Scratch Building Tools for Brass Models (TT)

Scratch Building Tools for Brass Models (TT)

Postby TTTerrific » Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:40 pm

I'm getting to the point where I need to start using brass/nickelplate bar, rods, and sheet for some projects in TT that I want to do. I want to give a run at some serious kit-bashing (two Scale Rails SP 0-6-0's) and scratchbuilding an SP Harriman 2-8-0. Times "a-wastin'" and I'm sure as hell not getting any younger.

Right now I need to know what brands, types and sizes of [u]good quality[u] files to purchase. I have two old sets of needle files that I have used for decades, and frankly, they're just about shot.

I'd like this topic to relate to anything that could be useful for building stuff in brass, such as soldering techniques, cutting and grinding and shaping techniques, painting preparation and instructions, brass etching, etc., and the tools needed to accomplish these tasks.

Let's go for it !!! :thumbup:
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Re: Scratch Building Tools for Brass Models (TT)

Postby ConducTTor » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:03 pm

Take a look here for some info - it's the help topic for Norkin's SD45 brass kit: help-topic-for-building-a-model-of-sd45-t985.html
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Re: Scratch Building Tools for Brass Models (TT)

Postby areibel » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:06 pm

If I have to order tools I either get them from Grainger or McMaster- Carr. MicroMark has some but I avoid them if I can, I'm not a fan of the company.

I also buy some stuff (particularly flat files) at the local hardware, Nicholson (sp?) is a good brand that lasts through the abuse I give them!

I'd say a set of decent needle files and a couple flat files (one 6 inch and one bogger, I have a 10) are important, McMaster has a good selection. They have good ones and REALLY good ones, the cheaper ones are fine. I think I spent around $30 on a set of good files, but the best ones are something like $12 each!
A jewlers saw, or a Dremel with either a cut off disc or a slitting blade. My hand saw I got second hand, but most hobby shops carry them. They're more accurate but much slower, unless it's critical I make a mark and cut close with the Dremel and file to the line.
Drill bits, taps and reamers- Drill bits will last a while if you use a little lube with them, plain old WD40 works well. Small bits will break, but one place that's reasonable is Look at their resharpened bits, especially the small #60-#80 ones (that will break when you look at them sometimes). Taps, from 00-90 to 2-56, not real expensive. And reamers, if you get a couple to match the common axle/ hubs like 2mm, 3/16, etc.. I thin most of the stuff on the Scale Rails locos are metric?
Soldering Iron- check out the instructions that Matt Coleman wrote for the SD45- Excellent! I've got a small Weller soldering iron with the adjustable temp range (0-50 watts, I think) that's done almost anything I want to do model wise. If you want to do thick stuff, like building a chassis out of 1/8" strip I'd get one of those small refillable butane torches. You can dial the flame down on them too, I rarely use it full blast. I do have a big 100 watt soldering gun, but the only time I've used it is to take something apart- removing cast details like steam and sand domes, etc.. Way too much to put stuff together with, but it will tear stuff apart in a hurry! I use the flux that Matt recommends, and either the solder he recommends from Eileen's Emporium or a thin electronic solder. It's Kester SN60PB40, .025 diameter part number 24-6040-0018. An electronics guy gave me some to try, I ordered a pound spool from an online electronics supply- a pound will last a loooong time! It is a rosin core solder, but I use the paste flux with it also and haven't had any problems. Just clean everything up well when you're finished and it will behave. It melts really fast and flows great.

What else? A good small square, different grits of emory cloth, clamps and braces, etc.. A couple of those 90 degree clamps have been on my want list but I haven't gotten them yet, but I do have a couple square blocks about 1/2 inch by 1 inch have really helped. A friend actually milled them for me, but I can use a strong magnet to hold pieces to it and keep them in position. And one book I can recommend, Ian Rice's "Etched Locomotive COnstruction" really helped me get started. I think Matt lists it, it was originally recommended to me by John Fisher. I found one on, but I've seen them on Amazon too.
There's probably more, but I'll make another post when I remember it!
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Re: Scratch Building Tools for Brass Models (TT)

Postby TTTerrific » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:24 pm


Thanks for your detailed reply. It was just the response I was hoping for.
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Re: Scratch Building Tools for Brass Models (TT)

Postby WillYart » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:29 am

I have a Nicholson file set that I've been using, it's not bad.
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