Skip to main content

I posted on last week's photo fun some quick progress shots of my new Altoona Model Works car shop that I am currently building. This will be a replacement for the one that has been on my layout for about 5 years now. It wasn't long after I had the original on the layout that I wished I opted for the extended version with the machine shop side extension. I will probably sell the original one at some point. 

I got the 32" single-ended version in 3 rail with the machine shop extension and the roll-up doors. I ordered the steam heat kit but this time around I did not order the lighting kit. His lighting kit is nice but I felt like building my own. The kit is nice and safely packed when it shows up:


I sometimes do things backwards. I probably should have primed the outer walls first but the pre-cut masks he sends along makes painting easy no matter what side you do first. I took advantage of some rare nice weather to bomb the walls with Rustoleum 2X Primer outside.


I did some initial mock-up to check some of the fit and plan for setting the machine shop walls. You have at least a couple options for setting them. The end walls for the main building are now urethane like the rest of the kit. My original had Hydrocal end walls.


At this point I decided to extend the concrete pad for the shop to give me a nice paved area for junk piles, etc. I doweled a new piece of 1/2" MDF to extend it to the full length of the building.


Here is the machine shop extension walls propped up for testing purposes. Not sure where that stack is going yet. You might be able to see some of the machine tool castings I have ready at the end of my bench:


Initial interior painting. It is Rustoleum 2X white primer and Tamiya Gray Green:


The brick is painted MM acrylic Oxide Red, two coats then sealed with Rustoleum Matte Clear. 'Clearing' the base brick color will keep the mortar efforts (water soluble light spackle) from dragging the brick color into the mortar. The concrete base seen standing against the wall was scribed with expansion joints and then cracks and spalls were added. I then bombed it with Rustoleum Camo Khaki which is my go-to concrete color. It covers well and takes washes and drybrushing quite nicely as it dries super flat. In this pic it has an initial black tube acrylic wash:


Before I could start gluing the walls to the base, I needed to add the rails to the base. AMW can cut the base for different types of track and mine was cut for Atlas rails. I couldn't stand the thought of wrecking brand new Atlas 40" track sections so I decided to experiment with soldering a bunch of scrap rails together to make some 33" long runs to embed in the base. I trimmed and squared a bunch of scrap rails and arranged the random-length pieces I had to make up rail sections a little longer than the length needed. I made a quick and dirty soldering jig to keep the rails butted up tight and used a 60W iron and plumber's flux to solder the sections together: 


The joints were really not too awful bad!


I did a bit more weathering and distressing after gluing the rails in. I use acrylic washes mostly using cheap tube acrylics. I airbrushed a stripe of Grimy Blacks along the rails. I experimented with making oil and grease spots along the rails. The floor drains and sewer caps are from Scale City and Berkshire Valley. 


I tend to like working fast when it comes time to assembly. I scuff sanded all the urethane surfaces that were to be glued. I used a combination of medium set thick CA and E6000/Goop to set the walls. Bob does a nice job keeping all his parts square so there is minimal adjusting at this stage. I set the end wall first and made sure it landed where it needed to be since it would be the reference for the rest of the assembly. The idea of using CA and Goop in combo is that I can 'zap' the CA with accelerator once I have a wall set and rely on the CA holding it as the Goop (or E6000) cures. This structure is pretty square and sound and didn't need any mechanical assistance for the joints. Sometimes I will drill through joints and set a brass rod dipped in CA and trimmed if I think it needs it. I will do it for the trusses I need to set later.


If you noticed, I mortared all the brick face before assembling. I like to bomb a little clear matte spray over every step in brick painting. I shoot the base color on, clear it, do the mortar with cheap lightweight water-based spackle, shoot clear over everything again, do touch-up and highlights, etc., clear it once more then move onto final washes, etc. 

Here's the initial setup of the machine shop walls. I set them up the way he shows in his instructions with only 4 windows plugged. You have the option of setting it so 5 windows are covered. I had to trim the walls a bit during fit-up for this arrangement.


Here's a peek into the machine shop extension after initial painting:



A quick shot of the roll-up door castings. I didn't want to do the wooden doors on this one. 



Images (16)
  • IMG_1134
  • IMG_1184
  • IMG_1185
  • IMG_1186
  • IMG_1189
  • IMG_1191
  • IMG_1192
  • IMG_1194
  • IMG_1195
  • IMG_1196
  • IMG_1198
  • IMG_1200
  • IMG_1202
  • IMG_1204
  • IMG_1206
  • IMG_1214
Last edited by Norm Charbonneau
Original Post

Lookin good Norm. I’m not big on detailing inside buildings unless it can be seen. With the roll up doors and the large windows in the machine shop. This will certainly be seen. You can spend a small fortune on all the little details and machines inside the shop. It’s all worth it though. It’s the detailing like this that sets your layout at the top of the bar.

 Can’t wait to see it finished and on the layout.

Here is my lighting progress so far. The light bars are made from round and square brass tube soldered together. The lampshades are the Scale City 22" ones. The eBay LEDs are 0805 SMDs in warm white with the leads and dropping resistors pre-wired. 


These are hung from the trusses:


I like to run buss bar for my structure lighting. Here is some 1/32" brass rod with some 1/16" brass tube to couple them together. I scuffed up the brass rod with some Scotchbrite to prep them for soldering the leads to. These trusses were CA'ed into place then pinned through using the method I described above.


I am undecided on how I will dress the wiring but I will most likely spray everything flat black and tuck the wiring up into the skylights. I may or may not add some more lights to the main section. Right now I have 8 total. Current car shop only has 6 and it looks OK.



Here's the little eBay power supply I will use. This one is being used by my machine shop that I just finished. It is adjustable from 1.2VDC to something way higher than I need using AC input power. I may use two, one for the main building and one for the machine shop extension so I can adjust the lighting for each section independently. 



Images (6)
  • IMG_1213
  • IMG_1215
  • IMG_1218
  • IMG_1220
  • IMG_1221
  • IMG_1162
@Dave_C posted:

Lookin good Norm. I’m not big on detailing inside buildings unless it can be seen. With the roll up doors and the large windows in the machine shop. This will certainly be seen. You can spend a small fortune on all the little details and machines inside the shop. It’s all worth it though. It’s the detailing like this that sets your layout at the top of the bar.

 Can’t wait to see it finished and on the layout.

Thanks Dave! I'm sure you know but I've always been inspired by your layout efforts! I have been getting into lighting and interiors on certain buildings if I feel it will add something interesting. With these small LEDs and cheap adjustable power supplies being so readily available, the lighting effects can be scaled correctly. I always hated seeing a nice building on a layout lit by the equivalent of a 5000W 12" long light bulb! 

I am still trying to figure out how to make nice outdoor lamps. The 1/16" tubing I use for these hanging fixtures are 3" scale conduits! Not so noticeable for this kind of setup but would look too awkward on an outdoor fixture. I am hunting for thinner tubing and I think I may have found some from McMaster Carr.

I figured out a way to make mostly proper looking LED gooseneck light fixtures with the classic pressed metal shades. I found some 1mm brass tube at P&D today which was key to making the conduit. The 1/16” stuff I had on hand was too thick to look right. Even though the 1mm is still a bit thick, I think this looks a little better than the pre made stuff I’ve seen from Woodland Scenics, etc. 



Images (2)
  • 6C5EEFFC-E418-4EF8-9659-557859D1CA6E
  • F705479A-0B54-4AE1-B2D6-29D195755ADC

Norm, your layout is prodigious. Great job. You are an inspiration, but more than that, you’re an artist. It’s hard to believe you take the time to share the steps and sources for your work. So this makes you a teacher as well. I am challenged and encouraged to reach higher, and to stick with it. My bench time in the hobby is more satisfying because you and many like you take the time and effort to bring novices along. Thank you.

Ladies and Gents, this is the mind of a great modeler who has the skills set of many different areas. Take note, because though there are others who do it, this one affords us the ability to see it for free and even ask questions. 

Norm, I can't say anything that hasn't already been said. All I can say is thanks for sharing your artistry with all of us. One question, where do you get the brass tubing you use to attach your leads to?


Last edited by luvindemtrains

I played around with my outdoor goosenecks some more, trying to come up with a repeatable process for cobbling them together. I found I had to feed the leads through the tubing before bending it. Scraping the insulation down a bit helped. I run one lead through then feed the second one in. After a bit, I could sort of coax the tubing over the leads. I don’t think I could use thinner tube unless I could devise a way to solder one side of the LED to the tube and have it act as another conductor. After the leads are through I bend the loop in my goofy bending fixture I made with garbage laying around my workbench. I made 7 so far, only need 5 so I have a couple spares.7D23F6EE-6AE8-4B0B-8E6E-015537F814DBEE65AA05-2D6C-4C14-8E10-54E34E290D83image


Images (3)
  • 7D23F6EE-6AE8-4B0B-8E6E-015537F814DB
  • EE65AA05-2D6C-4C14-8E10-54E34E290D83
  • image

Thanks a  lot Alan, but I'm more of a hacker than anything. Making your own stuff seems to mostly consist of grinding, gouging, slashing and making a mess until something looks OK. 

I gave myself the day off yesterday but did research more options for dinking with these SMD LEDs. I found some 0402 and 0603 sized ones pre-wired with magnet wire leads that looked a bit more promising for feeding through small tubing. The other option is to buy a roll of 40AWG magnet wire and solder the LEDs myself. Now I'm hunting for a nice vintage Dazor magnifying lamp. 

Thx p51. I haven’t worked on this in a couple months. The weather changed along with some relief from the covid lockdowns and I have been very busy with work. 

Joe, I snipped off the resistors to feed the leads through the tubing. They were then soldered to the brass ‘conduits’ that are part of the lighting assemblies.

I am actually going to redo some of the lighting to clean it up a bit when I can get myself back in the shop. I ordered some surface mount resistors to solder to the rails which should look a little cleaner. I also got some 40awg magnet wire to use for leads so I can make better conduits. 



Last edited by Norm Charbonneau

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.