Helping a Friend with a Side Project

A friend and co-worker Adam who is also an N-scale model railroader had been asking me for some help with a project, as he doesn’t have any experience airbrushing, or facilities to do so. Ordinarily, I would suggest for teaching I would have gotten together on more than one occasion, but he has a bit of a rush to finish this, so I told him if he dropped the parts off to me at work last week, I could prep and prime them, and he can come over to do the finish airbrushing of colour next week and take everything home to assemble.

Micro Trains N-scale Tie Crane, a part of a 3 pack of service gondolas they sell. The small print on the purchase is the crane is a “multimedia” kit. The largest part is 3D printed, but comes complete with the print raft attached still.

The project is a small crane that rides above gondolas, and can walk its way between cars that is used on MOW service. Its actually a pretty cool model, but when I was searching online after he told me about what he needed to work on, it wasn’t clear in any of the marketing material that part of what you are buying is a kit, along with the three weathered gondolas it comes with. I think this caught out Adam’s dad whose model this actually is too! Eventually, I found the instructions online, its pretty simple assembly. The parts are actually quite nice once the 3D print support material is removed, and the flash on the resin castings cleaned up. It even has a really nice etched claw for the tie grabber.

Conveniently, the only N-scale car I have is the Rapido Trains Mike McGrattan Memorial Car (RIP Mike). The Micro Trains tie loader fits it to check everything is ok after cleaning up the parts.

Since its snowing like crazy in Toronto today, and I was doing train stuff, I pulled out the spray booth and painted a few sets of wheels, and put a quick coat of primer on the parts for the crane. As I said, in a perfect world, Adam and I would have been able to schedule a couple of get togethers so he could prime and paint, but at least I can work with him on the painting, and of course, as Maintenance of Way equipment, he wants to paint it yellow, so he’s at least picked a hard colour to get right for his learning!!

IMG_1283Hit with primer, my work here is done other than to show Adam his way around my airbrush Monday night.

A Sunday full of Small Projects

After visiting a large layout and seeing how someone is keeping on making slow and steady progress a couple of weeks ago, I have a new wind of motivation to keep going on my small layout.

With that in mind, I spent most of my Sunday afternoon doing a bunch of small projects that I’d been putting off. It was nice to be able to finish a few things. There are actually less half finished kits on my workbench and “To Do’s” on the layout scratch list after this afternoon!

Foaming the last two places that needed it, a strip along the front edge of the CN Staging, and the corner where the backdrop ends at the CPR Staging.

First up on my to-do for today was to finish getting the foam down on the layout. There were two gaps, one big and obvious, and one small and fiddly. The big one was along the front of the CN Staging yard. For some reason I used foam that was wide enough for the track, but not the benchwork here. That left an unsightly gap, that the more I looked at it I realised would look more odd with the layout stepping down when I finish the fascia than if I added a bit of foam to bring everything to the same level. I have more than enough left over foam to do this, so a few quick cuts to create the strip, and it was then cut to fit on the moving staging traverser and the non-moving section, and then glued down with No More Nails adhesive. Easy peasy!

The second bit of filling was a small uneven gap in the closet at the end of the foam where I had cut a channel for it to go around the end of the styrene backdrop. The gap was going to eventually become a problem for scenery, but it did leave me room to run the power supply for lighting in staging. Now that that is in and working, there was no need to leave the gap anymore. After a little bit of fiddling around, I had three pieces of foam squeezed into place to fill the gap and let me do scenery whenever the time comes to start working on that part of the layout.

Kanamodel Products (now out of business) freight shed, before final touches on the workbench, and then being checked in location on the layout with a boxcar and some temporary track on the Peninsula.

The second project was to finish building the freight shed for the peninsula. I had painted the sandpaper roof at some point in the past couple of weeks where I’ve been airbrushing a fair bit on projects, but hadn’t gotten around to attaching it and adding the finishing trim. That task took less than an hour including the time where I ignored it for the glue to set on the roof. A bit of black paint on the trim once installed, and some cleanups/touchups, and it was ready to set in place and see how it looks. I’m quite happy with it as a simple way to get a structure done that I have no period pictures of. With a bit more weathering and being worked into the scenery with some ground cover dirt and weeds once I start doing scenery, it will look the part and provide a destination for a a couple of freight cars.

Imagine That Laser Art loading dock kit. Final assembly and weighting down while the glue sets on the workbench, then in place on the layout.

I bought one of these the Imagine That Laser Art loading dock kits to see if I liked it for the “Castle” building in Liberty Village (a reminder I need to get back into writing my posts on the “Buildings of Liberty Village” so I have something to link to!). the kit has a nice laser cut and weathered deck, and went together in less than ten minutes with no fuss. It needed far longer with the weights sitting on it while the glue cured than it took to get everything together to be weighted down. While much of my buildings will be scratch built to accurately reflect the real buildings, sometimes for details like a loading dock, in my opinion you are just making work for yourself if you don’t use a commercially available product if it works. In this case, it looks like it should work fine, I just need to buy three more so I have a big enough dock for the large building, but it was cheaper to buy one and see how it looks vs. buying four and finding out I hated it!

A good day of small project work, getting done the things I can do where I don’t need either more hands, or advice on what I am doing to not make mistakes feels good, and means whenever I do have a bigger work session, we can focus on the big tasks rather than the small ones.

Working on a Freight Shed

It seems like just yesterday, but it was in fact May, before the summer even arrived that I wrote about a structure kit for the layout I had started, and building my first mold for casting parts to replace damaged ones from the kit.

IMG_9887Four new resin roof supports, as the majority of the castings in the kit were garbage. I built the master, and my friend Ryan did all the castings as he was making parts for kits he sells from his company National Scale Car.

Having not been in a rush, I didn’t bother to ask when he’d have the chance to cast some of the replacement parts, but we got together for dinner a few weeks ago and he had them ready for me. Today I decided it was a day to advance and project and feel like I was getting something done. I had the deck completed, other than painting/staining the deck. To do this, I decided to use some of my supply of cheap art acrylics from Michael’s. I pick them up when I need a cheap paint, as I’m trying to create the appearance of wood having different ages and levels of wear and aging on them.

Painting the deck using cheap acrylics and watering them down to spread them on the surface of the deck for the freight shed.

I used a brush that was about the same width as the boards on the deck, and watered down the paint as I went. I didn’t want a heavy amount of paint, just enough that it coloured the wood. Once I was done with the paint, I put on a wash of a golden brown stain. I am still considering a second stain of isopropyl alcohol and india ink that I keep for weathering wood. The undersides of the deck are only coloured using this alcohol/ink mix. It was a technique that was in the instructions for a kit I built years ago, and I really like the effects you can create with it, as over time the ink settles, so depending on how much you shake the bottle after its been on the shelf, you can adjust how much ink there is, and thus how dark/beaten up the wood looks.

Installing the roof trusses and roof beams. Lots of weights and little clamps being used to hold everything together and square while the glue sets. I just did all of the gluing on this with good old fashioned white glue. It soaks into the wood and has lots of working time to get things adjusted and aligned. It does mean you need to be patient as it hardens though!

I enjoy projects like this, they are a good way to shake the cobwebs off after I haven’t done a lot of modelling later. while I’m making little adjustments here and there, mostly I’m building it right as the instructions provide.  It means that I can just work away and use skills I already have. I find doing things I know I can do after a break helps me be ready to make it up as I go doing things that are pushing my skills. Strangely, working on a kit helped me advance my cleanup that I’ve been doing and trying to organize my workspace, as it showed me where some things I thought I had found the right home for, weren’t the right place.

IMG_9898End of the day’s progress. Reached the point where I don’t have the right glues to work with the cardstock material for the roof, so stop while I’m ahead and it’s looking like I want, rather than pushing on and making a mistake.

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.

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!