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Welding plastic

RELATED TOPICS: PLASTIC
DeWayne Mink of Goshen, Ohio, dropped by the Tips & Tech workshop with a technique that requires some practice, a steady hand, and a hot soldering iron. Let's see, in DeWayne's own words, what it's all about:

"Regarding Robert Lillibridge's inquiry in a past issue of Scale Auto about plastic welding, your response didn't mention the benefits of using a soldering iron as a welding tool.

"Older promotional models used this method to mount bumpers, interiors, etc., and I've used this procedure to repair and restore model cars since 1978. A similar method has been used on 1:1 vehicles in recent years to repair thermoplastic bumpers, body extensions, and interior trim panels.

"Scrap plastic is heated with a soldering iron to a semiliquid blob. That material is then applied to the area to be repaired. Properly done, it becomes part of the model - just like welding. The material can be sanded and painted instantly. The preferred use is for filling cracks, gouges, small holes and seams. The material should be the same as the plastic the kit is made of - for example, a piece of sprue from the kit being worked on - and try not to mix, say, AMT/Ertl plastic with plastic from a Revell-Monogram kit.

"This technique requires a great deal of care, and is definitely not for children. Do not attempt to plastic-weld glued areas that could create toxic fumes. This procedure will not work on clear plastic, and on AMT kits produced before 1970; however, I've used this technique successfully on later AMT/Ertl, JoHan, Monogram, and Revell models. Patience, practice, and a good needle-tip soldering iron are all that is needed.

"Practice on old bodies and scrap sprue until you reach a comfort level that will allow you to move on to car bodies. Plastic welding is not an end-all in attaching model sections together, but it can be a useful tool in repairing or customizing car models."

This is a relatively advanced technique that's not for unsupervised kids. It should not be attempted unless you have a clear understanding that hot things could burn you and leave a mark. The main thing is to be careful, be safe, and have fun with a new technique.


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