Friday, May 20, 2022

First attempts at birch tree armatures

1st, Weird | 2nd, Getting better | 3rd, Better still

I'm working on birch tree armatures, and I'm finding the biggest hurdle is overcoming my preconceptions about what birch tree trunks look like.

The 1st one I made is not typically birch-like, although I have seen a few in the wild like it. It doesn't have a 'broken ladder' like progression of branches up the trunk, and its foliage looks like a square hat has been placed on top (I temporarily added some poly fibre to get a sense of what it would look like). The bark is made by wrapping the armature with thin strips of duct tape.

The 2nd armature has a few more lower branches in order to take a stab at a broken ladder progression of branches, but it could use even more.

The 3rd one is getting closer to what I'm looking for. I made this trunk by wrapping a bundle of 26 gauge floral wire (the green wire) with some 30 gauge (the steel coloured wire). As I wound the 30 gauge up the trunk I introduced loops, which were later cut open and shaped to make fine branches. This gives a better simulation of the scraggly nature of the branch structure found on many of these trees in the wild, and should give the overall foliage shape a more raggedy, vertically stretched ellipsoid look.

Experimenting continues.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Ramsey's Park Square: Base painting

Over the last few day's I've been applying base colours to the shell. I started on the easy part and painted the interior a flat black to make the walls a little more opaque and to reduce interior reflections.

The bricks are painted with a loose mix of Revell Aqua Color #36137 Reddish brown, and #36162, Mossy Green. The green is maybe no more than 25% of the mix. It's added to partially grey and deepen the reddish brown. Keeping the mixture loose helps create tonal variation along the walls.

The facade was painted from one of my last remaining bottles of Model Master Aged Concrete. I've figured out how to mimic the colour with paints from the Revell Aqua Color line, but I'm sentimentally attached to my Model Master stash and will continue to use it until the hardened, crusty end :-)

Now it's on to adding mortar lines to the brickwork and detail painting to the facade.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

1983 Plymouth Turismo: A kitbash?

Our discussion on the 'correct' definition of kitbashing continues. I put forward for your consideration my 1983 Plymouth Turismo, a model of which I built from these two kits:

I don't know if this is a classic kitbash as the two kits used are simply variations on a single car sold by Chrysler. Regardless, I needed parts from both for this project.
This is another model I built sometime around 2005 or 2006 or so. I do recall I built it soon after the Custom Dodge Rampage.
This is the only construction photo I took during the project. The right image in the composite photo is from the car's brochure. Mine had a grey interior, hence my colour choices. The bowling ball carrying case and the hockey stick in the trunk are items from my scrap box. The retracted tonneau cover was scratchbuilt from some styrene.
Whatever Guest of the Crown stamped out that licence plate didn't get the letters and numbers lined up quite right and ...
... decided to go-for-broke on the plate's sibling. I like the fidelity to the prototype I achieved: the left taillight is cracked just like the real thing after a few years on the road.

Is this a kitbash? A kit-mingle? A kit-lance? I'd go with kit-mingle as the goal was to create as accurate a model of a prototype as I could manage, and that meant carefully combining 2 kits to achieve the 1 I wanted.

A wild advertising flyer inserted in the MPC Dodge Omni 024 donor kit

Monday, May 16, 2022

1978 El Camino Estrella

I was chatting with Steve about Lego's new Mountain View Observatory and it got me thinking again about the Mt. Lowe Observatory and the very fictional El Camino Estrella. Although I used the Estrella's background story in the Streetcar Noir series, I haven't posted a collection of pictures of it here.

I worked on this project just before getting going on the Custom Dodge Rampage build*. You can see some of the Rampage parts on the workbench as I was test fitting parts for that project during final construction of the El Camino. So, maybe it was built in 2005 or 2006 - I should keep better records.

The base kit is Revell's '78 Chevy El Camino Lowrider 2 'N 1. Many additional parts came from my scrapbox, but I can't remember which ones - again, I should keep better records.


Although, I can say the telescope's body is scratchbuilt from styrene tubes. Also, I think the telescope's support yoke came from an AMT Moonscope kit, and the eyepiece was - believe it or not - a gnarly 1/24 scale carburetor I found in my scrapbox that seemed to look the part.
I don't know why I bothered, but I did a little underside detailing and weathering. It might be authentic and it might not, but it does look dusty under there.
Well, that's that. I'll close the tailgate and be on my way.
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*Being nerds, Vince and I are discussing the definition of kitbash as opposed to its alternatives like kit-mingle and kit-lance. This is kind of a how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin discussion because even though the popular, mainstream definition of kitbash is firmly entrenched, it's still an interesting theoretical diversion. Ok, cutting to the chase, I think the Rampage project falls into the more formal definition of kitbash as several kits were used to produce a single model. The Estrella is not really a kitbash, but a light customization - more a mingle than a bash? Well, the discussion continues. Maybe I need to consult the non-existent pages of the non-existent Dictionary of Non-Existent Model Railroad Terms.

December May romance

Although I've spent the majority of my time since last fall on the Loonar Module I haven't let the Way Out Layout languish. At the top is the state of the layout on 13 December 2021 just after the foam base had been glued together and the first tentative pieces of track were being pushed into place. On the bottom is the layout as of 6 May 2022. The city portion, which unfortunately is facing the wall in this shot, is scenicked, but the open seashore half merely has its first coats of paint applied. Streetcars run well over the tracks, and hopefully this summer I'll have some time for bringing this part to life.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Moore on the cover

I was interested in seeing which Railroad Model Craftsman covers mentioned E. L. Moore by name. There are many that mention his projects, but far fewer that name him. Here's a list of the covers where Moore's name appears (I think it's complete, but if one is missing, please let me know):

Top row, left to right: Dec '66, Apr '68, May '69, July '70
Bottom row, left to right: Oct '70, June '72, Nov '72, July '74

Looking through the covers from the 1960s and 1970s, it appears unusual for any writer's name to be mentioned, so I'm not sure if eight covers was high or low for an established freelance writer at RMC. Usually cover text focused on succinctly describing the features and projects inside.

November to May

I was going through photos of the Loonar Module and thought the progress was pretty striking. The picture on the left was taken on 3 Nov 2021 just after the track was installed, and the picture on the right was taken on 12 May 2022 just after the fifth and last tall pine tree was planted. I figure there are just two more major tasks to accomplish before this test layout goes into the permanent fiddling stage: the water effects need to be laid down, and the birch trees along the entry road need to be created and installed. I've bought the materials I need for the water effects, and I've started trying my hand at making birches. So, things are moving ahead.

Although I see lots of areas for improvement, this little layout has so far fulfilled its purpose of providing a stage for learning a number of scenery building techniques, not to mention being fun and mentally refreshing.