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An "Emergency" Source of "Glass"

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  • Member since
    October, 2004
  • From: Allen, TX
  • 1,236 posts
An "Emergency" Source of "Glass"
Posted by cefinkjr on Sunday, April 21, 2019 5:04 PM

Late last night (actually, after midnight), I was working on restoring an Athearn Blue Box caboose that I had painted and lettered many years ago.  The car looked nice but needed weight and metal wheels.  While I had the car apart to add weight inside, I thought this would be a good time to glaze the many windows.  The problem was that my stock of clear acetate "glass" was just too scratched to use.

Then I remembered having recently discarded the packaging for a USB cord.  That package was, of course, cardboard but had a window of clear acetate (?) to display the product.  I retrieved the package from the trash beside my work desk and Voila! ... more "glass" than I would need for this project and probably several others.

BONUS: Recall that this is an ATSF prototype caboose I'm glazing.  Besides the 5 windows on one side, 3 on the other, and 1 in the door at each end; there are EIGHT little windows in the cupola and all of them are very close to the corners of the cupola.  The glazing I rescued from the trash had been continuous from the front of the package to one side so there was a perfect 90° bend already in the plastic.  It was a snap to glaze two adjacent windows at once.

I just love it when a little glitch like this is solved with no cash outlay!

Allen, TX

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, April 21, 2019 5:42 PM

I agree, those packaging "blisters", or what you want to call them, work great.

Usually one has to go through a monumental struggle to get the package open!  It's only fitting that it can be used elswhere.  Laugh


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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, April 21, 2019 6:24 PM

This is a good tip, Chuck. I've been getting windows using mostly this method for some time. What I like is that you can find all kinds of variances in thickness and the "look" of the "glass" - sometimes you can even find tinted plastic.

I usually go ahead and cut up the packaging to harvest the desireable flat sections for easier storage. However, there are times when the odder-shaped pieces can come in handy.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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  • From: Culpeper, Va
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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Sunday, April 21, 2019 8:08 PM

Well this is certainly a useful tip.



If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Chamberlain, ME
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Posted by G Paine on Sunday, April 21, 2019 10:57 PM

I saved up the acetate lids from greeting card boxes, a supply that has kept me in "windows" for many years.

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch 

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    March, 2012
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Posted by PC101 on Sunday, April 21, 2019 11:50 PM

Anybody using ready built Walthers buildings in a box? That clear plastic mostly on four sides can be salvaged from the boxs and works good also.

  • Member since
    August, 2006
  • From: Franconia, NH
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Posted by dstarr on Monday, April 22, 2019 8:13 AM

Entemanns Danish pastry comes in a nice clear plastic package that I use for window glazing. 

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Waukesha, WI
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Posted by Steven Otte on Monday, April 22, 2019 8:36 AM

Food often comes packaged in a variety of clear plastics. In our municipality we can recycle those numbered 1, 2, 4, and 5. Packages numbered 6 would ordinarily have to get thrown away. However, plastic number 6 refers to good old polystyrene. If you get a smooth piece of clear no. 6, you've got window material for days!

Steven Otte, Model Railroader associate editor

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Monday, April 22, 2019 9:16 AM

Even for structure kits that come with window "glass" I prefer the free clear plastic that is otherwise tossed or recycled because it is thin.  This is particularly true if you want to see inside such as a model of a store or gas station, or a structure with interior lighting - the cast plastic shows its thickness.  Because the material is softer than cast styrene as a rule it is possible to cut it with the same precision scissors you'd use for decals, and it is also easier to use a sharp scribing tool to scribe in the look of shattered glass.

I have also used actual glass slide covers for things like caboose windows and again part of what I like about them is that they are thin, perhaps scale thickness.  

The clear plastic from product packaging, greeting card boxes, separation sheets in reports, etc., can also be made into pretty convincing screen for screen doors and windows.  This is good for horizontal sliding windows such as you see on homes and apartments where one exterior pane is glass, the other is screen. 

You can read about how to do it in my Frugal Modeler column here on pp 5-6.

Dave Nelson

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: North Dakota
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Posted by BroadwayLion on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 9:16 AM

If glass windows it is that you want, then maybe you cannot beat glass slides from a microscope. It has the rigididity to form the glass walls of a building, or glass in your paxenger cars.


Gotta be cheap enough.



The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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  • From: New Lenox Il.
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Posted by LenS on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 9:31 AM

I use the blister packs that kadee couplers come in. They work well.


Len S

  • Member since
    January, 2007
  • 226 posts
Posted by Lee 1234 on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 7:59 AM

The packaging plastic turns yellow over time.  I paint the inside of windows black and use it as blackout windows.  Works well for bases for people as the yellowing isn't really noticeable.


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