Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Activator Cometh - more tales of superglue

I have been working away at the guns for my French Peninsular War siege train, so the time was right to try out my new Glue Activator, as pictured above. I'm always a little nervous trying anything new, since I know that if it doesn't work it will almost certainly be because of my own incompetence. It's good to be kept humble, of course, but not all the time...

The idea (bear with me here) is that superglue requires to be in a thin film to cure. A spot will stick together two glass microscope slides just about instantly, but any thicker mass of the stuff takes time to harden. This is the reason why I have spent so many frustrating hours attempting to hold head grafts or arm grafts still enough, for long enough, to achieve neat joins.

Well, I read about the various activator products, and decided to invest in a couple of bottles of the one illustrated at the top. I didn't fancy the spray, which on the face of it seems wasteful - my intention was to use it straight from the bottle - I'll come back to this in a moment.

Since it was ready to go, I thought I'd give the spray a try. Not good. Possibly the spray device on my first bottle was defective, but I couldn't direct the spray accurately enough - in fact, the activator fluid also came out below the spray button, and got onto my hand. I tired of that fairly quickly, so I unscrewed the top, and used a wooden cocktail stick to apply the fluid directly to the glued joints.

The fluid smells quite volatile, and certainly it flows easily and rapidly. Because it has very low viscosity, I couldn't get a decent sized drop to form on the pointed tip of the cocktail stick, but I could get a visible droplet on the square butt end of the stick. Excellent - present the droplet to the assembled, glued joint, the activator flows right inside the joint and the glue solidifies - instantly - as you look at it.


Trunnion plate on a 25mm scale siege gun (dead centre of photo) is a little less
than ¼ inch long, which by my standards is microscopic. No problem; put a blob
of superglue on the trunnion, place the fixing plate in position, adjust position
with penknife point, apply droplet of activator. Bingo. Why haven't I tried this
stuff before?
That's more like it. Before I graduate to sticking the separate arms onto my new Portuguese infantry, I'll have to practise a bit, but I fancy that if I support the body on a blob of Blutack, present the arm (accurately) to the shoulder with my right hand and touch a drop of activator to the job with my left, I should get good results without constantly dropping everything, without swearing and without needing to grow a third hand. I am reassured. It is not everyday that a product does what you had actually hoped it would do.

I recommend this stuff - for the kind of work I'm doing, though, the spray device is useless, so borrow the cocktail sticks.  


  1. Excellent news that your superglue troubles have found a solution!

    1. It does look promising - mind you, I haven't tried painting over any of the assisted joints yet, so I'm not getting too cheerful just yet...

  2. Stick to you guns, Foy, and remain solvent, and such like dreadful puns.

    1. My wife will be very relieved - I think she is heartily sick of the histrionics when I screw up a conversion. If I hold tiny parts together with my fingers [was there a question at the back?] my fingertips turn to marzipan in about 15 seconds, and, inevitably, replacement heads, sword blades, flag finials, tools and artillery parts finish up on the carpet - very hairy - literally. There was once a very small wheel from the assembly of a 10" howitzer which disappeared completely - I even shifted the painting desk to look underneath (not a trivial undertaking) - no sign of the beggar.

      I have a strange nervous condition in the fingers, apparently - I can clean and shape a joint until it is about perfect, I can assemble the thing, dry, with great precision, and see if it is going to work, but as soon as I apply any actual glue my co-ordination goes to blazes, and I can't find my nose with both hands, can't hit a cow in the arse with a banjo.

      One shelved (temporarily abandoned) job which I've just remembered is the fitting of shovels and pickaxes to some HH marching infantry (the ones who have separate muskets), to deploy along siegeworks. Should be feasible now. That's a good thought. Accelerate the adhesive, eliminate the negative.


  3. Excellent news Tony, this could also save me hours of frustration just as you describe. I must say I have also noticed that the smaller the blob the quicker it sets, but I'm never convinced it's going to hold together for very long so tend to use too much with resultant consequences, stuck fingers etc! I'll try some myself I think, I find Army Painter products expensive but good quality in general.

    1. Hi Lee - it's all a learning process, isn't it? :-) I haven't tried anything really tricky yet, but this stuff really simplifies the fiddly artillery kits - very pleased with it so far.

  4. Replies
    1. Good man - with hindsight, I think wooden toothpicks would be better than cocktail sticks...