N Scale On a Dime (or less)

Grey One Sep 9, 2010

  1. Chaya

    Chaya TrainBoard Supporter

    I pulled some building foam out of a dumpster some builders were using. It's off-white and about 2" thick, with paper glued on both sides. I cut off the paper, used a surfoam tool to finely grate it, and have been making large batches of scenicking foam. I dye the batches with craft store colors, which are very cheap, to make colors not otherwise available in the industry. (Sage, chamisa, pinon, one-seed juniper, Fremont cottonwood, New Mexican olive, and so on). Note: after the foam dries, I nearly always dye it one more time.

    I found a display in Home Depot of bits of blinds--the vertical kind for patio doors. The texture of the pieces is actually identical to N scale "coyote fencing," which I'm looking forward to building.

    I make terrain out of left-over chicken-wire and paper mache, which I make myself from newspapers, flour, and water. I use cheap plaster-of-paris instead of expensive modeler-type stuff, and I use generic white glue instead of "scenic glue."

    Wood for building layouts is an expensive proposition, but one could approach builders at any site under demolition. Old lumber from houses built 100 years ago is still probably better quality than the wood you can get these days in the store.

    One can also find wood in dumpsters. Many people tear down structures or build things and just throw away the wood. Try a dumpster by a furniture-making shop: these can be gold mines. If you see a pile of used lumber gathering weeds by someone's house, stop and ask if you can pick through it.

    I found 24-gauge wire was expensive to buy in rolls, and I needed a lot of it. So I began using telephone wire. Just remove the outer sleeve and start untwisting.

    I don't buy supplies from a major hobby retailer unless I have a 40% off coupon in hand--because the giant hobby box stores have already artificially inflated their prices 40% above suggested retail price. It's cheaper to go online, price-compare, and pay the shipping.
  2. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    And now here is an actual DIME project.

    At a garage sale, I found a toy log cabin with no roof, about HO scale or maybe large, the size of a long one room cabin. It was in the kind of soft squishy plastic that won't bend into sharp edged pieces WHEN (not it) kids break it. It was skewed out of shape. Twisted.

    I said it was about HO scale. I wanted it for an N scale building, but the window openings would have been about seven feet wide by seven feet tall in N scale, and 7 feet up from the floor, with the one-story structure about 16 feet high top the top of the walls (not the roof peak). Not well proportioned for N.

    But I cut off some from the bottom and cut off some from the top so that the seven foot wide windows started about 4 feet from the floor and went up near the top of a 9 foot wall, not too badly proportioned for a commercial building in a log cabin design. (Alright, you caught me. I cut down some commercial N window frames to insert in the openings.)
    I cut off, experimented with and lodged a stick inside from one bottom corner of the structure to the oppoisite top corner to straighten out the skew and hold it in place. Needed a cardboard baffle to hide the diagonal stick.
    Some scrap styrene made the sub roof. I cut up some aluminum foil into small squares and sprayed them with varying degrees of flat gray primer, flat black and a rusty red primer. Patched together the roof with deliberately unmatching pieces.
    This is a lumberjack cookhouse THEME restaurant in a logging town, after all.
    Drew up my own signs in Photoshop and printem them out.

    And it just cost a dime. For the original "kit." Or maybe it might to considered a ready-to-ruin model.
  3. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Really nice looking "kitbash" or whatever the term. I don't see many log structures. Nice looking addition on the rear, too. Is this "Lumberjack Cookhouse" a real place or fictitious? Thanks.
  4. Chaya

    Chaya TrainBoard Supporter

    Wow, Kenneth, that looks GREAT!!
  5. Taylor D729

    Taylor D729 TrainBoard Member

    another cheap trick i use is to go outside to your local pine tree and find the pine cones that have been gnawed on by squirrels. they look like little pine trees, cut up a metal coat hanger (if you can hunt one down these days) and spray them all a dark forest green. insert the coat hanger into a hole drilled in the bottom of your tree and into your layout it goes, they are all different size usually ranging from 1 inch to 2 and a half or 3 inches. heres a picture of them on my layout. (ill take some other photos some other time, this is an older photo before details were added.)
    here is a link to a few more, i have since changed the ground cover and the ballast in that area. red was an interesting choice probably not for the best. DSC03000 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! also here is a top view to show diameter and such. DSC02992 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

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