Archive for the ‘Structures’ Category

This is a kit from B.T.S. Structures. According to their instruction sheet, that stands for “better than scratch”. Historically many Chinese men, and families, were brought to this country to work on the transcontinental railroad. From the outset they faced prejudice and discrimination, even on the railroad that brought them here. Eventually their superior work habits, skills, and clean living gained them widespread acceptance on the railroad, but they still faced an uphill struggle when they left the railroad to pursue other occupations. One of the few businesses they were allowed to own and run was the local laundry.

This kit consists of an elongated main structure and a small attached side room of some sort, as seen in this rear view.

Since I’m trying to save space in Durango, I decided to leave the small addition off, and shorten the depth of the main building. I can use the little addition to make a small shed somewhere. You can always use a lot of small sheds!

I don’t intend to have the back of the laundry show, so I just used a piece of card stock, and painted it a rust color. Now I can add the windows and doors shown in the second photo above to my stock of spare parts.

I decided to use a different chimney so it wouldn’t dominate the structure so much.

I like to use photographic interiors, and you can almost always find something useful on Google Images. I used this on the back wall of the laundry.

I split this photo in two and used half of it on each side wall. The canopy glue I use on the window glass, and the addition of a window shade makes these photos very hard to see, but that’s OK; I know they are there.

I put two lights on the structure: one over the door, and one on the inside near the back.

From this angle, you can see both lights. Now my little Railroad Avenue people can have clean shirts.


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The Kokomo House

Another kit I recently completed was the Kokomo House by Wild West Scale Model Builders. With a footprint of roughly 6.5 x 4.0 inches, this structure is a little bigger than the houses I have been building lately. Maybe it can be the home of a rich person, or some business office. A bit of history by Joe Crea on the Wild West web site says, “Kokomo, a small Colorado mining town, once existed just below the east crest of Fremont Pass. The townsite is presently buried under extensive tailing ponds of the Climax Molybdenum operation. An early photograph of the town revealed this small house. Like many log structures of the period, this building has its facade sheathed with siding to provide a more finished appearance. The house appears not to have been painted, but it was common practice to paint only the finished facade and allow the log portions to weather naturally.”

This is the front view of my finished house. Nothing new in terms of techniques here. The mortar lines between the logs took a while to paint with a very fine brush. Fortunately, rough is OK here.

The front from another angle.

The back has an interesting little walk-out addition, and cut-away roof line.

The other rear view angle. I put two lights in the structure because of the size of it, and the many windows.

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As you know if you have been following my postings, I am currently engaged in creating some housing for all of those little people who will populate my railroad.

Since these structures take up very little space, and are of a simple generic nature, I have been using ready-made kits instead of designing and scratch-building everything. I also have some houses and other buildings that are in S scale and HO scale so I can create some false perspective on the layout. I posted an article on May 20, 2012 (in the “structures” category) that shows how convincing false perspective can be. The photos in that article were shot on a set up that was less than four feet deep.

This kit is called “Tommy Knocker’s Cabin”, and is from Wild West Scale Model Builders. They produce some very fine laser-cut wood structure kits in a number of scales. I won’t cover all the techniques I use on these kits because the information can be found in earlier posts.

This kit contains number of options like this addition, and the small front porch roof. I like kits that give you options, because you can individualize your structure.

There are two windows on the back side of the cabin, but no back door. A door could very easily be added.

The other side of the cabin has room for an optional storage room. I built the kit with all the options, and the footprint is still only 5.5 x 5 inches.

The kit just comes with a small tubular styrene piece for the chimney, but I like to add more detail, so I scrounged in my spare parts storage for this chimney cap, some guy wires, and flashing. If you look closely at the full photo of this angle, you will wonder why I put the chimney in this location which sort of suggests that the stove would be located right inside the front door. I wondered about that, too, but the deed was already done! I guess the cabin’s owner will have to route some stove piping to the rear of the room….a more logical location for the stove. I hope he can still get good draft.

I wanted to try doing window curtains here, so I used some of the tissue paper from the kit. This paper is supplied for the builder to paint black to simulate tar paper roofing. The shingles shown are also provided in the kit. I drew the curtain details in pencil on the tissue paper, and then cut out the shape, allowing excess width and height to make it easy to glue the curtains on to the inside walls. I cut away the shape of the opening between the curtains. I think the effect worked well. I also added interior lighting so that the curtain modeling would show up better at night.

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Small House and Outhouse Kits

Here are the results of my work with two Banta Modelworks kits. This company makes some very fine laser-cut wood kits in many scales, and I have assembled a number of them in the past.

This is the photo that comes with the kit for the house. There are not two houses in the kit; this photo just shows two variations of the same house.

The kit includes an interior layer of walls that are just plain laser-cut plywood, and an exterior layer with inscribed siding. You are supposed to sandwich these walls for strength, but I started to think that I could actually build two houses with this kit if I reinforced each set of walls with some basswood strips. Make sure your reinforcement is at a 90˚ angle to the grain of the laser-cut wood. You can see the wiring for the interior lighting. I won’t do a separate photo of the lights “on” since I have done that in so many recent posts.

To build two houses required a little scratch-building, but that didn’t deter me. The hardest part, cutting all the window and door openings, was already done for me. For variety I decided to make my second house resemble board and batten construction.

To further differentiate these houses from each other, I used separate roofing techniques. As I was developing these two structures, I decided that one would look “cheaper” than the other, and that decision colored all my choices. Here you can see that one house has a nice shingled roof, and the other has a simple tar paper job. Wooden battens were often used on tar paper roofs to resist the paper lifting in high winds. On both roofs I used Clever Models “Creeky Brand” printed paper products.

Here you can see two techniques I have become quite fond of; the use of canopy glue to resemble the cheap glass often found in early western structures, and the employment of simple straight pin heads for O-scale doorknobs. This photo also shows the wooden beams I use as a foundation on many of my structures. This adds detail, and helps to resist warping. I used AIM weathering powders on all of these structures.

On the more expensive home, I included a porch light. This is from Miniatronics, item #72-512-03.

Here is the photo that Banta provides for the outhouse kit. There are actually 6 outhouses in this one kit, as you can see from their statement.

I tried to create as much variety in the outhouses as well. I made one to match the coloring of each house, and one to look like it was newly built. Since a lot of my structure work so far has been commercial buildings, I think it’s time I create some places for all those people to live.

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Icing Dock

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I’ve been working on the O scale kit shown here for the last few weeks. It comes from Rusty Stumps Scale Models.

The original store still exists in Silver Plume, Colorado.

I won’t go into all the staining/painting methods I use because they are in previous posts about other models. Suffice it to say that I did not follow the coloring on either the original store, or the kit box cover. The figures are from Railroad Avenue. I don’t know if they have many left, but you can check at their web site.

I detailed the front scene with some parts I had, and some I scratch-built. The produce display rack was scratch-built. The little green and red vegetables are bird shot pellets that I painted. The chimney is one I had from Grandt Line.

The signs on the side of the building can be found on Google Images, and sized accordingly. More on them later.

Here is the other side. The old man leans on his cane as he inspects the produce.

I don’t expend a lot of energy detailing any side of a structure that is not going to be seen, as you can tell from this backside view of the store.

I really enjoy putting lighting into my structures. It brings them to life just as much as the figure groupings. The storekeeper is keeping a close eye on the old guy leaning over the produce! There are two lights inside, and the light with the shade over the storekeeper is from Miniatronics.

Here is the same scene with no added light from the display box I am now using in my library to photograph these models.

I make the roofs removable if I’m going to detail the interiors, especially if I plan on lighting. That always needs repairs, and gravity holds the roof on fine. Here you see two shelf units that are also detailed, but not visible from this angle. Each shelf has a little HO street lamp behind it. There’s just enough of this light sticking up to resemble a table lamp. The wire powering the light over the front entrance is visible on the right, under the yellow tape.

In this view of the interior you can see the photo backdrop I used. If you put enough “clutter” in front of it, you can get away with some elements that are out of scale. It just looks like “something” is in the store. You also get a better view of the little HO scale street light that I made to look like an O scale table lamp.

Sorry for the odd angle; that was all that would work. Here is a view from inside the store looking to the window displays. Some are two-dimensional, others are three-dimensional.

Returning to those signs as promised. I wanted to try the sanding-thin technique that resembles signs painted on the side of a building. It took considerable time, and then I carefully cut slits between the boards along the side of the store. Other signs, like the “Trundles” sign here, I copied on to glossy photo paper to look like enameled signs.

This is the other side of the structure.

I’m really liking the use of canopy glue to simulate old fashioned western glass, and it hides a multitude of sins behind the window panes.

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I’m still plugging away here. One of these days I’m going to have to actually get up into the loft and work on my layout. This is a little O scale kit from Wild West Scale Model Builders. The kit contains materials for a number of different options, and I chose to build the “saloon” version. I also wanted to try the old rubber cement “peeling paint” effect shown here. I’d never done that before.

I love the little figures that were created by Railroad Avenue. They come painted, and their slender shape suggests the body styles of people in past generations. A while ago I read that they were not going to be made any more, so I stocked up. I can’t tell from their web site if they are still available or not. I wanted to create a conversational grouping in front of the saloon. I added the transverse stripwood below the model floor/base. I do this on all my models; I think they look better that way than sitting right on the ground. I also created a styrene base (painted dark brown) for when I put this structure on to my layout. Styrene is better than card stock because it doesn’t warp. I’ll blend it in to the surrounding terrain with scenery materials.

This is a head-on view of the structure that I created from the kit. The sign is one of the options I mentioned. The barrels, crate, and chair came from my miscellaneous details supply.

Only one side of the kit has a window. You could create an opening, of course, in the other side, or the back side, and insert a window from another manufacturer….I like Grandt Line castings. I don’t do step-by-step pictures any more, but I always start these building projects by staining all the laser cut wood with my preferred stain, alcohol and leather dye. I made the base stain for this project to be a light weather wood gray, so that would show through when I rubbed off the rubber cement. See earlier posts for a description of the stain. I stain both sides at the same time, so there is no warping. Using the alcohol as a medium also helps to resist warping. Water or water-based paints are not good.

I did use a reddish acrylic paint for the base coat over the gray stain. I wasn’t sure how enamels might react to the rubber cement I wanted to put in places on the walls. Even at that, I applied the paint in a dry-brush fashion, so it didn’t soak into the walls. The doors and trim were base coated and weathered in enamel. I like to put handles on my doors, and this kit didn’t include any. I have used the heads of pins before on HO or S scale models, but this handle (and the one in front) are made from the heads of very small finishing nails. Just paint the nail, drill a hole, insert, and cut off from behind. Then add a dab of Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue on the back side where it won’t show. They make a very nice appearance for 1:48 scale.

Here is a close up of the side wall after I peeled the rubber cement off. The technique worked exactly as advertised, and left a worn and peeling look to the paint job. Be sure to be very random in doing this, but keep in mind that wood walls like this weather more on their lower sides than under their eaves because of sun and rain exposure.

Additional weathering is achieved by the cautious use of weathering powders, sealed with Testers Dullcote.

The kit includes nice strips of heavy paper shake shingles. I stained these using the same method as the walls, and weathered with light dry brushing and the powders. The cap shingle strip needs to be cut into individual shingles and overlapped as shown. There is no chimney flashing included with the kit, so I cut a little square piece out of thin styrene. Then I used a new mounting process I developed. I should have taken a separate picture of this, but didn’t think about that until it was too late. I’ll try to describe it. The chimney is styrene tubing (included with the kit). I cut it to the desired angle, and then inserted and glued a short piece of square basswood in the bottom of the chimney. It makes a good handle, and a secure way to insert the finished chimney assembly into the roof. Then I cut a small hole in the flashing square, and slipped it up and glued it to the angle cut on the chimney. I painted the chimney and flashing flat black and let it sit overnight. I think chimneys generally extended above the roof ridge line to facilitate good smoke disbursal, so select a spot to drill your roof mounting hole accordingly. Insert the chimney assembly with a tiny bit of glue (I used Aleene’s on everything for this model), and make sure it is very upright. The tacky glue sets up fairly fast, but gives better working time than CA glues. I see now in looking at this picture that I forgot to include the three guy wires I usually attach to chimneys. I can put them in later.

I created variety for the four figures on the porch by placing one on a crate, one in a chair tipped back against the wall, and one reaching for the door handle to open the door. Groupings like this are always more interesting if you can suggest that the little people are talking to each other, or doing something together.

Western window glass was not very good quality, and often had a rippled look to it. I achieved this by brushing some canopy glue on the inside of the windows. The glue dries clear, but the brush strokes appear as ripples.

Finally, I wanted the structure illuminated. You probably noticed the red wires running from beneath the styrene base in some of the other photos. I use “grain of rice” bulbs that run on 12v DC from an old power pack. I dip the bulbs in Tamiya Clear Yellow X-24 acrylic paint for the amber effect. The kit has detailed interior roof trusses, similar to the exterior one in photo #5. It is very easy to bend the bulb leads into a little hook, and place it over one of the trusses so the bulb hangs downward. I soldered longer leads (the red wires) on to the ones that came with the bulb to extend the connection below my layout.

You can see a little rippling on the glass at night in this photo from the front.



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