Beginner Brass Bodging

I have previously mentioned some books on model related metal work by Simon Bolton and Kenneth C. Foran. My soldering and brass shaping skills are rudimentary at best and I did not feel comfortable plunging directly into rolling stock construction so I set out to find a simpler project. While walking past a construction site, I hit upon the answer, a roll off waste bin. These ubiquitous items of the modern era are locally sourced and constructed from metal sheet and structural shapes. Just like those in the metal rack at the hobby shop!

I cast about for a suitable example and discovered that most waste disposal companies provide overall dimensions for their bins as well as photos thereof. Just the thing for the modeler in need. Subject identified, I prepared a basic dimensioned drawing and set about acquiring the necessary brass square tube sizes and sheets.

I made good progress but there was an issue. My Hakko FX888 digital soldering iron is not quite up to the job of soldering a joint where one or both halves is a big sheet of brass aka a heat sink. Cold joints were the order of the day and I put things aside while I mail ordered a big 120 watt iron in hopes of solving that problem.

Today I dusted things off and had a go, big iron and all. The thing is a monster with a half inch tip on it. Not for detail work but boy howdy, does it heat things up. Maybe too much. I managed to avoid desoldering everything previously attached but that wouldn’t be hard to do. Perhaps a finer tip is in order if I can get one.

Anyway, here are the two competing irons, the Hakkohakkoiron.jpg

And the 120 watt Weller old school iron (not so old school as to involve fire but still)bigiron

And here is the project to date. Todays progress was putting the sides, end and bottom together.binprogressjpg


Tarpaper Roof Installed on Shed

I grabbed some time today to glue down the shed roof and install the tarpaper roofing I made with brown paper and India ink wash. I also decided to try out some of my new double-sided tape as suggested in by David Wright in his book. I decided that glueing down the overlaps on the horizontal seams wasn’t essential given the sketchy condition of the roof in question.

Here is the overall result:shed_roofing.jpg

The double sided tape took a little getting used to and I am lucky that it isn’t so strong that if you touch it with anything it stays that way. But, a few bits consumed in learning and I was off. Applying the whole roof took me only about 15 minutes including marking the guide lines. If it holds over time, it is a win. The tape in question looks like regular transparent tape and comes in the same sort of dispense and is thus 1/2″ wide. Covering a large surface would get tiresome so I will see if I can acquire a wider product for future use.

I am also please with the general effect of the tarpaper. Variations in black and grey look like worn but still intact roofing, at least to me. The detail photo doesn’t really do it justice due to my lighting washing out the colours. A future challenge to improve my photography and/or post-processing skills. The variation isn’t as extreme as it looks in this shot.


Brick Stencils?

A link to this Brick and Stone Stencil product page happened to appear in my Pinterest feed. Having never heard of such a thing before I found the idea quite inspiring. The smallest scale available is 1:48 as this is an overlap with the dollhouse scales. I must come up with some project to justify trying it out.

Many years ago, I produced a 1:12 dollhouse for my daughter that included drawing on the bricks with a paint pen. This process looks like much less work although probably not as durable under playroom conditions.

Weekend Reading: Scratchbuilding for Model Railroaders by Bob Walker

sb4mrrs.jpgI remember thinking some years ago that Bob Walker’s Scratchbuilder’s Corner column in Railroad Model Craftsman embodied a wealth of knowledge that should be turned into a book.  This was apparently not a special insight since not long after, along came Scratchbuild for Model Railroaders. If you ever intend to build a structure be it kit or from scratch, you would do well to own a copy of this book as a reference.  Note the dogeared corners on mine.

In the same self-deprecating conversational style he uses in his columns, Bob covers everything related to scratchbuilding structures from basic tools and materials all the way up to moulding and casting. Things are spelled out in straightforward fashion and include warnings on common mistakes.

We are fortunate that White River Productions has picked up and continued the Carsten books including this one so you can buy it new online right now. There is a lot of information packed into this volume and at $19.95 USD it is probably just about the best value for money available in the hobby today.


The linear progress on a single modeling project described to this point might cause one to wonder about my choice of blog title. Wonder no longer! Here is the other project nearest completion.

Some time ago, I chanced to re-read an installment of Bob Walker’s excellent Scratchbuilder’s Corner column in Railroad Model Craftsman where he suggested on build a shed as start on scratchbuilding structures.  After a bit of thrashing around, I settled on a PRR handcar shed since plans were freely available on the internet at PRR Standard Plans.

I got the whole thing done except the roof and wandered off to other projects. I have recently started on the roof since that seems like a short step to done.  Never one to do things the easy way, I decided to try a technique for creating tarpaper roofing from kraft paper using an India ink and alcohol wash I read somewhere or other.

So, shed with insufficiently rigid 1/32″ plywood subroof:shed

And roofing in progress:roofingfactory

To do:

  • Resolve subroof rigidity issue.
  • Finish staining roofing.  Photo is two coats of stain, I think I need to add more ink to the mix.
  • Apply soffit.
  • Apply roof.
  • Door hardware, perhaps an exterior light and a stove pipe.
  • Affix shed to a minimal base.
  • Lighting?  The door is not openable and there is no interior.