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INSPIRED THINKING- Cheap Tips for Frugal Modelers

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For making airbags for suspension, have a look in the hardware store for tap washers. Usually about a buck for 3 sizes in a multi pack and can be stretched over the kit springs if your feeling lazy. The larger size in the pack might even work for large trucks. Another bonus with these is being black rubber they wont need painting. They may work for aircraft tyres too

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So because I don't have much time to head out to a craft store to get felt sheets or anything like, I was doing the laundry the other day and pulled out all the trapped lint within a tumble dryer and thought this might work. I have yet to attempt to stick it to my tub bucket for 1/25 scale just yet. But has anyone else tried this?

 

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Pam cooking spray also works good for a cheap mold release agent. I think I picked a can of the Walmart brand cooking spray for maybe a dollar or two.

 

 

One more cheap trick from my file, aluminum foil and a spray on glue works nicely for cheap BMF, especially if you are doing large areas like I did on the side and roof of this trailer.

 

HPIM1580.jpg

 

Here's the glue I used for it.

 

HPIM1578.jpg

 

The nice thing with using aluminum foil, especially in this case, is you have a choice of two finishes, I used the shiny side for the side walls and the dull side for the roof. I did learn, since that was my first attempt using aluminum foil, make sure to coat the foil evenly with the glue, I didn't do that on the roof and sprayed it a little too thin, and the foil bubbled where I didn't have enough glue sprayed on it. WHOOPS!!! :lol:

 

HPIM1576.jpg

I used the aluminum foil trick several times and prefer that method to bare metal foil.

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I will make a simple contribution to this thread.  Spend some time on the internet and you can find often find the OEM manufacturer  of many hobby products and buy them direct cheaper and in larger quantities.  My best example is "Polishing kits".  Typically you get a couple of foam backed pads of Micromesh abrasive, a small tube of polishing compound and some cloths.  I discovered the source of Micromesh some time ago.  It is made  by a company called Micro Surfacing.  They make all kinds of abrasives and are a quite large company.  Their specialty in polishing abrasives for clear plastic aircraft parts like windscreens and canopies.  However, they are more than happy so sell you a few of what you need to make your own polishing kits.  Also, like most of this stuff, the more you buy, the less the shipping costs and lower the per unit cost.  I buy their sanding sticks 100 at a time and they are much less that the neatly packaged stuff you find in the cosmetic aisles or hobby shops.  We all use sand paper, so putting together a large order with friends can be an effective way to save money.  Oh, and buy the way, this way you only get what you need.  Polishing kits seem to have stuff I never use.  

Edited by Pete J.

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Here is another small tip. I found, after losing a few parts down the drain, a cheap way to clean and rinse small parts safely. In the drug stores tooth care isle pick up a box of denture cleaning tablets and a denture cleaning tub, for lack of better word, they even have scented tablets so your parts smell minty fresh. The 'tub' comes with a basket to lift your parts out of the bath, no scrubbing, no lost parts,

 

 

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I will make a simple contribution to this thread.  Spend some time on the internet and you can find often find the manufacturer  of many hobby products and by them direct cheaper and in larger quantities.  My best example is "Polishing kits".  Typically you get a couple of foam backed pads of Micromesh abrasive, a small tube of polishing compound and some cloths.  I discovered the source of Micromesh some time ago.  It is made  by a company called Micro Surfacing.  They make all kinds of abrasives and are a quite large company.  Their specialty in polishing abrasives for clear plastic aircraft parts like windscreens and canopies.  However, they are more than happy so sell you a few of what you need to make your own polishing kits.  Also, like most of this stuff, the more you buy, the less the shipping costs and lower the per unit cost.  I buy their sanding sticks 100 at a time and they are much less that the neatly packaged stuff you find in the cosmetic aisles or hobby shops.  We all use sand paper, so putting together a large order with friends can be an effective way to save money.  Oh, and buy the way, this way you only get what you need.  Polishing kits seem to have stuff I never use.  

Thanks for the tip on Micro surfacing. I lost one pad from my kit I bought from Micro Mark and didn't feel like having to buy the whole kit to replace it.

 

I make my own sanding sticks using rolls of adhesive backed sand paper and craft sticks. I know rolls of sandpaper can be expensive, but cheap off brand rolls can be found at flea markets.

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I will make a simple contribution to this thread.  Spend some time on the internet and you can find often find the OEM manufacturer  of many hobby products and buy them direct cheaper and in larger quantities.  My best example is "Polishing kits".  Typically you get a couple of foam backed pads of Micromesh abrasive, a small tube of polishing compound and some cloths.  I discovered the source of Micromesh some time ago.  It is made  by a company called Micro Surfacing.  They make all kinds of abrasives and are a quite large company.  Their specialty in polishing abrasives for clear plastic aircraft parts like windscreens and canopies.  However, they are more than happy so sell you a few of what you need to make your own polishing kits.  Also, like most of this stuff, the more you buy, the less the shipping costs and lower the per unit cost.  I buy their sanding sticks 100 at a time and they are much less that the neatly packaged stuff you find in the cosmetic aisles or hobby shops.  We all use sand paper, so putting together a large order with friends can be an effective way to save money.  Oh, and buy the way, this way you only get what you need.  Polishing kits seem to have stuff I never use.

Fabulous! Thanks so much for this!

I WISH I could figure out what Micro Metal Foil Adhesive is, so I could buy it in quantity cheap.

Also would like to find out what Model Master Metalizer Sealer is. Far and away the best clear I've ever used.

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flocking material for upholstery.

Instead of spending $5 or more for ONE color of Fuzzy Fur,look for flocking material for nails online and you can get a set with 12 or more colors for about $3-$7.00

Paint:I did read not to skimp on paint but in fact I've had very good results using the 98 cent paint from Home Depot and Wally World.But I mostly use the gloss or flat black for chassis and other parts that need to be those colors.The flat white works great for me as white vinyl tops.They used to carry other colors but haven't seen them in a long time.The Colorplace Aluminum was my go to for painting stuff like intakes and exhaust manifolds and exhaust pipes but they are no longer sold anymore.

Dollar Tree and other dollar stores.For $10,you can walk out of there with TONS of stuff for model building.

packs of Super Glue,popsicle sticks for mixing epoxies or stirring paint.Containers for storing parts ,building supplies,and even paint.cotton swabs,Play Doh,glitter,nail polish,nail emery boards.After some experimenting,I've used the 4 sided nail polishing boards for removing light dirt from paint,and even polishing .I could go on and on about the stuff you can find at the dollar store.:) I've even used the dollar store aluminum foil for BMF on some things since it's so thin .Just use some white glue.

Engine paint if you build a lot of Chevys,Ford,and Mopar engines instead of spending $6 for a small can at the LHS,for almost that amount,I just buy the big cans at the auto parts stores and you will have enough to paint many engines.

Edited by Dusted1972

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Here's an idea for you guys to try out..... Ever use liquid styrene to do some patch work???? Cut up a bunch of leftover sprue into pieces less than a 1/4" long.. (use the same sprue from the kit your working on) and roughly the same amount in lacquer thinner in a glass jar and seal it... I used a 1/2 oz Testors jar for this.. if it still acts like a liquid, add more pieces of styrene into the mix till it thickens up a bit... I haven't used it yet, but I'm sure you'd want to apply the stuff using a tooth pic.... Try it on scrap parts first and see how it works....

I also thought about casting my own parts with this mix.... 😉

Edited by Deuces

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I already posted this somewhere on this site, but a "tea Leaf" ball is great for putting small parts in cleaner/stripper so you don't lose them. A tea leaf  ball is used to put tea leafs in to make tea. It's a metal ball that opens and has a chain on it. You can find them in "Housewears" section of Wal-Mart for about $3.00. Just make sure you get a stainless one so the solvent doesn't eat your tea ball.

You can buy Toothpick holders with round toothpicks , two for a dollar at a dollar store.

Dollar Tree stores have nail polish for one dollar a bottle. Some nice colors. (I reduce mine , 1 to 1 with Lacquer thinner). They also have 24 emery boards for $1.00. They also carry all kinds of plastic storage containers , (get this), for a dollar ! Seems like everything in Dollar Tree is a dollar! Who'd thunk, right?

Edited by Super28

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2 hours ago, Super28 said:

I already posted this somewhere on this site, but a "tea Leaf" ball is great for putting small parts in cleaner/stripper so you don't lose them.

A visual:

059b8648-5056-b05e-bcac1a1d06c4354b.jpg

Edited by Casey

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I do a fair bit of scratchbuilding of small components and details and some of my favourite materials are  very cheap and readily available;

One of my most popular materials is beer can aluminium. I use this stuff for everything, much of which can be bought as a PE part, but that's expensive, and besides, where is the fun in that. The aluminium is easily cut with scissors and straightened out, measures .004" - .006" thick (scale 1/8"), and it's free. Well, free as long as the can is empty, and if it's not empty...

Another favourite is the HD aluminium foil oven liners, measuring .003" - .004' thick, and the bargain brand is very cheap.

Fine screen is sourced from the reusable coffee filters.

Another source for fine, but heavier duty screen is discarded fuel filters (and some air filters) from industrial diesel engines. Not always readily available but are free for the asking at a diesel service shop. It requires a bit of work to cut the filter apart and the screen needs to be washed thoroughly in brake clean, but the reward is a large supply of very useful, quality fine metal screen.

Another favourite material is black vinyl electrical tape, often with the stickum removed. I remove the stickum by wiping with lacquer thinner or Goo Gone. It makes great material for gaskets between door mirrors and the car body, window gaskets, thin strips for wiper blades or fan belts, blower belts, etc, for floor mats (often with the stickum intact), and a thousand other uses.

Speaking of gaskets, I use brown paper shopping bags for valve cover gaskets.

That's just a few off the top of my head.

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20 hours ago, Bainford said:

Speaking of gaskets, I use brown paper shopping bags for valve cover gaskets.

OK, I am going on a small rant then asking a question.  Several years ago on a thankfully long-gone forum I posed the idea of using some form of paper to add valve cover gaskets to a model engine.  One of the more prominent members, (used to write for both magazines and build Italian cars), and his minions went into a tirade about wasting time for such a trivial addition as it could not be easily seen on most models.  So I left the idea alone. 

Now that you have reawakened this idea in my mind, how do you attach the paper between the head and valve covers?  I have considered white glue; your thoughts?

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On this recent glue bomb rescue, it was missing the right taillight. I made a replacement by cutting clear plastic from a (Walmart) blueberry package, folding it to the correct angle, then coloring it inside and out with a red Sharpie. With VERY careful measuring and cutting, mine actually fits better than the left side kit part! Total time for the fabrication was maybe an hour. 

Improvise! Adapt! Overcome! B)

68ElCamino30.jpg.d7fa91fb711bbe72a8e7aaa70ae37128.jpg

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30 minutes ago, Snake45 said:

On this recent glue bomb rescue, it was missing the right taillight. I made a replacement by cutting clear plastic from a (Walmart) blueberry package, folding it to the correct angle, then coloring it inside and out with a red Sharpie. With VERY careful measuring and cutting, mine actually fits better than the left side kit part! Total time for the fabrication was maybe an hour. 

Improvise! Adapt! Overcome! B)

68ElCamino30.jpg.d7fa91fb711bbe72a8e7aaa70ae37128.jpg

Snake 45 you do nice work .. Thanx fr the tip . I am having no luck locating Taillights for a '63 Lincoln Continental . I will try this .. Thanx ..

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8 hours ago, Snake45 said:

On this recent glue bomb rescue, it was missing the right taillight. I made a replacement by cutting clear plastic from a (Walmart) blueberry package, folding it to the correct angle, then coloring it inside and out with a red Sharpie. With VERY careful measuring and cutting, mine actually fits better than the left side kit part! Total time for the fabrication was maybe an hour. 

Improvise! Adapt! Overcome! B)

68ElCamino30.jpg.d7fa91fb711bbe72a8e7aaa70ae37128.jpg

Nice Camino.... 😎👍

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On ‎17‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 9:38 AM, TarheelRick said:

OK, I am going on a small rant then asking a question.  Several years ago on a thankfully long-gone forum I posed the idea of using some form of paper to add valve cover gaskets to a model engine.  One of the more prominent members, (used to write for both magazines and build Italian cars), and his minions went into a tirade about wasting time for such a trivial addition as it could not be easily seen on most models.  So I left the idea alone. 

Now that you have reawakened this idea in my mind, how do you attach the paper between the head and valve covers?  I have considered white glue; your thoughts?

I make the gasket by tracing the shape of the valve cover onto the brown paper then carefully cutting to size and shape. I remove any assembly registers (alignment pins, tabs, slots, etc) from the top surface of the head and the mating surface of the valve cover. I glued the 'gasket' to the head with model glue (sparingly) and once set, glues the valve cover to that. For 'in-service' engines be sure to use a little black wash at the gasket joint.

It's a great addition to any detailed engine assembly, and on most engines is quite visible. It's a shame the naysayers have made noise about this, but I have theories on those types. I have a hunch I know of the forum to which you refer, as well.

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Flexible Sanding sticks

1/4" popsicle sticks,  1"double sided foam tape, Auto grade wet/dry sandpaper..

8CLF6Ed.jpg

2c45SWs.jpg

Flip over and repeat

PZzKBiC.jpg

Trim ends and repeat on sandpaper

0Ej7hg5.jpg

Trim to desired length

asaRnor.jpg

Simple, cheaper, effective.. this took 15 minutes.

For a stiffer sander, use tongue depressors, and instead of foam tape, use Contact Cement.

Cheers

Edited by Belugawrx

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2 hours ago, Belugawrx said:

Flexible Sanding sticks

1/4" popsicle sticks,  1"double sided foam tape, Auto grade wet/dry sandpaper..

8CLF6Ed.jpg

2c45SWs.jpg

Flip over and repeat

PZzKBiC.jpg

Trim ends and repeat on sandpaper

0Ej7hg5.jpg

Trim to desired length

asaRnor.jpg

Simple, cheaper, effective.. this took 15 minutes.

For a stiffer sander, use tongue depressors, and instead of foam tape, use Contact Cement.

Cheers

Awesome idea, will try this out for sure..... Thanks for sharing...

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15 hours ago, Darren B said:

Awesome idea, will try this out for sure..... Thanks for sharing...

I have to agree with Darren

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A variation on cheap flexible sanding sticks is to use the Styrofoam trays food products are packaged in.  Use rubber cement, stick on whatever grit paper you want, use an X-acto handle to roll the paper flat and assure a good bond, then cut into pieces and shapes that you need.  This works especially well for small triangular or spherical shapes to get into those difficult corners. 

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On 12/30/2018 at 12:31 PM, Belugawrx said:

Flexible Sanding sticks

1/4" popsicle sticks,  1"double sided foam tape, Auto grade wet/dry sandpaper..

 

 

Flip over and repeat

 

Trim ends and repeat on sandpaper

 

Trim to desired length

asaRnor.jpg

Simple, cheaper, effective.. this took 15 minutes.

For a stiffer sander, use tongue depressors, and instead of foam tape, use Contact Cement.

Cheers

I've done the same thing, but found that wooden strips are seldom perfectly flat and unwarped. I've had better results using Evergreen styrene strips. 

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I use Dymo labeling tape for guiding straight razor saw cuts and scribing/deepening lines.  This tape can also be cut to guide rounding corners.  Dollar store degreaser at a buck a bottle is a good paint and mold release stripper.  It won't strip some paints, but in my experience will do most over a few days.

Edited by GerN

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