Starting my Tobacco Kilns

Several months ago now, I presented my friend Pierre Oliver with a set of five HO scale tobacco kilns. I scratch-built these for his Wabash layout, which is set in the same region as my Port Rowan branch:
 photo Tobacco-Kilns-HO-Finished_zps6cbeb1e6.jpg
(The HO kilns. My S scale kilns will be similar…)

They’re small structures, but a lot of work. As I discovered while building Pierre’s models, there are a lot of fiddly little bits to add. So I took a break from building kilns, working on other things over the latter half of last year.

But knowing that I have to build them at some point, I decided they’d be a good project for 2014. So this week I started working on five kilns in 1:64 to complete the scene in St. Williams.

I’m following basically the same process I did to build Pierre’s kilns, although since S scale is considerably bigger and since I’ve already tried building them one way I plan to try some different things as I go along. So this won’t be a repeat of earlier postings. That said, I did start the same way: By cutting out the 10 end walls I’ll need from sheet styrene.

I used 0.040″ thick sheet since it’ll work nicely with the posts I plan to use in the corners. I didn’t have any 0.040″ thick sheet in stock at home, so I hit a local hobby shop. There, I found they had no plain 0.040″ thick sheet in stock. I bought some that’s marked off in tiles. It’ll work fine, and as I discovered it actually made laying out the walls a whole lot quicker since I could use the tiles as guides for cutting openings, and for cladding the walls with “tarpaper” (masking tape).

With the walls cut out, I tackled the five front walls. I cut strips of masking tape to represent tarpaper and started laying them onto the walls with slight overlaps for each strip. I always run a line of Thick CA onto the wall before laying the masking tape in place, to make sure it doesn’t peel away in the future:
S Tobacco Kilns - Cladding the Front Walls photo Kilns-S-01_zpsf39d4794.jpg

In the above photo, the wall at left has been fully clad with tarpaper, while the wall at right is in process. Look at how easy those tiles make it to line up the strips!

The stack of walls in the upper right includes front and rear walls. It’s not shown, but I’ve used a marker to write a unique identification on the back of each wall (e.g.: “5W” for “fifth kiln, west wall”). This will allow me to keep everything sorted as I progress.

After adding tarpaper to all five front walls, I painted them using a brush and some artist acrylic:
S Tobacco Kilns - Front Walls - Painted photo Kilns-S-02_zpsf648526e.jpg

I worked from bottom up, strip by strip, so that paint would build up at joints between strips of tarpaper. The joints appear as darker lines. I also like the way this acrylic – applied straight from the tube – creates lighter and darker areas in streaks. I like the stained effect this gives the walls.

I’ll move onto the rear walls next. It’s good to have this project underway…

17 thoughts on “Starting my Tobacco Kilns

  1. Trevor,

    Are you preparing the plastic or adding additional adhesive to the masking tape? Is there a concern the regular tape adhesive will deteriorate in a few years?


    – Rick

    • Hi Rick:
      As I note in the post, I run a line of Thick CA onto the styrene before laying the masking tape in place.
      I like the texture of the masking tape but would never trust the adhesive.

  2. Trevor, what sort of tobacco were these used for? I’m surprised that, living in Tennesee, and previously in Kentucky, that I’ve never heard of such a thing. Drying sheds, yes… perhaps they are the same thing?

  3. If you are going to use a lot of styrene for construction you might want to consider buying 4 x 8 sheets from a plastic supplier. The cost will be substantially less than buying the sheets at your local hobby shop. Find some friends and get a bulk order together. I picked up some a number of years ago and am just using up the last of it now.

    In Toronto Plastic World is one source

    • Thanks Bruce.
      I’ve bought styrene in large sheets like that in the past, for backdrops.
      In this case, I wanted to get started on the project and there’s a hobby shop on my way to the farm where I work my Border Collie on sheep.
      As I’m working in S my local hobby shops don’t carry a lot that I can use, but I’m happy to support them when I can so that they’re there for me when I need paint, glue and so on…

      • I purchased 4′ x 8′ sheets of styrene from a supplier in London. It’s definitely the way to go if you contemplate using quantities of styrene sheet. Far cheaper than buying packs of stock at the hobby store.

        The only disadvantage is that I now have to make a proper rack to hold sheet stock, as I also have large sheets of card and acrylic on hand… πŸ˜‰

  4. Hi Trevor
    This is a fabulous site, and I can see that you put as much effort into it, as building trains! I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog as I have time.

    Do you build mostly in plastic, or wood? I’m starting to build my own HO buildings, and have begun working in wood.

    Just out of curiosity, where are the local hobby stores you go to? You mention one on the way to the farm, and was wondering if it was Credit Valley, or something East of Toronto.

  5. Hey Trevor,
    You’re not at all concerned that the tile pattern could telegraph through the masking tape in time?
    I’m consistently amazed at how much you manage to accomplish on your layout! Keep it up!

    • Hi RenΓ©:
      Great to hear from you, and it’s a good question. No – I’m not concerned. As I noted in the post, I run a bead of Thick CA (Zap-a-Gap or some such) onto the styrene before laying down the masking tape. This nicely runs into the grooves on the styrene – in fact, the tiles give excess CA some place to go.
      In addition, on the prototype kilns the walls are clad in horizontal boards under the tarpaper, so if any horizontal lines showed through they would suggest the cladding…

  6. Here we are, three weeks into the New Year, and the worst time for holding on to resolutions such as giving up smoking, and you talk about tobacco… πŸ™‚

  7. Trevor::

    You may wish to add Wheels and Wings and John’s Photo and Hobby to your list of local hobby shops. They are both on the Danforth and are easily accessible by subway.


    • Hi Vince:
      I’m sure they’re fine shops – I know we’ve talked about them – but the question was about where I shop and I have to admit I’ve never visited either of those places. Some day…

      • It’s good to visit shops that cater to other model builders. I visited D&B’s hobby shop in Sarnia on the weekend. It has a tiny model rail area, but a lot of ship, auto, aircraft and armour kits. Lots of paints that one does not see in a model rail store–more on this anon. Much of what we are seeing in multimedia model rail kits is also used in 1:350 shipbuilding as well. The owner also gave me advice on how to straighten a BGR coach that has bedevilled me by taking a swayback while in the kit box of almost 80 thou–good thing that I’ve not built it yet! I walked away with a Lifecolor paint and pigment “rust” set that I just HAVE to use!!

        Just because a shop has not a lot of model rail product does not mean that one cannot pick up some very useful stuff and advice!

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