Metal Kits for beginners

Discussion in 'General Information' started by steve, Oct 23, 2019.

  1. steve

    steve Full Member

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    I am really impressed by the expert models being built on this site, and keen to experiment with building a brass or white metal model steam locomotive (big challenge), or wagon.

    I am a competent solderer of electronic components but have no experience of soldering materials into a stable and useable "thing".

    I would really appreciate any advice of reasonably priced kits available in Australia in either HO or On30 scale.

    Steve
     
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  2. York Paul

    York Paul Staff Member Moderator

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    I couldn't advise you about which whitemetal or etch brass kits are available in Oz, what I can offer as advice is that there is a world of difference in technique between soldering whitemetal and brass / nickel silver components together. It may be best to start off practice soldering scrap pieces of etch together to get the feel and understanding of how the metal reacts and the various ways the iron can be used which is quite different to pcb electric component contact soldering which requires a concentrated quick blob of heat delivered with a fine point bit. Whitemetal kits can be secured using low melt solder usually 70 degree melt but it may be better to secure some non mechanical items with either Roket Rapid cyano or Araldite adhesive.
     
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  3. Keith M

    Keith M Staff Member Moderator

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    If you are intending going down the metal rolling stock kit route, then you will definitely need a temperature controlled soldering iron for the low melt solders necessary for soldering white metal, otherwise you'll end up with useless blobs of model. Personally I would steer clear of 70 degree solder as the mix of different alloys makes for a weaker joint with more dross in it, 100 degree is the way to go with white metal as the Tin/Lead mix is stronger and produces a sound joint. You may find in the case of soldering brass to white metal that the joint runs easier and quicker if you first tin the brass with 'ordinary' solder before using 100 degree to make the joint, and for soldering brass to brass, I've not found anything better than your 'bog-standard' electronics solder, the multicore type with flux cores is less messy. When it comes to joining white metal to white metal, I use Phosphoric acid flux, which is quite a mild acid and works well. Larger areas of brass to brass soldering will require a much larger wattage of electric soldering iron than that for electronic soldering as if the iron's not big enough wattage-wise, then the metal will conduct the heat away almost as fast as the iron can produce it and you'll end up with a rough and weak joint. I have a selection of soldering irons from 15/25/40/80 and 100 watt, plus a proper Iroda modellers gas torch, which is ideal for larger brass parts or brass to brass laminations, really a case of 'horses for courses' I guess, and you'll soon find which size iron to use for which job. One thing to be aware of is never to mix different melting point solders on a soldering iron bit. Either keep certain irons to use for a specific temperature solder, or alternatively, have a selection of interchangeable bits for the different solders. You'll need an old toothbrush or similar for cleaning off the phosphoric acid flux from the metals in hot water after jointing, using 100 degree solder also means that you can use water as hot as your hands can bear with no risk of ending up with a kit again, which might be the case with 70 degree stuff. As you've experience of electronic soldering (which is how I started 60 years ago), you'll soon get a feel for how much heat/when to remove the iron before anything disastrous happens, and the pleasure you'll get from building a kit which might not be available in RTR form, is great, not to mention the "I built that!" feeling. That's just the start of it though, as then it'll need painting and decals!:giggle:

    Keith.
     
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  4. Toto

    Toto I'm best ignored Staff Member Founder Administrator

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    Some good advice above ...... from masters .... :avatar:
     
  5. York Paul

    York Paul Staff Member Moderator

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    As Keith says 100 degree solder has definitely got the edge over the 70 degree low melt stuff which unfortunately does make for a weaker joint ... that is the downside of using it, however 100 degree solder is not as readily available as the 70 so if you can lay your hands on the 100 then I'd suggest stocking up with it, which is why I didn't mention in case you found difficulty getting hold of some. Again the point to remember is that 70 degree solder will separate joints in boiling water so do be mindful of that when washing down in hot water to de-flux your work. Now last night Dundee Paul put me onto a good temperature control solder station which has quick release bits that contain built in heat element, these also are motion sensitive as well... well worth investing in a none too expensive product.

    Here are the links :-

    ebay link from china

    uk ebay link 10 x bits

    Hope this is of use to you.

    cheers Yorkie
     
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  6. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    One advantage (or disadvantage if you live in a very hot climate) of the 70 degree stuff is you can often dissassemble the model with very hot water.

    A soldering iron with a large mass for the tip is an advantage, as this will have enough reserves of heat to be able to heat the metal & melt the solder without loosing too much heat and allowing the solder to freeze before making a decent joint. My Weller 80W solder came with two bits a 10mm and a 12mm - these coped easily with soldering tags on to the top od R/C car batteries.

    Enjoy ....... and remember if its hot enough to melt solder it will hurt when you touch it - don't ask :facepalm:

    For clean up, I use glass fibre brushes, P600 wet or dry papers, scalpel blades as scrapers and occationally files to remove any excess.

    Paul
     
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  7. jakesdad13

    jakesdad13 Staff Member Moderator

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    Just checked, the tips are out of stock. I've put them on my watch list just in case they come back into stock.

    Pete.
     
  8. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    For the tips - The heating element and temp sensor is built into the tip unit.

    The D type are a chisel type profile with the number indicating the tip diameter, so a D08 is a chisel tip 0.8mm in diameter, and a D4 is a 4mm diameter chisel tip

    upload_2019-10-25_23-30-30.png


    C type is a conical wedge

    upload_2019-10-25_23-33-1.png

    B is a conical profile

    upload_2019-10-25_23-36-36.png

    K is a larger wedge chisel - some versions have a large lump of metal at the back of them

    upload_2019-10-25_23-41-8.png

    Paul
     
  9. steve

    steve Full Member

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    Hi Paul (York and Dundee), Keith and Pete. Thank you all for your feedback. I have made some small steps in working with metal kits.
    I will delay any experimentation with whitemetal kits until I can work confidently with brass. I will also delay buying the DJH kit of the NSWGR AD60 (almost $AUD1000) - this is a very good move!!
    I have bought a low wattage temperature controlled soldering iron, and looking into the ones on ebay. These seem really good and very reasonable
    I have bought some brass stock shapes. This supplier also carries 100 deg solder if I do need to venture into whitemetal.
    For the time being I will only work with brass stock or etched kits

    Thank you all again.
    Steve
     
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  10. York Paul

    York Paul Staff Member Moderator

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    Great hearing from you Steve and taking that sensible first step into kitbuilding which is what I did when starting out... by "playing" with offcut etch pieces soldering shapes and angles is the best learning curve and it won't be long I suspect until the scratch building bug bites. When that happens you will feel great about making those little bits of extra detail which don't come in standard kits... although I'd think DJH has your intended model fairly well covered on that front.

    It may be an idea to get hold of an old incomplete kit going cheap or one somebody has partially started even to practice as a first proper kit build and the next step up from jointing together offcuts, that way learn to make the iron work for you so to speak when it came to soldering in tight spaces. You've nothing to loose and everything to gain and it wouldn't matter if the models didn't go together properly (poorly designed kits; often ones where etches have been hand drawn can do that sometimes and particularly some of the budget ones).

    Good luck enjoy the process and do please keep us all posted on your progress and remember there are many good etch brass builders here on this forum ready to offer you advice should you need any. :thumbs::tophat:

    cheers York Paul
     
  11. Keith M

    Keith M Staff Member Moderator

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    I wouldn't bother buying kits of models that are available in RTR, simply because by the time you've bought the required wheelsets, motor/gearbox etc it will end up costing you far more than the equivalent RTR model, unless you obtain it very cheaply. If the only way to get a non-available in RTR model is a kit, then cost goes out the window if it becomes a 'must-have', and you'll end up 'biting the bullet!'. I myself have succumbed to the temptation of this on a number of occasions as I like and appreciate the "Experimental, Oddball and One-Off" loco's, one of which (English Electric GT3 Gas Turbine loco) cost me the best part of £300 in total to build........apparently, there is now a company which has a model of this loco soon to be produced as an RTR, but that's life!
    Keith.
     
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  12. steve

    steve Full Member

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    Again, many thanks Paul and Keith.

    Yes, I am pleased to have come to this point. The idea of buying cheap or unfinished kits is a good one, and one I have never considered. I usually have a look at the second hand stall but I have been looking at "finished" product, not even considering "unfinished" product. Doing it this way, I could also build up a stock of bits and pieces from many gathered items which may end up being used in a completely different way.

    Thanks to all
    Steve
     
  13. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    When you get arround to whitemetal, have a look at a kit and cut off the sprue, turn the soldering iron down to its lowest temp setting then place the iron on the sprue, keep it in contact for a good while to see if it will melt the white metal. It it doesn't (that is the desired result :giggle:) then try the iron on some 100c solder, this time we want it to melt. If this is not successful, increase the temp and try again. Once you have a temp / setting that melts the 100c solder but doesn't melt the white metal your in business, it means you can linger with the soldering iron in the one place without fear of melting the whitemetal kit.

    Paul
     
  14. steve

    steve Full Member

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    Thanks Paul.

    That is a really good idea. I have started with brass stock and probably move into etched kits for some things, but there seems to be a lot of product made with whitemetal, so at some point I will need to venture into this territory.
    Some of the stories I have heard about the mix of metals in the whitemetal castings and the way it behaves under temperature, would make the need to "test" the metal with each new kit.

    Thanks again Paul
    Steve
     
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