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Construction methods

In model railroading I have applied three different construction methods. Each has it merits. Some people seems to think that soldering is difficult ans would choose noother thing than CA("super")glue. I am not telling they should not. But if soldering is beyond your abilities think again if you want to be a serious modeler. Actually you should be able to apply any of these methods. The table below is to give an indication which construction method is suitable for which situation

Aspect Solder Epoxy glue Cyanoacrylate glue




No limtations

No limitations
Strength of the bond Excellent Good Sufficient
Durability of the bond Decades Decades Some years down to hours 1)
Setting time first "tack" Immediately on cooling, depending on the workpiece. Five minutes 30-60 seconds
Setting full strength Immediately on cooling, depending on the workpiece. 24 hours Some hours
Capilary action High None High 2)
Ease of work Reasonable Medium Good
Ease of removal Good Bad once set Bad
Price Cheap Medium 3) Cheap
Health & safety Toxic when swallowed (duh). Fumes are insignificant when not soldering on a professional ans daily basis    
Heat resistance Good unless heated over the melting point Bad 4) Unknown
Speeds of work Fast Slow Fast



1) Eventually CA will always become brittle. If you model is cleaned from paint in anything like celluloid thinner this happens overnight.

2) that is if you the common thin variant.

3) approximately 70% of the glue is never used, only for mixing.A little bit is used and the rest is thrown away after five minutes.

4) soldering next to a epoxy bond will desintegrate it. Undoubtedly there are heat resistant epoxy glues but they are usually not found in common stores.


Based on their properties the three methods of construction iare preferred in this order:

  1. Soldering is my first choice. Always, no exceptions. A soldered bond is always stronger than a glued bond. It is also more durable.
  2. If soldering is not possible I use five minute epoxy. The bond is reasonably strong once set and can still be manipulated in the first five to ten minutes. Setbacks are that the bond initially is not very strong so it takes time to develop, and it breaks up under heat. So once glued there should be no more soldering in the direct surroundings or the bond will come apart.
  3. Third option but absolute last resort is superglue (cyanoacrylate or CA glue). Advantages are that it sets fast and that it creeps into joins by capillary action. My experience is however that is will become brittle over time and the the bond will inevitably break up over time. That process is greatly accelerated by cellulose thinners so if you dunk you model in thinner to clean it after a failed painting attempt, be sure that some of your CA-glued parts will come astray. I tend to avoid CA at any price.

Learn to solder is my motto. If you are afraid of soldering, many people daunt the prospect, start easy,buy a beginner's kit and accept the risk and the eventuality that you may do it over again. Dare to fail! But don't you not to try again.


To help you getting started in constructing you own loco's I have arranged my completed projects (as per March 2018) in categories from easy to difficult


Flat cars Dutch Ry
This is the one project I would recommend to get into building brass model
Dutch Ry 7851
A simple repair job that should not be beyond any modellers's capabilities
Dutch Class 8600
Cheap and good beginner's kit based on an existing rtr model
Dutch Class 7000 x         In the basis a good beginnersmodel, but it has a design flaw which needs to be avoided (contact me!). As a beginner's loco I would rather recommend the NS 5500
SBB Ae 3/6 II
Good practise in painting
E41 (Märklin 3034)
Good practise in painting
NS 6200
No trouble with building a working frame as an existing rtr model is used
BR 99 Saxon VI K
Simple to assemble, step by step thing. Easy mechanism
Though complex is for its many parts, not overly difficult
SHM 26 tram loco
Nice kit if you build straight from the box, terrible mechanism though
MDC 3tr Shay
Cheap but very difficult to get to run well
NGG 16 Garratt
Mechanisms have very tight clearances. soldering your valve gear is inevitable
Fairlie Merddin Emrys in 7mm
Excellent kit, a dream build



1 = easy, for the beginner with no previous experience

2 = easy, if you have some experience with common modelling techniques and soldering

3 = medium, previous experience is recommended

4 = difficult, many new techniques to be learned, not for the faint hearted

5 = hard.