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Wills Craftsman Kits

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Wills Craftsman Kits
Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, May 12, 2018 7:21 PM

About ten or twelve years ago, I bought quite of few eBay "lots" of craftsman kits, ranging from wood to plastic. From those I picked and chose kits from my era, the 1890's--mostly offerings from Muir Models and Campbell's. The rest I turned around and sold on eBay. 

One model I kept, even though I figured it wasn't quite right, was a freight office and crane by Wills Craftsman Kits I figured would look good on a team track. I rationalized it by saying that people in California  came from all over and a stone building might be out of place, but some tradesman from across the pond probably just built what he knew how. 

So today, I opened the kit up and was surprized to see that there were just sheets of plastic with either stone work, bricks or flagstones. They figured it was up to me to cut everything to size and make it all work. 

They did provide a sort of a template sheet and with dimentions (all metric scale of course) and they provided a booklet that made suggestions of how I might make the cuts and glue things together so things have a half-way chance of working out. The book told how to make sand blocks and a cutting table for when I had to make circular cuts and stuff with a jeweler's saw. 

Now after reading that book, I figure I can at least fake a good job. My pappy always told me that the difference between a master and an apprentice is that the master can make his mistakes look like they were meant to be that way. 

But I would be remiss if I didn't call upon the experiences of those of you that have gone before where I am about to tread. 

So what tips, tricks, and techniques would keep me from learning the hard way? What should I avoid?

Thanks in advance. 

 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, May 13, 2018 9:25 AM

I know what you're doing here. You're gonna wait until I really screw something up and then say, "You shoulda done this and that. Everyone knows that."

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, May 13, 2018 9:43 AM

Laugh  Yep, we all got together on through PM and decided to let you sweat it out! Laugh

I've never built a craftsman kit, it's on my list of "one of these days", even though I don't have a spot for such a structure on my "modern" lay out,  a diorama would be fun.  I just love to model things and build things.

I had to Google what you have, and I think I found it, a freight house type building, with a seperate crane on a loading dock structure.

It looks a little Europeanish, buy hey! thats where are ancestors came from, and like you said, they built what they knew.

The place is Rock Ridge, so maybe take it a little farther, and make it look like what the native stone in the area would be, or at least in color.

I hope you let us in on your progress!

Mike.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Sunday, May 13, 2018 9:54 AM

It sounds like a starter kit for scratch building.  I would assemble a Campbell or Muir kit first to get the hang of craftsman kit building then have at it.
 
I waited too long to get into scratch building, it’s a blast.
 
 
EDIT:
 
If this is it it looks pretty good finished.
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
  
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, May 13, 2018 10:10 AM

RR_Mel
I would assemble a Campbell or Muir kit first to get the hang of craftsman kit building then have at it.

I've built several of each. One was so old that the wood was moldy, so I replaced the main pieces with polystyrene and I liked the way it came out. Now I either reinforce the walls with polystyrene or just replace them with the plastic. I'm working on a two-stall engine house I have to shorten and waiting for the polystyrene sheets to arrive.   

I like your first stratch-build project. I really like the floor plan on the floor. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, May 13, 2018 10:21 AM

 Don't think I heard that name before, but I bet if I peruse appropriate era magazines it may well come up.

 This sounds like one of the original types of craftsman kits, none of this laser pre-cut rubbish. I have a Campbell  bridge - which I will be putting together a LOT more things before I attempt this. Not that cutting wood to length is particualrly difficult. I know I have another bridge kit stashed away somewhere - can't think of whose it is - I think it's a plastic one, but NOT Micro Engineering.

                       --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Sunday, May 13, 2018 10:29 AM

Hey Chip -

I know there was a bit of a delay between your first and second posts, but I don't think anyone's trying to avoid your topic or waiting for you to screw up (that's a given, no need to wait). Smile

But it is Sunday morning, and a special one at that, and I suppose a lot of guys are serving breakfast in bed to the little woman or making pancakes for the kids (or grandkids).

Regarding SI. System International. The metric system. You know, millimeters and whatnot . . . there are companies that make tools and rulers and stuff, sized and marked specifically to handle your kit. Once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to deal with. You will not have to burn brain cells to determine whether 13/64" is bigger or smaller than 5/8", and dividing 1'-7" into three equal parts would vex any of us. Give the SI a try, you might like it. Embrace the suck.

Robert

PS   If Mel's photo is the kit in question, it seems like a reasonable first effort.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, May 13, 2018 10:41 AM

rrinker
 Don't think I heard that name before, but I bet if I peruse appropriate era magazines it may well come up.

I figure that since no one seems to know the company and or specific model, it was time to take a picture. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Sunday, May 13, 2018 10:53 AM

The description on the box "Goods Shed" is a dead giveaway the kit is British. Or maybe Australian. Canadian, eh?

No problem, though. Still looks good. And appropriate, too.

Robert 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, May 13, 2018 11:00 AM

ROBERT PETRICK
Regarding SI. System International. The metric system. You know, millimeters and whatnot . . . there are companies that make tools and rulers and stuff, sized and marked specifically to handle your kit. Once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to deal with.

I have no issue with the metric system. Learned it years ago and it's still a wonderment that the USA public (not science and industry) hangs onto the English system tooth and nail. 

But it's a pattern. The QWERTY keyboard was designed in the mid-1800s to slow typists down so the typewriter keys wouldn't stick. They literally studied the New York Post and made the most common letter patterns the hardest to reach and the most difficult to type.The mechanical issues were long since solved by the late 1800's and in 1910, the Dvorshak keyboard was invented. With the Dvorshak keyboard typists could type 300% faster with fewer mistakes.

Guess which keyboard is used in the computer age.

My next model I think I'll build in cubits. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, May 13, 2018 11:03 AM

ROBERT PETRICK
The description on the box "Goods Shed" is a dead giveaway the kit is British.

I was thinking "00" scale might be a clue. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Sunday, May 13, 2018 11:27 AM

SpaceMouse

 The QWERTY keyboard was designed in the mid-1800s to slow typists down so the typewriter keys wouldn't stick.

I took a class in high school (Miss Gatz) and learned how to type with all ten fingers on an Underwood manual typewriter (a very nice piece of technology, the Steampunk crowd loves it). Now, I have to re-learn everything using two spastic thumbs. I could speak into the so-called smartphone a la Star Trek, but not every voice is recognized, and the result contains a lot of misspelt anthropes.

My next model I think I'll build in cubits. 

At least you won't lose your ruler.

Robert

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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, May 13, 2018 11:48 AM

Wills has a number of interesting items among their offerings, which I see from time to time at swap meets (but almost always "previously owned" stuff).  It is now part of Peco.  A bit of history about it, and some examples, can be found here:

 

http://www.gaugemaster.com/wills.html

What I have found mostly are parts and scratch building supplies, plus some simple kits.  The packaging is usually a sheet of cardstock with a plastic bubble around the materials.

  That website above has this mention of the Craftsman series:

More advanced modellers will find the ‘Craftsman’ series of kits provides them with a good range of larger models. Parts are cut out of sheet materials using templates before assembly and painting. The third modelling option Wills offer is the means to customise a kit or make an entire model from scratch using their range of material packs. Wills believe that through these three types of Wills models, you have the widest possible choice to help you build whatever you need.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, May 13, 2018 12:58 PM

Like a lot of very early craftsman kits, alot are not worth building though some have provided templates to build in other materials or provided great scrath building materials themselves. Even today I have seen laser kits that are not worth building due to bad planning or materials. 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, May 13, 2018 3:24 PM

rrebell

Like a lot of very early craftsman kits, alot are not worth building though some have provided templates to build in other materials or provided great scrath building materials themselves. Even today I have seen laser kits that are not worth building due to bad planning or materials. 

I trust this isn't one of them.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by cuyama on Sunday, May 13, 2018 3:36 PM

SpaceMouse
he mechanical issues were long since solved by the late 1800's and in 1910, the Dvorshak keyboard was invented.

Dvorak Keyboard. Invented 1932, patented 1933.

 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Sunday, May 13, 2018 3:43 PM

cuyama
Dvorak Keyboard. Invented 1932, patented 1933.

Thanks for the clarification. I guess I shouldn't trust my memory for such things. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, May 13, 2018 4:01 PM

SpaceMouse

 

 
rrebell

Like a lot of very early craftsman kits, alot are not worth building though some have provided templates to build in other materials or provided great scrath building materials themselves. Even today I have seen laser kits that are not worth building due to bad planning or materials. 

 

I trust this isn't one of them.

 

This is a very early craftsman kit, personally, I wouldn't touch it since there are so many better quality out starting in the late 60's. That kit dates fron the 50's I think. A great kit at the time but that was well over 50 years ago.

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Posted by ctyclsscs on Sunday, May 13, 2018 4:26 PM

I hope you build it and post photos. I love all the plastic patterned sheets Wills offers. There is a dealer in the Baltimore/Washington area that sells a lot of their products and I've purchased a good many over the years. They give offer a lot of neat items that are rarely seen at shops in the US.

Also, you'll wind up with a pretty unique structure that not many people will have on their layouts.

One good thing...if you have any gaps or wrong cuts, you can always mix up some glue and small pieces of scrap to make up a "putty" and fill them in before painting.

Jim

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, May 14, 2018 6:55 AM

 And back the joint with some plain styrene. That's also a technique I've seen in some magazine articles - instead of trying to cut a square window opening int he middle of a sheet, cut down what would be one side of the window and on one piece cut in the window opening (3 sides instead of 4) then splice the two pieces back together. 

                                 --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Monday, May 14, 2018 12:39 PM
Chip,

For a contrary view: If it were me, I would skip the kit and scratch build exactly what you want. Some Tichy or Grandt line windows/doors and your choice of siding/roofing material will yield a better finished product. This is an ancient kit with dated technology. It will take lots of skills and time to make what will be an “OK building” when compared to what you can build by taking those skills and time and applying them to modern materials and techniques.

 

If nostalgia is your thing, then go for it. And I am not saying don’t build something, I’m saying build something better. This “kit” is pretty much scratch building with the materials provided – why not take the leap and go completely into scratch building?

 

IMHO: If you scratch build, you can build something that has more of California feel. That building is definitely European/East coast style.

 

Too much from me,

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, May 14, 2018 1:18 PM

Chip
 
I use a nibbler for larger holes in my scratch building.  The head will pass through a 5/16” hole and cuts any material up to 1/16” with the exception of balsa and acrylic.
 
It’s great for making doorways.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
  
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
 
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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, May 14, 2018 9:56 PM

trainnut1250
If it were me, I would skip the kit and scratch build exactly what you want.

I hear you. After spending a couple hours cutting that thick plastic and still not having pieces enough to build even the first wall, I know that scratch building would be much faster and more accurate. And I certainly feel no trepidation to do so. 

But I have ordered a bunch of styrene and it is still enroute no due until the end of the week. My plan was to build this kit before it arrived, and I've always liked the way it looked from the first I saw it. 

Still, I could have built the dock and loading platform out of cut wood from my table saw and it would match what I have for the city walkways and passenger station and it would be done and waiting for the plastic to come. I can always use the crane from the kit. 

I seem to talking myself into scratching it. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, May 14, 2018 9:58 PM

RR_Mel
I use a nibbler for larger holes in my scratch building.

Cool tool. I'm sold. Where can I get my hands on one. Micromark? 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Thursday, May 17, 2018 11:23 PM

trainnut1250
If you scratch build, you can build something that has more of California feel. That building is definitely European/East coast style.

Well, a couple days later and I have the dock part almost done. With the help of a MicroMark Mini Table Saw and a Chomper, I build it out of Dockcycle Sticks. Pictures tomorrow after I clean it up a bit. Hopefully, my mail-order polystyrene will arrive tomorrow and I can start the freight house. 

You've created a monster...bru ha ha ha. 

 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, May 18, 2018 8:40 AM

SpaceMouse

RR_Mel

I use a nibbler for larger holes in my scratch building.
 

Cool tool. I'm sold. Where can I get my hands on one. Micromark? 

 
They are a cool tool AND they [and you] benefit from a bit of practice (on both sheet styrene and the cast plastics used in kits) before actually using them on a project.  Different plastics "nibble" differently it would seem.  
 
Nelson
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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, May 18, 2018 10:16 AM

The nibbler in my picture is an ADEL TOOL CO.  I don’t know if they are sill around.  I bought my nibbler in the 60s and I’ve used it to cut openings in almost every material I can think of.  I’ve seen used ones on eBay.
 
My latest project using it was adding two cheapo digital meters to my control panel.  It cut the .060” Aluminum like butter and it’s got to be over 50 years old.
 
 
 
The two meters on the center left.
 
 
I’ve seen newer nibblers but I have no experience with them but the ADEL is an outstanding tool!
 
 EDIT:
 
Acrylic cracks badly using my nibbler and Balsa collapses.  My control panel has a 1/16” thick Plexiglas covering and the nibbler cracks the Plexiglas.  I used a Dremel saw for the Plexiglas.
 
 

 My Model Railroad

    

 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, May 18, 2018 1:34 PM

SpaceMouse
 
trainnut1250
If you scratch build, you can build something that has more of California feel. That building is definitely European/East coast style.

 

Well, a couple days later and I have the dock part almost done. With the help of a MicroMark Mini Table Saw and a Chomper, I build it out of Dockcycle Sticks. Pictures tomorrow after I clean it up a bit. Hopefully, my mail-order polystyrene will arrive tomorrow and I can start the freight house. 

You've created a monster...bru ha ha ha. 

 

 

 

Chip,

In my best mad scientist voice: exxxxxceeeellent!!!! It is a slippery slope.....  Once you start, theres no going back..Next you will be buying scale lumber and Grandt Line & Tichy windows and doors. Post some pics so we can see your work.

BTW: when did NWSL release the “chomper” I am guessing this is a more aggressive chopper??CoolCool

 

Guy

 

 

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by maxman on Friday, May 18, 2018 1:37 PM

trainnut1250
BTW: when did NWSL release the “chomper” I am guessing this is a more aggressive chopper??

It would be less agressive.  It is identical to the Chopper except that it has a wooden blade.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Friday, May 18, 2018 7:47 PM

trainnut1250
Post some pics so we can see your work.

Before we get started. I'm pretty sure I can make scale lumber and I already have a good selection of Grandt line stuff. Anyway, here is the dock portion. It has the same footprint as the Wills Kit. 

As you can see I made a couple modifications. The Wills Kit was set up for Lorries and I altered it so freight wagons could back up to it--both on the ramp and inside the freight house. Also, the height for box cars was off and I had to raise the platform slightly to match the door height. 

The platform is built from popsicle sticks. The deck boards are ~3/64" thick. 

Also, keep in mind that this will be sanded, filled, stained and weathered. It's still at a very early stage. 

My polystyrene sheets still have not arrived. The freight house is delayed until then. From the original kit, I plan to use the crane, the sliding doors, and the roof. I haven't looked through the included details yet so I might use more.  

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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