Building scratch Structures 101

Southern Oregonian Jun 22, 2013

  1. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    My wife has decided that since I'm doing most of the work on another project she'd like to start building structures for our layout (that we don't have right now). She's done some small scale wood work and architecture before but would like some reference materials too. She picked up MR's 'Basic Structure Modeling' by Jeff Wilson. I think this stemmed from price shock over Walther's kits (and prefabs) and MP's quality. At some point I think she wants to build a few Queen Annes among other things. I will say that she is a much better kit painter then I am, at least by hand.

    Thanks for the help, J.P.
     
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  2. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

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    For a million and one (really!) authentic scale drawings and photos of structures:

    Library of Congress online.
    www.loc.gov
    then click "American Memory"

    Then select Architecture/Landscape... opens 9 collections.

    Then select "Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, 1933-Present"

    1933 refers to when they started measuring, drawing scale drawings and photographing buildings and works of engineering. The collection includes building BUILT before that date, maybe centuries before, and data collected SINCE that date.

    Once in collection, enter your search. I tried "coke oven" and got 109 items. The ones labelled "Built in America" usually include scale drawings, multiple photographs from different angles and explanatory text for each identified building or complex.

    "A million and one" may be a drastic understatement.
     
  3. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member In Memoriam

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    That's a great link, Ken. Thanks! :)
     
  4. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, that's nice. Thanks.​
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    A photo site such as Shorpy is probably too early a time, but there might be a few inspirations.
     
  6. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    J.P., from the way you titled this thread I assume that you are more-or-less looking for instructional material that might assist your wife to expand her skills level in scratchbuilding. If this is correct, I would advise that while the Kalmbach publications are OK at the introductory level there are certainly better instructional resources out there.

    Carstens Publications offers two books that are valuable in this area of modeling. The first is "Model Railroad Structures from A to Z" by Wayne Wesolowski (who is the uncontested dean of scratchbuilting). It is an excellent tutorial. The second, although current out-of-print at Carstens, is "Scratchbuilding for Model Railroaders" by Bob Walker. It is still likely to be found on eBay, or perhaps larger book stores/hobby shops.

    Also on to be found on eBay, or purchased directly from the maker, are a series of DVDs by FOS Scale Models, an outstanding laser kit manufacturer. Scott Mason offers equally valuable instructional DVDs on structure building and techniques for weathering and detailing as well. Both of these authors are dealing mainly with laser kit examples in their DVDs, but all their aopproaches, practices and tips are directly applicable to basic scratchbuilding and some are outstandingly clever.

    NYW&B
     
  7. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    NYW&B,
    Yep, that's what we are looking for. Our LHS told us that when we are ready, they'll order the materials and supplies, but she just needs to know what she needs first. She's rather adamant that she can build structures for less then the prefabs and kits.
     
  8. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    J.P.- Yep, you bet she'll be able to with a little instruction and practice. Below is a link to a photo of one of my scratchbuilds. Its and almost exact duplicate of a FSM kit that was selling secondhand for about $300 at the time. I scratchbuilt it for under $50.

    http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h182/CNJ831/BC001-1.jpg

    NYW&B
     
  9. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    That looks better then the kit's own photo. Right now she's practicing on a laser cut kit to get the hang of it before we rush out and buy materials. So far so good, but we're possibly moving (to where we don't know yet) so the layout is still on hold until I get a call from one of several possible jobs. I'm hoping for the dry part of Tillamook.
     
  10. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Introduce her to an inexpensive digital cutter (c. $200). While I'm using mine to cut N scale ships, others have crafted some pretty fine buildings.
     
  11. minesweeper

    minesweeper TrainBoard Member

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    Secured a copy of scratchbuilding on the ebay.
    Started to read: is really fascinating and the tips can actually help you even with the new materials of today.
    MANY THANKS for pointing that book out.
     
  12. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I started building wood models recently.

    I do some cheats in my model building. One of them is to take a blue print of my model and scale it to an actual scale rule. I print this out and then assemble my wall sections right on the blue print.

    Here is a link to a free printable N scale ruler. If you know how to use a graphics program you can layer it in an image and scale a drawing to this ruler so you can print it out at scale.

    https://www.printablerulers.net/preview/Hobbyist_N-scale

    [​IMG]

    My model building is fairly primitive, but it's fun. Sometimes I a a bit sloppy and other times when I am in the mood I can be fairly accurate.

    I just move ahead regardless and make stuff.

    The things I find most useful are sharp blades, a steel ruler, and a small triangle. Sand paper is handy too. Even emery boards make great tools.

    The thing I would advise is to be calm with cutting. Lots of light cuts with a steady hand holding the blade at a 90 degree angle work better than trying to be forceful. I learned the hard way what extra force does.

    [​IMG]

    I don't worry about details that people can't see. You can see how I cheat the windows by gluing to the paper. I then go back and cut out the windows.

    [​IMG]

    Building structures is pretty easy. It's just making boxes with holes for doors and windows. I find that making my own structure patterns is easier than assembling a kit because I just make up the instructions as I go. I tend to have trouble following rules.

    Scratch building is just something you have to do yourself to figure out where the little problems are. Like measuring and cutting and finding that you cut one blade width too small or too large... cut larger and sand down with some 300 grit sand paper.

    I use Bing search engine with the images tab to find all kinds of plans and have a small collection on my hard drive of future projects.

    https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=N+Scale+Structure+Drawings&FORM=IRIBIP

    I use some cheap elmers glue that is like rubber cement to assemble my models because it works on a variety of materials.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  13. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

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    tgboy, your ideas and mine are almost the same. I do draw my plans though. And some other things are different. Otherwise, you sound like me. The reason some things are different is that I model in 1/384, so called Omega Scale. Have fun. :)
     
    traingeekboy likes this.
  14. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I have my own plans for structures. I ran out of hard drive space on TB, so I mostly hang out in other places to talk scratch building.

    This is a plan for a small two story barn with a side shed and also a side roof. I only drew out 3 sides as I can fake the rest.

    I know a lot of modelers are obsessed with true to original detail models. I am fine with theatrical models than are only detailed where viewers can see them. I am a lazy model railroader. My train cars have zero underbody detail. If you can see the underbody, then you are picking up my model which is a no no, it sposed ta stay on the track!

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. gary60s

    gary60s TrainBoard Member

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    google "Sss index(Scratch sketch sets in N scale". I have made 138 sketch sets that include printable PDF templates for parts of each structure already done in N scale. If you rubber cement the templates to your material you can then cut them out and assemble. Each sketch set includes easy directions, some photos, and tips. All are FREE and you can see results by looking at "build threads".

    These sketch sets save a lot of time and many have built my structures from the easy plans.
     
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