Sunday, September 4, 2016

Replacement for Ertl plastic powerhouse.

A client sent me an HO scale Ertl kit, the Easton Mill. It consists of two plastic buildings, but the sculpt, fit and factory paint-and-weathering on them... let's see, how to say this nicely... it's not up to my standards.

I talked my client into allowing me to build the power house as a cardstock model. I pulled all the dimensions from the Ertl kit and then made it in The Gimp.

Here it is.

Stereoscopic View

The main part of the building is inkjet-printed cardstock laminated onto museum board. I used Clever Models textures, as usual. I laminate with the cheapest spray adhesive I can find, which happens to be Aleen's Tacky Spray. (I'll have to do a proper how-to post on this technique when I find the time.)

The most painstaking part of this build: I cut out the doors and windows, then painted the thick edges of the holes with neutral grey acrylic, then I used brown, yellow and grey gouache paints to touch up the edges to match the stones.

I tried a new technique for the steps; I made the bottom tread part of the base of the building. That way, there's no chance of the steps falling off if the structure is handled roughly. Once I had the steps assembled, I treated the edges with cyanoacrylate glue and sanded the edges. 

The original model included a boiler out front, and I replicated it with two caps from Trader Joe's disposable pour-over coffee brewers, along with some brass tubing scraps and bits of museum board.

All in all, a quick and fun project.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Clever Models' Papercraft Trailer Shed Freebie

Thom Miecznikowski designed a papercraft model of this oddball structure, and put it up as a freebie on the Clever Models site. I assume he based it on a prototype he saw during his travels.
It's only available for a limited time, so JUMP ON IT NOW and maybe send a donation. I sent $5.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Papercraft Chimneys

I got frustrated trying to saw a notch in some plastic HO scale chimneys, so I decided to make my own.

I started with the working drawings from the Great Northern Historical Society's Modelers' Pages (#392, "Section Houses and Facilities.")

I'd already enlarged the image to use as a template for making walls and roofs, so I just scanned my enlargement at 100% as a starting point. I opened The Gimp, and used one of Clever Models' excellent brick textures to make a simple box with a notch on the bottom. I used that scan of the enlargement to get the size and shape of the chimney correct. I inkjet printed the result on matte photo cardstock, along with a partial sheet of just the brick texture. I cut and assembled the chimneys, adding strips of heavy black cardstock to the interior as I folded, to give it a little thickness. I touched up the edges with gouache paint as I went along. I cut two strips from the brick texture -- one strip was three bricks wide, the other, one brick wide -- and I wrapped them around the chimneys near the top.

The first chimney must have taken about 45 minutes to make, and I messed it up badly and threw it out. By the time I'd made three, they all looked uniformly nice and my time dropped to about 15 minutes for each.

Here is one of the chimneys test-fitted to the roof I completed earlier.

 I opted to scratch-build these four models for my client rather than buy and assemble four GNHS kits, since it's actually a savings for him -- cutting the pieces myself and assembling them takes only slightly more time than merely assembling a kit. This also means the money I would have spent on the kits -- which are about $25 each -- goes directly in my pocket. Another advantage to me is: I only charge the client for the time spent on the buildings I make for him, and I track my time very carefully, so as I go along, I can make a fifth model on my own time and at my own expense, and sell it to another client later.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hipped Roof Hacks

Working on four section foremen's houses and I'm working out a way to make the hipped roof good and sturdy. This seems to work pretty well: from right to left in the center is the jack rafter, to which I added two right triangles on each side (running up and down in this image). I glued this array to the ceiling piece, then I measured the diagonals from the center to the corners, and cut four more right triangles to fit.

I know I'm saving time in the long haul by making four at once, but it feels really time-consuming.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Statue Got Me High, Part 3

I finished the tiny statue of John Stephens for the Marias Pass section of my client's layout.

Not a perfect match, as you can see when compared side-by-side, but darned close. The prototype coat is shorter, and my collar turned out differently, because I had to wrap it around farther to make it match the figure. My model is about 12' in HO scale, and my guess is the prototype is around 10'.

Here's what the original 1/48th scale figure, from The Model Cellar, looked like on their web page.

He arrived in four pieces: body & legs, arms, and head. Before assembling, I used an X-acto to shave away the upturned collar and diagonal map pocket on the body, as well as the glove he held in his left hand. Then I assembled him with CA glue and shaved away a bit more of the helmet on each side of his head. I made his collar by cutting a small crescent moon shape from the foil you find around the neck of a wine bottle (incredibly handy stuff, that), and attached it with CA glue. I added some small creases to the collar by pressing it with a large sewing needle. I then attached the figure to a small square of styrene, again with CA glue.

To change his headgear from a leather helmet with a brim, I took a very thin strip of blue paper shop towel, soaked it in CA glue and wrapped it around his head. The porous surface looks a lot like sheepskin when you view it with a magnifier.

The primer coat came from a $1 rattle can of matte black. Then I brushed on two coats of thinned green/bronze acrylic mix, waited for that to dry, and then I applied the very thin turquoise patina coat. As you can see in earlier posts, I did a fair amount of experimentation to get that color mix.

The base is made of several slabs of chipboard soaked in CA glue. I simulated the pink granite (?) base with pale magenta acrylic splattered with darker magenta and off-white, with a final grimy wash of India ink thinned with isopropol alcohol to grunge it up a little.

Total assembly and painting time was just a couple hours... as long as you don't count all the time I spent thinking about how to do it over the last few months.

By the way, in case you wondered why I gave these posts such an odd title...

And here's another song about a statue that ran through my head as I worked on this...