Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Corrugated iron anyone?

Do you remember when toothpaste tube were made of a soft lead-like material? In those days I was modelling 1/32nd scale model soldiers inspired by a couple of books Scale Model Soldiers by Roy Dilley and Model Soldiers by Peter Blum. There was an illustration in Peter's book showing thin strips of toothpaste tube being used for strapping and belts. The technique has stayed with me ever since. Today, toothpaste tubes are plastic and I have not found a use for them - yet! So these days I have moved on to tomato purée tubes which still seem to be made from some kind of metal. They are still useful for straps and tie-downs as well as adding thin flexible details to models. The stuff can be pressed into place an will stay where it is put.

A few months ago, I was wandering around Hobbycraft and I can across a kiddie's card corrugating set (Packaged as a ripple set). It came with a few sheets of card. the whole lot was only £2.99. So I bought one, took it home and had a play with some thin paper and kitchen foil. The results were not bad but very fragile and had a tendency to flatten out. Today while having a bit of a tidy up in the workshop (it does happen now and again) I came across an empty tomato paste tube, I rescued a couple of days ago, awaiting trimming and cleaning. While cleaning it it suddenly occurred to me that this might be the perfect material. First I had to prepare the tube.

The tube cuts easily with scissors, the top and bottom are removed and discarded

Now the messy bit! The tube can be split...

...and opened out

After being washed and cleaned the creasing can be removed by rubbing with something hard and smooth such as a spoon or, as here, a spanner with a highly polished finish

The sheet was trimmed and wound through the toy crimper
The finished sheets are trimmed to size
Corrugated iron is/was available with 3 - 5 inch corrugations (flutes) and the sizes given below are just examples of the type of material that can be represented using this cheap machine in various scales. I have referred to this stuff as 'iron' but an asbestos product was used extensively, until a few decades ago, for buildings and roofs. Today there are modern modern products made from plastics and other fibres used in the building trade, mainly for temporary or non domestic buildings, that can be seen in use and would make a good addition to any modern scene. A good example is a corrugated sheet sold by the building and DIY supplier, Wickes. HERE is a link to their leaflet details of use which can be used in model form to replicate correct installation.

The machine will corrugate the material to give a flute spacing of approximately 1/8 inch. This equates to exactly 6 inches in American O scale (1/48) and is fairly close in European O gauge. In SM32/45, the popular narrow gauge scales (16mm/ft) it will approximate a 3 inch flute. It will work well for military modellers where in 1/35 and 1/32 scale it will make a good 4 inch flute.

I am sure I will find a use for this stuff. In its unpainted form it is looking good in the photographs just imagine what it will look like with a good paint finish.



  1. This is really great but I can't find one anywhere. Is that the exact name of the press?

  2. Hello, Wolfie!

    Try this link: Paste this into your browser:

    That should get you there.