Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kate’s Colonial Home Kit

Having a layout measuring only 4’ x 8’, there is very limited room for structures after track and terrain are added. As is my situation, I just don’t have the real-estate for full sized town and residential areas, so I find myself having to represent these zones with only 1 or 2 structures. For the residential aspect of my layout, I have room for one house and I chose the Kate’s Colonial Home Kit by Atlas.

Kate’s Colonial Home kit by Atlas

I liked the buildings yellow and forest green colour theme, so I used very similar colours when I painted the exterior. I did however change the roof shingle colour to a dark brown instead of the recommended light grey. The great thing about Atlas kits is the injection molding process they use, which results in high quality, very detailed, and precise parts that fit together easily with little to no prep work.

Construction of the styrene light diffuser boxFirst level interior of Kate’s Colonial Home kit

First level interior of Kate’s Colonial Home kit with light diffuser box

The window coverings are printed on photo paper which I taped and glued to the inside walls. Because I wanted to light the house, I had to add a layer of dark cardstock to the inside of the walls so light wouldn’t shine through the styrene shell. To light the structure, I used the same method as in my Walthers Merchant’s Row I kit by building a small light diffuser box out of styrene. I built the interior walls around the light box with thick cardstock, allowing light to glow through small doorways.

Second level interior of Kate’s Colonial Home kit with light diffuser boxSecond level cardstock ceiling and light blocker

Once the first floor was completed, I added a styrene floor for the second level, and used the same cardstock wall method that I used for the first floor, building around the light diffuser box. I then added a cardstock ceiling to the second floor rooms, preventing any light from glowing though up to the attic windows and into the roof section. This ceiling can also be removed (along with the actual roof) to access the light diffuser box in the event of a burnt out bulb.

Kate’s Colonial Home kit by Atlas

Kate’s Colonial Home kit by AtlasKate’s Colonial Home kit with interior lighting

The kit was weathered using a semi-soft paintbrush and dry pastels that I ground up into a fine powder. I made sure almost all of the pastel was off of the brush before applying it to the building as it isn’t very forgiving. A final spray of Testors dull coat sealed in the pastel weathering. The chimney and foundation mortar were coloured using thinned black and white washes.

The Other Corner Café Kit

The Other Corner Café kit by DPMI wanted to add a bank to my small commercial district, and the DPM Other Corner Café kit by Woodland Scenics fit the bill perfectly. This was my first DPM kit, and if you have never built one either, it’s a very good idea to follow the preparation directions before assembling the model. The Design Preservation Model (DPM) series kits have high quality details and styrene but do require a good amount of sanding and trimming before assembly.
As I did with my Merchant’s Row I kit, I used small strips of masking tape to mask the windows and trim before painting the brick walls. Once the walls were dry, I covered the newly painted sections so I could now paint the trim and window frames. After drying for 24 hours, any touchups were made with a small detailing brush. The masking is tedious, but worth it in the end, however it’s only effective if it’s done correctly and carefully. If not, you will just have a ton of touchups to deal with. The structure was then brushed with dark powdered pastels for weathering effects and sealed with a final coat of Testors dull coat.

Blind assortment on 8” x 10” matt photo paper

Most DPM models do not come with a pre-molded roof or base, however bulk styrene is provided for at least the roof, which needs to be cut-to-fit. A length of strip styrene is also provided to be cut and installed to support for the roof. Clear bulk styrene sheet(s) are also included for the window glazing. Window blinds were used from the same templates I used on previous structures that I built.

Removable first level of bank interior and light diffuserRemovable first level of bank interior and light diffuser

Styrene light diffuser boxFirst level interior with lit diffuser box

I built the interior structure of this building in almost the exact same way as may Merchant’s Row I kit, utilizing my light diffuser box method. The first level interior of the building is built upon a removable styrene base, with the light box installed on top (2nd level). The removable base allows access to the bulb in case it ever needs to be changed. I built the bank’s teller desks out of scrap styrene pieces, as well as the large support column (which actually supports the light diffuser box). The bank’s floor is a tile design that I made in Adobe Photoshop and printed on matt photo paper. The walls are just coloured cardstock.

Second level interior of the Other Corner Café kitSecond level interior of the Other Corner Café kit

The Other Corner Café kit with lightingBank interior with lighting

The second level interiors are actually attached directly to the main structure. I built these with a combination of dark cardstock and styrene plastic, which I secured directly to the inside walls. When the base and light box are inserted, the light box sits just behind the second level interior rooms. To allow light into the rooms, I simply cut small openings into the back walls. For the rooms I didn’t want to light, I simply omitted the rear opening to keep them dark.

Bank roof with medium burnt cinders from Woodland ScenicsThe Other Corner Café kit by DPM

The Other Corner Café kit by DPMThe Other Corner Café kit by DPM

I decorated the final structure with dry transfer decals from Woodland Scenics on the windows as well as a vertical corner sign that was left over from my Merchant’s Row I kit. For the roof material, I used medium burnt cinders from Woodland Scenics, which I spread about 1/16” – 1/8” thick. I then secured the cinders with thinned white glue that I applied with a small pipette, mixed with a few drops of isopropyl alcohol to break the glue mixture’s surface tension.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Turntable Upgrade

While working on my hard shell scenery, I thought that it would be a good idea to also update my turntable to make it look a little more realistic. I wasn’t very fond of all the extra, unused entrance slots in the turntable, nor did I like its original glossy-gray paint job (which was a result of being one of the first structures I’d ever painted on my layout). The paint job I originally did on the rotating table itself wasn’t half bad, but it too definitely needed some weathering effects.

Atlas turntable upgrade

I started by first cutting styrene into curved strips to cover the tops and sides of the unused entrance slots. Once glued on and painted a light gray colour, the foundation now looks solid and specifically built to match my track and not as if the engine is just going to roll on off the table at any point. I also painted the small shack that covers the turntable motor. I then weathered the turntable, foundation, and motor shack with various powdered pastels that I applied with an old paintbrush. The whole structure was then sprayed with a final layer of dull-coat, which seals in the pastel weathering and prevents it from rubbing off if touched.