Saturday, 21 April 2018

A Couple of Weathered Freight Cars

A few years back, I started to notice the weathering patterns on different freight cars, and became more interested in that than I was in the train or the car itself, if that makes sense. I bought a couple of weathered cars at train shows, but they had only had rust and grime airbrushed onto them and didn't really look right. I decided to try weathering my own freight cars, with the goal being to have all of the cars on my layout weathered, at least to some degree.

Some of those early attempts turned out pretty good, and others...well, maybe not so much.  Here are a couple of my earlier efforts that I'd call successes.  I weathered the covered hoppers for my friend Sean. I believe I actually did 5 of them for him. I remember I really liked the way the one in the 2nd picture here turned out. The fading of the CN grey was done with acrylic craft paint.

As for the boxcar, I eventually ended up selling that one. That was one of the first cars I did where I had tried to follow a picture I'd found online. I had posted pictures of it to, and from that posting I was led to by Scott Sanders where I continue to learn from him and the other weathering artists there.

Sorry for the poor location of the pictures, but there weren't many photo-worthy locations on the JSSX back then.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

ACME Welding - the model

I realized long ago that if I was ever going to be able to include a model of ACME Welding on my layout, I would pretty much have to build it myself...from scratch. That could be...umm... interesting...I mean fun. I thought that at about 4" x 6" the model won't really be all that big anyway, so I could do this, right? Most of the materials for such a building could probably just be taken out of my scraps box.  So, here goes...

Once again, a photo of the prototype building, in London, Ontario.

I found windows that are pretty darn close to the prototype's in size (scale size, that is) to use on the main floor of the building on the Tichy website. I ordered them and they were here in about 10 days. Once they arrived it was time to actually get this little project underway. I didn't have actual measurements of the prototype dimensions, so I simply did my best to count the number of concrete blocks to get the building's length and height. With no photo of the rear wall of the building, I just went with my best guess for that.

For the large sliding door at the front of the building I could use a bit of scribed lumber that I've got around here (somewhere), and the entry doors and the upper storey windows are leftovers from an old Pikestuff kit. The upper windows will be over-size, but, oh well... I don't know who makes the concrete block styrene sheet that I had, but there was enough of that on hand. The upper level annex is built with scraps of Evergreen styrene. And I have some brass screening that I could put over the windows for security against any HO scale break and enter artists.

Here are the walls, cut from concrete block sheet styrene, and rough layout of the front door. I omitted the middle window on the left hand side of the building, just because I liked the way it looked.

I then traced the outline of these block walls onto .040 sheet styrene to make the inner layer of the walls, and scribed and snapped that material wherever needed to create the window openings. I should have taken a picture of that, but never thought of it at the time. Then I glued those .040 pieces back together with the window openings removed and laminated the concrete block over top.

Below, this thing is actually starting to come together. That'll be the chimney laying to the left. A couple of cross braces help keep the walls straight and provide something for the roof to rest on. I guess that makes them roof joists.

As can be seen from the prototype photo, the front facade of the real ACME Welding is painted grey, but the side walls are just the bare, naturally weathered, concrete blocks.  I sprayed the front wall with Craftsmart Gray acrylic, and later brush painted ModelFlex Concrete Gray on the other 3 sides.

View of the rear of the model.  I don't have a photo of the rear of the prototype, so I just took a best guess for that. I figured there's got to be an exit door back there at least, and likely a window too. I never thought until afterwards to check on Google or Bing Maps for an aerial view of the prototype.  When I did, it turned out I was right on both counts and I got their locations pretty close to right too.

The aerial or birds'eye views even showed me the sloping rooftop over a covered stairway to access the upper level. I had kind of wondered how someone would get up there. The Pikestuff windows I used on the top level are too large and I somehow got their locations in the side wall mixed up. I'll have to re-do the 2nd level sometime in the future after I find better windows.

The Pikestuff access doors I had had window openings in them, so I covered over both doors with .005 styrene. The door track for the large sliding front door is a piece of Evergreen styrene angle.

The No Parking sign is a scaled down print-out from a photo of the actual sign on the front of the real building. If I had been smarter, I would have done the same thing for the business sign at the top of the front facade, and maybe for the front entrance door too. I painted those by hand though and then used Microscale decals for the lettering and numbers. The various small steel plates are .005 styrene.

I did the grimy weathering streaks by brushing on the water soluble type of artist oils that come in those little tubes. I moistened a flat brush with MicroSol for the thinner. On the side wall, I used short pieces of .030 styrene to simulate the electrical conduits and fittings.

This little business is going to fit in really nicely on the JSSX.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

ACME Welding - the prototype

Any time I see a business with the name ACME, my mind goes straight to the old Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons, with ACME being the supplier for the coyote's weapons of choice.  ACME actually means (and I looked it up just for this post) something or someone at it's peak, zenith or prime, which is ironic in the cartoon, given the quality of the products that Wile E. seems to receive.

I stumbled across ACME Welding in London, Ontario a couple of years ago. Wow. This small building really got my attention.  Cement block construction, large wooden sliding door with a simple two-colour personnel door inset into it, matching colours with the overhead business sign, metal security screening covering the windows, and a whole bunch of stuff laying on the ground all around it. I should note too, that behind the white block building in the background of the photo is the small CN London freight yard.

These pictures are obviously taken on different days. I wonder who John Robert is. Clearly important to the business owners, perhaps he's been away in the military. I wonder just what they're welding in there. I checked online, but I could find no real presence for the business on the interwebs.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

The Worst Block in Town #3

Downtown Deco also supplies plastic awnings in the kit to place above the windows and front door. I tried one of them, but I didn't care for the way it looked. AIthough I liked the idea of the awnings, I thought that they just looked too new and clean and perfect for what I want my building to be about,

I had some .025 steel wire on hand, so I took a bit of that and bent some simple steel frames to look like they might have have supported canvas awnings. I drilled a couple of tiny holes into the brick, and mounted the wire frames with a tiny dab of white glue.

The old Coca-Cola advertisement was part of a wall sized decal included with the kit. I just trimmed out the Coke part because that's all I wanted to use.  That's an abandoned couch and mattress sitting toward the back of the cement foundation. They come with the kit.

This is the view of the building where it will sit on the layout, with another Downtown Deco kit beside it.

And here's the view from across the street at the JSSX engine shed, or if you prefer, it's from in front of my workbench.  Barely visible in this photo is a handrailing I put on the front steps.  It's an old front railing from a GP 38. Still have a few finishing touches to go on this (some ground cover, ballast the track, etc., but this is what it will generally look like. I think that red brick wall looks a little plain, so I'll have to address that as well as completing the street to cross the tracks.

All in all, I like the look of this building, and had a great time assembling, painting and adding a few details to it.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The Worst Block in Town (2)

I'd like to know how Downtown Deco carves in all that fine brickwork on these Hydrocal kits. It really is remarkable the level of detail that they achieve. And if or when a few bricks become slightly damaged, the buildings seem to look even better.

Over at, there's an incredible group of modelers where you can learn a tremendous amount about building models and weathering.  I log on there pretty regularly. A few months back, there were a couple of threads posted by Rodney dealing with Hydrocal models 10 feet and 5 feet long. I tried to provide the link to Rodney's remarkable thread, but it didn't appear to work here. I don't know why not.

I picked up a significant tip from his threads called "pre-shading". This is a simple process where you paint areas of a kit dark (generally with black paint I take it) before you paint it with the actual intended colour. Taking this extra step gives the model some colour tone variation. Pretty cool idea. I'd never heard of it before.

Downtown Deco recommends sealing the plaster with white spray paint because the plaster will just soak up paint like a sponge.  I didn't have white spray paint, so I just went with Krylon Clear Matte. Here's my building, sealed and with some of that pre-shading done. I didn't think I was going to like the end results from those 3 vertical stripes I had sprayed as shown below, so I sprayed more black over the whole lower half of the side wall.

In the picture below, the dark pre-shading shows through the brick colour on the lower half of the side wall, and around the windows.  Turned out pretty good I thought for the first time trying this technique.

The paints I used are acrylics: Craftsmart Black for the pre-shading, and Folk Art Honeycomb for the brick colouring. The black pre-shading was sprayed with my airbrush, but the Honeycomb was applied to the brick with vertical strokes using a flat half-inch wide artists brush. 

The window sills and foundation stones were painted with ModelFlex Concrete Grey.  Pretty well the whole building was given a wash or two of alcohol and india ink to bring out the mortar lines.

Also in the photo below, you can see that the brick side wall is bowed outward about 1/16th of an inch, maybe even just a touch more than that. It came that way out of the box. I didn't know how to straighten that, or if it could even be done, so I just left it alone and did the best I could with it as is. This side won't be visible when it's in place on the layout anyway.  I shortened the front porch about 1/2" because it stuck out further than I think would fit into the space I'll have available.

A view showing the back of the building. I might have gone a little heavy with the India ink/alcohol wash, but I wanted it dingy back there.

The roof material, a small piece of styrene sheet for use as a base, along with piece of black construction paper to represent a tar paper roof, is supplied with the kit.

Following a suggestion in the assembly instructions, I laid out the tar seams with a black Sharpie pen.  Then, using a toothpick, I went over the lines with some white glue. This raises the tar seams just ever so slightly and gives them a little bit of a shine as well. I thought that was kind of a neat little detailing trick.  I wouldn't have thought of that.

The two chimneys come in the details package, and I did the same painting to them as the building walls. Too bad they're not hollowed out down the centre. I just stuck 'em onto the roof with some white glue since I had it out anyway for the tar lines