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Getting Started in Brass Scratch Building

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Getting Started in Brass Scratch Building
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 3:57 PM
I'm thinking that I might want to give brass scratch building a try but I don't know the first thing about it. I'm figuring on starting out with something easy -- maybe a flat car or something -- and working my way up.

Are there any books out there for beginner scratch builders?
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Posted by csmith9474 on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 4:06 PM
I think there was a magazine published at one time about modeling in brass. You are a better person than I am.
Smitty
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Posted by rolleiman on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 4:08 PM
Have you Ever scratch built Anything?? I would recommend, starting with a project in styrene or wood so you can get the idea of how things go together and then move up to brass.. The only real difference will be the method of joining the pieces (glue vs solder)..

As for a reference, Older magazines are full of articles.. The most recent scratch building brass article I can recall is the 7 or 8 part series on a 4-6-0 in the later 1990s Model Railroader.

Good luck,
Jeff
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Posted by tatans on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 5:24 PM
A noble task indeed, why not? get some brass and start soldering stuff together,read up, ask many questions, should be a great challenge, I tried to solder a small plow on the front of a loco and it looked like I had welded a cleat on a bulldozer tread, good luck, and let us know of your progress
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Posted by edkowal on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 5:55 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by RevMattCNJ

I'm thinking that I might want to give brass scratch building a try but I don't know the first thing about it. I'm figuring on starting out with something easy -- maybe a flat car or something -- and working my way up.

Are there any books out there for beginner scratch builders?


There are a number of books on topics which are related to scratchbuilding. They tend to be British books, since there is an active market in Britain for putting together photoetched kits for both rolling stock and locomotives. The general techniques that you would use to put together such a kit would be the same techniques you would use to do scratchbuilding, augmented by one or two others.

The easiest way to get familiar with the books I'm talking about is to send for a catalog from:

International Hobbies
10556 Combie Road, Suite 6327
Auburn CA 95602

Their O scale catalog is $ 6.00; HO/OO scale catalog is $ 5.00 Both should have the books section, which includes short summary sections for each book listed, so you can get an idea of whether it seems useful to you. Of course, people who live in Great Britain can just go down to their local stockist, I think the word is.

In addition to the books, they've got some useful tools & supplies for scratchbuilding, like solders of various melting points. International Hobbies does have a website at: interhobmodels.com which does not currently include an online catalog.

I'll post again with some suggested titles as soon as I find the catalog, and anything else that seems useful.

-Ed

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 7:21 PM
Older issues of Model Railroader or Railroad Model Craftsman are probably your best bet. Search the magazine index above. For example one hit on the words "brass" and "scratchbuild" turned up this entry:
Scratchbuilt hopper cars of brass
Model Railroader, April 1969 page 33
( BRASS, "EBERT, HARRY J.", HOPPER, SCRATCHBUILD, CONSTRUCTION, FREIGHTCAR, MR )

While brass kits used to be offered in this country, I don't know of any in current production. If you can find one, it would probably serve as a good introduction.
Good luck
Paul
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Posted by areibel on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 9:51 PM
MR has run a couple series of articles on scratchbuilding a brass locomotive, they are excellent (too bad they dont do articles like that anymore!) If you type "scratchbuild locomotive" in the magazine index and limit it to MR, you'll get several- the most recent were an USRA Mikado that started in Oct. 82 and there was also a 4-6-0 series that started in Nov. 97. Both were multi part articles, but you can usually pick up back issues of MR cheap enough I'd get one or the other (or both!).
Now don't panic! I'm not suggesting that your first prokect has to be a locomotive! But these articles are so well written for a beginner, there are many tips and tricks on forming brass, soldering etc.. that will really help you with whatever you want to build.
You will need to practice first- like Tatans recommended, get some brass sheet and small odds and ends and play with them. You will also need probably two irons minimum -a big one, like a 100 watt and a smaller 15-25 watt, along with a good flux and the different temp solders. They make it much easier too- solder the big stuff together with the hi temp, then add details with the low temp.
There's a Yahoo group Brasslocobuilders, they're very helpful there. The group started with a big lean towards S scale, but now is more general interest. It really isn't terribly hard, if you are a little careful and very patient! There are a lot of tricks and tips too- Cleanliness is next to Godliness, especially when solder is involved! But with a little trial and error (remember the patience part?) it might almost make you swear off plastic forever!
And if you really get into it, somewhere I've got a link on how to build your own resistance soldering unit I can post. These are the way to go if you want to do a lot of brass work, it cuts down the time (and frustration!) a lot. You can go out and buy a nice American Beauty unit for about $500, but what fun is that? If you're going to build models, might as well build the soldering unit too!
Al
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:21 AM
Here's the website belonging to the guy who wrote the most recent MR article on scratchbuilding the brass steam engine in the late 90's. He's got some tips, etc on this site:

http://home1.gte.net/sfknc5ja/index.html
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, November 17, 2005 6:21 AM
The fact that you are asking how to start in scratchbuilding is a sign that you probably don't have any experience along this line at all. I could be wrong of course.

It's like someone who asked a famous sculptor how he made his fine statues from blocks of marble. His reply was something like "I just take a large block of marble and remove everything that does not look like the subject". It's easy when you know how.

You have to learn how to work with metals, one step at a time. It is a skill that would take many years to achieve, with many failed experiements along the way as you learn the proper methods.

I'd suggest starting something a whole lot easier like scratchbuilding model structures from wood and other materials. Buy yourself several craftsman type kits and build them. Doing this will give you skills that you can later apply to building models from basic materials on your own. Then start on small brass projects.

Good luck!

Bob Boudreau
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Posted by areibel on Thursday, November 17, 2005 7:35 PM
C'mon guys, how about a little encouragement!
I've found that working with brass has very little in common with scratchbuilding from wood or plastic. OK, maybe measuring and laying out something on the stock, and getting the pieces squared up but it changes right there. It is a skill all its own, and anyone who is willing to take their time and practice will be able to accomplish something. And the series of articles in MR are great for beginners, they cover every step. The investment for tools isn't huge, the material isn't really expensive and some people actually ENJOY doing it!
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 18, 2005 7:32 AM
No, I've never scratch built anything. But I figure it is like anything else. Read all you can on the topic, buy the right tools, start with something easy, don't worry if you make mistakes early on, just learn from them and keep gnawing that bone till it cracks.
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Posted by Peter T on Monday, June 27, 2022 11:06 AM

How did you get on??  A long time ago.

Pete

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 10:50 AM

Hi Pete,

I know that you know that the last entry on this thread (before yours) was in 2003. I'm sorry to say that the likelyhood of you getting an answer from the original poster is about 'zero'.

You could continue to ask questions on this thread, but I strongly urge you to start a new thread on the topic. You will have a much better chance of getting answers and starting a meaningful discussion.

I don't expect that you will get a ton of responses simply because not many modelers scratchbuild in brass, but I'm reasonably sure that I could contribute a bit of information. The critter in my avatar is scratchbuilt from brass stock, and I have done several other small projects in brass.

Here are some references that might be helpful:

https://sn2modeler.com/2011/01/29/scratch-building-in-brass-reference-material/

https://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/p/231353/2588863.aspx

https://www.amazon.ca/Scratch-Building-Model-Railway-Locomotives-Bolton/dp/1847977685

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by wvgca on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 8:03 PM

a resistance soldering unit would defitely help, plus a few different grades of solder or solder paste, start with a higher temperatre melt and finish with the lowest temperate melt you have ..

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 8:46 PM

wvgca
a resistance soldering unit would definitely help

Hi wvgca,

I totally agree. I think I will invest in a resistance soldering unit if I decide to do anymore detailed brass scratchbuilding. When I was building the brass critter in my avatar, as well as several others, I was able to use damp paper towels and needle nose pliers with an elastic on the handles to dissipate the heat most of the time. However there more than a few incidents where a previous solder joint decided to come loose.Grumpy

Micro-Mark has resistance soldering units that start at about $200 and go up to $700+. If I go there, I will have to do some research before spending my money.

Wvgca, do you have any suggestions as to what to look for in a resistance soldering iron?

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by wvgca on Saturday, July 2, 2022 6:31 PM

hon30critter

Wvgca, do you have any suggestions as to what to look for in a resistance soldering iron ?

 

no sorry, i made my out of spare parts lying under the bench, was around 5 volts, big amps though , adjustable current was a must ...

it's been a long time since i looked at commercial units, and i have no idea what an equivalent commercial unit would be ...

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