China made, heads up problems with plastic

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by zahkunst, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. zahkunst

    zahkunst New Member

    Jan 13, 2007
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    I wanted to pass along info regarding the move of several structure manufacturers to China and the ways to navigate around the problems associated with the plastic. If you haven't seen any problems as of late you may quite likely in the near future. I build for others all the time so I've been building a lot of stock from these companies and frankly it's a bit frustrating.

    From my experience thus far I can speak about Walthers and Atlas. Both manufacturers have slowly being changing their item catalogs from Denmark manufactured items (Heljan) to Chinese manufactured items (ABC) or even Taiwan. You can see it listed on the boxes by the UPC. "Made in Denmark" or "Made in China" or "Made in Taiwan"

    Some of the US manufacturers in conjunction with the Chinese have been using a different plastic that was not employed by the Denmark guys. In fact Walthers admitted to me over the phone that they are using a different plastic now sometimes but still state it's a "styrene." It is seemingly is a bit more "mixed" in composition with more byproducts now which causes some noticeable differences to be aware of as listed below:

    1. Not all glues work anymore. Use Liquid cements like Ambroid Pro Weld, Tenax, or Testors Black Bottle liquid cement, or even Maxi Cure. Glue such as Testors Plastic Model Cement (no. 3501) Ubiquitous Red Tube cement will not work at all. The plastic is too rigid in composition like ABS.
    2. The mold release is not always cleaned off anymore. Indicated by a gooey feel or shinny look. China seems to not always employ this cleaning process. It will cause problems with painting and adhereing. That problem has been coming up at Testors HQ in the form of complaints recently and they are aware of it. Kits from Atlas and Woodland Scenics as of late have been displaying this gooey feel or shinny look.

    You will also notice:

    1. The texture of the "bad" plastic is somewhat rougher like sand whereas older Denmark produced items are much smoother.
    2. The newer plastic is more translucent and also has a considerable more amount of flash.

    So basically use the liquid cements and clean the stuff off. Then you should be OK...for now.
  2. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    Jan 5, 2007
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    Thanks for the heads up. I'm in the process of purchasing new kits so I'll keep my eyes open!