An Overview of Glues for Model Railroading

I’m going to diverge a bit from my ongoing series of blogs to talk about something that’s vital to the pursuit of our hobby. Glue! We all seem to find our own favorites, and using a glue that doesn’t work for a particular application can be really aggravating.

My previous blog about the 1/64 scale walk-about of my own layout inspired me to get more detailing done on my Citrus District. I assume that most of us have detail parts stashed away for future use and I’m no exception. So, what good are all these detail parts if we don’t use them? Those detail parts serve a much better purpose when they’re affixed to the layout, right? I inspired myself. How about that!

Different Types of Glue for Model Railroading

Now, being an old timer, I have my long-time glue favorites. My number one choice of glues has to be Walthers Goo. How can any model railroader work without Walthers Goo! It’s been around forever and is always handy on my workbench. I’ve probably gone through a million tubes myself! Goo has that rubbery consistency that will glue just about anything together.

glue-for-model-railroading

Of course, Elmer’s White Glue is another indispensable product. It has innumerable uses for more porous jobs. I use it both straight and thinned out about half and half. I buy the 1.25 oz. applicator bottles and refill them. Their size makes them great for gluing at my workbench or on my layout. Their narrow design makes them quite tippy however, so I glue a 1½” fender washer to the bottom of the bottle with another favorite of mine, Amazing Household Goop.

glue-for-model-railroading

Amazing Household Goop is another adhesive that will glue just about anything together. I use it on bigger projects, such as benchwork, facias, and even automobile and household repairs. It is supplied with its own applicator tip.

glue-for-model-railroading

Epoxy seems to have gone out of favor due to the amazing selection of “super glues”. I used a lot of two-part, five-minute epoxy in the old days, and then gradually converted to experimenting with various brands of “gap filling” super glues. I found that they seemed to go bad relatively quickly after opening them and didn’t adhere well on certain surfaces. I did learn that keeping them refrigerated between uses really prolonged their lives.

Eventually I happened upon the “Gorilla” brand of super glue. It’s the best super glue that I’ve ever used by far. It comes in a 20g (.71 oz.) bottle that’s similar in design to a “white glue” bottle. Its description says that it’s impregnated with microscopic “rubber” particles. Hmm. Whatever, it works great for me, has a long workbench life, and doesn’t need refrigeration. That’s another bottle that can be tippy though, so I glue a 1½” fender washer on the bottom of that one as well.

Sometimes when working with small details, I will position the part with Walthers Goo, then when the Goo is set, I apply a touch of Gorilla Super Glue with a toothpick to firmly fasten the part.

glue-for-model-railroading

I use Elmer’s Wood Glue (the yellow carpenter’s kind) for structural benchwork framing and the like. And, it works great for furniture repair.

glue-for-model-railroading

On my own workbench I do have liquid plastic cement handy, but I really don’t use it very often.

glue-for-model-railroading

Other Adhesives

My primary use for hot glue is to glue up scenery forms like cardboard strips or metal window screen. It works great for gluing preformed and colored rock molds into place.

By the way, I use double-face adhesive tape for surface areas like sidewalks, road surfaces, structure walls, and signs. The hardware store brands don’t seem to work as well for me as the type that is available at a commercial graphics supply store.

Well, that’s my personal glue story. Let’s hear your story. We are planning an extensive series of how-to videos at our new studio at the Model Railroad Academy where I will show off my tools and techniques, and I’m looking forward to hearing your personal comments for content.

Keep those trains runnin’!

More in this series:

So You Want to Build a Model Railroad Layout?
Choosing Model Railroad Track Configurations
Assigning a Theme for Your Model Railroad Layout
Ideas for Unique Layout Concepts
Tips on Trackwork
Helpful Tips for Model Railroad Wiring
Ideas for Adding Personality to Model Railroad Layouts
Creative Ideas for Model Railroad Structures
Basic Detailing for Model Railroads: A Day in the Southern Pacific

Discussion
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16 Responses to “An Overview of Glues for Model Railroading”
  1. tom

    looking for the blue Revell acc glue with the long metal applicator. can’t seem to find it anywhere. modelers are using on their DPM kits. is it available here in the states? Also I use nothing but two part epoxy for resin kits.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Tom. I did some research and can’t find the Revell AC glue. It’s possible that it isn’t made any more. I like the new Gorilla super glue myself. On resin kits, I’ve actually used Walthers Goo to get the structure held together, and then come back with spots of epoxy in the corners, etc.

      Reply
  2. Kirsten M

    I started as a crafter as a child, and my dad’s favorite glues were Elmer’s wood glue and white glue. (Living in Columbus,Oh. Elmer and Elsie lived nearby!) Now I do so many things I have tons of glues. One of my favorites is the Museum wax or repositionable glue dots. That way I can let things set for a few days until I decide if I really like it.

    Reply
  3. Thomas L Chamberlain

    I just watched the video on making life
    Like rotted ties. After viewing the video 2 times I am still at a loss as to the actual use of the ingredients in the formula. I understand the raw sienna color but the mixture of the remaining ingredients (black alcohol stain,India ink and other alchol) I did not get. Can this part be explained in more detail or is there another source for this mixture.

    Reply
  4. bigdon1a1

    Gorilla glue might be OK, my only exsperince with Gorilla glue was a bad one, bought a good size bottle not sure what size used a small amount one time on a job was good. The next time went to use it it had hardend and ruined the bottle it was in also,, was a long time ago when it first hit the market

    Reply
  5. Joe Brickler

    I have two staples in my drawer. Duck cement is a fast setting clean cement that has great strength and will work on many surfaces. My other favorite is two sided carpet tape. It is very thin and holds extremely well. Thanks for the tip on the Gorilla super glue.

    Reply
  6. GLENN

    Just an addendum to Doug’s commentary. Good Ole’ Goo can be used like solder for non electrical applications. Coat a metal piece with Goo and let dry. Place the second piece in place and add heat. I have laid rail by coating the bottom, putting the rail in place and running a large solder iron along the rail.

    I also use silicone adhesive. I have found it can be used in a temporary joint. Just twist the item off.

    I also use Ambroid’s liquid cement, mainly for wood, but I have used it for plastic. I comes in a tube.

    I buy small quantities of acetone and keep a small bottle on the work bench. I have a nylon paint brush stuck through a small rubber ball when it use and putting the regular cap on when not in use. The ball keeps the fumes in the bottle. The bottle is kept in a block of wood so it doesn’t tip over.

    The best Super Glue (LOL) I use is a cheap ($1.49) 4-pack from Walmart. The stuff usually dries out before the tube is empty so why waste the $$$. I keep the open tube in a cut down medicine bottle with tip up. The bottle is siliconed to a square of wood to keep it upright.

    Glenn

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Donald,

      Duco is another good one. I have used it.

      Thanks,

      Douglas
      Model Railroad Academy Video Membership

      Reply
  7. Charles E Kinzer

    I’ve been assembling a large number of old Detail Associates drop bottom gondola kits which involve a lot of small plastic parts best glued with liquid plastic cement. I started using a “Touch-N-Flow” applicator (available from Micro-Mark and elsewhere) which is a pipette with a VERY tiny stainless tube in the end. You can get Testors in a their squarish plastic bottle with an attached metal tube, but that tube is huge compared to the Touch-N-Flow. Deluxe Materials (British) has a similar applicator called “Pin Flow”. Liquid styrene cement doesn’t work on some plastics such as Delrin or similar (used for some of the parts I’m assembling) or for acrylics such as those clear wheel mask jigs you see. For that Micro-Mark has “Same Stuff” which is a replacement for the hard-to-find or impossible-to-find, ProWeld or Tenax 7R. The pin tube applicators work fine with any liquid plastic cement but can’t be used with CA. For an amazing range of CA products, check out Bob Smith Industries who provides much of the CA you see in hobby shops and elsewhere but they private label them for everybody. On their site, they have their label but many of you probably have their stuff on your workbench with a local store label but BSI is always noted on the side of the label. Here are their products: http://www.bsi-inc.com/hobby/hobby.html . They also have handy accessories such as very small extender tips.

    Reply
  8. Alex Partyka

    Your glue article is very interesting . I have a question about glowing a piece of plastic on a mirror. Have tried Elmer’s glue and it melted it do you have any suggestions for me?

    Reply
    • Ed

      I’ve found silicone gasket cement will hold about anything to anything if put on dry clean surfaces also I have put auto rack sides with small dab in center of panel and will not warp panel like Walthers glue did

      Reply
  9. Cecil

    Some good information, but I have my preference as do many. I have experimented with CA Glues and have found that LOCTITE Super Glue GEL Control is one of the best. It has a nice pointed application tip and allows some easy set-up time. The screw down lid keeps waste to a minimum. Another is the LOCTITE Ultra liquid control that sets up a bit faster. I use this as well as Gorilla Wood Glue on my wooden models. On plastic models, I have found Tamiya Ultra Thin plastic cement works best for me. Its very fine applicator brush works great.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Scott,

      I make a small puddle of super glueon a scrap of wax paper and apply it in the corners of the glass using the tip of a toothpick.

      Hope this helps,

      Douglas
      Model Railroad Academy Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
      https://go.modelrailroadacademy.com/C15291

      Reply