Sunday Cutting Cores

Last weekend I started drawing the walls for two more buildings, the first to go digital is the Toronto Carpet Building 7. It was ready to start cutting the cores out this weekend. After a trip to Credit Valley on Saturday to pick up more 0.030″ styrene sheet, today it was on to the cutting process.

Cutting the first of the 8 cuts today, and nearing the end as the walls start to take shape into the evening.

The first thing I learned today, is that the Critut software is buggy. I hate Cloud Based Software, call me old school if you want, but software actually installed on your system means it should work, even if you don’t always have the newest feature. After well over an hours frustration, I finally got back into the application. Once in, I started setting up he cuts, because of the height of the walls, and the layering to create depth before adding brick, I neede six sheets of 12”x24” 0.030” styrene. I don’t need the whole sheets, but needed more than half of them all, but the unused parts are plenty big for other layout buildings, no waste from that at least. What was wasted was a 12”x18” piece where the sheet didn’t load in the Cricut right, and I didn’t notice, it wound up making a mess of the sheet, and cutting through the cutting mat. It seems, when the Cricut loaded the mat, it misaligned and thought the material was in a different location.

With the layers, three of the four walls have 4 layers to the core, and the last has 3 layers. The 4th layer is just for the ground floor, and I had a scaling issue with them, where they didn’t align properly. Fortunately, these were the smallest parts of the day, and recutting them only took 20 minutes or so to figure out what the right size should be, set up and cut. All in all, I ran 8 cuts today, as everything was simple shapes, they were reasonably fast cuts, the longest run was about 1:45. The Cricut doesn’t cut all the way through 0.030” sheet, but at most a single score down the cuts is enough to get window openings out, larger seams just fold and snap like cutting large sheets of styrene.

Cores for Toronto Carpet “Building 7” cut out and ready for cleanup and assembly, the left 3 walls have four layers, the right most, only 3!

Now I really need to get onto doing the CAD work for the windows and doors for this building! That will be my next step, drawing, having them 3D printed and casting. Fortunately, this building is only 51 windows and doors…though there are 12 different window size/patterns and two unique doors…

Starting the drawing process for two more buildings

No sooner have I made progress with one actual construction project, was I back at it with the drawing work on the next two buildings for the layout. Progress breeds progress, it certainly didn’t hurt last weekend to have the Daytona 24 Hour car race to watch and keep me motivated and at home.

First up, the last part of Toronto Carpet, the southern end of Building 7. Only a few bays make it on my layout, but it is hopefully going to be a signature building on the west end of the layout. Lots of windows, a lot of different styles (I think my count was 15 distinct sizes/shapes), and some great architectural detail. I have drawn a couple of the windows for 3D printing masters to make resin castings from. I need to get onto the work of finishing them and ordering a print for making molds, but that’s a motivation and time issue more than a skill one.

CAD Work, my working sketch, and a picture of the south elevation today.

The second building, will anchor the western corner of the layout, and again sadly is only a very small part of the building. While it is much less fancy than the Toronto Carpet, it has its own unique elements in the details, and the large hexagonal chimney will stand out. The portion of the Canadian General Electric plant has posed its fair share of challenges. Doing this without drawings is a fun challenge. Counting bricks to get heights and widths. As you can see below, it took me a long time to get the roof line to feel right. I realized the issue is the end parapet wall is higher than the side walls, once I adjusted for this, the height I needed with the right pitch appeared. For this building, in looking through my parts bins, I have either previously decided or have just got damn lucky, and have windows that are right or close enough to right to do this building with a selection of Grandt Line and Tichy windows. I needed a couple more sets of one type, but those are ordered and on their way.

Working hard to get the roofline of the eastern elevation of the Canadian General Electric plant, checking scale with the cast hydrocal chimney, and the building today.

I also did some very rough sketching of the other two buildings which are not yet started on the peninsula of the layout. Both are large, one, the Gillett Company Factory is the largest structure on the layout, at 38″ long, but only 2-6″ deep! The second, the Gillett Mill, elevator and power house, is actually the only complete structure with no compression on my layout, everything else has 3 sides and is against the backdrop or the layout edge. The only other structure with four walls is compressed to fit in the Brunswick Balke Collender powerhouse! The Mill will be its full real world footprint. The sketching has allowed me to get an estimate of how much styrene I need for the buildings, the answer, more than I have, but less than I thought. I will buy some more big sheets in the next week or two so I can at least start cutting cores for these buildings while I work on windows for them both.

Hinde & Dauch Finally Built

Sometimes projects just become, a drag. I knew this was a risk choosing to model an industrial area with early 20th century buildings that have lots of windows. One project in particular has become a bog down. It eventually drove me to scrap the work I had done and buy a Cricut to try a new approach to cutting the windows. I basically tossed the walls I had started, and re-did the cores with the Cricut. This turned out, to be about the smartest thing I’ve done in a long time, but the actual finish trimming still took a very long time, as you can see, there are a lot of windows in the wall, and making an ugly cut or messing up an opening became a bigger pain the further into the wall I got.

On Friday this week, I decided this was getting done. I had 17 window openings to go. I started working on them during my breaks during my work day. By the time I was done work, between my breaks and lunch, I was down to 10 to go. I hit a bit of a hurdle as the last 8 resin castings for the windows were not well cleaned, and had a lot of flash to clean up. Once that was done, and the windows complete, it was on to actually trying to get this thing together and standing on its own.

Starting a Friday with 17 windows to finish trim and install frames, and working through them as the day goes (the first image was after I’d done a couple).

I had the tower interior and the western wall attached to the base, and done work to add stiffeners to the base in the hopes that this would actually have strength to be handled. The building gets as narrow as 0.5″ where the layout wraps around a door frame into the closet. As the walls started getting together, I had bought some 0.100″x0.500″ styrene for building bracing, and it worked perfectly between the upper two rows of windows to add strength to the building and make it totally rigid when handling. This is good as I have had visions of this building flopping itself to pieces while being handled for painting and detailing.

Definitely free standing!

I started the CAD work for the 3D printed windows and wall templates in June 2020 (June 1 to be exact according to the dates of photos and files), so its now been a 2.5 year plus project to get here, and I still have painting to go. Because of the size of this building, I can’t paint it until the spring and weather to let me work on our patio!. It is too big for my paintbooth! Since I can’t paint it, I’ve taken my printed draft signs and taped them onto the building to at least help finish the scene a bit. If nothing else, all the pins holding the walls up and blocking tracks are now gone, so the layout is at least looking a bit more complete, and It can be operated without equipment running into the pins in the tight clearance on the factory siding.

All the structures on the east end of the layout are now assembled and at least partly painted. Since I can’t paint Hinde & Dauch till spring on the patio, I’ve taped my test sign printouts on to help the look for the next few months.

This is 100% a mental hurdle cleared. This building was one that has been staring me in the face, taunting me. It wound up however, driving me to buying a better too in the Cricut and improving my building making techniques so that I advanced a bunch of other buildings in 2022 while it stared at me, daring me to finish the windows. Well now I have, and boy am I happy with how it looks. Already on to the work of drawing the next building, so more to come.

Progressing with Toronto Carpet

The Toronto Carpet complex is three buildings on my layout. Two in the area normally thought of today as “The Carpet Factory” complex of board and beam offices, and one, on the west side of Mowat Avenue, that had various lives but on the 1950’s fire insurance maps, is identified as “Barrymore Cloth” and which is connected by an overhead bridge across Mowat to the main carpet factory.

A few weeks back, I wrote about making masters and resin casting the windows for this building, I had only done one wall, as the windows on the other are a different shape, so my first task was to quickly make up masters for the windows on the other wall, make molds and cast them. While the molds were curing and then the resin curing, I started setting about sketching out the detail on the walls. I started with what is the south wall, as it is more brickwork than windows, I’m glad I did, but I’ll come to that near mistake later! This building has some lovely brick detailing on the corner tower, with rows of bricks on end in a couple of places and stone trim. I also noted that this building (and others I have done) have bond rows in the brick, where every 6th or 7th course is turned on end so you see the short end of the brick, its an older construction technique to tie the exterior brick into the structure of the building behind it. I don’t know how noticeable it is in HO Scale, I hadn’t noticed that I haven’t done it on other buildings, but it gave me another chance to experiment with a new product. In this case, Rail Scale Models resin impregnated card board brick sheets. It is a nice product, the brick detail is fine, and its supplied either with or without a self adhesive backing. I went for the with adhesive, we will see how that goes over time. I found the material relatively easy to cut, but finicky, this is definitely one where the instructions to use a new sharp blade and make many light passes are important to follow. I went through several blades cutting courses of brick, as I found even a little dulling and the blade even on light passes could pull half bricks off the sheet.

Working on the first wall. This building is far and away the most complicated details brick work I have tried to re-create in miniature so far.

With the first wall done, I was feeling pretty good, I am really pleased with how it looks, right now in unpainted condition, the brick work really pops, I know when I get it primered and then painted, a lot of the detail will fade away, but thats kinda how it looks in real life, the detail is there, but you have to know to look for it.

So on to the near mistake. Starting with he more detailed brick wall set the location for the stone cornice above the 3rd floor of the tower. Its a good thing this did, as when I set the finished side with the unfinished side to start aligning things, I discovered my 3rd floor windows were too tall, and ran through the cornice, instead of stopping right beneath it. If I had started bricking the wall with more windows first, I would have set the cornice at a height where I could not accommodate the brick box detail above it on either side. Another example of measure twice/cut once. I had not paid super close attention to where all the brickwork detail aligned when I drew the building cores to cut on the Cricut, and it nearly came back to bite me hard. Lesson learned!

In any event, once I set the cornice, I was able to backfill behind it, and quickly make a mold and cast the two new windows. This wall was more brick than detail around the windows, but I think when it is painted, the building will really stand out. Its a weird one as its really prominent in a corner of my layout, but its almost the least visible location on it because of where it is behind the peninsula. This will be a building that you really have to discover when you walk in and check out the layout room.

Working on the second wall, quickly making new 3rd floor windows, and then getting it bricked up and to the mock up stage in the corner.

Once I was happy with how the walls went together, I assembled them and added the floor to hold alignment and the first part of the roof. In comparing to the pictures, I may go back and adjust the height and dimensions of the head house that sticks up above the roof, its a bit short looking, and a bit wide on the bridge side. Other than that, I am really pleased with how it is looking, and I can’t wait to get to paint. I have a few more things I might try with this building and the windows, I need to go back and take a look see at older pictures, but I think they should probably be more multi pane. If I decide to do this, it will be a vinyl job for when they are installed. Still working out the logistics of making that work and getting everything to align, stay tuned!

Model Railroading is about creating a scene in miniature, in my case, actively trying to recreate as close as I can the real world. So far so good I think?

This has been a good starter for me on doing more complicated model brick work. The next few buildings, being the Carpet Factory Building 7, the General Electric light bulb factory, and the 135 Fraser “Castle” all have some very distinctive brickwork. Its been good lessons to me in working slow and cutting carefully to get nice lines and have parts perfectly butt up together. Now I need to get back to the windows on Building 7 and start drawing up the plans for the cores to cut them out, I can’t get rid of that cardboard sky bridge until I do!

Doing it the Old School Way

Another “new” skill to me at least, making mold masters for resin casting the “traditional” way, by building a part, then making the box. All my previous resin casting has used 3D printed masters, or parts salvaged and combined to make something new (which for one door I am doing here, but more on that later).

For the corner building of the Toronto Carpet Factory, it is another where commercial windows just won’t look right. Fortunately, the windows are large, and I felt that since they are all rectangular, I could try and make masters for molding the way people used to, make a part from strip materials, and then cast the resin parts from that. I have always drawn my parts and 3D printed the masters, but that seemed an unduly slow way for simple windows, given that I’d have to draw them, make sure the size was right, send them to print, hope it worked, and wait. For simple windows, I could totally place a base behind the wall, and use the window openings to make windows that fit perfectly. For the first wall, I needed three window castings, plus two modified castings for the bays with doors. To make these, I used the resin castings as a base, and built more door onto them. I cheated a little and used a single Tichy door for this, simply because making a door seemed like overkill. I would never do this for anything I was going to try and sell, but for myself, I either would have set it up to be able to install the door later, or cast the door into my window. The Tichy door is now shot anyways as its permanently glued to the master part, so its not like I can use it somewhere else.

Starting the window making process, creating the frame inside the openings in the wall, then building up mullions and the frame to get ready to make molds and cast.

The process of casting is pretty straightforward the way I do it. Thanks to my friend Ryan at National Scale Car who took the time to teach me the basics when he was starting to consider his business, I learned the basics of simple two part silicone mold and casting resin. Mix and equal part of the A and B materials, stir, carefully pour, tap them to get any bubbles out (I’m still not perfect at this, but getting better), and wait on the mold curing. Once the mold is ready, same for the resin, mix the A and B Parts, carefully drizzle in and let it find a level, as I am casting windows, using some leftover overhead projector/report covers salvaged from the office, squeeze out excess resin, place a clear acrylic block on top to hold things in place, and let it cure. These were some of the best windows I’ve poured yet, no obvious bubbles in the molds, and i got super thin castings over the windows that basically fell off when touched.

Making the molds, pouring resin, and test fitting windows into the wall. Yes, the dock door casting is really really thin!!

The second wall of this building only has two windows, of course, they are not the same size or pattern, so that will be two molds and two castings, but that’s ok. Its good practice, and they are a bit bigger than the windows on this wall. I haven’t gotten around to them yet, been distracted doing other layout things. I was also waiting on a new brick sheet I wanted to try for this building. That has arrived now, so I need to get on with the other windows so I can start looking at bricking up the walls too! Always something else to work on, but this has been good, glad to re-enforce that I have learned things and built skills in all of this.

Windows loosely in place, looking good if I do say so myself!

First building of Toronto Carpet done

I wrote last week about progress on three buildings on the layout being made here. The first of these, over the course of the rest of last weekend and a couple of evenings this week, has reached what I call the first stage of completeness, done enough to look good on the layout. Further details and weathering/aging to the building will come, but I don’t have all the bits and pieces I need (a seemingly all to constant issue).

For this building, I am doing a combination of paint and Panpastels for the brick and trim colouring. The windows for this are Tichy frame windows, which while not 100% accurate for the masonry walls, for this building, represent a “good enough” compromise in the interest of actually getting the building constructed. The painting starts with a coat of grey primer, followed by the application of pan pastels. For this building, I just a mix of colours, mostly a “Raw Umber” base with “Red Iron Oxide Shade” overtop for a reddish-brown brick that gives the sense of the mortar lines without them being glowing white stripes on the building. I then used a mix of various greys, black and white for staining around locations where water would run down. Once I was happy with this base layer, I sprayed it with a rattlecan flat sealant. I think, Jason Shron from Rapido actually recommended this Behr (Home Depot) rattle can when I asked him what he was using to seal his roads once he had weathered them with PanPastels (note to self, I really need to start working on my roads again sometime!).

Pan Pastels before sealing on the layout, then into the spray booth for sealer and green trim. My selection of PanPastels are shown (yes, labelled with the label-maker as the packaging is labelled on the bottom!).

PanPastels come in a range of 92 colours, they can be blended and you can achieve a range of effects for buildings, roads, and rolling stock weathering with them. The picture above shows the limited range of colours I have. I have bought ones that feel brick or grime toned for doing structures mostly. Some time I will branch out and try them on rolling stock. I am very much in the “seal the pastels” camp, as they don’t bond on their own. This is important for things being handled, as they will come off and I have left fingerprints in models. The downside is, even a clear tones the colour down. It is not uncommon to find you need to go back and bump up details like the grime and water rundown effects on buildings, but these layers are less likely to get damaged by future handling than the main brick finish is.

“Finished” building in place on the layout.Now I can think about blending it into the pavement and the surrounding scenery getting polished off.

One down, two (and a bridge) to go for Toronto Carpet. I have started the second Toronto Carpet building. Now that I’ve got some space on the workbench, I can take it back off the layout and start working on the brick detail for it, which will be one of the more complicated patterns I have tried, wish me luck in re-creating it!