A freight shed and learning to Cast Resin

Saturday this weekend I got together with my friends Ryan Mendell and Trevor Marshall at Ryan’s house. He was coming to my end of the City in the morning to go shopping at Sculpture Supply Canada, a store that specializes in casting and model making supplies. I suspect most of their business is costume makers and the like, but it’s a handy place for model railroaders too. Ryan has recently started his own business selling freight car kits and tools that he’s designed at National Scale Car, so he’s going through resin casting supplies making molds and producing parts for his kits. When he said he was going to be in my end of town, and he then offered a get together at his place with Trevor who wanted to work on some of his projects using Ryan’s fantastic workshop (I’ll send you to Trevor’s blog to here his tales), I jumped at the chance. I packed up a kit for the layout I hadn’t started, and off we went. After stops at Sculpture Supply and Wheels and Wings Hobbies, we made it to Ryan’s.

IMG_8114
The Kanamodel CNR Freight Shed kit in progress. I’m using it for a loading dock shed on Pardee Avenue, as its close enough and saves me building something from scratch. I’m building it about 3″ shorter than the kits normal size to fit the space it has.

The kit I brought is from a company called Kanamodel, which sadly went out of business around 2017 when the owner passed away. I’ve built a couple of their kits before, and was generally happy with them, but the resin parts in the kit that form the roof supports on the top of a wooden post were in a word, abject. Of the six in the kit, one was passably decent, three were usable, and two were garbage. Fortunately, I only need four, but Ryan suggested this would be a good project to make a mold of and cast some new ones as a way for me to dip a toe into resin casting. For the buildings of Liberty Village, in the long run it will be easier for me to 3D print the masters for the windows, and cast them from resin. They’ll be cheaper in the long run, and if I break a window, a new one is only a few minutes away, which avoids the problem I learned on my model of Bar Volo, if you 3D print, and you have no spares, you’re a bit screwed if you break any!!

 

Making my first mold box with the one decent roof truss in the kit.

I have always found the notion of casting parts to be daunting, I think some of that was you first have to build a good model to use as your master for making the mold. Now that’s easier for me with 3D printing, but having never seen any of it done, I didn’t really understand the process. This process applies to flat or 2D items, anything that is detailed all around is a different process making a multipart mold box. For what I was doing, glue the part down to a styrene base, then build the mold box walls to hold in the rubber around it. A quick spray with a mold release, and then the two part rubber can be poured in. Bang the mold on the table to get air bubbles to rise out, give it a couple of minutes, put on a piece of wax paper, and slide a block of glass/acrylic across to squeeze out any excess rubber and create a flat base. Put on some weights, and then let it sit for a bit (the length depends on the rubber being used). Once its cured, it pops right out. a little bit of cleaning, and then its on to making resin and casting.

 

The stages of making a rubber mold. The two part mix, the box ready for the rubber, the mold filled with rubber, smoothing out the mold (this side will be the bottom when casting, and needs to be flat so the part fills with resin), and weighting it down while the rubber cures.

Similar to the mold material, the resin is a 2 part product, you mix them together, and once that’s done, you have a “pot life” and a “cure time”. The pot life is how long it is liquid and can be poured to try and get it into the mold. For what Ryan was using, it was 3 minutes. Then you wait, the advertised cure time was 10 minutes, but his basement was a bit cool and it took closer to 20 minutes. But when done, out popped a replacement part, with all the imperfections of the original perfectly replicated.

 

The mold out of the box to make it, and the first casting of a new roof truss.

Because we were getting late in the day, and Trevor and I both had to leave, I wasn’t able to cast the four parts I needed, but we cleaned up our various messes in Ryan’s workshop, and Ryan said he’ll cast me a few more of the parts for the next time we see each other. It was a great learning experience, and I think I understand the basic process well enough now to pick up supplies, and try it on my own in the future.

Advertisements

A Water Tower for Hinde & Dauch Paper

As I am working on my layout, I’m actively looking for opportunities to ease the amount of building I have to do so I can focus my attention on the parts of buildings that really make them distinctive the shapes and little details. With that in mind, I recently ordered a kit from JL Innovative through my usual hobby shop (as much stuff as I buy online, if its available from the distributor through a Brick and Mortar shop, I try to buy from them to keep them alive, but that’s a whole other post/discussion for another day). In this case, the kit is the “Red Rock Water Tower“, a generic early 20th century water tower. It’s about the right size and shape for the water tower on the Hinde & Dauch Paper Factory, and using a kit is a much faster proposition than unnecessarily scratch building a water tower. It’s the same principal I am using for the industrial chimneys in the area. I can find ones that are close for the most part, and as long as I don’t use the same chimney on every building, the effect will be the same as the real Liberty Village.

The instructions and the kit were pretty straight forward. I’ll have a few comments at the end and thoughts for anyone who finds this post and is considering building the kit, but overall, it went together fairly well by doing what the instructions said. As such, this is mostly a photo heavy post from here out for a bit.

IMG_7685The tank wrapper is laser cut card. The rivets were added using a Pounce Wheel as shown in the images below from the inside before the wrapper is laminated to a piece of cardboard shipping tube.
The tank roof is also a piece of laser cut card stock. drawing out lines on the underside, the Pounce wheel carefully rolled along the lines creates dents on the outside that look like rivets.
The safety railing on the platform is a laser cut piece that easily held in place with a bit of weight, in this case, a pair of helping hands that were a gift from a fellow modeller. The finished tank is pretty good-looking.
Assembling the legs, easily the hardest and most frustrating part of the kit.As you can see, they went together, and I wound up notching a piece of styrene sheet to hold the legs in place as everything set up. They were wobbly, trying to hold two sets of half the legs in place while installing the support between them was an exercise in agony. Once they went together, it did stand on its own nicely, but it was aggravating.
Set in place against the mockup of Hinde and Dauch. Looks the part and I can make some adjustments once the actual building is built from styrene.

So, another piece is kinda done. It will get painted in due course once I have a paint booth set up in the house. I’m sure I’ve said that before about many projects, but I’m actually close to finally actually setting up my paint booth. I’ll post about it once it’s up and running.

So, the couple of warnings or notes about the kit. As noted above, the legs take a lot of care and patience to get together. Same for the wire cross supports. There aren’t any pictures of that work in progress, as I came perilously close to tossing the kit at a wall trying to get them to adhere and stay in place. I don’t know if it’s the kit design or if i was having a bad/impatient night, but be warned. The final, was the bottom of the tank. It’s a cast plaster piece. I don’t think it’s hydrocal or something like that, but actual plaster of paris. I say that as it crumbled adjacent to where I was filing to make the required notches for the legs. It wasn’t so bad that they couldn’t be filled later with putty to fix the shape, but its a broken part waiting to happen if you aren’t paying attention.

All in all, for a few nights work, it achieves my goals and should look great once it’s painted and weathered and attached to the roof of an actual building model vs. sitting on a temporary riser behind a matte board outline.

 

Springish Sunday

It was the first sunday of Spring today, and to celebrate, the thermometer hit double digits. I still haven’t gotten around to setting up a spray booth now that we have a house, and I can actually get set up to paint inside (it’s coming though). As such, projects are still hitting airbrush/spray paint limbo where I can’t go any further as I can’t paint. I’ve held onto one of my old cardboard box paint booths for painting outside (it’s basically just a backstop to catch paint. I couldn’t do a lot today between available time, and lack of desire to drag out the compressor and airbrush and then have to clean it, but I did rattle can on some flat black onto two parts of a project that’s been gnawing at me for months as it needed paint. Now that at least the underbody bits are painted, It looks like something and that will hopefully help motivate me to get the paint booth sorted so I can paint the more care required visible bits of the model!

IMG_7681.jpgQuick hit of paint from a flat black rattle can. Nothing fancy, but feels good to do something paint wise!

A Saturday Afternoon Boxcar Build

While the Liberty Village layout is reasonably small, it still needs a healthy fleet of freight cars to come on and off the layout, if only so it doesn’t look the same at every operating session.  While the Ready-to-Run and Resin kits out there make some fantastic looking cars, and I have plenty of them both built and unbuilt for the layout, I’ll also need enough cars that look decent to fill sidings and such.  A few weeks ago, I was at Credit Valley Model Railroad to pick up a few things, and my friend Roger Chrysler who works there pointed out the recently arrived Accurail CPR Fowler wooden box cars.  By the 1950’s these cars would have been a bit long in the tooth, with the 33,000 the CPR owned being built between 1909 and 1915, but they were still going.

An Accurail kit. Nothing fancy.  A great cost effective way to populate a layout, or a starting point if you want to super detail it.

These cars were used in all kinds of service, but were primarily used for hauling grain in the era before covered hoppers.  On the layout, the mill building at Standard Brands would have received grains for milling for use in making their yeast cakes and other products.  Given the affordable price of these cars (under $25 Canadian) per car, I can have a fleet of 4 or 5 for the cost of 2 Ready-to-Run on resin kits, and, they go together in a couple of hours.  They need some new wheels (the cheap plastic wheels in the kits are junk), and Kadee couplers, but that will add about $5/car to the cost.  Accurail even sells a decal set by mail to re-number the cars so you can have a fleet, as they all come with the same number from the factory.

IMG_6002.JPGThe underframe and brake rigging assembled. Simple, enough detail that its there, but not super detailed or fiddly.

While I love building detailed kits, and I have a few fantastic ones from Elgin Car Shops to build for the layout, there is something to be said for a simple kit.  I like many grew up with a layout full of Athearn “Blue Box” kits, which weren’t even as detailed as this car.  They were cheap and plentiful and allowed you to populate a layout with all kinds of different cars without going broke.  While I’m in the middle of building the layout, cheap and simple projects like this to give me something to do in between big spurts of layout action as just what I need to keep me going and provide distraction when construction inevitably gets bogged down for some reason.

IMG_6007.JPGAnd a finished car, if I had wheel sets and couplers, it would be done done and ready to weather in about an hour and a half.  I’ll be picking up a few more of these, re-numbering them, then making them dirty to be the backdrop cars in my fleet.

I have a resin kit for the same kind of car, but with narrower doors, so eventually I’ll have one super detailed car and a fleet of less detailed ones.  I’ll hold off on weathering this newest project until I have them all done and can give them treatment at the same time to make them look used, but not identical.

Etched Brass Coach Door Hinges…Not for Me thanks

On the weekend I got out a project I started earlier this year, and sent back to the pile as other projects passed it by in my motivation to work on list.  Now that I’m back at it, I’m up against one of the reasons I set the kit aside, figuring out the etched brass door hinges for the car.  There are 18 of these to install (3 per door, 3 doors per side of the car).  It’s a lot, and they are, to be kind, tiny.

IMGP2602RawConvThe door hinges are the oblong parts with the raised bulb in the centre.

The kits instructions, are to be fair, probably sensible to someone whose built etched brass coaches before, but with no diagram explaining how to do what they say, and no previous experience, they are proving to be beyond me.  The instructions state “Using the new easy position hinge etch, insert all three hinges into the side from the outside face so that the hinges are just proud of the inside face, solder.  Snip off unused portion of etch and dress back to correct length with a file or disk in a mini drill.”  Seems to be English, might as well be Russian for all the sence I’ve made of it in months of looking at it, and now an evening of trying to do it.  I haven’t even managed to be 100% sure of whether the bulb is supposed to go inwards into the fully etched through opening or not.

IMGP2604RawConvThat little etch is supposed to go into the three oblong holes on the side of each door.

It’s pretty clear to me that I am not going to make sense of this, and any effort I’ve made to install the hinge has resulted in my dropping the tiny part, or feeling like I’m going to bend/warp the etched car side and do damage I’m not capable of undoing.  I’m not above admitting defeat on something, and moving on to Plan B.  In this case, Plan B is to use a material I know and create something that looks like I think the hinge is supposed to look like based on a Bachmann Mk1 coach in my collection.  I am going to use styrene or brass rod to create the appearance of their being hinges on the doors.  I quickly made up some hinge pieces with 0.025″ evergreen styrene rod to see how it looked, and to my eye, it will be passable when painted and detailed, other than being a bit too big.  I need some 0.020″ styrene or brass rod, something I am out of at the moment to make my hinges just a bit smaller looking, so I won’t be finishing this until the weekend and my next shopping trip to a hobby shop, but at least I have a path forward that I know I can achieve and be happy with the outcome of.

Door hinges on a ready to run Bachmann M1 on the left, and my first attempt at styrene replacements on the right.  The 0.025″ styrene is too big, i think 0.020″ will do better.  You can see how tiny the etched hing is to the right of the brass car side.

And yes, in case you were wondering, it was shooting door hinges across the floor that prompted my earlier post this evening about using the Workbench Apron I have to prevent me crawling around beneath my workbench.

Making Sense of a Mk1 Coach Underbody

While I wait on my seemingly never shipping order from Shapeways, which has both parts for new projects and my current active project building a model of 587 Yonge Street, I have pulled another project out that I’d worked on earlier this year, and set aside for a variety of reasons so I have something to work on.  I could have started one of the several kits in the queue, but decided to try to advance something I’ve started while I wait on parts arriving.

I pulled my Southern Pride Models kit of a British Railways Mk1 First Class coach back out.  I had set it aside as it wasn’t a project I was in a rush on, and other projects I was motivated on took priority for a few months.  When I had set the car aside, there were two paths for next steps, the injected plastic underframe, or the brass car sides.  When I pulled it back out, I decided the plastic underframe details would be the easier path to spend my Sunday afternoon on and make some progress.  Once I got started, maybe the brass and soldering/epoxy would have been easier…

The kit instructions are not the clearest in terms of how the truss structure that is the largest part of the detail, and then the various underbody mechanical bits go on, and this is on a car that has almost no underbody piping or detail in the kit when compared to the North American passenger car models I am used to building.  Fortunately, I had another ready-to-run Mk1 coach available to compare with, which, typical of British models also has almost no underbody detail, but has just enough to help me get everything into generally the right places on the kit.

IMGP2595RawConvUsing a Bachmann Mk1 Coach (rear) as a guide for constructing the underbody details on a Southern Pride Models Mk1 coach kit.  Not a lot of detail on either compared to North American models.

So, with the underbody detail such as it is done, I moved on to working to get the cars ride height to be roughly the same as the RTR coach it will run with.  This didn’t turn out to be straight forward either.  The kit uses a different mounting system for the trucks, but uses RTR Bachmann trucks.  This means having to drill out the mounting opening of the Bachmann truck, and fit an insert into it.  While doing this, it becomes quickly apparent that there is a reason the instructions say you have to remove some of the detail from the top of the trucks, they bind constantly when the car is set at the right ride hight.  I haven’t trimmed anything yet, as I want to take out some track and test to see how bad it binds on rails instead of my workbench, then I’ll trim off the detail if it remains an issue.  Its much easier to leave detail on and trim it off later, than find out I’ve missed an obvious fix for the height that doesn’t need me to cut away cast on detail.

A look at my progress at the end of the day.  All the underbody detail is fitted, and the trucks are test fitted for adjusting the ride height of the car.  Brings me perilously close to having to tackle the brass car sides and fiddly detail bits (door hinges and handles)

Again the rather thin instructions provided in the kit don’t make the next steps on how to assemble the brass car sides, or more specifically, how to install things like the door hinges and other separately etched details are going to slow this down, on top of my lack of experience soldering brass parts together.  I suspect I will wind up installing things like the hinges with epoxy or CA glue, and hoping that along with the coat of primer once installed will hold everything together.  Time will tell!!

IMGP2600RawConv.jpgThe brass etched car sides out for adding details and painting.  18 Door Hinges, 6 handles, 6 grab irons and 2 toilet vents to go.