|TI HOBBIES - BlackTracks|
A neat solution(s) to how to blacken your metal tracks...
TI Hobbies - BlackTracks
Track Blackening Kit
Every now and again, somebody will pose the question on the forum about how to blacken metal tracks such as those from Fruil or Karaya. There are some proprietary solutions on the market that can perform the task, as well as some modellers having their own favourite home made solutions.
Now there's another one on the market from TI Hobbies and available through Little-Cars. It consists simply of three numbered solutions, 1, 2 and 3.
The set arrives in a small, plain cardboard box inside of which are three small bottles of the numbered solutions, plus an instruction leaflet. Two of the solutions are clear, the third is blue. Solution no.1 is labelled as a degreaser, no.2 as 'conditioner;, and no.3 as the blackening solution, which going by it's appearance and action contains copper sulphate along with perhaps other ingredients.
It's actually taken me awhile to get around to taking a close look at this set, mostly because I tend not to use metal tracks all that much, although I do have a few sets set aside for specific projects. I was trying to wait until I was going to use such a set when it suddenly occurred to me that the tracks didn't have to be assembled to see what the solution could actually do?
With that in mind I pulled out a set of Fruil tracks meant for the Sd.Kfz.7 halftrack. Although not ideal, since each of these track links had a thick rubber pad fixed to it, nevertheless they would suffice for a test of the solutions.
I actually did try to assemble at least a short run of the track, but after it fell apart fro the fifth time, I decided to just go ahead and 'blacken' three of the links to see if it worked. When I actually get around to using these tracks on something I'll go to the trouble of assembling them properly. To tell the truth, they're likely to remain forever unbuilt merely by dint of the fact that the tracks supplied by Dragon in their Sd.Kfz.7 kits are so good I don't really see the point of swapping them?
As you can see by the pictures below, the important thing when using this set is to not allow the various solutions to become mixed up! Therefore prepare in advance...as I did. Four small containers evidencing my fondness for those little individual trifles, were lined up and the fourth filled with clean water. A small amount of each solution was put into each of the other three. When the process is complete the solution can be returned to the bottles and re-used.
The instructions that are included are exceptionally clear in what has to be done, and the safety procedures that have to be observed. Basically, don't splash in your eyes or drink any of the solutions....especially the blue one.
Wash the tracks in the clean water between each solution. Then it's into no.1 for five minutes, no.2 for one and a half minutes, and no. 3 for four minutes. The result can be seen below.
I think it works extremely well. I've always been one for replicating the appearance of real tracks with various paints and pigments, but I can see the use of solutions such as these. The resultant appearance is quite realistic. I've been lucky enough to see dirty great bins of these track links lying around a certain Mr. Wheatcroft's yard...and they certainly look the part. The links haven't turned jet black, which I have seen as a result of another solution. This set leaves them with a certain reddish tint, redolent of rust, and also an uneven finish, which again, look more realistic to me.
According to the instructions that come with the set, it should last for two sets of tracks before the solution would need replacing, so if metal tracks are your thing, this could be well worth trying!
My thanks to Paul at Little-Cars for the review sample.