Friday, July 28, 2017


My effort to flesh out structures on my railroad tends to move around the main level, addressing whatever building or buildings I feel like working on at any given time.  Often that means I work on a structure set where I have finally thought through what I want and how to accomplish that with materials (kits or other supplies) I have on hand or can acquire quickly.  That process moved me around from Eugene to Springfield for the latest effort. 

Timber Products, also known as Clear Fir, was a door and window maker in Springfield with a pair of spurs near the depot.  They had ceased manufacturing efforts in Springfield by the 1970’s, but in my time-warping take on the industrial scene, I wanted to use those spurs for railroad shipments, including the inbound materials on the spur that extended behind the depot through Tilbury Cement.  The one photo and description of Timber Products’ Springfield facility that I had access to was pretty generic for Western Oregon industries.  I was content with “Imagineering” a set of structures to fill the space.

I used a pair of Walthers Cornerstone kits as the basis for my version of Timber Products.—two of the Planing Mill and Shed (933-3059) and one Midstate Marble Products (933-3073).  In both cases, I used some of the kit components, saving others for other projects.  I assembled the main building of the Midstate Marble Products kit pretty much as Walthers designed it.  I also used the outdoor overhead travelling crane from the kit.  Both are used as part of the materials intake portion of the industry.

Completed structures for Timber Products/Clear Fir in Springfield.  Note Tilbury Cement in the background on the same spur as the rear portion of Timber Products.

One choice I had to make was a paint scheme.  The single photo I had was black and white.  It showed a medium tone building with white trim.  Originally, I was going to go with a light olive paint for the base color—right up until I noticed the nearby Tilbury Cement already was a very similar color.  Tilbury Cement was NOT going to be repainted.  Further, Tilbury Cement is on the same spur as the materials intake for Timber Products.  I needed to distinguish the two companies.  Instead, I chose a light-medium gray for the base color, retaining white for trim. 

I used the Walthers Planing Mill building as the basis for the second structure of the Timber Products complex.  The Walthers kit builds a two-story structure.  Befitting Western Oregon, I wanted a single-story structure, albeit longer.  The solution was to cut down a pair of the kit building sides and splice them together.  Along the way, I added freight doors and modified a pair of the windows for the loading dock area.  The board and batten siding provided convenient guides and disguises for the splice joints.

Walthers Planing Mill kit sides cut apart, pending reassembly as the structure I wanted.

Kit-bashed mill structure in the foreground.  I used the spare pair of upper end pieces to provide additional roof support.  Conventional assembly of Midstate Marble Products structure is in the rear.

A major challenge was splicing the corrugated roofing for the longer structure.  The corrugations provide both a natural cutting guide and a splicing challenge.  In the end, I found it better to cut from the underside, using a combination square to guide the cut.  Although I used a razor saw for some of the cuts, I also found a scribing action with the reverse edge of an Xacto blade was very effective and efficient with the soft plastic Walthers has these kits molded in.  My NWSL TrueSander was an important tool for cleaning up the cuts. 

When I spliced the roof sections, I found I still had distortions at the splice joints.  The solution to this was weathering to help disguise the joint.  Much of the corrugated iron siding in Walthers structures does not provide the texture relief of panel edges.  Real corrugated iron siding and roofing comes in panels that are applied with a slight overlap of a ridge and valley.  Older (weathered) corrugated siding and roofing displays these overlaps by rust streaks and an accumulation of grime. 

Although I have tediously weathered such rust and grime effects with paint in past efforts, I decided to try something much simpler.  I experimented using Primsacolor pencils.  This puts color onto the corrugation ridges instead of the valleys where nature puts it.  Nonetheless, from typical viewing distances of more than a couple of feet, the effect is the same—alternating strips of “natural” metal and rust or grime. 

Use of the pencils was very easy, quick and controllable.  I used a strip of ¼ inch wide Evergreen strip to guide me to the next panel line.  The panel line was done with a light umber (PC 941) pencil.  This was followed by shading of the lower portion of a panel with the same pencil.  Lighter, more recent rust effects were done above this base using a burnt ochre (PC 943) pencil.  The entire process went very quickly, even on large corrugation areas.

Weathering Timber Products corrugated roof sections in process.  Note that the splice joint near the middle of both panels nearly disappears.

A quick note on the rest of the process.  I found I could use Rustoleum rattle can spray paint for the base coat. I sprayed aluminum and then did a light misting with an “Aged Gray Chalk” spray.  This latter spray does not completely cover the aluminum base.  Indeed, it is useful to introduce streaking with this very light spray coat. The objective was to dull down the aluminum base coat, but leave enough of the reflective glint to give the illusion of galvanized metal.  After this treatment dried, I sprayed Testors Dulcote .  Once this dried, I began the weathering process with the Primsacolor pencils.  A final coat of Dulcote sealed the surface.

The roof panels were attached to their respective structures with Pacer Formula 560 canopy glue.  This has become my favorite adhesive for joining dissimilar materials or, as in this case, painted surfaces.  Though this glue looks like white glue, it is very good for these uses.  It dries clear—hence its use by aircraft modelers to attach clear canopies.  It has a modest-length working and setting time—slow enough to position parts, but fast enough to satisfy a desire for instant gratification.  That slower setting feature, contrasting to CA adhesives, was very important to getting roof sections into position on the core structure and joined at the ridge line.

Another view of the core structures for Timber Products/Clear Fir.

I still am working with where to place the chip bins (the dark green structures alongside both mill buildings in the photos).  Once I have settled on the overall scene, I will install the piping for wood chips. 

Another element needed for this scene was a pair of loading docks.  Both were simply built using Evergreen styrene strip and V-groove siding.  In both cases, I found I could quickly paint them using Rustoleum tan camouflage spray paint and another light misting use of the Chalked Aged Gray.  Later on, I applied additional weathering to the front loading dock using both an acrylic weathering cream and an alcohol and paint wash. 

For now, the major pieces are in place, filling a big empty space in my Springfield scene.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Continuing the fleshing out of rail-served structures at Eugene, I moved on to a couple of relatively conventional uses of kits.  The first structure used the Design Preservation Models kit for “Drywell inks” (243-40100) to serve as my Oregon Supply.  This structure is at the end of a spur just up from my Eugene depot. 

Construction was straight-forward for a DPM kit.  Assemble the separate modular pieces into walls and then build those up into the structure.  I added a bit of extra bracing on the inside to support a floor for the second story and another floor for the freight dock wing.  Added to the roofs for these two section, this provided extra rigidity to the structure.  The second story floor also provided a needed visual block.

Basic structure built for my Oregon Supply.  Brick mortar has been added to the oxide red walls.

As seen in the photo, I left out the windows, doors, floors and roofs from the structure to allow easy treatment of the brick.  In contrast to the Eugene depot where I used a dilute paint wash for the mortar, I instead used colored drywall mud for the mortar on this structure.  That technique was described in a recent Trainmasters TV episode. I thought it was worth a try.  After giving the structure brick walls a coat of oxide red paint, I mixed up a small batch of drywall compound with a dab of gray acrylic paint.  Though I am happy enough with the end result, I can see why Barry Silverthorne recommended using black paint for the mixture. The mud drys lighter than its moist state.  The mud is spread onto the brick, working into the molded crevices.  Much of the mud can be wiped off with a putty knife, while still wet.  After the mixture sets, I went back with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to further clean off the brick faces.  A light spray with the oxide red paint helps blend everything together and tones down the lighter mortar. 

I had to be careful selecting the trim color for windows and doors. The nearby depot used a dark green—a common trim color for structures such as this.  I instead chose a tan color, one I use as a base for representing wood components.  Here, I simply wanted a neutral trim.  This structure needed to be distinct from the nearby depot. 

I assembled the rest of the building pretty much as described in the DPM instructions. Once again, I found canopy cement a useful adhesive.  I used it to install the painted windows and doors, the floors and roofs and the details.  I even found it easier to work with when joining a pair of white metal castings for one of the feed pipes from the tank. 

Street-side view of Oregon Supply.  This side faces the backdrop in my Eugene scene.

Oregon Supply placed on the layout.

The second industry in the Eugene area I used a kit for was a set of warehouses for the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) materials yard.  These structures needed to occupy a narrow strip between the EWEB spur and the curved backdrop.  I used the Walthers “Clayton County Lumber kit (933-2911).  This kit provides four corrugated iron structures, one of which is pie-slice-shaped, intended to serve on a curved siding.  I chose to keep three of the four structures in line, including the one intended to bend the structure group around a curve.  The major modification I made to all of the structures was to narrow them and angle their cut-off rears to fit against the curved backdrop.  This was a relatively simple modification.  I recently finally found a spray can of aluminum paint (not gloss silver), which provides a far better base for representing galvanized corrugated siding and roofing.  With this base coat, and often while still moist, I use a light overspray of a chalky aged gray.  Both of these were Rustoleum spray cans.

EWEB warehouses fitted up against the curved backdrop at the RR-West end of Eugene.  I need to replace the kit stairs and platform for the office on the left to better account for the proximity to the rail spur.

I will weather both sets of structures further, but for now, I have another couple of three-dimensional structures fleshing out the rail-served industries at Eugene.