The first and most important lesson that I have learnt is about the vinyl tyres that come with some models. I recently discovered that the vinyl tyres on a couple of my models had cracked and in a couple of cases had split right the war through. Quite by chance, while visiting another site about model making (sorry, I don't remember the web address), I learnt that this is due to a chemical reaction between the vinyl of the tyre and the styrene of the wheel rim.
So, how do we prevent this reaction occuring? It turns out that the solution is actually quite simple. We put some kind of barrier between the tyre and the wheel rim. An example of a suitable barrier would be to coat the wheel rim with a 50/50 solution of PVA glue and water.
One of the vinyl tyre splits shown circled red
Another problem that can occur, especially with some of the more recent models that have been released, is the real rubber used in some tyres. As we all know, rubber perishes over time. But what causes rubber to perish? UV light is the answer, i.e. daylight. So the simple solution to prevent rubber tyres from perishing, is to keep your model out of direct sunlight. But what if this isn't possible? Again, some sort of protective coating or barrier is neded. The same 50/50 solution of PVA glue and water can be used to coat the rubber tyres. This is quite handy as one of the methods used to weather tyres, is to mix diluted PVA glue with plaster powder and paint!
The second major enemy of any model collection is dust. I'm sure I'm not the only model maker who has this problem. We can't all afford to buy expensive display cabinets! My models are all displayed on open shelves in our bedroom. So how do I deal with the ever present dust? With a very soft brush, a gentle blowing action and plenty of care to prevent small parts being snapped off!
I've heard from some people that they use cans of air, the same ones which are commonly used by electronics technicians to clean circuit boards. However, I can't help being a bit scepticle about this method. For one, I can't help thinking that the powerfull rush of air can do as much damage as a clumsily used brush. For another, how does it cope with the stubborn dust that blowing alone won't get rid of?
In my opinion, gently sweeping away the dust with a soft brush, whislt blowing the loosened dust off is the best method of cleaning models.
The last major enemy of models, is the over handling that can occur when admiring your own handy work! Unless you spend extra money on some sort of sealant to prevent damage to the paint work, the only solution is to leave them alone! 'Look but don't touch'! If you really must handle your models to get a closer look, use something that will prevent the oil from the skin of your fingers getting on the model. I know this may sound daft, but buy a pair of white cotton gloves, similar to the kind that archivists and museum staff wear to handle exibits.
After all the hard work and effort we put into our models, we want them to last a long time. We want to be able to admire our handy work, in some cases we want other people to admire our handy work! These few tips, hopefully, will go a long way towards ensuring that your models last a long time and look just as good as the day you sit back with pride and say 'there, that's another nice model I've built'!