As mentioned in a previous post, I started working on a 009 World War I layout. It’s a bit different from HOn30, the scale of my other models. The big advantage however is, that there are quite some kits readily available of the locos and rolling stock that were used during the Great War. Most of them are white metal kits … a material I have little to no experience with, so I decided to start with an easy kit – the 030t Kerr Stuart ‘Joffre’ by Five79.
I am not expecting this kit to be a walk in the park, but it will definitely beat messing up the kit of the 2-6-2t Baldwin that I recently bought. My first intention was to bash it into a French 030t Decauville ‘Progrès’, but as that needed quite some adjustments and it was the first white metal kit I would try to solder together, I quickly dropped the idea. I will just build it as a French ‘Joffre’, which means that I need to replace the chimney and have to add some extra details.
The big problem for a white metal soldering newbie like me, are all the horror stories about messed up kits with gaping holes in it … which tends to make you believe that it is quite difficult and can only be mastered by experts. Nothing could be further from the truth … it al depends on the tools and materials you use.
First of all it’s good idea to use a temperature controlled soldering station, as it allows to adjust the heat in such a way that it will not reach the melting point of the white metal parts. I opted for the Antex 660TC myself. Secondly I understand that you need solder with a very low melting point. I decided to use 70°C lowmelt solder that is available from Godfather Models & Supply. And finally I have been told to use a phosphoric acid liquid flux for white metal soldering and bought this from the same supplier.
So how to tackle a kit like this? I start out by removing the flash from the parts. To do this, I use an X-Acto blade, a set of needle files, a two-sided nail file and a fiberglass brush. The nail file turns out very useful tool to remove certain details. For example, the two raised panels on the sides of the cabin are not on the French ‘Joffre’ prototype, so need to be removed.
The next step is the soldering of the parts themselves. First of all, I clean the parts or better to say the sides that will form the future joint with the fiberglass brush. Then I place the parts against each other and and load the inside of the joint with liquid flux, using a toothpick. I put a bit of lowmelt on the tip of the soldering iron and join the parts together from e inside on just a couple of places. Once they held together, I load the outside of the joint with flux and solder the parts completely together from the outside.
Too much of the lowmelt solder is cleaned off with the fibreglass brush and the model is rinsed with water with a washing detergent to stop the corroding process of the flux. Above a picture of the current status of the loco. The Poilu smoking a fag besides it, is another great figure by W^D Models. I believe it is starting to look like the prototype already and must confess that I am quite pleased, being a soldering newbie who’s talking his first steps with white metal soldering …