The garage :: Exterior finished

Happy 2014, everyone…

To kick off the new year, I made more progress on the garage that’s located across the track from the station in Port Rowan:
PtR-Garage-Exterior photo PtR-Garage-Exterior-InSitu_zpsc3232540.jpg
(Click on the image to read all of my blog posts about this structure)

As the above photo shows, I have added the roof and shingled it. I used S scale shingles (the peel’n’stick paper variety) from Rusty Stumps Scale Models, including matching starter strips and ridge strips. I applied them in a manner similar to the process I described for the house at St. Williams. I’ve weathered the roof with weathering powders – including a green powder that provides some variation to the shingle colour.

The garage had a substantial brick chimney. Possibly, there was a hearth for doing a bit of blacksmith work inside. My chimney is a resin casting from Model Tech Studios. The barrels in the loft are HO scale items I picked up at a local hobby shop. Even at 36 percent undersized they’d be pretty heavy if full – so maybe they’re empties. Regardless, I like the spot of colour they provide…

I’ve also modelled the vents in the peak of each end wall. I used some left-over clapboard from the St. Williams house kit – the laser-cut equivalent of a sprue. This was already painted white. I added some stain over the white, then cut pieces larger than the openings and glued them in place on the inside of the walls.

Not as obvious – but still done: I’ve added glass to all the windows. As I’ve described previously on this blog, I cut the glass from microscope slide covers. Since the windows on this structure are not assembled from laser cut pieces with peel’n’stick backing, I slid each pane of glass into place and then secured it with very small dots of Microscale’s Kristal Klear.

Here are some more views of the finished structure. Click on each to view a larger version:
PtR-Garage-West photo PtR-Garage-Construction-08_zpsef6850d8.jpg

PtR-Garage-North photo PtR-Garage-Construction-09_zpsb1aabd68.jpg

PtR-Garage-East photo PtR-Garage-Construction-10_zps5e8ca68a.jpg

PtR-Garage-South photo PtR-Garage-Construction-11_zpsf8c370f2.jpg

While I would call this structure “finished”, it’s still only a shell. I plan to build a base for this structure and when I do I’ll include some basic interior detailing. This detailing will include workbenches along the walls and a hearth at the rear of the building. This is a foreground structure and I’d like visitors to see the suggestion of an interior when they look through those big sliding doors…

Port Rowan: Garage progress

Garage-Overview photo PtR-Garage-Construction-04_zpse6dfab7f.jpg

It’s been a couple of days since I last reported my latest, in-progress project: a scratch-built garage at Port Rowan. As the photo above suggests, I’ve been busy.

Yesterday, I finished cladding the side walls with individual boards. I also modified some plastic S scale windows from Tichy by cutting away the frames and replacing them with strip wood, so that the difference in material between the walls and the windows wouldn’t be so obvious:
Garage-Back photo PtR-Garage-Construction-07_zps9d02d791.jpg

Today, I focused on the front of the garage. I scratch-built the two sliding doors and added the structure that supports the rail from which they’re hung:
Garage-Doors photo PtR-Garage-Construction-05_zps16be9429.jpg

I also finished a scratch-built door on the track side of the structure. This is the side away from the aisle, but it can be seen from the end of the Port Rowan peninsula:
Garage-Trackside photo PtR-Garage-Construction-06_zps8a6845b4.jpg

While it may seem like wasted effort – the door is barely visible – this was a great opportunity to practice scratch-building a door. I never like to pass up scratch-building opportunities. Practice makes perfect, so building this door will make my next one even better – and that next one might be on the fascia side of a structure.

While I was unable to get a decent photo of it, I’ve also added a platform behind the front wall to create a storage loft for about one-third of the length of the structure. This can be seen through the open hatch on the front of the structure. I’ll add a few details such as tires and cartons near the hatch. I’m even thinking of propping a ladder against the front of the structure, as if someone has just climbed into the loft to look for something.

I may also have to add a couple of lights suspended from the roof trusses. With five windows and those big open doors, I’ll need to detail the interior with workbenches, tools and other stuff – and a couple of lights would help visitors appreciate all my work.

There’s still lots to do. In addition to the above-mentioned tasks, I need to replace the two pieces of black styrene sheet with a shingled roof, complete with brick chimney. But that’s fine: I’m really enjoying building this structure.

Port Rowan: Garage underway

Garage in progress photo PtR-Garage-Construction-01_zps14069c42.jpg

Over the weekend I started work on the structure located across from the station and behind the feed mill in Port Rowan. This is identified as a “garage” on my prototype plan and while it’s located behind the feed mill on my layout it actually occupied its own property further north. On my layout, it would be located in the aisle. However, the one decent photo I have of the structure shows that it has a pair of large sliding doors on the front and I thought they’d be really neat to model – so I’ve moved it out of the aisle and onto the layout.

With just a couple of inches between it and the fascia, this is definitely a foreground structure – and those big open doors will demand a well-detailed interior. So I plan to give this building the full treatment. The challenge is, my one decent photo of the structure shows the front and part of the track-side wall, but nothing of the back wall or the wall that will face the aisle. In the prototype photo, I can see through the open front doors that there’s a window in the aisle-side wall. I can also see a window on the track side wall, near the front doors – and what could be a person-sized door at the far end of the track-side wall. I also know that there’s a chimney, plus some other details such as the ventilator and an attic door on the front wall. But that’s about all the information I have to go on. As a consequence, I’ll be making up some of the details – and that’s fine: For example, this licence gives me an opportunity to add plenty of windows to the aisle side so visitors can see all my work.

For this foreground structure, I decided I would have to model all of the rafter tails – and as I’ve noted previously on this blog, I took advantage of the custom roof truss service from Jeff Schwank at TractorFab in hopes of making this part of the project less painful. I’m pleased to report the trusses worked beautifully. The two photos below show the trusses, as well as a pair of the joist-spacing jigs from Rusty Stumps Scale Models that I used to space them while I glued them to the tops of the side walls:
Garage in progress photo PtR-Garage-Construction-02_zps3ab05dcc.jpg

Garage in progress photo PtR-Garage-Construction-03_zps292739ac.jpg

As an aside, I have to admit that when I sat down at the bench I had a surprising amount of trouble deciding where to start this project. I pondered several approaches, waving bits of strip wood and other materials about. I stopped and brewed a cup of tea, thinking it would prod the brain cells into life. But it didn’t help as much as I’d hoped.

I’ve been building wooden structure kits since I was 10 years old, so a simple structure like this should be second nature. The great thing about learning on the older-style structure kits from companies such as Campbell Scale Models, is that what they really teach are techniques that can then be used to build any structure. This is in contrast to today’s laser-cut kits, which are a lot easier to build but which also remove a lot of the cutting and sanding to size and shape that older kits required. Some may consider all that cutting and sanding a pain and be happy that they no longer have to do it – but for me, it sure was good preparation for scratch-building. At least, that’s been the case in the past – but not this weekend. Why, if I could manage Campbell models such as the Norm’s Landing complex, Hamilton’s Dinghies, and the Kiowa Junction depot, was I having trouble with four pretty straightforward walls?

I expressed my frustration to my wife. She thought on this – and since the day was grey and damp, she wondered whether a measure of Knob Creek nine-year-old bourbon might do a better job than the tea of getting the creative juices flowing. And it did!

Once I decided on an approach, the work progressed quickly. I started by determining the length of the two side walls and cutting a top beam for each, on which the trusses would rest. I also cut a beam to run along the base of each side wall. Next, I built and clad the two end walls. Then, I connected the two end walls together using the previously-prepared beams. At this point, I was able to install the trusses, then add some additional framing on the side walls. I even got a start on the cladding before it was time to quit.

As the photos show, I made significant progress during my first work session on this garage. In addition to building and cladding the end walls, I’ve also framed around the openings for all of my windows and will continue to clad the side walls the next time I’m at the bench. When that’s done, I’ll add more framing inside the walls, working “ship-in-a-bottle” style. Then there are several windows, doors and other details to build (plus a roof to build and attach: For the lead photo in this post I simply cut two rectangles from styrene, taped them together and dropped them over the trusses).

So far, so good. I’m definitely impressed by the trusses and am already planning to order more from TractorFab to do the two buildings that make up the JC Backhouse feed mill complex in Port Rowan. And I’ll make sure the Knob Creek is close to hand – just in case I run into any more of those pesky moments of indecision while I finish the garage.

Stay tuned for more updates…

Terrific TractorFab Trusses

Tractor Fab Trusses photo TractorFabTrusses_zps8485dd90.jpg

In early September, I mentioned on this blog that TractorFab would be offering custom roof trusses in laser cut wood.

I followed up with TractorFab’s owner, Jeff Schwank, and a couple of weeks ago I placed an order for two sizes of truss. I’ll use the first size for the five tobacco kilns in St. Williams, and the second size for the garage behind the feed mill in Port Rowan.

For each size, I provided Jeff with the S scale height of the peak, the S scale width of the structure, and the number of trusses I wanted. Jeff then quoted on each of the two sizes, providing me with a PDF of the CAD drawings so I could see exactly what I would be getting.

The price is quoted based on the size of the truss required, and I think it’s quite reasonable. Jeff currently offers one style of truss but more are on the way, and if you have a custom design he can do those, too – for a modest set-up fee. And while these are designed for 1:64 structures, the trusses would be useful for other scales as well.

As shown at the top of this post, Jeff sent me a photo of some of my trusses before he boxed them up. The box arrived today and the trusses are exactly what I wanted. Thanks Jeff! Service was excellent and all of my trusses arrived damage free. What’s more, I tested some of the trusses in the joist setting jigs offered by Rusty Stumps Scale Models, and they fit beautifully. Being able to use these joist setting jigs for the trusses will make short work of spacing them consistently as I build a structure.

These trusses will make building structures a lot easier. Roofs will be well supported, rafter tails will be consistent, there are no jigs to build for cutting and gluing up trusses from individual members… you get the idea. Highly recommended!

Waiting for wood (Port Rowan garage)

Garage Mockup in context photo PtR-Garage-Mockup-InSitu_zps2f496c11.jpg

I know I recently wrote that it’s time to tackle St. Williams, but last week I realized I needed some wood for the depot. At the same time, I determined that I had some of the wood on hand to start building the garage that’s located behind the feed mill and across the tracks from the station in Port Rowan. So I placed an order for more wood with Gerry Cornwell at Mt. Albert Scale Lumber, and started on the garage while waiting for the order to arrive.

It should be obvious, but the garage is in the foreground in the above photo. As the mockup shows, the structure is tight against the front of the layout and features large sliding doors that I plan to model in the open position. So my plan is to build it with a full interior.

I’m happy with the mock-up so I used it to draw some rough plans – not architectural drawings, but more of a guide to locate various pieces of wood for the framing. Then I got to work. And that’s when trouble set in.

I focused on getting the framing right. Since it’s a barn-like structure, I relied on an excellent article on building a barn, written by Don Hanley and published in the August 2000 issue of Mainline Modeler. (That is a magazine that I really miss – I would love to see its entire publication run digitized and offered for sale on DVD, as Model Railroader has done.)

Once I figured out the framing for the end walls, I started applying the siding. This would strengthen the frames, which were rather delicate until the cladding went on. But – I didn’t pay enough attention to my prototype. I have one photo from which to work – a black and white image in the book on this line by Ian Wilson, which shows the garage in the background. And even though it’s in black and white, when I look at this picture I’m pretty sure I’m looking at unpainted boards that have weathered to a silvery colour. But in my enthusiasm to get the structure going – and wanting to pre-stain materials to minimize the chances of warping as I built the structure, I pre-stained the boards for my siding … with barn red.


I built the two end walls before realizing my mistake.


Then – when I realized the mistake – I also realized I had run out of unstained wood in the appropriate size for the siding.

I used some stronger words at this point. “Oops” would no longer cut it.

I was especially annoyed with myself about this, because I’d obviously figured out that I wanted the structure to be grey. After all, that’s the colour of the artist board I used to mock-up the structure in the first place. But when I started building the walls for real, I’d left the mock-up on the layout and didn’t bother to go get it. After all… I had drawings, right?
 photo Homer-foreheadslap_zpsd71dd156.jpg
The good news is, I should be able to use the pre-stained barn red boards elsewhere on the layout. The bad news is, I am now waiting for wood for this project as well as the St. Williams station.

Meantime, I can look at the two end walls that I built for the garage as practice runs. They’ve helped me work out some details of the construction so the next set of end walls should be even better. And unlike a kit, scratch-building is relatively cheap and do-overs are always allowed.

I would say, “Lesson learned” – but I know from past experience that I haven’t learned anything. I’ll do this again. Good thing it’s a hobby!

More work on mockups

For the time being, I’ve finished building mockups of the structures for my S scale interpretation of Port Rowan.

Today I added a coal bin to the feed mill complex – the black structure next to the track in this photo:

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock - now with coal bin

I’ve also repositioned the garage – moving it further away from the mill:

Relocated garage mock up

I need to make sure that viewers appreciate that the garage is not part of the mill complex, but a separate entity.

Sharp-eyed viewers will note a grey structure to the left of the train in the distance. More on that new structure in this posting.

Instant Town

… but don’t add water, because it’s made of artist board.

I enjoy structure building, although I don’t engage in the type of structure building that wins craftsman structure contests. But when I need a break from other aspects of the hobby, structures are a favourite.

That’s especially true of the planning/proof-of-concept stage. This involves no wood, styrene or glue – just artist board, a knife, a ruler, tape and so on. I almost always build a cardboard mockup of structures first, so I can confirm roof angles, overall placement on the layout and other things that are easier to fix before one starts cutting and gluing styrene or wood.

It was hot outside yesterday so I went to ground in a cool part of the house, with tools, materials, photographs, notes and a supply of adult beverages, and created mockups of almost all the structures for my model of Port Rowan. It may be helpful to have a copy of the Canadian National track map and my layout plan handy while you look at the photos:

Port Rowan - Plot

Port Rowan layout plan

Here’s an overview of my Port Rowan, taken from the end of the peninsula looking over the roof of the two buildings that make up the feed mill. The Daily Effort has arrived at the station, and for some reason there’s a freight on the team track. I’ve mocked up the barn located next to the team track and, behind the feed mill at left, a rather substantial structure labelled as a garage.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

If we were to travel down Bay Street – at the end of the peninsula – towards the backdrop and then look up the driveway towards the station, this is what we’d see. We’re looking into the L of the station at this point. The L-shaped main building has extensions at each end, and there’s a shed tucked into the L. The feed mill is in the foreground at left.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

If we were to walk to the station, then cross the tracks and look back at the feed mill, this is what we’d see. The mill consists of two buildings, each with extensions or additions. The locomotive is stopped next to a coal bin extension at the mill. To the right of the trackside mill building is the office for the mill – which appears to have been the railway’s freight house at one time. In that role, it would’ve been next to the station but was moved to the feed mill’s site. In the foreground is that garage again.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

Here’s another look at the barn mockup next to the team track. Doing the mockup was essential for getting the roofline right on this structure. The best prototype photo I have of it is from the Keith Sirman collection, taken from the station platform.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

Port Rowan - CNR 88 and M233

Here’s another view of the garage mockup. It can be seen in the prototype photo below, but I have another view in a book that shows large sliding doors on the front of the structure, in the open position, so that’s how I mocked it up. I’ll have to do a detailed interior since it’s right at the front of the layout.

Port Rowan - Cardstock buildings

M233 at Port Rowan - Keith Sirman Collection

I’ve taken several images of the feed mill and the Port Rowan station. Click on each thumbnail for a larger version.

Feed Mill

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan feed mill - cardstock

Port Rowan Station

Port Rowan station - cardstock

Port Rowan station - cardstock

Port Rowan station - cardstock

Port Rowan station - cardstock

I need to give a special shout-out to my friend Mike Livingston. Mike provided many of the critical dimensions for both the station and the two buildings in the feed mill. He also photographed the feed mill earlier this year, with a measuring stick posed in each photo, which was invaluable when creating the mockups. And his photography expedition was timely, as the trackside structure was in the process of being demolished when he visited. It’s gone now – but thanks to Mike’s timely work I’ll be able to model it.

I think I’ve captured the size and proportions of each structure. But the great thing about mockups is that if I haven’t, I can make adjustments quickly and cheaply.

The last mockup to do for Port Rowan is the railway section house. Then I can mockup the depot, coal shed, tobacco kilns and other structures for St. Williams. Then I’ll have to start building the structures for real.