Sunday, February 24, 2013

Red letter day

Progress had slowed down on the WBB build as I waited – and waited – for an order I had placed for plastic sheets at a local hobby store. Luckily, John found a piece of Evergreen #4625 ‘metal’ sheet on a trip to another hobby store on the other side of town, so I was able to get back to work on the sign. And I found some more brick sheeting I didn’t know I had after scrounging around my disorganized supplies box. 

Also, I was violating my guideline about striving for too much perfection that causes build progress paralysis and just decided to get on with the project even though it might not turn out to be completely perfect. In my mind it’s better to keep going instead of slowing to a crawl, and then stalling out, in order to get a perfect build. 

Before painting the letters I flipped them over and glued some squares cut from 0.010 inch styrene to back of each one. This was done so that the letters will stand off from the sign board just a little, and add a little bit of shadowing.

This is the long awaited for piece of plastic for the signboard. Can't really see the corrugations in the piece, but trust me, they're there. 

All the letters were taped to a stick prior to spray painting with Krylon Fusion red.

The signboard is glued up from 5, 6 inch by 67 mm pieces cut from that Evergreen plastic material - the raw stock piece of Evergreen styrene is 6 inches wide.

I clamped a metal metre stick to my workbench and used it to keep the signboard pieces square while they were glued together. I used Ambroid ProWeld for the job. Works well, but use sparingly. Also, John discovered that ProWeld will work very well at gluing styrene to masonite (probably due to the high glue content in masonite), so if your workbench has a masonite top like mine, be extra careful because you'll glue your sign to the bench - and believe me, it won't come off without lots of damage to both !

Here are the letters after spraying. I let them dry for a few days before proceeding with the rest of the signboard work.

While the signboard and letters were drying, I cut some 0.010 inch sheet styrene into 4 mm wide strips and painted them with Tamyia flat aluminum.

I added some 0.060 inch thick styrene strips to the back of the signboard for strength. They could be neater, but they do stiffen it quite a bit. One thing I should note if you're following along and thinking of building a similar structure, do it in reverse order to the way I'm doing it. That is, do the structure first, and the sign and entry doors later. I'm doing the build in this weird order because I wanted to see if I could build the pieces most challenging to me first, but now I'm going to be retrofitting the structure to those items, which means they probably won't be as good as they could be. 

Here the trim strips are being glued to the assembled sign. Prior to adding them I painted the sign with thin washes of flat back and Tamyia smoke, along with liberal applications of gunk from my brush cleaning water to give some colour highlights. This wash kills the pristine, pure white surface of the signboard and helps highlight the corrugations.

The signboard is translucent, so I'll need to paint the interior side black.

Once the trim was glued down, I brought the signboard upstairs for attaching the letters. Unfortunately, after a day in the warmer, drier upstairs environment, some of the trim came off and needed regluing - I used the glue a little too sparingly the first time. Also, with such a big structure, it's going to need careful internal bracing so it can resist changes in temperature and humidity.

Some light pencil lines were used to position the letters prior to gluing. Some careful erasing got rid of them - or at least lightened them significantly.

Once the dust had settled, I sat back and had a look. It's big: 30 inches long by 2 5/8 inches high. Debra asked me where this massive thing is going to sit on the layout. She's right, it doesn't fit. I've got a new layout in mind, which hopefully I can get started on in the next few months, and this thing should have a good home on it. For now, I think I can put the pedal-to-the-metal now that two of the most challenging pieces of this build - challenging for me anyway - are done.


  1. I agree with you about striving too much for perfection and allowing it to get in the way of enjoyment. And I'm looking forward to your new project!

    1. Thanks Iain. For a new layout, I'd like to do any construction work in the garage, but with winter still in full force, it'll be awhile before anything gets started :-)