Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Defence of Brass

Am_Fet writes:

Seeing as I am on leave this week (school holidays and my daughters ballet exams converging creating a need for Dad to become primary caregiver for a few hours a day), I made an effort to take an evening jaunt up to the wilds of Stokes Valley to see Cabbage.  Now, I know the warnings about entering "Snake Gully" after dark, but I thought this to be a mission of great import.

The reason was brass, or rather, our scales love/hate relationship with it.  To sum it up everyone loves the idea of it, but hardly anyone seems to want it when its available.  Its something Andrew Wells found when he started with his Fm/Da/Dc kits and Cabbage is finding it now with his UK/IA/IB wagons (and a little birdie tells me the OM and ZH arent too far away either).

So why the Apathy?

I think it comes down 2 things:

- REASON 1: Difficulty of working in brass

Lets face it, working in Plasticard or White Metal is easy; break out a knife, some files and slop some glue around and youre pretty much good to go.  But this brass stuff?  Cripes!  Doesnt respond to a scalpel, needs a hacksaw to cut, takes an age to file and to join it together, apparently I have to learn to "Solder" (Or as the Yanks say, "Sodor")!  Surely that will involve needing a soldering iron the size of a babies arm....and flux!  Nasty stuff.....can eat through your best trousers quick as look at them, not to mention skin!  Best wear asbestos gloves; actually, best wear a full flame retardant suit, those irons get hot!

REALITY CHECK!    Sure, all of those may be slightly true if you are panel beating in 9mm (and I have, trust me), but this is Nz120 we are talking about.  Most of what you'll see will be etched kits in brass so thin it can be sent through the post in envelopes.  Assembly will mostly consist of folds, and the only cutting you'll need to do can be achieved with scissors or a sharp scalpel cutting onto a piece of wood.  Cleaning up is the domain of needle files, so no big hassle there, cos youve already got some of those, havent you!  I read once that a good brass kit is as easy as folding up a card model, and if it has tabs and slots (most do), then you can even hold it together with a decent glue, meaning you dont even have to go close to a soldering iron.....

- REASON 2: Irrational Fear of Soldering

Once youve experienced soldering, you will never go back, trust me.  And again, because we are working in Nz120 you can consign those foot long soldering behemoths to the back of the cupboard, as all you'll need is a small 12v iron you can grab from Tricky Dickies.  And flux!  No longer the evils of "Duzall" that would eat through a perfectly good workbench in an afternoon....we've now got the joys of things like Phosphoric Acid that, although not quite in the "swig straight from the bottle to relieve halistosis" stakes, is fairly benign stuff.  I'm told even Coca Cola will do the same job at a pinch.

So the whole thing is pretty simple really......hold the bits together, slap some flux around then touch the iron with some solder on it to the joint, everything goes fizz and ....presto.  Solid as, and all in a few seconds.  Dont like it?  More flux, more iron to melt the solder and reposition....sounds easy and it is.

To learn how easy soldering is, Find someone else who can solder......having someone guiding your initial attempts is the best way to start.  However, if you live out in Upper Golfballawao and the nearest soldering expert is at the local garage 150 miles away, leap in and have a go!  Really, what have you got to lose?  Apart from burning the house down of course....

Anyway, thats the end of todays end up a bit of show and tell.  I filmed Cabbage putting together one of his UK kits from scratch to being ready to have a blob of glue or solder to hold it together to show the process, and from go to woe it was about 15 minutes (with a break while we tried to find another camera after the first card got full).  BTW, his workbench is off the family room and Marissa and Jo were watching "Distraction"....hence the background noise.  Oh, and the second camera seems louder and...well, different.  You have been warned.


Anonymous said...

Great video guys! But hey there's nothing wrong with the valley after dark. It's very quiet and peaceful, isn't it Mark, Muir? - SteveF

Anonymous said...

I don't have sound on my PC. That's the body but where does one get wheels and couplers?

Motorised Dandruff said...

Should do the job.