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A group build....

40601 Views 327 Replies 36 Participants Last post by  Ruffnut Thorston
A few people have suggested another group build, so here's what I'm suggesting

We take a basic Dapol kit like this:

and build it, no racing ahead just take the kit and we discuss a) how to build it, b)how to improve it, c) weathering and finishing, and possibly d) fitting into the landscape.

I picked the building above for two reasons, firstly it's a very simple kit, and secondly it's widely available.

So, who's going to join in?

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***7113 is Garfield?

*** Cos I can.

Actually I reply to lots of complex emails with several questions needing several answers. Answering within the body of the email is always clearer as it keeps things in context. Not all email users use rich text so I can't always use colour or bolding to identify my answers within the text, so I always preface my information with *** so it will be easily found.

The *** is a carry over from that, that's all.


Masterclass??? I will look forward to watching your Pendon-level results Dave.


QUOTE (Iarnrod @ 15 Feb 2013, 18:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Off topic, but been meaning to ask Richard why he starts all his posts with ***?
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*** I chose not to be involved because I am short of time massively "time-committed" business wise and have no modelling time at all at the moment... PLUS my thought was that to make that particular kit do anything useful for me would take three times as long as building an accurate model from scratch...

However I am watching the thread because making "silk purses out of sows ears" is a useful skill for modellers and I never want to stop learning - so I like to see how others achieve things.

I was equally delighted to see Stu use the milling machine and disappointed to see the negative reaction to it. Projects like this are not a competition, they are there as a learning and teaching exercise.

Small details make a model, and thinking "In scale" is more often than not the difference between a very average moel and a very good one. Perhaps some will not notice how bad the windows are, some will modify them with a file, some will scratchbuild or replace them... and STU has chosen to use a milling machine and SHOW how he has improved them.

That sort of approach, like all of them that make things better, should be cheered and added to the positives of the thread. Each time a new approach is shown is a chance to learn. New tools "in use" are a chance to evaluate them without guesswork. (I hope Stu has the time and motivation to explain and show more detail of the use of his milling machine one day - for those who like neat useful tools!!)

As far as I can see, this is NOT a competition - it is a learning exercise... and perhaps a bit of a group bonding session. Its supposed to be an enjoyable process. There is no "judgement day" coming. Please - as one who is just observing - just do participate in the way it was offered - do your best, share and learn.

Nobody should do other than value positive input, even if it is something done in a way you may not do it or with gear you do not understand or have access to... Its part of "the knowledge" that makes this such a long lived and versatile hobby - to try to exclude or to deny it just dumbs the project and the forum down.... Do that too often here and in other places and you will lose all of the better modellers and sharing of knowledge will be restricted to assistance in how to open red and blue boxes.

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*** Dave... I am sure we are all surprised, but its a very welcome and positive surprise to me. All roads lead to Rome as far as I am concerned, and I am happy to learn as many routes as possible to a good result...

Keith, I wasn't suggesting you were... Just giving my disagreement - and my perspective on the subject, no more, no less.

Superior tools are not the point - making good use of tools is. Teaching what can be done with better tools is part of it too and I really hope STU expands on it one day, here or somewhere else. A nice machine like that (Proxxon Stu?) is the cost of a couple of good locos with sound - not an unobtainable wish for anyone who really wants one.

Modellers make lovely jobs of such things with files and the like as well - its the showing of some of the many ways to a good or better result that is surely the point of a group build - I can see nothing that would make it an intention to "make the kit with the just basics".

I think you will find that the more skilled modellers have neither "need to show their prowess separately" nor the slightest interest in a "later build". Its not a skill competition, and they show enough of their work already when its in context with an appropriate thread subject...

Kind regards


QUOTE (KGR @ 25 Feb 2013, 19:06) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would like to set the record straight, I was not having a tantrum or any such thing. I just took it as a group build for the average modeller with a average tool kit. I see no point in anyone showing what can be done if you have superior tools than everyone else in the build group would have, nobody would learn anything. If it was shown how to thin down the windows by useing files or by sanding [or any other way with average persons tools] it would have been a great lesson.
I would have thought that later there could be a group build for those with higher skills and a formidable array of tools to show their prowess.

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*** Hi Stu.

If you have time at some stage, I would really very much like to see a bit of a review (for want of a better word) of the Proxxon machine.

I am really interested in the unit as purchased, added things you found were needed or helpful, skill (and perhaps previous life skill) needed or "learning process" - and a couple of examples, even perhaps fleshing out the window job.... I too like to make my own parts where I can and have long considered such a purchase, but for one reason or another have held off.

Time is the most precious and fragile asset I have modelling-wise now, so if it could allow me to do more, then it is on the shopping list. Improved "repeatability in using it is another positive potentially for me... there is a point past which using a dremel drill stand as a makeshift milling machine just isn't good enough LOL.

So... thanks for what's been shown already - and fingers crossed for the future


QUOTE (StuB @ 26 Feb 2013, 18:29) <{POST_SNAPBACK}><Snip> I bought my machine (yes Richard its the Proxxon) specifically for that job knowing I could not do it any other way without contracting out to a company. Something I do as a last resort because I like to make all my own parts and also knowing that it would be useful for many other jobs. <Snip>
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*** each to his own of course but I am not a fan of tape - decoder weight wire or magnet wire (enamelled wire as used in motor windings) is invsible in use if the installation is planned... and more than adequate too. I also like to use function only decoders for buildings, giving me individual light control and only two wires exiting a building, no matter how complex the wiring really is inside it.


*** Not much to do other than enjoy & smile about Stu, especially knowing the building start point... I really like that last photo - the combination of garage doors, driveway and tired building finish are a happy marriage :) :).

**** Hmmm - so much of it is really very well done Jaz, but given your existing abilities (and the previous post admitting to purposely not doing it) I still can't believe you finished it without fixing the windows when its such an easy thing to do... and in reality, the ladder is, well... way over-scale. It'd take a seriously strong man to lift a ladder made of 10x3 timbers :) :).

And... all in the spirit of making things better, I'd perhaps restrict clothes line stuff to tissue or thin mylar / cling wrap painted to look like cloth...


*** You are already starting to develop some really nice skills and you clearly have a good eye. One of the watersheds is evolving that and developing an instinctive eye for scale... so the rightness of things is clear at a glance. Getting to that stage starts the transition from OK models to believable models...

The ladder was an anachronism that was extreme enough in its error to take away believability, that is all. YOUR eye is a better indicator than their label if you trust it. The ladder was clearly created by a blind man - or one with a stretchy rubber ruler.

I really do not mind what you hang on the line, so I do not "want" anything, but you invite comments so I show due respect and give honest answers. I would simply not bother answering if each answer just results in defending what is being done as then there is no point - I am not having a go, just doing what is indirectly requested by the fact that you posted in the way you did... The simple fact is that unfortunately, if a believable model is wanted, then you cannot usually use the real thing because its baseline is 76x over-scale in too many ways. I leave bland approval to those who specialise in it.

Pure fine silk may start to come close BTW... but as fine as it is its still subject to full scale characteristics, and needs some special treatment to use a as scale component. As a good example of what doesn't work at all look at Bachmanns China clay wagons with the "cloth hoods". The cloth hoods make the whole thing look silly.

<Snip> The ladder was bought from Langley at a show as a 00 gauge. As I mentioned I snatched some stuff to dress it. I like the blankets on the washing line especially material (must go make some itsy bitsy wee clothes pegs
because I think it photographs well. I think if you can use the real thing why not. Hence theribbon I used on my Dapol House. Taken at a decent distance it looks good to my mind. <Snip>

Ditto... Yes, its far better scale-wise. But its not to do with what I want.... it should be simply does this look right. I think it looks far more realistic, and if it also looks right to you, that's great.

<Snip> This is more like you want? tissue painted to look like canvasses <Snip>

a real improvement - and kudos for doing it. I rate bloody-minded determination high on the scale when it comes to important hobby attitudes. You always win in the end when you have it :) :). The windows would not be high on my favourites list either. Its actually easier and faster to scratchbuild nice windows than repair bad and badly scaled moulded ones...

<Snip> I managed to get some windows out sanded them repainted them put them back. I had to cut two that were cemented and then straighten them. By now I hate those windows....
I tidied the chimney and made an aerial - well I conned Kal I can't even silver the copper! He saw me near his rather expensive soldering iron and almost had a heart attack. He wasn't impressed with my scraps for the aerial but kindly did as I asked rather than taking more time to do a better job as he knew I was impatient. He made the straps as well. I knew there was a reason I married him.
I have one weathering powder, so I brushed some on the roof and wiped it off again. Not exactly rocket science. I added some copydex and more 'moss' to hide the bits I thought looked really bad.
I put a strip of plastic by the front door having painted it balck to hide the gap. <Snip>

House with a 2m Yaggi aerial YAGI

Only if you promise to enjoy it. (3m magic tape is better LOL).

<Snip> Ok slash it again. I have more cellotape and blue tack ready to put it back together again

Buy some hard brass or straight NS wire from Alan Gibson workshops or similar. Make it again. its more fun. Spoil yourself. take 15 minutes :)

<Snip> And for the record I will probably buy a properly proportioned aerial and stick it on if it makes it to the layout. But for a ten minute job I think this one is Great.<Snip>


Kindest regards

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*** A couple of interesting comments - actually I agree with pretty well all of it, but also, with one exception, do not use house paint... and even then I do it over an undercoat.

The exception is "suede paint" which I brush on then stipple to restore the suede texture... which dries to give what I think is a quite believable "stucco" effect. This work in progress is for a building I started more than a year ago and still needs a bit to finish - Oh to have some modelling time again (Its all from flat styrene - everything cut/carved and textured from scratch, including the windows). Undercoated with white auto-primer before adding the slightly cream/off-white stucco.

BTW I just noticed that the doorstep is hovering - in reality when the building is seated properly, it sits on the large styrene area below is :) :) (the building is totally removeable from the styrene "garden area" it sits in)

Actually there is a postscript for this building - It was originally for an exhibition layout, but it was part-way through when it was decided it was too modern or perhaps "not decrepit enough" for a country pub in the step/garden area (as in this picture) - However I didn't want to revise it too much so rather than modify/butcher it quickly, I re-did a "quick cardboard job" for the exhibition - it took 4 evenings and actually turned out "not bad at all" for a quickie - I'll try to find a picture and add it tomorrow.


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*** It is 4mm scale, yes. I'll do that last as I have also other things to add around the walls detail wise. There's actually not that much filling to be done - the lighting angle and strong light exaggerate them a little.

I will probably rub in a "heavy cream" consistency mix of suede paint and dental plaster where needed on the windows, under the sills - it makes a super gap filler, looks like external plaster/render filling should and when a second coat is stippled on it'll be 100% blended. It'll wipe off the frames with a damp cotton bud very tidily so it'll stay neat as well.

The door top will be fine as it'll have a short porch roof over it and in reality the sides really have no more gaps than any planked door would.

*** The important thing is to mix the plaster into water based house acrylic/emulsion type paint... no added water at all. The paint will let it set but acts as a plasticiser keeping it supple and making it grip properly without flaking.

just use plaster and water and it will not work. (I use dental plaster because Its very very fine (made for making dental impressions before modern casting materials) - and I bought a 25 litre container of it... but normal plaster will work in emulsion paint too)

***Also meant to add...

If it was a modern "fitted" door I'd have made it a tighter fit - but plank doors as I remember them are made to close against rather than inside a frame like modern doors, and so they tend to have gaps which grow as the planks shrink and move over time...

Perhaps when the brewery or 4mm scale renovators buy the pub, they'll hang a new door LOL.

*** Jaz, styrene = plasticard - plasticard being a brand name, styrene being the material.

I use only a prototype picture or similar reference, I assemble with MEK which is a solvent not a glue as such. (this one was based on a sketch of a pub with three houses attached close to a railway crossing, with dimensions scaled based on a few photos of a similar type bldg) ... plus a blade or two, a pencil, dividers (sharpened to cut on one tip) files/emery boards and a ruler.

I think everything needs an undercoat... but no, it does not need sealing.

Yes, the windows are strips of the same material - there are lots of sources of lovely fine styrene strips and profiles. Google evergreen styrene for an idea what is out there.

The pictures are ones I took ages ago - its been sitting on my shelf waiting time to do more on it along with many other things... so no chance of me doing a selection of images, sorry.

No, not a card kit, just a building made from plain "matt board" card as used by picture framers... I would rather chew my arm off than waste time making card kits... they all look the same.

Why not just scratch-build - once you choose a prototype, its not that hard really... brassmaster make nice etched windows to make that part easier...


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***As promised - the "Quickie replacement" for the pub above - much simplified and little added detail because there was not much time... Made from framing card, das modelling clay for stonework, styrene for windows, wood veneer for doors and bargeboards at roof ends. stucco is suede paint, the rest I cannot remember, but I do recall the chimney pots are masking tape in thin strips tape wrapped around bits of brass tubes...

As you can see from the relativity of the door steps, built to fit a sloping site (a road going down to a railway)

Built in "hour or two" sessions in the evening over less than a week, so its nothing special, but it did the job


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*** Finally - think laterally with material.

(Specifically Jaz, use DAS clay not foam for that pub shape... its lovely to work with. Its a safe product and water-clean-up - so you can buy a pasta maker for the kitchen so you can roll it out nice and even - and thinly :) )


Das modelling clay on card for all interior and exterior walls...
Wood veneer for most timberwork.... and the ladder
The larger beams are balsa but only because I ran out of scale bass strip-wood - I do not like balsa as its soft, inconsistent and its grain is way over-scale...

All this stone is DAS modelling clay, plus I have used thin real hardwood veneer, tissue covered with a wash of pva and paint for canvas, straw is fine sisal string (natural not nylon) strands dyed with tea and turmeric from the pantry... Lampshade is a tiny dimple from some packaging. all the woodwork has actually been washed with green paint, to give the look of a building last painted 50 years ago and left without maintenance.

NONE of the stonework has yet been washed with other colour or weathered yet - its all just "virgin car primer" at the moment. Weathering can wait until I set them into a layout....

Just wood veneer and scale basswood legs - table is a scale 8 feet long (24mm), top is individual planks

Again wood veneer - the workshop shelves in the blacksmith area

Finally - a combination of all of the above...

Everything In the above images is scratch-built from nothing except the barrel... I have no idea where that came from - there is nothing fancy anywhere, just a wee bit of patience, "keeping to scale" and avoiding anachronisms like hard colours and thick paint. Its all just imagination and very importantly, an insistence on keeping things to scale in material choices.


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*** Hi John - about "heavy tagliatelle" thickness LOL

if you look carefully at the top of one wall you an see the das-card-das sandwich.

At a guess this one was 3mm appx per layer - may be slightly thinner. that gives a pretty realistic stone wall thickness too... (However when I did my station, it was layered onto styrene and was only about 1mm thick after a fine sanding so I could carve finely dressed stone/ashlar into it. I therefore made a "spaced interior wall" to restore a realistic thickness...)

I roll it, glue it to the card, let dry then sand it to a slightly flatter overall wall - so the final layer ends up a wee bit thinner than the rolled layer.

The key is to (Literally) lay the rolled das on a floured bench, and let it rest so any stretching settles. By all means wipe it with a wet paintbrush in the meantime to stop it drying too much while it settles. Then...paint it with pva, lay on the wall, pat down, let dry a bit, pick up that bit and lay it on das layer #2 which is already resting on the bench...

Weight the whole thing down evenly for 24 hours to let it settle and then sane and carve as needed.

Doing it that way the DAS never gets stretched and that is important as if you stretch it on it will shrink and crack as it dries. BTW avoid the Terracotta coloured stuff - use white DAS - it is far less messy!



QUOTE (john woodall @ 11 May 2013, 15:49) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Richard,

How thin are you rolling the das. I love the stuff, just never thought to pass it through a pasta maker!!!!!!!


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*** Quick answers.

Turmeric is dried...


I prefer a cheap mains powered engraving tool. Depends on the job, sometimes with a ruler, sometimes by hand. The vibration is adjustable, be gentle with it though. Also note they get hot and die if you use them for too long... ten minutes is about the limit before they go bang. I bought three so I can rotate them and keep going with large projects - one in use, the last one used in the freezer to cool it down and the one before that in the fridge so its no too cold to use. Before that the poor guy in the discount shop thought he had a faulty batch as I killed three of them stone dead before I worked out the system :) <the project was my large Hoffman Kiln... huge numbers of stone to carve>

You can vary the depth with pressure and by dampening the surface slightly too... it changes the way it carves. For rougher stone finish with a dry old toothbrush to clean up the carving and round the edges to look a little more rustic.


No special tools otherwise - I have loads of tools to hand but most just look back at me while I use a favourite few really. Carving das is almost all with the engraver, wet satay sticks and toothpicks & the old toothbrush / sandpaper and emery boards... plus the old coarser files I no longer love.


You can buy wood veneer easily enough. and DO go out and find proper scale strip-wood.

Balsa truly sucks as any form of smaller-scale modelling material.... you will NEVER, EVER make a great job in 4mm scale with it.. and if you even come close, it'll be more fragile than paper for the same job.

Coarse grain means its weak as well as ugly. Move on Jaz, that's all part of doing it better. Leave the Balsa for model planes and boats that float.


Thatch - it really isn't easy - like Stu I've not seen it better than just OK... Fortunately its not a Northern UK thing, so I can be happy with heavier local stone slates... Re good thatch... perhaps the exception is those expensive ceramic houses made in the UK and sold in expensive gift shops- the super dear versions of those are quite tempting "works of the model makers art" when close to 4mm scale or slightly smaller as background models - thank goodness they are all a bit twee for me and my modelling region.

How about making a start by nicking the offcuts from the hairdressers floor.... It takes dyes well and its about scale size at least :).


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*** A couple of thoughts on your post Jaz - apart from the fact that fine paint coats can't be done with a stiff flat brush - they are for other things like paintings in oils. Stu's approach will work just fine - however it needs time to do well... perhaps a full day to do that half timbering unless you are skilled. Good model painting needs sable or similar to get a thin covering coat that's well controlled.

1/ "Its OK because I will weather it". Nope, start right and weather it - weathering isn't a means of "patching" things that can be done better. It never works out.

2/ Spraying with a matt coat after weathering... again, no never put anything on top of weathering - at least 50% of weathering is the texture/gloss difference that it imparts to a model. Add a spray coat and all of the texture and gloss level difference is gone... and along with it most of the weathering realism will disappear as all that is left is a colour difference.

3/ The prices on evergreen are is USD not GBP. the sheet you quote is huge so I am not surprised at the price. their stuff is actually cheaper than most UK modelling materials. Try buying 12"x 24" of Wills sheets for GBP12 - it can't be done. (it takes 5 Wills packs to make one evergreen sheet of the size you quoted... that's nearly GBP15)

4/ their sizes are specified in real dimensions - that makes it possible for any modeller to choose correctly. They very sensibly do not make anything to specific "interpretation of scale" but cover all scales with a variety of possibilities - giving them the widest possible market including a full commercial architecture clientele far wider than narrow model railway scales.

Buying by Mfr defined scale in not always a wise thing as your ladder should have shown. Just calling something a scale does not make it so. calculating scale isn't at all hard... you only need worry about 1, and that is 1:76.2 (or just 1:76 is good enough in most cases)

5/ how did Skaledale etc come into this? Lego has a resale value but I'd not use it to make model buildings. We are talking about modelling techniques, not toys aren't we?

6/ Sensible modelling of buildings can cost very little most of the time, but when accurate shapes and forms are needed, offcuts will not do, and having the correct profiles doesn't add so much. Cutting high quality small strips from plastic is WAY beyond most modellers abilities.

You allude to me liking the DAS price but that is totally irrelevant. I like DAS because it works for me and for what it is, not because it is cheap. There are similar materials that look the same but are not. I would use it even if it was 20 or 30 times more expensive - choosing the right materials for the right result is the issue - Hobby time is more valuable than hobby money. Wasting valuable modelling time and money on compromising is silly.


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*** Re Evergreen... I have a very good idea of the UK exchange rate vs the US dollar - its my business remember! You seem fixated on the sheet materials and have missed the point entirely. Evergreens strength is in strips and profiles, which is what led to its recommendation. - or are you just looking for a way to be contrary? Most of your post actually reads that way.


I understand WHY you are trying to cover errors with weathering, however the best result will always come from doing it right (or re-doing it until it is) and then weathering over a good result... its that simple.

No, its not common practice to spray over weathering. I already explained very clearly WHY you should not do that and the negative consequences of doing so. Consider texture and varying gloss/matt levels as being most of the effect. Weathering is always ON a surface, not under it.


Jaz, you said: "I appreciate you have shown your work. I appreciate you sharing your ideas. Considering all the time you spent on this thread you can have taken part
". OK, English has a unique ability to use emphasised positives to indicate negatives. Clearly you at least partly resent the contributions. I do not want to offend, so at this point I'll stop helping you.

What little I show of my work on MRF is there to demonstrate what I describe... I have no other reason for posting it. Silly me: I thought I was taking part but offering more useful information by doing so than mindlessly showing I can assemble a plastic building that most 5 year olds could build... Thank you for reminding me how much of my time I have clearly wasted trying to provide something helpful...

(I have more than 50 loco kits in a drawer and half a dozen part built on the bench that are still there largely because I spend lots of free time helping other modellers and I do not waste what little valuable hands-on time that remains on assembling rubbish that is of no interest to me for any reason. I contribute to help, and I cannot imagine any form of time spent on that very poor house kit will help anyone more than the excellent example of sows ear to silk purse already offered by Stu)


In relation to your "toy" comment, that is a convenient mantra often trotted out, and is certainly not a reality: I actually disagree about as far as it is possible to disagree. It is an unnecessary defensive position taken by so many who do not have confidence in their work and that is sad to me.

I am sure you understood very well that the Lego example was just that, if perhaps a little extreme! (Going past Lego... You can by the way buy dead scale bricks to make models out of - they will drive you insane in the process but the buildings that result are to say the least unique and full of character - they are NOT toys by any measure!)

Like it or not, there is a difference between a scale model and toy. (Skilled modellers will often refer to their layout as their "train set" in a self-deprecating manner but that doesn't make them so in reality, nor do they really think of them that way - that too is defensive but for a different reason).

A bought item for a track-mat may well be a toy. A hugely expensive tinplate Marklin loco from pre-WW2 may have started as a toy but no longer is by virtue of its collectability... A hand-made scratchbuilt model, created with care to be a believable model representation of something in the real world is no more a toy and no less a work of art than a portrait painted by a budding Michaelangelo is a snapshot.

There is a world of difference in the intent and actuality of the efforts behind them... and in the result.

And... advice doesn't need a numbered, detailed rebuttal. You seem to forget that most of the answers there are in reponse to your asking, and many are in reponse to direct questions. I actually don't mind why you want to do or perhaps not do something or why you do it differently, advice is offered freely - so just accept it or not...


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