Building Tips

Tips on Building SCALEdown model tractor kits by owner Nigel Ford
Image 1

 Parts board (left) of kit T101 FORD 5000.See additional image 3 on its page for closer detail.

SCALEdown Models 1/32 scale tractor kits: A guide to their building by the company owner Nigel Ford.

Simple tips to building the perfect model tractor kit:
  • Identify all parts.
  • Hot wash, rinse and dry before glueing.
  • Apply thin coats of paint to retain detail on finished model.
  • Fit tyres, affix badges /transfers.
  • Don’t rush any stage.
 I guess for a good many model tractor collectors the thought of investing in a quality white-metal kit with so much detail in can be daunting as there’s always the possibility that the model won’t turn out as well as one would hope & look as good as those professionally built. The advantage of white metal is that if one should not be happy with how it looks it can be taken apart again ( unlike plastic kits) without fear of defacing the parts, I know a number of customers that have stripped & rebuilt their early attempts once they have become more proficient at the job.
   Like any other construction operation, preparation is the key. The instructions with the kits describe the assembly procedures with numbered parts shown not only on a parts sheet but in position on the assemblies at stages of completion, so if there is any confusion arising from the description close scrutiny of the pictorial pages will usually explain (see example) & I am usually at the end of the phone/fax if any problems seem insurmountable.
   If one has never even done Airfix kits or the like in the past, the process starts with checking that all the pieces are present against the parts board (see photo) or any reference slip that may refer to slight differences, like for instance where the kit is of a “Power Major” but the listed parts are for a “Diesel Major”, i.e.too few changes to warrant the time making a completely fresh parts board when our time is better spent on developing new kits for those that are still waiting for us to produce a particular model of their desire. Please do contact us if any part is missing, we are only human & errors can occur.    01424 772361
   Unlike plastic kits most of the parts are off their tree & may require the scar to be filed/scraped flat & a parting line from where the mould halves join may also require fine fettling away, though with investment of top quality machinery in recent years my professional builders inform me that our kits suffer least from this than other white-metal kit makers, & that general assembly is straightforward, with fit, good.
   All parts that require it are ready-drilled but one should check that glue has not refilled these as assembly progresses. The instructions recommend that a “dry” run is done before glue is applied to check that parts will go fully home, as hydraulicing of the glue can cause this, so be ready especially when wheels are fitted as they can rebound after you’ve pushed them on giving a wider wheel track than expected!
 The average kit will contain around 90 parts including wires of varying thickness to make, for example, the steering drag link, trackrod, throttle & radiator screen control etc so they look in proportion to each other. Brass parts are substituted for white-metal where extra strength is required, for instance on front axles. Some builders have used this extra durability to depict tractors on the turn by twisting the “king pins” with pliers- an impossibility with most white-metals without breakage occurring..
 Once all the pieces have been prepared a hot soapy wash should be given to all the parts (except transfers!) to remove all traces of the mould release agent present that will impair good glue adhesion. Employ a container big enough to slosh the water around & then hot rinse twice being careful not to tip away tiny parts like rivets & badges.
   During stages of assembly excess glue may exude from joints and again unlike plastic kits this is not a problem as it may be trimmed off later or wiped off while still fluid without defacing the surrounding area, but priority should be given to making sure items set in correct alignment to each other. To reduce the occurrence of glue squeezing out the wires in the kit may be used as droppers before they are fitted as intended, enabling smaller amounts to be applied rather than directly out of the bottle nozzle.
   The development of flexible or rubberised superglue has enabled speedier & cleaner assembly with long life expectancy where previously standard superglue would set before one had fully got the parts together, with the threat of the model falling apart in the future,(apparently std.superglue can become very brittle after 10yrs.or so).
   Some experienced model builders will use soft or “low-melt” solder for assembly which is fine if you’re confident with the necessary skills.
   Recent inclusions are badges ready-painted that often are in colours different to the rest of the tractor & particularly fiddly to get right. Transfers, where applicable are supplied & best applied having cut the card to leave each on a separate piece so that once wetted they can be slid off onto the pre-moistened site to receive them and aligned with a slither of card to avoid scratching the paint, then pressed home with tissue, though this may cause misalignment which should be corrected be re-wetting & trying again. This technique should avoid the frustrations of having them curl up & split that I used to encounter when I was building plastic kits as a lad!
   Some potential kit builders may have been discouraged in the past by not being able to finish the model off in the right colour, something that I too was concerned about when I bought the company back in August ’98, so we now have a full range of correct shade paints available in tinlets to ensure that every model can look as authentic as possible. Although we supply primer you may wish to use an aerosol for finer application. I recommend Halfords Grey, White or Yellow depending on the top coat to be used as Yellow & Orange topcoats don’t cover very well so benefit from the yellow primer. Similarly White for whitish top coats.
 Warm, well ventilated, dust-free areas should be used for spraying where the item is warm itself, but most importantly the aerosol can should be pre-heated in freshly heated kettle water (NO MORE THAN 70 degreesC though) after the appliance is SWITCHED OFF. This will produce a finer mist and help avoid applying too-thick a coat that can swamp detail & cause paint runs.
   It may be of interest to know that when I bought the company I had never put one of the kits together, always preferring to pay the experienced builders to do it for me but now of course I have to build the first ones of every new addition to the range to check that all is well with the fit of the new parts.
   The range covers vintage ALLIS–CHALMERS, FARMALL, FERGUSON, FORD, FORDSON, COUNTY, LEYLAND, ROADLESS, NUFFIELD, BRAY, MARSHALL, RANSOMES, IVEL, GLASGOW and modern TRACK-MARSHALL machines with a selection of ploughs, trailers & sundry other implements, over 100 kits in all. New kits are added every few months with variants of the existing range due soon. A colour catalogue is no longer available, sorry! or B/W list free on receipt of a s.a.e. to WAYSIDE, WHATLINGTON ROAD, BATTLE, East Sussex, TN33 0JN. UK (01424 772361)