Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Making HO tents

I found a flat plaster casting containing some rocks and exposed dinosaur bones. It was something I bought many years ago at a train show. I must have purchased two because I added this same casting to the HO layout Bob Hayden and I built for Tokyo Disneyland back in 2000. 

I took the casting and glued it to a piece of 1/2" plywood and added a length of HOn30 track in the corner. I then colored the rocks, bones and earth with acrylic paint.

My plan is to have an archaeological expedition digging-up the bones. For this I needed tents to house the expedition.

For the tent "canvas" I needed a material that is shear enough to allow lantern light, inside the tent, to shine through. Bill Banta supplies roofing paper with some of his kits. It's meant to be used as model tarpaper. It's thin and has a see-though texture. I thought it might make a good tent canvas - the old fashioned heavy type that had the rough feel of sail canvas. 

From my youth I remember the canvas being gray to tan in color and always smelled of the tar-like "weatherproofing" that was painted on it. (I have flashbacks to my uncomfortable Boy Scout days trying to sleep in one of these tents while it was raining. You'd have a wet sleeping bag for a week.)

Anyway, I took Banta's roofing paper and laid it out on a towel and applied a thin wash of acrylic earth and black. I needed to paint both sides and keep brushing out the texture pattern made by the towel. After it dried I had my canvas as shown here. 

I built a bunch of cardboard frames for the tent canvas to drape over. These are 8' by 8' and 4' high at the knee wall in HO scale. These are not precision models as you can see but they will be covered so they're good enough. I painted the inside of each tent frame with a light earth-colored paint.

After the paint dried I smeared the frames with thin white glue and laid the canvas in place. 

I glued the cardboard frames to the canvas starting at the back. After the glue dried I cut-out backs and then draped the canvas over the sides and the top.

The last step was to glue on the front, make a slit in it, and then fold back the doors. I used a drop of glue to hold the doors back. Eventually there will be a cot and a table inside the tent.

Several of the tents will be used on the Fiddletown display as miner's lodgings.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fiddletown Staion

I finished this little Woodland Scenics station. It's close enough to the Fiddletown station to be used on my current project. This is a cast metal kit. All parts fit together with very little clean-up. 

I primed the parts with Krylon Camo Earth color and then brush-painted the trim with a medium gray. The roof was primed with Krylon Camo Brown and then dry brushed.

After assembly the whole building got a thin wash of raw umber to tone down the brightness. 

Inside there's a figure in every window, blocks of painted wood for furniture, and a small LED to light it up. I found I needed to add a cardboard ceiling inside to prevent light from spilling out from under the roof eves. 

This was fun to build and took about 4 hours total.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lighthouse lantern

I needed to build a half dozen lighthouses. The lantern (the part where the revolving light and Fresnel lens is located) is the tricky part. All the lights had to work and look realistic. 
I found a custom circuit that would allow an LED to pulse on and pulse off with a 3 second gap between the pulses. The circuit operated on between 9 and 20 V AC or DC - perfect for the auxiliary side of many train power supplies.

To hide the bright LED I used a piece of clear plastic rod. I drilled out a hole for the LED to fit in, and roughed-up the outer surface with fine sandpaper to diffuse the light. It works and looks nice.

BTW - I'm holding the top of the lighthouse with a paper cup - the wires can hang down through a hole punched in the top of the cup. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Water Tank part 2

I needed several little metal loops for my water tank and I happened to be in a friends fishing store. I asked if he had any tiny swivels. He did, they were in the junk box, and after rummaging around for a few minutes I found these. 

The wire loops are a little large for HO but if I paint them black no one will notice. I cut each swivel in half and got two loops. I used five on the water tank so that leaves me about 30 more for other projects.

Here's my little water tank almost complete. It still needs weathering and I'll do that just before I place it in the scene. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fiddletown water tank

I needed a water tank that looked somewhat like the cartoon water tank in Carl Fallberg's Fiddletown & Copperopolis book. I didn't have a tank on hand but I did have some parts left over from an ancient project - a plastic water tank and roof. I think the parts are from Atlas. 

I used the cartoon as a guide to build the wooden supports and cribbing that hold the weight of the tank full of water. These were made from scrap wood and then spray painted with a Krylon Camo dark brown. The Camo colors dry dead flat and are great as a base color or primer for model builders.

The cartoon showed a shingled roof so the first step was to sand away the existing metal roof detail on the plastic roof and then shingle the roof. I used left-over scraps from Paper Creek and Wild West. They're slightly different colors so I washed the finished roof with a raw umber Apple Barrel acrylic color and then dry brushed with earth and then white. My goal was to blend the two different shingle colors into one homogeneous roof. 

The plastic tank was a brown color but I wanted it to be yellow. So I masked the roof and bottom timbers and airbrushed the tank a light yellow color. 

I'm almost finished with the spout detail and will post photos when done.