Saturday, March 22, 2014

New photo backdrop

When I attended the Amherst Railway show in Springfield, Mass. this year, I had several folks wanting to use my barn diorama for photo opportunities. Unfortunately, the diorama is much smaller in real life than people imagine and does not accommodate larger vehices. I did so want to be able to see a piece from Joe Enriquez or Ralph Ratcliffe look well in my barn. And Andy Madden made some valiant attempts with his camera with satisfactory results. And as good as they turned out there was something not quite at home about them. So I turned to my diorama building again and designed and built the garage repair interior that you can see here.

I started with Evergreen styrene brick patterned sheet cut to a proper size and fit the windows and door. Using a spray can satin black decanted into the airbrush, I put a coat on it and a sheet of plain styrene for the floor. I used a mixture of Terra Cotta and Crimson Red thinned with Windex in the airbrush to give several successive coats to the walls allowing for drying between coats (accelerated with a hair dryer). A thin coat of clear flat lacquer was then sprayed on. To that, I applied a mixture of powdered chalks in a gray color and alcohol. This dried quickly of course and was buffed with a paper towel followed by another coat of the clear flat lacquer. Some dusting with dry chalk powders finished the walls. The windows and door were painted with Ivy Green acrylic.

Attention was turned to the floor already in black. I scribed expansion joints in the plastic and scuffed it up a bit with fine sandpaper. Again, using cheap craft paints, I thinned gray, tan and black for the airbrush with Windex and sprayed several coats allowing them to dry between each. A thin coat of the clear flat lacquer on that and when dry, a series of acrylic washes to simulate stains.

In order to get the walls to sit firmly on the styrene floor I glued a piece of styrene L channel to the floor and when set, the walls to it. A small storage loft was built in one corner with stairs.

It was then a matter of creating and adding details. a small workbench was built out of wood and the rest of the details were from my collection of cast metal, resin and laser cut card stock. Some signage was created on the computer and printed. As time goes on I will be adding and taking away details to suit my fancy. I have been using Microscale Liquitape to fasten details so they can easily be moved or removed.

A few pics here of me fooling around with the camera in my new garage.

I'm sure you will be seeing a lot more of this in the future. The lighting possibilities are endless. I would like to , at some point add a roof system with lighting and a chain hoist but at this point, I can't figure out how to support it without putting an obstructive post in my camera positions.

Well this was a very quick, fun build. Thanks for looking. And do something nice for someone today.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

While the woodpile is evaporating

Well it seems so anyway. This winter has been brutal from a temperature standpoint in many parts of the country. So tell me, the rest of America, how does it feel to share our New England weather? Seems like it's the subject of every meeting you have with someone. I listen to folks coming back from vacation in the warmer climes and I am envious to some extent. But then I envision the last day of such a vacation and couldn't bear the thought of packing up and coming home to this frigidity. I'll bear with it and keep my eye on the calendar as the days get x-ed out. Frankly, I do not mind being out in the cold, I dress properly and haven't any issues, even liking the zero humidity as the mercury dips below the same. I like the sound of the snow as it squeaks under my boots when it gets down around 10 or 20 below. It's seeing all that hard work put into that woodpile disappear so fast and getting that oil bill every month that's a bit discouraging. It does however afford more time at the workbench. And here are the fruits of that time for the last few weeks.

   I keep receiving discards from Ralph Ratcliffe's line of terrific resin pieces in the mail and honestly, they are more precise and crisp than most resin outfit's regular offerings. This Mack DM600 steel hood cab is no exception. I really had to look hard to find anything wrong with it but Ralph is such a perfectionist that he refused to sell it. I had picked up another of the Athearn kits while at the Springfield show this year from Trip Aiken of Truck Stop Models. I really like these kits, they are extremely well detailed and that they have no paint to strip off makes starting them easy. I needed a good dump body for the DM and the Mack R model kit supplied the one for this model. The chassis is resin, also from Ralph (I bought this) and I added Ralph's suspensions, step fuel tanks and wheels. To the dump bed I added a foot rail and marker lights. The plastic scuff boards were cut off and replaced with wood. And lastly, a tool/chain box, mudflaps and A-Line mirrors were applied and I built the exhaust system, front bumper and frame plate at the rear with photo etched lights. The dump bed actually raises using the ram and piston from the kit adapted to the resin chassis.

   To get the muddied look on the bed, I painted specific areas with a clear flat acrylic and sprinkled artists chalks into the wet finish.

    This next Mack is the rest of the Mack R Model kit cab, chassis and wheels with the telescoping boom from the Athearn Ford F850 kit to make this tractor mounted boom truck. The fifth wheel, tool/chain box and chain on the bumper were added to make what has become a favorite. The heat shield on the exhaust is from Masterbilt model. I really like how this truck turned out and now I need to figure out what to use for a trailer.

I picked up a few Jordan Miniatures and set right to work on their Ford Model TT truck. The bed is my depiction of a grain bed that isn't quite like the prototype I modeled the truck after but is close enough and plausible in my opinion. It is entirely scratch built from styrene.  I left the little flathead exposed here since it would be a shame to cover it up.

   Well that's about it for now although I have a few more on the bench in progress. I hope you all stay warm and if you're not, find someone you love to cuddle with.