Sunday, August 7, 2022

More about canopy glue

Years ago, I wrote a blog post about the things I liked about canopy glue for modeling use. Since then, it’s been about the most viewed post of my blog. (If you don’t know it, here’s a link: .) 

Over the years since, my use of this glue has only increased. It is still a superb adhesive for dissimilar materials: metal to wood, plastic to metal, cardstock to plastic, etc. And the most important such use for me, as a freight car modeler, is for attaching etched metal running boards to plastic or resin car bodies. It holds well and tolerates expansion and contraction of the dissimilar parts (unlike CA).

Below is just a single example, an etched-metal running board on a PFE reefer. These are solid, secure, and well attached. Running boards like this that I installed 25 years ago are just fine.

The glue does remain flexible even in its old age, one reason it works so well for dissimilar materials. But it’s impressive how tenacious it is. It’s sticky in a matter of seconds, and holds pretty well in a minute. After an hour setting time, it is very solid, but will get stronger over the next several hours. I like to leave any canopy-glue joint that will handle any load or stress, for 24 hours to fully cure.

(I actually did glue pieces of various materials and wait different lengths of time to see how hard it was to pull them apart. If this sound like a viewpoint of someone interested in strength, I plead guilty. My professional career in materials science was about exactly that topic. For more, see: .)

What is different nowadays is that I increasingly use canopy glue for routine attachment of small parts to anything in modeling. You do have to wait a moment for good adhesion, unlike CA (and canopy glue doesn’t glue your fingers together!), but the final joint is truly tenacious. I have been surprised to try and remove a small part that was attached this way, and to find how strongly it is attached. For a model like the one below (built from a Funaro & Camerlengo kit), I have no hesitation today to use canopy glue for practically anything. It’s my general-purpose adhesive.

It does have one vulnerability: water. Soaking with water will soften the adhesive and joined parts can be pulled apart. I used this recently with some trackwork on the layout. Since ordinarily our railroad models aren’t immersed in water, this is not a limitation — but beware if using water-based scenery techniques around anything glued this way!

So the point I really want to convey is that canopy glue is not a specialty adhesive, used just for attaching running boards, say, but is a much more generally useful glue. I now use it for most glue applications. It’s still available from Pacer Technologies, still called “Formula 560,”under their “Zap” trade name, as you see below on my current bottle. Back in the day, it was usually found only in the airplane models section of hobby shops, but today shops that only sell railroad models carry it too.

I am occasionally asked if this isn’t just another white glue. I  always reply, “emphatically, no.” It is a lot stronger, for one thing, including in comparison to the many “tacky glue” products offered in craft stores. Yes, they are similar, but no, they are not at all the same. Get the good stuff: canopy glue!

Tony Thompson


  1. After reading the post about canopy glue several years ago, I used it for building O scale turnouts using Right O Way frogs and points on wood ties at the bench. It was great, much faster to glue and gauge with glue and then put spikes into already set track work.
    Maynard Stowe

  2. Sounds like we need to run some flatwise tension and lap shear testing to properly characterize these properties!

  3. I have to confess I've never used this glue before. But I think I'll give it a try as a result of your testimonial. BTW, the running board on the reefer really looks good!

    1. Sure! Be my guest.
      Tony Thompson