Monday, January 25, 2010

Creating peeling paint on wood structures.

Here's a close-up showing peeling paint on an HO waterfront structure. Sorry about the photo quality.

I use art masking fluid to mask the wall where the peeling paint will be. Art masking fluid is like rubber cement only thinner. It's mostly sold in art stores, but I've seen it in craft stores also. Art masking fluid is used by water color painters to mask areas they whant to remain white. You'll also need a soft rubber erasure like the one in the photo.

Here's what to do:

• On a wood structure paint the raw wood a weathered wood color. I like a thinned gray color.

• Where you want the peeling paint apply art masking fluid with a toothpick - a little is better than a lot.

• Allow the art masking fluid to dry.

• Then paint the whole structure another color - white, barn red, gray, light green, whatever you like.

• Allow the paint to dry for several days

• Then with the soft rubber art eraser gently rub it over the structure surface. The eraser will lift the paint and the art masking fluid under it to reveal the weathered wood.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Planning models

In my scenery book I devote a good deal of space to planning your scenery. This is an important first step if you have a large or complicated track plan.

With some track plans it's very hard to visualize if there's enough clearance between the tracks, especially when one track is above another, or how steep or flat the scenery has to be in another part of the plan, or where you need a rock face or retaining wall.

This is where a 3-D model of the trackplan comes in handy. The scale of the 3-D model is not important. It has to be large enough so you can build the grades to scale. I like one-inch equals one-foot scale. This means drawing a track plan on a grid that's 1"=1' scale.

I make several copies of the plan and glue these copies to cardboard or poster board. I cut out the track outline with a sharp knife, leaving about 1/8" on either side of the line. You'll need several copies of some areas on the plan especially where one track crosses over another.

Square pieces of scrap wood make the risers. These are glued under the cut-out track plan. It's important to estimate the grades so you can determine if there's clearance when one track passes over another.

I like to add scenery using Sculptamold, bit of colored texture, and small buildings made from blocks of wood. It brings the planning model to life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Did you ever wonder how lobsters are caught?

In 1997 I was filmed hauling my lobster traps on Massachusetts’ North Shore. The video shows a typical day at sea.

You’ll learn about lobster’s habits, how the trap works, the differences between “old” and “new” lobsters, and other interesting facts.

This video was shot as part of a presentation for the Gloucester Seafood Festival. The purpose was to feature lobstermen (and fishermen), those small, one-man operations were threatened by changing Federal and State laws and the economics of scale.

The law changes worked. They forced myself and most of the other small fishermen I knew out of business. Nowadays, it’s mostly the large, heavily capitalized, corporation-owned, fishing businesses that remain.

Download this video to get a close-up look at my typical day at sea. This is a 23-minute, 131MB, mp4 file. The cost is only $8.95. You’ll enjoy it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Cactus Valley

Many years ago I was asked by the staff at Model Railroader magazine to build a 4' by 8' HO project railroad. The purpose of a project railroad is to document the building process. This helps a newcomer, or seasoned veteran, to build the railroad.

I documented the process in 2 how-to-do-it articles. These were published about 15 years ago in Model Railroader. The story has all the information you'll need to build this small layout or a larger railroad, based on a Southwest theme. Check it out, it's a free PDF download at

I also put up a link to a 9:31 mp4 video about building landforms using cardboard strips and plaster wrap. This is basic scenery building information. The download costs $5.95.