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Bending Plastikard - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 11:41 am
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Brookwood
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When I came to clad my bridge in Plastikard I found it relatively easy to cut and join two sheet edges together and with a bit of filler and primer paint the joint all but disappeared. But when it came to the corners I was faced with some pretty raw edges and a lot of fiddling to get the mortar lines lined up. As a beginner in the Plastikard World I found filling the edges to make them look neat, as though they were actually built instead of stuck on, to be time consuming and fiddly.


So having an engineering background and bone idle I looked for an easier solution.


I first researched the Internet and a few model railway forums and then decided to do my own experimenting.


Plastikard cold; cuts easily and snaps easily which wasn’t what I wanted. So I tried a little heat. I also found it melts easily.


I tried all sorts of heat application from hair dryers, to hot air guns, to bag sealers, I did however stop short at the oxy-acetylene torch.


Then I found the answer was laying on my bench all the time; the humble soldering iron.


I marked the back of the Plastikard where I wanted the fold to be, held it down with a steel ruler, which acted as a heat sink, and by running the tip of the soldering iron up and down the edge of the rule I melted a groove in the back of the plastic. I would recommend using a old tip to your soldering iron or if it isn’t easily replaceable then be prepared to thoroughly clean the tip after use, you don’t want any plastic residue mixing with your solder. You may not like the smell of melting plastic either so be prepared to do it in a well ventilated area.






By quickly folding the plastic up towards the rule, (by quickly I mean you don’t have time to put the soldering iron down so mind you don’t burn your fingers in your haste), I found the plastic moved and folded easily and stayed where it was when it cooled.




Like everything else in life it takes practice but within about ten minutes I was getting the hang of it. Too much heat and the plastic distorts but just the right amount can get you a neat right angle bend that is permanent.




I was working in 00 gauge but using 0 gauge stonework so the embossing is quite dramatic and shows up a lot at the corners and I had 24 of them to do. There isn’t quite the same problem in brickwork in 00 gauge.



The problem for me.



The solution for me.


I hope the above helps someone who may be getting frustrated at turning corners.

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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 12:45 pm
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Spurno
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That's a hell of a difference between the two Chris.The end result looks great.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 12:51 pm
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Dorsetmike
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I would guess that a temperature controlled iron would be ideal for that application, my 30 year old Weller is adjustable from ambient to about 450ºC.. Some of the cheaper ones (Maplins among others) are not adjustable below 150ºC, which is too high for white metal and probably for plastic work like this.

One thing to remember with temp controlled soldering irons is that they initially heat to a good bit over the set temperature before settling back to the set value (I believe the same applies to the iron you (or 'er indoors)  use on your shirts.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 01:01 pm
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Brossard
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That is a very imaginative way to solve the problem Brookwood.  I prefer to laminate 0.040" plastic card with Slaters embossed sheet. 
My brick corners haven't been too bad after overlapping, cutting and sanding.  I'll certainly bear this in mind for the future.


I just bought a Weller temperature controlled soldering station Mike.  Watching Tony Wright make whitemetal loco kits in his Right Track DVD convinced me this is something I should have.  I have been soldering whitemetal using a standalone Weller which has been successful - no idea of tip temperature.  The system I just bought has a means to measure and readback tip temp. so that should be useful.


John



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 03:44 pm
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Dorsetmike
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Just had a trawl through Google for low temp irons suitable for white metal - 100ºC or less,

I would suggest snapping up this one, less that 50% of next best price!

http://www.themodeller.com/Products/Weller-WHS40-Special-Temperature-Controlled-Soldering-Station__EXP-77699.aspx




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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 03:57 pm
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Spurno
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Mine cost me £8.00 from Lidl.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 04:53 pm
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Brookwood
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I have a temperature controlled iron and for this job it was set on maximum because that is where I left it. The temperature is not critical for two reasons. A: the rule acts as a heat sink and B: you can regulate the speed at which you work.

If the iron is hot, work quickly, if cool you have a bit more time but it just takes practise.

It is surprising how quickly you get used to doing it. I prepared the Plastikard for all five piers and two abutments in about three quarters of an hour after a bit of practise with scrap first.

Even sticking the plastic to the card is easy because the plastic goes on in one piece so there is very little lining up to do.

If you look on Keyford Junction in Member's Projects you will see that the outside of the plastic goes white right on the corners but that is soon hidden by the paint.

If you are over enthusiastic with the iron you may still get the odd hole right on the corner but that is also soon hidden.

Have fun.

Chris

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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 05:35 pm
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Dorsetmike
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spurno wrote: Mine cost me £8.00 from Lidl.


What is the lowest temperature you can set Alan? I couldn't find any tech details of the Lidl one. White metal  will usually melt at around 140ºC, it does depend on the kit manufacturer and the make up of the alloy. Some white metal alloys used for aother applications may not melt until 350ºC. I've also had a kit which started to melt at 120ºC.

I always test a piece of sprue from a kit with the iron and then make sure the iron is set about 20 - 30ºC below that.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 06:00 pm
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Spurno
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I'll have a look and get back to you Mike.The only reason i bought a cheapie is that i'd done all my soldering and just need it now for general use.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 06:34 pm
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Spurno
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Dorsetmike wrote: spurno wrote: Mine cost me £8.00 from Lidl.


What is the lowest temperature you can set Alan? I couldn't find any tech details of the Lidl one. White metal  will usually melt at around 140ºC, it does depend on the kit manufacturer and the make up of the alloy. Some white metal alloys used for aother applications may not melt until 350ºC. I've also had a kit which started to melt at 120ºC.

I always test a piece of sprue from a kit with the iron and then make sure the iron is set about 20 - 30ºC below that.


Mike,temperature range is 100-500 watts.Being a cheapie there is no temp readout just a dial so it's a bit hit and miss but for the price i can live with that.It came with two tips and two small rolls of flux.If you look on Lidl's site they repeat the offers every so often.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 06:39 pm
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Brossard
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We are rapidly deviating from the object of the thread but I was curious about soldering iron tip temperature and found this:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh9pWu6K6tc


A 40 W iron will have a tip temp of 650F or 345C.  What is remarkable is how fast the tip temp drops as you work.


John 



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 06:59 pm
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Dorsetmike
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That is probably true of an uncontrolled iron; temperature controlled irons can be any wattage but are controlled by a thermostat switching it on and off to maintain the temperature set within a few degrees.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 07:11 pm
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Spurno
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Apologies to Chris for going off topic.



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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 07:31 pm
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allan downes
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Hi Brookwood.

Ordinary styrene sheet is a different kind of plastic from the slaters stone sheets you use.

However, Slaters heavy vac formed stone sheeting can be coaxed around right angles by running a generous fillet of Evostik impact adehesive down along the inside of the fold which after about 5 minutes will soften the plastic enough for it to bend.

When bending thicker material such as the 2mm thick Wills stone sheets, the diagram and harbour wall shot below shows how I bend it around chimey stacks and right angles in general.

Hope this helps.

Allan.





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 Posted: Sat Sep 14th, 2013 07:41 pm
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Brossard
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Yes Mike, the video measures an uncontrolled iron.  I was curious because I have been soldering WM with my 40W.  I suffered no ill effects but I think it's the giddy limit.

John



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 Posted: Sun Sep 15th, 2013 05:26 pm
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Mike
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I've got a vari-heat pyrograph somewhere, it should be ideal for bending plastic.
Wonder where it is?
There's one on Amazon at £59.00 which set my wallet all a-tremble:???:



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 Posted: Sun Sep 15th, 2013 06:23 pm
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60019Bittern
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I've tried scoring the back of the fold with a v shaped score using an old blade then heating the plasticard with hot water and bending carefully. It seems to work ok, but again practice makes perfect.



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