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FOS WHARF, a big N scale project for my Port Elisabeth

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  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Quebec
  • 969 posts
Posted by Marc_Magnus on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 2:51 AM

Already 14 days in Canada new life


Don't have all the stuff on hands and don't have a lot of time to work on models.

Just this one, put in the big flycase which was under construction just before I left Europe.

Again Evergreen 0.40 claboard, HO sheated wood boxcar, Kibri and Plastruct stones and brick walls, Tichy windows and Grandt Line

This building will be part of the previous Groden ship repairs yard, again inspired by old picture found I beleive on Spoty.

I hope to receive the rest of my modeling stuff around the end of september to finish it and continue to work on the Port Elisabeth project.


  • Member since
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  • From: Quebec
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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Sunday, August 25, 2019 5:05 PM

A harbor need ships.

We reach Canada last monday, but guys so many things to fix  and papers to do, a real graal.

My Maclau River container stuff will left Anvers, the big port of Belgium ( the 4 one in the world) normaly the 4 september and will reach Montréal not before the 22 september as a first date, , because the ship made a halt in Rotterdam but can make other stop before to go to Canada.

I just have a big flight container with the last things I have keep on hands to continue to work a bit on my FOS WHARF project, but don't have any time to work with for now.


Because this is in the next coming project to do for my FOS WHARF, I would share with you some idea about availability, kitbash and building  of model ship usuable for N scale but also in HO scale.

These is a Survey of heavy research I have made since many years because my Maclau River needs severals ports on his main line, Port Elisabeth is one of them.

Course, this is more on a N scale purpose research than HO, but the techniques  I use are basicaly  the same.

First never forget if you are ready to model a scale ship, this is in any case  a huge model, compressed model of ships are always poor rendering models because they lost the proportions; this is my opinion.

A medium ship of 100m or 303' is respectively a 3.4 feet in HO scale and a 1.8 feet in N scale

Tomorrow ship have a 650' medium lenght and in my period a medium ship was around 450 feet.....a big model in any case; respectively 6' in HO scale and 4' in N scale  or for my period 5' in HO and 2' in N scale.

Huge magnificient model in both scale; I don't dare  to think about such models in O scale !

Like HO the offer for N scale big ship is poor, just in the last 15 years appeared a few good models of HO and N scaled ship.

Most of these kits, ready to use for our scale  are in resin with brass details

These ships are often waterline models of fishboat, small merchant ships and tug.

Research on Google also offer adress of builders of model ship by demand in any scale; this is probably a future project for me of a very specific ship but this is out of scope of this review.

Alibaba and Amazon also offer some models build in Vietnam and China which look terrific, but I have no background about these.

This is a small list of manufacturers of model ship directly scaled in HO or N scale,


I will also mention some EBay offer of very nice models offered in HO and N scale, with high price but which are real masterpiece of art.

This is one of this kind of  offer easily find on E bay


Some lines of plastic ships kit offer some very suitable ships models for our use, like Lindberg, Revell, Heller, Frog, Meng,

These producers offer model of merchant ships, fishboat, tug, old steamer or sail boat;  some are out of production but EBay can come to the rescue, you, can obtain them at bargain price.

These model kit are suitable for eventualy easy kitbash using styrene.

Another source is the shipmodel community which offer severals plan of ship in scale from 1.120 to 1.100 or 1.50; you need to put these scale in 1.87 or 1.160 for your needs.


In all the case, ship need a lot of documentation, Google is the best source for sure;  my search is " 1930's steam merchant ship", most than enough pictures, infos  and links for 200 years of ships building for my period



Since N scale is poorly supported for model ship, scratchbuild or kitbashing is the way to go in many case.

First a remark; the offering of plastic kit ship is made in two style, military ones and civil one, but kitbashing a military ship in a merchant ship is not the way to go because hull are extremly different; military ship are designed for hight speed around 30 - 35 knots, merchants ships hull are basicaly a big rectangle box with an added bow and stern

Magnifient battleship Yamato, with a bulge on the bow, one of the first hull with such a design but his hull line are far from a merchant ship in any way.

Here comes two school, scratch and kitbash; scratchbuild a hull is the most difficult part to do for a ship since she had many curves which evolve along the hull, a piece of hard wood is a good start with lot of sanding and filling work on the way to be convincing; plastic superstructures need to be build over the wood hull.

The other way, which is my choice, is kitbashing by using ship kit or their hulls and rebuild or modify superstructures from styrene.

During the last century, hull design has evolded from like sail ship hull to box one we see tomorrow.

Old ship line of the 30 - 40's

60''s line,

Tomorrow hull line,

Research of pictures of ship on Google for your period is easy, take a lot of them, they will be helpful.

Today hull have straight line which is quiet easy to obtain and model, this is not the case of my period.

This is a small Survey about the way I transform hull for my needs....

The stern is the place were design as changed a most; for my period of 1930 - 1943, the stern of steam merchant ship was most like a sail boat ship stern design; the HELLER line offer magnificient sail ship in 1.150 scale, close to N scale and I use these hulls as a base to kitbash; the bow which was straight at this time is easy to correct by gluing some piece of styrene, put some filler and sand in form; many parts can be reused since they are in 1.150 scale, but I prefer to rebuild my own superstructures using styrene and Evergreen plastic parts; the deck need a complete reconstruction but this is easy to do; the open hold side of the ship are made with Evergreen metal roof which simulate the numerous renforts on the side of these holds. You will see more about that, further in the post,  a recent kitbash I have done.

 A Heller sail  ship models, look  at the hull only, and the filiation with 1930's hull steam ship,

This is a side view of the bow and stern of a 1930 small steam ship build in 1927, the stern has a filiation with a sail ship and the bow is completely straight

Stern view of a 1900 sail ship,

Stern view of a 1930's ship,

Bow view of a 1930 ship,

Stern of a 2020 ship,

Bow of a 2020 ship

Superstuctures have also evolded between 1930 and tomorrow, again pictures are a real help.



I often research some kits with hull which are suitable for my period, they go from big one like the HELLER ones but also small one to make specific smaller ship; I will show you that further.

Ships details are quiet easy to find in ship model store; Gold metal also offer some "garde corps" in brass for miltary models ships but suitable for our models. but some of the manufacturer of my list also offer scaled ship details and maritime ones as well.


Another kitbash are easy to do since these following models are nearly usuable from the box for N scale.


Meng offer a model ship of an old steam passenger ship based on the one used in a movie, this is a magnificient kit in 1.155 which can be used out the box for N scale use

Frog was an old british producer of military kit and had offered a small merchant ship named the "Shell Welder"; scale is around 1.140, but because I used this kit severals time it's really not oversized compared to a figure in N scale or a car or even a N scale train. Frog has dissappear from a long time, I beleive more than 30 years ago, but the "Shell Welder" is offered again by Tcheq and Russian producer and sold on EBay for around 20$.



Heller, a french company, offer numerous model ships in 1.150, and in other scale, I use generaly the "Pamir" model hull to make a large coal steamer merchant ship; this is my third project with this model. With a lenght of 65cm or 2' this hull make a convinced steamer hull of the 30-40's, but these huge sail boat have served after WW2 for some of them.



Lindberg has offered in the 60's and the 70's a small tug and a small fishboat; they are nice kit; the scale is unknow, but they are really 1.160 scale and well proportionned; these kit where reissued in the begin of the 90's and appears regulary on EBay; Lindberg  offer also numerous kit suitable for HO scale.

Tomytech, offer severals model ship in 1.155 scale, course they have a Japanese look but are nicely modeled.


Revell has offered some suitable model ship, like a tug, a fire boat and a light ship, they are fine for HO but not usuable in N scale but the hull are usuable for specified kitbash; however a small fish boat  model of a russian atlantic ship is usuable for kitbash and direct use in N scale.


Some of my kitbash:

As mentionned I use sometimes hull  from a model which has no connection in scale with N; this is the case of this last project from an old military merchant ship offered by Lindberg in the 60's and buy for less than 10$ on EBay; the basic hull line are nice for my period, but the scale is 1.320.

So just a few parts of the kit where used like the hull, the front and back deck, and some plastic parts of the kit like the air duct.

The chimney is a plastic tube glued on a modified support of battery offered in the kit, since this is a motorized kit.

The main deck is completely reconstructed with new holds, and a scaled surperstructures made of styrene, and Tichy doors, stairs are by Plastruct.

You see here the ongoing kitbash and the plan above I made to construct the new superstructures.

After gluing the hull parts, I cut the hull to a waterline level, the line is first traced with a bloc of wood with the height of the proposed waterline level and a sharp hobby knife blade; I cut the hull with my Dremel at slow speed just Under this proposed line and I fill and sand the cut to shape the hull.

The waterline hull is glued on a piece of styrene cut to shape and filled along the hull.

Superstructures were first designed on a small plan and scratch from styrene and Evergreen parts.


The holds side were made of metalic roof covering of Evergreen.


The nearly finished ship, since I move in Canada it's still unfinished

Mast will be modified and more detailed but I probably will use the kit ones.


This big steamer in the second picture,  started as the "SHELL WELDER" model, a real original Frog model ( not a russian one) acquired 30 years ago, I cut away the bow and the stern, just by cutting the glued hull in the middle; the bow was straight rebuild using styrene parts glued on the existing bow, the waterline was obtained like the previous one project on the Lindberg ship,  I have rebuild side to join the two half hull together. In place to put the kit superstructures at the back of the hull, I build it in the middle of the ship hull; the back superstructure is scratch like the deck; details comes from the ship modeling materials, stairs are Plastruct, mast from an old Heller sail boat kit. The chimney is a simple plastic tube and she  backdated the original diesel ship to a coal steamer.

This picture  show an original shell welder with just a big chimney to change his 1960's look to a 1930 look, however I didn't have modified the bow, but I will do it in Canada; this was a dad offer. You see the ship is not oversized with N scale trains and structures; the tug is a heavily modified Revell Tug boat.

The filiation with the above "original" Shell Welder and the kitbash here to make a big steam merchant ship,


This is my first ship project for my port, unfortunately, I didnt found any other pictures; this is a copy of the car ferry Anabel of the Gorre and Daphetid lines; I scratch this ship more than 35 years ago around 1983 - 85 from pictures of the book of Linn Westcott about the GD and some others find in MR and RMC published 40 years ago for sure. This ferry started out of a LEGO ship hull where I glued micro plywood sides and scratch all the rest including the board by board wood deck which cost me a piece of 1.5cm of my thumb, cut away with a big cutter when cutting the wood parts of the deck.



  • Member since
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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Saturday, August 17, 2019 7:21 AM

Magnus - I am envious to what you can do in N scale and I am eager to see more of it. However, your pictures are extremely large (6000 by 4000 pixels) and desüite my 100Mbit line, they take ages to load here. It wouldn´t hurt if you could scale them down to, say 3000 by 2000 pixels before uploading them to Imgur. Imgur can do that automatically to 1600 by 1200 pixels, if you choose auto resize.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

  • Member since
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  • From: Quebec
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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, August 17, 2019 6:16 AM

Now the wharf is nearly complete, just missing are  super details, figures and cars and some small fishing boat around.

But I have a lot of inspiration for now and espescialy since I see the Jason Jensen videos about his fabulous work

Here is a link about one of them :


I think it's important to open a small parentheses about these,.


The use of basic craft paint by Jason  to obtain such results is really bluffing and will kill all the comments about how to find good colors to paint models after the demise of Floquil paints and the wandering  of many modelers about the subject of paint.

I highly recommand you to see these videos and look at the results obtained with cheap craft paint; with the results, there is no more comments to add about a good colors line.

Like Jason I also highly recommand for special paint job like cars and locomotives the use of Vallejo paints or AK paints, these lines have an around 150 colors to choice from, pigments, dispenser, glue special airbrush colors, special effects colors; both lines are strongly used by the military modeling community and are considered as first rate quality colors; knowing the quality of models this community produce this is a real certificate without any possible comments.


For sure in the future when I will be in Canada, I will use cheap  craft paint in place of my Golden artist colors, Golden is first rate quality colors but expensive, a 2 oz bottle cost 5 to 7 bucks, sometimes more, and the results I show here are the same which Jason obtain with cheap paint.


Back to the wharf subject,


This time I will explain more than planning and studies, how I paint and wheather my models, this is generic and I use these techniques for all my structures.

Basicaly they are spray painted with cheap spray cans, to give the basic colors, wheatered with india ink and isopropilyc alcohool wash, pastel chalk, pan pastels, acrilycs wash of colors from Golden but also Vallejo and Mig; touch up is by hands with first rate quality small brush and Golden or Vallejo and Mig acrilycs colors.


Now  back to the ground, I need some "ground" structures to populate Port Elisabeth around the wharf.

Around ten years ago I build a small laser kit from Laser Art - Branchlines Trains, # 844 "the N county feed".

For some unknow reason I never finished this model, just the four wall where reinforced and glued together.

I ask for a new building with character as usual and kitbashed around the basic Branchline kit a whole new structure.

A plan was quickly etablished with measurements, numerous details and remarks as usual; this is the way I always work before building a new structure.

This one is inspired by some FSM structures but also by old pictures of building found on the net.

I made a new g foundations of stones and added some annexes to give different relief and character to the structures; I like numerous roofs angle and the use of different materials to make all these annexes; this ended always by very eyes catching models.

I must admit I also build in form some of these annexes to hide some door holes of the original laser kit which is just in the middle..



All these annexes are completely made  from scratch using Tichy Windows, Grandt lines Windows, Northeastern wood planking board and Evergreen clapboard.

This building is in fact part of a second to come structures and will be a small boat yard with some particulary facilities used to repair small ships; a necessity in a small fishing harbor.

Here is a sketch of the future second building,

Here is a sketch of the future second building,

The stones walls are from Kibri; they are HO scale but look right in N scale; I have used a lot of them for my Port allen and also in many other projects

I have put in them arched windows to give a more ancient look and character.

The walls are first spray painted with a common automotive gray primer, when dry I come back with different gray and Brown colors to individualy paint some stone to kill the uniformity of the basic gray color.

When painted, the walls receive a wash of india ink and isopropilyc alcohool; this wash bring out all the cranies and structures of the stones and kill the patchwork effect of the different colored stones.

To make some details and character in the wall, I cut away following the contours of the stones some parts of the wall and replaced these part with brick walls; these are Plastruct brick walls.

These brick walls  receive a spray  coat of an red metal primer, I also come back with different tones of red to touch up the brick work and paint some bricks in black; when paint is dry the cement  joint are made by using watter putty deliberatly put on the surface with my finger; when this putty is nearly dry I wash the brick wall carefuly to take of the excess of putty and let putty in the brick joint.

These brick wall are glued on the back of the stone wall and are arranged to make a junction between the two kind of wall, this give the illusion the stone wall is repaired with brick wall or arranged to finish it with bricks.

The stone walls received a small brick foundation, a strip of the Plastruct brick wall glued against the stone walls

I also cut strip of stone , carved the top with a cutter and use these strips as foundations stone for other walls of the structures.

And here the finsished stone foundations

The two right and leftt white annex to the central building are scratch and made from Northeastern wood board; the Windows are brick wall Tichy Windows which I modified by making a frame made of Evergreen plastic strips of  0.10" X 0.30".

The finished windows in place,

The holes of the windows are carefuly cut out in the wood board  with cutter using the same tools I used on the wharf structures

All the wood walls are heavily reinforced Inside to avoid wraping by using strips of square wood; all the wood parts are CA glued together, this is a fast, easy and extrermly strong construction.

All the windows and doors of the structures are spray painted with a Lutwaffe green Tamiya spray; when dry they are lightly dry brushed with a light brown cream color to kill the "new paint " effect and give some age to the windows

The central building of Laser Art is offered with laser self adhesive windows, they are crude for my taste like all the trim offered in the kit; by chance the laser cut holes for the windows accept perfectly some Grandt Lines windows I have on hand and they replaced the laser windows.

These windows  are the two small ones, they are from Grandt Line in N scale

The two arched windows were placed in holes of  original big doors and these holes were filled a bit to accept these new windows.

Unfortunately, the notch cut in the wall  with the laser are large and difficult to hide, even the trim offered in the kit can't hide this slots, so I covered the angle of the wall with a large Evergreen angle profile, not good but not bad in the end; all the trim which cover corner of walls are made with Evergreen 0.60" angle, the smallest offered in the line.

You see here at the right side the laser notch wich is nearly 2.5 mm width, a lot in N scale, the original kit trim can't hide these.

The back and right cream annexes are scratch build from  Evergreen 0.40 clapboard, cut in size; they receveid a stone foundation, where spray painted with a desert cream spray paint color by Tamiya.

All the walls of the structures where spray painted like the white ones and all received a good wash of my india ink soap.

When all the pieces where cut I assembled all the structures and begun to make roofs as usual, very thin plastic cut to shape, with some overhang and members glued on the edge to add details like the ones of the wharf structures; I spray painted them in black.

They receive different covering  to kill uniformity and to explain these annexes where not build at the same time; here I use the roofing materials offered in the kit, a black thin hard paper cut in strips.

To add character and relief to this paper I sanded the surface with emery paper and take of here and there parts of the surface of the paper with a blade of a hobby knife.

I glued all the strips on the roofs by overlapping them slighly from the bottom to the top of the row; they are glued on the plastic surface with a super tacky white glue similar to Microscale windows glue.

When glued in place I have painted severals of these strips with full black paint but also this black paint with a few gray to vary slightly the colors of the strips paper; this give first a very patchwork look but I killed it by brussing a Vallejo gray wash on all the surface; this ended in a very realistic looking roofing covering.

I have covered some roofs with pièces of  self adhesive Redutex corrugated metal plate. When put in place I carefuly paint them in  a light gray color with some variation by adding a bit black in the paint.

To simulate the rust and the aged covering, I first use this set of  MIG paint especialy formuled to make rust détails; these are acrilycs colors wash, easy to use and with first rate results; the small jars contains a iron ball to well shake the paint before use.

The six colors of the set go from light new rust to heavy chipping rust, the effects is obtained by brushing the colors layers by layers.

I use this colors to add depht and relief to the original gray base color; this again look like of a poor patchwork of colors but wash and pastel chalk, finished by white drybrushing  give a very convincing effect of old corrugated metal plates.

The original roof of the kit is covered with slates which are the original of the kit, laser cut self adhesive paper slates, covered with a coat of Matte medium to seal everything and painted with a Golden light gray color; the roof received when paint is dry a wash of black paint diluted like water.

Many details are scratch like all the chimneys except the brick one from the kit, they are pièces of heavy  wire bend in form, with very small band of paint tape rolled around to simulate joint, spray painted in brown or in aluminium and wheatered with pastel chalk and paint wash, the caps arespieces of small Evergreen round tube cut in lenght and CA glued on top of the wire; these chimneys are CA glued in holes drilled in the roofs, the reinforcement are extremly fine piano wire glued in place with CA and painted in a rust color like in the picture above.


The ventilator chimney on the roof are air rifle  4.5 bullets glued on a piece of thin plastic,  painted in a rust color and wheatered with pastel chalk.

This structure need a base, as usual I use Gator Foam as a base; this one is cut in form, I put and make the foot print of the structures on it and protected the foot print with paint tape; the rest of the surface was covered with a thin layer of water putty I put with my finger; when dry this water putty was filled smooth.

I painted it with a wash of gray color, when dry I added a wash of my india ink soap; the joint are made with a soft point marker and the whole surface has received a coat of dull cote to kill the uniformity.

When the base is finished I put a stairs to go upside, since the laser kit is now from a good inch from the ground; this stairs communicate in fact with the original entry of the Laser kit; I make a small foot bridge just next the door and attached to it the stairs.

This stairs is a Plastruct one, but the gardrails are scratch and made with Evergreen strips; the stair is spay painted with the green Tamiya and the gardrails are touched up with brown.

The structures is named after a good friend which has really had a boat yard and repairs motor ship but for yacht including an agency for Mercury and Suzuki motors, we have work a lot together and he is a fantastic mechanical technician well know in Belgium.

All the signs are printed on a simple HP Photosmart 6510 printer using Open Office character and arrangements; when printed, I spray an good coat of matte varnish on both side of the paper to completly seal it.

The signs are carefuly cut out, the edge blackened with a soft marker and glued on the walls; all the advertissement are from a Blair Line assortment.

When everything is wheatered,touch up paint is done for litlle spots, I lightly spray the model with a dull cote varnish.

Here are views of the four sides turning from the right.

Figures and détails will be  added next around the structures on the base; I always do this work on the workbench and put he whole finished assembly on the layout, I didn't add details on my structures when they are placed on the layout.

I will now begun to build the second structures of the Grodent boat yard and will end by some facilities this kind of yard need.

I would also work on some ships to complete the whole scene

This will be done in Canada in a few laps of time

  • Member since
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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Monday, July 22, 2019 4:25 PM

A big step foward

Houses are finished and the wharf is constructed.

This is a big step foward for my project.



The houses are clearly finished, including all the details and wheatering I can put on them before they shall be put on the wharf.

Because I model in N scale I work as much as possible on my workbench for my models.

It's not really the case here, but all my models are build on a base of plywood, now replaced by Gator Foam base,  which is a minimum of a inch around the model; this allow me to build the model and to put a lot of details on the model and around it; sometimes this base is bigger and include piece of track or road.

It's like to build a small diorama

This base when the model is completely finished is embedded in the scenery, it's not the scenery which embedded the model; all in all the scenery is just a join between all the base of each building; this is much easier to do especialy in N scale.

Since the houses are on a wharf they were decorated on the workbench as far as possible including the wheathering job, here are a few pictures of the completely finished models.

The named "J. Magnus & sons" is a tribute to my brother which is  really a ship chandler here in Belgium



Anyway they need a base to go, in this case a wharf.

My wharf is completely scratchbuild and constructed on the workbench.

I already had build a wharf in my Port Allen, and had used MDF as a base, I must admit I was quiet disappointed because of warping; many reports on site speak about this kind of trouble when using masonite or fine thickness plywood.

In this case the base is Gator Foam, easy to cut, easy to drill, accept paint, glue and don't warp!

I build it following a method John Olson published years ago in MR, drill precise hole, put the pillings and go on.

I  have made a plan of the whole houses arrangement on the wharf and used it to cut the piece of Gator Foam.

The only drawback of his use in this case is his thickness, around 6 millimeters ( 1/4 ") or really a full meter (3')  in scale, a bit too much but I can live with it.

After cutting the base with a big cutter, the side where slighly filed with a big flat file, this give a perfectly flat and square edge.

I draw a full plan of the necessary pillings, using measurements of the real thing which I have on hand; I precisely drilled the near hundred necessary holes in the gator foam base; these holes are a bit smaller than the pillings I will use.


About the pilling, they are HO telegraphic poles cut in size, the big outside pilling are made from wood cuticle pusher.

Here I have had a little trouble, my NWSL chopper is already packaged in the container, so because I need accurancy in lenght to not have a "dancing wharf", I ended by drilling a hole in a piece of wood, just the lenght I need for the pillings, put them in the hole and cut them with a razor shaw flush with the piece of wood, I also made a little notch in the hole to pull out some piece of wood which are stuck in the holes.

All in all they where very accurate, no wobbling of the wharf when in place.

All the pillings where stained in a soapy mixture of isopropyl alcohol and india ink, some where also put in a brow mixture and after in the india ink but this last bad litteraly eat the brown color.

I put all the pillings in the bad for ten minutes.

I do the same with all the piece of wood necessary to build, I must say clothe the gator foam base .

All the surrounding which hide the gator foam edge are made of balsa, I cut them myself from a balsa board; the reinforcement under the wharf are made of 0.50x0.50" balsa profiles.

The deck of the wharf is made with Northeasten wood planking, brushed severals time with my india ink soap..

The pillings are just pushed in the holes with a drop of white glue, the outside big pilling which protect the wharf from the ships are glued along the planking of the edge.

All the pillings, the cross members, the surounded planking are glued with fast drying white wood glue; the Northeastern deck is glued with contact glue because of his generous surface.

Only the bottom of of the wharf is painted with a simple brown color to hide the white color of the gator foam base.


The cross members are all represented and glued in place piece by the real fact a one day work only for that job !

All the cross members comes from wood I cut myself from recycled wood box cheese of "camembert", tinted again with the india ink mixture.

Guy's beleive me, there is a real forest under this small wharf !

Now the houses have a base, the filiation with the original FOS model is evident but I included my liberties.

Next job is to put the houses on the wharf, populate the wharf and add a mass of details to make him N scale incuding some fishing boats around.



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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 7:02 PM

Marc, I have commented a couple of times in Weekend Photo Fun about how much I am in awe of this project. It looks purely fantastic. This is truly effort that was worth it.


I also want to thank you for taking the time to type up such detailed examples of the process. You have answered questions I had about modelling metal roofs.


Please keep the updates coming. This is beautiful.




Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 4:45 AM


This is a latin quote which mean " We all make mistakes"


When I start this project in last may, I was in a hurry because of my move to Canada, so many things to fix.

I made plan for the wharf  in less than one week, but when construction was ongoing I asked for some liberties for a more personnal look.

One change I have made is the addition of one building and a fuel tank on the back side, but this comes after the basic design and these additions need to live with the original FOS MODELS I first designed and which were first and already build.

The hurry ended in confusion in the measurements of the wole asembly and this ended of a few inch missing in lenght and width from the original design.

My answer was quiet simply, I don't start again new models, but I will try to transform them, without loosing their character and use them in the whole scene.

This was done by adding some annex building here and there to win some parts of inch necessary for the new additions.

These ended with new roof configurations, new details and finaly where easy to do and fun to do.

On my Fos ships supply  model, the small annex to the right is just a two parts addition with one parts parallel to the right wall and a small one perpendicular to the right wall, this give some corner and different roof in the same surface which are eyes catching, they are just some Clapboard walls with one or two Windows and some details added like chimney or a simulated repared roof made wiyh rusted corrugated plate glued on the original slate roof.

The annex win 2 cm (3/4 inch) in length of the model for his front facade, it took less than a hour to be build and finaly I find the house has more character and the diffrent roofs are eyes catching.

This model started from leftover Bar Mills kit, the need to add width to the whole wharf for my additions ended with this very small annex on the back side, which is like a two floor annex again made of Evergreen clapboard , two Windows and small details, fun to do effective and very simple.

This added green building started also with leftover facade of a Bar Mills kit, I build a full house around this facade because I wanted one more building on the wharf.

But after with the additions in mind, I included one back side structure of the original FOS SCALE design, the small wall slate covered annex because I can't extend more the wharf alley.

I combined different roof level again to make the structures more eyes catching again and to combine this new houses with the original blue one; this one was a bit more complicated to do because I started from my imagination and need to make a full personal design, again extremly fun to do; only the walls which could be viewed are build


I ended by including everything together and win the place to add the fuel tank which I was looking for and some place around the buildings.

The mistakes where fun to be corrected, and ended by adding character of the whole ensemble; these corrections have needed some imagination but also give liberties from the original FOS design.

Most of them where easy to do and where done is short time.

This way it was not needed to build new complete models for my additions which neede more  surface to be done.

You can see here all the structures goes together, don't interfere with the original design look, and my fuel tank has his place without disturbing the whole wharf alley which still include the basic FOS MODEL design.



On the run whith my Maclau River RR in Nscale


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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Monday, July 15, 2019 1:48 PM


Before a next step in the ongoing construction of the Fos Wharf in N scale, I managed to build this week end the structure of the wharf and put just for the pictures, all the already build elements which  shall be in the scene.

Two Bar Mills kit shall come next to the blue towered building on the right, but also a big scratchbuild building just in face of the steam ship which is also scratchbuild from and old Linberg kit, the small fishing ship is also an old Linberg kit.

The structure is made from 3/4 plywood frame and 1/4 plywood for the water surface everything glued and screwed together; course this is only a part of the small port Elisabeth, the right side in fact.

These pictures are great for me because they give me  the feeling the goal to model  a nice small port is reached.

Thanks Fos Models for the inspiration about the wharf.


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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Thursday, July 11, 2019 5:40 PM


Great work, magnus.

When will you be able to get the layout rebuilt and put together?



Well the container follow us when I come to Canada around the 19 augustus, company say it will need between 2 weeks and one month to reach Canada following the schedule of the ship and the way he go to Montreal.

The room were the layout will go need some work, a backdrop made of linoleum and new lighting which I need to order; I estimate to be sure everything is finish in four months.

My layout hopefully is build in modules; a style of the TOMA concept which cause  me to laugh because dad push me 45 years ago to buil my layout in modules, so it's not new for me !

The room is around 45' by 24 feet and I have completely changed my design of my Maclau River, it will be an around the wall design with two peninsula of around 16' long and no scene deeper than a maximum of 2', the use of vertical scenery will help to race scenery construction for the future.

But I'm sure the six existing modules could be in place for around february 2020 and may be in use.

New benchwork will use open grid again but build on an iron frame of tubes knowing I'm an iron worker, this will go quiet fast and the modules construction is still maintened; we never say what tomorrow is. each modules of a maximum length of 6'

Planning of the new layout is already on the way, including plan for the design of benchwork and organisation, list of wish tool necessary for the construction.

Track is already ordered for most of the main line and I will cut most of the roadbed in one time to race construction of mainline.

I have in stock around 80 Fastracks turnouts #8 and #6 so work could keep some advance quickly

If everything go the way I'm asking for, benchwork and the main could be finished around june 2021 and starting local track at this time; the design include a staging at Corinnesburgh, the main town next to port and one at the other end around 280 feet from port on the main line; my goal is to reach a 300 feet of main, most of it is single track with big sidings.

Not clearly defined in the design is the possibility to divide the line in two main division, one following at nearly level 0 the Maclau river were my future Port Elisabeth is one of the town and the second division going in the mountains and make a coal field run with numerous mine and industry ending at a second big city.

This is my hope, but sure "Murphy" wait for me somewhere so my wish schedule could be impacted


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Posted by York1 on Thursday, July 11, 2019 11:30 AM

Great work, magnus.

When will you be able to get the layout rebuilt and put together?

York1 John       

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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 6:46 AM

One of the secret to start a fine paint job is to have a perfect clean surface without dust but also surfaces without any grease.

Wood structures can't be washed, of course, but I try when building them, to have clean hands, and wash them one or two times in the evening when building wood kits; some use glooves I hate glooves and one evening with my hands in vinyl glooves is not my cup of tea.

Plastic kit are more easier to wash; a good bad with hot water, detergent and some alcohool in the water, an old toothbrush and you can wash effectively a model to be ready to paint; rince everything thoroughly and let dry naturaly.

For very little parts,like Windows and doors, I put them in a strainer and put the strainer in the soapy wash for a time, I rince them after and let them dry.

And about paint, since the demise of Floquil and Polly scale, I know many US modelers have some trouble to find replacement products for paint.

Floquil paints line  were never imported in Europe so it was necessary to find replacement good quality paints.

Tamiya offer a full range of first rate products for modeling use including bottle spray primer but also airbrush one ; in the same quality is also AK products with a full range of paints and enamels with around one hundred colors to choice from, same in the line Vallejo. Testors has also enamels for the military modeling and some acrilycs too.

All these companies offer  excellent modeling paints and connected products including wash and pigments; some offer only acrylics and others also enamels like AK; these companies are enhanced by the military modeling world  for the quality and the offers of these companies.

Considering the level and the quality of this particulary modeling world we can beleive of the quality of these products for sure.

I use because of easy availibility, Tamiya spray primer; this is a special plastic and metal primer for modeling purpose, dry quickly and has and extremly fine pigments.

I use acrilycs paints from more than 40 years with excellent results and durability, some are from modeling use but most from the artist brand, but some are also spray painted with commercial spray colors in a mat scheme from Krylon, Motip, Rustoleum or any matt spray colors.

The Tamiya spray is just next my Golden Artist colors on the left.

When you put primer, you don't ask to paint the model with primer, but just covered it with a small spray.

This primer comes in a gray color; an excellent neutral color base for bright colors or dark colors.

Like all acrilycs it dries very quickly, it's time to come with the main color.

All my buildings on the Fos wharf are painted with Golden Artist acrilycs colors, including the wood ones; touch up are done with some Vallejo colors and AK acrilycs.

The basicGolden artist colors for the green and the blue building, one is direcly from tube.

The Golden colors are very opaque,contains extremely fine pigments, they have a full range of colors of more than 150 ones to choice from, most are offer in brush colors but also in airbrush ready to use colors; they are UV garanted also; most of the time one layer is enough.

Because my three airbrush are already packaged, the models are all painted with brush; again first quality artist brush of many size are used.

Acrilycs paint need to be well " pulled" on the surface, this is not tricky really; the color is diluted with water, brush are washed in a soapy water and a drop of detergent.

This is the same technique used to paint wood models; they have also received some primer as explained before.

One trick here, if paint dry on a brush Acrilycs is sayed as impossible to remove, not really, a good bad in cellulosic thinner will remove easily the dried paint and rebirth your brush like a new one.

I do my paint job in four steps, first primer for the surface, second adding the main color, three touch up for trim or special details on the models, four wheathering job.

I also work most of the time on two models together, so when one is painted and need driying time , I can work on the other one; this way a project is less time consuming.

I do the same for construction, two models on the way; when glue dry on one, it's time to work on the other.

Small parts like Windows or added details receive primer and are  spray painted in the appropried colors or airbrushed, so paints go eveywhere, I paint only the visible face.

Trim on this kind of building are tiny and are painted by hand with a steady hand and a very fine brush, but I also use angle of 0.60x0.60 as corner trim painted white or in other colors because they are easier to use and paint and the result is more convincing for the paint job; hand paint trim need some touch up to be nice which is time consumming.

Three building painted in the same evening now drying and asking weathering.

When paint is dry I put and glue castings of the Windows and doors in place, gluing them with plastic glue from Inside or with a good coat of Micro Kristal clear for the wood structures.

When the main paint job is finished, comes the weathering time; I first give a wash of india ink and isoprpilyc alcohool on the fresh new paint (one pint of alcohool and two india ink tea spoon is my ratio).

I lay the model on a flat surface and put the wash on only flat surface so the wash don't run on the facade, but when the alcohool has evaporated the black remains; I brush all the parts including Windows frame trim...

This black wash dry quickly, I slightly brush it  on the paint job let it dry and come back here in there with more wash to accentue the effects; but you need to be careful because if  this wash is too heavy it can diluted the paint job; this can be controled with practice and give faded colors place.

I come back with touch up of pastel chalk here and there, a very small black pastel under the trim of the Windows, rust where appropriated, some white or black here and there; I do the job on nearly finished models, this give me a better "ensemble" view of the weathering job.

You can see here an untouched wash wall and the parts which has received a wash; this faded the colors and give an old used look, the gary appears because I have insisted with the wash.


When the pastel job is fnished, a small spray of matte dull cote to fix everything and the surface is dry brush with some white; this hidlights the faded look but keep the weathered character., course some touch up comes again here and there to accentuate somme effects.

A nearly finished facade of "MRH paint for ship" the white seems exagereted, but it's a effect on the pictures not on the model.

Leen steam ship company just weathered, need glazing and parts of the roof and details

Glazing is put on the Windows including curtains; my glass Windows are "mika plastic" extremly thin and shiny.

Some are covered with matte medium to give some passed glass or not perfectly translucide.

Roofs are for the most spray painted also often in black before to be put and glue in place; the roof supports are touched by brush, Before gluing them, Windows are glazed with mica glued with Micro Kristal clear, curtains are made from different colored paper.

Notice very little pieces of masking tape to simulate repairs

This is an unpainted corugated roof, made of autoadhesive Redutex, placed a bit disturbed using different size to give an old used look, first paint will be gray; touch up is made along the edge of the corrugated piece with rust colors and pastel chalk to simulated rusted joins.

The Redutex roofs are painted by hand with a basic coat of gray acrilycs and retouched with brush and wash touch up to be convincing; rust on the corrugated one is done by hand using pigments but also rust colors paints and a very small brush, they also receive a black wash, dry white brushing like  the walls.

Details on the roof are for the most chimneys, in N scale I use  bits of wire and nuts, plied in form, glued with CA; the small protecting plate are made with weatered masking tape piece and glued with a touch of matte medium.

Pastel chalk rust and black help to confirm the presence of an used chimney.

On this little shanty you see clearly the nuts origin of the very small chimney.

When they are dry and finished, the roofs  are glued in place and receive some touch up if needed.

The signs are made using Open office alphabeth and the page layout it offer, like the use of back colors.

They are simply printed on paper with my small inkjet printer a HP  6510 Photosmart.

I let the ink dry a few minutes and give a coat of a dull spray on both side of the printed page.

The sign is cut with a very sharp hobby knife, sanded on the back side with a small nail file, and the edge slighly altered by removing small parts of paper; I spray again on the back edge a spray of matte varnish to seal the paper.

The sign is glued on the model using diluted matte medium and slightly push in the cranies of the facade to simulate it's painted.

when glued and dry, touch up comes with dry white brush and some black pastel powder to fade the sign.

The model receive when totaly finished a very light sparay of a dull varnish ( A golden artist varnish extremly dull and perfectly translucide - unfortunately expensive).

All in all just missing is lighting for the buildings and also an environement to put them like the wharf itself


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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Sunday, July 7, 2019 3:11 PM

Thanks all for your kindly words and to take time to follow me.

-Doctor Wayne,

Yes I use large sheet of plain styrene too from a producer of styrene.

I use 0.8mm for plain  styrene and a few 1.5 mm tickness.

I cut them with a similar big cutter, in fact I snap the parts.

As you have seen in the pictures I also brace heavily my model in styrene and in wood.

After 45 years of modeling, I have an enormous leftover stock of parts of  models I have build or kitbashed.

These parts  are always useful and time after time all find a use in new projects.

Congratulations for these big kitbash  of big buildings: the station is amazing with the numerous windows, alone an enormous worl to cut; both buildings look great.

Nice layout anyway


- York,

I have learn by the hard way to scratch my models; you need to learn some basic techniques and feel how the materials you use are working or interact with each others, this is a long learning curve  which in fact never ended but each project is a step foward.

For all the parts you need to scratch, it's important to make plan and draw them very precisely, I mention severals tools to make my plan and drawing including how I duplicate them to cut the parts;these tools are precise and professional ones; I can only say because they are precise, they help to draw and duplicate precise parts.

Thanks to follow this thread.



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Posted by York1 on Sunday, July 7, 2019 1:06 PM

Marc, you do great work and you have a lot of skill at the small N Scale.

I have just started scratch-building, and am learning the ropes from people like you.  I usually use 0.030 styrene.

My first N Scale project was a station modeled after a picture I saw and a local station.

I had the most trouble getting the roof angles correct.  I redid the roof several times before I settled on the final one.  The windows are Tichy, and the cars I found on Ebay for very cheap.  The street lights are from Evemodel. 


Thanks for posting so much information.  It helps people like me!

York1 John       

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, July 7, 2019 11:09 AM

Very nice modelling, Marc, and in N scale no less!

I often use a utility knife (the one with the red handle, in the photo below) for cutting styrene - the larger handle gives good control, especially for longer cuts on heavy styrene.  I model in HO, and use .060" styrene (bought in 4'x8' sheets) for many structure and car bodies, then overlay them with thinner material from Evergreen.  The knife blades are cheaper than X-Acto blades, and generally last longer, too. 

Both the X-Acto blades and those for utility knives can be easily re-sharpened, too, using a suitable oilstone.

This station was made pretty-much entirely from .060" sheet styrene, with doors and windows left-over from a couple of Walthers kits...

This building, made from two Walthers Front Street Warehouse kits....

...was the source for the windows.

The heavy styrene is also useful for bracing large structures, as many on my around-the-room layout use the kit parts only on the sides visible from the aisle...

...while the unseen sides and interior bracing are made from the sheet material...


For purposes like this, the 4'x8' sheets are much more economical than material aimed primarily for the hobby market.

When can we expect to welcome you to Canada?


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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Sunday, July 7, 2019 9:36 AM

A maritime theme need specific details; for this project most are scratchbuild.

I already mentionned the need to scratchbuild some details because they are very specific of these models

First here a remark; I have had the chance to visit numerous beautiful layouts, see a lot of first rate modules, but guys, I have a big trouble, most of these layouts feature  a week end activity or a hollyday time; what I mean all the industry or houses are closed, just a few seldom windows open; no doors open and no work or live Inside, just on the loading dock some poor people which load car or truck with the factory closed just back of them ???

Since I have begun to build factory and industry for my trains purpose I have always try to keep them open and well alive, doors are open like industrial doors, this is what I was speaking about " theatrical scene" before.

I don't speak about to model a fully detailed interior, this is really not my purpose, but with a very little box adjoined just in back of a open door, you can easily simulate, first, an open factory, but also a big activity Inside.

I build these  very small box often with spare bits of plastic card; they are in N scale 2 cm deep, 1cm wider than the door frame and have 3 walls glued on the floor a bit higher than the doors, so the light put Inside the building can light the little scene.( Someting like 3/4 inch deep, 1/2 inch wider than doors)

The wall of the box are painted in light color,  sometimes I glue a simple rectangular piece of styrene painted brown to simulate a door, or  an opening to the next room of the building.

These are two box which I speak about, one  with a chute attached and the other just waiting to be glued against the opening.

On the middle doors,on the second floor, a box like this is glued Inside the building

I often put one figure in the box and some crates or barrels; these little things are painted with visible colors like red yellow to catch the eyes; this is only  a five minutes works which give a very big live intensity feeling Inside the building, this don't ask a more detailed work anyway.

I also glue some figures against a window in the floors but also modified opened Windows, simple to do, extremly effective details when noticied and they  are always appreciated.

Opening a door sometimes is tricky; since I use already build doors from Tichy, they need to be cut open, glued open in the door frame, but with a sharp hobby knife this is easily affordable.

Some simple doors need to build a frame around them to just not have  an opening in the wall, I made these frame doors by using Evergreen profiles of 0.15x0.15 glued on the edge of the oprnning; the door is glued open against the wall Inside and the small floor of the theatrical box.

You can see here one painted Brown, these give some relief around the opening.

Following, this is a Tichy dock door opened and the box wich give depht of the opening; I painted the wall a light color. Notice on the right at the first floor a window modified to be open; she will receive a figure which is looking ouside.

And a " theatrical" box glued against the opening viewed from the Inside,

Next step, scratchbuilding some specific details for the wharf houses.

Some of the houses have specific business, meaning specific details; the ice house has a ice chute on the wall, other have a crane mast in the facade, some have ventilator arnd specific signs.

The ice house chute is made again with leftover plastic cards, glued together to form and simulate a chute, the iron hanger around the chute is a stapple wich I plied in form, it's on the left side of the picture.

A small hoist is made in plastic just by gluing two 0.15x0.20 againt a small Evergreen I beam

The small dock roof is a piece of sheated boxcar plastic card, which is altered with and hobby Knife and braced with 0.15x0.15 plastic strips.


The finished ice  chute in place with the small hoist and beam in place above it,

I have made severals ventilator by using a piece of nylon strip and gluing around some square evergreen square strip; they simulate well a ventilator mesh in Nscale; I glue them on a piece of masking tape with CA like the strip and cut the masking around; this give a strong support but with no tickness; one is show on the far right of the next picture.

For this project wich is a marine one somewhere, I have also searched some fish or alike symbols to illustrate some of my signs and the  specific  activity; in the cheap jewelry for children and  girl, I have found some which can be used like these anchors or these hippocampus; they need to be repainted but they are fine for my use and close to the scale.

The oysters on the small red building against the name advertissement are from this jewelry assortment.

The small roof seen on a precedent pictures is just above the white double doors, it's supported by extra fine piano wire, cut to lenght and glued with CA in small holes drilled in the facade

Wire is easy to work with, all the piping on the big fuel tank are made with wire formed with a plier, the access are leftover piece of sheated plastic card; the acces in the fuel ttank also with two brace of 0.15x0.15

The bands glued around the fuel tank arealso styrene strips; the fuel tank itself is a parfume bottle cap.

Sometimes doors need to be scratchbuild for special purpose, again left over piece of plastic card braced with 0.15x0.15; these ones on the first and second floor are also made of scraps of plastic and 0.15x0.15 bracing, above the second doors is a small hoist made as described before; the small dock roof is made like the one on the red house; missing are the plates anchor around the piano wire to hide the small holes in the facade.

Next step to come is painting the models and add some basic weathering.

I have scratch all these houses from plan to buildup,  in less than 3 weeks working in the evening.


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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, July 6, 2019 2:12 AM

This the way I cover and made my roof for my tiny houses

Each building has his own roof with different cover, from roofing,, slates, corrugated sheet.

My base of the roof is an extremly fine styrene, it's come from some printed advertissement I have find by my work.

This styrene has a tickness of less than a sheet of paper.

I have always try to use fine cover to make roof, since a real  roof exceed less than 15cm or an half feet of tickness.

1/2 feet is 0.18' in HO and 0.10' in N scale , even a piece of cardstock has too much tickness.

So try to use fine roof cover, this give always a better look to your structures.

I cut the styrene following the structures need, I use a 1mm overlap if necessary on flat roof and no more than 2mm for inclined roof.

The second work is to simulate the wood structure which support the roof.

Course it's possible to build a full  wood structure, but this is not the purpose in this case.

To simulate this structure, I glue very small plastic profile along the edge of the roof, I use 0.20x0.30 Evergreen strip or very small leftover wood sprue from laser kit for bigger support.

This is a work which need some patience but the result in detail for the structure and his look is excellent.

These little piece are  longer than necessary, so they are easier to use and glue in place.

When the glue is dry ( CA medium for wood) I cut along the edge all the small piece; I use a small like Xuron plier to cut them flush along the edge of the roof.


You can see on the following pictures the result on a partialy finished house; the structure which support the roof  of the house  is really in place; this give a real look and is Worth well the effort; this building is made of wood from Northeastern.

Second step,

Cover the styrene roof; most of the roof on the Fos wharf are tar roofing and slates.

Since I have modified some of the building and added small addition with numerous small roof, I have mixed all the cover together; this is very eye catching since most of the time we see first the roof of our buldings.

To simulate roofing I use since a long time paper paint scotch tape; I cut it in strip  which are 6 mm or 1 meter width like the real thing.

I glue them on the styrene with a very small overlap; I also put small rectangular piece of tape paint to simulate repairs on the roof.

I also cut some of the full strip  here and there to simulate a recovery with a new roll of roofing.

I also uses slates from Redutex, a french company; these slates are like a vinyl but to the scale and self adhesive; they exist in N scale and also in HO scale.

The corrugated sheet are also from Redutex, I beleive the products of this firm are  imported in the USA; they are easy to use, glue very hard on any surface including wood.

On this building, I have glued slates and put a row of corrugated sheet ( cut in scale piece, 6mmx12 mm or 1meter by two meter like the real thing).

I have also glued some verticaly corrugated sheet and slates to protect some wall and to obtain another effect.

Notice these cover will be painted and I paint them on the already build structure on this case since de roof is deformed to show some age; it was necessary to glue the roof in place to maintain the deformation I was looking for.

Notice this building is made from wood and  styrene; I made the back in styrene since it can be viewed, the slates covering is just glued on the small part which is viewed of this facade.

This house is unfinished for now.

These little slattes come from left over roof cover from laser kit made by Blair line; they are made of a self adhesive paper and cut by laser; they are really realistic; they simulate old wood slate I beleive

Again each strip is overlaped a bit to simulate each row of slate.

It's also time to drill some holes to put future chimney in the roof or for the foot of some support for advertissement.

This is the next chapter to come.


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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, July 6, 2019 2:10 AM

Now it's time to glue all the parts together.

First, about the wood parts,

Wood need some preparation before to be glued together; it's a double stage.

First it's very important to seal the wood parts, I use a simple auto spray primer, a gray one and spray each side of the parts correctly; I let dry one side before to return the parts and spray paint the back.

All parts are put on a flat base during the painting stage.

Gray is a versaitle color because it's neutral if you paint clear or dark color on it

When the paint is dry it's necessary to heavily brace the parts by gluing on the inner face some piece of wood or plastic; use rectangular one and not square one because they have less tendency to wrap or bend; glue the small edge on the part, this way the brace is more rigid.

I glue all my wood parts, including the braces with CA gel; I put several weight  on the brace and the gluing is made on a flat surface, a piece of glass.

CA gel dry fast, a few minutes later the parts are ready to use.

The small withe box in the pictures is what I call "theatrical scene", I will explain it later.

The wood structures is glued together using again CA gel; all the pieces are glued on a perfectly flat surface, a piece of glass; I use mechanical square to glue all the parts together and to obtain a perfectly square footing.

Finish paint will come later, when assembly or sub assembly are done.

I also mix wood parts and plastic parts, I show you this  later too.

Second Plastic structures,

I brace all the facades of the stuctures with leftover plastic parts or chutes of plastic card.

Because yes plastic wrap also and more you could ever think about it.

When done, I glue the trim along two façades, the trim is a 0.40x0.40 square Evergreen strip; only two facades need them; the wo others are glued against the trim but I glue along the edge in the Inside some 0.80.x0.80 to have more surface to be glued. , these are visible in the above picture on the flat left side.

About the trim it's sometimes difficult to paint it properly; paint it before and they dont glue properly too.

This don't happen with wood course, you can paint and glue the part together

Course the trim paint is sometimes problemeatic especialy in Nscale, remember, o.40, tiny isn't it?

So I cover the corner with angle of 0.60x0.60 from Evergreen in place of the 0.40 trim; In fact I build the whole structures, paint it and wheater it and I glue already painted angle on all the corner; some touch up of weathering and you have perfect trim ( it's something I learn from the book of Howard Zane about is Ho Piermond division   )

I use a very small microbrush to put the glue between the façades and the trim;one or two  small drop of glue is enough and capilarity do the job to glue the whole trim; I use liquid glue from Tamiya or Humbrol with excellent results.

All the parts and the structures is glued and build on the piece of glass

Some have noticied I use a lot of Iron bar to maintain the parts when gluing them; these parts are extremly light and the iron bar are easy to use to maintain small parts when you are working on them or gluing them and you never had enough for sure.

The structure is mounted with mechanical square and glued together on the glass plate.

One trick here, when you have part which are difficult to maintain in good position, I put a small drop of CA to maintain the parts together, a light spray of CA Accelerator and the joint is done, I finish the full gluing with the plastic cement as usual.


After some nitpicking, the building is done, we have now a perfect white structures which need paint, Windows, glazing, details and roofs like their counterpart in wood.

As mentionned before I sometimes mix parts of plastic and wood.

The reason is because I have a good stock of leftover parts of Laser kit, most from Blair Line.

For my Fos wharf I have used parts of one laser kit for the first tiny building, the red one on the left of the above picture, red because it was already painted red from a ancient project.

Again, I use CA gel to glue the wood parts and plastic parts together, especialy on this building since only two side are viewed.

I like structures with many different angle and roofs because I feel them very eyes catching.

This first building of the row in fact is inspired by the Fos Ho one but it's different in many aspects.

I put on the back a small addition which simulate a two level and I also put a window in the roof; the addition are in plastic from Evergreen, the front is full wood by Blair Line.

The  following pictures show the construction and the addition, only the front and part of the left side are by Blair Line, the rest is scratch from Evergreen plastic; most of the back side is hidden so no waste time I don't model it.

As mentionned before the withe trim on the adittion are made with 0.60x0.60 plastic angle from Evergreen.


  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Quebec
  • 969 posts
Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, July 6, 2019 2:09 AM

The hard work, cutting all the parts out of the plastic cards

This is not the part of the scratchbuild stage I like the most for sure.

But it's the way to see what you are scratchbuilding.

But first rule, a good cutting result comes from a good drawing and course precise; this is particulary true in N scale where tolerance for a cast windows are Under a 1/2 mm.

The use of the marking gauge, for sure help to have a precise drawing for the cutting line.

Here is the old school, in fact the most of us use this method; Laser is better for sure even if the computer time to draw the design can be overhelming and Laser can't cut styrene.

So back to hobby knife and small cutter and an assortment of files.

I use a small cutter to cut the plastic; not a X acto style knife but a small Stanley cutter, because I feel the blades of a hobby knife seems too soft and can include some move and no straight line cut.

Second the X-Acto blade are quick off and don't cut well after a few cutting and they are quiet expensive.

So I use my small Stanley cutter to cut the plastic card, the blade  snap easily  when necessary so I always have a fresh blade and these blades are far more less expensive than the X-Acto ones.

The X-Acto knife are better to make touch up at the hole, like in the corner or put out some remain of plastic in the cutting

I never cut first the whole facade out the platic card; I cut all the windows holes first and when finished I cut out the facade from the plastic card; the reason is about material density, if you cut a windows from a 3 or 4 millimeter from the edge the ltitle remaining band of plastic keep distortion which are not easy to correct; this don't happen when you work on the full plastic card.

Evergreen styrene is soft, don't try to cut in one time the plastic, but make several cut using a straight metalic rule on the draw line; it's important to push well on the rule when you cut with the cutter because you need to put some pressure.

When the four lines of a hole are visible on the back side of the plastic card, you can easily push off the square piece of plastic.

Remarks !!!!!,mail

I forget to mention,in the drawing concept, I always try to have the bottom line of windows aligned with a bottom board of the clapboard or in the join between to board for a sheated card; I do the filling job only in the high of the hole if the height is not right; this maintain all the bottom of the windows to be perfectly aligned along a line which is done with a molded board of the plastic card.

When you have cut all the holes for windows or doors you can cut the facade out the full plastic card; I just make one light channel with the cutter and snap the plastic part from the full plastic card.

Now the second work, filling and adjusting the holes.

I use severals files to do the job, but I prefer the use of nails files, they are inexpensive, comes with all the grain necessary from extra fine to heavy one, they are flexible and the small one are easy to cut with a cutter to obtain personal shape or extra forms for my need of the moment.

I also use jeweler little precise files to finish corner of the holes or adjust some imperfections.

Fill a bit, check and fill again; try to put a casting windows in the hole and adjust by filling again, until the casting fall down in the hole, but try to not have to much play; this is particulary true in N scale knowing the retaining cover of the casting is around 0.3mm width, no more.

When all the holes are filled and adjusted it's important to put all the windows on the facade and check if none of the windows are out of square; if necessary adjust the hole again.

It's also time to drill holes to put future details on the facade and also cut away slighly here and there some board to give the effect of altered board.

When the facade is cheked and ok, I erase the remaining pencil line with a simple pencil eraser.

If the facade is in wood, like some of mine, I use the same method to drawn the cutting line and also to cut out the windows; after filling and cheking like plastic parts.

Wood from Northeastern is soft and easy to cut with a sharp cutter, just remember to be careful with the wood grain, because you can easily broke down a piece because you are not cutting the  wood in de wood grain line.

Normaly after an hour you have the four facades ready to be assembled.



  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Quebec
  • 969 posts
Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, July 6, 2019 2:06 AM

These are the tools I use to duplicate the plan but also to produce an accurate ready to cut model

As I mentionned it's important to use good Tools.

I use real achitectural slate of drawing, precise square of 90° and 45° to draw my plan,  but some other precise  tools to tranfer the plan on the plastic card.

This include a digital caliper, a marking gauge, mechanical square and slate and not show a small Pocket calculator.

The caliper is very useful to make measurements of the windows and doors; I'm an European and use metric.

When the caliper give me a measure of 13.23 mm by example, I draw the hole at 13 mm; this give some play for error of the drawing but also at the cutting stage which I will speak about later.

Since I use a family windows from Tichy, I have made my own chart of windows measurement for my drawing which include the tolerance I give, so no necessary to measure again and again a window to draw it.

The plastic card Under the caliper is a Evergreen HO wood sheat car, good for an N scale wood construction structure.

The second tool I use to duplicate the plan on the plastic card is a precise marking gauge.

I use it a lot for my work ( I'm an crafstman in wrought iron) to make repetitive measurement, but I have found it extremly useful and precise for our little train and scratchbuilding project.

This tool allow you to repeat measurement and  to trace perfectly aligned line but also to be sure when starting from one edge to make parallel line without any error; the tool has a precision error of 0.1 mm; beleive me, there are more errors in a wedding !

I use it intensively for my scratchbuilding project to duplicate the plan on the plastic card.

By example if a line is at 8mm from the edge, you can draw a second at 13mm just by putting the marking rule at 13mm and so for the next one; you have precisely 5 mm between these lines.

My plan include such measurement from one edge so it's fast and easy to duplicate it on the plastic card.

It's important to keep in mind the tickness of the pencil; I use a mechanical pencil with a mine of 0.5mm but when i put a measure on the marking rule, I don't put perfectly the measure but just Under the tickness of the marker on the rule.

This give the perfect measurement and the draw line is precisely where you need to cut the hole.

when you can use it you don't ask nothing else to drawn precise line.

After a few times the plan is duplicate on the palstic card, it's only a set ofparallel line

I check it with a mechanical square and we are ready to cut the numerous holes.



  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Quebec
  • 969 posts
Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, July 6, 2019 2:04 AM

Here is the concept including how I design the N scale model

Since I have no plan, no instructions or details about the construction of the HO Fos Scale kit it was necessary to make some studies and a list and thinking about how to do it.

The only materials on hand was pictures on the website of Fos Scale Models.

Since I model in N scale, these pictures are fun to look but are not usuable for a N scale view.

I made a plan of each structures; on this Ho kit,  windows seems to be from the Tichy line, so converting the HO windows measurements to the N scale Tichy windows was a snap; the plan are made exactly at  the 1/160 scale; my plan is the reflection of the model.

Like many kit I have scratchbuild from pictures, I make evaluation and measurements by using some details on the numerous pictures of the model; Windows, doors, figure, details like barrels or crate, a car on a picture is also a good starting point of evaluation..

I try to draw my little plan very precisely; error is not over 1/2 mm by using precise slate of drawing and  square from the achitecture work.

To be sure when the plan is drawn, I put my windows and doors on the plan to check it again.

I cut one or two Windows from the printed pictures and use them on the pictures to evaluate mesurations of width and height of the structures.

These were reported on a basic sketch which is corrected to be credible and keep the proportions of the models on the pictures, when the sketch seems good I draw the definitive plan.

I never use mockup; I plan most of my scratchbuild structures and don't use compression; often my plan is the reflect of the real thing just put to N scale.

I know many will say this is not a good approach but find it work well for me and don't complicate something which is already not so simple to evaluate.

When the plan is done, I check it by placing my windows on the plan and look if it look right; each side of the structures is sketch out.

My plans include some sketch for how to build the structures but also remarks, place of details, place of the future sign and thinking how I see the structures; this don't follow each time what is on the basic pictures.



  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Quebec
  • 969 posts
FOS WHARF, a big N scale project for my Port Elisabeth
Posted by Marc_Magnus on Saturday, July 6, 2019 2:02 AM

Since I move to Canada this summer, my layout is packaged sine a few months and  wait in a container to follow me in Quebec.



Because I'm an avid modeler, I can't wait all this time without making something for the layout.

My fictitious Maclau River in N scale is a company which snake along the Maclau River; the area is in Virginia and the system is a parrallel line of the N&W with exchange at Roanoke and Cincinati.

Many towns and small harbors are along the Maclau River; Port Elisabeth is a small town the nearest of the sea;side on the river, the town has a small port with small industry, small fishing activities and a small coal dumper to transit the coal from the back mountains.

My small port need a wharf for the fishing activity,; Fos Scale Models offered some years ago a magnificient HO crafstman kit of a small wharf and fishing facilities.

This HO kit inspired me to build an N scale version; of course everything need to be scratchbuild or kitbashed.


This blog is the story and the ongoing construction of FOS WHARF, named this way because of the inspiration the kit give to me.

I will share my techniques and some how to do I use to build N scale models.

The structures  are constructed with the old school method, cutter, plan, lot of filling and patience.

But sure when in Quebec, a Laser will be the first tool to be buy.

Most of the structures on the wharf are made of Evergreen plastic card like clapboard and HO wood sheated boxcar card, profiles from Evergreen, Windows from Tichy and some left over N scale Grand lines doors and Windows; some structures use Northeasten wood parts and also modified or kitbashed leftover parts of some laser kit from Blair line including their windows counterpart.

The parts are painted with acrilycs paint fom Golden artist paint and Vallejo acrilycs.

Wood  parts are tinted with the classic shoe dye method and finished with a india  ink wash or painted with acrilycs

Weathering is pastel chalk, dry brushing and india ink wash. ( isopropilyc alcohool and india ink).

Roof are coveredd with Redutex self adhesive slate, corugated metal sheet, Blair line shingles and paint masking tape to simulate roofing.

Tamiya glue and Humbrol plastic glue are used for plastic; gel CA for the wood parts.

Signs are made with Open Office and self printed with a inkjet HP printer on paper which is secured with flat varnish on both side.

some pics of some of the buildings already made

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