MODELS with SILICON IMPLANTS

A few years ago Jordan [Katie Price] was a regular attendee at Ewood Park, home of the world’s finest football team. [Blackburn Rovers] Apart from a remote risk to my blood pressure, she has no impact on this article at all, but was merely accompanying her then boyfriend, Dwight Yorke, at his place of work.  I will accept no criticism for the lack of taste of this sexist irrelevance, I may have written the title, but you chose to read on!!!
The silicone gel I am referring to here is the modeller’s friend.  Pretty well everybody who has ever exhibited a model at a B.C.C. meeting or exhibition will have become only too aware of the frailties of BAYKO models in this respect, as black holes emerge on otherwise proud offerings.  Those of us who venture into the realm of larger models would have torn out the few remaining strands of the fluffy stuff had we not taken gel action.
Silicone gel is a chemically unreactive material, widely used in bathrooms and, less frequently, kitchens across the planet, as a sealant to prevent leakage when your rubber duck gets over excited in the bath.  That, however, is not its major role in life which is, of course, to reduce the depilatory pressures on frustrated BAYKO modellers.
There are various sizes of container used for silicone gel, but I’ve always gone for the one shown in the attached photograph, [right] which is the usual size for bathroom usage.  It comes with a separate gun which allows you to dispense the gel under accurate control.  An important point for those who have used the gel on a bathroom-wide scale, for BAYKO use you should cut a much smaller hole, at the very tip of the dispenser’s nozzle, to help keep control.
Silicon Gel gun
As for types of gel, there is a wide range of colours available, and obviously you may feel tempted to use them.  Personally, I stick to the transparent type, which has the self-evident benefit of being much less conspicuous in the finished model.  There is a variant which starts out white, but becomes transparent as it cures.  Some may find the visibility of the white colour an advantage during the application process.
Some builders’ merchants stock the transparent gel, but the best source is from car accessory shops, the local counterparts to Halfords [who do not themselves stock the transparent gel].  In this context it is intended as a windscreen sealant.
So when should you use silicone gel?  Some BAYKO parts, such as side bricks and windows, will fall out if somebody looks at them the wrong way.  The crinkle cut office block model I built a few years ago uses 280 Side Windows and over 900 Side Bricks.  It has been shown a dozen or so times, travelling over 2,000 miles, and, to date, not a single piece has popped!!!  Personally I don’t stop there. I use gel for most pieces in large models, though I am a little more selective with smaller models.  Unfortunately, using silicone gel does increase build time, which is a pain, but you can save time, if you like, by not using it on the bottom and top layers of each building section, i.e. immediately above and below Floors, etc.  Except for Side Bricks, this should not significantly impact on the models integrity through the rigours of the exhibition circuit.  Parts where the rod passes through a hole don’t need to be gelled, unless you are planning to go a very long way between floors, when the rod may bow out.  I have, however, experimented with gel to counter the wilful rotation of pillars, and was pleased with the results.
So how should you use it?  “Carefully”, is the silly response, but it’s actually not a bad answer.  It’s very easy to squeeze the gun too tightly, or for too long, and flood the end of the nozzle, which is a pain and should be avoided - but a little rehearsal will see you right.
Given that using the gel is more time consuming, I recommend a disciplined approach, to make the process more efficient.  I generally glue up all the parts needed for the next sub section, in advance, then put down the gun and put the bits in.  If you are fussy, like me, you can put each part the right way up as part of the pre-gelling stage, which significantly speeds up the rhythm of the building phase.  If you don’t pre-gel, you’ll end up putting every piece in with one hand, [gun in the other] which can be inconvenient, particularly in tricky corners.  You should then add the flooring, or whatever you are using to control the final structure, which will, inevitably, squeeze out some of the gel which you should then clean up before you move on.  I find that fingers are most effective for this.  This method builds the strongest, most resilient models.
How much to use?  One or two dabs on both sides of each part, in the rod groove, are fine, a dab being 2 millimetres in diameter – ish.  The exceptions, where I am deliberately more heavy-handed, are on the inside of the ‘T’ brick combination; on the middle rod groove on Side Bricks and Windows; and at both ends of spans.  Unless firmly secured, these locations can otherwise facilitate far too much movement in the final model.
The last point is how to get rid of the silicone gel when the model has finished its useful life.  That’s simple – you just pull and rub it off.  This also applies to the gel you get onto your grubby little fingers during building!  It is actually easier to remove gel when it is set, but if it is only partially set, I suggest wiping on a piece of cardboard – tissues and cloths are not really very good for this.
This methodology should prevent you making too many boobs!!!
For completeness, I ought to add a health and safety caveat.  I’m not aware of any modellers who have experienced any adverse reactions, however, if you are the sensitive type, in terms of reacting to chemicals, you may want to test a small amount on your skin before you go flat out.  Dog walkers’ gloves may help if you have a problem!
 
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