O'Neills Fabrication - HO Scale - An in-depth tutorial for building SWSM kits



  • Ok, I spent the day putting the tower walls together. This is one part of the build you do not want to hurry. I have found that if you can get the first two walls together properly, the rest are a lot easier.

    Here is a picture of the first two walls with the braces. It's best to make sure you have a good alignment before installing the braces. The walls without the trim had a bow in them, so it was important to get the bow out as you lined up the wall. When it appears the glue is set and the wall is not going to move, then you put in the braces. Always look for spots that may need a little help keeping glued together.


    The most important thing to do at this time is to make sure you have good alignment and the walls are sitting squarely on the workbench ... and then you ... walk away and do not touch for at least a couple of hours !!!

    After the walls were dry, I put some black paper behind the open windows so you couldn't see through.


    Here are the three walls together.


    Finally, here are all four walls together.


    I love this Tower!! It was a lot of work, but well worth it. There are over 240 runs of stripwood in this baby!!

    I have a few things to do with the walls before I go on. Thanks for following. Phil
  • I didn't care for epoxy tar either. Going forward it will be white glue and India ink for me. Nice work Phil!
  • Looks great!
  • Nice update Phil...I'm inline with Alan...I use Elmers colored with acrylic paint (Grimy Black) Tower looks dead on and squared up nicely.
  • I also struggled a bit with the epoxy method. Definitely going to try the Elmers on the next one.
  • i find epoxy to be one of the biggest challenges on these kits. i actually kinda hate it. i wish there was a good way to apply it. it doesn't seem like there is.
  • kebmo said:

    i find epoxy to be one of the biggest challenges on these kits. i actually kinda hate it. i wish there was a good way to apply it. it doesn't seem like there is.

    I don't care for it either. It's fussy and tends to get into the wrong places. It would, however, seem to be a necessary evil!
  • I certainly agree epoxy is a challenge, but I find it holds so much better than wood glue. I just have to get better at working with it.

    Continuing, I'm finishing up the additions to the Tower. There are two canopies that need to be added. I found it is better to glue the canopy in place in the right position and add the supports later after it is dry.


    In the past, when I tried to glue the canopy and glue the supports, I ended up messing the whole thing up.

    Just follow Brett's instructions and you'll do fine. Here are pictures of my Tower after adding the canopies and castings.

    IMG_2635 (2)
    IMG_2636 (2)
    IMG_2637 (2)
    IMG_2638 (2)

    I did better using the blackened epoxy, but I may go back and add a bit more. On another note, I've been trying to take better pictures. As any photographer will tell you, proper lighting is everything. After talking to Brett, I purchased some auxiliary lighting. You can put them on a small tripod and easily move them around.


    Next time: I need to back up and stain and grain the 6" stripwood in Bag 4, then it's on to the Tower Foundation and the Main Building Loading Dock.

    Thanks for following. Phil
  • great idea on the lights. i'm gonna have to consider getting some. can you provide a link?
  • Kevin,

    Sorry for my slow response. Here is the light. I can't remember where I bought it but you want to make sure it comes with the tripod. They are about $45 each. They also have an attachment so you can put it on the hotshoe of your Digital SLR.


  • We are now ready to assemble the Tower foundation and rear loading dock and put them together with the main building and Tower.

    As a first step, I decided to glue the foundation and loading dock castings together to insure I had a proper fit. This is a bit out of order from the instruction manual, but I was more comfortable with this approach.

    You may recall that you primed the foundation and loading dock castings a while back. My primer is a bit on the darker side and I hadn't dealt with the weathering of concrete before. Therefore, I consulted with the King of Koncrete, Ken Karns (he's not just known as Dr. Grunge). If you caught his build of O'Neills, you would have noticed how well he did his concrete. Very believable. I don't believe I can reach this same level of realism, but I'm going to try. First, according to Ken, spray paint the castings with Floquil Concrete, if you still happen to have a bottle. I did.


    The concrete still looked a bit dark to me, so I applied some light grey chalk (704.8) to lighten it up.


    Next, and according to Ken's instructions, I wanted to apply some ochre and brown chalk to give the concrete a more weathered look. Instead of applying them separately, I combined the chalk together to get a more homogeneous look.


    I then wanted to apply a little black chalk to bring out the various highlights in the concrete. WARNING!! It is very easy to put too much black chalk on and not get the look you are looking for. I found that if you take your fingertip and take a little black chalk and rub it around, you will have just enough to get the effect. Kind of like dry brushing with your finger.


    Look at those details.

    Finally, we need to add some additional weathering to the edges. Brett suggests rust and I agree, but I added some black chalk to my rust to give it a much darker look. This step is where you just have to use your artistic ability. Just don't overdo it.


    Now, it's time to get the main building and the Tower glued to this. Here is the end result.


    Next time: The Ribbed Seam Roofing.

    BTW, we are now three months into this build. We are on page 44 of the instruction manual and we have quite the structure already built. Not too bad. Also, there have been almost 6,400 views of this build. The interest continues. Thanks for following. Phil
  • Concrete is outstanding
  • i agree. much better than mine.
  • Great coloring Phil! It looks like there is a bolt on the left of the tower concrete dock. If so you can color it rust and streak some rust down from it.
  • Thanks Bryan, Kevin and Tom. Tom, I'll do that. Phil
  • I didn't glue my castings together first either. The 5 minute epoxy gives you plenty of time to tweak the positioning.
  • edited January 2021
    I needed to take a bit of a break from modeling. However, that didn't stop me from finishing a organizing project I planned to do for some time. A couple of years ago, I bought a wooden organizer with drawers lined with foam. I bought it for my Rembrandt chalks. However, I didn't want to just throw them in the drawers and call it good. As you may know me, I had to organize it so the sticks wouldn't roll around and they were in order by number and color (Yes, I am definitely OCD). Below is a picture of one of the drawers. You can't really see it in the picture, but I have the numbers on the side.

    IMG_2673 (2)

    I used scrap stripwood as dividers. Lots of room for more chalk sticks!!! Phil
  • admin said:

    you can also polish small pieces without the dremel! use just the felt polishing wheel to buff the casting. ez for the smaller castings

    i've never used a dremel to buff castings, but i have cut the dremel buffing wheels in quarters and done it that way. in fact, that's the only way i've ever buffed a casting.

  • I didn't glue my concrete castings together first either. The 5 minute epoxy gives you plenty of time to tweak the positioning.
  • Now we are on to the ribbed seam roof that will go on the main building and the addition. There is a template which serves as a cutting guide. As you can see below, I secured the template on a cutting mat to make it easier to cut the metal.


    The top part of the template is for the main building and the lower right is for the addition. Please the first sheet on the template and make sure it is square. The second rib should be properly aligned with the mark provided.


    Using a square and a No. 11 blade, lightly make multiple passes over the sheet. Don't force it. Again, as I explained in an earlier lesson, keep the blade at a low angle to maximize the cutting surface.


    Once the vertical cuts are made, you need to make two horizontal cuts. For this, I switch to a long ruler and make darn sure the rule is square to the line.


    Once you make all the necessary cuts, slowly pull the cut sheets from the tape. Be sure to pull in a perpendicular direction to the ribs to avoid bending the sheet. As you pull each piece be sure to label the back with each name.


    When you switch to the Addition, you need to cut a piece in half. As you see, I put the piece on the template first and then measured 4 inches and cut. I then put the cut piece below the first piece.


    After all pieces are cut and labeled, I put them on a piece of cardboard, using double-sided tape and painted them with a primer.


    After sitting for 24 hours, I baked them at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

    Practice Tip: Never waste extra material. It could come in handy one day on another build. There were a lot of nice pieces of the ribbed seam roofing left, so I put them in a pill container for future use.


    Now it's time to put the roofing on the roof card. This was probably the easiest part. First, spray paint the back and sides with brown. Once dry, check the fit of the roofing and then pull the adhesive backing and stick on the roofing material.


    When adding the second piece, be sure the ribs are lined up.


    Here is my finished roof. The back side didn't exactly line up with the front side, but this shouldn't be noticeable once the roof cap is put on.


    Follow the same procedures for the Addition.

    Next time: Coloring and weathering the ribbed seam roof. I had to order some chalk from Dick Blick, so I'm waiting for those to come in.

    Thanks for following. Phil
  • Phil, Your tutorial is very well done. Every detail is explained very well as are some useful tips. Thanks for doing this. I always save scraps of wood, metal, plastic or whatever I'm working with. It's amazing how many times I find a use for them.
  • Continued excellence. Keep teaching.....Rick
  • great stuff Phil, much appreciated!
  • Thanks Tom, Rick and Brett. Phil
  • The chalk I needed for the next step finally came in. We need to color the ribbed seam roofing. One method to do this is explained by Brett on p. 46 of the instruction manual. I have always struggled with this method because the chalk I scrap on the roofing doesn't stick like it should. This is probably due to the way I primed the metal. If you don't spray enough primer on the roof, there is not enough "tooth" for the chalk to stick.

    However, I have developed another method that works well for me. Let me explain how I do it. First, I take the chalk that Brett suggests using and blend it together. Then, using my alcohol, I create a slurry.


    Next, I get a flat brush and load it with the slurry. Starting from the bottom of the roof, I drag the brush to the top of the roof.


    Why do I do this? If you look at most rusting roofs, you will see that there is more rust at the bottom than at the top. Therefore, I want a larger concentration of the chalk at the bottom.

    Now, at this point, you may be saying, "What a mess!!" "What is Phil doing?" I'm doing exactly what most crafters tell you not to do. They tell you to start small and slowly add. However, with metal roofs, I have found that if I start with a larger concentration of rust, I can remove what I want to get the effect I want.

    The next step is critical. Keeping in mind that I want more rust at the bottom of the roof, take a soft round brush and start brushing from the bottom of the roof to the top. The idea is to take off most of the rust at the top of the roof and take off very little at the bottom of the roof. This is where the artist in you takes over for the look you want. As I progress towards the top of the roof, I add more pressure on the brush to take off more rust. The brushing also homogenizes the rust.


    In this picture, you see the result. I'm not quite finished with the look I want, but you get the idea.

    The next step is to add the Mars Violet (538.3), which will darked the roof a bit. It also tones down the color of the rust.


    This is the look I'm going for.

    Here is the roof before I add the flashing and glue it down.


    Practice tip: Not every method Brett introduces to you will work for you or appeal to you. Don't be afraid to experiment with other methods. However, your experiments will be more successful if you keep the basic principles that Brett teaches you in mind. For example, in this particular experiment, I knew the chalk/alcohol slurry would provide better coverage of the chalk because Brett and Karl taught me this when putting chalk on the castings. They also taught me that using a round soft brush following the slurry would even things out. I just used these same concepts when figuring out how to apply rust to a roof.

    Next time: The Ribbed Seam Roof Flashing.

    Thanks for following. Phil

  • No, thank you for this great on going tutorial !!
  • Thanks Robert. Phil
  • I got stalled on mine (house reno) this is inspirational for me
  • Mike, you need to get started again!! It's therapeutic when doing house renovations. Phil
  • Continued fantastic job. Glad you described your variance from Brett's technique. True, not everything works the same for all of us. I tend to do the slurry more often than dry chalk. It's easier for me. Each to his own.......Rick
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