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Archive for the ‘Scratchbuilding’ Category

So here’s this week’s progress on interior decoration for the farmhouse which will take centre stage on Wörnritzhausen. This will be almost entirely hidden when the model is complete, which is why I’m making you look at a picture of it now.

I don’t mind the ‘models’ looking a bit crude because they are only there to give some kind of feature behind the dark windows if someone is daft enough to try and look through them. The ‘hallway’ in the middle is behind the front door, which will have tiny windows so it doesn’t need any detailing. The same goes for the rooms out the back.

I was pretty pleased with this already, when this morning my son came in, declared it was “cool” and went and got his brother to show him. Said brother agreed on the general ‘coolness’ and asked if I’d bought it.

There is no higher complement from a teenager.

I added a double bed to go in one of the attic rooms before realising there was no way it would be seen in the gloom. As the prototype house was used for student accommodation I figured an unmade bed was pretty realistic.

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So here’s the current building project showing several repairs, despite my brilliant plan from a couple of weeks ago. Never mind, it’ll all be hidden under the clay. The white paper is also a repair but that was due to bad marking up, which meant I had a gap of about 2mm at the bottom but the top was correct. I glued some extra card on with superglue, braced it with paper on both sides, and cut it carefully along the correct line when dry. So far it hasn’t collapsed, so I’m calling it a success.


Very observant people will notice that then window in the middle of the first floor on this end of the building is blocked out in the picture above. this is because I want an arched door there giving access to the cellar, and often these stick up into the floor above, so it would be a pain in the backside to have a window right above it. Of course I could just claim this was of the non-protruding-into-the-floor variety but the windows gave the end a rather unbalanced feel, so I’m moving that window further to the left. I’m also not sure why that small window is between the floors, so that’ll be moving up as soon as I’ve got my act together.

I’ve also got to figure out how to make the steps.

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Sometimes I wish I could be like those people who stop bothering about making trains and build beautiful dioramas instead. I’d get all the fun of making something and adding lots of details without all that pesky electrical jiggerypokery with attendant swearing and surreptitious prodding to make things work. I can’t though: for me the railway is the reason for the rest: the thread that holds the story together. Besides, I couldn’t make dioramas that well so I need something to distract people.

This means a large chunk of model making time this week was used up testing out various second hand chassis of questionable heritage that I’ve been amassing over the last few years, to decide which one should go under the big diesel.

It would have been a bit faster if I hadn’t stolen some of the connectors from my test track to make wiring for “Wörnritzhausen”, probably because I’d lost the others, so I had to find the other one and fix everything back together. Then I had to dig up a 3.5mm jack socket which I was really quite startled to find. Once all this was together, I placed one of the chassis of questionable heritage -originally intended, I think for a HO model of an EMD F7– and turned on the power.

Nothing.

Out came the super-dooper all singing all dancing voltmeter. This showed nothing was getting through to the track.

I reached back to turn off the controller, and jogged the 3.5mm jack connection. The chassis shot towards the distant end of the track before being rugby tackled by Youngest Son.

Having established that the chassis could move under power, we spent a bit of time making sure it runs at more sensible speeds, which it managed remarkably well considering it’s languished in a box for several years.

Finally, to my rather great relief, we found that the railcar chassis works. I’m sure I’ve tested this before but I can’t remember doing it.

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I got fed up with the gate looking like the backdrop for a cheap Gothic novel and decided to brighten things up a bit. It went surprisingly quickly, just thirty minutes to make it look a bit more like weathered limestone, then 10 minutes to tone it down, and another 45 to get it back to how it was in the first place.

I’m not bad at painting, just really indecisive.

I’m generally happy now. The stones are highlighted using a method I learned many years ago in theatre: the top and left of the blocks are painted cream and the bottom ans right grey/brown to emphasise the depth. I fretted for a bit about it being cartoon-like but I worried about that when I weathered the Post Office and now I can hardly see the weathering so I’ll leave it as it is for now.

I’ll leave the panel for the crest as well, at least until I can think of an idiot-proof way of making the a crest that works. Wörnritzhausen is supposed to be near Münsingen, but I think it would have had its own crest representing the rivers or the trade that would have paid for the city wall. Will have to think about that.

It needs a roof as well. Unfortunately I forgot that with the thick walls the roof will come over the top of the windows, making shutters unlikely, so it will have to do without. Gutters and drainpipes will have to wait until I’ve worked out how the farmhouse next door should look.

Still, the trains now run onto the scene through a real gate. It looks like we are getting somewhere, slowly.

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Regular readers, assuming they have been following this blog with the care it deserves, will have noticed that most pretty well all of my projects need about half a dozen false starts as I make something, decide it could be done better/isn’t working, scrap it and start again. In a probably futile effort to avoid doing this yet again, I made a prototype for the cab ends on the not quite a Henschel diesel.

The Liquorice allsort appearance is because I made the corners out of black and white pieces of plasticard, the idea being that it helped me to see how deep and/or straight I was filing.

This worked but it  didn’t look so good, so in a fit of enthusiasm I primed it to see what it looked like.

Remarkably it wasn’t so bad. There were a few rough bits but nothing that I couldn’t deal with next time around. As it was just a prototype I took the lazy option and tried out a colour scheme.

The badge in the middle is was a random idea to try and break up the blank end. I doubt I’ll need this on the production model, because the locomotive is supposed to be a relief passenger locomotive so it will need to have the same connectors as the railcar hanging off the front, a lot of this blank space will be covered by Guitar strings pretending to be connector pipes.

Once again I’m making life more difficult for myself. Just as well I have lot of friends who are musicians…

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Fresh air, or not.

We live next to the town of Esslingen-am-Neckar. It’s an attractive city with lots of pretty old timber framed houses, the largest Roman built bridge north of the Alps, and a town hall designed like a wedding cake.

Last time I went I joined the camera carrying tourists, but when I looked at the images they mostly looked like this:

There is a perfectly good reason for this. I need a 1:55 scale air conditioner for the model, and I wanted to see what one looked like.

Stop looking at me like that.

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Just occasionally I manage to be moderately organised.

I’ve got a couple of projects coming along that mean I need to know how to make rust and weathering effects. Some concerted googling brought up a lot of sites and YouTube tutorials but most assume the use of airbrushes or quite smelly chemicals, neither of which are a good idea when making models in our living room.

Eventually I found some ideas how to get usable results that I could try without inadvertently redecorating the wall or causing an evacuation of the apartment, and these can be seen above. I’m not going to detail everything you can see on the basis that although I’m not paid to write it, neither are you paid to read it, so there are limits to even how boring I can be on here.

The main methods are pastels, drybrushing and the ‘Hairspray method’ which was a new one to me, but which I was astonished to find actually works even though I wasn’t using the ‘proper’ materials. I’m sure I’m the very last person in the model making world to hear about this one, but in case I’m not, the trick is to paint a rust coloured base coat, let it dry and spray hairspray over the top, return the hairspray to the bathroom before anyone misses it and leave the model to dry overnight. The next morning you paint over the hairspray with acrylics, and when that has dried, scrub away at the surface with a wet brush, and hey presto the top colour rubs off and leaves a realistic chipped rust finish. I got a bit overenthusiastic and ended up going down to the primer, but the principle works. There are expensive model makers sprays for this, but hairspray works just as well, costs a fraction of the price, and leaves you smelling better.

The other rust was made using a variation of this method I found on YouTube:

Don’t worry too much about the bits where he’s painting on black plasticard: I just watched where he is working on the railings themselves.

I also have no idea where to get hold of the paint he is using, but normal artists acrylics worked perfectly well for me.

You can also ignore the labels on my test sheet: it seems I’m still not organised enough to match the labels to the methods I was actually using in the squares.

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