Skip to main content

Thanks fellas!


Today I did one thing... with the weather at a wonderful 70+ degrees I sprayed Krylon gray primer on the two hoppers. My wife and I are now on kid watching duty until Sunday, but since they not that young, I may be in the shop tomorrow too and do some final painting. The Airslide is going to be Burlington Northern green with a 1980s BN logo. The covered hopper is going to be Santa Fe brown with the same tagging.  

 Hoppers Primed 2

It was impossible to get masking tape to stick to the sintered metal wheel treads so instead I liberally applied a coating of oil so the paint wouldn't stick. If it goes according to plan it should wipe off...famous last words.


I was interviewed today by the corporate communications person from ABB for inclusion of an article in their internal communications. We had a great discussion and she was frankly amazed that a person of my age could learn some much about a new topic so quickly. She asked if you always have to learn so much about a subject before modeling it. I said it helps. In this case understand how things were arranged and functioned let me make a more substantial model. Plus I had the help of many others including you two with some real-world technical experience.


Regarding the distillery. I found out from Andre that all the extra effort I was applying to keep the brick lines off the cutting lines was unnecessary. I made masking lines to keep a 1/32" inch buffer between the bricks .7 pt lines (engraving) and the .3 pt cutting lines. He said the laser will ignore the brick lines butting up against the cutting lines. So I'm going to go back and fix this. These drawings have taken several weeks already. The laser cutting may be fast and accurate, but the drawing creation is slow and labor intensive. The beauty, of course, is you can now cut a thousand and they're all the same.


I am now getting NASA Tech Briefs. In it was a new kind of 3D printer that has been prototyped. Instead of a laser drawing each layer by many, many passes to solidify the polymer, it uses a photosensitive polymer that is UV cure. An entire slice is project upwards through the bath and is focused on a specific layer which immediately solidifies. The next slice's image is projected as the now solidifying object is pulled up one layer's amount. It produces unique parts up to 100 times faster than current technology. They have a lot of work to do on the chemistry, etc., but the concept is genius. Each slice would appear like a view from a cat scan. It will be interesting to see where this all is in 10 years. I would really like a 3D printer and laser cutter in the shop. Nothing could stop me...maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh!


Images (1)
  • Hoppers Primed 2

As planned I was able to get the first color coats on the hoppers. One is a Santa Fe brown and the other is BN green. For the second coat I will mask the green to spray on  a black undercarriage for the BN car and a coating of dirty black/brown for the Santa Fe car. When that dries I'll spray a coat of clear Future floor wax to provide a good decal base. That will followed by decals and then dull coat. Once the dull coat dries we'll be ready for weathering with airbrush and Dr. Martin's powders (from MicroMark). It's about a one week project to do this if you really want each step to fully cure before the next. Luckily I have the fire house to work on.


Hopppers first color coat 1


Speaking of the fire house, I got a lot accomplished on that front today. I fully assembled the four walls of the main structure and even plopped it on the layout to see how it looks.


Before putting the walls together I used a surface gauge on a smooth surface to scribe the line for the second floor. I glued some styrene strips to the building to act as a ledge for this floor. For the floor itself I'm using foam core. The LED lighting will generate very little heat so foam core should hold up pretty well.


FH 13


What complicated this a bit (a for subsequent steps) was all that massive structural framing I added to straighten the warped walls. The floor level fell right onto the ones lining the long sides. Les Lewis suggested that it would have been better to use heat to straighten them, but that was after I had already CA'd enough Plastruct structural material to build a bridge capable of holding a locomotive. I know this because it was those very same plastic parts that I did use to build three railroad bridges.


They also go in the way when setting up the clamping for the mitered corners. I partially solved this problem by trimming them back enough for the clamps to have purchase.


FH 16


Another challenge what clamping the miter clamp to the front wall bottom. There wasn't much to clamp to and the miter clamp's screw jack is in the middle where there is an opening for the door. I worked around this by using a nice stiff 6" machinist rule from my Brown and Sharp tri-square. I then put a piece of 3/16" Masonite in the opening to provide something to push against. 


FH 14


This method produced a good joint so I repeated it for the other side. When the front was secure I was able to test fit the piece of flooring I cut.


FH 15


I'm not going to include any detail in the second floor so it's really serving as a light block and a place to mount the LED light fixture.


The rear wall didn't have any additional bracing so getting the clamps on was much simpler and the wall went on straight forward.


With all the walls of the main building together I had to take some pictures of the overall building and then stick it on the layout. The roof and tower are just sitting there since there's some particular things you have to do to get the roof properly fitted.


FH 18


It's an imposing structure and even more so when it's in place on the layout.


FH 19


It really dwarfs Saulena's Tavern. I made the first floor ceiling height 16". Fire houses are not little structures. Behind it is where Bernheim Distilleries is going to go. It too will be an imposing building, almost 16" longs and about the same height as the fire station with much more ornate brickwork.


Here's the reverse angle view.


FH 21


Next will be a combination of finishing up the cars and continuing to build the fire house.


Images (8)
  • Hopppers first color coat 1
  • FH 13
  • FH 16
  • FH 14
  • FH 15
  • FH 18
  • FH 19
  • FH 21
Originally Posted by Trainman2001:

 . . . .Once the dull coat dries we'll be ready for weathering with airbrush and Dr. Martin's powders (from MicroMark). 




FH 19


Trainman, I use powders a lot but have never bought DR. Martin's.  Are they superior to others or do they have any special characteristic that makes them better than others?


I love the firehouse, and the entire city blow you have there.  Super look to it all.

Mr. Marcovitch, I just had to take a moment to ask a question and add a few comments. First as to the question a few days ago as to " many people follow...". I can speak from experience that I regularly look you up at least once a week. I think the nearly 40,000 views that this thread has also speak to that. Your modeling and mechanical skills are awe-inspiring.


Ok, now the question. I just saw you do something that fascinated me. I regularly repaint old train cars. I like buying them cheap and making them my own. I just saw you prime and paint without covering the trucks! I once spent an hour carefully removing errant paint from a poor masking job on 1 wheel. Why did you prime and paint the trucks? I saw the post where you said you would mask the body and apply black to the underside (assuming again you will include the trucks). In my head now you have 3 layers of paint to remove from the wheels and axle (maybe the spring systems too). Did you cover those in oil as well? Please tell us as I am reaching for my turpentine bottle and q-tips to save you from yourself!


Thank you for the hours of enjoyment!

Originally Posted by AtoZ Lewis:

Mr. Marcovitch, I just had to take a moment to ask a question and add a few comments. First as to the question a few days ago as to " many people follow...". I can speak from experience that I regularly look you up at least once a week. I think the nearly 40,000 views that this thread has also speak to that. Your modeling and mechanical skills are awe-inspiring.


Ok, now the question. I just saw you do something that fascinated me. I regularly repaint old train cars. I like buying them cheap and making them my own. I just saw you prime and paint without covering the trucks! I once spent an hour carefully removing errant paint from a poor masking job on 1 wheel. Why did you prime and paint the trucks? I saw the post where you said you would mask the body and apply black to the underside (assuming again you will include the trucks). In my head now you have 3 layers of paint to remove from the wheels and axle (maybe the spring systems too). Did you cover those in oil as well? Please tell us as I am reaching for my turpentine bottle and q-tips to save you from yourself!


Thank you for the hours of enjoyment!


Excellent question Mike!!  I'm sure Myles will have an exceptional answer!

Good question. I tried to mask the tires, but the tape didn't stick to the sintered metal wheels, so I chose another, albiet dubious, route. I applied lubricating oil to the threads and flanges in hopes that the paint won't stick well. We'll find out soin enough whether this idea works. It's always so critical to have clean surfaces for paint that I can't imagine it will be to hard to remove the paint. Famous last words. As for the trucks, the springs really don't do any thing so painting them like this won't hurt. The trucks are going to get more paint before this is over. Since they're screwed in from the bottom, i can always remove them if i have to. MTH trucks screw in from the car's insides so you can't remove tme without messing something up. If i need solvent to clean the paint, I'll use scetone which is great for removing dried acrylic.
Alan, not sure about dr martin's quality compared to others. I mainly like tgat it cones in a set with lots of color choices. I think that once you start using powders you will resist using paints for most typical weathering spplications. I'm still going to aurbrush the light coatings of dirt and dust on the car's bottoms, but use powders for the streaking and rust stains. Any areas of concentrated rust will be started usung heavier coats of artist tube acrylics, burnt and raw umber. This builds up some rough texture like heavy rust can do. If you look way back when I built the bridges you'll see how I did this. My Thrall all-door car is an example of WHAT NOT TO DO in freight car weathering. I tried using "dry brush" for tgat, but was way too heavy.

3D printers will, like 2D printers 20 to 30 years before them, go through a steep improvement curve: resolution and speed will both improve while cost comes down.  


In 1984 the first printer I bought was a dot-matrix that needed its own tabel, and slow as molasses, with poor print quality.  Now I have a high resolution color laser that fits under the desk and cost maybe $400.


Give 3D ten years and it will be spectacular.

I looked at the TED film. Interesting stuff. I agree with 10 years we won't recognize what's being done by additive manufacturing. I've been following it since the mid-90s and was thinking for a time of going into that industry, but didn't pull the trigger.  The current crop of inexpensive plastic melters don't have the resolution for working in 1:48. The machines that the likes of MTH use in making their prototype shells are the high resolution laser-curing devices that cost a bundle. This new method only has one moving axis (Z). All the rest of the dimensions are created by the sequence of digital images that show each sequential cross-section. In the prototype unit, the projector lies directly below the curing chamber in the large lower section of the printer. I could very easily imagine putting the projection system along side of the curing chamber and directing the image into the bath via lenses and mirrors. This would enable the unit to be put onto a table top. I imagine it would have the resolution us modelers would need.


I bought the paint for the fire house today and will do some painting this week because the weather looks pretty good. I did do some work on the cars. I painted the under body of the Airslide Nato black which is a like weathered black, and did the trucks on both cars the same color.


And of course a calamity happened. I was looking around for a roll of Tamiya masking tape on my workbench, bumped the airslide and knocked it on the floor. Several of the CA'd parts blew off, but overall the car survived and in a few minutes it was all back together again. I hate when that happens!


CH Paint 3rd Paint Op


I attempted to mask the upper works to air brush the black on the Airslide, but it was an exercise in futility. The handrails and other hardware on the ends didn't lend themselves to masking. I therefore, handprinted all the black. I left the wheels untouched... I'm going to do them later. On the Covered Hopper I also hand painted the trucks black, but in this case I took them off the car so I could do it more easily. Tomorrow, I'm going to take the trucks off the green car before doing the wheels. Incidentally, I did attempt to scrape the paint of the tires and although it wasn't easy, it did come off. The oil treatment did work to make it a little less paintable.


Images (1)
  • CH Paint 3rd Paint Op

I left the cars sit for a day and was intending on spraying Krylon primer on the fire house, but after looking at the instructions again, and studying the model, I realized that I had some more heavy work to do on it and painting would not be a good idea. It was a gorgeous day outside with the temp a balmy 73 degrees, but it was quick breezy and spraying would have been sub-par.


I first had to fix the broken window mullions. Lee was nice enough to include the right sized styrene stock to make those repairs. The first one was to replace all mullions in one sash on a second floor window. I made a very small cross-lap joint to fasten the pieces together and then fit them to the opening. Unfortunately, it came out a little warped. This side will be facing the back of the layout so I'm not going to mess with it.

FH 22


The second window repair was a front window. Here just one mullion had broken out. Of course in the act of fitting this one replacement, I broke another mullion and had to replace both. In this case, it came out square, although there's some excess CA to be shaped if I so desire. That's the problem with resin, you can't use plastic solvent cement to joint, you must use CA.

 FH 23


I then prepared and joined the tower to the engine house. To get a good fit I had to thin down the tower's wall thickness with a coarse sanding stick. I then clamped it to the main body and applied thin CA both inside and outside of the joint. In a few minutes it was solid.


Lastly, I turned to the roof. Again, there was a lot of man handling the model and fitting that needed doing and if it was painted it wouldn't have been good.


The roof pieces were made oversized and had to be coped into the tower and front overhang adjusted. The walls are neither dead flat nor perfectly square so the cuts had to be custom measured for both roof halves. I first trimmed them so the rear roof overhang was flush. Then I took a piece of 1/8" X 5/16" plastic stock and while holding it against the tower, drew the cutting lines on the roof halves. After cutting on the jig saw and final sanding, I was left with about a 1/8" overhang on the back side, which looked good. 


Les Lewis shows building an attic ceiling, additional pieces with the roof pitch and long purlins that support the roof. He cut a large hole in his so the lighting would be up in the attic, but since I using those flush mount LEDs I left mine solid. Before putting the attic together I had to mount side supports that would hold it all.


FH 24


Les used 1/8" styrene. I didn't have any sheet big enough so I made it out of a sturdy piece of 3/16" Masonite I had lying around. Again, the building is not dead on square so I had to custom fit and cut the final fits.


FH 25


The Masonite's nice and rigid so no additional bracing was necessary.


Onto this floor goes too more solid roof "trusses that had to match the end pieces in pitch and height.


My first attempt wasn't so hot so I remade it. The second still wasn't too good and was low on the back right slope. Instead of cutting another I just packed out the low spot with some balsa sheeting and then sanded it to match the contour of the resin part. The front piece came out dead on. I arranged these two pieces equidistant from the ends and marked their location on the attic floor. Here was the pieces lined up for a fitting.


FH 27


I didn't have much styrene bars lying around so I used 1/4" square for the purlins. I measured and notched one piece on the jig saw and used it as a template for the other one. After a little touch up sanding I glued all of this down to the attic floor. The attic is NOT glued to the model and probably won't be. By gluing the roof halves only to this inner assembly, the entire thing can be lifted off to get at the inside.


FH 28


I was now ready to tape the roof pieces together and do the final fitting for the front and back.


FH 29


The fit came out better than I expected.

 FH 30

The left half was glue to the trusses and purlins with Gorilla glue and I was able to clamp the purlins to the roof so the it cured well. 


FH 31


For applications like this I like Gorilla glue since it expands as it cures and fills any irregularities.


I let this cure for a couple of hours and then after dinner went down to check it and it was solid so I glued up the other side. To clamp this I had to get to the purlins from the ends, but it held. Again a couple of hours later I checked and I had a complete solid roof. Before gluing the roof in place, I did have to sand the top edge of the side walls to get them to conform to the roof pitch. I also had to sand the roof peak mating surfaces so they too would join neatly.


The results were very satisfying.


FH 32


Here's the entire roof removed to show how it hangs together.


FH 33


Lastly, here's that critical back edge fit.


FH 34


With the floors built and the roof fitted, I can now spray the primer and get ready for the burgundy brick-color coat. I will use sheet rock joint compound for the mortar lines after the paints dry. Unlike the chimney on my train station, where I used the water-based joint compound on water-based paint, here it will go over solvent-based Krylon.


The building is quite heavy. Resin is heavy and that chunk of Masonite doesn't help. But this is a good thing since it sits nice and flat on the baseplate.


Images (12)
  • FH 22
  • FH 23
  • FH 24
  • FH 25
  • FH 27
  • FH 28
  • FH 29
  • FH 30
  • FH 31
  • FH 32
  • FH 33
  • FH 34

While I am waiting for some glue to cure on a plastic roof, I am reading your Firehouse progress.  Size wise, its a significant building, but your layout demands significant fire protection!   As usual, your posts are very instructive, especially explaining how you solve problems that come up.  In my experience, just about everything involves problem solving, from planning a sequence strategy to figuring out a vision for a particular scene.  You do it so well.

Thank you! The building the model in my mind and playing various steps over and over is one of the great joys of the hobby, especially when it materializes into what you imagined. It's truly the joy of creating.


My grandsons both show this ability and are a pleasure to work and problem solve with. Grandson #2's cross bow project was the highest rated in the entire science department. While I helped a lot in some of the challenging construction steps, he designed it, researched it, wrote the entire report, tested it, and presented it. We worked the challenges together. It was as much fun for me as him.


Right now my biggest challenge is making the laser-cut drawing for the distillery. Just when I think it's ready to go, I go back and look at the 3D drawing and find something that I missed or misunderstood. Right now I'm in the process of revamping the intersections of the side pieces with the front, back and middle walls. It was a late pickup, but was critical and the model wouldn't have gone together properly had I not found it. One of the problems is some walls need bricks on their fronts AND backs. Laser cutting only works on one side, so I have to design thin overlays to put the bricks on the back side. This has greatly increased the parts count and complexity. Of course I had to pick a Victorian, brick, factory building. Why couldn't I have picked a clapboard one-room whistle stop station. Nope... not me. My first brass project was that substation.

Originally Posted by Trainman2001:

Thank you! The building the model in my mind and playing various steps over and over is one of the great joys of the hobby, especially when it materializes into what you imagined. It's truly the joy of creating.



I tried your methods, but I lack the imagination so critical to success.  So this was the result......


Seriously, that firehouse could withstand a nuclear blast.  Nicely done!



Last edited by brwebster


OP by Trainman: 

My first brass project was that substation.

............................... ............ ........ wow! I feel tiny in comparison reading that          


 Your story is reminiscent of my own grandfathers guidance. An Artisan byproduct of the twenties. Valve and gauge maker by trade. For fun, early Michigan racing(with Allison airplane engine in a Cord), boating, woodworking, a bakers son! mmm Fancy-Cakes, oil painting, scale- "professional" doll houses & some architects models, electronics, and a bit of Rube Goldberg-ing for fun. "Honey, look what I made" (she never new if he was serious cause it always worked, and with brass work & finished wood bases, so serious looking )

Also he was ship-in the bottle guy.

Neither I, nor my Lionel-Gramps could hold a finger to his modeling. Doing things with the end of a bunch of wires never looked like funNice! but bye-bye Gramps.

 His shop & garage were like opening a 3d popular mechanics, or popular science magazine. Gadgets bought and made everywhere. He held a few patents, a couple used in chroming. Thank him for better temp control getting better lasting finishes in automotive chrome. They still use the Accurate Instrument Gauges I think. 

 I was taking off door handles as soon as I could reach them.

The toolbox got a lock at home, so my Grandfathers shop on the next block, supplied my outlet for mechanical learning most days. (he lived miles away, mom&dad bought a house, seen while visiting his shop) I was watched over as he spoke, and I acted as his hands. I did everything myself, except final mill & metal lathe clamp torques that wouldn't do well being hit with a mallet to get the clamp tight. And this was pre-school, literally. (fractions confused me later, but not decimals. I knew those already)

 He had me "master" things by hand, then machine. Wood first, then brass, copper, iron, steel, aluminum. Then came heat & dry powder hardening/pickling. I was his grease monkey, automated drill press feed, and chaser of lost check valve balls & their springs at the shop. This kid was seldom beat in pinewood derbys. It was the best when you could see the losing car was actually adult built (cause the scout was afraid to touch it, looking up to see if it was ok. Real "owners" don't do that. The "it's my car!" attitude cant be faked

 Anyhow when I see or hear about a kid being taught in this fashion, it give me grins And, makes me a little jealous in a way

 Your obviously a "great" Grandpa, and "Thing #1 & Thing #2", they will likely thank you nearly daily for making time for instilling them with these great skills


Heck, I thank you for raising "builders" not more "store bought" children





I'm glad you found the journal also, but just don't replicate what I'm about to explain in today's post.


I finished the primary painting on the cars yesterday, which included a gloss coat in prep for the decals. I did the Santa Fe PS-2 covered hopper first. I went smoothly and came out looking quite spiffy.


CH Decals 6


I used Solva-set to settle the decals into the car's texture. The ATSF and the designation number are single decals that drop over the car ribs so you need it especially on that.


With the easy car out of the way, I tackled the Airslide hopper in BN livery. The problem was that I bought a set of decals for a 50' airslide (the only one Walther's listed). It doesn't quite fit the way it's supposed to. I started with the long fully written out "Burlington Northern" lettering. I didn't realize that it was all one decal connected in odd ways (not one sheet, but with either the top row or bottom connected to each other). In order to fit it to the ribbing on the 40' car I erroneously thought that I had to cut them apart. That began the troubles. I got the B and N in the first panel, and then I forgot how to spell. DOH! I put the two Rs next to the B forgetting the U and O. Microscale decals are quite thin. I tried to detach the Rs to move them over, but they got destroyed in the process. It also messed up the B and N in the first position. 


So I decided to scrap the full spelling and instead put the big BN logo centered in the car body. It's big! It's Bold! It's completely wrong!


CH Decals 1


Since you can never look at both sides of a railroad car at the same time, I decided to do the reverse side correctly.


CH Decals 2


This picture was taken before the decals had dried and settled in. That BN logo is huge and was not fun to position. I also had a problem with the top "T" in the name, but since i still had part of the aborted set from the other side I found a T and installed it thus saving that installation. Today, I touched up a few of the cracked portions of the big decal and prepared to shoot it will Dullcoat. So someday this car will be worth a fortune like those Lionel mistakes that end up being super collectors items. It could happen...


CH Decals 5


With both cars decade and flat coated it was time to start weathering. Before doing this I scraped all the paint off the tire treads first with the Facto and then a final cleaning with Acetone. I painted the centers and backs with a rusty brown and then remounted the trucks on the cars.


First weathering step was a dusting with the airbrush of some sand-colored Model tech paint. I shot it on the bottom and let the light overspray rise up the bottom of the car. I also dusted the roof to fade them a bit. I shot some light gray from the hatches and down the sides to start the process of making it look like these cars are carrying cement or flour or something like that.



CH Weather 1


Next came the weathering powders. I used rusty red, ruddy brown, grimy gray, grimy black and highlight white. I dirtied up the ends, added rust and other grime to the trucks, and played around with the roof.


CH Weather 3

CH Weather 2


I dry-brushed highlight silver onto the roof walks, ladders and grab irons. Painted the couplers rust, added some color accents around the air lines, and put the cars into service.


CH Comp 1


This next shot was done with the iPhone's flash. It accentuates the rust. It's not that bright.


CH Comp 3


And with that dear readers, this little side excursion into some brass scratch-building, kit-bashing is finished.


I also got a nice primer coat on the fire house yesterday, but today the weather was frightening and I worked inside. Do not pay attention to the sloppy shop. I promise I'll clean it up.


FH 35 Primered


Tomorrow, weather permitting, I shoot the color on the fire house. If not, I think I'll clean up the shop.


Images (10)
  • CH Decals 6
  • CH Decals 1
  • CH Decals 2
  • CH Decals 5
  • CH Weather 1
  • CH Weather 3
  • CH Weather 2
  • CH Comp 1
  • CH Comp 3
  • FH 35 Primered

Thanks Mark! It makes me want to accelerate the Kadee coupler mods on all the cars and weather more of them. 


Yesterday was another great spring day for painting outside. I got all set to use the Krylon maroon of the fire house and did a test spray on the cardboard that was coving our trash container that is my outside spray stand. It was horrible! Way too red! So it was put everything away and head to Michael's to return it. They gave me a full refund, no questions asked. I knew that Krylon didn't have the right color so I headed to The Home Depot next door and bought Rustoleum red lead-looking primer. The painting went smoothly and the results look right.


FH 36 Paint


The grouting will tone down the brightness a lot and add some more variation to the color.


I wanted to put some fascia trim on the roof front since the resin was not equal thickness. I made it a one-piece affair. But it didn't look right hanging out there all by itself so I decided to add fascia around the rest of the eaves. Again, since it resin, the styrene trim has to be held with CA. The fascia serves another hides any gaps between the roof and building fit, and there are some.


FH 38 Fascia Boards 2

FH 37 Fascia Boards 1The fascia's going to be painted the same color as the window trim. The main building is effectively complete except for add-ons (flag pole, chimney--also painted brick color--gutters and drain spouts. So I turned my attention to the interior. There could be lots of  work on the insides depending how crazy I want to get. The doors will be facing 90 degrees to the viewer so view will be limited. I'd like to put in a stairway to the 2nd floor, and maybe a pole. A station of this vintage would definitely have a pole.


First thing I had to do was box in the unsightly reinforcement "structural steel" parts. Bristol board did the trick held to the Plastruct with medium CA.


FH 39 Interior 1


I may leave the 2nd floor dark which would simplify things a bit. Today was our 47th Anniversary so no shop work and a great dinner out at a very authentic German restaurant. Tomorrow I'll get some work done, but will have to pick up folks at the airport mid-day, so the next good session will be Thursday.


Here's how it looks so far.


FH 40 Progress Shot


Roof is supposed to be slate so I'll give it a similar treatment as I did on the chocolate shop and the Victorian train station.


Images (5)
  • FH 36 Paint
  • FH 38 Fascia Boards 2
  • FH 37 Fascia Boards 1
  • FH 39 Interior 1
  • FH 40 Progress Shot

Missed posting yesterday, so there's a lot of pics. I completed all the grouting. 


Before tackling the grout I worked more on the interior. First I thought it would look good with some structural steel columns and beams holding up the second floor. 


FH 41 Girders


This didn't work! There simply wasn't enough surface area to really hold the beams since I put them on as an afterthought. Then I kept bumping them when painting the interior. Finally I bumped one off and decided that they had to go. I painted the upper floors all flat black since I'm going to black it out. You can see the hole for the fire pole. It will be supported on the top end in a simple block and a landing pad on the bottom. Since the upstairs won't be detailed I didn't have to build the upper works of the pole which can be pretty elaborate with brace railings surrounding the opening. The 2nd floor is a piece of foam core, the hole was cut with an Xacto lined with a piece of thin styrene and glued with thin CA. If I were to detail the second floor, it would have a kitchen, eating area, dormitory and bathrooms. This was modeled after a real structure in Conn., so all of that would fit in the building.


FH 42 2nd Flr


The interior is sort of sea foam green, some nice institutional, neutral color.

 Fh 43 1st Flr


I have to detail the walls since there a no doors showing on the inside matching those on the outside. The stairway to the 2nd floor will be hidden behind an angled wall with the fire pole in front.


Grouting, as mentioned, started with the tower. It was basically the same as a 1:1 scale tiling grout job. I'd smear the material on, liberally, then using various sized scrapers I cobbled out of sheet styrene, proceed to scrape of the excess. I then dry-wiped the bricks with a paper towel. Then it got annoying. I had to use dental tools to scrape excess out of all the various level changes. 


FH 45 Grout 2


After cleaning all the corners I took a lightly wetted rag and wiped it down again. While it still left a film, it was damped down nicely when I used the alcohol/India Ink wash. This little bit took over an hour and half.


Once the tower was done, the rest of the job went quickly, due both to the learning curve and big flat surfaces. I sped up the process by using a better selection of spreaders and laying on the first coat thicker so I could spread it over a larger area in one go. 



FH 46 Grout 3


Remember, at this time the windows and trim are not finish painted.


While it looks pretty good just grouted, it's just too fresh looking.


FH 47 Grout 4


And here's the building after two coats of alcohol/India Ink wash. I really wanted to damp down the whole deal and two coats did it. Notice, that I'm now putting the fire house on the front of the layout. It fits and gives me a better chance to detail the ground floor interior.

 FH 48 Wash 1


I think the brick looks much older and more natural with this level of wash. When the roof is finished, trim painted red, gutters and drain spouts in place, chimney (which reminds me, I have to grout that!), and the doors in place, plus the base plate finished, it will look very authentic. It's a shame that the beautiful Corgi fire trucks are 1:50 and all the other vehicles are 1:43 because they look so small. That's a big difference in scale when dealing with trucks. The Mercury convertible in front of the house is almost as long as the American LaFrance 1950s pumper.


FH 49 Wash 2

FH 50 Wash 3

Next time, I work on the interior and do the trim painting.


Images (9)
  • FH 41 Girders
  • FH 42 2nd Flr
  • FH 45 Grout 2
  • FH 46 Grout 3
  • FH 47 Grout 4
  • FH 50 Wash 3
  • FH 49 Wash 2
  • FH 48 Wash 1
  • Fh 43 1st Flr

Great work on the cars and the firehouse. I'de really like to see a close up of the brick after the alcohol wash.


Aside, my wife and I celebrate our 45th this August. congratulations on your 47th. Life really goes by pretty quick doesn't it? Sharing it with a great gal makes it all the better.


Ron H 

Thanks all!


To satisfy the requests:

Here's the material I used for mortar. Remember, it will dissolve water-based paint right off the model so if you're going to use it, first seal the surface with a non-water-based flat like Dull Coat or a solvent-based fixative.




For the second request, here are some closeups of the brick work with the wash.





The hardest places to remove the excess "grout" was in the corners of the recessed areas as seen above. I may try and go back and treat them with something, possibly some red-brown weathering powders. I haven't used any let and I want to dust the bottom section with some "mud" air brushed on to simulate the accumulated dirt splashed up by rainwater.



The wash did 2 really good things. It made the mortar look real, and it changed the brick color by toning down the orange and giving it a really nice old brick feel. Even without the windows being painted the building almost looks finished. I'm probably going to paint the window sills a concrete color. I'm also going to spend some quality time looking at brick buildings for the nuances like where any moss would grow, any streaking, how downspouts and brick interact.


Images (4)
  • IMG_3067
  • IMG_3066
  • IMG_3065
  • IMG_3064

AZ, thanks (Andre too), but it's not done yet. I still have plenty to do to screw it up.


It wasn't really a special deal. Les Lewis of Westport wanted to market it as a kit and made the first one from his styrene master, but it didn't come out like he wanted. Some of the problems I've had to contend with in the build (warping, varying wall thicknesses, etc.) were the specific reasons why he chose not to market it. I saw Les laying the individual styrene bricks at the '07 York show and said if was making a kit, I'd buy one. That was the deal.


I wanted to prime paint the drain spouts, gutters and other detail pieces including the doors. Unfortunately, I had to spend over two hours rebuilding the down spouts and gutters. Les was nice enough to construct out of brass gutters from Special Shapes U-channel plus soldered 3/32" brass tubing. Unfortunately, for the jog bends in the down spouts so they would hug close to the building, he simply butt-soldered the angled joints. All but one of them had broken in shipment. I didn't even realize this until I examined the parts closely today. I thought they were just separate pieces.


Butt soldering wasn't going to work so I made 1/16" brass plugs to provide more solder area. 


FH 55 downspout 1


This was the first one I tried. I quickly realized that I needed to bend the plug too. I did this by making a razor saw slice and using the saw kerf as enough space to make an angled bend. I tinned this bend and soldered it into the previously attached angle tube. I cut the plugs very short just to create a bit of a stub. It stabilized the joint and gave much more solder area.


Here's the completed joints. There are two joints in each jog.


FH 56 downspout 2


There were some gaps that I filled with CA before priming them. I said that three of four were broken in the box. Well I brought the brass upstairs fix'n to take it outside to paint it, and poof! the last joint gave way. Back to the shop to make another repair. I eventually did prime all the brass parts. The downspouts/gutters will be painted copper and then patina'd. 


I decided to start the detail painting on the main building while the primer dried. I'm using Model Tech's concrete gray which I really like. It's also water-based and benign so it doesn't have a problem with the Rust-o-leum primer red underneath. I have some new  Tru-Color paint, but it's acetone-based and would eat the primer.


FH 59 Window sills


I also painted the tower roof Nato Black and the parapet cap the concrete gray.


FH 58 tower roof


I'm not going to do much detailing of the interior doors. You really won't seen them. But if you do get a glimpse, I masked and painted the door's shape onto the interior wall.


FH 57 int doors


I need to make some kind of shelving/cubby system for the interior walls where the firemen's garb would be stored. I did get a hold of some fireman's outer wear in 1:48 and need a place to hang it all.


Next session I'll build the shelves and start on the roof detailing. I also need to make/buy hinges for the four front doors. Les provided no way to hand them. I could glue them in position, but I'd like them to be working.


Images (5)
  • FH 55 downspout 1
  • FH 56 downspout 2
  • FH 59 Window sills
  • FH 58 tower roof
  • FH 57 int doors

Lee, I used resistance. I'm almost using all the time now unless I'm doing electronic work.


The only problem I have with the American Beauty is that the tweezer points cross if you put a little too much pressure on them. When they cross, they spew the part out...somewhere. I keep bending them to ensure that they're centered, but there's a lot of side play in the system so you really can only use moderate pressure at best. I'm saying that because the tweezers had a hard time holding onto the tubing pieces that make up the downspout. The job was more frustrating than it seemed it should be. I don't know how Les Lewis was able to butt solder all those pieces together.


Actually, the smaller the pieces the more RSU shines.

Add Reply


OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Link copied to your clipboard.