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Scatchbuilding?

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Scatchbuilding?
Posted by BradenD on Sunday, June 18, 2023 4:57 PM

Hey hope everyone's having a good father's day.

I was reading a some old model railroader magazines from the 30's to 50's last night and it seems scratchbuilding used to be very popular. I'm on summer break right now and I am actually very interested in trying a project like this myself. Not an engine or anything but maybe a passenger car. A lot of the articles I was reading assumed a fair amount of expierence and knowledge, more than I have anyway. Do you guys have any recommendations on how I could get started?

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Posted by kasskaboose on Sunday, June 18, 2023 5:01 PM

While I've not done a car, I ave scratchbuilt 1-2 small structures.  Perhaps start there since it's not something mobile.  There are plenty of resources you ought to consider too.

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Posted by Morpar on Sunday, June 18, 2023 5:57 PM

I still have my first "scratchbuilt" project from many moons ago. I built a wooden bay window body to fit a Tyco caboose frame. If you are wanting to build cars I would suggest a similar course, make a new body for a cheapo chassis. And even if you think it looks like crap, save it for a keepsake! 

Good Luck, Morpar

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Posted by tstage on Sunday, June 18, 2023 6:24 PM

I agree with kasskaboose.  Pick a simple project(s) to hone your skills and technique.  Once you're comfortable with materials, cutting, and assembling them together (for a nice fit), move up to a piece of rolling stock.

Tom

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, June 18, 2023 9:17 PM

I believe in the jump in the water philosophy.  Scratchbuiilding has a lot of different aspects, but most are pretty easy, and just seem like a natural progression.  I would start with something small and simple, like a storage shed.  I did an easy one as the office for a scrapyard, just 4 walls and a roof, with a door and a few windows.  I've found that I like using thin balsa wood sheets and sections of clapboard siding, with roofing shingles from companies like Campbell and windows from Tichy.

The components we use are built by craftsmen, too, modelers like us.  I feel a bit responsible to do a good job with those windows and doors and clipboards and shingles.  It keeps me focused on the model I'm building.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Sunday, June 18, 2023 9:43 PM

I would start with a LaBelle Kit.

These are very much like scratch building.  They come with all the wood pieces and parts you need except for trucks and couplers.  I built a boxcar first and what I learned from the kit I later used to scratch build more cars.

Good luck

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 19, 2023 12:07 AM

Hi Braden,

Congratulations on taking the plunge into scratchbuilding!! You will be pleased that you did. Don't worry if you get a few things wrong. You will get better as you go.

I love scratchbuilding! I have been working on an oddball rotary snow plow train for several months and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Even the problems were educational and fun to solve.

As Morpar suggested, if you want to build rolling stock, start with a donor car, get rid of the parts of the shell that you don't want (don't throw them out - they may come in handy some day), And then build a new shell. It is common to use the original frame but building a new frame isn't difficult. You also might want to re-use the roof.

I primarily work in styrene (Evergreen Scale Models has a great selection of sheets and strips) but I use some brass and copper too. I do use a lot of Tichy windows and doors and I highly recommend their phosphor bronze wire for doing hand rails and grab irons. I use brass castings, usually from Precision Scale Models.

You may want to upgrade the trucks and wheels. Most people also use Kadee couplers.

Here a few links the the suppliers I mentioned above:

https://evergreenscalemodels.com/

https://www.tichytraingroup.com/

https://www.kadee.com/

https://www.precisionscaleco.com/

 

Here are a few shots of my rotary snow plow train. If you double click on the photos you can blow them up:

I am currently working on the 'Cook Car'. This is the donor I started with:

I retained the roof and the frame but everything else is new.

I'm doing an interior for it with lighting.

I tried to mimic a canvas roof but the fabric I used was too thick so it looks quite crude. You can't win them all!

I still have to add grab irons and railings and a roof walkway.

Once you have done some scratchbuilding you can get into things that are a bit more complex. With the exception of a couple of pieces of the frame, the brass valves and other castings and the gears, the plow is all scratchbuilt including the blades and the gearbox. The plow blades operate and it has sound.

These are the somewhat unusual vertical steam engines.

There is a ridiculously long thread about building the plow but I would hardly expect anyone to read the whole thing:

https://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/291158.aspx

Don't hesitate to ask for help!

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by "JaBear" on Monday, June 19, 2023 5:23 AM

BradenD
Do you guys have any recommendations on how I could get started?

Gidday Braden, so you want to try scratch building! First up, pick something that you really want and is not commercially available. Also make sure you have a abundance of Patience!!
 
I must admit that I have a certain amount of arrogance and tend to dive in, boots n all, so while the good advice that you have already received suggests that you under take a simple project to start off with, I’m not going to give you that advice, but then I must admit that if during a build I come to a “sticking point” I’ll then build something simple as a practice piece.
 
What I would suggest though that you may want to try a kit bash first to test the water so to speak. I would not like to see you spend money on tools and materials, only to find this is an aspect of the hobby that does not give you satisfaction.
 
Anyhow, here are two links to scratch builds that I’ve documented.
 
 
Have Fun, (and feel free to ask for help.)
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by MidlandPacific on Monday, June 19, 2023 8:32 AM

That advice on a LaBelle kit is good - that was my start.  It's basically a pile of basswood, wire, castings and plans, but if you can successfully sort it out and build a car, you are on your way.  

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Posted by rrebell on Monday, June 19, 2023 8:54 AM

Also with a kit you have the basics in instructions and parts and you can veer away from the instructions, like adding more windows or extra door or open platform end etc.

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Posted by York1 on Monday, June 19, 2023 9:05 AM

BradenD
A lot of the articles I was reading assumed a fair amount of expierence and knowledge, more than I have anyway. Do you guys have any recommendations on how I could get started?

 

I want to echo what many others have already stated -- just jump in and try it.  My first attempt did not turn out perfect, but it sure inspired me to try again.

It's satisfying to look at the layout and see things that I built from scratch.

York1 John       

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, June 19, 2023 9:09 AM

My favorite type of scratchbuilding is to just look in the scrap box and see what jumps out at me. I usually only spend a couple of days building a "one of a kind" freight car. Not modeling the real world gives me all kinds of freedom in the projects.

It is amazing the treasures that can be lurking in a box full of unused parts.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

Dont worry too much about things not being perfect. Mistakes get made, just go past them, add another piece of trim to hide the mistake, or weather it away when the model is painted.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

It is great to have things on your layout that are completely unique.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 19, 2023 9:18 AM

Hi again Braden,

Do you have an idea of what you want to build? If you have a project in mind, let us know and we can give you more focused answers.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by NVSRR on Monday, June 19, 2023 10:28 AM

The first thing I would recommend.   Patients.    Doodle up a sketch of what you are doing and put some rough measurements.  You would be surprised by the conflicts in sizing that alone uncovers.   Some old carpenters rules apply.  Measure twice cut once.    The. Sand sand sand.    Always cut proud.  Look at your lines. Which side stays which side is the cut off.  Cape tees don't cut on the line, they cut proud of the line on the off cut side.  Then sand to that line.  And test fit as you go.  Fit and sand and fit and sand.   If you mess up the cut, it mostly won't affect the final size giving you room to fix it. Use squares to get those 90degree angles.  good tool to invest in is a square. One that has a leg 3 times the thickness of the other so it easily seats against an edge.    A scale ruler.  Always easier to measure a length like 4,3" on a scale then do all the math and use a one foot ruler with 64ths scale on it.    Did I mention patients?  And get a gazillion blades.  The. Add a gazillion more.  You will still be short enough good blades I gaurantee it.  Shrap blades do make cutting much easier  and much easier to control the blade.   Getting something like the chopper.  Akes it easy to do repeat cuts of the same length.  
sometimes, something might not work no matter how much planning and fit and trim goes into it.   Some spots only experience will help avoid that.   Learn and continue building.   Doing research on a project first can lead to many ,ore projects.   But also can be quite fascinating in its own way

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Monday, June 19, 2023 2:19 PM

Back in the old days people had a lot more 'do it yourself' skills. People mocked the ready to run models and built everything from kits or from scratch.

Every month Model Railroad Craftsman magazine had blueprints of some kind of model to build from scratch. The first one I built was a very simple passenger station. It was a good place to start because I was still a kid, but I had already built dozens of kits of all styles and scales including airplanes, cars, trucks, tanks, spaceships, and even monsters from movies.

Before you try scratch building build a few kits so you get experience and understand the priciples and then you can scratch build something you really want or need. My first scratch built model of rolling stock was from an old MDC Roundtable 3 in 1 kit (which you can still find at trainshows or eBay). It basically is a box with wheels, frames, and some other parts but you still need to supply other material and cut everything yourself based on the blueprints provided.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by BradenD on Monday, June 19, 2023 2:39 PM

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I think I'll take a look at a labelle kit and then go from there. Should be a fun experience.

 

hon30critter

Hi again Braden,

Do you have an idea of what you want to build? If you have a project in mind, let us know and we can give you more focused answers.

Cheers!!

Dave

 

Hi Dave,

I've read through your thread many times and it one of the reasons I want to try scratchbuilding. Ideally what I was going for were passenger cars for the CNJ blue comet since I'm not aware of any kit that exists. BLI just changed their Pency 70' cars and didn't really do the blue comet cars justice (not throwing shade on them I get that it's a pretty niche train but it was one of my first sets in O-Gauge and I really want to do it right) . 

 

Other than that I mean just the concept of building your own passenger fleet seems so cool to me and there's so many plans in the old MRR magazines that I just kinda got the urge to try something.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, June 19, 2023 7:57 PM

BradenD
Ideally what I was going for were passenger cars for the CNJ blue comet since I'm not aware of any kit that exists.

The job may be facilitated because one of the Blue Comet observations is not only preserved, but reasonably 'out in the open' to view and take measurements -- it is built into a rather good diner restaurant in Clinton, New Jersey.  Some of the interior appointments appear to have survived, too, and you can mix business with pleasure by having a lunch between measurements Wink

Would make a good thread here to mix photographs with the 'built' version of what they show...

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 7:53 AM

BradenD
I think I'll take a look at a labelle kit and then go from there. Should be a fun experience.

If you feel like it, I would love to see a new thread with a build-log.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 2:22 PM

Hi Braden,

I don't want to rain on your parade, but I'm going to suggest that what you want to do is more of a kitbash than a scratchbuild. Similar cars are readily available so what you really need to do is modify the sides in order to get the window spacing correct. Personally I wouldn't go to the trouble of trying to build a clerestory roof when they are available on other models, especially if this is your first go at customizing a passenger car.

I love the idea of doing a build thread so that we can follow your progress (and help you along the way if you want us to).

Finally, I am very flattered and pleased to learn that I have inspired at least one person to try scratchbuilding, and I really appreciate your interest in my snow plow thread.

Cheers!!

Dave

 

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 9:13 PM

I'm not sure that this one could be considered a scratchbuild, as some of the parts are more-or-less "ready to use", as are some of the parts in the picture below...

...but the sides were cut from a 4'x8' sheet of .060" styrene...

...and cemented together using .125" Evergreen strip material.

I had some ready-to-use doors...

...but decided to use insulator's aluminum tape as the overlapping "steel" panels on the car's sides...and then applied 3-D rivet decals to make the sides and ends look like they were riveted together...

next, I airbrushed the car, then applied suitable decals...

...then put the finished car in-service...

Some years prior to the car shown above, I needed some appropriate all-purpose box cars for GERN Industries, so I scratchbuilt four 36'-er Fowler/Dominion boxcars, each equipped with four roof hatches and four longitudinal underbody hoppers...

...all of the material used was styrene, save for the trucks, couplers, and metal for the sill-steps, grabirons and brake gear.

I'm not sure, but I don't think that there were any ready-to-run cars (of over 500) on my layout, and of the other 400 or so that I sold-off because they were too modern for my layout's late '30s era

Wayne

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 11:14 PM

BradenD
Thanks for all the advice everyone. I think I'll take a look at a labelle kit and then go from there.

Hi Braden,

I just looked at the LaBelle kit that Paul suggested and I think it suits your purposes very well. The LaBelle kits are about as close to scratchbuilding as you can get. All they really do is provide you with a bunch of pieces of wood and wire that just happen to be the right sizes that you need. You just need to cut them to length. The only significant difference is that you don't have to source the proper sized pieces which you would have to do if you were scratchbuilding. The added benefit of having a proper roof profile puts you way ahead of the game, although I believe that you have to shape the ends of the roof. If I'm not mistaken, LaBelle offers a template to help get the shape correct.

I think that LaBelle's kit #501 is pretty close to what you want for the passenger cars. You could use the same kit as a starting point for baggage cars and diners too.

Don't worry about the project not being a total scratchbuild. It is a great place to learn how to fit things together which is an absolutely necessary skill when scratchbuilding.

Cheers!!

Dave

 

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by BradenD on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 12:36 AM

Thanks Dave I'll keep you guys posted on the project.

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Posted by "JaBear" on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 5:58 AM
Gentlemen, while good advice has been given to Braden, we have all been remiss in that, apart from Shane, none of us emphasised RESEARCH!!
 
Now to be fair, in his opening post, the OP only vaguely hinted “…but maybe a passenger car,” so the suggestion(s) of starting with a LaBelle Kit was valid. However, in his first reply, it was then that Braden stated, “Ideally what I was going for were passenger cars for the CNJ blue comet since I'm not aware of any kit that exists”
 
Now this is where RESEARCH becomes important, and I would suggest that before wasting money on the LaBelle kit#501, Braden looks here…
 
 
 
…and here, specifically, for starters, Kit #310, #320, #330...
 
 
Incidentally that LaBelle kit looks fun, but just not appropriate for the Braden’s aims.
Have Fun, and yes, a build thread would be of interest.
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by BradenD on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 4:33 PM

 Thanks, Dave, for the additional information.

Now to be fair, in his opening post, the OP only vaguely hinted “…but maybe a passenger car,” so the suggestion(s) of starting with a LaBelle Kit was valid. However, in his first reply, it was then that Braden stated, “Ideally what I was going for were passenger cars for the CNJ blue comet since I'm not aware of any kit that exists”

The reason I didn't open with my main goal of eventually building a Blue comet fleet was because I figured I should work my way up to it and learn by just doing.

 

Braden

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Posted by BradenD on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 5:12 PM

Does appear the Giacobini diner will have to be scratchbuilt and the observation car could be kitbashed out of #310.

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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 6:42 PM

Hello All,

What fantastic suggestions!

I began scratch-building with flat cars.

From there you can build up these cars into almost any configuration you can imagine.

You can also add any scratch-built load(s) to these flat cars- -adding to your modeling experience!

Just something to consider...

What do YOU consider the difference between Scratch-built and Kit-bashed???

Keep us apprised of your progress and...

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 9:04 PM

jjdamnit
What do YOU consider the difference between Scratch-built and Kit-bashed???

Based on the definition offered in the thread that jjdamnit linked to, none of my work is truly scratchbuilt. I used the floor and the roof panels from an Accurail box car to build my rotary snow plow. I didn't need to use the parts. I just thought they would save some time. By definition, the Cook Car and the water tanker are definitely kit bashes so I apologise if I have suggested otherwise.

To me, the issue borders on rivet counting and I am not a rivet counter. Others can call my work whatever they want. I could care less. As has been said, all that really matters is whether or not I am happy with my work.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 11:26 PM

jjdamnit
What do YOU consider the difference between Scratch-built and Kit-bashed???

I don't.

I try to use the word "conversion" to describe anything I built. There are always commercial parts or a base model in there somewhere.

I'm not turning, filing, and drilling my own marker lamps.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by "JaBear" on Thursday, June 22, 2023 2:57 AM
“The reason I didn't open with my main goal of eventually building a Blue comet fleet was because I figured I should work my way up to it and learn by just doing.
 
Gidday Braden, I hope I didn’t give the impression that I was criticising how you worded your initial post and reply, I was just pointing out that knowing your aims, one of those Bethlehem cars would be a more logical starting point, especially if, but let’s be positive, when it turns out just fine!
  
However, there is not one way of approaching a scratch build/kit bash, while you’ll most likely be pushing your skill boundaries, you have to be “happy” with how you go about it.
 
“Does appear the Giacobini diner will have to be scratchbuilt and the observation car could be kitbashed out of #310”
 
Yeah, and by the time you get to do that car, hopefully you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about. Smile, Wink & Grin
 
Others can call my work whatever they want.
 
Gee Dave, you’ve left yourself wide open with that statement, just as well this is a family show!! Whistling LaughLaugh
 
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, June 22, 2023 7:12 AM

SeeYou190
 
jjdamnit
What do YOU consider the difference between Scratch-built and Kit-bashed??? 

I don't.

I try to use the word "conversion" to describe anything I built. There are always commercial parts or a base model in there somewhere.

How about "scratchbashed"? That is a term that I use often. Smile, Wink & Grin

Rich

Alton Junction

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