look. You need quality drills to do this but not as hard

to do as you may think. These shocks where made from Evergreen rod. Drilled out to the correct size.

DSC01286-vi.jpg

I discovered you can also create strong parts to support some weight by imbeding small carbon rods inside (here in a small motor mount support made to look like square tube) method could be also used for long unsupported frame rails.

Picture is sort of an explanation showing the carbon rod, plastic channels and caps to create the dimension desired.

motormount-vi.jpg

This is only how I prefer to do things, I'm sure other more experienced and talented modelers will chime in here.

Thats the beauty of this forum. 😊

 

Edited by STYRENE-SURFER

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3 hours ago, STYRENE-SURFER said:

Ive never had good luck bonding small bits of dissimilar material together with CA or even Epoxy type adhesives.

I stick to styrene as a medium. BUT there are lots of examples here on the forum of superbly talented modelers

doing just that.

One skill that I envy is the ability to source just the rite parts from just the rite kits and assemble them with not as much trouble.

I don't have that kind of model kit knowledge for this on my own but ask here and you will get immediate information.

I'll give these examples that may give you something to think about.

Sourcing small styrene tubing is limited, so try drilling rod to create the look. You need quality drills to do this but not as hard

to do as you may think. These shocks where made from Evergreen rod. Drilled out to the correct size.

DSC01286-vi.jpg

I discovered you can also create strong parts to support some weight by imbeding small carbon rods inside (here in a small motor mount support made to look like square tube) method could be also used for long unsupported frame rails.

Picture is sort of an explanation showing the carbon rod, plastic channels and caps to create the dimension desired.

motormount-vi.jpg

This is only how I prefer to do things, I'm sure other more experienced and talented modelers will chime in here.

Thats the beauty of this forum. 😊

 

That is an awesome tip! I prefer to stick with styrene but like I said I can't find the sub 1mm styrene tubes. But wow,I will definitely use the graphite to reinforce trick. Thank you. I hope others chime into this thread. I am looking for for new tips and tricks to better build. 

 

Justin 

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In my modeling I use all sorts of materials (including plastic and metal), and have no problems bonding any of them to the others.  Well, the bond will no be as strong as welding (melting) pieces of styrene together using a solvent-type adhesive, but the joints I make are strong enough.  And many times, with metal-to-metal, I use soldering instead of gluing for very strong bond.

When joining dissimilar materials it is best to first make sure the glued area is absolutely clean (degreased), and also roughened a bit with some sandpaper, or by scraping with a knife.  I could never build my models using just styrene. Way too limiting!

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Yup, no mater what type of bonding you are doing take care for clean oil free surfaces.

 

 

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Only problems I have with scratch building is just having hammer hands.  :)  Big fingers and tiny parts do not mix well

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1 hour ago, Deathgoblin said:

Only problems I have with scratch building is just having hammer hands.  :)  Big fingers and tiny parts do not mix well

Hahah... How about working on a piece and it goes flying and then spending 10 minutes finding it?😂 

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I primarily use a variety of plastic parts and shapes, Evergreen, Plastruct, etc. I use epoxies, CA, and regular styrene cements. I do use some various materials such as aluminum and brass, but use CA to attach them. I have not yet tried soldering. But, I have found that I have always been able to figure out how to make something from styrene, so far! When it comes to trying to replicate a 1:1 part, I tend to break the desired part down into pieces, just like the real piece would be fabricated from metal in the 1:1 world.

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5 minutes ago, redneckrigger said:

I primarily use a variety of plastic parts and shapes, Evergreen, Plastruct, etc. I use epoxies, CA, and regular styrene cements. I do use some various materials such as aluminum and brass, but use CA to attach them. I have not yet tried soldering. But, I have found that I have always been able to figure out how to make something from styrene, so far! When it comes to trying to replicate a 1:1 part, I tend to break the desired part down into pieces, just like the real piece would be fabricated from metal in the 1:1 world.

That's exactly what I try to do. I look at reference photos for hours on end trying to get the right viewing angle, see how it breaks down, that kind of thing... But then comes the building part... 🤣 

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I am a big fan of K&S aluminium tubing and especially the fact that it telescopes inside each successive size. Driveshafts, exhaust systems and mufflers,  fully detailed steering columns are a doddle with K&S.  And then, to hang say a steering column or exhaust, you just use a small bit of styrene with a hole drilled through it to attach the aluminium to the plastic model. I couldn't scratchbuild without this stuff.

 

As for issues, trying to hold tiny parts is my biggest issue - oh yeah, and seeing them in the first place!

 

Cheers

Alan

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Posted (edited)

I remember Joe Cavorley saying that anything you wanted to scratch build was nothing more than a series of shapes. Break it down to the basics and start there.

One thing that helps me is my “Shape Box”. It’s just a big box full of odd junk. Broken kit parts, half a VW fender, angles or curves whittled off bodies I was modifying, small piece of plastic with an interesting pattern engraved in it, big old staple removed from opening a box.. just toss it all in this bin!

I'm amazed at the stuff I turn into something  else when I need to make something!

Being a modeler is never throwing away an old pen without saving the spring... and examining the rest of the parts!

Edited by Tom Geiger

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On 4/21/2020 at 9:07 PM, Tom Geiger said:

I remember Joe Cavorley saying that anything you wanted to scratch build was nothing more than a series of shapes. Break it down to the basics and start there.

One thing that helps me is my “Shape Box”. It’s just a big box full of odd junk. Broken kit parts, half a VW fender, angles or curves whittled off bodies I was modifying, small piece of plastic with an interesting pattern engraved in it, big old staple removed from opening a box.. just toss it all in this bin!

I'm amazed at the stuff I turn into something  else when I need to make something!

Being a modeler is never throwing away an old pen without saving the spring... and examining the rest of the parts!

I like that... Shape box... Reminds me of how they teach you in 3d modelling 

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Scratch building is what I enjoy most.  An assortment of materials is always at hand including Evergreen, brass and aluminum sheet, brass and aluminum tubing and rod, copper sheet and tubing, Plastruct materials, common pins, craft wire, etc.

Bonding dissimilar materials is always a problem.  Aluminum and ACC just don't get along.  Two part epoxy seems to work better to some extent.  

When it comes to small parts I use a lot of brass stock.  Soldering is the best solution for a lot of it.  I build trucks and when I'm doing one of those brush rigs that have lots of cages around them I like the brass rods.  Where I attach it to plastic I grind away a small piece of the end of the rod to form a pin using a Dremel disc.  Then I drill a hole in the plastic and insert the end of the brass rod.  Works really well.

In general pinning small parts with either craft wire or common pins is always a safe bet.

I also do a fair amount of resin casting based on either kit masters or masters I make up myself.  I always make a mold using RTV.  If I need that part once, chances are I will need it again!

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On 4/23/2020 at 11:37 AM, Chariots of Fire said:

Bonding dissimilar materials is always a problem.

That's the truth! I've been  using contact cement to  bond some metals, especially sheet aluminum to plastic. That has worked out well, so far.

On 4/23/2020 at 11:37 AM, Chariots of Fire said:

Aluminum and ACC just don't get along.

I built a set of aluminum shocks and used Locktite thread locker to mount the eyes to the cylinder and piston. Granted, they need to be positioned to stay put, for a while, during the cure, but, they seem pretty strong! JB Weld is also a decent choice for bonding dissimilar materials. As you mentioned, pinning is desirable, whenever possible.

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You're right Daniel.  I seldom use JB Weld but it certainly is a choice for different materials. I have forgotten about it.

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4 hours ago, Chariots of Fire said:

You're right Daniel.  I seldom use JB Weld but it certainly is a choice for different materials. I have forgotten about it.

I narrowed the resin tires for the Model A I am building, and wanted to be sure they weren't going to come apart. I didn't have any epoxy, on hand, so I went with the JB Weld. Your work is exceptional, by the way. I'm an admirer of it!

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What drives people to scratch build?      In my case it was the reality that mainstream kit manufacturers would not risk tooling up the sort  of subjects that interest me.

So I had no alternative but to scratch build. So far I have built a Bugatti Type 59 in 1/16th scale, the Dubonnet Nieuport Astra Hispano Suiza ( the wooden planked one) in 1/12 scale, and have almost completed the Brooklands Napier Railton in 1/16 scale.

 

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33 minutes ago, Bugatti Fan said:

What drives people to scratch build?    

 

In my case it's the lack of subject matter I'm interested in.  I like different styles of trucks compared to every day road tractors , so scratchbuilding is my favorite 

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On 4/28/2020 at 1:51 PM, Bugatti Fan said:

What drives people to scratch build?      

A number of things, I guess;

- You need a part that doesn’t otherwise exist. (Where do you get a stock steering wheel for a 72 Pantera? You make it)

- Superior quality and authenticity  over existing after market or kit based alternatives. (Pre-wired distributors... nuff said)

- The pride and satisfaction of doing it yourself. (Opening the hood to display all that cool PE, resin, and 3D print is really a show of how well you fitted someone else’s work)

- Biggest reason; it’s fun!

Those are my personal reasons for scratch building. Not knocking anyone else’s methods. There are much faster and easier ways sometimes, but in this way I can take full pride in the work I create. 

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You are quite right Trevor. There is a big sense of satisfaction when you build a model having made every part yourself.

It is both fun and frustration having to bin parts that you get wrong and have to remake, but very pleasing when you get them right!

 

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What drove me to scratch build?  I found out real quick that it became boring building the same ALF over and over with slight changes here and there.  Fire apparatus over the years have been built by so many different outfits the decision was pretty easy.  Scratch build or continue building the same old same old.  It has allowed me to do some subjects that I otherwise would not have attempted.

Along the way it has been an enjoyable experience trying different materials and methods.  Soldering has been the greatest improvement in my building BUT I am no metal worker.  Thank goodness for Evergreen stock, brass shapes and different sizes.  Peteski said it best above when he mentioned just building with styrene was way too limited.  I have to admit, though that without ACC I would be lost.  That has been the best thing since sliced bread!

Just to be clear, though, I didn't start out scratch building and I suspect most of us who do it started that way as well.  I remember trying to scratch build a truck years ago but got way ahead of myself in the skill level.  To make a long story short I destroyed a Smith Miller GMC dump truck in the process.  It is a learning experience for sure and trying new approaches is just part of that experience.

 

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On 4/28/2020 at 12:51 PM, Bugatti Fan said:

What drives people to scratch build?      In my case it was the reality that mainstream kit manufacturers would not risk tooling up the sort  of subjects that interest me.

So I had no alternative but to scratch build. So far I have built a Bugatti Type 59 in 1/16th scale, the Dubonnet Nieuport Astra Hispano Suiza ( the wooden planked one) in 1/12 scale, and have almost completed the Brooklands Napier Railton in 1/16 scale.

 

I figure if I have to buy a part I want online it might be a week or two for it to arrive...and I can learn a lot about fabrication in a week or two!  Styrene is cheap, relatively so I do a fair amount of trying this and that to try out different techniques and see what will work and what won’t.  This week I’ve been making some simple wheels, seeing if I can get anything perfectly round using only styrene sheet:

A70D5400-203B-4996-B4E0-62E7E797051D.thumb.jpeg.318e1978bdaebeef1300ecb5ab52fd6f.jpeg
FE74BC15-FA55-4916-98B3-8102E44B8A5D.thumb.jpeg.67382e940bd1bc0d4514491fac0f74b7.jpeg

A006D068-D235-45DC-8243-DB3DFA1697BE.thumb.jpeg.f8255993bede8ee3fe9f209b607c48a1.jpeg

I haven’t quite figured out the perfect trick yet - the middle part is easy enough but getting the rim to be perfect is trickier.  The sheet needs to be thick enough to not be easily damaged, but thin enough that it will conform to the rim.  
 

Bill/Ace recommended using heat to preform the sheet around something with a tighter diameter to make it conform and that got me closer, but not as close as I’d like just yet - getting them perfectly round and being able to join the ends is a real challenge.

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(Of course, these are real simple and don’t look too good...but if I can get them right I can make some pretty fancy designs on my cutter here and really do some wild stuff)

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Posted (edited)

You are right Jim. A lot of the fun is in the figuring out how to do things and what you can make or adapt. I have used all sorts of things like domestic plastic pipe , moulded shapes from packaging, odd bits of hardwood, discarded kids toys etc.

Edited by Bugatti Fan

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