Some new goodies to make building models easier

New tools, I’ve written about them before, but there is nothing so motivating as new tools. Two areas of late have been causing me problems, and this week, solutions to both arrived.

Model Railroaders are sexy…said no one ever. But, I’ve hit the point where additional magnification is needed.

First up, something I have stubbornly refused to acknowledge despite wearing glasses. My eyesight isn’t getting any better, and seeing small parts and tiny decals has been a problem for years. I finally broke down and bought an Optivisor. I had been looking at a variety of options, but settled on a DA4 Optivisor, this provides 2X magnification of what you are looking at. The pictures above don’t really do the magnification effect justice, but the simple fact is I can read even the smallest decals on the sheet in the photos through the Optivisor, without it, well, I struggled to find where some of the smaller decals were on the sheet. Simple fact of the matter, I’ve been making my life harder because I’m stubborn. And, I didn’t get into model railroading to look good, as one certainly ups their nerd factor in the Optivisor!!

The Small Shop “Five Speed” photo etch bender. This thing is a beast, its not moving anywhere while you are working.

The second new tool is a reflection of the growing number of things I am doing, willing to try, and pushing myself on. I have never done a lot of work adding photo etched details (parts etched out of brass or other thin sheet metal that are finer and more detailed than plastic, I was trying to find a good explanatory link, this page for 4DModelshop in London isn’t great, but it explains a bit about getting custom etching done). In the past, because I haven’t had proper tools for cutting the fine metal parts, or folding them into shape, I have either mangled the parts, gotten barely passable results, or completely avoided them. In the fleet of freight cars I am building, a number from Yarmouth Model Works have gorgeous etched brass ladder components, and other etched parts for the underbody, and I want them to look good when done, so I finally broke down and bought an etch bender. Multiple friends (including Pierre Oliver who runs Yarmouth Models) have recommended the benders by The Small Shop. Being my usual frugal self and humming and hawing for ages, thinking I could make do with a slightly cheaper tool available from our local shops, I finally reached my usual point of deciding that in buying tools, spending money is OK to get good ones that are hopefully well made and will last a long time. I am happy to report that this is indeed a well made tool. The aluminum milled upper half for bending and folding is gorgeous, and the base has some serious heft, this tool won’t move on you once you put it on your workbench and start using it, which is a must. Even without using it yet, I can feel the quality difference from those I’ve seen on the shelves in stores. I’m pretty confident that whenever I start working on bending parts with this, I’ll be able to happily report that it works well.

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