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Model Engineering Glossary: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

White Metal Modelling

So what is white metal and why is it so good for modelling especially unusual subjects. Well after the cost of material and labour the moulding process is relatively cheap. Therefore short runs of kits can be produced and of a variety of different subjects can be kitted.

Percival Mew GullI came across my first white metal kit after reading a book called "The flight of the Mew Gull" by Alex Henshaw. At the back of the book there was an advertisment for a white metal kit of the Mew Gull 1/48 scale. This particular aircraft is a favourite of mine so I sent away for the model.

Lawrence Designs and Models kitThe manufacture was a small firm called Lawrence Designs and Models. In the return post came the kit and at first glance I was a little unsure of how to assemble it. After taking time to read the very good instructions my confidence grew.

The first job is always read the instructions thoroughly and to check that all the pieces are there. Second stage I feel is to then clean up all the flash off or spigots taking care not to remove any locating lugs which help in alignment of the parts. I use a range of small files and sandpaper for the cleaning and a small wire brush to keep the files clean as they tend to get blocked. I have a variety of little files both flat, round and half round types. Sometimes a suede brush can be used for the finer parts.

Once you have cleaned all the rough spigots off the next stage is to dry fit the pieces together to see how they align. Maybe you might need to fill any pieces where there is not a good joint. Now it is time to wash all the items. I use warm water with some washing up liquid and this just removes all the mould impurities which will then enable the surfaces to stick nicely.

So what is the best way to stick the parts together?

My method is to use an epoxy-resin e.g Araldite or Devcon or any of the 5 min. - 30 min. epoxy glues. These are available from good model shops or DIY stores. Super Glue can be used for the smaller more detailed parts.

Having glued the main parts together I paint the inside or more difficult areas and then I file off all the excess glue and make sure that no glue is showing. At this stage if you have any imperfections they can be filled and then rubbed down using wet n' dry paper. I use an automobile type filler such as P38 Plastic Padding. Any door or panel lines may be re-cut using a scriber or corner of a file but do be careful and not over do this because the model will look wrong if the lines are too deep. Remember you can always go a little deeper if you are not happy with the first result but it is harder to rectify mistakes. Happy so far, well it is time to wash the model again to remove any grease put on it from your fingers and then leave to dry before applying an undercoat.

The car type spray cans are good to use for undercoating if you are not lucky enough to own a spray gun or air brush. Try not to apply too thick a coat, several light coats are better for good results. Once this has dried very lightly rub down using 1000 grade wet n' dry paper before applying the top coat. Any areas, such as your painted cockpit, that need to be masked off before spraying can be done so by using damp tissue. This moulds itself nicely to the area not to be painted. Glazed areas such as clear canopies can be masked off using masking tape or liquid mask which is available at model shops. Once you are happy with the finish of top coat decals can be added to give details. The same technique is used as for applying decals to plastic kits.

I am not going to go into vast details of each and every metal kit I have made but it does amount to several. There is a wide variety of subjects kitted from aircraft, cars, tanks to model soldiers and horse drawn carriages to name a few.

Walter Extra Christen Eagle
Bygones Ago - Carriage
Morgan 3 Wheeler Morgan 3 Wheeler

White metal is a very good media to work with because if some parts are a little warped or bent with a bit of persuasion you can straighten them or even modify them to suit the purpose.

I list below some useful addresses. Why not give white metal modelling a go?

Bygone Age Scale Model
19th Century "Royal Mail " Coach Scale: 1/32 - 3/8" = 1 foot
Phoenix Model Developments Limited,
The Square,
Earls Barton,
England Tel: Northampton 810612
Made in England from fine English Pewter.
South Eastern Finecast,
Glenn House,
Hatfield Road,
Forest Row,
RH18 5DZ
Vast range of diecast kits. Cars in 1/24 scale and 1/43
Traction Engine Kits. @ 1/32
Locomotive and Chassis Kits.
Model Tractor Co.
52 Roman Way,
R A E Models
Unit 2 Corrie Road
KT15 2HS

Please note that Lawrence Design & Models are no longer trading.

Model Engineering Glossary: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z