Contact cement has been used as an adhesive for decades. One of the most common is rubber cement. I recall using rubber cement to assemble plastic dinosaur models in the late 1960s. The eight-year-old modeler did not do a neat job at all. Walthers Goo and Ambroid cements are also contact cements. I had poor experiences with those when assembling models in the 1980s. In each case, I don’t think I was using the adhesives properly.
Contact cements can be used to join dissimilar materials. The parts must be clean and attachment works best if a thin coat is applied to each part. Allow the parts about 20 minutes to allow the cement solvent to dissipate. Carefully place the parts together. You can apply gentle pressure to align the parts as there is some time for adjustments before the cement takes hold.
There are several kinds of contact cement that are useful in model building. Pliobond has been mentioned frequently in the hobby press over the years, as has Walthers Goo and Ambroid cement. I use Barge all purpose cement to make important joints on my resin freight car models. I’m accustomed to the Barge contact cement properties and how it handles. I’ve found Barge cement stocked with the leather working materials at Hobby Lobby but I prefer to purchase it from a local shoe repair or leather goods store.
I recently arrived at the point to install the roofs on my HO scale Westerfield Models M-15 boxcars. I didn’t think cyanoacrylate glue (CA) would work well in attaching the roof parts to the internal supports so I used Barge cement.
I traced the support locations on the bottom of the roof castings to I could apply the cement to the correct locations. Note just above my thumb is the letter B to indicate the B end of the car. I don’t want to wrongly install the part, so one end is marked for final placement.
I applied the Barge cement with a toothpick along the roof supports and along the lines on the bottom of the roof casting. A thin coat is all that is needed. I let the parts set for about 20 minutes before attaching them.
The wood roof on the M-15d model needed a slight adjustment as it was attached to the car body but went right into place. Here’s the result.
I didn’t have the same luck with the M-15b roof. After applying the cement and waiting 20 minutes, I placed the roof onto the car and I found the casting wasn’t quite wide enough to cover the edge of the car sides. At this point, I began to panic but took a couple of deep breaths. I sliced down the middle of the roof casting to remove one side, as you can see above. I moved the remaining roof half to slightly overhang the car side then went to my styrene stash.
After scraping off some of the contact cement, I placed a piece of 4×4-inch styrene stock down the center of the roof to use as a spacer. After checking the fit of the other roof half, the styrene was fixed into place with CA.
With the spacer in place, I attached the other half of the roof casting. The contact cement was still tacky on some of the parts, to that held it in place as I applied small amounts of CA where the second roof casting abuts the spacer. Once the roof parts were in place, I added CA along the seam at the fascia all around the car.
After everything was dry, the styrene was trimmed flush with the ends of the roof. The running board supports on both cars were carefully sanded to remove a slight angle. The sanding also leveled the spacer on the M-15b roof.
I’ll admit the 4×4 may be a bit too wide of a spacer as the roof overhang is noticeable. I had to act quickly to make it work. I know what to expect when I tackle the other M-15 boxcar models in my stash.
Many thanks to Dr. Denny Anspach for his frequent Barge cement recommendations on the Steam Era Freight Cars discussion list over the years. I might not have used this without his descriptive posts.
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