A Better Way to do Photoetch Railing

As I alluded to in an earlier post, the drudgery of cutting, folding, painting, and gluing a scale mile of 1:700 PE railing can really break down the momentum you’re starting to feel as a build nears its conclusion.  This is especially so if you’re using a paint whose naturally long curing time is compounded by life in the humid Southeast, such as I am in this instance.  For the Hood build, I went with White Ensign Models Colourcoats as my paint of choice, since this company has done their homework and has, I feel, the most accurately matched paint on the market.  With this quality, however, comes at least 36 hours of curing time between railing sides, since the threat of lifting/chipping is just too high.

Could you fold the rail, place it upright on a strip of tape, and paint from there?  Sure, but I find that White Ensign products spray much better at a higher pressure, and I’ve had too many pieces go flying into the ether when confronting anything more than 12 PSI.  So I came up with a new system:

PE Railing Jig

Instead of cutting exact lengths of rail, I instead make each length about two or three sections longer than necessary.  If you’re building a kit that has a precise amount of rail and no more (the Trumpeter 1:200 Bismarck comes to mind), then you may want to invest in either additional material or a different technique.  Thanks to Gold Medal Models , however, I have more 1:700 rail than I know what to do with, so I can spare a few scale feet of the stuff.

Anyways, I cut it long, make the folds I need, and then attach it to a popsicle stick with a dab of Gator’s Grip glue.  With such a small amount of adhesive, this takes only about 15 minutes to cure nicely.  Holding the stick in one hand, I can then get both side of the rail covered in about 3 minutes; placing it aside, I find a perfectly dry length of rails late the next day ready to be cut and glued.

If you’re building a kit that features steel decks the same color of the railing, none of this will be necessary (while I have such a kit in my stash, a Dragon 1:700 USS Atlanta, I haven’t been fortunate to build it yet).  If, however, you’ve got wooden decks and don’t know if its worth driving yourself insane with a masking job that may well damage the rails in the application process, this technique works great!

As a final side note, this photograph and image may look familiar – this tip of mine was accepted and published by FineScale Modeler in their December 2014 issue!  As they haven’t paid me yet, I think I’m safe posting it here. 🙂

FSM Tips Detail

Happy modeling, friends!

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