Hints and tips on working with whitemetal models

These hints and tips only apply to the models that require construction and painting. Always wash your hands after handling the metal components. Do not put the metal in your mouth.

All the handpainted models are ready to use.

Whitemetal is the general name given to alloys compounded of lead, tin and a number of other trace elements present in much smaller quantities. The ratio of lead to tin and the presence or not of the trace elements determines the precise physical properties of the metal itself. We select the grade of metal best suited to the manufacture of this type of model.

Some of the models will need assembly using glue or solder and all will require painting. These hints are not meant to be exhaustive and may be supplemented by the contents of modelling magazines and books and many online resources. Patience and experience always helps improve the end result.


Occasionally small amounts of 'flash' may be present on the edges of the castings. This can be trimmed off by scraping with a modelling knife or a file.

Any castings attached to 'feeds' or 'sprues' should be separated by cutting with a sharp knife or snipping with cutters. The feeds may need gentle removal which is best achieved with a file.

Occasionally an item may be slightly bent from transit, it should be possible to gently bend it back to shape.


Whichever method you choose for combining parts together some preparation will pay dividends. The most obvious is to read through instructions first and to check on fit of parts by having a dry run. It may be that some filing of parts to fit may be required. Once happy with the fit clean the surfaces as glues do not stick effectively to a layer of grease, dirt and oxide. The simplest way to do this is to rub the joining areas gently with with an abrasive such as a file, emery paper or a wire brush. This will also provide a 'key' for the adhesive.

Only use small amounts of adhesive and take care to follow safety guidelines (especially regarding smoking and ventilation).

Using super glue - this gives fast results but is not ideal for any parts which have significant gaps as they are not designed as a filler. We find best results are obtained by using a thicker GEL type. This has a consistency similar to toothpaste and is easier to control where it goes with the glue tending to stay on the edge of the component rather than running down sides (and onto fingers!). This is particularly useful in aligning small parts and thin edges. If you do need to remove the glue then acetone is good for this and is found in nail varnish remover for example. 

Using epoxy glues - these come in two parts and need to be mixed before use. They come in a variety of setting times which allows adjustment of alignment. Premature handling can be fatal and assembly will take longer with this method. Excess glue can be hard to remove from the finished model and it is advisable to only mix small quantities at a time otherwise it will harden before you have used it and waste.

Using solder - Whitemetal has a similar melting point to that of electrical solder and if you attempt to use a standard wattage iron you will simply melt the castings. You must use a low wattage iron (12-15 watts), low melt solder and low temperature flux. There are a number of useful books and online resources for those wishing to consider this further.

Before painting check to be sure there are no easily visible 'gaps' in joins. It is possible to fill these using car body filler for example. If the gap is hairline white pva can also be used to fill.

It is possible to gently wash the surface of the model prior to painting with warm soapy water and this is particularly relevant if you have used a flux and solder to join the pieces.

A coat of primer gives the surface a good base. It is possible to spray this using car primers (for example) but you can also use brushing primers (matt grey and white work well in this regard).

The choice of paint and finish is one of personal preference as is the subsequent use of varnish.