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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #046-- "Get Yours Now"-
October 15, 2010
October 15, 2010

Make Quality Scale Model Structures
A Hallmark of Your N Scale Efforts

Over the past month, I have learned something about scale modelers, including myself and as a result, I am plunging headlong into the business of selling the products of my favorite means of passing time, constructing fine scale miniature buildings in N Scale using all mediums laser cut kits, kitbashing and scratch building and in some cases, producing a cardstock version.

It all started here last month when I felt a need to do something with the structures salvaged from my working N Scale layout of the St. J and L.C. which met its demise while I was hospitalized. So I set up a new page on my website and did I get a surprise. Not only were others interested in quality structures, they wanted to buy them.

Start Here

Between my site and eBay all 21 of the structure models sold within a three week period. No, I’m not going to get rich, but that isn’t the purpose, most of my joy comes in the building of these models and it more than offsets any monetary loss I may experience.

I have long admired the work of the masters who produce hefty lines of quality kits in larger scales that go for prices well over $100 and more often than not $200 to $300 per kit. My bent is to do N Scale versions of these kits starting from scratch and then making their ownership well within the relm of possibility, even in a failing economy.

This is a Fine Scale Miniatures kit that I am tackling next

My plan is to first offer these structures on my website to give my royal readership the first crack at them for two weeks. Then I will broaden the offering by moving it to eBay at a reduced Buy It Now price coupled with the Best Offer option.

I am aggressively producing these structures with the plan to produce one or two per week.

If you have any requests for specifics like dimensions, names for the signs or colors, or even related details, please let me know and I will endeavor to include them.

Also, if you have been holding onto a special craftsman kit until you get your skills perfected, send me an email and I will give you a call. Building models is what I do. I am now taking orders for delivery before Christmas.

You can call med at: 603-557-1891 Drop me an email at:

Reg Hardy

Good Photo Research for Modeling
Better Than A Thousand Words

There are few things a scale modeler can do to further their craft without doing some quality research. In an era where pictures speak louder than words, there probably isn’t a better resource for era-related research than Shorpy, a massive collection of striking photographs.

Most of the photos filed at Shorpy offer a High Definition view most often brought to live through the dry plate glass negative process. The detail is amazing. It is worth clicking on this photo, being transported to the Shorpy site and then going to the Hi-Def view.

Shorpy presents thousands of period photographs distilled from the collection housed at the Library of Congress which is also a treasure trove of era photos which depict details you can model into your project, for instance, placement of keystones in the Memorial Bridge in Washington, DC (could make an interesting diorama).

I have found Shorpy’s to be better organized and the Hi Def views they offer make your research work a real pleasure and actually, quite easy..

Why not try them both:


Library of Congress

Scratch Building Tips
Some Learned The Hard Way

Building structure models from scratch can be a very satisfying experience after being very challenging. The idea is to create accurate, quality models with a minimum use of commercial parts.

The often accepted definition is scratch building is the process of building a model from raw materials, rather than building it from a commercial kit, 'kit-bashing' or buying it pre-assembled.

When you undertake this process in N Scale, it can become a real test of your patience, the sharpness of your cutting blade and your ability to use adhesive SPARINGLY.

Surgical-like cuts—Most will tell you cutting is best done with a new, sharp Xacto blade. Instead, pick-up some used surgical scalpels and a fresh supply of blades. I prefer #11 blades or #15.

Blades for the medical profession are produced with Scalpel blades are usually made of hardened and tempered steel, stainless steel or high carbon steel. Most surgeons only use these blades once but the hardened nature of the steel makes them ideal for extended use in non-sanitary conditions.

I found my best source for such instruments was from the guy who used them on me, afterall, they will just get thrown away.

These scalpels and blades are also available from most medical suppliers and they are readily available on eBay.

Plastic or wood---For the most part scratch builders tend to go with styrene sheets for both walls and roofing as it comes in a large variety of shapes and textures. I prefer wood products whether wood strips or sheets. I find wood cuts easier, takes paints well and is more forgiving of mistakes. Additionally, wood is more apt to breakdown once released from modeling duty. It is unlikely to outlive the modeler.
Photo Measurements---If your scratch building involves the use of photos as the starting point, you will need a caliper set (digital preferred) inside window and do/r openings, outside, (width of a brick). Once known, these measurements will allow you to extrapolate to actual feet and then back into your scale. (See our Scale Converter

Software for Planning—Typical of most scratch building is the complete lack of plans for the building you want to create. You may have photos (more than one view if you are lucky), but from there you are on your own.

Grab a set of calipers and get an accurate measurement of something in the picture which has a known dimension most common door heights are 6' 6" ( 78" ) and 6' 8" ( 80" ). You will find widths in the range of 2'6", 2'8", and 3'0". If the door in your photo measures 5/8ths of an inch, you are spot on for the correct N Scale dimensions. You can now measure the buildings length in inches and calculate what it would be in feet.

Now the fun part. Assuming you have both length and width of the building’s footprint in feet, you can move into the proper scale in the Model Builder software and create a replica, measured in N Scale feet.

Model Builder software generated plan

Pick window and door objects similar to the ones depicted in your photo and place on your “plan”. Resize to the dimensions of your Tichey or Grandt (or whatever you are using) windows or doors. Once it is the correct size, duplicate with the software for as many as you need. These can be auto-aligned to the same level above ground on your “plan”.

Remember, you need two opposing walls so build another in reverse of your first. You can also easily create end walls complete with the correct roof angles.

These will easily print out on one sheet of paper, cut them out and lightly paste onto the back of your clapboard material (wood or plastic). Paint, stain and/or weather before carefully cutting holes for your windows and doors and then trim away excess wall material.

Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 45 months has led to the creation of over 425 pages of articles on the various facets of scale modeling, this monthly e-zine and a host of modeling questions answered.

As we get ready to embark on our third year, I am hoping to open the site up to input from other scale modelers. You may have noticed the Navigation Bar has been sub-divided into the major hobbies covered.

Each of these sections now has one or two pages that invite participation with questions, tips and pictures regarding your various modeling endeavors.

We want to hear from you as do the other 25,000 modelers who log onto this site monthly.

As I get ready to roll into my 71st year, I can’t believe how much I have learned about hobby activities In the past two years. I have heard from other modelers with similar experiences.

To help me develop and maintain my website your comments on its content are essential. You can send me your comments by visiting the “Voice Your Opinion” feature at the top of the Navigation stack in the left column on each page.

It was never my intention to make this website a one way street as my knowledge is no where deep enough for me to be termed an “Authority”. I hunger for your feedback, comments, ideas, tutorials, plans, pictures and even your negative comments if considered constructive.

The Internet and that includes work best when they are interactive and that is collaboration only you can provide. It has been a pleasure serving as your guide for these past two years and by no means am I throwing in the towel, for I honestly believe the building and maintaining of this website are instrumental in keeping my mind active.

I want to open up this site in the fast lane. That is your part of the two-way street.

Its In Your Best Interest

If you have been giving some thought to launching your own home business in 2010, it is worth your time to take a look at what I found:

Steps To Success

Until Next Month

Make It Your Best Effort!

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