Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cupola Conquered!

Tonight I installed the window frames and window glass into the new cupola, and am finally pleased with the results!  It needs some touch-up painting, and a few rough edges cleaned up, but it's a vast improvement over the last attempt.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Confounded Cupola

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my failures to build a cupola for my caboose.  I've been trying since then to solve the problem.  I think I found the answer this weekend.

One of the problems I was facing was how to cut the window opening without splitting the scribed sheeting.  It seems that just sticking the knife blade into the wood, along the wood grain, will split it wide open.  Gerry Leone suggest that I try putting a piece of tape across the back of the wood piece before cutting.  This worked beautifully - I was able to cut out all eight window openings without a single split.

The second problem was with warping - the thin wood sheeting warps badly when painted, or even when glue is applied too heavily.  Even painting both sides didn't completely prevent warping, these pieces are just too small.  This time around, I added some 1/8"x1/8" bracing to the back side of each wall.  After painting the walls, inside and out, there was NO WARPING!

I still need to install the window frames and window glass, and paint the roof, but I finally have an acceptable cupola.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


This post is totally unrelated to model railroading, offers a peek into my juvenile sense of humor, and also calls attention to the fact that I'm nearing the 5,000 pageviews mark on this blog.  Sometime this weekend I should surpass that mark.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cupola Chaos

Did you hear that? That huge sigh of relief? That was me.  The caboose finally has a cupola, and the damned thing almost drove me over the edge.  This is actually the third cupola that I've built for this caboose.

With the first one, I cut out all of the pieces, and as I was cutting out the window openings, the walls split.  I tried gluing them back together, but once assembled, they looked terrible - misaligned, crooked, and warped.  I trashed that one and started over.

On the second cupola, I cut the walls and glued them together, THEN tried to cut out the window openings.  Again, problems with the wood splitting, and again, I glued them back together again.  This one didn't turn out too bad, but then I dropped it.  It didn't survive the fall.

For attempt number three, I again cut out the walls, and again tried to cut out the window openings before assembling the cupola.  This time, however, I cut the openings out in small chunks.  I only split one wall.  I quickly glued the roof on to add strength, and added some internal bracing.  Windows glass was installed next, along with the window frames.  The roof was given the same treatment as the caboose roof, with strips of aluminum foil glued on top.

With that accomplished, I proceeded to paint the "metal" roof of the caboose and the cupola.  For now, the cupola is not glued down.  I'm going to give the paint a couple of days to dry, then I'll sand some of it off to expose the metal underneath.  I'll glue the cupola down once that is done.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Squeezably Soft For My Caboose

With the four walls of the caboose assembled, it was time for the roof.  I hadn't yet decided what I was going to use for a roof, so I had some thinking to do.  After obtaining the necessary inspirational material, I began pondering the situation.

After a few minutes of deep thought, I found my answer.

My caboose needed a curved roof, and here I was, looking at a curved (round, in fact) piece of cardboard.  If you've ever tried to flatten a toilet paper (or paper towel) roll, you know that it's impossible.  The cardboard wants to return to it's curved state.  To me, it seemed like this would be easier than trying to curve a flat piece of cardboard.  This "pre-curved" cardboard would give me a nice smooth curve, and would naturally hold that shape.

I proceeded to cut a piece from the empty roll, and attached that piece to the top of the caboose.  After a little trimming, it fit perfectly!

The fit is perfect, but the look isn't quite right.  The prototype caboose that I'm modeling didn't have a smooth roof, it appears to have been built from several sections of sheet metal - there are visible seams in the photo that I'm working from.

To achieve that look, I turned to what is fast becoming a favorite modeling medium of mine - aluminum foil.  Using strips of foil, each 36 scale inches wide, I began covering the roof of the caboose.  The aluminum foil is readily held in place with CA.

Hopefully tomorrow I will find time to finish applying the foil strips, and then I can paint and weather the metal roof.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Does This Make My Caboose Look Square?

In a previous post, I made the remark that a caboose is nothing more than a box on wheels.  Today, that box began to take shape, as I finished constructed and attaching the two side walls and two end walls of the caboose.

Each end wall contains a door (constructed from cereal box cardboard, paper, and clear plastic):

Each window contains a "glass" pane, cut from a piece of clear plastic, with a piece of Scotch tape applied to obscure the view into the caboose.  Since there is no interior detail, I don't want a clear view to the inside.

Before the long weekend is over, I'll have the corner joints sanded and filled, the roof installed, and hopefully will have started on the cupola.