To super detail or not

Trashman Nov 1, 2015

  1. Trashman

    Trashman TrainBoard Member


    Looking at HO models I have to admit I'm a fan of all the details that come on the models. From locomotives to freight cars they are so many details that already come on the model and many more you can add. Thanks to BLMA models and other companies we can add details to our N scale models. Given that my eyes are over 40 and not as sharp as they use to be. And my patience is mildly short LOL. How many N scalers super detail their models?

    In the past I have attempted to add rear view mirrors to a model, successful I might add. I have added added BLMA fans to a model and was amazed at how the locomotive looked. I would like to try my hand at freight uncoupling levers but I have to body mount the couplers.

    What details have you added in the N scale scheme of things?

    Peace be with you,

    dperkinssr likes this.
  2. gatrhumpy

    gatrhumpy TrainBoard Member

    I super-detail my steam and diesel locomotives. They turned out great.
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I add a few minimal details. Where appropriate, such as train line air hose, winterization hatch, spark arrestor, all weather windows, correct horn. But I rarely ever get beyond these.
  4. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

    An optivisor and you will do fine. Add away, you will be glad.
  5. subwayaz

    subwayaz TrainBoard Member

    I Super Detail a few of my Locos and Rollingstock in N Scale. Practice makes perfect. Sunshades, Mu Hoses, Brake Lines Fan Covers, Horns, and Antennas.
  6. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

    Although it takes more patience for us more senior guys and gals the payoff is worth it in my opinion. N scale details are more noticeable if the layout is elbow to eye level, but the real payoff is in photos that come from many angles. I have partially detailed a couple locos and the little I added sure made a big difference for me.

    N scale super detailing is worth the effort.
  7. glennac

    glennac TrainBoard Member

    As someone who still works full time and must care for other duties, I'm a Ready-to-Run guy myself. Unfortunately, having had to move four times in eight years, and losing the space I once had for a layout, I've become quite happy with the amazing detail that modern N-Scale already provides.

    And like others, I'm getting to the point where such extra detail would be lost to poor eyesight. So no detailing here.
    NorsemanJack and mtntrainman like this.
  8. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    I super detail all my N Scale engines. It really makes them look more like models and less like toys. The time invested is nothing compared to the satisfaction you get in return.
    If you are wondering which details you want to try, pick up a copy of N Scale Railroading. There are many good articles on detailing there.
  9. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

    Great work on the above locomotives. I love to detail not only locomotives, but love to detail towns and industries and put in a lot of "mini scenes" throughout my layout. I am in HO scale abandoning N scale over 30 years ago because of the quality of the locomotives back then.

    I have a hard enough time working in HO scale and can really appreciate all of the work that goes into detaining N scale locomotives and layout, but without an optivisor, I would have a hard time seeing all of the fine work. There is a local group of N scalers who have a modular layout the put on display in various locations, such as a mall or library which I have see a few times. I can't believe that I actually worked on something that small.

    I especially like those Milwaukee Road units. Well done.
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Including at least one quite recently, of yours. :)
    jpwisc likes this.
  11. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    I guess that by most standards I superdetail mine. It really starts more from a fussiness on color and paint scheme and works out from there. The ability to take close-up photos has changed what I consider to be worthwhile for stuff you can barely see firsthand, it sure shows up there. I don't have what I'd really consider to be a huge roster, the layout is generally finished, so I can afford to spend some time in raising the bar on rolling stock in general over time.

    The big thing I do, across the board, is junk the plastic handrails and replace them with metal - usually wire. That does more for overall appearance than anything else I've found. Beyond that, I like to do the usual ATSF stuff, visors, plows, etc., and 'front end' details like MU cables, hoses. On cab units, replacing the plastic body steps with etched is a winner and has become standard. On a 'lead unit' it will get a Richmond Controls lighting package; headlight, strobe, engineer, and probably a Z coupler on the front.

    I've done lift rings and windshield wipers to a few. I haven't done speedometer cables. I've now become a believer on BLMA grabs after using them. I am a real stickler on paint, color, and weathering, if I obsess on anything, that's it rather than whether or not the door latches or exhaust stack is of the right body phase.

    One thing I really like about metal handrails is the ability to both take a beating and hold paint. Intermountain, in particular, seems to be a collection of parts just waiting to break and fall off as they are lightly ACC'd on. That level of sheddable detail is where I draw the line.


    The first guy I ever saw superdetail an N locomotive was Tom Hoover; met him early, and life was never quite the same after that. My good N buddy and I visited his home layout, and the term "Hooverized" (meaning, plows, wire handrails, wire grabs, MU cables) came into our lingo, collectively.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  12. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    I do a little detailing when I want a special car that "tells a story." F'rinstance, I had some Linde decals for a "box-tank" (enclosed tank for industrial gases in boxcar body). Used them on a plain old Trix boxcar shell. Put a little piece on the end representing the door to access -, to access - ? Well I don't know what, but the prototype pictures showed it. And boxcar had plain straight side-sill. Sides, ends and roof lifted off as unit for maintenance, so car body attached to underframe in non-standard way that did not use the little gussets seen on bottom of side sills in AAR and PS-1 cars.
    But you notice I left the heavy cast-on stirrups and cast-on ladders, etc.
  13. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    I never met an Nscale diesel or piece of rolling stock I didn't super detail...
    SP-Wolf likes this.
  14. SP-Wolf

    SP-Wolf TrainBoard Supporter

    Bruce- and, a fine job you do!!

    I too super detail all of my locomotives (Steam and diesel) I have done some of my freight and most of my passenger cars. I just can't leave well enough alone. As, I really enjoy that aspect of our hobby.

    pastoolio likes this.
  15. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

    I think the amount of detail one decides to add has a lot to do with his/her goals in the hobby. It is said that O scale is best for modeling engines and cars, HO is best for modeling trains, and N is best for modeling railroads.

    If you really want to get to and spend the majority of time operating the trains on an N scale layout, then adding super details takes away time and does not really add much to the visual effect of the trains running around the layout. The quality of the scenery probably has a bigger payback for time invested. And fragile details that break are worse to me than less-perfect looking details that remain intact. That is especially worth considering if the equipment is going to travel to showes or friends' layouts or a club layout for operating sessions.

    On the other hand, if photography is the main goal, especially photography for publication, then super detailing is a must. Today's photographic equipment is so good that it is practically impossible to make an N scale model that passes the "Is it real, or is it a model?" test with the best resolution and close-ups available. But, one of the first things that I personally notice in photos of N scale scenes is the unnatural courseness of the ground, grasses, folage, gravel, etc. And, of course, those trip pins on the magnetic knuckle couplers that look nothing like air hoses without backing-off to the N scale equivalent of the "view from 10,000 feet." So, it seems to me that it becomes a question of "how good is good enough?" And, that is a personal decision up to the point that you need to impress an editor somewhere in order to get something published. In such cases, looking at what that publisher is currently putting out will have to be your guide on the MINIMUM that you need to do to get published. But, is that then your standard for everything that you do, or do you have one standard for items intended to be published and a relaxed standard for items that you intend to run around a layout? It is up to YOU. Some modelers may choose to never have a functioning layout, and concentrate on building museum-quality trains and maybe secenery to match on static dioramas. If that is what THEY want to spend their time doing, that is good for them, but is it good for YOU?

    I think the most important thing that a modeler can do is to figure-out what will make him/her happiest with the amount of time and money that can realistically be spent on the hobby. And then do THAT, no matter what others may think. Trying to "Wow" the rivet-counters is a losing strategy, especially if your goal is to wow all of them. Some people just HAVE to try to demonstrate their "superiority" by finding ways to criticizing (or "one-up") the best efforts of others. If you let that get to you and dictate how you pursue YOUR hobby, you will lose the enjoyment you seek.

    Niahtoul likes this.
  16. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    Again with insulting the rivet counters... when will it end? :rolleyes:
    randgust likes this.
  17. pastoolio

    pastoolio TrainBoard Member

    Super detail is a strong word. Most of us "detail" our stuff, but I wouldn't say "super detail" it. Most pictures I see of N scale locomotives (for instance) leave off many details (large and small) that could be added. I think it's a comfort level for most of us. I myself detail my locomotives, add most all of the commercially available stuff, but when it comes to the stuff I have to scratch build, that's where I stop. I don't even bother with grabs since I have a hard time repainting the stock paint after cutting off the molded on grabs.
    Here are a couple of my units


    But I will say that adding those parts to a locomotive makes a HUGE difference. I'm not too concerned with doing much detailing to freight cars, mostly swapping out super thick roof walks with etched metal ones. And putting the correct truck/wheel size on the car.

    So to the original question of this thread, yes, I go with the "super detail", at least on my locomotives.

  18. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    Nice work Mike. It amazes me how easy most of these details are and how big a difference they make.
    Your weathering creates a new look as well.

    It's the simple things like the wipers that create the realistic look. Every engine has them, but I'm surprised how many magazine covers have engines without them. It kill the realism when they aren't there.
    pastoolio likes this.
  19. pastoolio

    pastoolio TrainBoard Member

    Thanks Karl. I totally agree with you, I see in the magazines these beautifully constructed scenes, phenomenal scenery and trackwork (that I'd never be able to do myself), but here's this plane ol' locomotive sitting there. Kinda ruins it for me. I think to myself, wow, you know how much better that scene would look if that loco was detailed? Even adding just a few easy ones (sunshades, MU hoses, maybe a plow or an AC unit) would make it pop.
    On the old Trainboard, I had started a group, N Scale Diesel Detailers and Kitbashers Group, to help out people that wanted to add stuff to their locos. I'm hoping that our awesome hosts will be able to get that back up and running here on the new forum. There was also one for freight car detailing that I loved, learned quite a bit from those guys.

    And a btw Karl, your article in the last N scale Railroading was the very first thing I jumped to when I got it in the mail. Excellent write up and job, makes me wanna go bash a MILW unit! :)

    SD35 and jpwisc like this.
  20. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    Thanks Mike, just wait till you see the next issue!

    And you are so right, the locomotives are the most focused on item on a layout, but most people neglect their appearance. The most beautiful scene is diminished when a stock loco rolls through it.

    I just started reading Lance Mindheims "How to Operate..." book and Joe Fugate's editorial in the new MRH and they both talk about the importance of realistic looking engines and the effect that has on the overall "scene". Check them out, both are good reads.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
    pastoolio likes this.

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