Wow, Dustin!!  That is a major metropolis you are building!  The airplane on the roof reminds me of an ice cream stand just south of Tionesta, Pennsylvania that we used to pass every summer growing up.  It was there a long time.  I wonder....  Nah, It couldn't be there 50+ years later!!!

Dustin, I am with Mark WOW! Your doing a great job on your city area! I also like the plane on top of the building, when I was growing up we had a hotel in town that had a Cessna on top of it! One night while having a party in the bar at the top of the hotel me and a couple buddies went up and took pictures next to it beofr security kicked us out ! LOL

Don't worry the roads will come in time, your doing a wonderful job, I always like to see your up date post, you do great work!

Thanks, guys!   ...though, I should probably come clean and let you know that the Cessna was just set on top of the building for safekeeping.  The plan is eventually have it swooping over the beach end of the layout.

Here's the downtown area with one more building added - the big tall building in the back (subject of another thread) is complete as of today.   I also got fire escapes completed on the two tall "brick" buildings & started work on a five story flatiron building (the blue one in the bottom center of the picture, shown in several pieces)




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Dustin, I really like your town and how its growing! I commented on the tall building in the other thread but I might as well say it here also! Just AMAZING! you should be very proud of yourself!

A little more progress on downtown...  I completed the 5-story flatiron building, adding full lighting, some exterior lights, and an interior.  The one is a cat adoption lounge (specializing in both new and used cats):




Here's where I *think* the building may be permanently situated:


I also finished the 8-story "OGR hotel" building.  This one is also fully lit & has an interior.  Since this picture was taken I've also added gutters and the first floor business interior.  More pics pending of the interior construction of this one & the additional details.   ...and I know what you are thinking and the answer is yes, that is a 70s-vintage avocado green refrigerator:


I thought this as a nice close-up of the window detail:


...and finally, I also added an American flag to the top of another building:


More progress photos coming soon... I have a couple additional buildings nearing completion & some others getting a refresh.


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Thanks again for the compliments, guys!

I've been working on finishing-up the "Hollywood Tower" as seen below.   This building started out as just a front, and I ended-up building it out into a full 3D building.

The only thing it's missing is a first floor tenant... not sure what I'm going to out in there, so I'm going to leave it blank until inspiration strikes...


The radio tower on the top is a Plasticville radio station tower w/flashing red light added.  "Hollywood" letters are something I picked-up at York a few years ago, while cut the black "Tower" letters out of cardstock.


Here's the full tower.  Lighting is a little uneven, but not terrible.  I actually kind of like how it varies by floor.


..and here is the building in its natural habitat.  I have a several other buildings pulled out for further work, so the downtown looks a little thin at the moment:


...and here's a preview of what I'm working on now.  No more 2D stickers for this York Hotel!


More to come soon!


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I'm still working on the York Hotel improvements noted above (among other things), but in the mean time I've finished a seven-story Ameritowne kitbash.   The lower 3 stories are mostly a building I found on ebay, while the upper 4 stories represent a small hoard of Ameritowne parts I had handy (including the remnants of a 6 story hotel).  The building is shown incomplete in some of the above photos.   I've had the main structure done for some time, but finally found the motivation to add the interior, lighting, wiring harness, and final details:


First, of course, was the 1st floor store and interior.   Each of our cats has a building dedicated to them on the layout which relates to their "claim to fame".   Star (aka the supervisor) is our resident puker, so she got the somewhat dubious honor of a carpet cleaning business.   All the interior details are printed paper, folder and positioned for a 3-D look.  Building number is the year we got her:


Here's the full building.   The lighted Gusteau's sign on the top is an exact match for the Gusteau's sign "downtown" on the AGHR layout - great movie, BTW.  The sign is just printed card stock, though it is mounted to a framework that includes miller engineering support frames.   Fire escapes are standard Tichy ones, and (this is kinda hard to see) there are also gutter downspouts on this side of the building made from Plastruct parts and some homemade components:


A few things to point out here... 

-The clock is, of course, lighted and makes the building a little more unique (its one of the "wehonest" ones - I'm a big wehonest fan). 

-I really like how people silhouettes add to the realism of the building as well.  I picked up those silhouette people at Red Caboose in Denver a while ago - one of my better purchases!   

-The window "shades" were cut using scrapbooking scissors to get the serrated shape

-I went with a wash for the mortar on this building...   in my experience, lightweight spackle seems to work best on smaller buildings or those with deep mortar lines, while washes are more efficient for the big buildings or those with shallow mortar (this building being both).


No fire escape or downspouts on this side... but it does provide a good shot of the lower roof deck.  Here I used medium grit sandpaper painted black.   This is BY FAR the best technique I've found for making a convincing roof surface.


This building started out as a product of scraps and chance ebay finds bashed together into something tall-ish doe downtown... but in the end it has become one of my favorites for its uniqueness.

More to come!  Several additional buildings, a UFO, and a kitbashed Zeppelin are in work!


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Just caught up on your last few posts. Great work Dustin. I like Star's store. We have a resident puker too


I know I'm late to this party, but better late than never. Dustin, this is one incredible layout in the making. Just browsing over it today from beginning to now, it is something else.

Dustin, that building is fantastic!  Many of the techniques are simple, but very effective!  The Tichey fire escape is wonderful, but I would think a bit difficult to build! 

Thanks again, guys, for all the compliments!   I really appreciate the encouragement and am glad that you're enjoying the progress!   I've got several small projects going right now (aside from the Zeppelin build in another thread) that I'll summarize here:

First is a UFO kit that I've had for a few years.   This thing has flashing lights and everything!   Almost done... then I need to find a spot to hang it.   I'm thinking it pretty much as to go over the trailer park:


Here's the 1st of 2 River Leaf buildings I'm finally putting together.   Not sure what the business will be yet (maybe a barber?)  so I'm leaving it blank for now, but will get the lights and door, etc. installed.  It's a neat little kit, that makes a neat little building you can squeeze anywhere:


Here's the 2nd of 2 River Leaf buildings in work.   It'll be the KACL station to match the radio tower on the mountain.   This is also a fantastic kit - probably one of my favorites for its unique and clever design:


How is it clever?   Well, aside from the art deco grooves, it comes with a neat way to mount small LEDs in the overhang.   There's built in holes in the bottom layer of the overhang, as well as a wire slot in the middle layer:


Look how these LEDs barely peek out.  Perfect!


Here is the overhand installed, as well as the upper window glass.   Next-up here is the rest of the wiring, interior, and roof details:


...and here's the underside of the York hotel.   Last step on this guy is to add an interior on the first floor (through the bottom shown here), as well as an LED modulator so I can tone down the Griswold-esque LEDs Menards put inside this thing.


You can see that on the front I've already added gold trim, replaced the flags with realistic ones & decorative mounts, removed the strangely casual/modern people, installed a 3D sign, and installed transparent glass behind the front doors.


This box will hold the first floor entrance diorama, and will be lighted by in independent set of LEDs:


Finally, I hadn't really planned on this... but I found a deal I couldn't refuse on a bunch of P-ville apartments.   This 12-story building will be in work soon.  I'm thinking through the best colors to paint it, how best to add glass/interiors, and how to handle the lighting of the inside:



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WOW Dustin, you sure have your plate full! I cant wait to see any or all of them find a home on your layout!

Any more details available about the York Hotel build? Thinking about picking one up but also would want to make some changes in the vein of those you've performed.

Dustin, you really have a lot going on.  That is nice how the Radio City building is designed for the LEDs and wiring.  I'm looking forward to seeing more progress when you have it.

Great update and progress; especially enjoy the photos and explanatory text.

5-Stars for editing the thread's title to include the date of the update.  THANKS!!!

Andrew B. posted:

Any more details available about the York Hotel build? Thinking about picking one up but also would want to make some changes in the vein of those you've performed.

Sure, happy to help:

1) The building is fairly bright, especially in terms of the exterior lights.   My concern is that it's so bright it could wash out a night scene, so I did two things.   First, I painted over the downward facing exterior LEDs with a translucent orange paint to dim them down.   Second, I put a PWM (aka PWM motor controller) in line between the power source and the building input to allow me to dial the brightness up and down.   Here's the result with "oranged out" exterior lights:

Max dimming on the PWM gives you this:


Medium dimming gives you this:


...and no dimming gives you this:


I like the medium look the best.   Here's a couple different examples of PWMs, which I found on ebay:



2) The cheap plastic flags were my least favorite part.   I removed them, covered over where they were with decorative square dowels, and re-drilled a hole for new flags.   These flag poles are made of thin brass rod (the same as you'd use for loco handrails) w/printed pics of a waving flag glued on each side:



3) On the interior, I removed the black backing and original "glass" for the front doors & replaced it with a new clear piece.  I also added my own separate/additional LED strip which has an independent power run.


This foamboard box will be inserted as shown and glued in place, once I've built the hotel lobby diorama inside.   It'll be lit from above via the LED strip I referenced above:


4) The hotel sign lettering is made of stick-on letters from Walmart.  I believe I used the "Varsity" design:


5) Gold trim added to the canopy is square dowels painted gold.   Be aware the canopy is not square, so you'll have to account for some error in how the trim sits if you add it.  This closeup looks significantly worse than it does from even a foot away.



6) The sign itself was sized to cover the remnants of the paper sign I peeled off... or attempted to peel off.   The original York sign doesn't let go easily, and leaves residue behind, so I would assume you'll need to cover up its original footprint with whatever replaces it.  The sign structure just made out of wood.  The "The" lettering was built in powerpoint and cut out with an xacto.


7) Finally, I removed the people (except the doorman)  and painted over where they were on the sidewalk with a dark-ish gray.  The people have pegs on the feet glued into holes, but can be pried out without too much trouble/damage using an xacto.



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Dimming down the lights looks better.  One vendor at the Monroeville Greenberg show today had several Menards buildings lit.  They seemed super bright even with the bright lights overhead.  The signs look good!

I'm gearing up to (finally) get these buildings wired-into the layout as I lock in the city design and build the street/sidewalks... but in the interim, I'm still working on tweaking the details and adding some more structures.

First, I thought this was cool.   My daughter is making a "giant inflatable arm waving tube man" for the train table using a straw and a nut.   She even used the bendy part of the straw at the base to make him pose-able.


Next, I'm working on super tall P-ville apartment building.   So far I've glued the building together in two-floor segments, painted the building, and started detailing the roof.  Next up is installing windows...  then doing the lights & interior.   I probably won't glue the six sections together until the building is almost all done given that it's so skinny.


Also under renovation is a Lional "Jim's 5 and 10" I got on ebay.   Busy detailing it out, turning it into a pizza place, and adding new lighting.  I replaced the first floor windows, and the visible windows on other floors, with transparent windows.   The upper floors have window shades, thanks to some neat window inserts I found.  Those first floor picture windows are a trick to replace given the (surprisingly) delicate construction of the front window area.  


Also, a couple Yorks ago, I bought some random parts that included incomplete OGR water towers.   I didn't have the main body of the tower tank, but did discover that the cardboard tube that comes with cinnamon roll dough (the part that holds the sugar glaze) is just the right size!  Several weeks and 24 cinnamon rolls later, I now have 2 towers almost complete and one under construction...

Under construction:


"Rusted steel plate" version, pending some weathering:


...and "wood" version, also pending some light weathering:


These more "scale" rooftop towers enabled me to retire a couple larger ones that are just too big for the buildings downtown.   The oversized ones now sit on the "shelf of shame", awaiting re-purposing or scrapping for parts.  I'll probably reclaim the ladders, use these in the rail yard, and/or give those to the kids for their HO set-up - depending on where they fit best.


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Last edited by frizzinbee

Dustin, looking good as things are coming along nicely! Its wonderful that you were able to get the water towers going with help for a cinnamon tube!

Ok, so I'm still working on the other projects - but I took a sharp left turn and decided to go do some scenery work on the other end of the layout.   My 'small picturesque town' opposite the big city needed some love, and seemed like just the thing to break-up the work on tall buildings and associated airships.  Here's what I was able to squeeze in over the last few days:

I started by painting the "bed" of my creek bed a darker blue/gray, then gluing some small rocks (chicken grit, actually) in place for a more convincing creek bed.   I then covered the whole thing with clear caulk & used a disposable fork to whip up some waves.  My ~4' creek took a whole tube of caulk:


Blending the new caulk in with the top of the existing waterfall:


My highly specialized water formation device (aka Chik-fil-A fork):


...and I think it came out ok.  Since this photo I tried adding a layer of EZ-water to fill in the gaps and such - that did NOT go well.  EZ water is waaaaaaaay too yellow when it goes on thick, but luckily it peeled right off the caulk once it cooled.  I filled in some of the gaps with additional rocks instead


Next, I took at look at each of the five houses/businesses and realized they will need a sidewalk.   In order to add the sidewalk seamlessly, I had to build an additional foundation for each.  Hole in the middle is for wiring, if/when needed.  The ruler in the foreground is the perfect sidewalk depth and width, and I stocked-up on a few of them for just this purpose - it will continue the stretches of sidewalk between buildings.


Ruler cut to fit between buildings.  So far so good.   If this method works well here I'll do the same in the city.  The baggy in the foreground has my street lamps, which I will add soon.


I also started building some of the benches for the town.   I picked-up these as kits a few years ago from Crescent Locomotive Works.   They are fantastic - if tricky to assemble.   I couldn't get them together, but my 9 yo had no problem as was happy to do it for me.  Here they are with the ends painted black:


Finally, I built a well-maintained trail from the little town to the waterfall - and put a couple accessories back in place to see how it would look so far:


Oh, and why the slow progress?   This is one of the reasons - the kids and I have been working hard on their HO table.   We finished-up the mountains up front, are getting ready to add the border (with slots for plexiglass), and are building ramps and walkways to the train depot:





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Last edited by frizzinbee

Dustin, I do not see any of these photographs.  I was able to see your photographs on the Zeppelin topic, so I am wondering if you can check this one out. 

@John H posted:

No pictures here, either.

Thanks for the heads up!   I removed and re-loaded all the pictures in my last post to see if that would fix the issue.   They are visible to me, so not sure what the problem could have been (or still is?)


Dustin, Love the little town with the creek! You did a wonderful job and sure looks like it would be a great place to live! You and the kids are doing a bang up job on the HO layout! I can see how both would keep you busy!

I have a little more progress to report on the layout build...

First, I've decided to go full Griswold and put in a pool!   Rather than a faux pool, I decided to re-work the Plasticville pool to add actual depth.   So far here's what happened:


I started with this... which isn't bad, but also isn't convincing & doesn't allow me to put anything "underwater"


I cut a hole the size of the pool in the table to the full depth of the foam, and lined it will tile-print paper.   Here's the test fit with regular paper to make the pattern:



After test fitting with regular paper, I re-did it with gloss sticker paper to give it a little sheen.   I also added the bottoms of the ladders, plus an LED (with some blue paint over the bulb) for light and color.  You can see behind the pool that this LED is powered by a "buried cable":


Piece of rippled plastic for the water's surface:


..and done!




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Dustin, great job on the pool! You know it is becoming that time of year again! But one has to ask, now that you have one for the layout, are you going to put one in the backyard for the kids?

Second, I've completed additional work on the small town itself - mostly to the tune of completing the sidewalks.

Here they are coated in "chalked" gray & appropriately scored:


...added a couple cracks in the sidewalk here:


...and here they are after dry brushing with Testors "aged concrete" sothey don't look quite so "freshly poured"



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@mike g. posted:

Dustin, great job on the pool! You know it is becoming that time of year again! But one has to ask, now that you have one for the layout, are you going to put one in the backyard for the kids?

LOL, I don't see a pool in our future - I'm pretty sure that would take up the whole backyard and I'm not willing to give up the green space.

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