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 A Great Scratchbuilding Project For Beginners

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Dutchman Posted - 09/01/2004 : 7:50:40 PM
Over a year ago now, before joining the RR-L Forum, I was searching the net for information on scratchbuilding structures. I happened across the "Beginners" section of an NMRA website and downloaded the drawings of a small building that I thought I might want to build.

Now, while working on my "Shacks, Sheds & Shanties" project, I am finally going to roll up the old sleeves and actually do it.

Here are the sketches of the building:

The building looked a little too small for me, so I simply enlarged the drawings on the copier until the vertical height of the building measured 9 scale feet at its lowest point.

For those wanting to visit the site, here is the link for the drawing: http://www.nmra.org/beginner/draw1.jpg

and the beginners site itself:

I will post my progress on this project for those who might want to try a small scratchbuilding project of their own.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
ed k Posted - 07/13/2017 : 10:52:56 PM
I highly recommend Blacken It.
robchant Posted - 07/13/2017 : 8:54:41 PM
I was looking for some tutorials on scratch building for beginners, and this is exactly what I hoped to find. Thanks to all the contributed to this, it was a very easy to follow process.

Take care,
George D Posted - 01/21/2006 : 8:18:22 PM
Nice design and workmanship, Christopher.

TrainClown Posted - 01/21/2006 : 7:16:19 PM
Hi George,
I want tools I can't buy here. I don't have a credit card so no way to buy stuff on line. So I have to make my own.

First attempt at a chopper showed promise. But is too sloppy for precise cuts every time.

So I made one out of some brass stock. This one has no slop what-so-ever. A clean precise cut every time.

In this next pic you can see the triangle of brass I made to take out the side to side slop. 1/8" inside diameter brass tube and a piece of 1/8" welding rod make a nice snug hinge and base to solder everything to.

You will note on the wooden one that I have a taller fence and a stop is clamped to it. The problem I found with that is the fence is too tall and I was having a hard time holding small stock in place. So on the brass model I made the fence only about 1/16" tall, and this makes it easy holding small stock down while cutting. I carried the surface piece of bass wood out past the base so I can put a clamp on a stop if I want to. It's just a little bit different.

Now making windows is easy. I already made one complete window today. They look good inserted into the walls.

George D Posted - 01/21/2006 : 08:16:43 AM
That's an interesting jig, Christopher. Thanks for the info. How about telling us about your "chopper"?

TrainClown Posted - 01/21/2006 : 01:43:20 AM
Hi there. For days now I have been fussing and fretting with this window jig. I got one made. It's dusty in these photos, and the glue I used was the wrong stuff and left a mess. I had to make a new chopper as the one I made last week was not stable enough. The new one is brass and solid.

Here is the jig.

Say, it's warm in here. Will someone open the window.

Bound to get better when I start using my new chopper and get some more appropriate glue.
I got this system from Khamilton's web page.

TrainClown Posted - 01/16/2006 : 03:02:06 AM
Thanks Dave. Don't ever worry about going on too long. I, for one, am always eager to learn what I can. 'En yer kain't lerns nothin' if'n yuz don't flap off at thu gums sometimes. Long az yer lips don't fray.

rrkreitler Posted - 01/16/2006 : 12:35:57 AM
Exactly what it is intended for. The finish you end up with depends on the type of metal you are treating. Some brasses turn dark brown, some a little green. White metals alloys mostly turn black but if you let them dry and rub them a little they will have a nice "aged steel" look to them that is a great undercoat for paint and weathering chalks.

Here are a few examples on a G scale MOW car I built...

The hammer head, crow bar and pry bar are white metal dipped in Blacken-it then wiped down when dry. The screw jacks and tie plates are dipped then brushed with powders.

The oil can was dipped but not wiped (notice how it stayed so much darker).

I don't have a pic handy however with regards to those brass screws you can get at your local hobby shop from K&S, I have had some turn rust brown and some turn green.

All in all the unpredictability helps add to the affect (I think). If you are using Blacken-it on brass make sure that it is not coated with any kind of finish - it won't blacken - this can include oils from your hands if you handle the part too much prior to dipping in the solution. Also, burnishing the surface with 400 grit emery cloth prior to coating can yield interesting results.

Sorry, this is a bit longer than intended. Don't mean to hijack your thread. Good luck with Blacken-it, I think you'll like it.
TrainClown Posted - 01/15/2006 : 5:43:21 PM
I'm thinking about getting some of the "Blacken-It" to make metal castings black before painting them. This would give them a base coat of black without painting. One less coat of paint is one less coat to cover up details. What do you think about this, Dave?

rrkreitler Posted - 01/15/2006 : 11:37:27 AM
The chimney came out great. I like the "before" and "after" photos of the Weather-It treatment. An important tip when using Weather-It, always wait until it dries before passing judgement on its appearance. It always lightens up when it dries.

Great product though. I always keep a bottle of Weather-It and Blacken-It within reach at my work bench. Weather-It for wood and Blacken-It for metal. Love both of them.
Tabooma County Rwy Posted - 01/14/2006 : 4:52:49 PM
Christopher, thanks for the "how-to" explanations. Neat idea for the pounce wheels.
TrainClown Posted - 01/14/2006 : 2:33:22 PM
Thank you all so much for your kind words and encouragement.

Bruce, no, not alcohol, but a water based product. It says it can be thinned down with distilled water. Also says not to return used amounts to the main bottle as it can contaminate it. No fumes or even a smell when it's applied. It dose make the ceder look old and gray and that's what I wanted. I used it on the chimney too.

Al, I made 2 tools from an old clock. One to make rivets and one to make nail holes. They are just soldered together. Since these pics were taken I have sharpened the tines so they don't make square holes.

Angela, I made the chimney out of plaster. I drew the basic shape I waned on a printout of the building plan, then I cut some wood that was about 2 scale feet square and glued the bits to the paper over the drawing I made. This set up a cavity the shape of the chimney. Then I lined the cavity with a thin piece of plastic and poured in the plaster. Made sure to poke all the corners down with a stick. When it had set up I popped the thing out and set it on a warm spot to dry out. Then I used a mini screw driver to outline and carve the rocks.

The pic above was taken when the Weather-It was wet, and the pic below was after it had dried.

I appreciate all your comments. I'll post more when I can.

angelanzus Posted - 01/14/2006 : 09:01:09 AM
What is your chimney made from?
rrkreitler Posted - 01/13/2006 : 11:24:51 AM

I wouldn't rush to judgement about those nail holes on the back wall. For a structure that is as rustic as this one, the spacing looks just fine. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to more progress shots...
Tabooma County Rwy Posted - 01/13/2006 : 10:49:28 AM
Great job, Christopher, I really like the chimney. Tell us about the "nail hole" tool you made from a clock part...maybe a picture? I fooled around last night with a Dremel saw blade in a holder to make nail holes...

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