Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Beginning Scratchbuilder

1474 views
9 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Beginning Scratchbuilder
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, November 10, 2001 11:28 AM
I am in the process of trying to make my N scale structures look less "out of the box" and would like to get into either scratch building or kit bashing. Only problem is I have never done this before, and I am looking at using (mostly) styrene. Any suggestions? Also any suggestions on adding to existing buildings with styrene? Thanks.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, November 10, 2001 2:33 PM
Hi Liz, Styrene can be purchased at most hobby shops. I have even found some at Hobby Town. A dremel is recommended for custom projects. These aren`t too expensive. I have a cordless and plug in and I like the plug in better,which are cheaper. Dremels are also easy to use. Painting and weathering can also be done to improve box-structures if you aren`t already involved in this endeavor. Yes you can add to existing buildings. There is an article in the Oct.2001 MR magazine that could give you a good idea of what you can do to add on to existing structures. Back issues can be purchased on this site if you don`t have one. Lights can also be installed in your buildings which adds a whole new perspective. Walthers is one of the distributors for lighting products. Interior lights are cheap,street lights cost more,but are affordable if bought a little at a time. Painting is the most effective project you can do to vary the color of structures for realism and weathering. There are also how to books on scratch building structures. Kalmbach publishing have a couple. Building and painting is an artform and results will get better and better the more practice you get. I`ve repainted some of my earlier jobs because I got better and then wasn`t satisfied with earlier results. Layers of paint is one of the good ways to get the results your after. You`ll love this part of model railroading,nothing like seeing one of your masterpieces on a layout! Have fun, Gerald
  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Niue
  • 735 posts
Posted by thirdrail1 on Saturday, November 10, 2001 3:26 PM
Liz, it's fairly expensive ($14.95 I think) but Evergreen, the makers of most of the styrene used in model work, has an excellent book showing techniques for scratchbuilding in styrene. I would not recommend trying to use any power tools, either drills or motor tools, with styrene as they will melt it. For structural work, you will find they make various types of siding as well as angles, I beams, etc. Excellent windows and doors are available from a number of manufacturers such as Grandt Line. Brickwork and roofing are available as well. The most important tool in working with styrene is a sharp hobby knife and a straightedge. I have been scratchbuilding N scale freight cars for years using styrene (and metal shapes and ladders) over a base of basswood. I also use 1/8 in x 1/8 in basswood as the framework for scratchbuilt N scale buildings. One suggestion, always work from plans. If you don't have a plan, draw one up first.
"The public be ***ed, it's the Pennsylvania Railroad I'm competing with." - W.K.Vanderbilt
  • Member since
    October 2001
  • From: OH
  • 17,574 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, November 10, 2001 3:34 PM
Lisa: If you are not already doing this you can add interior to your buildings.By doing this you add life to the building.Let's say that you have a store with a large window,and say you wanted this to be a colthing store,you could add 2 scale figures in the window as mannequins.Now as far as kit bashing,I some-times use 2or3 different buildings kits, the left over parts can be used on other projects.I also use walls from DPM.For new additions to old buildings I have used Pike Stuff kits,after painting and weathering these buildings look alot different then when they came out of the box.I don't scatch build myself,But,my wife scratch built a engine house for me.What got my goat she didn't use a plan,but,planned it as she was building it!! This building was in scale(she use my eh,our scale rule.)and today it is still being used by the club.Yes,she did super detail the interior of this engine house.I hope this helps you in some way.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, November 10, 2001 3:45 PM
The only scratchbuilding I've done is with wood, but I've done a lot of kitbashing. Its very easy to make unique looking buildings by combining two or more comercial kits. My favorite fodder for kitbashing is Model Power kits(GE Co,Baldwin,loco shed,Holland Iron, and US Customs). The trick is to trim off one of the end brick columns when combining wall sections so they look uniform across the lenght of the wall. Use pieces of styrene on the backs of different wall sections as splice plates. DPM has made it even easier with their modular wall systems. The easiest thing to make your existing buildings look less "out of the box" would be to paint and weather them. You could also add detail parts from either Period Miniatures,Gold Medal, or Alloy Forms. You can find them in the Walthers book.
Good luck.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, November 10, 2001 5:31 PM
Hi Lisa!
Styrene is my favorite medium to work with, because you can, with a little doctoring, & paint, make it look like anything you like.
Essential to scratchbuilding & kitbashing are some basic tools. A Dremel was mentioned, & these are nice, but you don't need one for structure building. What you DO need is a scale ruler, preferably a metal one which can also be used as a straight edge, for aligning, & cutting. You'll also need an x-acto knife, & plenty of spare blades. X-acto also makes a razor saw, with interchangable blades that is a must-have item. A good flat file, for cleaning up edges, & also nice to have, is a set of small jeweler's files (especially for N scale). Another handy item is a pair of flush-cutting pliers, such as Xuron "rail nippers".
Also, read anything you can find by the late, great Art Curren. His book, How to Kitbash HO Structures (Kalmbach Pub.) is a wealth of great ideas, & inspiration, no matter what scale you model in.
Good luck Lisa! I hope you enjoy this part of the hobby as much as I do!
  • Member since
    October 2001
  • From: OH
  • 17,574 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, November 10, 2001 6:11 PM
Lisa:If you use a modeling knife or the motor tool,by all means wear safety glasses or in the case of the motor tool a full face sheild would be better.As the cutting disc on the motor can and will brake causing small pieces to fly all over the place.The knife blade can brake and it to might fly.this is the voice of experience talking!You see I have cut myself so many times with a modeling knife so many times over the last 50 years that I have lost count.I was using a motor tool one time with-out any safety protection and cutting disc broke and embedded it self about 2" below my left eye.Close call!Now I use at lease safety glasses. One more thing when your knife blade begins to get dull change it.It will make your cutting easier if you keep your blade sharp. Enjoy

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 11, 2001 12:35 PM
Good advice Drew,but you probably meant to say sprue cutters instead of rail nippers. Xuron makes both. There are two sizes of sprue cutters and a rail nipper for cutting rails on track. The sprue is the plastic piece holding the molded plastic. A razor blade can be used instead of cutters,but the cutters give you a more flush cut which reduces sanding for us lazy people. I`m not trying to step on your toes Drew,but I had to speak up in case Lisa hasn`t been introduced to the tools yet that we take for granted. Gerald
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 12, 2001 10:36 AM
You are absolutly correct Gerald, & if you're reading this Lisa, the sprue cutters are a much better choice.
I alas, somehow ended up with two pairs of rail nippers, & being the cheapskate that I am, designaated one of them as my sprue cutter. They work fine, but the sprue cuter would be better, because the blades are smaller, & able to do finer work.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 18, 2001 7:46 AM
Scratchbuilding and kitbashing definately get easier over time.I've looked at many earlier projects and have thrown them away or in the closet.It also makes you notice buildings more!Now I drive through towns and neighborhoods and look at how the wires are on the telephone poles and how certain roofs connect on to porches,etc.You'll be amazed at how much you'll start to notice things like that.You'll also be amazed at how much you will improve at scratchbuilding and kitbashing the more you practice!Good luck!!And remember,save those extra parts!!

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!