How to work brass

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 techniques?

Thanks/ Carter Braxton

Reply to
Carter Braxton
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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 strip brass.

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.

Regards, Greg.P.

Reply to
Greg Procter

Have a look here:

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Although you probably aren't modelling the railways of Hungary, János' techniques and methods are sound, and his results are excellent.

All the best,


Reply to

Nickel silver isn't readily available in NZ so I can't claim any experience with it, other than miserly quantities imported from the UK for making valve gear.

We live and learn - I thought it was a generic name!

True, but many techniques learned in working plastic are applicable to brass etc. (cutting, snipping, filing, shaping)

True! :-)

Card and brown gummed paper tape require moisture proofing, with shellac or a similar substance, which has no direct equivalent in brass or plastic working.

Reply to
Greg Procter

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 is not really like sheet metal to work with.

Sheet metal - that used to include baked bean tins and oil cans in my younger days

- 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:

Reply to
Dick Ganderton

Carter Braxton wrote:

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.

David Starr

Reply to
David J. Starr

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.

Good hunting!

Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir

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