HO Scale O'Neills Fabrication Official Forum Build

edited April 2016 in HO Scale Builds
Ken Karns will be conducting the official forum build for the HO Scale O'Neills Fabrication kit. I am very excited to watch and follow along as Ken brings his modeling perspective to this kit!

Everyone is encouraged to participate but pictures will be limited solely to Ken's build in this thread. If you would like to share your work on my forum (highly encouraged) please start a separate build thread.


  • edited March 2016
    In keeping with SierraWest Scale Models history of unparalleled quality and innovative craftsman kits, is Brett's latest release...O'NEILLS FABRICATION. I'm honored to be involved with this first forum build of this fantastic structure and diorama. With the opening of the box one gets a sense of order and the obvious organization and care that went into the components of this kit. These elements are coupled with a fully illustrated, 113 page construction manual. Perusing the manual, you are guided skillfully along the build taking each sub-assembly in order with concise and easy to follow instructions on every aspect of construction.

    Following my first read through of the manual (see figure 1), I was thrilled to note a number of new and innovative components, designs and techniques utilized with O'Neills. I love how Brett keeps each new kit fresh and unique! I will point out some of these as we move through the build. The excitement is real and the energy is building so lets get started with HO kit number 211...O'NEILLS FABRICATION!

    The first step with any of Brett's kits, following the ceremonial riffling through the box, is a careful read through the construction manual. Brett's manuals are a right of passage once you discover SWSM. No other manufacturer provides anything close to these manuals. A beautiful, detailed diorama is as simple as just carefully following each step of the manual and enjoy the experience.

    The construction of the Main Building begins by adding texture and grain to the stripwood. I work through this portion of the build with great anticipation and care as it will set the tone for the entire project. Brett carefully packages the stripwood and references the size in such a way as to leave little doubt which wood is being referred to, but make sure you work the wood per the instructions.

    The wood for the Main Building was grained with a steel wire brush and lightly passed through some fine steel wool to remove the "fuzzies" and stained with chalks per the instructions (see figure 2). Brett designed the Main Building to be a "well used building but not dilapidated or backwoods in appearance" so just a light texture to the wood and some knot holes. The instructions are very clear on creating these fast and effective knot holes with just the point of compass or similar tool (see figure 3).

    Next time I'll be putting on some faded Ivory paint for a really nice effect on the Main Building siding. More later...

    (Figure 1) A careful read of O'Neills Fabrication Construction Manual. Not in my shop but a bit staged in my wife's office area.
    (Figure 2) The balance of the stripwood for O'Neills Main Building. "Grained and Stained"
    (Figure 3) A sample of the wood for the Main Building with the fast and simple knot holes made by sticking my favorite pointed awl into the wood and rocking back and forth with the grain to varying degrees (O'Neills Construction Manual 2016). Note the lack of fuzz on the wood and the light but effective wood grain.
  • I see you have got your coffee.
  • Ken ive been waiting for this thread to get started. Cant wait to see what you do with it.
  • This ought to be fun. I'm looking forward to watching.
  • Marty, essential to any detailed SWSM build of course...

    Yea Wes, I'm looking forward to it as well. Such a great kit here.

    Bryan, having fun already. Glad to hear you guys will be following along.
  • The stripwood work on O'Neills Main Building siding is coming along nicely. The knot hole and weathered paint siding methods outlined are very easy to do, allow the modeler to be creative and personalize the structure depending on how you grain, stain, construct and place the knot holes and color the wood. This is why I love working with the wood at this point in the build.
    A portion of the Main Building siding that has been grained, stained and knot holes added. The knot holes are placed randomly and vary in style but made with the same tool. Note the pointed awl used to make the knot holes. Don't put all the knot holes in the center of the boards. Place them along the edge as well being careful not to split the wood.
    Bulk of the wood for the Main Building with the weathered paint added. Note the great variation in the individual boards. There are two different board widths and three different thicknesses which creates wonderful contrast and shadows when put on the walls. This technique is super easy and yields great results (O'Neills Construction Manual 2016).
  • edited March 2016
    Really like the effect with the paint..and the knot holes....looking good. I am also looking forward to the I will anxiously..and patiently await the "O" scale version....
  • Ken I'll be watching you. As I wait for the O-Scale version to.

    You look to be off to a good start. What did you use for the stain color??

  • Ken A great start and I shall be following closely in tropical Australia.
    Did you grain the wood on one side only or both sides to minimise any slight curl. I am using a brush card file cleaner for the grain.
  • Thanks "Muddy". I was real happy how the wood turned out and so easy to do. Love the random nature of the finished pieces. Time well spent here.

    Jerry, nice to have you along. The stain was done by scraping fine chalk powder over the wood then blending into the grained wood with a brush and 70% alcohol, equal parts of 408.3, 408.5 and 234.3 (O'Neills Construction Manual 2016).

    Hi Michael, nice hearing from you and you can invite me for dinner anytime! Right, the wood was grained with a wire brush on BOTH sides. The card filer is a bit aggressive for my taste but know many modelers that use it to good effect. The Main Building grain of O'Neills is designed to be light so a standard small wire brush imparts an appropriate grain.
  • Great start Ken. love the tone variations in your boards, and the knot details.
    Cant wait to see your next steps.

  • edited March 2016
    Looking forward to your progress!
  • Hi Ken,

    Will you also be uploading this build to the Railroad Line Forums, as well? or, just on Brett's forum? Will be watching your progress on this kit,
  • edited March 2016
    This build will definitely appear on RRL at some point in the future...
  • Thanks Karl, I love how the main building is shaping up and the wonderful contrast to the other associated structures.

    Alan_H, glad to see you're following along. Great kit to work with here!

    Hey Rich, what Brett said....and nice to have you following.

    This is a good time to interject some resources for anyone following along. Brett has posted some invaluable video tutorials on this site under Craftsman Kit University. Detailed accounts of weathering both the stripwood and resin castings among others. In addition, there is both an unboxing video AND a simply wonderful video walkthrough of Brett's fabulous O'Neills Fabrication pilot model.

    I will be posting again this week so stay tuned...Ken
  • Ken, this should turn out wonderful. I glad to see you doing this. Things look really great so far.
  • Hey Dustin, nice to hear from you. Appreciate that. Look forward to seeing you again at EXPO, I assume you're going?
  • Ken,

    I'm glad you are doing the build. I have the kit, so I will be following closely. I'm looking forward to meeting you at the EXPO. Now that I know what your feet and hands look like, I shouldn't have any trouble picking you out of the crowd.

  • Right Phil, sorry to detract from the build so early on! You'll love getting into this one, such a awesome kit. We'll talk more about it at the EXPO...Ken
  • edited March 2016
    Love the pic of you at "Step 2" Ken...... classic.

    Step 1 - open the box, spread it all out and marvel at what you have infront of you.
    Step 2 - sit back, relax, peruse the manual, keep glancing at all the stuff next to you.
    Step 3 - get started.......

  • I definitely have my priorities straight, with first things first. Planning and thinking about the build before starting is sound wisdom.

  • Glad to see that I'm not the only one who enjoys reading the manual cover to cover. Short of actual building, I find reading the manual really relaxing!

    I'm so looking forward to this, Ken. You get better with every project and I can't wait to see your interpretation of O'Neill's.
  • edited March 2016
    I'm really excited that you will be building O'Neill's. Your attention to details is becoming legend around these parts. Looking forward to your take on this great kit while you give me pointers for my future attempt.

    David U
  • Ken, when are you getting the Sierra West coffee mug? Hint!
  • Can't wait to see what you do with this kit. You always amaze me and inspire me with you builds.

  • I'll be there.
  • edited March 2016
    Bill, you're so right regarding the manual. So many facets to why Brett's kits are so superior to anything currently available, and the manual is one of those features. Not just an instruction manual, as you can just sense the passion and enthusiasm that went into the development and manufacture of the box and its contents in front of you. But as Brett so eloquently put extension of the developer. I feel like Brett's right over my shoulder going "that's got it" or "well that obviously needs re-done" as I follow along through the pages. Its like a new car, the first smug of chalk dust I get on the manual I'm trying to wipe it off, but by the time the diorama is complete the "bible" looks well used for sure.

    David, well that was awfully nice of you to say. Made my day. I hope to do it justice as it, and all of Brett's kits, deserves the best effort any of us can muster up.

    Marty, good idea...Brett you need to start a spirit wear division. Put one of your beautiful daughters to work on that. Hats, mugs, shirts, etc... You would be at the EXPO even sitting in your lounge chair there at home!

    John, don't know what to say other than thanks so much. Really nice to hear that my work is a source of motivation for fellow craftsman. That's what is so nice about the SWSM fraternity, all of us helping and motivating each other to put out some great work which there is more of that here than anywhere else.

    Dustin, good...we'll hook up and do a little "bench racing"...

    I mentioned an update was coming and this small tid-bit is a precursor to a more comprehensive post of the wall construction of the main building of the O'Neills complex.
    I hope nobody gets antsy at these smaller posts but, to me, this is the foundation for the rest of the build. Brett has done it again with O'Neills and came up with a new method for framing the windows and doors. I won't give it all away but the stepped method of constructing the casing and frame creates such an awesome appearance.

    The image below is the first door and window I worked up (left wall). I was bit unsure how the green paint color Brett put on the lining would look but after I put it on and installed it it totally works...perfect with the siding and overall character of O'Neills. Note the weathered paint on the trim pieces. So easy to do and the look is spot on. Also notice the relief created by the lining and the trim. The wall is laser marked for keeping the vertical boards plumb, horizontal lines for butting board ends, header locations, etc...what more could you ask for!

    Nearly finished first door and window framing. This method is carried through during the build so I wanted to take my time and try and perfect the install. The trim boards are weathered with a little 408.5 chalk on your fingers and roll the trim between them. Avoid rubbing the trim piece with our chalky finger as you can rub the paint right off. Just lightly roll or press you finger down on the trim. This creates instant age and beautiful texture.
  • Thanks Ken Some great looking window and doorway.
    Will you be showing how you went using the Ivory paint and alcohol please? I have not started waiting to see how you did it.
    Small posts are great as it enables one, well me, to try and keep up.
  • I'll be posting a video on the process Michael.
  • Ken I love how all the baby steps merge together to create 1 beautiful picture at the end with Bretts kits. Wonderful start on the door and window framing.
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