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The builder is water skiing until the river freezes over.
With the walls Hoist House completed and ready for assembly, the next step is the interior floor. The two casting are temporarily held in place (with double sided tape) so that the planks can be positioned properly.
Usually at around this time in a project (when the finish line is coning into view) I need to remind myself not to take short cuts and keep building with the same enthusiasm and attention to detail as when I took the first whiff of resin from the details box! So, for the interior floor, I made sure to get a nice range of tones for the boards and add those little imperfections: splits, cracks and seams as I glued them to the template.
After the floor was correctly trimmed to size, I polished it up with some fine steel wool. I also dabbed on a little black shoe polish then rubbed it off with a cloth. This helps fill in any cracks where the white paper may show through and also adds a little more of a worn look to the floor.
Moving on, attention is turned to the base that the diorama will live on. The instructions are very clear providing exact dimensions for locations of center lines, structures, ties, etc. For the track, I'm hand laying the ties and rail. I made a wide variety of ties ranging from newer and older worn-out ties. All had grain scribed into the surface and the older ones were beaten up and split on the edges, corners and even chunks from the middle. The newer ones and colored with more of a brown stain; the older with a grayish stain and a little gray drybrushing.
The last part of this step is to locate the mine shaft. A chipboard template is provided and it gets spotted right on the centerline and to the left of the Tipple track ties.
The mine shaft is carved out in that area down into the first layer of foam. I painted the cut out area black with some craft paint then lined it with scrap planks and corner braces. I also added just a little dirt with the paint was still wet. Here's a look down the shaft:
Now it's time to tackle the castings! My skills at detailing castings are something I've wanted to improve. It's usually one of my least favorite parts of constructing a kit. But in eyeballing the new pieces included here and in stockpiling the tips I've picked up from Karl and our late friend Kevin O'Neil and it's time for me to get over it and do it!
First and foremost is to prep all the parts and pieces. Drill holes in the bottoms of the round pieces; use the "carpet tape and popcicle stick" method for the flat pieces. The resin parts that represent metal pieces get primed with a flat black spray paint (I also used some dark brown too for variety) while the concrete and wooden pieces get a light coat Rustoleum Khaki tan--a perfect, less expensive replacement for those of us who used to use Floquil Earth.
I've gotten smarter recently (debatable, I know!) and finally quit throwing away my casting toothpicks that I snip the ends off of. After plucking a primed casting off a toothpick, I immediately put the toothpick into a small parts tray. I keep my non-drying clay blobs in the tray next to the toothpicks. Also, if on a future build I complain that I can't find my "perfect sized casting drill bit"...please remind me that I put it in with the casting toothpicks (so that I'd always know where it was). Thanks in advance!
Next update, I'll get into what I think is the signature casting on this project: the NEW steam engine!!
Additionally, Kevin O'Neil shares his ideas here: http://www.sierrawestscalemodels.com/vanforum/discussion/344/advanced-painting-and-weathering-of-details-with-kevin-oneill.#Item_15
Along with the suggestions in the manual, these threads contain all the best information to date on the subject. I constantly refer to all three as I do my casting work. With that being said, I'm going to skip ahead and focus on some of the unique pieces contained in the Deer Creek Mine Kit--the first being the Horizontal Boiler. One of the most important steps is making sure the pieces are aligned correctly horizontally and vertically. Using the 7/16" stripwood guide placed on edge was the perfect size to support the barrel and keep it exactly level. I also used a machinist's square lined up with casting mark on the front to keep it in line vertically.
Epoxy the two pieces together and while it's setting, you want to check the hole on the bottom of the barrel for the brass support (piece #8) and the stack (piece #9) to make sure everything will line up vertically.
Note: in the above 2 pictures, I've got the firebox resting on some pieces of scrap wood. That was to allow for the additional height that will result from the 4 metal feet (part #7) that get added later. Also at this time, you check the fit of the steam dome (part #3) and epoxy it in place.
Holes need to be drilled for the 2 manhole crabs and smoke box handle. I found that a #77 bit worked well for the 2 man hole crabs and a # 72 was the right size for the handle.
I added 2 small gauges on the smoke box. I made them by cutting thin slices of solder which were epoxied to some pieces of scrap wire bent to 90 degree angles.
After the casting is painted flat black, some of the other small detail parts are added. Take your time when adding all these little parts!! I wrote in my notes: "Apply and let it dry!" I could only add 2 pieces at a time using 5 minute epoxy and get the part adjusted into proper alignment. I'd glue two and come back 30 minutes to an hour later--sometimes the next day. Seriously...go slow and save yourself some aggravation and less than satisfactory results.
The 4 feet are epoxied onto the bottom of the boiler. A piece of a coffee stir with double sided tape came in handy holding the feet in position (only 2 at a time) while the epoxy dried. This is a perfect place to trust my "apply and let it dry" mantra:
To insure clean bends on the brass piping, I used a small combination square that was as wide as the length that the tubing appeared to be. With the metal ruler removed, I bent the wire around the edge of the square and formed the two angles. Then, cut off the excess on the two ends.
For the weathering, I looked at a lot of pictures of steam engines and boilers to get an idea where and how colors fall into place. Generally, the heat from a boiler makes the black metal lighten and develop more of a gray or white tone. In spots where the metal is thicker, it doesn't get as light. This is helpful to keep in mind when looking at this casting. The places where pieces of metal overlap it will appear darker (like where the rivets are):
The most intense heat would probably be located in the firebox. So I added very light gray (and probably even pure white) chalk powder to the top and gently feathered it down using a make-up brush.
Then, I went back and added a little dark gray on top and pulled that down using a soft brush.
I repeated this process back and forth on both the firebox and the boiler until I was satisfied with the color and the transition between the two pieces--I didn't want the firebox to look way lighter than the barrel.
To bring out the rivet, lettering and other details I used sponge make-up applicators. The paint was Vallejo Dark Rust (#302) along with Old Wood (#310) here and there for a little variety.
The trick to highlighting the rivets is to get just about ALL the paint off the sponge--even drier than drybrushing--before applying it to the casting. I had to almost scrub the sponge on the surface to apply the color. Otherwise, the surrounding surface also would get paint on it. Here's a tip: try practicing this technique on the left side of the firebox (the side that will face the building) since it won't be seen easily. I also added some pure black chalk in spots where soot might build up and some pure white in a couple areas: under the ash pan and a couple very thin lines vertically on the barrel to look like calcium build up. Here's the final result:
Next update, we'll work on another cool casting: the Double Cylinder Mine Hoist.
Thanks for the encouraging words and votes of approval. There's so much incredible detail on this beauty that I wanted to do it justice!
The next piece is another example packed with detail: the mine hoist. I rounded up all the required pieces and made sure all the prep work was done. The resin base casting is painted with Rustolium Khaki tan. Also note that the connecting rods (part #11) are found on the non-adhesive door and window sheet. I colored them with a steel colored Valejo paint.
These are the two protrusions that need to be filed off the bottoms of the cylinders:
Follow the instructions for test fitting and reaming ALL pieces and become familiar with their final locations. For the frames, cylinders, and crosshead guides I went ahead and painted them with "Christmas Green" craft paint by Apple Barrel. This is the same color Karl has used in the past on his steam engine (and other parts) to get a nice "industrial" look. It's very bright green when it goes on, but after it dries, simply rub each part between you fingers. It will darken up and flake off in spots yielding a great effect. You'll see in later pictures where I rubbed all the green off on the high spots and left it in the recesses.
For the big friction flange and brake flange, I created different types of wear marks. Using a toothpick, I chucked each piece into a drill and spun it at fairly high speed. I added different marks using a buffing pad, pencil lead, steel wool, and black chalk and thinner--no rhyme or reason as to the order. I just tried to shine spots where I thought metal would rub on metal and darken spots where grease would build up. Here's how they turned out:
Again, using my "apply and let it dry" mantra I assembled the hoist about two pieces at a time. Using a couple squares for alignment, the two frames were glued first:
Then the cylinders:
Follow the directions closely for step 6 on page 72 (with pictures on page 73). When it comes time to attach the chord, I wound the 24" around so that there was enough to cover the drum. I then put a drop of superglue on the chord in a spot that would be hidden under the drum and used a clothespin to keep tension on it.
Once dry, I trimmed off the remaining end close to where it was glued and rolled it underneath. Remember to NOT glue the drum. It needs to be able to spin at this point.
The pinion gear and shaft are installed next (although this is the only picture I took--so the gear is out of position)
The levers go on the smaller wire in front of the drum. I used a clothespin to hold the correct angle while the epoxy dried.
For step 9, I altered the assembly a bit in an attempt to make it less of a pain. Rather than installing the crosshead guides into the cylinder first, I positioned and glued the anchor straps in place. I made sure that the bolt heads of the anchor straps were directly in line with the holes on the cylinder.
Once the epoxy was fully set on the straps, I flipped the entire piece over and epoxied the crosshead guides in place. The anchor strap acts as a little shelf that supports the crosshead guide while the epoxy dries.
Here's a view turned right side up after the epoxy dried:
The final pieces to install are the crank discs and connecting rods. To prevent the discs from looking crooked in their final position, I used some pieces of really thin stripwood to support them underneath while the epoxy dried. The disc was rotated into the correct spot so the connecting rod would line up with the small hole on the crank disc.
And here's the completed hoist:
Mike...there are not pins for those connecting rods and Brett makes mention of that in the manual: Prototypically pins would hold the rods to the crank discs but didn't model them because they would not be visible. There comes a point where all of us have to decide where to draw the line on modeling and including tiny details. For me, I made and included those really small gauges on the boiler because the piece is out in the open and MIGHT be visible. Plus, it was a fun challenge to fabricate them. Since the hoist is inside the hoist house and has somewhat limited visibility, I (and I'm assuming Brett as well) felt that was a good place to stop and direct time and effort toward other more visible/important details. (I also forgot to include one of those control handles. To go back, tear apart the hoist and add that one piece wouldn't be worth the effort.)
Take. Your. Time. Slow down. Allow glues to dry. Allow paints to cure (unless a special technique calls for speed). The fun is in the journey.
Okay, here's something I tried with some castings that I think does a lot to sell the illusion. I added simple labels and insignias to some crates, cans, and drums. It's a minor detail but when it's missing, the viewer can more easily realize they're looking at a model. Therefore, in my opinion, it justifies the time and effort.
In the above pair of shelf castings, you can't really tell what the labels on the cans and boxes say or what products they're from...all you can tell is that there's SOMETHING on them--just like in real life.
If you missed them, here are the little labels I added:
I did a Google search using the words "vintage signs", "vintage oil" or "Vintage service station" --key being vintage as opposed to old or retro. Also, search for vintage brands like Oilzum, Esso, Richfield, Lion, Polarine, Bel Ray and Dixie. And of course there's no need to limit yourself to oil products. Chewing gum, soft drink, and cigarette advertising all had labels or images that will work.
I looked for pictures that weren't "full" color. Back in the day, most commercial printing was limited to about 3 colors as opposed to the brilliant full color (or "4 color") printing we use today. It could be argued that the old fruit crates were VERY colorful, but when I tried using those they attracted attention to themselves. They just screamed "LOOK AT ME!"
I'm going for completion rather than attention. So I searched for signs with this type of look as far as color:
After finding signs that I liked, I resized them so they scaled correctly to the object and printed them out. I used plain old copy paper which is too thick for HO. So I took sand paper and emery boards to the back sides and sanded them down to make the paper thinner. After gluing the sign to the object (using white glue thinned 50/50 with water), I let the glue dry and then dulled the signs down further by dusting with gray chalk. You can see the difference the last step makes:
Here are a couple other examples:
Sheesh....labels on objects we old folks need magnifiers to see in the first place! As I have said before you do the extra things that inspire me to work harder at my efforts. Well done.
As always, I appreciate the nice words. Very gratifying!
It's really not that hard especially since they don't have to be perfect, crisp reproductions of the originals. Again, it just needs to look like "something" that will convince the eye that there's a label in the space.
I scale them down using Pages on my Mac or MS Word on a PC. I take an image that I like and copy & paste it. When the pasted object is highlighted, you should have the option to stretch or shrink it by grabbing the corner with the pointer of your mouse. I paste the image a bunch of times over and over at different sizes and print it out on a piece of paper. Then, I eyeball it to the casting to see if I'm close to the correct size. If I'm way off, I go back and shrink them down more. I'll print out a page of images that looks like this:
Then I just cut them out with an Xacto and a metal straight edge.
I don't have any special formula, I just guess at the right size. Generally, I get them down to about 1/4" x 1/2" and see how they look when printed. Also, I mostly use square signs. Way easier to cut out with a blade and straight edge. I don't want to fuss with hand cutting ovals or circles if possible.
Super, super update. Can't believe you have time to do such outstanding detail work, especially knowing your summertime activities. I'll second Karl. Too many things done SO well. Can't begin to comment on all. Love your tutorial on labels. I'm going to try that soon. I've done similar resizing to make decals, but certainly not down to this scale!
I'm really looking forward to starting this kit. Thanks again for your meticulous tutorial and attention to the finest details.
What happened to this wonderful build?
I'm still around and got some work done over the weekend. Ski season just wrapped up and I'm easing back into "modeling" mode. I'll get an update posted this week!
Jerry--the Internet is littered with photos of my "skinny dipping" escapades.