Friday, May 25, 2012

Depot Do-Over

Remember the Atari 2600 video game console, and that nifty reset switch?  If a game didn't go the way you wanted it to, you simply hit that reset switch and started over.  If only somebody would invent a reset switch for model building.  I could sure use it right now.

Two weeks ago, during the TCD layout tour, I noticed that the walls on my depot had bowed considerably.  We had all of the doors and windows in the house open, and it was a bit humid that day, so I blamed that for the warpage.  I figure a few days with the A/C running, things would dry out and return to normal.  No such luck.  This is what the depot looks like right now:

She has curves in all the wrong places.  I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done to fix this, so I'm starting over.  Dave Jasper, one of the visitors to the layout, asked a very pointed question.  "Why are you building it this way, if the studs won't be visible anyway?"  Good question, and the only answer I had was "Just because". I don't have a good reason, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I sit here now, though, looking at several hours of effort wasted.

I've followed the work of Troels Kirk for a long time, and I find it fascinating what he can do with black matte board and paper.  I decided to give that a try.  I started by cutting my four main walls out of a piece of matte board.

Conveniently, the back side of the board is white.  On the back of each piece, I draw a grid identical to the stud design of the first model.  This made it easy to plot out the window and door openings.

It turns out that the matte board that I'm using is almost exactly 4 scale inches thick, or about the same thickness as the scale 2"x4" studs that I used in the first model.  The new walls won't be any different than the old ones in terms of thickness.

Using a brand new knife blade (the safest blade is a sharp blade), and the handy grids that I drew on the wall segments, I cut out all of the window and door openings.

A little bit of trusty Elmer's Glue, and the first two wall segments are joined together.

The best part?  It took less than 2 hours to get this far.  The first model, with the framed walls, took about a week of evenings to reach the point shown in that first photo.  I might have just found a new favorite construction technique!


  1. Tracy, pretty neat, it will be interesting to see how this turns out.  Thanks for taking in process shots so we can all share.    I am doing a little scenery do-over.  I had been debating the idea with some of the guys in the S Scale Workshop.  I guess Tom Lennon got tired of talking because he found Marilyn's sawsall and went to work.  Not quite a reset button either.

  2. Tracy, I enjoyed seeing your layout.  thanks for sharing this technique and process with us.  Model Railroading is about learning and often change.  I have been discussing a scenery change with the S Scale Workshop guys.  I guess Tom Lennon got tired of all the talk, he found Marilyn's Sawsall and went to work.  No more discussion, just some doing.

    Ken Zieska

  3. Interesting idea. I just discovered how to use foam core and colored masking tape to simulate skyscrappers. I will wait and see what you invent here. Maybe its the way to build real skyscrapers. I want to try the Fosey tower and First National Bank. Keep me posted. I may want to try and invite myself back to get a toutorial


  4. I've been looking for an excuse to buy a Sawsall, maybe this is a good reason?

  5. You don't need an invitation, just give me a couple days of warning, and you're more than welcome to come on over!