Now days, it is tough to find a train oriented hobby shop that stocks parts, paint, decals, scratch building material and such. I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Sacramento had a very good shop that was about 25 miles away. It closed last year. I have learned that the local Hobby Lobby and Hobbytown USA have a fairly good selection of useful items along with specific railroad items that I get from the Schwedler brothers at Coronado Scale Models.
My brother has been a great resource for tools and techniques used by plastic modelers. He is a very fine modeler and has opened my eyes to some neat things that are useful in model railroading.
My brother mentioned something about thin liquid cement. I didn’t quite understand how Testor’s liquid cement was somehow thick compared to something else. So I decided to try a “thin” cement. Well, the Tamiya Extra Thin cement is made from Acetone and not MEK. It does seem to flow very well. The thin cement softens the plastic more than Testors so it will fuse the material together. The fumes are rather strong so use caution.
One of my trips to the local Hobbytown USA yielded a new masking tape made by Tamiya in Japan. It is very thin and flexible allowing it to fit around curves and details. The tack is sufficient to form a good bond to prevent seepage of paint but still release without pulling up paint.
Jon Cagle, owner of Southern Car & Foundry, suggested I use this particular brand of plastic filler. He sent me a partial tube to try. I found it to be an exceptional product for plastic filling. It doesn’t shrink much and sands out to feather edge. It is much better than Squadron brand fillers.
I found a couple useful tools for sanding and shaping styrene. The blue sticks have an embedded grit that comes in different grades. These sticks are excellent for shaping a radius in a corner and enlarging holes. The long white sticks have a different grit size per side. I use these frequently for sanding down the Tamiya filler. You can add a little water to speed up the finishing. They can be cut to fit specific needs.
The last tool I would like to mention is the super thin saw. It looks like an old double-edge razor blade only with teeth. The blade is etched from steel and is very sharp. It will cut styrene with ease leaving a clean line. The blade is easily replaced. I purchased my saw at UMM-USA. These folks have super service and a wonderful array of useful tools and supplies. Micro Mark is now selling a similar saw.