British Equine Collectors' Forum

For All British Model Horse Collectors

How to mend a broken Breyer leg

Breyer legs can break alarmingly easily, and won’t mend in the long term with glue alone. The trick is to splint the leg and then glue it. This method works with all sizes of Breyers though you may want to use a thinner drill and wire for Stablemates!

Materials needed:

  • craft knife
  • acetone or nail-varnish remover
  • a cotton bud
  • a standard sized paper clip
  • a 1mm drill bit and drill
  • a marker pen or paint
  • wire cutters
  • pliers
  • glue – either superglue, a piece of tissue and a helper
  • Or a two part glue like araldite, the means to mix it, and some sellotape
  • a flat surface

 IMPORTANT – We do not recommend that these techniques should be used by modellers under the age of 12, and we do stress that a responsible adult should oversee any young modellers using saws, craft knives, dyes, etc.

SAFETY FIRST !

This must be a primary consideration, and there are many points to consider: Follow all safety precautions and read All label instructions, information and warnings.

Tie back Long hair.....don’t wear loose or baggy clothing..... Keep pets and small children away from where you are working.....And remember never to eat, drink or smoke whilst you are working.

Use Protective Eyewear!! ALWAYS Wear goggles or safety glasses when using knifes, sandpaper and dremels.

When cutting or sawing a model, try to hold it in a vice, and NOT your hand. If it has to be in your hand, wrap your hand in a thick cloth or wear protective gloves, and always cut away from yourself.

Most kinds of glue used for mending and customising models can cause bad blisters on the eyes if they have any contact with them, so don’t let dried glue stay on your hands, always wash it off.

If using a power-tool for sanding, don’t use it for long periods of time, take a rest every 5 minutes or so as several American customisers have suffered serious circulation and long term nerve problems as a result of this.

Think Safety First - Take Care at All Times, Prevention is Best!

The BECF is not responsible for any damage you may do to yourself or your models.

On the assumption that you’ve already tried to glue the leg, it is very important to remove all the old glue as this will weaken any subsequent join. Carefully scrape as much of the old glue as possible away with the craft knife, and remove the rest with a cotton bud soaked in acetone. Acetone will dissolve the plastic of most Breyers, and will remove the paint finish, so be careful not to over apply it. Scrape the remaining softened glue away.

Fit the two parts together to make sure they are a good match. The tenite plastic that most Breyers are made of tends to break cleanly, so it is unlikely that you will have chips missing. See the comments below on choice of glue.

Check that your drill bit and the wire of the paperclip are the same gauge – the drill can be slightly larger, but not by much. Drill a hole perpendicularly into the centre of the broken surface of the leg (it doesn’t matter which piece), to the depth of at least half a centimetre, though deeper is better. Uncurl your paperclip, straightening it with the pliers, and check that it will fit snugly into the hole. If it wobbles about a lot, find some thicker wire!

To mark where to drill the hole in the other part of the leg remove the wire peg from the drilled part and cover the broken surface thinly with the paint, or thickly with the marker pen and quickly fit and hold the two pieces together for a few seconds. The paint or wet marker ink should transfer to the other piece, leaving a clean spot where you need to drill. You may need to try this more than once to get an accurate impression. Drill your second hole as the first, then clean the two broken surfaces thoroughly with the acetone.

Check your second hole with the wire and then cut the wire so that it is about the same length as the depth of both holes – having it too long initially is better than too short! Fit the wire into one hole and then place the other broken part onto the peg of wire sticking out. If there is space between the two broken surfaces shorten the wire slightly until they fit snugly together.

Your choice of which glue to use is largely a matter of personal preference, however if you do not have a very close fitting join it is better to use a two part epoxy glue rather than superglue as the latter will not fill spaces, and therefore not make such a good bond. It should also be noted that Araldite will yellow considerably with age, and the ‘Super Epoxy’ brand is preferable in this respect, if you can find it.

If you are using superglue:

Place the wire peg into one of the holes and run glue into the hole down the peg. Move the peg around a little to make sure the glue gets into the hole. Hold it until it sets (longer than they’d have you believe!) Place a small dab of glue on the tip of the protruding piece of wire and place it in hole of the other part of the leg. Hold the join securely together (having another pair of hands here helps!) and run the glue all the way around the outside of the join. Wipe away any excess immediately with a piece of tissue paper. Superglue works by capillary action so this method works fine. Hold the join absolutely still for about a minute, by which time the glue should be set enough to cope with some movement. Stand the horse (don’t lie it down!) on a level surface and leave it alone for a good 10 minutes. Carefully scrape off any remaining excess glue from around the join.

If you are using a ‘two part’ epoxy glue:

Mix the glue as per the instructions. Coat one end of the wire peg liberally with the mixed glue and twist it into the hole to ensure a good covering of glue. Coat the protruding wire and the broken surface with glue and put the two broken pieces together. Wrap some sellotape tightly around the join to keep it in place and stand the horse (don’t lie it down!) on a level surface and leave it for at least the manufacturers stated drying time for the brand you are using. Early in the drying process check it occasionally, without touching if possible, to make sure the join hasn’t moved. If it has, correct it. Once the glue is dried remove the sellotape and cut off the excess glue with a craft knife to leave a smooth surface.

The point of standing the horse up whilst the glue is drying is to exert the correct pressure on the join. The pin will stop the join sliding, but (particularly with a 2 part epoxy) if the model is lying down it is easy for gravity to skew the join, particularly if there is some play on the pin in the hole.

You should now have a model with a serviceably mended leg, that shouldn’t fall off again without serious provocation. However, the join will probably be noticeable, so what you do with the model now is up to you: leave it as it is, carefully try to match the colour of the paint (actually quite difficult), paint white socks on it to cover the join (much easier!), or do a full repaint… but that is covered in another BECF guidesheet! 

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