Albion Alloys range of metal and plastic parts
This supplier is increasingly well known as a provider of components useful to modelers, and their range of components is breathtaking. This review will cover just a few samples of the enormous variety of items that they hold in their stocks, and I would consider it essential to visit the website and explore what might be valuable. The most important thing to bear in mind is that the parts are intended for anyone scratchbuilding or adding details to their model - the range does not include specific aftermarket parts for models.
Structural plastic parts
These are provided in a hard styrene, and this can be glued using normal plastic solvents or glues. The range has been massively expanded with a whole plethora of parts intended for making buildings and metal frameworks, and the Maquett catalogue summarises what is available.
The catalogue illustrates the range of shapes and dimensions. Where appropriate the strips are available in lengths of 100cm (a yard) and 33cm (a foot), and the catalogue shows the cross-section and the sizes available. Here are some examples: The items on this page would make great rods, deflector strips on vehicles, gutters, bolt heads...... the possibilities are endless.
The lengths are sharply moulded, and will allow a degree of bending - which may be important if curves are required. However, the lengths come dead straight and are ideal for model-making. I'm looking at these examples here and I'm thinking chassis frames, industrial buildings, railroad track, guttering, and so on.
The examples illustrated here are a tiny fraction of what is available, and there is no substitute for contacting the supplier to get a full list and catalogue.
The range of metal parts is incredible. Here is some brass tubing 0.5mm outside diameter, 0.3mm internal diameter. You will appreciate that the wall is therefore 0.1mm in thickness.
I found it really hard to photograph and show the appearance, so here is another go:
Now remember that two of these tubes side by side are a millimetre, and then you start to jitter.... These are not the smallest...... the tubing comes in many sizes up to the 'normal' kind of sizes to be found in most model stores. Brass is very easy to solder, and cutting the tiny tubes is quite easy by rolling with a sharp blade. The brass is easy to sand, keeps a neat edge, and bends fairly easily. So, if you want an exhaust pipe, gun barrel, or whatever, brass is your friend.
Aluminum tube (Aluminium to us Brits!)
It could be maybe 25 years ago that I first got hold of short lengths of fine aluminum tube from a supplier in the UK, paying a steep price, and using the stuff almost reluctantly. Well, now it is possible to get bundles of 12" lengths of the finest tube imaginable. This stuff is amazing. My review sample is a plastic cylinder containing four lengths of tubing, diameters 0,3mm, 0,5mm, 0,7mm and 0,9mm, and the set is called SFT4. SFT stands for slide fit tubing, because........THEY FIT INSIDE EACH OTHER ! Yes, these tiny tubes have such thin walls that the little beauties telescope together. And the smallest is still a tube and if you have fine enough wire, you can insert it!
Now just think, the BIGGEST tube here is only 0.9mm....... wowza! I can't even start to list the potential uses for these tubes by themselves, let alone tubes fitted within tubes. All manner of junctions, pipework, ordnance.... and again there are many size groupings to select from. Aluminum has the advantage that in this scale it cuts very easily with no pressure, but against that it is easily crushed and impossible to solder. This is my preferred metal to use for detail parts because it can even be salami-sliced to produce little rings.
But wait, there's more!
You like telescoping tubes? Try it in Brass with SFT1 - the outside diameters are 0.4mm, 0.6mm, 0.8mm, and 1.0mm, shown here slid inside each other, with a tiny bit of wire in the smallest, to prove it is a tube. Did I say awesome? Freaking amazing! The possibilities are endless, with all sorts of cable unions, and such-like now very easy to make.
My camera refused to focus on the ends of the tubes, but you get the picture. These tubes have a gazillion uses by themselves, but their ability to ramp down in size is a very useful feature.
The picture below is from a previous review I did, and the lighting cable junction plug is made from this type of tube section:
More metals...Albion Alloys also has a range of metal products in Nickel Silver, which is a bit hard to cut in my personal opinion, but it is great for many applications. It makes rigid structures, if that is what you need.
A relatively new addition to the Albion Alloys range is Connecto, which is a sheet of brass shapes:
As can be seen in the illustrations, the idea is to cut out these shapes and use them to join three, four, six or eight pieces of brass rod together. Obviously, the 'arms' of the shapes can be bent to whatever angle or configuration is required. The value of this stuff would be quite evident if you have ever tried soldering or gluing a corner frame where three or more brass tubes or rods come together. Keeping it all lined up is near impossible, and the charm of Connecto is that the alignment is sorted for you.
I don't normally review an entire product range in one go, but in this case the sheer number of individual items would make it impossible to use any other approach. For modelers wanting to add details to their masterpieces, this is an important resource to explore. How those tiny tubes are manufactured is something I'll never understand..........
Very Highly Recommended
Many thanks to Albion Alloys for the review samples and advice on their use
Reviewed by Chris Lloyd-Staples, 2VP (International)
If you liked this review, consider joining AMPS. Your annual membership includes six copies of AMPS's magazine, Boresight, and helps to support our ongoing reviews.