glueing a drop step onto a steam locomotive. All diecast. The previous owner dropped the engine. This is a MTH piece, but parts are not available, so i cannot buy the new part. There was a glue job of gorilla glue, but it did not hold. Any reccomendations?

thanks in advance. 

Original Post

Can't say if this will work, and the thickness of the diecast can have a lot to do with whether the part will hold together or not. Try J-B Weld, a 2 part epoxy that dries pretty strong. Use the slow drying formula, it will somewhat blend in with the loco color. I have used it on a carbuerator and am currently working on a kit bashed signal bridge, which I have filed & carefully dremmeled some areas to hide some flaws. (never easy, but doable). Don't buy the fast drying formula.

      Steam Forever


I rebuilt a Dorfan engine using JB weld which was in about 30 pieces. The trick it used is some modeling clay that does not garden to provide the form and support. One the JB weld dries fully the clay is easily removed. 

I like both JB products, but the original seems to set harder.

It does run and droop....very very  slowly.  The clay isn't a bad idea. Plastic wrap works if you can keep it from getting bunched and caught in cured folds. Wet fingers allow some fingertip manipulation without it sticking to you much. Masking tape works sometimes, but Ive had some brands stick too.

The best sticking epoxy for me was radio shacks, but it had a slightly rubbery set too.

Before you glue the steps on :  drill a 1/16 inch hole in both parts to support the joint with brass rod.

By drop step do you mean part of the pilot? I would be using original JB weld as well but depending what the part looks like would require different types of reinforcement. First you have remove all traces of Gorilla Glue.

How about posting a picture?



In my experience, success in gluing broken die cast metal parts is largely dependent on the break. If the parts mate well, the joint will hold.
Over the years, I have had good success with:
standard (thin) CA glue
Gap filling (thick) CA glue
JB quick weld

CA glues do not all seem to be of the same quality. I use whichever name brand product my local hobby shop is stocking.

Hi Al. This is Tom. Yea, I would probably use JB weld. For me, I've never used it because in my past I've used regular superglue has worked for me and when the glue dries, it's a slight white color but sometimes also dries clear, but I end up painting the dried glue to the color of steam locomotive and all times you won't see it. But I've been lucky where one of my steam locomotives in the past had this issue. So you don't have to do what I'm saying, but for me, it has worked.

Loctite 380 is my go to adhesive for most small jobs. CLEAN both surfaces first (i use either mineral spirits or lacquer thinner), apply to one surface, join, and hold together. you have about 90 seconds working time before it sets. It hardens in 24 hours. A few months ago i joined 2 pieces of brass together, misaligned them, and had to use a saw to separate them. It is NOT available at big box stores, mass merchandisers, hardware stores, or auto parts stores. You can find it online, through machine shop suppliers, or at Grangers ($5.54 for a 3 gram tube). Not cheap, but you get what you pay for.


Last edited by modeltrainsparts

Definitely a job for Loctite 380. Look at the MSDS on it. If your local Granger doesn't have it in stock, they'll get it for you over night with no shipping charge.

Using an adhesive, any adhesive, just at the butt joint won't be strong enough alone. Before you glue it together remove the paint from the top of the pilot beam and from the front of the pilot beam between the steps on both pieces. Glue the piece back on the beam and let it fully harded. Then lay strips of .010-.012" brass or better yet phosphor bronze across the length of the pilot beam on top and front. That should secure it better than before the break.



Last edited by Norton

One more comment.
I have a small blue die cast metal locomotive shell that had it's pilot snapped off.
I used JB Quick epoxy to repair it.
I scrapped some paint away from the back side of the pilot and body by the broken piece.
After I glued the two pieces together. I built up the back side with some more epoxy. (similar to Norton's suggestion).
This particular casting (like a postwar 247) is prone to this breakage. So far I've done it to two different shells. The repair has not failed yet.

Ditto J B Weld. I just finished repairing a die-cast crank-pin on a C&O Hudson with J B Weld. Be sure to scuff and solvent clean the contact surfaces. There is no need to scuff a crack as it is typically has jagged surface.

I'm also vote for JB Weld. I had the mount for a bell snap off a steam locomotive. I went through several glues and epoxies with no success. Someone on here recommended JB Weld and it is still holding strong several years later.

Beautiful locomotive, ugly pilot.  I agree - nothing short of a dowel or a reinforcing strip will hold it, and anyway the step verticals are bent.

If you could put up with a scale coupler, Stevenson Preservation Models has the correct part in bronze.  You would have to drill and tap to attach it, but it would dramatically change the locomotive.

I also agree - JB Weld is a good product for a dowelled repair.

Sometimes a backing strip of brass shim or ...ahem... soup-tin can help, especially on things like pilot steps where there isn't much meat to attach to.

JB Weld is my go-to stuff, and sometimes a 5-minute epoxy if the JB Weld runniness is a problem. Tin-foil backing helps if you need a specific shape or need to make a 'dam'. 

Don't worry about how ugly it looks to start with - files and fine grit sandpaper are your friends. 

Last edited by Firewood
J Daddy posted:

Before you glue the steps on :  drill a 1/16 inch hole in both parts to support the joint with brass rod.

I like the idea of hidden stiffiners. I once bought a dining room table and six chairs cheap because one of the chairs had a broken leg.   The set had cabriole legs and the thin part was less than 5/8" diameter. The seller had tried to glue the broke leg twice. I soaked the broke ends in acetone till I had most of the glue out and reglued it.  Then I spent several hours aligning a foot long  5/16" drill bit to run up the leg from the foot. After boring the hole I epoxied a bicycle axle in the hole.  We eventually gave the set to my sister and she is still using it.  Back around eighty five I bought an Ives steam loco that had a broke pilot and used a similar trick.  You can buy long skinny titanium screws from surgical or dental supply houses. These things are really thin and come in lengths up to 2 or 3 inches. I drilled several holes through the broke pilot and after attaching it with JB weld and allowing time to cure I used the holes I had predrilled to act as guides to drill another 1/2 inch into the pilot deck.  I drilled out the initial holes in the part that broke off about half way through and countersunk the heads of the screws.  After the repair I could hold the loco by the pilot.   In todays world I bet you can find titanium or tungsten carbide surgical screws online.                j   


I normally drill a couple really small holes for the stiffeners, 1/16" is only suitable for larger pieces.  I also swear by Loctite 380 for a strong bond, and as a bonus, it is jet black and matches most steamers. 

Many times if it's possible to hide, I use JB-Weld, probably the most used adhesive in my shop.  JW-Weld isn't as good if you are just joining two pieces and don't have any hidden surface for additional strength.

Agree with GRJ -- Loctite 380 is my "go to" adhesive. It's usually not found at the big box stores or even well stocked hardware stores; I get mine from Grainger's.


There's a extra thick super glue sold on Amazon, Bob Smith Industries, I tried it for work for attaching thermocouples, but it didn't stay bonded at high temperatures (>110°C). Never tried it on zinc castings like model trains.

None of the CA Adhesives handle high temperatures well.  JB-Weld, OTOH, does well at fairly high temperatures.  For anything your diecast locomotive is going to see, I suspect CA Adhesive works just fine.

I have had success with JB Weld. You will definitely need a "splint" though. Some brass stock behind it the width of the whole pilot or something similar. Scrape all the paint off and I'm a firm believer in clamps.

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