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Trainman2001 posted:

Thanks Mark! Incidentally, I recently re-edited my first post in this Saga to reflect what's been going on for the past 5.5 years, if anyone is so inclined to read it… again.

Trainman2001:   So I noticed your message to Mark about re-editing the 1st post... 

I don't usually go back 50 pages and start reading a thread, but I am glad I did.   I am still in 2013, but it's great reading.   Love what you did with the GloorCraft Coaling tower,  I also built my own coal chutes out of Styrene, but never got back to install the chain hoists to operate them... I may be emailing you for a few close up photos, and pointers on the coaling tower chain hoist details, as well as the adjacent sandhouse .   

Great Job on this whole thread, I have stopped in from time to time, but never went back to the beginning.    Thanks,   Chris a

Thanks guys. I sometimes go back and read it since you lose just how much freaking work goes into creating something like this. If you haven't done so, Chris, you might want to look at the real beginning on the Track Planning and Layout Design forum where I start with an empty room, paint the walls, put Tyvek on the ceiling and get the platform built with track and power so I could run a train. The Scenery Forum starts at that point with the ballasting.

It starts here:

It began February, 2012. THAT'S ALMOST 7 YEARS! And I'm not done yet. I have a couple of years to go. That could scare a lot of prospective railroad builders away from the hobby. If you want "instant pudding" don't try and build a 39 foot railroad. If you're going to start a 10-year project, you better start now since if you're my age, the odds start stacking up against you that you will a) be healthy enough to do the bending and twisting necessary to wire it all up, or b) that you live long enough to see it's completion.

Where we used to live, the retired superintendent of schools was a craftsman who built live steam model locomotives. They too take years to complete and he admonished me to start as soon as I could since many widows sell off half-finished engines started by their dead husbands. 

But hey… enough gloom and doom. I'm still able to get underneath and wire stuff up.


I went back to the link of the Old Build Thread.  Looks like I made my first comment on 3-17-13.  There is no way of knowing how long I was following before commenting.  I joined the Forum on 6-21-12, so I found you pretty early on.  The part I remember best is when you were working on the rolling swing-out access and Clem gave you ideas on how he did his.  That is a great example of the value of this Forum from a technical point of view.  The other best value is all the friendships we make; and many time we will never meet face to face in this life.

Thanks Mark! It's very true that I receive as much as I give. Each major project has benefitted from input from the gang. Of all of them, the substation wouldn't even have been built at all like it did without lots of constructive input, even to getting the article published at all.

I follow a forum called RC It captures work from the best scale model flying RC aircraft in the world. It's truly international. I've been following Barry Dallwig's A1-H Skyraider for years. He's been building this masterpiece for over 11 years. It could be the most accurate flying model of this plane in 1:6 scale in the world. It even includes a remotely opening canopy. My point is, these places on the Internet gives us the opportunity to share with people we would have never even known existed let alone met. Like how I do it, many of the builders publish complete details of all aspects of the build, warts and all. It's where I learned how to do it. Barry, before he retired, was a fire-fighting helicopter pilot in California. He's glad he's retired. He's very instructive and shares all the wonderful techniques he uses. Good role model!

Myles, That is a great tribute to following Barry as a role model.  Sometimes the ugly is the most instructional.  How you recover from a mistake in modeling or design is huge!  The best of modelers will make mistakes or think of better ways of doing it while building or right after.  The ‘If I had it to do over again, I would.....”. Great role model indeed!

While waiting for some final stuff to dry on the Corsair I started working on the Bronx Bldg. I have to say, I did one really, really good thing, and one idiotic screw up. Par for the course.

First, let me describe the really good thing. 

The front right corner of the building needs to be a miter joint. And it's a miter of 1/4" MDF so it's a pretty thick piece to put an accurate 45° angle on it. I was looking longingly at a 4" belt/disk sander combo on sale at Harbor Freight, but never could pull the trigger. Then I was thinking about turning my portable belt sander upside down in my woodworking vice, but the table where the vise is mounted has and overhang that makes it a bit unstable and I would have to put some temporary legs to keep it from toppling forward.

Regardless, I needed a fixture to ensure a good angle. I made a fixture from scrap wood where I cut the angles on the Chop Saw and they were dead on. Incidentally, those side pieces are leftover L-girders that were originally constructed in the early 1990s when my son and I were attempting to build an n-Scale layout just before he was off to college. They were then incorporated into the railroad when I returned from Germany and before moving to Louisville. And here they are again doing something useful.

Bronx Miter Fixture

I needed to extend the to-be-mitered edge just the right amount. At first I set the fixture on a piece of MDF that same size and pushed the workpiece down until it touched the table surface, but when I tightened the clamp bolt, it lifted the fixture slightly and put the piece out a bit too far.

So instead, I marked the miter on the edges and aligned the marks with the fixture base and carefully clamped the block.

Bronx Miter Alignment

And instead of attempting to use the power sander where the fixture would be hanging out over the edge, I glued a piece of sandpaper to my ultra flat granite surface plate and just sanded it by hand.

Bronx Miter Shaping

And boy! Did it work. Took a little elbow grease, but created a dead-even miter right to the very edge.

Bronx Miter Complete

Now to the screw up (which I did recover from). I had checked the parts as soon as I got them last week and realized right away that the blank, big right wall was too long. When I reduced the building's length, I must have forgotten this piece or… maybe I reduced it by the wrong amount. Either way, it's my problem. The laser is dumb and just cuts what I drew, and clearly, I drew it wrongly. So I put the big wall next to the long window wall which is opposite and marked it for stock removal. And then I cut off the excess. These two walls are the same overall length to the tip of the mitered edge.

No big deal… right? Well…It was. That's because when I put all the pieces together temporarily, I find that I CUT THE WRONG FRICKING EDGE!!!! I cut the amount off the bottom! And now the wall was too long in length and way too short in height. It's almost a square wall, but not really AND there is a specific cut on the top front edge that sets up the angle for the Mansard roof., which I had not paid any attention. DOH!

So I had to get our my board stretcher. Man! It's sure easier to cut stuff off than to put stuff back!

I cut a piece of ply that was almost the same thickness. I don't have a circular saw, and to rip thin pieces on a chop saw is a great way to rip parts of your anatomy. So I cut the piece first on the scroll saw and then, using an edge sanding fixture that I built a long time ago to prepare balsa skins on the bomber, I sanded a true gluing edge.

I clamped the piece to some steel rules to have the outside flush, and then glued it with Aleen's followed by thin CA. Any gaps remaining will be filled and sanded and the patch will be invisible. Whew!

Bronx Board Stretcher Setup

The new height is again correct. Then I put the entire building together with clamps and angle blocks and got ready to mark off the actual amount to remove from the big wall. This image shows the actual overhang that needs removing.

Bronx Big Wall Length Error

So once again, my impatience is my downfall. Maybe not impatience. It just didn't register that I had the wall rotated 90 degrees when I was measuring for the excess. By using a miter at the front corner gives me perfect brick alignment and I don't need a cap strip to high the 1/4" MDF end grain. On the opposite front corner, the front wall overlaps the big side wall and that corner will get filled and made to look like a seamless joint. The back wall goes between the long front and big side wall and it too doesn't involve any brick work. The building's back and side are painted white and I'm assuming to be a cement layer. I've got some exposed brick on the back wall to add interest.

This image shows how the walls fit together.

Bronx Modified Assembly

BTW: Here's the Corsair one day from completion. I have to finish the prop, add the antenna wire, and put on the very delicate pitot tube. It was a wonderful model and Tamiya's engineering is stunning. If something doesn't fit perfectly, you've done something wrong. In addition to the engine wiring, I added hydraulic lines in the wing fold and landing gear well areas. The paint is Life Color acrylic, gloss coated for decal application, and then air brushed Tamiya clear flat. The finish came out very nice.

F4U-1A With Bomb 1

The color scheme is early 1943 when the plane wasn't being used on carriers since it had some landing difficulties (which were later corrected). It bounced too much and the pilots had a poor view forward due to the long nose. (Fuel tank is in front of the pilot). To rectify the visibility problem they raised the tail wheel 7 inches and raised the pilot's seat. Tamiya included the taller tail wheel for a different (later) version of this plane.

It's funny, but the F-35C also had similar teething troubles with bouncing on carrier landings and the hook not grabbing the line. Those problems, too, were fixed.

I don't weather my modeling excessively. I just added staining from exhaust and guns, plus some dirt around the landing gear. Corsairs were almost entirely spot welded so there's not much panel detail to add.

F4U-1A With Bomb 2

One more day of work on it and I'll be on Bronx full-time. There's roof filigree that is in the mail to me. Andre cut it over the weekend. Between the architectural details and the roof decor, this building's going to be very special.

Bronx Filigree



Images (10)
  • Bronx Miter Fixture
  • Bronx Miter Shaping
  • Bronx Miter Complete
  • Bronx Board Stretcher Setup
  • Bronx Big Wall Length Error
  • Bronx Modified Assembly
  • F4U-1A With Bomb 1
  • F4U-1A With Bomb 2
  • Bronx Miter Alignment
  • Bronx Filigree
Last edited by Trainman2001

It is one of my favorite aircraft of all time and I too, liked that show. I saw Robert Conrad in a lounge at some airport or another back in the late 80s.

Here's the plane which I completed this afternoon. If you're really interested, here's all the build pics in PhotoImage website, which BTW: is the easiest to use and fastest of all the photo sharing sites I've tried.

F4U-1A Final 5

Now back to the Bronx building. I made all the size changes that I've found (so far). Besides the big wall being too long, the 2nd floor was too long and too wide. I hadn't taken into consideration any of the 1/4" wall thicknesses. I then cut it too narrow by one wall thickness (don't have a clue how I blew that one), so I took a piece of my nice German tempered hard board and cut a correct one. BTW; that piece of German stock was used for the fascia boards that I had constructed when the layout was first built in Germany, but didn't get installed until the RR was back in the USA. I don't throw away any wood until it is absolutely unusable. Almost every scrap finds additional use.

I filled the board stretcher section of the big wall, sanded it once and gave it a second coat. I'll finish this up next week.

Bronx Big Wall Filled

After getting everything sized, I used a surface gauge and scribed the 2nd floor location on all four sides and glued on some stops that will hold this floor. I made sure I didn't put them into the corners incase I want to add some corner reinforcements.

Bronx Floor Brackets

Here's the "new" 2nd floor that I had to cut after I over-cut the laser cut one.

Bronx New 2nd Floor

To sand square edges, I mentioned yesterday that I have a tool that I made up to sand perfectly square edges on balsa wood that is butt-glued to make wing skins for large scale RC planes. Here it is. Eventually, you have to replace the sandpaper which is done by removing the clamp screws holding down the sanding fence. It's a 1 X 3 milled trim board screwed to a 1 X 6 base board. The sand paper is wrapped around the 1 X 3's edge and then it screwed down clamping the paper to a square edge. Depending on the grit you choose decides on how fast the stock is removed. I'm using a pretty fine paper. I need this tool since I'm making long cuts with a scroll saw. I keep thinking about getting a small circular saw just to facilitate doing more structure work.

Edge Sanding Tool

I have to decide on what base color I'm going to use for the brick work. I don't want it to look exactly the same as the distillery or Nighthawks, but I have to decide soon since I want to do the brick work before I glue the building together.

And… the "wrought iron" enhancement came from Andre today. They look terrific and will further add to the elegance of this structure. It's cut from laser board which gives great definition and is tough. Much tougher than wood at this gauge. I think I'm going to epoxy some fine brass rods to the tall details every so often to provide pins to affix this to the roof. I should have drawn long tabs on some of them so they could have been laser cut.

Bronx Filigree Laser Cut

I've sort of had a flash of introspection today. I realized that I really am an industrial designer and not an architect or engineer. I think of the finished product and draw it. And I draw it well. But… I don't define how it's all going to fit together. This detail is a perfect example of that. I drew the detail, but left off the means to hold it to the building. Same goes for the how the front window assembly is going to go onto the building. I have all the frames drawn and laser cut, but didn't provide a way to hold them to each other or the building. I'll have to do field mods to accomplish that. I originally went to Michigan State in 1963 to be an Industrial Designer, not an engineer or architect. So I guess I'm being true to myself. I wish I did more planning on the engineering side. It would save me some serious anxiety. I'm not even sure how I want the roof to fit. Should it go down inside the walls or sit on top of them. If it sits on top, it raises the height bit and may confuse how the cornice details are going to install. Get the picture??? When an industrial designer designs a car body, he/she really isn't so concerned about how it is to be made. There may be a feeling about it, but it's not detailed. That's up to the design engineers and then the manufacturing/production engineers to actually build it. That's me!



Images (6)
  • F4U-1A Final 5
  • Bronx Big Wall Filled
  • Bronx Floor Brackets
  • Bronx New 2nd Floor
  • Edge Sanding Tool
  • Bronx Filigree Laser Cut
Last edited by Trainman2001

If any of you watch CBS Sunday Morning, the segment on the Bronx Documentation Center and the two photo journalists killed in action, is the very building upon which my compressed version is based. There was a brief image of the building before restoration in the early 90s, and then all the rest were interior shots of the exhibition they're holding for the two men. Quite a coincidence wouldn't you say... 

I know how you feel, but WAB was just getting no worth the effort. It saves me 15 to 30 minutes a day since I don't have to resize the images. When I post on Fine Scale Modeling's site, I have to upload all the pics onto PostImage and then cut and paste the web address of the picture. And it's a pain in the butt, but I can then take the entire thread, pics and all, and cut and paste into WW2aircrafts website, so it's not an extra burden, and I don't have to resize the images into PostImage. I like WW2aircraft since it's a very international group and there's some great European and Australian modelers on it. WAB was the outlier requiring this 2mb and 5 images per post limit. The limit here is 100mb. That's more like it. So… with all that being said, I'm glad you're here to follow along!

Visit to LHS took some of my "work" time today, but I did do some stuff. I moved the Corsair to a lovely showcase at the hobby shop. Scale Reproductions has a lot of very fine models on display from some exceptional builders and I am pleased to among them. I bought some supplies including Tamiya Red Oxide Primer for the brick color. It's a lacquer and goes on easy and dries very fast.

For those of you looking for the December issue of Railroad Model Craftsman which contains the final episode of the Bernheim series, they had a mixup with their printer. Instead of receiving my copy of RMC, I got the December issue of Railfan. And my LHS didn't get their's either. I talked to them today and it's all worked out.

I also printed out some specific details from the SketchUp design for the cornices and corbel arrangements and the storefront. Which brings me to today's challenges. I don't know where my head was when I drew up the front and right hand walls and then had them cut. Everything about the store front window openings were wrong! The right side opening was way to low and the lower lip was too low also. The intermediate pieces that make up the lower sill were correct but there weren't enough of them. The main window opening on the front wall was too high.

So I had to cut here and pack out there which took most of the 2 hours that I was working. 

I did spray the red oxide, probably prematurely, since I then had to start gluing and hacking to change the shapes of those openings and the paint got a little banged up. I'll go back and do it again after the front two walls are joined. I built up the low places using various thicknesses of ply and basswood strips so the front and side wall sill and openings were exactly the same. I also finished filling the extended edge on the big back side wall. The repair will be totally invisible.

In this image, the walls are matched on their top sides and are in an upside down position. I'm not worried about the missing bricks on the lower portion since this is covered by the simulated etched tile facing. All the rest of these fixes will be hid by layers of paneling and cornices.

BB Fixing Window Opening

I also had to modify and add pieces to the lower sill pieces that will be affixed to the base board.

BB Corrections cont

I just went back and actually spent some time moving all the pieces around in CorelDraw to see why I blew the measurements so bad. There are more corrections coming based on that analysis. The doors and windows added together from left to right seem to extend out past the building's envelop. I will need to correct that. I may end up scratch building one or more of the front windows to get it all correct. If I need to I can remove a little stock from that brick edge of the left side, but I'd rather not.

For some reason, I thought that the lower sill on the right side wall needed to extend out past the building's corner. Now that I went back and looked more closely at the SketchUp drawing I find that this isn't correct either and I will trim it back to match the building corner above it.

So what happened? I neglected to build the model in CorelDraw. I did this with Nighthawks, which was not laser cut, but neglected to do so with this building. If I had done so by moving the pieces into contact with each other, I would have immediately seen that it wasn't adding up. Eventually, I will figure out how to do this BEFORE I spend $$$ getting it laser cut. Again, the laser is stupid and only does explicitly what I tell it to do.

Here's one of the detail images sitting on my workbench.

BB My Plans

Work will continue tomorrow getting it all correct.


Images (3)
  • BB Fixing Window Opening
  • BB Corrections cont
  • BB My Plans

I'm so glad it was so relaxing for you! 

We had lunch out with our daughter today so I didn't get to "work" until 3:00. I am still adjusting the lengths and widths of these _Y%@_ walls and floors. I am nonplused that I got so many of them wrong. I don't know what I was thinking. The big wall was still too long. All the floors and ceilings were wrong. Luckily they were long, not short. Nothing appears to have been short. But the changes were made and I was able to get the walls glued together.

I went back to SketchUp and spent more time working on the store front especially paying attention to how the windows will be fit together and learning more about the cornices. 

I glued the miter walls and the big walls as two separate items, and then after they were set, joined them together.

I have a picture frame clamp that I used for one edge, and the corner clamps for the other end when possible. The big walls are one story higher than the brick walls so the corner clamps can't be used for that joint. I also employed some machinists angle blocks and big Quickie Clamps to squeeze it all together.

This picture shows the clamping and the Quickie clamps. I too care to get the edges to coincide and when I pulled it from the clamps I added filler to that edge. I want that edge to disappear. You can see the completely filled lower edge that was finish sanded yesterday.

BB Big Walls Glue

The miter corner was held with a corner clamp on top and an angle block and small Quickie clamps.

BB Miter Wall Glue

All these joints have a bit of thin CA run down them to add to the strength and provide additional holding while the Titebond II glue sets up. It lets me unclamp sooner.

BB Miter Wall Glue 2

I put the four walls together again using various clamping schemes, and this is drying overnight. I think I would have had less tumult with the building in its original size. It was when I cut it down that I started losing control of the fits.

BB All Walls Glued

The difficulty with laser cutting bricks into MDF is the fragility at the extremes of the miter. You can see that some bricks have broken away. It's just a thin layer. I'm going to attempt to fill the gaps and re-scribe the mortar lines after the fix is made.



Images (4)
  • BB Big Walls Glue
  • BB Miter Wall Glue
  • BB Miter Wall Glue 2
  • BB All Walls Glued

Thank you for that fine comment!

Building came out of the clamps within about 2mm of perfectly square. The first floor plate fits a bit tight at the front, but works. I'm going to have to modify the big front windows. Based on my test fitting of the two front doors, the center window is about 1/8" wide. I may end up scratch-building a new window. I made a new little right hand front piece since the lower wall on right side was still protruding out past the building line. I cut it back (with a miter to complicate things a bit) made a new piece that mates with the miter and bends 90° back towards the doorway. The floor plate extends past the door to form a small step so the return piece needed to be 1 floor-plate-thickness shorter than the front wall.

I attempted to fill the broken brick work at the mitered corner and when dry, used a micro razor saw to re-scribe the mortar lines. I then shot it again with the Tamiya Red Oxide Primer.

BB Corner Repaint

I sanded and filled all the flush joints formed between the left side and back walls. I then filled these with Squadron and then Tamiya solvent-based model fillers. When dried I sanded them flush. Those joints will be very hard to see.

The slant portion of the blank walls has a step that should line up with the tops of the bricked walls. In the front left corner, the step was a bit high so I took a diamond file and leveled it. The one at the back right corner was a little bit low so I filled it with UV-cured (Bondic) resin and filed it level also.

BB Back Edge Trued

It's easiest to do the mortar application when the walls are as bare as possible, so it was time to do it NOW. I use drywall joint compound and have described this in several buildings before on this thread, but each time I do it I refine my process. I just smear a little pile on various parts of the wall, section at a time, and squeegee it off with, in this case, I piece of light ply that has a nice straight edge. I then go back and use a single-edged razor blade to scrape off the rest of the excess.

I force dry it with the hot air gun and then take a damp paper towel to wipe off the film that remains behind. I will probably do this again tomorrow after it dries some more. Instead of using an alcohol or other wash on the bricks, this time I'm going to seal it will matte lacquer. I don't want this building's brick aged too much. I want it to look like it was recently restored.

I started the mortaring with the little bit of exposed bricks that I had etched into the back wall. I wanted to test using the ply and razor combo to scrape it clean. I'm going to paint the blank walls an antique white.

BB Rear World Bricks

I then did the big side wall and finally the front wall. I do need to retouch the broken bricks that didn't get fully repaired.

BB Mortar Joints

I couldn't help but put that eyebrow over the window to again see how cool it looks. All that patch lumber over the window area gets completely covered up with some complex trim. These two pics show that pesky little extension that sticks out of the lower corner of the right side wall. It was that piece that needed to be cut back. Again, I'm not sure why I thought that had to protrude past the building line.

I wish I had the patience or steady hands to paint the inward facing bricks a dark purple color to make them stand out. I've seen this brick pattern when they use contrasting colors. It would be a pain-staking job and I should have done it before mortaring.

BB Front Mortar

Here's a detail shot of what that cornice work is going to look like.

BB Lower Cornice profile




Images (6)
  • BB Corner Repaint
  • BB Back Edge Trued
  • BB Rear World Bricks
  • BB Mortar Joints
  • BB Front Mortar
  • BB Lower Cornice profile

Thanks for the nice comments about the Corsair and the BB (Bronx Building). With the Corsair safely in the display case at the hobby shop, I won't be able to break it by picking it up all the time to look at it.

Short session today. I touched up the brick corners and, while they're fixed, they could be better. I put a coat of fixative to stabilize the paint and mortar in case I want to add additional weathering. Incidentally, looking more closely at the prototype, the brick work has a lot of variability. Almost anything goes. I then brush painted Apple Barrel antique white craft acrylics on the two non-brick sides. The corner seams are effectively invisible. The antique white gives a good stucco feel.

BB Back Wall Painted

The building lacks a back door. I think I may cut one in the back corner of the big blank wall which will be the place where the dumpster or trash containers will go.

BB Big Blank Wall PaintedBB Brick Corner TouchUp

I also have a hankering to design some 0'Scale kitchen appliances of the 1950s variety to have 3D printed by Rusty Stumps and populate the appliance store which I bought as a prebuilt building when Frank Miller broke up his railroad 10 years ago. I already have the flashing Zenith TV sign from Miller Engineering that I bought years ago at York.


Images (3)
  • BB  Back Wall Painted
  • BB Big Blank Wall Painted
  • BB Brick Corner TouchUp
Last edited by Trainman2001

Spent the session today fiddling with floors and the mansard pieces. Everything needed adjusting, but in the end I think I've got it where I want it. I forgot to have the upper roof cut so I made it out of 1/8" Masonite after I fit the front and side Mansard pieces to figure where the intersection points would be. My cut got a bit undersized, but it will not show and I'll be able to correct it moving one.

For the attic floor I needed some ledges to support it. I drew a line around the back two walls with the digital calipers and then moved that line down the thickness of the attic floor and scribed another line. It was this second line that the ledges were aligned with. I use Aleen's and then follow up with thin CA since it was difficult to clamp. I always have to check myself that I'm accounting for material thicknesses when putting stuff together. If you want the top edge aligned with something, you'd better put your glue line below that one material thickness. It's easy to forget.

BB Sub Roof Ledges

The attic floor was laser cut and needed some slight mods including changing the position of the opening for the tower. Again I had to ADD wood where it was missing. I'm getting good at this…too good! This piece now fits like a glove.

BB Sub Roof Fit

At first I thought the front Mansard was butting up to the left side and mounted a bracket to support it, one ply thickness behind the end. After fitting it, I realized that the Mansard sits in front of the slant roof edge and goes to the extreme left edge. So I popped that bracket off and found I no longer needed it since there's sufficient glue surface on the wall edge. Notice the angle I sanded onto the lower lugs that support the bottom Mansard edge. I set the belt sander table to the mansard angle and sanded the square stock so it gives good glue surface.

BB Lug Profiles

The side Mansard is a flimsy piece so I need lugs on the attic floor and lugs on the top edge to support the top roof. When it's glued together it will be very sound.

BB Lower Roof Mansard Lugs

To support the top roof again I needed ledges on the back two walls and lugs on the tops of the Mansard walls.

BB Side Mansard Roof lugs

The top roof fits okay, but there are gaps on the front and side. The building is slightly out of square. It only shows up when I'm trying to fit a square piece into it. I had to adjust and adjusted too far. If this fit was critical, I'd make a new piece, but it's all going to be covered with "tar paper" so if I use some scrap to fill any gaps, it will all be okay.

BB Upper Roof fitting

All of these parts are just sitting there since nothing can be glued in up top until interior details are addressed. I'm thinking of making the first floor an art gallery like the prototype is and I'm designing the partitions for the insides. I want to fit all that and the lighting before gluing anything together. I can make it so the first floor pushes up from the bottom, but the ceiling lighting needs to be done. Hmmmm…. I could make the base and the first floor ceiling push up from the bottom. It would remove the need for floor ledges. I would have to break them out or have the first floor ceiling 1/8" lower. In that way, I can finish up all the wall work on the upper floors. I want to put on the fish scale shingles BEFORE the walls are glue in since it would much easier doing that while they're flat.

As I've said before: With scratch-building a unique structure, there's no fancy instruction book. You're writing it as you go. I have to keep doing things in my mind to figure out what goes before what.



Images (6)
  • BB Sub Roof Fit
  • BB Lug Profiles
  • BB Lower Roof Mansard Lugs
  • BB Side Mansard Roof lugs
  • BB Sub Roof Ledges
  • BB Upper Roof fitting

"As I've said before: With scratch-building a unique structure, there's no fancy instruction book. You're writing it as you go. I have to keep doing things in my mind to figure out what goes before what."

So true.  You can't think of everything until you encounter it!  However, experience has given you the knowledge to hold back gluing until everything is in.  Just with the parts sitting there, we get a good feel for the bulk of the finished building!  Looks great!

Myles, I would like to digress a moment to the Bernheim Distillery articles.  I just finished the third article.  I missed the second, so I will have to look for a back issue.  Excellent work as I expected!

I would like to make a couple comments.  First, I appreciate what you wrote on page 35, "I quickly developed enormous respect for the kit makers out there...Anytime a part didn't fit, it was not the cutters fault; it was the designer's."  How true!  Perhaps we have gotten to the point of taking laser cut kits for granted to some extent.

Second, the last sentence on page 43, "Combining good modeling skills with the ability to design buildings makes for some great modeling fun!"  I think you did all RMC readers a great service showing how the design software tools can make for some great modeling.  Yet old tried and true tools, materials, and methods still come into use on this kind of modeling!

Congratulations of getting the articles published!!  Thank you!

Mark, believe it or not, I still haven't received either my subscription copy or the author's copies, so other than the original PDF sent to me back in the beginning of November, I haven't seen Part 3 in print. I did get paid, so I can't complain too much. Their printer accidentally sent the wrong magazines to the wrong subscribers. I got an unsolicited copy of Railfan, which is also a White River Productions mag. And I thank you for your thoughtful review. You get an "A" on you book report.

And thanks to all the other fellas that have commented recently. It definitely keeps me going.

My persistence (not patience) was in full display today when I made a new roof that would fit better. Of course I measured the length from the wrong point and this second attempt was about 3/8's too short. I added a chunk of Masonite with a  bit of lateral reinforcement with some thin ply and then cut it to the RIGHT length. I still needed a little added filler strip on the rear right corner so the side Mansard made full contact with the roof without any distortion. The roof forms a critical part of the support for both Mansard pieces.

And I finally figured out where the front Mansard roof piece actually goes. It took me three tries to get this right! The way I was previously going to glue it on put the front double-windowed gable way off center. It just wasn't right. I needed to move it right one wall thickness and then remove that same amount from its right end. I needed to add a filler piece on the left so that roof would lie flush all the way to the extremes. The arrow shows the added repair piece. Also, the oval windows now sort of line up with the windows below. I don't know why I had the hole cut in the sub-roof. It serves no purpose and I probably should fill it.

BB Front Mansard Fix

I explored the idea of loading the base and first floors from the bottom, but it really won't work for various reasons, so I to started constructing the interior since it has to go in before all the upper floors. It's going to be an art gallery and I'm probably going to plaster the walls with an eclectic mix of Edward Hopper paintings and PRR railroad art by Grif Teller. It's my gallery and I can put whatever art in it that I want.

I designed the partitions on SketchUp just to get an idea about fit. I made the aisle ways 5 scale feet wide. Each area will be illuminated. I made the partition height just a skoosh lower than the ceiling so they wouldn't interfere.

The let hand partition separates the stairway from the rest of the building. I'm making the left door access the 2nd floor. Unlike Nighthawks, this building does have enough room for inside stairs. I haven't provided any provision to get to the attic yet. I may or may not… depends on how I feel. If they're left as dark spaces, stairs are redundant. The front low wall is just sitting there for test. I still deciding whether or not to actually build a stair. I don't think I'm going to illuminate the 2nd floor.

BB Stair Partition

All the partitions are held together with thin and medium CA. I used the corner clamps to hold the pieces for gluing, trying to be careful not to glue the clamp to the work piece. I had a left over Tichy door which I inserted in a cutout on that end piece. This is a door to a rest room and access to the back door of the building which I'm going to add at the rear corner of the big blank wall. The big partition is glued down, but the others are not…yet. I want to paint them, add flooring, and put the pictures on the wall before gluing them down. I am NOT going to use that checkered floor that I used in Nighthawks. I had just realized that the same checkered pattern is in Nighthawks, Saulenas, and the Chocolate Shoppe. It's also the floor in the boiler plant. This building should have Parquet. I have some that I used in the Victorian Train Station.

BB Interior Wall Arrangement

I traced these walls on the ceiling so I could lay down the circuit pattern for the LED lighting. I then put the copper in place and cut the circuit gaps where the LEDs will be soldered. I'll do this tomorrow. The arrows show the circuit cuts. I wanted to limit the LEDs to 4 since I'm using a 12VDC source with a CL2N LED driver. Each LED drops 3 volts. The strip without the light is facing the big windows.

BB Lighting Circuit

Some other news: I wanted to get some small 1:48 major home appliances 3D printed by Rusty Stumps. I want to use them to populate an appliance store for the one building that I bought complete. I already have the neon Miller Engineering Zenith sign. I downloaded an array of appliances from the SketchUp 3D warehouse and sized them to 1:48 and sent them to Walt Gillespie. Well… the drawings were not done well and needed a lot of fixing before they could be printed. Walt uses a laser resin system which produces very fine high res output. After we got all the drawing fixed, he let me know what it was going to cost. A fortune! It was going to cost a fortune! The resin is $175 a liter and O'scale appliances are actually bigger than you think when you printing 30 of them. I ended up killing the deal and he's going to see if a friend can do them on a filament printer. I may check with Shapeways also. Then there's plan C: making them out of styrene by hand. I previously had downloaded and sized a bunch of Google-searched images that I could use as facings for handmade blocks and I might still do that.

Next: I'm putting the finishing touches on an article about Nighthawks. Like Bernheim, Nighthawks presented some new techniques and learnings so it could be a nice article.



Images (4)
  • BB Front Mansard Fix
  • BB Stair Partition
  • BB Interior Wall Arrangement
  • BB Lighting Circuit

I designed the painting for the art gallery. Then found out that our Canon Pixma MX870 Inkjet Printer no longer feels like printing yellow. So the images were basically unusable. I changed cartridges (although yellow was half full) and it was still not printing. Did a deep cleaning and no yellow. I'm left with two choices: pull the print head and attempt to clean it, or buy a new inkjet. Anyone have any good recommendations for a modestly priced, good-print-quality machine that can scan and fax (although I don't use either function very often)?

So… this meant that unless I find another approach to doing the interior, I'm hung up. I re-assessed putting the base and 2nd floor in from the bottom, and found that it would work. This frees me up to work on the entire top areas, windows, etc., and put the interior in bottom-up when I'm ready to do so. I removed the 2nd floor ledges since the 2nd floor will now be glued directly on top of the first floor walls.

I then got to work on the ceiling lighting. The steps to work with the surface mount LEDs are:

  1. Test each individually using a power source with the appropriate current limiting resistor on either the positive or negative lead. (the LED calculator shows the limiter on the negative side). You need to do this test since these tiny 3.3mm X 2.7mm packages are easy to kill and you need to know if the circuit doesn't work, that you did something on assembly and not that you had a bum LED in the first place.
  2. Tin the two opposing sides of each gap you cut in the copper foil. You can be a little generous here, but not too generous. 
  3. Mark which direction is + and -. Place the LED across the gap sitting on the solder with the narrow + side facing  the + end of the circuit and gently hold it there with the tip of a tweezers.
  4. While holding the LED in position, heat the foil adjacent to the LED and as soon as the tinning melts and the LED settles into it on that side, pull off the iron. Don't wait around! The LED will be destroyed with too much heat.
  5. Still providing some light pressure on the LED, heat the other side foil and do the same thing once the puddle melts.
  6. Using your test leads, put the + on one side of the LED foil and the - on the other and see if it lights. If it does, move on to the next LED.
  7. If it doesn't you killed it when soldering. De-solder it and get another one.

BB Lighting 4 Array

At the start of the circuit I soldered the CL2N3 LED driver chip. The first one worked for a bit and then stopped, so I got another one. This worked okay so I did wired in the power leads. I brought them up to the ceiling, through two holes, and then back down into the holes. You're looking at the ceiling upside down. 

This is the first driver I installed. Didn't like how I did it, so when I replaced it I didn't bring it through the holes, but did all the soldering on the ceiling's face. This part of the ceiling will be out of sight in the back of the windowless side of the building.

BB CL2N3 Driver

I assembled the walls and ceiling to see what the light level is. My first test had 4 LEDS in the array since I wasn't sure about driving 5 with a 12 VDC source.

BB Main Room 4 Lights

I didn't like that shadow cast by the mid-room partition so I cut one more gap and installed a 5th LED. It drove fine with the 12 Volts and eliminated the shadow.

BB Main Room Lights

Then the lights went out. When I tested each LED they all seemed to work, but not collectively. Then I noticed that LED #1 was intermittent. The solder joint underneath was not very good and it needed retouching. Then when I retested my lights were distinctly dimmer verging on yellow. What happened? I thought that maybe 12v was really NOT enough.

I went into my electrics box and found two 19 volt computer power supplies, one Apple and one HP. I cut off their ends and prepared them to drive my circuit. Remember: The CL2N3 driver doesn't care what the voltage is between 5 and 90, it just puts out 20ma to drive LEDs. The Apple power supply produced no voltage. I wonder if it's regulated in someway that it doesn't produce power unless the load is a computer battery. Any ideas?

The HP supply produced a steady 19.5 volts so I hooked it to the circuit which lit momentarily and then died. Again, I checked each LED and suspected that something happened to the driver so I replaced it. I also killed an LED when I accidentally connected my direct voltage lead to it and not the one protected with the 470 ohm resistor. So I replaced that one too.

I didn't want to use that heavy unit again so I went back to the 12v unit and guess what? All the lights were bright. I suspect that the poor solder joint was limiting the voltage in the circuit before.

Here's an upshot showing the lights all lit.

BB Main Room Lights Upshot

With the lighting working, I shot the walls with a coat of Tamiya Gray primer, masked the LEDs and sprayed that surface also, and then hand brushed three coats of antique white on the ceiling. It's now done and will wait for the rest of the interior to be finished including putting artwork on the walls and something on the floors. I might make the floors bare concrete with is used in lots of restored buildings like this one. There's a bit of electrical tape protecting the Driver and I put a small cable tie underneath as a strain relief. I also tie a know in the cable where it exits the floor to act as an additional strain relief.

BB Painted Ceiling

Depending on when I get the new printer will determine when the interior is finished. So I'll be working up top for a while. At the end of the week we're heading back East for the Holidays. And on Thursday, I have a stress test and echo cardiogram to get a better idea why this Afib is being so stubborn.



Images (6)
  • BB Lighting 4 Array
  • BB CL2N3 Driver
  • BB Main Room 4 Lights
  • BB Main Room Lights
  • BB Main Room Lights Upshot
  • BB Painted Ceiling

Got a new printer today. It's an HP Envy Photo Printer 7858. Costco had this $180 printer for $80. Couldn't resist. I bought a two-pack of the additional printer cartridges. Unlike Canon, where the print jets are part of the machine and you replace an ink reservoir, HP's nozzles are integral with the ink reservoir so you get new jets each time you replace the cartridge. That should solve the clogged jet problem that trashed my Canon printer. The cartridges are move expensive due to this added technology. Also, the color inks are all in the same cartridge, so when one color runs out, you've got to replace the entire cartridge. I looked at the Epson with its oversized ink reservoirs that you fill from a bottle of ink, but the printer, even though you save a fortune on ink cartridges, was 3X more expensive than comparable HPs. Furthermore; I really could imagine making one heck of a mess refilling with those bottles. I read a lot of reviews and some folks said it wasn't as convenient as Epson made it seem. The new printer has a fax and copier. The fax is a non-starter since we know longer have a land line to which to connect it. It was a snap to get installed and immediately found both of our laptops and I was printing with it in 10 minutes.

And I printed the artwork in full color. My first set of images was too big. The paintings came out to almost 6 scale feet wide in some cases. I could only get three on the biggest wall, and on the partition walls, one or none. You'll notice that I painted the walls a sort of yellow green pastel shade and mixed up some concrete color for the floor. The floor is no where near as dark as it's showing in the picture.

BB Big Art

I air brushed the walls and brush painted the floor since I didn't feel like masking and the concrete didn't need to be as smooth as the floors.

With the smaller art work, I think the wall looks more like a modest art gallery. I think I'll add a baseboard to clean up the wall/floor interface. I also prepared some graphics that I think I turn into decals to apply to the walls and store front. That wall is 11 scale feet high So the pictures are about eye level to an O'scale person.

BB Resized Art 2

Tomorrow is cardiac care day with my echo cardiogram and stress test to see about the Afib. Depending on how all that goes, I may or may not get into the shop. If I don't, that will be all the work until after New Years, since we're leaving on a holiday trip on Friday. And if I don't post, everyone have a safe, healthy and merry Christmas and New Years.




Images (2)
  • BB Big Art
  • BB Resized Art 2

Looks great as always, and I hope the tests goes well.  The stress test was my least favorite of them all, and I was running quite a bit when I had mine.  Hopefully they can get some solutions after the tests for the Afib.  My end result was an ablation, and its worked well for the last two years for me.  If you ever need to compare afib notes, get a hold of me.  

Thanks for the kind thoughts. The tests this morning went okay as far as I can tell. Instead of the treadmill, the nurse changed plans and did it chemically. My AFib pulse was randomly varying from 80 to 120 BPM, and she felt that it was not wise since they wouldn't be able to control the end point on the mill. The chemical method is just plain weird. It makes you feel very loopy, but it only lasts 4 minutes and then they shoot you with the antidote. I still feel out of sorts. I hope tomorrow I will feel normal. We're not leaving for Philly until Saturday. I asked if they found anything really bad what happens? They told if they saw something really bad, they take you upstairs and schedule and intervention. Since I was not taken upstairs I am assuming that nothing acute was found. But I won't hear the results for 4-5 days and that doesn't include the holidays. Patience...

When I got back, I finally ate and then rested a bit… and then I GOT TO WORK!

The interior of the gallery is as finished as it's going to get. I will still add some museum goers before I button it up. I created a decal for the graphics, and used a new product (for me) Testor's Decal Coating Spray. It was easier to use than the hand-brushed MicroScale Liquid Decal Film. I made two different sizes of graphics so I had a choice to use for the building.

BB Decal Sheet

The Woodbourne labels will be used in the front windows or on the exterior trim.

I sprayed part of the wall where the decal would go with some gloss clear to prepare the surface for the decal. I, of course, decided to touch it to see if it was dry. AND IT WASN'T, and I put a big ugly fingerprint on it. When I force dried it completely, I sanded the blemish, resprayed the yellow, force dried it again, and re-sprayed the clear. This time I was more judicious in the amount of coating I sprayed. 

It was time to cut out all the artwork, coated the back with a thin coating of Pressure Sensitive Adhesive and mounted them on the wall. I had previously marked the 4 scale feet from the floor as a reference line. 

After mounting the pictures, I placed the decal, and when dry, brush-coated it and the adjacent area with Tamiya Flat Clear to kill the shine and blend the decal in a bit. This picture was BEFORE the flat clear was applied.

BB Gallery Decal

I added some baseboard on the back wall and trimmed around the door. I held the trim with PSA and reinforced with CA. For the small pieces I used thick CA. I then glued the partition walls in place with some old Henkel polyurethane cement. I then plopped the ceiling on for this next series. Next session (tomorrow?) I will add the folks and then glue on the ceiling.

BB Gallery 1

BB Gallery 3

BB Gallery 2

I'll put it in the building tomorrow and take some pictures through the windows which will give a more realistic view.

I had thought we were getting on the road tomorrow. I was mistaken. We're leaving on Saturday, so tomorrow is another possible building day.


Images (5)
  • BB Decal Sheet
  • BB Gallery Decal
  • BB Gallery 1
  • BB Gallery 3
  • BB Gallery 2

Thanks Mark! I think you hit the nail on the head. I just finished writing up the article on Nighthawks. It's about the same length as Bernheim was. I haven't submitted it yet and RMC has already told me that, while, they'll print whatever I write, it won't be consecutive… got to give others a chance to get in line  But, what you're saying is what I'm feeling. Each project to be worthy of dissemination to others needs to be unique. It has to offer something that's not readily done by the modeling public. There are many, many articles on building sheds using clapboard siding, so to stand out, it has to be different. So… I've set the bar pretty high for myself. Bernheim dealt with design for laser cutting. Nighthawks has interpreting a work of art into a 3D model, dealing with conical turrets, curving a plexiglass window, etc. Bronx Building again, deals with more on laser cutting design, capturing details about an existing building using Google Earth, making a passable art gallery using images and frames downloaded from the Internet, plus more on working with complex Mansard 2nd Empire designs. So… what's next? I have two interesting ones in the wings.

1) Rick House (bourbon aging warehouse) under construction to go across the street from the distillery. Rick Houses with their skins on are just plain boring — a box with a peaked roof and lots of small windows — but under construction it's a labyrinth of different sizes and lengths of wooden beams. I have some good sources to create a realistic, albeit compressed version of one of the most elemental processes in the bourbon business. This would also give my great Grove heavy lift hydraulic crane something useful to do.

Rick House Construction Render

2) The 40" engine house. Again, engine houses are not unique, but building one with a scale replica of a 100 ton gantry crane inside might up the ante a bit. I really need to get cracking on this anyway since it's one of the barest places on the entire layout. It's been waiting for a long time for this structure. Also, I have the resources to do it with my publishing money. I'm limited with service decks inside due to the tight 3.5 C-to-C track spacing resulting from laddering Ross #4 switches.

3d Engine House Ver 5~ 2016-12-02 21054500000

Making long inspection pits is difficult with 3 rail track. I've seen using tensioned copper wire to make a barely visible conductor. My design includes the buttresses to support the gantry and it's associated girders.

 3d Engine House Ver 5~~ 2017-01-26 18172700000

So there you have it. First things first. Finish Bronx!


Images (3)
  • Rick House Construction Render
  • 3d Engine House Ver 5~ 2016-12-02 21054500000
  • 3d Engine House Ver 5~~ 2017-01-26 18172700000
Last edited by Trainman2001

They have to wait for two projects: I will finish the Bronx building and then I may be building another 1:32 aircraft (a Trumpeter F-105 Thunderchief) on commission. I kind of like do a structure then a complex plastic kit and then another structure and so on. It reduces any tendency for boredom.

I got the gallery populated today. I had a set of already painted Woodland Scenics folks that looked like gallery people and then I painted two more characters that were from a Preiser set. They're a tad weird and definitely European, but the man and child also made passable gallery goers. It took me well over an hour to paint them.

BB Gallery Populated 1

Should have taken the time to paint the white edges of the photos. Thought about it, but didn't do it. When they're inclosed in the building, the viewing angles are very restricted so you won't see much anyway. It's just giving the impression of an art gallery that I'm looking for.

BB Gallery Populated 2

I decided that instead of gluing the main floor into place and making removal impossible, I drilled and used some small brass screws (German) that hold it at four corners. I used thin CA to harden the screw holes and threads since MDF is notoriously bad at holding screws. I'll probably paint them brick color so they'll be less obvious.

BB Mechanical Floor Connection

I started assembly of the front supports for the windows by gluing them to the base plate only. I figure that I can't completely join the windows, base and main building together or I wouldn't be able to ever remove the interior. I can only make it removable (thus the screws) if I manage to keep them segregated. This will take more attention on my part, something of which I am often not so good at.

At this point I felt it was safe to actually glue the ceiling to the gallery walls, but not the building itself. So the entire gallery is removable as one piece. I used a heavy angle block as a gravity clamp while the Aleen's dried.

BB Ceiling Glued in Place

I removed the interior, hardened the screw holes, painted the remaining walls in the gallery the light green mixture, and then added a baseboard on the front wall that was 1 base-plate-distance off the bottom. I left the interior out of the building for the time being as I start working on the 1st and 2nd floor windows which are easier to install when you have unfettered access.

I sprayed the window frames while in the frets first with Tamiya gray primer rattle can and then with Tamiya flat white from the air brush.

Speaking of air brushes. Several months ago, I sprung for some inexpensive Chinese air brushes from a brand called Point Zero. The were very inexpensive, $33 for two brushes: a bottom feed double-acting brush with a glass bottle and siphon cap, and a double-acting top feed detail brush. While they seemed to be well made with all the parts that a Badger or Pasche would have, they weren't worth the money I paid for them!

The siphon feed brush sputtered and never sprayed properly. Both brushes use O-rings for seals in the various parts, and these rings ARE NOT COMPATIBLE WITH ACETONE! In order to do a deep cleaning with acrylics, which no matter how hard you try will build up inside in low pressure areas, you start with iso alcohol, but inevitably, you end up with acetone which dissolves the dried acrylic. And then it dissolves the O-rings and turns the air brush into junk. Meanwhile, I have a Badger 150 that I bought in 1973, that was rebuilt for free several years ago (Lifetime Guarantee), and works like a charm. Badger has one teflon ring that seals the needle that's impervious to any solvent. So I went to the LHS and bought a Badger 200 single-action, top feed detail gun that's made in the USA. You get what you pay for!

There's lots of extra windows since I I didn't change this fret too much when I compressed the building so I have some extras.

BB Painting Windows

So… that's the last post of 2018. I'll see y'all back here in 2019 for more exciting building fun. When I get back I'll be building windows, and then crafting all those wonderful architectural details and cornices. I'm looking forward to that part.

BTW: still haven't received my December RMC with Part 3 of my article and didn't receive December's author's copies either. Annoying! They had a real screwup with their printing contractor and it doesn't seem to be corrected yet.

Everyone have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!


Images (5)
  • BB Gallery Populated 1
  • BB Gallery Populated 2
  • BB Mechanical Floor Connection
  • BB Ceiling Glued in Place
  • BB Painting Windows

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