Modeling in General: Advice on...
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For a first-time PE builder...
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Delaware, United States
Member Since: April 13, 2011
entire network: 65 Posts
KitMaker Network: 6 Posts
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 - 11:25 AM UTC
Can anyone give me some tips on how exactly to go about working with PE? I don't have any jigs, and am relatively limited in terms of needle-nose pliers, etc.

Essentially I'm very new to serious modelling, and have up until now only been working with kits that were entirely styrene. So now I have a Bronco M1114 HA on my workbench and this nice fat sheet of brass that I'm not entirely sure where to start with.

Any advice would be MUCH appreciated, especially from those who may have built slash are building the same kit!!

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Louisiana, United States
Member Since: March 06, 2010
entire network: 3,128 Posts
KitMaker Network: 169 Posts
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 - 03:19 PM UTC


Just look around this site, and just wait! There are LOTS of really talented PE folks and all sorts of experts who can help...! And NO, I am decidedly NOT either!

BUT, being a relative PE-noob myself... I can sympathize and maybe offer a few suggestions as you start:

I do use the stuff that comes in the kits; I use a good pair of small needle-nose pliers (the sort available at Radio-Shack or Sears or...), and more recently a "Hold N Fold" PE tool. MOST bits seem to be formable with only a couple of bends, which can often be done with the pliers or tweezers. Curves can usually be formed around dowel-rod or other round forms. Having a hardwood, hard plastic or hard rubber cutting surface to work on is good.

STUDY the kit instructions AND learn where what PE piece goes - some are more essential to the kit than are others, and some more complex to make than others. Start your PE experience with the simpler bits.

Study the piece and the diagram showing its finished form before you start bending it - look at where the bend-lines are and think thru which way it will go before you bend. Heating the larger bits in a candle-flame to anneal them helps make them softer and easier to bend.

Take your time.

Some PE comes with sticky plastic film on it- this helps in holding bits when you cut them off the fret and keeps stuff from taking flight to the carpet. GOOD thing!

Use a new, sharp "Exacto" knife to cut thru the tiny connectors on pieces. File the edges down as needed to remove the nubs left when you cut the bit off the fret.

I glue folds and metal bits together with thin cyano-acrylate glue, and glue the PE to the kit with same. Don't know much about soldering - yet, but many folks say that's the way to go for strength...

Enjoy! and Good Luck!

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Jerusalem, Israel
Member Since: February 06, 2009
entire network: 1,507 Posts
KitMaker Network: 195 Posts
Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2011 - 01:02 AM UTC
basically what you need is:
a sharp knife, a metal roller, CA glue, a metal needle or pin and patience.
you can use the knife for cutting, and the roller to help you cut the parts right. the roller would also help you bending and folding. use the needle to take dabs of glue and work your way through the instructions. then you can see if you want to spend money on a folding tool, or if you want to use pe just here and there.
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Kansas, United States
Member Since: December 22, 2004
entire network: 392 Posts
KitMaker Network: 159 Posts
Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2011 - 01:05 AM UTC
Like a lot of modelers I know, I really enjoyed PE - but avoided soldering anything. Over the past couple of years I bit the bullet and I'll tell you, it not only made a huge difference in the quality of my work, it's fun too!
First thing, though .... I also saw no need to invest in any of those hold-em-fold-em thingees. I spent about 20 bucks for a Tamiya PE Bending Plier and it is honestly one of the best purchases I have made in a while. With them I can form about any angle I need, apart from full-length 1/35-scale fenders - which I now bend by securing between two metal rulers and my table top.
Anywho, I use CA to affix PE to styrene, although others on this forum each have really cool ways of doing it, as well.
As for soldering, I did buy a Wahl Iso-Tip Rechargable soldering pen ($50) and use Tix-brand flux and solder. To hold parts for soldering I use Blu-tak, tape or whatever seems to be handy (not my fingers ... found that out the hard way). To solder, I cut the solder "salami-style" into thin little discs, then halve those once or twice if I just need a drop of solder. I then brush a little flux onto the joint you want the solder to run, and add the chips of solder. I heat-up the pen, touch near the joint (not actually making contact with the solder - just heating up the metal) and watch the solder liquify and run down the joint-line. Cool. And, if I can get decent results, anyone can!

Hey, sorry for the ramblings. Remember there are guys frequenting this site that are artists and more than willing to offer any assistance they can. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to post!

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Arkansas, United States
Member Since: June 29, 2009
entire network: 11,610 Posts
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Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2011 - 02:21 AM UTC
I jumped in with both feet on Voyager's full pe set for a BMP. I use two razor blades to bend the pe. I also use CA glue to secure the solder pieces. Some sets of pe need to be anealed, before bending. Remember, you don't have to use every piece of pe in the set. Start with pieces you are comfortable with and move into more difficult bends. The tools I use are 2 razor blades, a candle, ca glue, and drill bits for rolling. On longer pieces, I also use a steel engineer's ruler.
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California, United States
Member Since: October 21, 2007
entire network: 3,684 Posts
KitMaker Network: 411 Posts
Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2011 - 03:19 AM UTC
Some items I would recommend are a #10 X-acto blade which has a curved blade allowing you to 'roll' through the cut, a small piece of plexiglass or acrylic sheet to cut on (put a dark colored piece of construction paper underneath it to see the brass better), and Gator Glue which will give you more working time to position the piece than CA.

The PE that comes with the Bronco kit looks to be fairly straightforward, so a couple of single edge razor blades should handle the bends with ease, and the screens can be formed with drill bits or dowels.
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Delaware, United States
Member Since: April 13, 2011
entire network: 65 Posts
KitMaker Network: 6 Posts
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2011 - 05:26 PM UTC
I couldn't have asked for better advice, thanks so much to everyone. It's good to know that I don't need to drop 50 bucks on specialized tools when a couple razor blades and some CA glue will work just as well!

@James, thank you especially for the scoop on my kit. I'm hoping the PE in that kit will be as straightforward as you suggest, because pretty much everything looks daunting at this stage

What's so special about using cyano-acrylate glue as opposed to other types when bonding PE to styrene? Would I be able to find the stuff easily outside of a modelling store or something?

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Victoria, Australia
Member Since: February 20, 2011
entire network: 87 Posts
KitMaker Network: 8 Posts
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2011 - 11:45 PM UTC
Carrying out my first PE (conversion kit) model now, and talk about the 'drag' side of the learning curve. But, a source of great information here fella's, thanks.

Oh, thanks Neulingkerl for starting the thread, as you can see I'm blundering my way around PE. I've had a couple of gnashing of teeth moments but slowly getting the hang of it.

My biggest lesson is read all the instructions, of who ever is supplying the model kit, the PE, etc, the analogy being: 'measure twice, cut once' rule very much comes into play here.