How to Create Accurate Weld Effects
Other Methods for Scale Welding
This article has covered one method for accurately replicating weld seams on
scale military vehicles. Of course this is not the only means to do this and
other methods exist in common practice that includes both aftermarket products
and other scratch-building processes.
Perhaps the most common alternative method for replicating weld seams is to use the stretched sprue/styrene approach. In this method a circular section of styrene or plastic is heated or bent to fit the shape of where a weld seam is to be made. An application of liquid styrene glue is applied to the parts to be welded with an amount of his glue being applied directly all over the surface of the weld bead. Once this glue has significantly melted/softened the weld this part can be detailed by using knife blades, toothpicks etc.
While this method does work I have found that it is very difficult indeed to get an accurate pattern to form on the weld as the material never resolves to the correct surface plasticity as is required to work with. You either find that the weld is still too rigid to surface detail or in fact becomes too soft and will hold no detail. I have tried this method using the weld tools I have created but could not correctly replicate the ridged effect of a weld.
The use of what is really a low-temperature soldering iron is another method for creating weld seams. In this case the pyrogravure is actually applied to the surface of the kit (which may also be previously applied stretched sprue) and is used to ‘melt’ tiny areas to get the desired effect.
I have never tried this method but have seen some very nice but also very bad results from using this tool. What you have to remember is that in modifying the actual surface of the kit you are changing the surface volumes into shapes that are not meant to exist – i.e. the melted material is not removed but is pushed to one side. This can result in raised areas that do not replicate real volumes being modelled. Also as the tip of a pyrogravure tends to be round (I am sure a tip the shape of a tool described here could be fabricated) when welding you will not achieve a ridged effect in your work.
In summary as I have said I have seen some very good results produced when using both of the methods I have described above. However in my never ending search for accuracy in my work and in the interests of realism I have not found these methods generate the effects that I desire.
Two products that exist as aftermarket products are from ABER and Archer Transfers. From ABER you get a very fine fret that has a number of weld seams that can be used for various effects. I have seen these and do not really care for them as the patterning on them is too regular and repeated and the runs tend to be of too constant a width.
With respect to the Archer Transfers (at the time of writing I am not sure if these products are still actually available) these are designed to work by creating a slightly raised surface once applied so that when painting & weathering they can be made to stand out. Again I have seen but never used this product but as above I have found the runs to be too regular in shape. Also their very nature as transfers does not give them enough of a raised 3D shape that is often required when replicating such effects.
A product which we have discussed at the Tyneside IPMS model club that would be of use would be weld seams that are similar to ATAK/Cavalier zimmerit sheets. Very thin sheets of resin could be created with a wide variety of weld effects to replicate much of what we have covered here. It would be nice to see a manufacturer introduce such a product.
Hopefully I have shown here an effective, highly accurate and cheap method for
replicating all types of scale weld process seen on military vehicles. The
method is simple and relies only on common tools that are available to all
modellers and in fact is quite a quick process to replicate one you have carried
it out a few times.