I’m just a hobbyist and these are my experiences…
For making small window “glass”, mainly for vehicle models, I like to use Elmer’s Clear School Glue (ECSG) rather than Microscale’s Kristal Klear. Although both are applied the same way, I find that ECSG provides better clarity. ECSG is commonly found in arts and crafts stores. It is inexpensive and a regular bottle will last a long time.
The application brush is also a very inexpensive soft hobby type with about a 1/8” bulb-shaped tip. Cleanup is with hand soap and water.
There are some things to keep in mind when using ECSG…
- Bubbles can easily form in the glue, so I try not to agitate it. These bubbles do not pop and generally remain permanently. With the cap assembly removed, I slowly dip the brush into the bottle, as opposed to squeezing some out onto a pallet. If a bubble appears as a window is made, it is possible to move it with the brush (or toothpick) over onto a window frame. But this can be difficult. I find the easiest thing to do is to start over.
- Once dry, I try not to touch it as fingerprints will quickly form and will not disappear. The dried windowpane is also easily dented if contacted.
- If ECSG gets damaged, removing it is easy by simply using a blunt tool and pressing from the outside (normally ECSG is applied from inside a model). ECSG dries like a flexible “skin” and peels away from model surfaces. It can also be washed away with warm water. It easily dissolves with water, so avoid getting a model with ECSG wet.
- To add hazy weathering to the windows, it is possible to lightly airbrush a dust color on top of the ECSG without damage. But a wash will cause the window to dissolve.
As stated earlier, applying ECSG is the same technique as for Kristal Klear. To make a small flat window – practice will determine how large one can go:
- Slowly dip the brush into the glue. With a rather full amount on the brush, paint all around the inside of the window frame, then pull the glue from one side across the opening to the other. I often find a second dip of glue is needed for the pulling to make the glazing. On a late 1930’s automobile with small windows, all of them can be done at once. I leave this to dry overnight.
- To make a bigger flat window, I cut a piece of Evergreen .005” clear styrene slightly larger than the window opening. Using this as a form, I tape it tightly to the outside of the model. It is important to use clear styrene or something with a smooth shiny finish. Regular styrene sheet can have a “pebbly” surface finish which will show on the cured window. The ECSG is then painted somewhat thickly from inside (no pulling is necessary). I then let the model dry oriented with the glued window horizontal, so it does not move. I usually leave this overnight. When cured, the clear styrene form can be peeled away – the ECSG does not stick to styrene.
- To make wrap-around windshields as found on mid-to-late Fifties automobiles, the same technique is used except the form is bent to the shape of the wrap-around. I cut the form to the shape of the window opening but slightly larger (about .010” to .020” overall). Sylvan vehicle kit instruction sheets often have patterns for making complex shaped windows. Simply cut them out a little oversize, check against the model opening and make any adjustments if needed. The paper pattern is then Scotch-taped to clear styrene sheet and the styrene form cut out. I use dedicated small sharp scissors as found in the ladies’ beauty section of a department store. After cutting, the paper pattern is removed. Then I roll the ends of the clear styrene form around a toothpick to get the wrap-around bend and any needed curvature of the middle. This is where .005” thick sheet is best – for bending (I find .010” too stiff). After this, the form is taped tightly in place and the ECSG applied from the inside.
Another way to use ECSG is for fixing clear styrene windows inside a railroad car or structure. In the case of this brass NYO&W 8300 caboose (Nickel Plate), ECSG was applied around the inside of each window opening and a slightly oversize piece of .005” clear styrene window placed on. This is what one would expect to do but remember that styrene does not stick well to ECSG. To secure the styrene glass in place once the glue around the openings has dried, I paint a layer of ECSG on top of the clear styrene from inside, overlapping onto the walls. The ECSG envelops the window and does not affect the clarity.