Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

white metal kits

1639 views
28 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    May 2017
  • 7 posts
white metal kits
Posted by Pete GN on Monday, January 10, 2022 7:36 PM

Greetings all. I would like to use low melt solder to put together a bunch of white metal kits.  I need  the solder and flux and the only places that appear to carry the correct items is in the UK. I was thinking that maybe they are banned here in the ole USA. There are multiple places overseas are there any sources here?

I was thinking maybe jewlery making  supplies or maybe the solder used in stain glass window making.

I believe if I can find what I have below I can do something new instead of worring about frozen pipes and snow!

Thanks

 70 degree solder; low melt solder for assembly of white metal castings 

 Yellow Label Flux; For soldering brass, nickel silver, white metal and pewter (acid base) 

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 20,213 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 9:11 AM

When I have a small white metal kit, I make sure I clean off all the metal flashing and check that mating surfaces are square and flat.  I clean the parts thoroughly and then assemble the kit with small amounts of CA glue.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    November 2013
  • 2,049 posts
Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 9:24 AM

Yes, CA works fine. These Metals melt at low temperatures.

Simon

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 11,023 posts
Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 9:34 AM

[deleted posting - I misunderstood the issue]

DN

  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 7,337 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 9:36 AM

Pete GN

 

I was thinking maybe jewlery making  supplies or maybe the solder used in stain glass window making.

 

 

I've worked in the jewelry field, and I don't recall anything like that.  I also checked the website of my supplier, and didn't find it.

I had a friend who worked stained glass, and he used regular tin/lead solder--nothing special there.

It does appear you're going to have to "import" it.

I recommend making good efforts to ventilate your workspace when using this solder.

 

I do thank you for bringing the subject up.  Interesting stuff!

 

 

Ed

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 6,773 posts
Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 10:02 AM

Why?????????????? White metal is  soft with lead in it. Yes it can be soldered but then you need to file it to get the fit you get just using CA.

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 12,387 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 6:47 PM

The majority of white metal kits that I've built had some incompletely-cast parts, while most of the other parts had a lot of flash - not difficult to remove, but I'm generally not impressed with such kits.  I wouldn't even attempt to solder them together.

7j43k
I had a friend who worked stained glass, and he used regular tin/lead solder--nothing special there.


I bought, at a garage sale, a soldering iron that was used by the owner for making stained glass projects.  Rated at 200 watts, if left plugged-in, the entire shaft, from the handle to the tip, would glow a very hot-looking orange...great for making quick work when soldering flex track together - and you'd better believe that the work needed to be quick, if you wanted to have any ties left.

 

dknelson
I believe it is also common advice not to smoke while handling lead (well yeah, don't smoke at all, but especially when handling lead. Not sure what the extra danger is.) Dave Nelson

I often make lead castings for car weights, but the process uses only a plumber's propane-type torch...just enough heat to melt the lead - for that, I've never smelled an odour of lead.
However, during a lay-off of some workers at the steel plant where I worked, I was transferred to another rolling mill. 
On several occasions, we were warned that the ingots to be rolled had a very high lead content, and that two-stage respirators were to be worn by all employees.

Many of that mill's regular employees declined use of the respirators, but once I got a whiff of that very distinctive smell, there was no way I'd not use the respirator....it sorta explained the conditions that some of those regulars displayed. 

As I understand it, handling lead, and the cigarette supposedly might transfer lead from your fingers to the cigarette paper, which, as the cigarette burns, the smoker inhales.  Seems a little far fetched to me, unless one is both a regular handler of lead and a heavy smoker, too.

Wayne

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,359 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 8:23 PM

My jeweler who made my wife's jewelry does not ever use low melt solder.  I'm pretty sure it is considered to be low quality and inferior metal for jewelry items that actually do take a lot of relative punishment over their lifetimes.

As a former employee of a model train company that made white metal kits in the USA, we never ever recommended soldering them together.  Some were lead and some were zinc.  Goo was primarily recommended back then, as it remains flexible for long periods of time, and now there are other adhesives that can also be used.

Oh, and Samhongsa and Ajin used low temperature solder on their earlier brass models.  Those solder joints fail too easily with parts falling off the models.  Some were baked in an oven; they used a paste containing low temperature solder to allow "neater" assembly.  It did not take long for Samhongsa and Ajin to cease using low temperature solder.  Parts falling off completed, painted, detailed and weathered models become a problem.  It is difficult to put loose parts back on without marring the finished models.

For all those reasons I would stick to the best glues available, and I would use something that isn't straight CA because you want long term durability/flexibility of the joints.

John

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,359 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 8:30 PM

The danger of getting lead on your hands and cigarettes is also that you might eat it.

Lava soap works well but likely doesn't get all of it off your hands (when working in a model train factory).

John

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: St. Paul
  • 791 posts
Posted by garya on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 11:09 AM

I have some old Bowser steam kits that have very heavy boilers.  I suspect they are lead.  When building, I was very careful to wash my hands after working with them.  I used CA to attach the detail parts.

Gary

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 18,225 posts
Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 1:26 PM

Take a look at the specs for Tix solder (and its special flux which I advise you use liberally).

There is a wide range of indium solders, including eutectics, in the range of temperatures above the boiling point of water (i.e. Field's metal, which has no lead or cadmium, instead  of Wood's metal).  Some of these work nicely with the temperature range of 'rework' style heat guns or even a 'ducted bleed' from a hairdryer.  Some of the fluxes suitable for these indium solders might work for the 'Cerro' alloys, which are said to be far from eutectics even though Wood's metal is said to be eutectic..  (The indium alloys are not 'cheap' or 'low quality' but they can be eye-wateringly expensive to buy in hobby quantities as indium has extensive alternative use (e.g. in conductive transparent indium tin oxide). 

I would consider using a good two-part epoxy as an adhesive rather than a filled cyanoacrylate for many of the joins in these white-metal kits, as the fitting requirements are less and often the joint can be reinforced with a fillet at the back.  Some epoxies can be loaded with appropriate powder to increase toughness in thin sections.  Certainly the rubber 'thio' adhesives like Pliobond or the original Walthers Goo are suitable if you want a flexible rather than rigid bond.

The problem with smoking while working lead is that the small particles of lead that produce the 'metallic odor' adsorb readily onto particles in the smoke and are carried in large quantities into the lungs -- in similar manner to the finely divided lead oxide from tetraethyl lead gasoline combustion.

  • Member since
    January 2010
  • From: Currently in Chicago area
  • 604 posts
Posted by up831 on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 1:47 PM

Most metals used in jewelry making melt at 1200 degrees And above.  A few solder strips will melt at slightly less temps.  

Less is more,...more or less!

Jim (with a nod to Mies Van Der Rohe)

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 14,699 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 10:52 PM

I am not understanding what needed product is unobtainable in the USA.

-Kevin

Happily modeling in HO scale. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 7,337 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 11:02 PM

SeeYou190

I am not understanding what needed product is unobtainable in the USA.

-Kevin

 

 

A solder that melts at a temperture below the melting point of the white metal kits.  It MAY be obtainable, but it certainly isn't obvious if you look for it.

I recommend that the OP order it from the far far reaches of London.  Or wherever.  It is CLEARLY too dangerous for Yankees and their ilk to contact.

Or.

The OP COULD use epoxy.  However, the OP may indeed not be interested in bonding little bits of metal together; and may be much more interested in stirring up the aforesaid Yankees.  And other pathetic rifraff. Or is it riffraff.  Or.....

 

Ed

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 11,329 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 11:10 PM

Overmod

Take a look at the specs for Tix solder (and its special flux which I advise you use liberally).

There is a wide range of indium solders, including eutectics, in the range of temperatures above the boiling point of water (i.e. Field's metal, which has no lead or cadmium, instead  of Wood's metal).  Some of these work nicely with the temperature range of 'rework' style heat guns or even a 'ducted bleed' from a hairdryer.  Some of the fluxes suitable for these indium solders might work for the 'Cerro' alloys, which are said to be far from eutectics even though Wood's metal is said to be eutectic..  (The indium alloys are not 'cheap' or 'low quality' but they can be eye-wateringly expensive to buy in hobby quantities as indium has extensive alternative use (e.g. in conductive transparent indium tin oxide). 

I would consider using a good two-part epoxy as an adhesive rather than a filled cyanoacrylate for many of the joins in these white-metal kits, as the fitting requirements are less and often the joint can be reinforced with a fillet at the back.  Some epoxies can be loaded with appropriate powder to increase toughness in thin sections.  Certainly the rubber 'thio' adhesives like Pliobond or the original Walthers Goo are suitable if you want a flexible rather than rigid bond.

The problem with smoking while working lead is that the small particles of lead that produce the 'metallic odor' adsorb readily onto particles in the smoke and are carried in large quantities into the lungs -- in similar manner to the finely divided lead oxide from tetraethyl lead gasoline combustion.

 

I second the epoxy choice, I strongly dislike CA adhesives and use them as little as possible.

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 7,337 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 11:23 PM

Sheldon,

I have been describing my use of epoxy for years, and it's as if I'm yelling.........

Nope.  They don't want to hear about it.

If it doesn't have "super" or "gorilla" in it, don't waste your time.

Oddly, I haven't seen "super gorilla" yet.  Mighta blinked.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    January 2010
  • From: Chi-Town
  • 7,646 posts
Posted by zstripe on Thursday, January 13, 2022 8:11 AM

To go along with the untruths in this thread?

An engine built with low melt solder:

Take Care! Smile, Wink & Grin

Frank

PS: White Metal kits?

Just two of over 150 vehicles of white metal/pewter kits using brass parts/piano wire and Zap- A -Gap medium CA. Not one vehicle has ever fallen apart due to the adhesive I used in building these kits for Myself or clients.

Photo may be clicked on for larger view.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 14,699 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, January 13, 2022 11:12 AM

So is "White Metal" just a generic term for any pewter-like alloy that might or might-not contain lead?

-Kevin

Happily modeling in HO scale. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • 1,410 posts
Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, January 14, 2022 7:27 PM

I love white metal kits and castings. I have hundreds of them on the layout. While they are old technology, the beauty of white metal kits and castings is that there are literally thousands of unique items that are only available as white metal parts/kits.

A few comments based on my experience:

1.       Check the kit/casting for detail and casting quality. Look for fine detail in the castings and check to make sure that the mold registration is as accurate as possible. Many times, the molds will be off skew and depending on the severity of the misalignment, it can make the part unusable. This is especially noticeable in things like wheels and pulleys.

2.       Plan on filing and using a knife to clean up the castings. The main issue will be getting rid of the flash and the parting lines. Make extra effort to make sure that the part is as smooth as possible with no parting lines visible. Don’t be afraid to go after a part with a file to get it right.  I use a set of small files and a hobby knife for this process.

3.       I use CA most of the time for assembly. Epoxy will work but clean up is a hassle and I find it is unnecessarily cumbersome to work with. CA works quite well and is plenty strong for most applications.

4.       There are lots of high-quality castings and kits out there. Many are OOP at this point but good castings can be found from the following manufacturers: Kadee, Lytler and Lytler, Western Scale Models, SS LTD, Rio Grande Models, AMB, Diamond Scale, etc…..

5.       While I enjoy the old school, if you have a choice between clean plastic/shapeways parts or white metal, I would go with the plastic/shapeways when possible. The main issue is variety of offerings.

 Here is a road grader from Rio Grande Models. Unusual white metal kit.

 

 In this shot there are several white metal details including the miner and the burros. The miner and his brethren came pre-painted.

To the OP: What kits are you building? I would not use solder to join the parts unless it was an engine kit. Even then, if strength and handling durability were an issue, I might use epoxy instead of soldering.

Have fun,

Guy

 

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • 1,410 posts
Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, January 14, 2022 7:30 PM

SeeYou190

So is "White Metal" just a generic term for any pewter-like alloy that might or might-not contain lead?

-Kevin

 

 

Kevin,

Yes you pretty much nailed it. I always presume there is lead in the metal but that is not always the case.

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 11,329 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, January 15, 2022 8:53 AM

trainnut1250

 

...........

 

3.       I use CA most of the time for assembly. Epoxy will work but clean up is a hassle and I find it is unnecessarily cumbersome to work with. CA works quite well and is plenty strong for most applications.

..........

To the OP: What kits are you building? I would not use solder to join the parts unless it was an engine kit. Even then, if strength and handling durability were an issue, I might use epoxy instead of soldering.

Have fun,

Guy

 

 

The problems with CA in my opinion, are not while you are building the model,yes it works fine.

The problems are:

Poor shelf life.

High maintenance of bottle tips, applicator nozzles, etc.

Lack of strength/brittle connection over the long term.

Sure, if you glue something and never have to touch it again.....

What is the "cleanup' issue with epoxy? I never have any trouble just getting it where I need it. Don't want it on your hands, wear latex gloves.

Took me a long time to get into that, but now I wear them to do a lot of things, plumbing work, automotive/mechanical work, and some model building, to keep grease, dirt, glue and lead off my hands.

I save scrap legal pad backs to make mixing pads and have lots of toothpicks on hand.

My bottles of product never clog or have shelf life issues.

And I could be wrong, but I think epoxy has an overall cost advantage.

Sheldon 

    

  • Member since
    May 2021
  • 25 posts
Posted by dennis461 on Saturday, January 15, 2022 9:57 AM

Not hard to find...

low temperature solder, in Google

https://www.digikey.com/en/product-highlight/c/chip-quik/low-temperature-indium-solder-wire

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • 1,410 posts
Posted by trainnut1250 on Saturday, January 15, 2022 11:21 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
trainnut1250

 

...........

 

3.       I use CA most of the time for assembly. Epoxy will work but clean up is a hassle and I find it is unnecessarily cumbersome to work with. CA works quite well and is plenty strong for most applications.

..........

To the OP: What kits are you building? I would not use solder to join the parts unless it was an engine kit. Even then, if strength and handling durability were an issue, I might use epoxy instead of soldering.

Have fun,

Guy

 

 

 

 

The problems with CA in my opinion, are not while you are building the model,yes it works fine.

The problems are:

Poor shelf life.

High maintenance of bottle tips, applicator nozzles, etc.

Lack of strength/brittle connection over the long term.

Sure, if you glue something and never have to touch it again.....

What is the "cleanup' issue with epoxy? I never have any trouble just getting it where I need it. Don't want it on your hands, wear latex gloves.

Took me a long time to get into that, but now I wear them to do a lot of things, plumbing work, automotive/mechanical work, and some model building, to keep grease, dirt, glue and lead off my hands.

I save scrap legal pad backs to make mixing pads and have lots of toothpicks on hand.

My bottles of product never clog or have shelf life issues.

And I could be wrong, but I think epoxy has an overall cost advantage.

Sheldon 

 

 

Sheldon,

Everyone has their own ways to do things. Some people are allergic to CA and others just like other methods. I was making suggestions from my considerable experience working with white metal kits.

CA does NOT fall apart over time when used correctly. I have kits that I built 30 years ago with CA, no problems, including lots of rolling stock that has been in use on the layout. I suspect if people are having problems in this regard the models were not assembled well or the glue was very old. There are instances where I might use epoxy rather than CA if I want more strength but that is pretty rare.

CA does have a shelf life after the bottle is opened, but that isnt a problem for me. After a few months of being opened, it does go bad. There are ways to deal with this but I haven't found it to be a big problem. I always have a few spare unopened bottles laying around.

CA does have issues with clogging bottles, but so does white glue and sometimes plastic glue applicators as well. To mange this, I squeeze a small amount out of the bottle into a can lid and use the glue until it gets stale and then squeeze more out of the bottle - I don't apply glue from the bottle directly on the model - clogging is not that big of a deal. I keep a piece of wire handy to clean out the tip.

Epoxy has two issues that make it less desirable for me to use - one is that I have to mix it up. A real pain when you may be using little bits of it over several hours...Am I leaving the old batch to slowly get stale or am I constantly mixing up new glue?

Second is that epoxy is often too thick for white metal applications - hence ooze and clean up problems I mentioned earlier.

CA has aonther advantage in that it grabs quickly allowing assembly to move forward at more rapid pace. Sure you can use 5 minute epoxy but then you are constantly mixing up glue.

Besides myself, I know lots of people who build these kits - we are talking experience in the thousands of assemblies over the last 30 years - everyone uses CA....

Your mileage may vary,

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 11,329 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, January 15, 2022 12:00 PM

Yes, I mostly use 5 minute epoxy.

Yes I mix small batches and do not use it past its "open" window.

Yes I do use CA for some things, it does seem to go bad before I get to the next project. CA is just not my automatic "go to" for disimilar or metal materials.

I use mostly liquid cements for plastics so no clogged tip issues there. I never use white glue (yellow Titebond) from the dispenser tip.......

Yes, we all have different comfort levels with different materials, and I too have been building resin kits as long as they have been around and metal kits since the early 70's.

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    May 2017
  • 7 posts
Posted by Pete GN on Saturday, January 15, 2022 5:18 PM

Thanks Ed. I went through my jewelry making supplies and talked to a freind that does stained glass and the solders and fluxes used are not compatable with what I want to do and I kind of figured that.

My work area is set up with ventilation both at the airbrush station and a portable dest top unit I made on the work bench that basically sucks the fumes of anything I'm working on through a filter and out the shop. I also wear a good respirator mask when I'm working on anything that may harm my lungs (I want to enjoy retirement for a long time!).

I have used basically all the expoxies, CA's and other glues out there on many kits and projects. I was bored so to speak and found a very good video on ytube by a gentelman from England using low temp solder to put together O scale wagon kits. I thought I would try it but I cannot find a source here in the USA. The shipping is enough to make it a no-go and they can't ship the flux to the US.

It still intrests me and I am always intrested in expanding my skills.

Pete

  • Member since
    May 2017
  • 7 posts
Posted by Pete GN on Saturday, January 15, 2022 5:33 PM

Frank, those vehicles look fantastic! I am working on some GHQ dozers and a grader (don't know who made it as I found all the loose pieces at the bottom of a box!). I also just got a resin kit from Wheels of Time HD21 side boom tractor (everything is HO). I am usein thick CA (maxi-cure) and my stand by two part expoxies.

The low temp solder would be for the "white metal" or "pewter" structure kits I have and I wanted to do  something different as I usally use glues when assembling.

 

Pete

  • Member since
    May 2017
  • 7 posts
Posted by Pete GN on Saturday, January 15, 2022 5:45 PM

Thanks Guy. That grader reminds me of stuff my Grandfather had back 50 years ago. 

I'm not thinking of solder on these types of kits just wanting to do something different on the structure kits I have. It is tedious to clean up all the flash on the older kits and deal with voids (some of the worst ones end up in the HO junk yard). But overall , sometimes it is relaxing to do the extra work and it is a world of difference to build a well made plastic or resin kit.

Oh and I am well aware of the lead hazards, 38 years at the qualifing range and more reloaded ammo then I can count makes me very carefull!

 

-Pete

  • Member since
    May 2017
  • 7 posts
Posted by Pete GN on Saturday, January 15, 2022 5:50 PM

Thanks but it is not the same stuff, too high of a melting point. The stuff I'm looking for melts at 158F , refered to in England as 70 degree solder

  • Member since
    May 2017
  • 7 posts
Posted by Pete GN on Monday, January 17, 2022 12:46 AM

So on Saturday I sat down and replied to most of the comments and felt pretty good. I have no clue what happened to them as I do not see them anywhere. Just to say that I enjoyed them and thank you!

To fill in some blanks my work bench has a small fan that takes in the fumes of whatever I'm working on and vents them away and can vent to the outside as my airbursh station does. Safety first as I'm new to retirement and want to continue of for many years to come! I know about lead, 38 years + at range qualifications and competition shooting, reloading countless rounds has taught me of the dangers long ago.

At this stage in model railroading , I now have both the time and the room to set up a layout in a 24x24 heated room and plan on it to be about 17x24 of the total. It will be HO, focused on the Great Northern with the SP&S and NP with alittle Milwaulkee thrown in. 1940's and 50's out here in the Pacific Northwest. It will be my forth layout but will not have to be moved and dismanteled to make room for "new" members of the household as the kids are all grown and on thier own.

I have put together lots of kits over the years using just about every construction method out there. Ihave a pretty extensive collection of MR (going back to the late 30's) , MRC , Mainline Modeler also going back to the first couple of issues. I would be fibbing if I said I have read every word in each but I can say I have gone thru every page over the years.

I was woundering about the low temp solder method as something I have never worked with to put together "white metal" or "pewter" structure kits. For any vehicle kits, metal, plastic or resin, I use two part epoxie, CA or plastic weld type adheisives.

From the WEB all I can find are solders with melting point well aboue 158F. There are some that would work but are VERY expensive. Most of the outlets for the stuff that I'm looking for is in England and they say they can't ship the flux and the shipping over all is cost prohibitive.

Thank you all for the replies and I hope this one gets to where it can be read. I got alot to figure out using this format!

-Pete

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!