Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Oceanview Hotel: Painting

As well as being able to paint the El Camino pool during a warm snap awhile back, I was also able to do the base coating of the Oceanview Hotel. At first I thought I could brush paint the hotel, so I went ahead and made a trial on one of the floor units. Bad idea. The result was too gloppy even for me - all the nice window detailing was obliterated by the paint. I immediately dropped it in a bath of SuperClean to scour the mess and get back to the original plastic before spraying.
All the units that make up the hotel were sprayed with Krylon light blue. After the paint was dry I then went to work on painting the vertical elements with Tamiya flat aluminum, the floor edges with Poly Scale aged concrete, the inside walls with Tamiya grey-green, and the ceilings with flat white.

[That's what's left of the original gloppy paint job after soaking in SuperClean and scrubbing with a nail brush.]
To tone down the exterior colours a bit, some very thin washes of black were applied. It also helped to pop the window frame detail a little.
Although the unit exteriors were spray painted, the interiors were still painted by hand. First, I tried using a fine brush for that work, but it was very tedious, and I kept getting paint on the exterior surfaces. I eventually decided to use Microbrush swab applicators instead of a brush, and that made the job easier, faster, and far more accurate. The trick to using these things is to first dip the applicator head in the paint, making sure the handle doesn’t get paint on it, then, lightly dabbing the paint-filled applicator head on a paper towel or tissue until you see the applicator’s pointy bristles sticking out through the paint. This indicates that the excess paint has been removed and you’re ready to apply paint to plastic. Lightly wipe the applicator head on the surfaces, painting the widest window frames first, and the narrow horizontal pieces last when the applicator is almost dry to minimize the chance of getting paint on the exterior surfaces. Using a magnifying glass for this task makes things even easier. Now, if I had been smart, I would have pre-sprayed all the components before assembling, and that would have made painting quite easy; however, I really didn’t have a master plan when I started this project and just built-up the components as I got ideas about how to proceed – which in the end meant that interior painting became something of a chore.

Lightly coloured construction paper was used to carpet each of the units. This gave the floors some subtle texture that simply painting them wouldn’t, and also allowed the joints of the plastic pieces used to build the floors to be disguised. The combination of a white ceiling and very light gray flooring brightens up the interiors of the units. The floor of the ground unit was painted black, decorated with some curvy white lines, and then coated with Future to give it some shine.
The elevator doors are simply a picture I found searching the internet, re-scaled to HO, and printed. I lucked out because the wall colour around the elevator matched the colour I used to paint the elevator shaft – a happy accident. The edges of the door pictures were touched up with a little wall colour paint to make them blend a bit better.

The windows are cut from clear plastic and glued inside each window frame with some Micro Kyrstal Klear and a little superglue. This was a fairly big job since there are 26 panes that had to be cut and installed.
The roof-top satellite dish is an item from a broken toy that was repainted and weathered a little. It’s a bit on the thick and out-of-scale side, but it doesn’t look too bad, and this building is more of a caricature than a replica.

Standing back and looking at the tower, it’s not too bad even if it is just a caricature, but I think it needs some additional exterior paint or decoration to make it pop and give it some character. Also, the optical fibre I ordered awhile back finally got delivered last week, so I’m also giving some thought about how to use it in this building..
I haven’t glued the units into a tower yet. My plan is to permanently glue the base to the lobby unit, and then the first floor onto it. The sixth floor will be permanently glued to the roof unit. However, all the other floors will only be rubber cemented together so they could be easily pried apart for interior access. The elevator shaft will be epoxied to the base.

[Title page from E. L. Moore's Clarabel Hotel in the February '74 issue of Railroad Modeler.]
There’s going to be some interesting interior detailing work ahead. When I started on this project it reminded me of E.L. Moore’s Clarabel Hotel that appeared in the Feb ’74 issue of Railroad Modeler.

I made a start on that project when I was a kid, but it was far too difficult for me – and I had this weird idea of facing it with some ultra cheap, ugly, vastly out-of-scale brick paper I had bought at a deep-discount sale at a local hobby store which didn’t help things – so I abandoned it. Mr. Moore did a lot of interior detailing on the Clarabel Hotel, and the Oceanview Hotel will no doubt present its own unique challenges.

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