Monday, January 31, 2011

Your First Laser Kit 02 - Basic Barn Kit - Painting the Barn Thought Process

Ok, class, what is my first rule of modeling?

WHAT!  You don't remember?  Ok, one last time...

The first thing you do before starting a model is to STUDY THE PROTOTYPE.

Hey, how can you make a model of something if you haven't looked at the real thing?

Before we go further, open up another browser and go search for SMALL RED BARNS.  See what you find.  How do they look?  Are they new or old?  Red or another color?  What type of roof do they have?  What makes the barn interesting?

Now back to the kit.  A model needs a story.  The story tell us how to finish the model.  Is this barn new or old?  Red or brown?  Is it used heavily?  Are the doors opened or closed?  Is there a light inside?  Perhaps a tractor?  Is a side falling in?  You get the idea.

Take a minute and WRITE DOWN (no it won't kill you) what YOUR barn looks like in your mind.  The more you write down, the better your barn will be.

My barn:

  • Is older and red, but the lean-to is a more recent addition.
  • The main doors are slightly open, enough to not see in
  • The side door is open too because someone is working inside
  • There is a farmer near or in the barn
  • The roof needs repair
  • Two of the boards on one side were broken and repaired

That's enough for now.  So how do you paint this barn?  The red on the main barn is probably faded by now, and the lower edge of the barn is either covered in dirt or has been damaged by water.  The lean-to since it is newer was probably not painted with the same can of red and would be much less weathered and damaged.  The roof would be in better shape and most likely different from the main roof.

You can see now how I think this out...and the more time you spend doing this the better your model.  For this one I don't want it too complicated, so we'll stop here.  Everyone will need to build this in class.  Otherwise I'd add a stone foundation on it and detail the inside!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Your First Laser Kit 01 - Basic Barn Kit - Prepping for Assembly

A clinic that I've conducted several times is the Build a Barn or Barnstorming Clinic.  This is an introduction to building a simple laser cut kit.  These kits, like any others, have their quirks.  I'm not a big fan of laser kits, but they are VERY popular and reasonable priced.

 I used to use these barn kits from Mountaineer Precision Products (MPP) but they are not in business due to an illness of some sort.  I've not been able to buy them for clinics so I finally begged my friend Howard Garner of Cascade Western Laser to produce a similar kit.

Cascade Western Laser sent me the prototype kit, so you and I are going to put it together AND debug the kit at the same time.  I've done quite a few kit reviews and they are fun.  Usually I charge for this, depending on the value of the kit and whether I keep it or have to send it back.  First I look at the overall packaging.  I made a few notes on a Word Document that I'll send back to the manufacturer.

The picture is kind of blurry, so I'll make a note about that.  You always need a clear picture of the finished model, and I prefer a color shot.

 Here is how the back of the kit looked.  Unlike the MPP kit this one has shingles instead of a tin roof.  I much prefer the tin roof and will probably go get some Campbell material for this barn.  To me the roof just needs RUST!

The first step is to remove the pieces and to check for missing parts.  BE VERY CAREFULL pulling out the pieces as they may fall out or break.

 Here is the barn side sheet.  The cutting is very nice and sharp.  The tabs are quite thin, which is a problem for how I assemble the kit, but may be ok for those that don't like to hack away with a hobby knife.  I usually paint while on the master sheet as it reduces warping.

 Here is the roof sheet with a handy pointing arrow that shows you how the shingles/tar paper goes.  The solid area that holds the part in the "tree" or sheet is called the fret.

 The trim is very well done with super sharp cuts.  Be very careful with this piece so that you don't break any of the beams.

 The 3M backing is a peel and stick adhesive backing and is the best quality you can get.

 The shingles are paper with adhesive backing and are white.  I'd prefer a black shingle, but we'll see how it paints out.

The instructions are simple with no drawings.  Each step is laid out and I READ THE DIRECTIONS BEFORE I START.  Yes, you should too!  Resist the urge to jump ahead of this step!

 I always check the parts list if the instructions have them...and these do.  Make sure that each piece is here.

One thing you need to know about laser kits.  The wood is a laminated collection of cross grained sheets just like plywood.  Unlike plywood solvents and water will delaminate the sheets and cause the wood to fall apart. I always seal the wood because paints will cause warpage or delamination.  There is a difference between paint and sealant.  Paint does not seal against moisture, but sealant will.  I'm going to lightly spray two coats of Krylon Sealant on EACH SIDE of each piece, except for the adhesive backed items.  All of the parts are laid in a tray along with the mast head so that I can carry them to the garage for painting.  NEVER USE SOLVENT PAINTS IN AN UNVENTILATED AREA!

This is Krylon Crystal Clear sealant with Satin Finish.  I like the satin finish because it is a bit rough like a fine sandpaper and the texture grabs and holds paints and weathering pigments very well.  I don't use Testor's Dull Coat because it soaks quickly into the wood and causes delaminating.  Shake this thoroughly before using and put on safety glasses and a breathing mask.

 You don't want to paint the peel and stick side, so set this part aside for last.

 With all the parts turned over, spray a LIGHT COAT....for those of you in Rio means LIGHT COAT.  If you soak these parts they will warp or delaminate!!!

 Give it some time to dry and turn it over.  Spray another light coat on the finished side being sure not to get any drips.  Repeat these steps twice on each side.  This will give you a good protective coating to prevent damage from painting.

 The trim piece will need to be sprayed twice and VERY lightly each time to prevent damage.

 I let the fumes evaporate for a while and then brought the pieces back down to the shop.

 The roof piece was slightly warped from the very beginning.  This is common with laser kits and it can be easily fixed.  Just always remember to fix it AFTER you have sealed it.

Using my handy slab of 1/4 inch glass plate, I just lay it under the glass and we'll give it 24 hours to flatten out and dry thoroughly.

If you would like a kit for yourself or some for a clinic that you want to give, you can order them from:

Cascade Western Laser
PO Box 826
Pickens, SC 29671-0826

They are $17.95 each plus shipping

Next...we paint!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sippin' Swamp Diorama - Part 10 - Dominoes

One thing that I know not to do is to model when I'm tired and need sleep.  Of course, I know I need to eat right and exercise and I don't do that either.

 I checked the strength of the pilings to make sure they were strong.  Yup!  Good shape.  So let's sand them flat.  I've done this many times and am a professional.

 Using a sanding block I gently, very gently sand the tops of the ties level....

 That's gently, stupid!  Crap.  They fell like dominoes. 

 I keep a notepad by the desk all the times.  I made a note to buy some Ailene's Tacky Glue, which is a little stronger than Elmer's.  I ran out.

 Using full strength Elmer's I glued them all back again.  A couple are not level, but we'll fix that later.

All the dominoes are stacked up again!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Product Review - DVD Styrene: The Ideas, Tips and Technologies of Dean Freytag

Styrene: The Ideas, Tips and Technologies of Dean Freytag

Dean Freytag is a legend in model railroading and is most noted for revolutionizing the modeling of steel mills.  His steel book is a proud edition on my shelf.  Unfortunately Dean passed on recently.

I bought this book from Green Frog Video as an extra DVD so that I could get free shipping.  I should have paid for shipping.  The video is quite dated with some products being pitched that are long gone on the market.  It was fun seeing some inside shots of Plastruct, though.  Actually there are a lot of products pitched in this DVD.

However Dean does get around to showing us a few tips and tricks.  However, for the price, there are few that I thought were really unique or revolutionary.  This is not a video that I'd recommend.

Utah Society of Railroad Modelers

Announcing the formation of the newest model railroad group in Utah!   Me and a few others have formed a 100% NMRA Club that is dedicated to having fun!  Our club will sponsor hands on clinics, layout tours and a DVD lending library along with a full Achievement Program with contests!  We have no officers, no dues, no rules, and no by laws.  Members will be loosely coordinated just like the Railroad Protype Modelers and the Narrow Gauge Convention.  What more could you want!!!

So if you have a friend in Utah...send them our way!  Our Yahoo Egroup is the way to stay connected at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Clean Up and Install Night

Armed with a baloney sandwich (you are what you eat) and a Canada Dry Ginger Ale on ice (my favorite) we head to the shop for some maintenance.

 The wife likes to throw things in my shop, whether or not they belong there.  I took several framed pictures out and piled them on her desk with a nasty note.  This plaque I'll keep.  Dave Muller was my friend and mentor.  He taught me how to build.  I have never been happier that to win this award that honors his name.  We'll find a wall spot for it.

 You've seen that I've been reviewing a lot of DVD's lately.  I better get this DVD player installed.  It is very compact and will fit nicely.

 Trash!  This shop needs a three yard container!  I dump out trash almost every week.  Time for a bigger can.

 There!  The DVD player is snug above the TV where I can easily load the discs.

Testing works fine!  Now to sit back and watch a DVD while I do some more cleaning!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Dixie Central is Back Under Construction

Sign up for the Dixie Central blog and watch me build my AP project!

Video - The Railroaders

This is a fantastic look at railroad personnel in about the 1950's.  It has some nice vignettes of jobs that I wasn't aware of.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Product Review - DVD Scratchbuilding Techniques with Brian Nolan

Building Craftsman Structure Kits Vol 4 - Scratchbuilding Techniques with Brian Nolan

Brian Nolan's work is just breathtaking, so I had to buy this DVD.  I've gotta say this is one of Scotty Mason's better efforts.  There is a lot of meat in this one!  Brian comes across great on the screen.  What I really love is that he presents techniques so different than what I use today!  I just feel like I have to sit at the workbench and play with them.

His shingle work is excellent and I intend to use it soon.  Brian really masters the Dr. Ben's Pigments and his rust work makes me envious.  He lays it all out step by step, and then shows you a finished model at the end of the DVD showing all the nice work put together in one structure

If you build structures or want to produce really nice competition models, you need this DVD.  I've already asked my wife to head to the bead store for a beading tool.  If for nothing else buy the DVD to watch the detail shots of some of his models at the end.  You'll learn something from this one!

You can order from Darryl Huffman and it costs $30.00.   Darryl is a much trusted supplier and you will always get your order quickly and painlessly.  Four stars for this one.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sippin' Swamp Diorama - Part 9 - Trestle In the Swamp

Let's upright some pilings tonight!

 The stain is finally dry so we'll take our bag of piles and our bag of crossties, along with some full strength Elmer's glue and get to work on the base.

 First I lightly sand both ends of each piling just to knock off any burrs from sawing.  If I notice one that is cut sideways, I through it in the scrap bin for later.  I'll sand 12 of the pilings at a time.

 There! The dirty dozen!  Ready to be glue.

 "Alright men!  In formation!"  Using straight glue I put a good size blob down at the intersection of the shadow tie and rail.  The blob gives the piling a little more standing tension.  Using tweezers or your hands, upright the pilings twelve at a time. Don't worry if some are a little crooked as they looked that way in real life.  Also, the crosstie will straighten them up as well.

 On the top of each piling I put a small dab of glue being carefull not to put too much as it will run down the post.

 Using a pair of tweezers I pick up each crosstie on the BROAD SIDE (there are two widths on most ties and I want the long size) in the middle of the tie and place it on the pilings in the center, carefully tapping the tie into the glue without moving the pilings.

 Once those are done, I'll put in 12 more pilings and repeat the process.

 Just like soldiers they begin to line up.  No, the ties aren't perfectly level, but don't worry about it yet.

 Twelve and twelve and twelve more...slowly, slowly.  Just imagine building a whole big swamp one foot at a time!

 Here you can see it from overhead.  Not straight, and that is the way I want it.  Imagine pounding a piling in a swamp that is muck for 20-40 feet deep!  The pilings go all different ways.

 Slowly, slowly we get the length of track from island to island.  These ties are closer together than the one in the picture.  That is because the one in the photo is driven into sand on a low island.  These are in the water.

 All done!  Now we'll let it dry for a couple of days so that it is VERY firm.  Then we'll lightly sand the ties.

Imagine the train coming on the wobbly road!