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Detailing material, can I use?


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 Can bare household copper wire be used as a substitute for soldering lead wire for detailing tubing and whatnot? I'm not sure if there's a hidden issue to using it.

 And can old (I mean old school) automotive wire be used as a source for the same application? How does the insulating material surrounding the wire strands hold paint if sanded first? TIA.

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Your imagination is the only thing limiting your choice.  If it doesn't work, then you've learned something.  Move on and try something else.  Copper wire, no matter where it's sourced from, will work.  Generally the insulation is stripped off the wire but can be left on in spots to represent joints and joins to larger diameter flexible tubing.  I am referring to single conductor copper wire.... stranded copper wire still works but you use the individual strands rather than the entire wire, unless you're specifically attempting to replicate a wire bundle in scale.

Edited by Juggernut
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I have found (I work in IT) that I can utilize stuff being thrown out at my work. CAT V and CAT VI PC cable works excellent (or even cross-over cable), as you can strip on the RJ45s and then peel out each individual copper wire from there. The cool thing about using more solid small cable like the stuff inside PC cable is that you can strip back the insulation and use the insulation to replicate connectors or connection points as the wire fits perfectly inside its own insulation. 

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That's good news because I have tons of the stuff, to include about 8 ft of Ethernet cable. I had plans on painting the insulation on the 18 and 16 gage wire, and now I know that some do, I don't feel so foolish trying it. A good idea, striping the house gage and leaving a small amount to replicate a pressure coupling is something I hadn't thought about. I need plug wires as well. What better way to recycle.

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There's a guy in our club who uses a single strand of dental floss (not a length off the roll, a single strand of dental floss) for antenna wires on 1/48 scale airplanes.  He says it works great and is a lot tougher than stretched sprue and a lot finer than EZ Line.

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I have used cable cores in the past, I use reels of copper wire now as there is a bigger choice of sizes

 

Top tip! If you cut the wire into useable lengths, say 6-12" long, you can straighten them with a couple of pairs of pliers. Grip each end of the wire and pull until it just gives (exceeding the elastic limit of the material). You'll now find the wire is dead straight

 

Bigger wire, you need to hold one end in a vice

 

Richard

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A single strand of dental floss must require much patience to work with. Never mind copper wire .  I have the magnifying head gear so I'll see how small I can go, anyone have a reference chart for which gauge wire fits which scale? Mainly the plug wires on the engine. I think I read somewhere .10 mm lead wire (am I missing a 0?) is good for 1/32 plug wires.

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I forgot to add another great tip I found:

- Go to a hardware store and get a smooth piece of 4"x4" ( or any other size that is close) tile you would use in a backsplash or bathroom.

- take a section of wire, any wire, lead, Ethernet, individual twisted pair wire and cut a section slightly smaller than the tile you are working on and get it as straight as you can, doesn't have to be perfect at all, just straight-ish.

- put the wire down on a clear section of bench on a cut mat or any other hard smooth surface, then take the tile, smooth side against the wire and use your hand to roll the tile back and forth and any kind of wire will get straight as an arrow in just a few passes.

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To detail pits, bays and wells, I'm generally using copper wire AND lead wire as both have different qualities. For cables or hoses running against a wall, lead is easier to work with as it is more souple. This has no drawback when glued on something. When the hoses or cables must 'stay in the air' you need more rigidity. In that case I'm using copper or aluminium. They are more difficult to shape but stay where you glue them without the risk to deform them if you accidentally touch them later.

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