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

Wow, it’s been a whopping nine months since I last posted here.  I never stopped building my structures or lost interest in model railroading at all, it has just been a very busy year for me.

Well, the good news is that I have actually been working on a small HO structure the last month or so, and have been taking pictures along the way.  It’s currently about 80% done right now and I hope to wrap it up in the next week or two so that I can start on yet another N scale structure here at the end of the month.  See, my regular day job shuts down for about two weeks at the end of the December (oh, and in case you are wondering, no I don’t get a lot of time off during the rest of the year), so I will have twelve (12) days off in a row before I report back on January 5th, 2015.

Anyway, let me give some background on this series.  The structure in question was a ‘freebie’ from FOS Scale Models entitled “Ron’s in the Rough Lobster Shack” and was only available if you had purchased another one of Dave’s kits during a certain time frame.  The additional caveat to these ‘freebies’ is that they ship with absolutely no instructions.  All you are given is a small picture to work from, and it’s generally only a one angle shot.  So, as the modeler, you really need to take the time and study the picture and identify all the parts before you begin your build.  Additionally, since you are only given one reference picture to work from, you’ll also need to figure out what the backside looks like on your own.

While these models might not have a lot to them and are on the smaller side of his kits, I tend to think they fall somewhere between the beginner and intermediate skill level.  You’ll need to understand the concepts of internal support bracing, and how models are put together (sometimes the modules are linear in nature) before you proceed.  Personally, I’m not sure why Dave chooses not to include any instructions on these, (I can’t imagine the cost of one sheet of color paper is financially detrimental to his business) but it’s his call, and they are in fact, free.  Beggars can’t be chooses I guess.

So let’s get to the parts layout:

Pic 1: Ron's parts laid out

Pic 1: Ron’s parts laid out

Starting from the top, and moving in a clockwise direction: 1 sheet of roofing paper, 1 laser cut clapboard sheet of main structure, 1 paper sheet of color signage (incl. thumbnail picture of completed structure), 1 laser cut clapboard sheet of structure wing, 4 plastic windows on sprue, 1 sheet of cardboard for roofs, various basswood used for trim and bracing, 1 small laser cut clapboard for small structure wing, and finally a sheet of laser cut door, window, and various other dressings and accents.

One thing not included is any acetate for window/door glazing.  I know Dave is general a fan of clear liquid glue glazing’s, so that doesn’t surprise me.  It’s a good thing I save any left over scraps from other builds.  I should have just enough of my own clear acetate to cut out and use for the various windows and doors here.

I’ll end today’s entry with my first progress point.

Pic 2: Prelim painting.

Pic 2: Prelim painting.

I’ll talk more about the color scheme and theme more in the next post in this series, but suffice to say for this picture you can see I started to paint the trim blue using a sponging technique.  However, before I even did that, I applied a single coat of 5% India Ink & Alcohol wash to all clapboard surfaces before I remove them from their laser cut sheets.  On the large structure piece that will form the core of the building, note that I applied bass wood bracing (to strengthen and prevent warpage) first, then spray painted the backside with a coat of flat black.

The flat black will help reduce any light leakage from any seams in case I want to add any interior lighting or details some time down the line.  Chances are I probably will not, but it’s a habit I’ve gotten in to and doesn’t hurt.

Oh, and prior to the sponging of the plastic windows (upper left within pic), I removed them from their sprue, sanded down any excess plastic flashing, arranged on blue painters tape (so they won’t stick), and sprayed a coat of gray automotive primer and let dry thoroughly.

To be continued….

 

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Structures: HO – Building A Diorama (Part III)

If you’ll recall from the previous post (Part II) in this series, I had just finished putting on a coat of Woodland Scenics ‘Earth’ pigment to my plaster cloth base, and had a small berm that I had attached a few hydrocal rock castings too.

Now it’s time to move on ahead and begin to add our first layer of landscaping.

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Pic 1: Masking the berm

In Pic 1, I have used some tacky, but not too sticky, blue painter’s tape to mask off areas in which I did not want landscaping turf to adhere to.  First off, I masked off the sides of the diorama by placing the tape as flush as I could to the upper corners of where our surface edges meets the unpainted plaster edges.  Because the plaster is a bit porous and uneven, don’t expect it to be perfect…that’s okay.  Next I masked off the cork roadbed and rail that is on a diagonal.  Finally, knowing that I’d be spraying my glue mixture from above , I masked off my rock castings were they protruded from the berm as well…you don’t want your freshly painted rocks covered in turf do you?

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Pic 2: First pass at fine turf.

In Pic 2, you can see I’ve already went ahead and masked the other side of the roadbed and track and have made my first pass using 60/40 blend of Woodland Scenics fine green turf and fine earth cover turf.  The earth cover turf helps tone down the fine green turf and make for a more natural look in my opinion.  I applied this using a shaker in small sections at a time to help control both the evenness of the application and to avoid making to much of a mess.  The fine turf is very light and very susceptible to static electricity and can get all over the place like sawdust or drywall dust if not careful.

Since my spray bottle was not working correctly, I actually applied the glue-like-wash with a paintbrush (pictured left).  The wash is a simple mixture of about 3 parts water to 1 part white all-purpose white glue that was mixed thoroughly before hand.  If you find that the wash is *too* thin, you can mix in a bit of more glue, but try not to exceed more than 1/3rd glue.  I then painted the wash on in 3″ x 3″ sections, and promptly added the turf before moving on to the next section.

During cleanup, make sure you wash out your paintbrush completely of any glue and you can use the brush over and over again.

In today’s post, you’ll note that I only covered 1/3rd of my base.  This is by design.  I really want to work on adding the ballast to the track, and I haven’t made a commitment to where I am going to place my actual structure yet, so I’m leaving the rest of the base unmolested for now.  As I continue, I will ‘paint’ on the glue wash for the remainder of the exposed base, but only for this first coat of turf.  In subsequent passes, I will indeed buy a new spray bottle to ‘mist’ the areas I will be adding additional turf colors and ground cover.

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Pic 3: Adding ballast (inside tracks)

In Pic 3, you can see that I have removed my mask from the roadbed, but placed two strips of blue painters tape on the edges where my cut track meet the edges.  This is solely to keep the ballast from spilling over as I add it between the tracks and glue it in place (think of it as a dam).

However, before I even began to add the ballast, I decided to tone down (i.e. weather) the bright brass rails by using a solvent based paint entitled ’mud’ made by Testor’s.  I should have done this prior to hot gluing the track to the roadbed as it would have been much easier to handle, but this is one of those lessons you learn during a build that you’ll be sure to remember the next time around.

The Woodland Scenics ballast is also very fine, and a small bit goes a very long way, so be careful when pouring straight out of the bag.  Using the same brush (now dry) that I painted on my glue-wash, I *slowly* brushed the ballast into place between the railroad ties an inch at a time.  Again, because the ballast is very fne, very light weight, and susceptible to static take your time.  I used a tweezer to move and relocate some stubborn pieces.  When I was satisfied with my work, I ‘misted’ the track and ballast with a solution of ‘wet-water’.

‘Wet-water’ is basically a mixture of regular water with a drop or two of dish washing soap added in.  It’s purpose is to lower the surface tension level of other water based solutions so that droplets can be administered and flow easily between cracks, nooks, and crannies.

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Pic 4: Inside rail ballast.

Using an eye dropper, I then placed approx. 3 drops of my glue wash to each ballast section between the ties and allowed to set and dry.  This last picture shows my progress thus far.  Note that I obviously did not do the ballast on the outside of the rails.  I’ll admit, I’m a bit stymied on how I am going to do to this with the 45 degree angle on the edge of the roadbed.  In my mind, I know how I could do this without making it look like too much ballast, but the process will be long involving me tilting my diorama at 45 degree’s at least twice (once for each edge) and waiting it out.  Another person I showed this to made the recommendation that I should sand down corner, and while this would indeed work, it will also take time (there’s not a lot of room) and be potentially messy as I will then need to clean up the cork before the ballast can be applied.  Decisions…decisions.  Anyone have advice?

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Structures: HO – Building a diorama (Part II)

Well, I didn’t get as far as I would have liked this past weekend, so consider this really Part 1.5 I guess.  I was hoping to get the corkboard roadbed fitted, cut, and glued into place as well as the railroad track, but didn’t.

Instead, I did attach some plaster rock castings to the rear corner berm, four in total (Pic 1) .  There are three on the front facing face, and one located on the rear.  They were affixed with a small batch of plaster I mixed up just for this.  I was going to try the glue gun again, but decided against this as the berm surface was uneven, and I wanted the gaps to be filled with plaster rather than air.

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Pic 1: Rock castings applied and painted.

Using the leopard spotting technique of painting, I made two separate color washes with a 2:1 water to paint ratio.  The first was a yellow color, the second a brown (more like a burnt umber), and using a sponge tipped brush, applied the each of the two colors to 1/3rd the surface area of the castings.  Then  I brushed the entire face of each casting with a black paint wash, with a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part black acrylic.

Perhaps it’s my phone camera, or poor morning lighting, but if you think at first glance this looks kinda ugly, I’d be right there with you in agreement.  It’s pretty evident in this picture where additional plaster was applied, but fear not.  This will in fact really cleanup much better once the other landscaping elements come into play.  All that excess plaster that kinda sticks out like a sore thumb right now, will disappear once ground cover, weeds, talus, and other stuff is added.

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Pic 2: Ground pigment.

The same could be said for the second picture (Pic 2) today.  This is after I have applied a 1:1 ratio of Woodland Scenics ground pigment and water to the entire base.  The picture represents 1 coat.  I could always go darker by applying a second coat, but I’m not sure it’s going to be necessary.  The whole reason for this is try to cover every exposed ‘white’ area of the plaster.

Again, you’ll have to keep in mind this is just the foundation for building up our landscaping.  There is no building placed, no parking lot, no trees, no ground cover, nothing.  Once I begin applying the groundcover, this dull, drab, olive looking pigment will hopefully ensure that no glaring patches of white plaster is going to show through to the viewer’s eye.  I know it looks a bit uneven (the brush strokes can be seen)  in the above picture, but I attribute that once again to the lighting and the fact it was taken with a phone with flash.  The brush marks will not show in the final product…trust me.

The two freight cars are placed once again just for your benefit, so that you get a rough idea of what’s going on.

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Structures: HO – Building a diorama (Part I)

Now that the Three Finger Freddies structure is complete, I wanted to try my hands at an actual diorama.  One that would incorporate some various landscaping elements, some spare rail, figurines, and even some used rolling stock.  The idea behind this is to create a 3D scene, one that will continue to help me get practice when it comes to building my actual layout, and to also allow my creative wheels to spin and tell a story ala ‘Americana’ style.

So first things first.  In my mind I wanted to create a scene that would feature Three Finger Freddies, but also have some depth to it and incorporate other model railroading elements. The background would contain some railroad cars on some track, roadbed, and talus.  The foreground would contain an actual road, perhaps a parking lot with cars, some foliage and also trees.  But it would be an active scene, showing miniature HO scale people buying fireworks and milling about leading up the Forth of July.

I went to a local hobby store and settled on buying a single sheet of 1″ thick styrofoam.  1/2″ seemed a bit flimsy, but I was very limited in the dimensions that we offered.  Basically, everything was sold as rectangular sheets, in an aspect of ratio fo 2 x 1.  So, I purchased a sheet of 24″ x 12″ sheet of styrofoam and brought it home and arranged the various elements in a manner in which I thought would work as shown in the following two pictures:

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Pic 1: Layout idea.

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Pic 2: Layout idea.

As you can see in the pictures I have the main structure at a slight angle with some HO scale track and cork roadbed an opposing angle to create some visual interest and asymmetry.  As luck would have it the train shop I frequent was going to throw out all this old cork roadbed, and when I told the proprietor what I was doing, he gave me the roadbed for free. I purchased the individual pieces of track, and the rail stock ($4 each) you see.  I really like the Baby Ruth car, as it already lends a certain vintage look to the diorama without me even having weathered it yet.

However, the 12″ width of this sheet of styrofoam appears to shallow for the scene.  So I decided to cut off some of the excess length, and reattach it to the front giving me more of a square footprint.  Using a pencil, I marked off the sheet at 16″,and using a razor blade and a straight edge, carefully cut off 8″.  I will tell you now, that a razor blade is not ideal.  If you have a hot wire cutter or hot knife, I highly recommend using it for this procedure.  It can be done with a razor, but even making slow and multiple pass through cuts, it still leaves some rough edges and you must be very careful not to rush it as the styrofoam is delicate and leaves slightly rough edges.  You can smooth the cut edges with an Emory board or sandpaper, but again, you must go slow and in one direction.  Back and forth strokes, or speedy strokes will only make it crumble or damage further.

Using the excess strip of 8″ styrofoam I just cut off, I was able to remeasure and cut two new sections to attach up front with a glue gun (Pic 3, below).

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Pic 3: Re-attaching excess styrofoam.

Notice that I had to do re-attach two (2) separate pieces, 1 longer and one almost square piece (the missing corner above),  due to the shape constraints of the piece I originally cut off. I used a cheap hobby craft glue gun and all-purpose glue sticks to do this.  I’d like to point out a few things here: 1) The glue gun should be set to ‘High’ heat when using all-purpose glue stick and also to wait a few minutes for the tip to heat up before you start pulling the trigger, allowing for the glue to get to the right melting temperature. 2) If you plan on using a glue gun for your layouts, invest in a good one.  This cheap little model is good for small, bursty uses, but not for long-term or large projects.  The glue sets faster than you’d think, the trigger is a bit tough to pull (i.e. not comfortable), and it goes through glue sticks pretty fast.

In the picture above, I have attached one piece already with glue and am weighting it down with an iron weight and a candle, waiting for the glue to set and cure.  I did this again for the small corner piece as well.  Once the glue was set, it still looked a tad flimsy to me, especially at the seams.  I just wasn’t sure how strong this all was never having used glue sticks before, so I wanted to add one more layer of strength, in this case a foam-core base.  So off to the store again where I bought a large sheet of 1/4″ foam board (You can find this at Target, Staples, Walmart, etc.) measured and cut out a square that I would then glue to the bottom of the styrofoam.

In my final picture (below), I went ahead and applied my plaster cloth strips as evenly as I could (bumpy side up) and formed a small berm with tissue paper at its core.  The black silicon tray that you see is some rock castings from Woodland Scenics that I made with plaster I mixed myself and waiting for them to cure before I remove them.

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Pic 4: Plaster cloth added.

So what you see is a slightly square foot print bases, covered in a single layer of plaster cloth and a small berm in the upper left corner in which I will attach my plaster rock castings.  The track is shown to give a visual idea on how things are going to shape up.  I hope that my next post will show the painted base, rock castings (also painted), cork roadbed and track both cut and secured.

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