Structures: N – Wicked Wandas (Part II)

 Yes, it’s been over a month since the first entry in this series, but I’ve been struggling with both the time and intricacies of this particular build.

First, I really struggled with the complimentary color that would be reflected in the window frames, door trims, and other accents.  Then it was the individual window glazing’s and instructions.  Finally, about two weeks ago I thought my appendix had burst and so I was out of commission and in bed for almost a week.  And it doesn’t help that my build bench is also my kitchen table, so every day the sight of clutter and its accompanying mess is a constant reminder of how slow this build is actually going.

So let me get to it…that is the progress…or lack thereof….

Although the instructions that came with this kit indicating that there was some additional bass wood for bracing the main walls, it was not easily identified.  I looked at all the wood strips that came with the kit and made some preliminary measurements of what would be needed and where, and it really wasn’t clear that there would be any extra for required bracing.  Even if there was, it would be very thin and I tend to like strength and some may say I even over do it.  Thankfully, I purposely purchase extra thicker strips at my local hobby shop and apply with Elmer’s wood glue.  I then set weights on them and let the bracing dry and cure thoroughly before I continue.  Picture 1 shows where I place a plethora of thick bracing I attached to the four main structure walls.

Pic 1: Initial back bracing

Pic 1: Initial back bracing

Next, (Pic 2) I decided to go ahead and seal and prime the back with old fashioned gray spray automotive primer. This aides (as I have indicated numerous times in previous builds) in stopping light leakage (if I were to add any internal lighting via LEDs or other means) and further minimize any chances of wood warping.  You’ll also note that I have attached trim to both sides of each of the steepled end and cut the sides with a razor to match the angles on the roof lines.  The wood that makes up these trim pieces according to the instructions are also the same wood to utilize as the bracing.  See the difference in size?  I think my thicker pieces will hold up much than the puny trim would have.

Additionally, I have glued in the primed plastic window inserts and added some bracing to what will be a small shed outcropping on the structure (small pieces on right).

Pic 2: Priming the back of main structure pieces.

Pic 2: Priming the back of main structure pieces.

Next came the paint.  I already had a ton of various paints in the light beige, cream, and tan spectrum but couldn’t decide what to choose.  I had an idea of taking a large popsicle stick, roughly the same color as the structure walls themselves, and painting a small test swatch of the available colors I had in a scale from lightest to darkest.  Then to simulate what the aging may look like, I swiped the upper half of the stick with my India ink wash as shown in Pic 3 (below):

Pic 3: Test paint swatch for main structure.

Pic 3: Test paint swatch for main structure.

Believe it or not, none of these really grabbed me, but I knew I wanted to reside somewhere in this scheme, so I went online and looked at various *simulated* colors available from different hobby sites.  After some deliberation, I gambled (after looking at some WWII model sites of tanks) on Testors brand Afrika Mustard (aerosol).  I ended up sending away for it as my local hobby stores don’t carry the full line of Testors, so tack on a few additional days for order fulfillment and shipping.

I went ahead and painted the main structure faces with it and was very happy with the result.  Now that I had chosen my primary color, I had two complimentary colors to choose: one for the window panes, door frames, and corner framing, and 2) a contrasting color for the two smaller building outcroppings and accents.  For the outcroppings I went ahead with Hunter Green.  However, the complimentary accent color really had me stymied.  I bounced back and forth and back again on what color I wanted to counter the Afrika Mustard.  So yet again, I went back to the hobby store and bought Green Zinc Chromate (Testors – solvent) for approx. $1.45.

I didn’t like it.

Once dry, it looked nothing like the examples I had seen shared on various model forums.  Disappointed, I trudged back to yet a different hobby store and purchased a single bottle of plain Zinc Chromate (Testors – solvent).  I spent more time and gas than I’d like to ever admit to in choosing this accent, but once I get a color or idea in my head, I generally stick to my guns, even if that means more delays.

Finally, Pic 4 illustrates an in-progress shot of  my color scheme along with some preliminary India ink aging.

Pic 4: Preliminary finalized paint schema.

Pic 4: Preliminary finalized paint schema.

Next up….tedious window glazing, door assembly, deck staining, interior detail work, and maybe some assembly.

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Structures: N – Wicked Wandas (Part I)

I’m kinda excited to get back my hands back into N-scale.  For this build I have selected “Wicked Wanda’s” by Bar Mills.  As the website points out, this ‘vertical’ structure is based on a prototypical restaurant, with a small footprint and it’s unique design and look brings a lot of visual interest to a foreground focal point.

The last two structures I’ve done were HO scale, and the idea behind those was to get some additional practice on various techniques before I attempted a smaller scale again.  Wanda’s has a lot of delicate parts to it, namely the wrap around staircase and it’s requisite stilts and fragile railings as well.  It’s a pretty building and I’ve seen a lot of interesting takes, both in color schemes and it kit-bashed modifications.  I’m actually going to try a few kit-bashed additions myself, (at least I plan to) so I’ll make sure I point them out as I make them.

The first thing I did, as usual, was to open the box and lay out all the parts contained within the kit for display, give a summary glance to the included instructions, and get myself a little familiar with the various pieces.  As you can see from the following three pictures, there’s a lot of different medium contained within for a N-scale structure: plastic, white metal, scribed cardboard, laser cut plywood & basswood, acetate, laser cut self stick sheets, and two huge sheets of stick on shingles (the two large white sheets on the right)


Pic 1: Click on picture to enlarge.


Pic 2: Click on picture to enlarge.


Pic 3: Click on picture to enlarge.

One of the hardest parts I have of any new structure is trying to picture the color scheme in my head.  Sometimes I spend days looking at magazine pictures, TV shows, real life structures, etc. to get ideas.  As I’ve mentioned in another post, I tend to always gravitate towards my own favorite color combinations, but of course this doesn’t lend to real life and the town of Willoughby Junction would all start to look the same after a while.

I really try to force myself to think outside the box while also looking at the paints I already have so that I don’t find myself buying yet more (which in this case I did…more on that later).

I also toy with different themes.  When I first saw Wicked Wanda’s, the last thing I thought of was a roadside eatery.  Like most, you might have thought this two story dwelling would be found in the back woods or on the side of a mountain.  Maybe it is the home of a reclusive fortune teller, or the resident creepy witch.  Perhaps even a dilapidated haunted house (below).  I saw a few kit-bashes online which that really took abandoned house theme to the extreme, breaking down the structure with knocked out windows, missing doors, large holes in the roof, tattered clapboard, and very extreme weathering!  It would look great on a Halloween diorama in fact.


Courtesy of Railroad Line Forums.

Anyway, I’m in the preliminary creative stages right now.  The best I can do until I settle on my color is to prime the plastic window and do some interior bracing.

To be continued….

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So came back today, first time in a few months, and am getting ready to start a new N-scale structure from Bar Mills.

I noticed that WordPress was asking me to make a few updates…in particular to version 4.2.2 and also to a few various plugins (7 to be exact).  So I went ahead and updated them blindly and am hoping for the best.  So if you see any errors or other formatting issues, please let me know.

Also, there were a few comments/questions that have come in regards to some previous posts.  I apologize profusely for not getting back sooner, but I did my best in answering them today while weeding out a lot of spam (the spam engine was also upgraded today, so hopefully that will help as well).

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Structures: HO – Ron’s Lobster Shack (Part 5)

I think this entry should wrap this build up folks.

Pic 1: Finished front

Pic 1: Finished front

Not much to say other than show off finished product, weathering, and misc. details.  In Pic 1 (above)  you’re looking at the front of the structure after I have applied a little weathering chalk.  Notice I tried to create ‘streaks’ at various points from the roof line eves and very subtle hints as well under the windows.  I used a combination of grimy black, dirty brown, rust, grimy yellow, and even some blue.  The blue chalk was used very sparingly under the window sills.

I also used a combination of these chalks on the roof paper as well, to help blend some of the more obvious sponged paint splotches into each other so their individual outlines weren’t as dramatic.

Pic 2: Window and office side.

Pic 2: Window and office side.

Picture 2 shows a close-up of the opposite side.  Same chalks and techniques involved.  However, the only noticeable critiques I have against myself here is: 1) The noticeable cardboard edges of the roof panels, and 2) The ‘office’ roof is slightly slanted down at an angle that is somewhat apparent in this particular shot.

It is so noticeable when looking at other angles, or in person, but this shot (at least to me) magnifies the fact that the optional roof bracing I placed in a previous post wasn’t high enough, so that the cardboard roofline peak is a few millimeters lower than it should be in my opinion.  Other than this, I think my weathering was pretty decent.  Sure it could be better, but overall, it’s decent enough to illicit the idea that this building has been around for a while now.

Pic 3: Side shot.

Pic 3: Side shot.

In Pic 3 we see yet another angle, and the weathering isn’t as pronounced.  I may go back and add a little bit more so it’s more consistent with what you see in Pic’s 1 & 2.  It might be a little weak here, but the natural sunlight may also be highlighting the effects to my detriment.  Again, I’m also not so keen on the cardboard edges being visible on the roof panels, but I’m unsure how to hide those effectively.

For a freebie structure with no instructions and some creative license, it was fun to practice.  If you have any questions or comments, I encourage you to drop me a line.  Heck, I may learn something from you.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this build with me and thus concludes Ron’s Lobster Shack in HO.



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Structures: HO – Ron’s Lobster Shack (Part 4)

In part 4 today I’ll be working on the roof.

There are three individual cardboard roof panels.  One of them needs to be slightly scored with a razor blade down the middle, lengthwise, so that when folded it will form the peak for office outcropping.

Pic 1: Adding roof tabs

Pic 1: Adding roof tabs

I want to bring your attention to a few different things here in Pic 1 (above):

  • Notice the large piece of bass wood corner bracing which I used to secure the office outcropping to the main structure.  There is an identical piece (hidden from this angle) on the opposite wall doing the same.  It was attached to the building use wood glue.
  • Note that I did not paint the inside of the office outcropping with flat black spray paint.  Again this is an optional step, and I chose not to do it for the office.
  • You can see my paper towel window shades pretty clearly here.
  • The most important thing I wanted to point out here was the two small scrap wood pieces I placed at an angle on the main structure wall that will form additional bracing for the cardboard roof.  Since there were no instructions, I came up with this on my own.  You can faintly see where I drew in the roof line in pencil as a guide.  The whole purpose of this is to give the cardboard roof (pictured to right of structure, already scored, above) something to rest upon instead of just relying on white glue adhering to the building side.
Pic 2: Cardboard roof attached.

Pic 2: Cardboard roof attached.

In Pic 2 (above), I have attached the roof panels with white glue.  I used a rubber band on the scored roof section on the office to hold in place while the glue dried.  You can see I have also added some more signage as well.

I’ll admit that I made a mistake in my opinion by trying to dab on some light paint to the large blue sign.  It did not have the effect I intended, but instead looks more like a smear and obstructs some of the lettering.  I was going for more of a peeling and aged look as I have done on other models, but clearly I did not remove enough paint from the sponge before dabbing on.  I tried to clean it off immediately, but instead I just ended up smearing it with my finger tip.  So what’s the lesson here?  I should have tried ‘sponging’ on the paint to the sign first, even before I cut it out and affixed it to the building.  Hopefully, I will be able to correct this aesthetically with weathering chalks later on.

Pic 3: Reverse shot showing more roof.

Pic 3: Reverse shot showing more roof.

Picture 3 shows the reverse side of the building, along with additional signage again, and also the small building outcropping I discussed in the previous post.

Next up will be the roofing paper.  If you’ll recall from my first post, the paper sheet that was included with the kit was just plain gray in color.  It was pretty non-descript.  I was tempted to add a gravel like top as I did with my Sunset Hotel build (see embedded link), but decided against it.  I could have gone with black construction paper to simulate tar paper, but I thought the contrast might be too much.  Then there was the idea of buying other textured paper, or printing out my own roofing via clipart, but ultimately decided I need to work more on my ‘sponging’.

So I went through my acrylic paints, and picked out colors from black, browns, greens, and grays and lined them up from dark (left) to light (right) as seen in Pic 4.

Pic 4: Acrylic roof paint lineup.

Pic 4: Acrylic roof paint lineup.


Using a few drops of each, I then began to randomly sponge on the paint to the side that did not have the lines.  The lines are used as guides to cut the paper into even strips, so we don’t want to cover those up.  Also, the reason I set my colors up from dark to light is that I want to apply the colors in that order.  I want to use my dark colors as the base, and work myself to the blending of lighter pigments.  Now some of you may be asking, “Why is there Stone Wedge green in there?” Well, simply put, a small dabbling of green suggests maybe a smattering of moss or mold, what ever you prefer.

Pic 5: Don't paint the side with lines.  Needed for cut indication.

Pic 5: Don’t paint the side with lines. Needed for cut indication.

Pic 6: Roof paint in progress

Pic 6: Roof paint in progress

Pic 6 shows the painting in progress.  Completely random pattern going on here, and I’m not waiting for individual colors to dry before moving on to the next.  These colors will blend more and more as I progress, and when it dries will become a bit more muted.

In the next entry in this series I’ll go ahead and attach the painted roof strips and additional eve trim.


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Structures: HO – Ron’s Lobster Shack (Part 3)

So I was thought I took more pictures than I actually did during this build, or I accidentally deleted them somehow while transferring the shots from my device to my PC.  Needless to say, there’s quite a gap of picture progression from the first two installments of this build to today’s entry.  I’ll try my best to fill you in on what I did and some lessons learned as well.

The first lesson I learned was to always, always, always test fit and re-measure your initial measurements before applying any glue.  In what seemed like a slam dunk to me, proved to be an error.  Although the effects of my error(s) are hidden to the casual observer, the problem, (being the somewhat anal person that I know that I am) is that the structural strength is slightly compromised.  I fully intended to place internal bracing within the four corners of the main structure so that the walls would square up nicely at 90 degree right angles when joined with wood glue.  However, my pencil markings were 1-2 millimeters off, and thus while the bracing does strengthen two of the four main walls, the other two don’t benefit from the corner bracing as I intended.  In short, the walls were supposed to be flush against the bracing, but they aren’t.  It took some additional care, placement, and patience for me to get the main structure walls completely square.

The other issue that is kind of bugging me right now is the window dressings/drapes.  I really struggled with finding some material to make my window shades.  I was planning to cut up some solid color magazine pages, but they either looked to shiny, or the colors too bold.  I then went to look for an old shirt or rag I could cut up like I have done in previous builds, but couldn’t find any that I liked.  Only out of sheer desperation, did I settle on cutting up plain white paper towels and glued them to the inside of the structure with white glue.  The result?  Okay to passable, but in my humble opinion (IMHO) lacks the punch and flair to be considered a truly model worthy detail.  The drapes are optional accents, and I always like to add them to my models.  They lend to the appearance, at least to me, that the building is currently in use and suggests that there has been recent activity within.  They also obscure the viewer from seeing very little of the inside of the structure like bracing, blank walls, etc.

I justified the use of the paper towels that this was a ‘free’ and somewhat simple structure and was not going to be part of my actual layout, but more so that I could practice building after taken some time off from modeling.  If I had to do it over again, I’d probably hold out for some real fabric, but as they say “The show must go on.”


Pic 1: Detail of small building wing (outside)

Pic 1: Detail of small building wing (outside)

Picture 1 (above) shows some detail of the small outcropping to be attached to the main structure.  At this point, both the larger plastic windows and smaller laser cut wooden window frames and their associated trim have all been attached via white glue.  Same goes for the door and door frames as well.

Pic 2: Inside of small wing.

Pic 2: Inside of small wing.


Picture 2 (above) shows the reverse side of the same outcropping.  Note that I used some bass wood in the corners to help brace and square up the two smaller wings attached to either side.  However, despite the bracing, note that the left side suffers from a bit of warpage, most likely from the acrylic paint.  At this scale it isn’t that bad, and we can even hide more of its overall effect with some landscaping, chalk, and debris resting up in that corner if placed on a layout or diorama.

Pic 3: 55% complete.

Pic 3: 55% complete.

In the last shot today (Pic 3), we jump forward to approximately 55% completed.  Notice that the two main buildings have been joined together and some initial signage has been applied.  There is plenty more signage to adhere, as well as the roof and it’s detailing, the small building outcropping (as shown in Pics 1 & 2 earlier), and of course the weathering and additional trim.

To be continued….


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Structures: HO – Ron’s Lobster Shack (Part 2)

For me, one of the hardest parts of any model build is deciding on the color scheme.

I tend to naturally gravitate to the same color palette in my personal life, but I understand that it unrealistic in the modeling world.  If all my structures took on the same look or theme, it would indeed look very artificial and ‘too’ planned.  Sometimes, one has to select colors that you normally wouldn’t, only to provide world diversity and please the tastes of others.

For the fictional town of Willoughby Junction, I try to imagine all the various inhabitants or characters of the town.  The buildings they work in, the places where they dwell should reflect ‘their’ tastes and personalities, not just mine.  I have a rough draft, if you will, of many of the inhabitants of Willoughby and have thus created loose backstories for them all.  In doing so, I imagine myself as them, and choose colors that would best fit them or the structures purpose.

Sometimes, for inspiration I look at country magazines or catalogs.  Just flipping through the pages will often spark an idea, especially if the shots background has a lot of foliage.  I ponder if this building would be found in Willoughby Junction, and if so this often leads me down a color path.

In the case of Ron’s Lobster Shack, a lot of combinations started to fill my head.  There was the very dark and natural wood structure with deep orange trim, there was the canary yellow building with red trim.  I briefly toyed with the idea of an all blue building, but then couldn’t think of the color for the trim.  But no matter how many color combinations I came up with, the vision of white building with blue trim kept popping back up.

I didn’t want stark white, so I opted to go with a color that looked aged.  Stark white would be too bright for me and I couldn’t picture the owner of Ron’s maintaining it every year with a fresh coat of paint.  To me, the shack is near a water source, close to daily fresh lobster catches and probably not close to the owners home.  He get’s up early, has to drive to work, deals with the local fisherman, starts the coffee and begins prepping for the day.  He doesn’t have time or the gumption to repaint every year, so the elements do a number on the building.  On his days off, he’s relaxing at home, putzing around the garage, playing with the dog, or out BBQ’ing with the neighbors.

Pic 1: Color test.

Pic 1: Color test.

So what I have here in the above picture is a sampling of two colors I have ‘sponged’ on my clapboard sidings.  From the previous post, you know I have applied a base of 5% India Ink & Alcohol wash and let dry.  Next, comes a uniform sponged coat of Americana ‘Antique White’ acrylic paint.  By sponging this on, I allow for the natural wood and staining to peek out.  Once that is dry, I then apply highlights of Polly Scale ‘Aged White’ with the same sponge.  I do this by getting some paint on the same sponge and then blot most of the paint off on a paper towel so that there is only a residual amount still left.  I then randomly dab this over the original coat to simulate the highlights.  Personally, I really liked how this turned out as it lends to the look of additional texture on the sidings.

Next was the trim.  You saw a sneak peek of it yesterday in the first post, but officially I decided upon ‘True Blue’ (acrylic) also by Americana.  Using the same technique described above, I sponged on my blue on all the trim, accent pieces, doors, and primed plastic windows.

To be continued….

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