Progress Update 3

July 6, 2013

It’s been a busy week! In particular, a very productive Saturday. This week I got serious about the signal tower project, as you may have seen a couple posts back: painting the interior walls black, then giving them a coat of off-white. Interior trim in brown. Wiring it up with warm white LEDs. Filling in the mortar lines (more on that later).

Signal Tower Project

I’m learning a lot about painting models. Because the selection at Michaels was pretty sad, I started out with some tubes of acrylic paint, likely intended to be squirted onto a palette and painted on a canvas – it comes out like toothpaste. I used this stuff for blacking out the interior walls, which is fine because it doesn’t matter that much that the brush strokes show up in it. I might have been able to thin it out with water; I might try that next time.

Thinking that there had to be something better, I went to Legacy Station and picked up some Polly Scale and Model Master paint. Both are acrylics as well, and much more appropriate to the task at hand. While they’re significantly more expensive (particularly Polly Scale, likely because it is discontinued, I later found out), they are much thinner and go on much, much more evenly. It takes two to three coats with this paint. Same with the goopy acrylic though. The nice thing about these water-based acrylics is that true to the advertising they do clean up very easily. Accidents will happen.

One such accident involved trying to mask off part of the interior windows of the signal tower. The transparent window plastic is one continuous sheet for each set of windows, so it doesn’t look like individual windows from the inside, particularly with the shades. So I wanted to paint brown lines to suggest the trim between the windows. I used blue painters tape to mask them off and everything seemed to be going well until I pulled up the tape again – the paint had seeped under the tape in a number of places. This is where the easy cleanup with a damp paper towel is key. I suspect the paint is just too thin for the tape. Instead I’m going to try painting strips of card stock and glue them on instead.

I’m very pleased with how the lighting is looking. I’ve put two warm white LEDs in, one for each floor, and I think they look great. I need to find a little figure to trap in there. Earlier I tweeted a photo of the paint job on the levers. Lastly you’ll notice that the bricks now have mortar between them. I used some spackle paste that I had in the garage for this, along with some gray acrylic paint (next time I’ll use more/darker paint). Thanks to YouTube user MonsterRailroad for the video describing this technique. He makes me want an airbrush. Hmm.

Trestle/Gorge Project

I’ve also made some moderate progress on preparations for the trestle bridge. I hung a shelf of sorts that the bottom of the gorge will be built up from and cut away the joists and foam above it (tweeted photo). I also got serious about staining the wood for the trestle bents and glued up the first one; it’s drying now. I’m somewhat concerned about getting a solid joint between the cap and the pilings (the cap is the piece of wood that goes across the top, the pilings come up like fingers). I don’t have a good way to cut the exact angles so the dowels aren’t making good contact. The cross braces should be solid, however.

It’s cool to see the space for the gorge starting to take shape; makes the layout start to feel more like a real layout, even though I’m still waiting on track. That should arrive next week though – hooray!