Making Ice Cubes (and clear bottles) HO & O Scale. Karl. A

edited August 2022 in Painting Castings
admin said:

What did you use for ice.....

ALCO said:

That’s real ice, right?

kebmo said:

leave it to me to address the elephant in the room. what did you use for the ice? salt?

Dave_S said:

Can you share a tutorial on making ice cubes? Yours are really very "cool".
Later, Dave S. Tucson, AZ

Here is how I modelled the ice, in HO and O scale, both slightly different, but the same principal.

I'm really big on understanding why a technique works, and, learning how it works, that way I can adapt it if needed, or use what I've learned somewhere else. That's why I always say, follow the manual, learn the techniques, understand the basics, master the modeling.

Brett's manuals and techniques are the absolute best for this. Follow them and you will get outstanding results and then, once mastered, you can learn how to make the techniques your own.

First a little bit of back ground...

I guess this 'concept' came from a product I saw on TV 10 or 15 years ago for repairing scratches on eye glasses, you wipe the product on, it fills in the scratches and the lenses are good and clear again.
A similar recent product for car body minor swirly scratch repair is using a ceramic wipe on coating, this has the same effect. It fills in the small scratches and gives you a smooth, glossy, unblemished, clear finish.

So, where does this lead us? It showed me that a rough surface on a clear product refracts light and gives a 'frosty' appearance, but, this can be eliminated by smoothing out that rough surface with a clear, thin, glossy top coat to fill in the imperfections.

In addition, my method for using flour for mortar on brick work also has a contribution to the 'ice' technique. Learning that the fine dust on the brick face was dissolved and eliminated by a clearcoat was a factor in this method.

So, with that said, lets make some "ice" ...


  • edited August 2022
    Now for the quick part....

    As Brett and Kevin correctly guessed the "ice" was made with salt.
    For the HO ice I used regular table salt, the grains seemed the right size to me.
    For the O scale ice I used 'sea salt' , the grains are larger and coarser and seemed the right size to me.

    However, when you look at salt in the shaker it is white, not clear like Ice.

    This is where the previous post comes into context...

    The white colour comes from the minute salt powder which coats the grains, also the tiny surface scratches on the crystals caused by them rubbing against each other.
    So, place the salt where you want it and secure it with a drop of "clear gloss acrylic varnish"

    The varnish will dissolve the dust on the salt crystals and also fill in the minute surface
    scratches, thus making the "ice cubes" clear.

    O Scale .... Sea Salt ... grains sprayed with "Rustoleum Crystal Clear Gloss"
    corona 007

    HO scale .... Table Salt ... grains coated with a drop of "Acrylic Clear Gloss - Minwax"
    Coke Chest 06

    I think I prefer the Minwax Acrylic result slightly.

    Remember where you saw it first, the SWSM Forum...
  • edited September 2022
    For crystal clear 3D printed bottles...

    The same principal applies as in my first post,
    learn how and why a technique works, then master it and adapt as needed.

    As mentioned previously the 'frosty' appearance is due to a slightly rough surface.
    Simply spray with 'Rustoleum Crystal Clear Gloss', this will fill in the imperfections and give you a smooth, clear, glossy, glass like finish.
    trio 05
    As others have also shown, the tinted clear paints also have the same effect for bottles, such as green, smoke, yellow etc. These work in the same way by filling in the minute surface texture to produce a smooth clear finish.

    Hope this answered some of the questions.
    Have fun !
  • A word of caution! Don't use them in place of real ones!!

    Excellent tutorial Karl.

  • wow. it's guys like karl that make this forum the absolute king!
    thanks for the info karl!
  • Thanks Karl….yet another great “kartorial”
  • Thanks Karl!! Great tutorial! I'll echo Kevin's comment and add a thank-you to Brett for providing the forum for great modelers like Karl.

    I have a question. When working with Sea Salt, does the salt have to be in position before you spray the Crystal Clear. In other words, does the Crystal Clear cause the salt to adhere to itself or can you spray the Sea Salt first and then put it in place?
    Thanks again for the great tutorial.
  • edited August 2022
    Thanks for the great tutorial on making ice and clear bottles. Now all I need to do is get the appropriate supplies. As Kevin, Terry and Steve have already said, it is great tutorials like this that set SWSM head and shoulders above others.
    Later, Dave S. Tucson, AZ
  • Thank you Karl.
  • edited September 2022
    Thanks guys, glad its useful.

    Good question Steve.
    I put a small pile of seasalt into a 'jar' lid and sprayed it with the Clearcoat.
    I then picked up the sticky clumped pile with tweezers and placed it in the tub.
    While still wet I made three holes in the 'ice cubes' with a toothpick and stuck in the bottles.

    For something like your cooler I would put the grains in dry and position them around the bottles.
    Then put a drop or two of the Acrylic Gloss onto the salt grains to clear them up and secure them.
  • Thank you Karl. I'll give that a try tonight.
  • Great "Karltorial"!
  • Not to mention another kit maker here.....but a guty from the UK that makes great turntables just came out with an icehouse and icing dock for "O" scale. He includes chunks of lucite for blocks of ice. They come really clear, and the instructions tell you how to make them translucent to resemble ice. I guess you could go with what looks good for your eye. Plexiglass cut small enough (tedious process.....possible finger damage or loss) might also work...
  • here's my first attempt at ice. i bought extra course sea salt, and probably should have bought coarse intead.
    first attempt
  • kebmo said:

    here's my first attempt at ice. i bought extra course sea salt, and probably should have bought coarse intead.
    first attempt

    i wanted to do this quick, so i took a whole sprue of bottles and dipped in the bottle of tamiya clear green. the yellow bottles where the first dip. when i saw it was yellow i figured i'd better stir it up before dipping the next sprue;. two bottles launched into the ether when i snipped them from the sprue (hopfully i'll find them next time i clean off the bench). and there wasn't really enough room in the tub for the bottles i put in it.

  • edited September 2022
    Looking good Kev,
    Great to see the 'ice' worked out for you.
  • edited August 2022
    Kevin, good account of working with the bottles. I also launched a bottle while trying to drill it for a straw. My wife's auto vac probably already ingested it.
    I think I/we need Karl to give me/us a tutorial on drilling a hole for a straw. I was trying to use my twist drill with a #77 drill bit but I couldn't get very deep into the bottle because I feared that to much pressure might just snap the bit and leave a part inside the casting, I had considered putting the bit into my Dremel but thought it might spin to fast and the heat generated might distort/melt the casting. Suggestions are welcome.

    Later, Dave S. Tucson, AZ
  • edited August 2022
    Dave_S said:

    ..............I think I/we need Karl to give me/us a tutorial on drilling a hole for a straw. ........... I feared that to much pressure might just snap the bit ...........I had considered putting the bit into my Dremel .......... Suggestions are welcome. Later, Dave S. Tucson, AZ

    Don't use any pressure, as with most precision hand tools, let the tool do the work, you're just the guide.
    I definitely wouldn't use a dremel for something so precise and fine.

    I did do a HO one but dropped it (lost) , the next one I do (soon) I'll def put a thread together for you.

  • Good first go at it Kevin. Next batch, don't color the neck just hit it with your gloss medium.

    Dave, no Dremel for sure. I'd make a light pass along the top with sanding stick to make sure it's nice and flat. May even use a needle to poke an indent as a pilot. Then as Karl says, no pressure just keep in in the center of the top as you twist the bit.
  • i think i'll give that a shot today too.
  • Nice work Kevin…fun to experiment with different techniques.
  • Bryan and Karl, Thanks for your feedback.
    Karl, I am looking forward to your thread. I went out and got some Minwax Clear Gloss and tried it on some sea salt (ice) and bottles with good results. Note: HD no longer sells Minwax products so I got a pint at Ace using my $10 off birthday coupon.
    Bryan, I like the suggestion of using a needle to make a pilot. I might try to make a pilot hole with a needle then drill a bit then continue with a pilot and drill a bit more until I reach the desired depth. It seems like the fine drill bits have a difficult time removing the waste material cut away. I found myself removing the drill bit often to remove the waste. It looks a trial and error process at this point. But I will succeed! Patience Grasshopper.

    Later, Dave S. Tucson, AZ
  • What an awesome tutorial! Thanks for posting this.
  • Turned out well Kevin!
  • thanks fellas. it'll turn out better next time. i just wanted to see how well the salt would work. i'm gonna get a bag of coarse sea salt, cuz the extra course is a haiir too big i think.
  • Great bottles. Stunningly cool.
  • edited September 2022
    kebmo said:

    ........ two bottles launched into the ether when i snipped them from the sprue..........

    Little tip for you,

    instead of holding the sprue when 'nipping' small parts off, (carefully) hold the small part in your fingers (or tweezers) and 'nip' off the sprue while holding the actual part you want to keep.

    It's a lot easier to find the larger sprue than the tiny part.... when something flies away.....

    I know... simple idea... but, it's effective ... and often overlooked.

  • My ice needed to be hacked up block ice. Since my railroad is 1950s coastal Maine. What do you think?
    Screen Shot 2022-09-13 at 6.42.21 AM
  • looks pretty cold
  • Thanks. No salt used! No paint used.
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