Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hot Potatoes

Sven, known around the region for his ability to grow potatoes larger than anybody else, has brought a fresh shipment to Johnson's Produce.  He's been working all day digging them up, he's hot, tired, and apparently angry.  Seems old man Johnson offered an insultingly low price for Sven's potatoes, and Sven's not happy.  As Johnson Junior watches, it looks like a fight's about to break out!  My money's on Sven...

Hill City, Population: 5

As of today, Hill City has a population - all five of 'em.

One fellow pitched in right away and started working on getting the produce warehouse stocked up.  Hey fella, I'd be careful, those shelves look kinda unstable, like somebody cobbled them together from basswood or something.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Say Potato, You Say...

Something has sprouted at the produce warehouse, it's no longer empty!

What you're looking at is my attempt to model sacks of potatoes.  Earlier this week, I purchased a vegetable stand kit (made by Busch), which included an assortment of scale vegetables, boxes, crates, and little plastic blobs that are supposed to be burlap sacks.  Unimpressed, I decided to try to make my own (mine's the one on the right):

The result was good enough that I decided to stick with it, and proceeded to make a dozen more, including one that has tipped over and spilled:

They're actually quite simple to make, all you need is some aluminum foil, a paper towel, white glue, and some brown and tan paint.  Start by cutting a piece of aluminum foil (the size shown worked best for my needs):

Using that piece of foil to form the basic shape of your potato sack:

Cover the foil ball with white glue:

Wrap in a small piece of paper towel:

Set aside (on wax paper) to dry:

After the glue has dried, trim the top off, and then paint.  For mine, I applied an initial coat of Railroad Tie Brown, followed by a light drybrushing of a tan craft paint.  That color combination produces a convincing "dirty burlap" look.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Harvest Time!

You simply can't beat today's weather for bringing in the harvest.  Clear, blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and warm temperatures make the work almost enjoyable.

Ok, so maybe I embellished a little.  The reality is that today brought four inches of heavy, wet, sloppy snow, and opened the door for a week of freezing temperatures.  Not exactly harvest weather.  I do, however, have a variety of vegetables in my possession, courtesy of the UPS man.  Sure, they're a little small, but they're exactly what I wanted.  Potatoes and onions and cabbage, oh my!  Throw in a few pumpkins for good measure, and I have just what I need to start stocking my produce warehouse.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Doorknobs And Cardboard

One of the last exterior details missing from the warehouse is the "man doors", the smaller hinged doors used for human entry and exit.  I've been waffling on just how I wanted to do these.  I finally settled on a simple combination of cardboard (from a cereal box), paper, and a small wire brad.  The result is simply perfect for what I wanted.

Chalk On A Hot Tin Roof

Today I reached a milestone on the produce warehouse - the roof is DONE, 100% finished.  In my previous post, I showed you how I made the corrugated tin panels which make up the roof surface.  Bright, shiny, aluminum foil pieces.  Pretty, but not exactly what you want for a realistic looking roof.  So, over the last couple of days, I've made it dirty, very dirty.

I started by drybrushing some streaks of Rust over the entire roof, followed by a dusting of a rust-colored chalk.  This photo shows one half dusted with the chalk, the other only has the drybrushing finished:

To me, this looks a little too red, so I darkened it considerably by adding a layer of brown and a layer of black chalk dust:

Much better!  A little more work, and the entire roof is done:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tin Roof Sunday

Wow, it's been almost two weeks since my last post.  During the first of those two weeks, I took a break from modeling to participate in a Polar Bear Plunge event to benefit the Special Olympics.  Raised a lot of money, had a lot of fun, and made a video commemorating the event.  If you're interested, it's on YouTube.

Work on the warehouse resumed on Sunday, with the focus on the tin roof.  It's been a busy week at work, but I managed to get the entire roof covered, and part of it weathered.

The key to making a convincing tin roof is a ribbon cable from a computer hard drive.

What does that have to do with a tin roof?  I'll show you.  We start with a piece of common aluminum foil, cut to the proper size for a scale piece of corrugated tin roofing.

That piece of foil is placed on the ribbon cable, aligned with the grooves in the cable.  By rubbing firmly with a fingertip, the foil picks up the impression of the grooves.

We now have a scaled down piece of tin roofing, ready to be placed onto the roof of our building.

Repeat about a million times, and we end up with something like this:

Notice in that last photo that there is a slight "patchwork" look to the roof.  Common aluminum foil, like that used in the kitchen, typically has one shiny side and one dull side.  To get this patchwork effect, I purposely placed some pieces with the shiny side up, totally at random.  It gives the appearance that some of the panels are newer than the others.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Perfect Paint Job

As I stated earlier, I wanted this building to look worn out.  In particular, I wanted the look of peeling paint.  At a recent NMRA division meeting, Bruce Monroe (Monroe Models) offered a tip for getting that look.  Starting with a stained surface (see my previous post), apply random patches of rubber cement to the surface.  After the cement has dried, paint the surface with the desired paint color.  After that paint has dried, gently rub the entire surface with a rubber pencil eraser.  The eraser will peel off the rubber cement (along with the paint that covers it), exposing the stained surface underneath.  Exactly what happens when the paint peels off of a real structure.

The results speak for themselves:

The "track" that the doors are attached to is a piece of L-shaped styrene, painted Grimy Black, then drybrushed with Rust. 

Instant Aging Cream

The ultimate "look" that I want for the produce warehouse is that of an aging, well-used structure that has been exposed to year after year of northern Minnesota weather.  Much like my house, I want to see peeling paint, warped and cracked boards, the dull gray of rot and age.  I've been experimenting for weeks with various blends of India ink and isopropyl alchohol, trying to find the right shade of "age" for the wood that I'm using.  I finally settled on one, and this morning, took the plunge and applied it to the produce warehouse.  It was truly an "Oh, WOW!" moment.  Even my wife offered up a compliment, something more than "Yes, that's nice dear".

Enough from me, I'll let the pictures do the talking....

When Is A Door Not A Door?

In this case, the answer is, when it's a pile of basswood strips waiting to be assembled.  As with everything else on this structure, I decided to build the doors from scratch.  Using the nifty chopping device that I bought earlier, I was able to quickly cut all of the pieces for the freight doors, each identical in size:

Assembling them was incredibly easy:

Within an hour, all five doors were assembled:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Built To Be Topless

From day one, my intent was to have a removable roof on the produce warehouse.  The "plan" is to be able to take off the roof and one of the end walls, exposing a fully detailed interior.  Over the past three evenings, I've finished the rafter assembly, putting the final touches on it tonight.  That assembly consists of 9 rafters, with four support beams linking them together.  Each rafter and beam are notched, allowing them to interlock together (permanently glued, of course).

This entire assembly is removable:

The whole thing sits flush on top of the warehouse walls.  The clapboard siding completely hides the "seam" where the end rafters meet the end walls.

Up next - the roof itself, also removable, which will sit on top of the rafter assembly.