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Repairing Models

These tips are only suggestions and Walkabout Farm takes no responsibility for further damage to models that are attempted to be repaired by these techniques.  The repair techniques listed below are taken from a pamphlet handed out at Breyerfest.  Please be very careful when using any chemicals and make sure to read all manufacturer's warning labels carefully before using any of them.  All of the these repair techniques should done by adults or in the presence of and with assistance of an adult.

Repairing Broken Models
Straightening Bent Legs
Touching Up Scratches or Rubs
Whitening Yellowed Models

Repairing Broken Breyer Models

Breyer Models are made of Cellulose Acetate.  The composition of cellulose acetate will not allow it to be glue with everyday adhesives like Elmers, model cement, or Crazy glue.  For best results, it is recommended that you use acetone to repair you models, or a product high in acetone.  This will soften the plastic and allow the broken pieces to actually bond together.  Nail polish remover sometimes works, but is usually too diluted to work well, and it won't work if it contains skin softeners or moisturizers as aloe or lanolin.  Acetone and acetone products can usually be found at hardware stores.

Follow these steps to insure a good bond.

1.  Make sure that the surface of the break is clean.  If any foreign substance such as dirt or other glue is on the break, the plastic will not bond.

2.  Put a small drop of the solvent on each part and allow it to stand 10-30 seconds.  Do not over apply the solvent, or you may risk causing damage to the broken part by over-softening; the pieces will no longer fit together properly.  Also be careful not to get any of the solvent anywhere else on your model.  This will remove paint.

3.  Carefully put the two pieces together and hold for at least one minute.

4.  Let the bond set for at least one hour.  Make certain that there is no pressure or strain on the broken area.

5.  The break in a leg can be strengthened by putting a small pin in it.  Drill a small hole (slightly smaller than the diameter of the pin) in each face of the break.  Be sure that you check the fit of the pin and the alignment of the the leg BEFORE applying the solvent.  Follow steps 1-4 as above.  You might want to practice using a pin on an old, beat-up model before trying on a favorite one.

Remember that although repaired, the break site is still going to be a weak spot.  Avoid stress and strain on that area.

Straightening Bent Legs on Breyer Models

Experience has told us that the legs of models can become bent due to one or more of the following reasons: heat, forced removal from the platform on which the model is mounted in the box, or a molding error that slipped through quality control.  Whatever the reason, the majority of these cases can be easily corrected by the collector at home.  The following items will be needed: an oven mitt or towel, cooking pot filled with water, and the model in need of correction.

1.  Bring the pot of water to a boil; the reduce heat slightly.  Do not allow the water to boil continuously, because as the temperature continues to rise after boiling, the likelihood of altering the finish or paint of the model increases.

2.  Immerse the leg which is bent, and gently move the horse in a circular motion.  Do not allow the model to touch the pot in any place.  Be careful when standing over the stove, as the hot steam rising from the pot will burn you.

3.  Remover traditional sized models after approximately 45 seconds, and with the oven mitt protecting your hand, slowly bend the leg back to its proper position.  Do not grip the leg too tightly, as the fabric, cloth, or mitt may leave an imprint.

4.  If the leg does not bend easily, put the leg back into the water for several more seconds and try again.

5.  Stand the horse on a level surface to make sure it stands squarely.  After correcting the bend, allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes.

*An alternative method is to use a blow dryer.

1.  Hold blow dryer about 2-3 inches from the leg, and with the dryer set on hot/high direct hot air onto the bent area.

2.  This may take approximately one minute to soften the leg, check leg periodically by gently pushing and pulling the leg.

3.  When the leg is quite soft, correct position.

4.  Be sure your hand is not in the path of the hot air, as it can burn you.

Touching up Scratches or Rubs on Breyer Models

One of the special things about Breyer models is the way that they are painted.  After having their seams  finely sanded, all unpainted models go to the washing department.  The washing serves a dual purpose.  The first is to remove the dust created when buffing the models, which builds up on the body.  Without removing the dust completely, the paint will not stick directly on the model's body and will come off easily when wiped.  The second purpose is to slightly soften the plastic, as the molded product is washed in acetone.  This allows the special paint used to actually bond to the plastic, and not just sit on the surface.  The paint can get scratched through accidents, but all is not lost.

It is recommended that you use water based acrylic paint (found at art stores) to touch up scratches.  Acrylics have many advantages, as they can be thinned with water, the come in a tremendous variety of colors, they are easy to clean, and they dry fairly quickly.

Once you have found the color that basically resembles your model's original paint, you may need to add another or even two other colors and mix them to get a match.  While you do this, add some water to thin the paint out, as the layer on most models is fairly thin.  Always remember that when dry, the paint will look a slightly different color then when wet; the dry color usually has a flatter look, and may vary on the lighter or darker side, depending on the color that you start with.

If a large area of the models is to be painted, you may want to wipe the area with a bit of acetone to prep the plastic; let dry before painting.  However, do keep in mind that acetone will also remove any of the original paint it comes in contact with.

The best method is to thin the paint for use in an air brush (air gun), and apply with the air brush.  Air brushes also produce very good results with a little practice.  The traditional wet application may be used, or for very small areas, you may want to use a dry brush.  Apply a small amount of pain to the center of the rub and paint outward, thinning the layer as you may contact with the original paint; try to blend with the original paint.  Be sure to keep the paint thin and smooth, as any dried globs or drips of paint will be immediately noticeable.  However, if it is too thin, the new paint will scratch off easily.  Do not touch until dry.  Drying time will depend upon the size of the painted area and the thickness of the paint.

Whitening Yellowed Breyer Models

Over the course of time, the chemical stability in all types of plastic will degenerate to some extent.  In Breyer models, the result is most easily seen in white or mostly white models, as they have a yellow appearance.  Models that were originally solid white can be brightened up by the following method:

1.  Wash model gently, using warm water and a lemon based dish detergent, such as Sunlight.

2.  Wearing rubber gloves, mix 1 cup of bleach with 4 gallons of hot tap water in a large bucket, in a well ventilated are.  Avoid breathing fumes.

3. Completely submerge model.

4.  Watch the model closely during soaking, as less yellowed models need less time.  More yellowed models will need more time.  An hour is usually the longest time needed.

5.  DO NOT use this method for Pintos, Appys, or models with gold decorations, such as the Western Horses.

6.  For spot bleach, you may wish to submerge only part of the model, or you may also mix a higher concentrate for a scrub, using 2 cups of bleach in 4 gallons of water.  Scrub yellowed are gently with an old cloth or soft toothbrush dipped in the mixture.  Always wear rubber gloves.

This method works on most, but not all Breyer Models.  Models which have been exposed to cigarette or other smoke may not brighten up.  An Alternate method is to place model in bright, direct sunlight for up to a weak.  Reports state that this method sometimes brightens models; however, it also speeds up the degeneration of the plastic agents in the Cellulose Acetate.

Repairing Broken Models
Straightening Bent Legs
Touching Up Scratches or Rubs
Whitening Yellowed Models

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