Working in brass is basic metal working - fret sawing, filing, snipping,
soldering, stamping, punching, coining etc
Brass modelling today is normally done through milling, etching and stamping,
which I'd guess are outside your knowledge.
The only real places for brass in basic scratchbuilding today are in the use of
preformed strip such as K&S sections or for making steam loco underframes from
Plasticard sheet (Styrene) is probably a better medium today for
scratchbuilding - it uses parallel techniques to brass but is much easier to
work (soldering excepted)
Even if you are determined to build in brass, I would suggest you practice and
build in plasticard first to learn the basic techniques.
Nickel silver is better than brass for model work. it takes paint much better.
Plastic sheet - Plastikard is Slaters' trade mark - is not really like brass, or
any other metal. You cannot fold or bend it, it doesn't conduct electricity and
not really like sheet metal to work with.
Sheet metal - that used to include baked bean tins and oil cans in my younger
- is still great for modelling with.
If you want to recommend plastic sheet then why not also suggest brown gummed
paper tape. You can make lots of bits of models with that material, including
boilers and footplates.
Greg Procter wrote:
Carter Braxton wrote:
> I want to build my own brass rolling stock however I've never done
> any work with sheet brass.
> Can anyone refer me to a website that can give me the basic
Have a look here:
Although you probably aren't modelling the railways of Hungary, János'
techniques and methods are sound, and his results are excellent.
All the best,
Sheet brass cuts with tin snips or shears, or a saw, or a Dremel
abrasive cut off disk, or files. Accuracy of cuts is all important,
unless the size of each piece is EXACTLY right, the resulting model will
not go together well and will look poorly upon completion.
The tools used for layout (scribe, square, straight edge, scale rule,
dividers, center punch, calipers) are the most important ones. You
begin the project by doing the most careful possible layout of each
piece, scribing the cut lines onto the brass stock. For layout you need
accurate scale drawings of the final model to work from. These can be
found in the older Model Railroader magazines, on the net, or made. Then
you cut them as accurately as you can, and then you file the edges of
the cuts until an EXACTLY straight and clean edge is formed. Parts that
must match, such as the right and lefthand side of a car, can be clamped
together and filed together to so that they come out identical.
Brass parts are joined with 60-40 tin-lead solder. Brass conducts
heat well, which means that as you heat the part to soldering
temperature the entire part gets hot enough to melt solder. Which can
cause trouble if several different parts must be soldered together.
Consider the brass floor of a car, to which it is desired to solder a
fishbelly beam, numerous cross ribs, brake gear, and a battery box. As
I heat the floor piece up to solder temp, the entire floor gets hot, and
ALL the solder joints melt. This means I must apply and clamp some how
(if only by gravity) ALL the parts attaching to the floor. I cannot
solder them on one by one, because each time I heat the floor hot enough
to melt solder, I melt the previously soldered joints, with the result
that the previously soldered parts come loose and fall off.
Skill comes with practice. Your first brass model will be a little
shabby, but the next one will be better. And the next one better still.
I prefer paper books and articles - you'll print out what you find on a
website anyhow, so why not go directly to a good paper source? It'll be
cheaper, too, what with the price of ink for inkjets, and such.
John Ahern's "Miniature Locomotive Construction" is still one of the
best books on the subject. It's British, but the techniques aren't
limited to GWR Saints and Halls in OO gauge. :-) Actually, it includes a
chapter on American locos. It has been reprinted a few times, so you
should be able to find a copy.
Mel Thornburgh wrote a series of articles for Model Railroader on
building a brass loco ("Thornburgh Builds a Wabash Mogul", January to
June 1959). More recently. Stephen Anderson showed how: "Building an HO
4-6-0 in Brass", October 1997 - May 1998. If you can't find copies of
these issues. Bob Walker wrote "How I Scratchbuilt My First Steam
Locomotive" for Railroad Model Craftsman, October 1980-January 1981. MR
and RMC will sell you photocopies of the articles. NMRA's library is
another source of photocopies.
There have been many articles in MR and Railroad Model Craftsamn on
building specific items of rolling stcok in brass, look for issues from
the 1950s and 1960s.
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