Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Soldering Iron Cleaning Tool

Soldering has become a integral part of my modeling. Much of my work has been, and continues to be, installing decoders as well as a variety of other soldering projects. During the soldering process, I typically I have been cleaning the iron tip with a damp cloth. Earlier days I was using the accompanying sponge. By the way I use a Weller, the most common one which can be purchased with its stand and sponge. Then my friend Ray Russell was here doing some soldering work that had me stumped. I offered a damp cloth and he gave me that.. "Are you kidding me?" incredulous stare. I responded most curiously knowing I evidently was still on the learning curve. He showed me this miraculous device that not only cleaned the iron nearly instantly, but avoiding the damp cloth eliminated the wait time till the iron reheated. One other most important element was that the iron was not subjected to mineral deposits from the moisture. You may say these are quite insignificant. I would say that if you do solder, this device will have a marked improvement on your time and process. The brand name is Hakko. I found this one on Amazon. You just insert the tip in the mesh a few times and its ready for the next melt.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Lately I have been experimenting more with powders and chalks to weather rolling stock. Reading various reviews on chalks I see mixed reactions to the quality of the look that these materials produce. After applying the powders I am a convert. The only watch-out is to not overdo the amount being applied. However, if that does occur it is easy enough to apply other colors to reduce the area that was overdone. Here are a few examples...

The top "house" / box car, a laser wood kit by BTS, is painted the dark slate blue color known for the W&A. The walls have been altered as was the case on many lines. When troops were being hauled about, the lack of air flow caused the fellas to tear out the walls. There are some reports that entire cars were reduced to the frame.
First application is a gray tone for the basic fading. I may use two or three different tones. Last is the reddish brown. This simulates the GA red dirt.
I have found Doc Brown's weathering powders to work very well. He offers about 6 shades of brown and 6 primary-like colors.
I also use Prismacolor pastels. As you can see with Prisma, there are a wide variety of grays. In this grouping there is a dark color that nearly matches my dark slate blue, which is a Tamiya color called Field Blue. When I overdue a color I can hit it with colors close to the base color in order to soften the hue. The lighter grays give that additional weathered look of faded paint and wood versus using a pure white. 
Here's a few other cars weathered with these powders and chalks.