Make your own free website on
Scratchbuilding The Cheapo Way

_E-MAIL.gif 185x23


Let me first say that I am a cheapskate! I cannot see spending a lot of money on aftermarket detailing stuff when there are a lot of really cheapo alternatives. The after market companies make nice stuff, but they charge an arm and a leg for it. Here are some alternatives that i have used on a lot of my models that work just fine.

Engine Wiring and Plumbing

Perhaps the greatest savings can be had in this area of detailing. Spark plug wires can be simulated by using a product known as "wrapping wire" which is available at Radio Shack. It comes in a variety of colors and cost only $3.00 or less for a hugh roll enough for a lifetime of models. Small diameter silver wiring or piping can be simulated by the wire in twist ties available at the supermarket produce area or leftover from garbage bags. Hell you probably have a bunch in your kitchen or garage right now. Just strip off the plastic or paper covering. Larger hoses like oil lines and power steering lines can be simulated by stretch cord that is available in various sizes at sewing supply places. Just paint them in the appropriate colors like blue, red, silver, and black. These are really cheapo and simulate these braded hoses quite well. Even larger braided hoses can be simulated by painted mini blind cords. Look aroung in the trash or junkyards and you can find these mini blinds that other people have tossed. Take a look at the pic below for engine detail made from all these items.

Armor Detailing

Armor detailing can e done really cheapo. Tow cables can be simulated by picture hanging wire available at any Home Depot for a song. Tarps and such can be simulated by painting tissue paper soaked in a mixture of white glue and water or rolls of material. Camo netting can be simulated by medical gauze. I also simulate sand bags etc with epoxy putty shaped into the little bundles. I use plain old thread to simulate the ties. Here you are only limited by your imagination.

The Wonders of Sheet Styrene

A terrific investment is in one package of assorted thickness sheet styrene. It is amazing the things you can make with this stuff with a minimum of expense. I have scratchbuilt cockpit tubs with no problem. Cockpit instrument panels are a breeze. Thicker sheet styrene can be used to model modern flat exhaust pipes on NASCAR's Hold down straps for cars, tanks, etc can also be made with little work. If you drink a lot of canned soda or beer, save the cans as the thin metal can be used to do the same stuff.


The leftover plastic sprue the parts came off of is a gold mine!! I use it primarily to make vintage race car roll cages. Heat it over a candle and form. If you screw up, who cares there is plenty more!! You can also heat the stuff over a candle and pull it to form antennas and other thin plastic parts like cockpit control sticks, machine gun barrels, bomb fuzes, etc. Again you are only limited by your imagination. I even made a replacement fire extinguisher from plastic sprue and stretched sprue.