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Tips, Tips and more Tips

With a little patience and practice you could be building models such as this 1936 Ford Phantom 3 window Ute by Jeff Cooper using a Jaymar resin body and finished in maroon. (The real “Aussie” ute actually had a 5 window body). We have included some tips below to help you on your way to better model building. Check out some of the sites on our links page to see more tips from manufacturers and other model builders or take a look at some of the many models Andy has made during his 36 years of modelling experience.

  • Always square off any part joins with a file or similar – a cheap and easy to use file are those emery boards used to manicure fingernails, obtained at your local pharmacy or dept store, you can usually get packs of 10-20 for less than $2.00. 

  • Want an easy to use model car/truck body holder? Get hold of an old wire coat hanger, hold it with the hook up then fold both corners together. The piece of horizontal wire that you bent should be squared off to fit inside the model body shell and the end with the hook on it turned 90 degrees so that the finished hanger will sit on a table or bench- adjust the bend inside the model body to provide enough tension to hold it secure but not enough to push the model body out of shape.

  • When you use small cans or bottles of paint to brush details on your model make sure you STIR the paint well using a metal nail (a piece of model sprue or tree can be used but be careful you don’t cut small slivers of paint off on the inside edge of the paint tin) – then place some mixed paint on the upturned tin lid and take paint from here – because the paint from here is only a mm thick there is less chance of the paint pigment settling back down in the can and changing colour.

  • Losing Parts? A good idea is to get some zip lock bags/lunch bags to put trees/sprues in as soon as you open the box- coin bags from the bank also work well, also place easily damaged parts like windows, decals, ete in bags to protect them.

  • Rather than waste the great candy/flake/pearl pressure pack you just bought, trying to get the hang of how to use a spray pak properly, get some cheap dept store spray pack and practice using it on an old model or toy before painting that new kit. Oh and always place a pressure pack in WARM water for a few minutes (if its too hot to put your elbow in its too hot for the pressure pack!!) – also remember to dry any water off the paint can thoroughly.

  • A good rule of thumb when mixing paint for an airbrush is to have it the consistency of milk and remember that you should use at least twice the volume of thinners or whatever in cleaning an airbrush after use as you used in painting – an airbrush is clean when clean thinners is put in the jar and when sprayed comes out clean.

  • A good way to remove marks from windows and canopies is to use 600 grit then 1200 grit wet & dry paper (with lots of water!!), then use a plastic polish like Bare Metal Plastic Polish to remove the fine scratches. Ordinary toothpaste (not the gel type) can be used as well as silver or brass polish but make sure you use it on a damp cloth.

  • The best way to replicate red or blue anodizing like that found on AN fittings used on race cars is to use transparent red/blue paints tho’ not all shops carry them -an alternative is to check your red/blue metallic paints- most have a colour medium with the heavier silver based pigment at the bottom of the bottle or can – just open the can or bottle and DON’T mix the paint – use the colour medium floating on top without touching the pigment underneath – you’ll be surprised how close it looks – this can also be used when you get a kit that doesn’t have red plastic tailight lenses or the lenses are chrome plated. 

  • When building aircraft with tricycle landing gear it is sometimes hard to find sufficient space in the nose of the model to place enough weight to keep the tail off the ground – obviously the more weight in the nose of the plane the better but other places such as engine nacelles, propeller spinners (if fitted), inside fuel drop tanks and bombs (if in front of the main or wing landing gear), inside gun turrets, inside radar domes, in fact anywhere you can find will do. Your local fishing tackle shop has a great range of small lead sinkers, some only a few mm in size – just remember if using sinkers that they are made of lead and try not to handle them any more than necessary and wash your hands after!