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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #029-- "Hobby Costcutters"
May 15, 2009
|May 15, 2009
Make Your Hobby Make Money
With unemployment approaching double figures there are a lot more people looking for work they really don’t enjoy than those who will take the time to come up with a plan to produce quality hobby products people will buy.
We have all developed skill sets whether it is teaching others to fly Radio Control helicopters or running a trackside tune-up bay for Nitro racers. Maybe your interests lie in developing scratch built detailed cross- sections of a famous warship, or producing a line of N Scale structure kits. All can and are making money today.
You will find there is demand re-motoring and re-gearing locomotives as well as installing DCC to be sought after talents. Many modelers do not want to take the time to learn the processes involved, nor do they want to expend the time.
Repairing Nitro racing engines is also a sought after service you will often find advertised on CraigsList.
The nice part about working for yourself is the ability to charge rates that hurt no one. You can charge just what your costs are, build in profit or get paid enough to make your work worthwhile. The object is to keep your costs rock bottom.
The good thing about hobby related businesses is the fact they can be conducted from home. As a home-based, even apartment based business, you can get started with minimal expenses.
For instance you can begin by reducing expensive start-up costs such as leasing space, lease hold improvements, utility and phone deposits and major office equipment. You also have the advantages of earning an income with the flexibility to work when it is best for you and take care of family and other responsibilities that often arise throughout the work day.
SCORE offers these 10 tips for getting started:
Determine local and state requirements for licensing and zoning regulations. Be sure to check with your local zoning office to find out how the zoning regulations in your area may affect your business plans. Determine if your business requires any licenses and file the necessary forms.Get a client list that can afford and appreciates your work.
Look for forums where you can post your services (advertising at no cost).
You can make a good living being a professional model builder.
It often starts by authoring a how to book on your chosen niche. This can often build name recognition and set your up as the expert in your field.
Decreasing Your Model Railroading CostsModel Railroaders have a passion for doing something they love, and often take the time to help others often without pay. Model railroading (regardless of scale) is a wonderful way to blow off steam, master a craft, spend a rainy day, and it can become money-making opportunity.
Here are a few ways you can enjoy your hobby without stressing out about the cost of having one.
1. Narrow it down – There are many facets to the model railroading hobby from operating trains to scratch building structures, from painting to kitbashing, from electronics to collecting from planning and research to miniaturization and forcing perspective. Supplies for this type of hobby can cost a fortune over time so it helps if you pick a niche and stick with it instead of buying all different types of supplies.
Ready For The Professional Modeler Niche?The power of a scale model in a financing presentation is well known by architects and contractors alike, the people who don’t realize this are most hobby modelers.
All over the Internet you will find galleries of photos of successfully completed scale modeling projects whether they are structures, vehicles or dioramas, they only lack marketing to be professional grade.
Many of the most talented have made their hobby a profession by building a paying client list for their talents, many on a repeat basis.
These patrons, if you will, don’t have the time or talent to complete the model themselves, yet they have a favorite building, vehicle or scene they would like commemorated in miniature.
Most often these are scratch building projects but they can involve kitbash, kit repair or building from a set of plans. Models tell a story and it begins the moment the viewer comes in contact with your creation. The power presentation models possess is the reason why so many models are used effectively in sales and public relations.
Models also help contractors, engineers, and architects in several different ways. A well-built model is a functional and informative tool designed to answer questions and solve potential problems. Revisions in development and design can be derived from an accurately detailed model.
There are many uses for a professionally built scale model:
Tree Making Makes The Scene
There is no question about it, trees are an important facet of any model railroad layout, even if they are only painted on the background, but in the Northeast, they are an imperative.
Take my St. J & LC reproduction—from most photographs I have seen, you would think it was running through a 100-mile in diameter forest. That is not the case, but the number of trees alongside the abandoned Right-Of-Way would make you think you are in a jungle, specially if you are afoot on the old iron pathway.
Emulating this arbor roadway on my N Scale version and still leaving room for structures, a river and cliffs is taking some careful planning and a variety of tree making methods.
I needed a canopy of trees to provide both “natural growth” covering, standout trees fore foreground growth and super green trees for riverside germination.
Plus there is a need for a large number of White Pine replicas, a tree prevalent to any Vermont landscape.. I am still looking for a material to replicate the needle-laden limbs.
One thing I didn’t want was the puff-ball looking trees, you know the method of creating an all covering forest by spreading “Clump Foliage” or the alternative, rolling polyfiber into balls, spraying with cheap hairspray and dunking them into colored foam turf. The balls are then glued to the ground looks unrealistic to me.
Of course being in New England and able to look out the window at real life tree groupings makes you realize the necessity of trunks and limbs.
The assumption is these puffs will look real because most viewers will see you layout from a position above. In reality trees have an airy look and you do see limbs and trunks beneath the foliage as your trees further back into the layout.
Instead of cheap hairspray, I used 3M Super 77 spray adhesive as it has more holding power and foliage ingredients quickly stick to the WS armatures. To be safe, I usually spray them a second time to lock the leaves in place while I insert them into holes drilled in the landscape.
I found this the case with the ridge which slashes through my layout and needed a tree covering. By planting individual trees I was able to add varying tree heights, a mixture of thinness and textures as well as a variety of colors.
The bulk of my trees were created by bashing the Woodland Scenics “Forest Canopy” kit breaking many of the dried weed armatures into smaller pieces for 40 to 60-foot N Scale trees.
This easily nets 150 to 200 N Scale trees.
I was lucky enough to score 6 “high quality” sage brush pieces for use as foreground trees.
They resemble old oak trees and lend character to the layout.
Make Mine Ground Cover SimplicityNo matter whether you are modeling a special forces diorama set in the early 40s, a Do-It-Yourself Lemans for slot cars, or a shelf layout for a model railroad, you are going to create a lot of real estate you should try to make realistic.
There are two things the world around us has in common, it doesn’t come in standard off the shelf colors and seldom is it flat.
Here are a couple of economical ways to address both.
But if you ever walked more than 50 yards along a real railroad line or a similar distance alongside a raceway, you know ground is not like glass.
Too often modelers take a flat surface. Strew on a little ground foam and call it earth-like.
Make your terrain stand out by making portions of it stand up above the tracks and depress other portions to below the action level.
Take a pebble and sink it into the surface of your model layout so it looks like a boulder that couldn’t be removed and had to be worked around.
Bushes grow from unkempt weeds and trash collects on fences.
Construction workers often leave a cache of polls, boards, steel piping. Even rusted out cranes can create “bumps” in your landscape.
Mixing a Rit dye into the water portion of your mold mixture results in a ground texture that is the same color all the way through. You can get your dye in all of the earth tones, but remember, a little bit goes a long way.
As you move up in scale, your basic ground cover needs to increase in size. Many prefer to keep their dirt cost minimal and scoop up a coffee cup full just outside the door. This is then strained through different sized strainers to get to a fine powder.
Before applying this to the surface where you will be running mechanical models take the time to pass a magnet through your “dirt” to make you aren’t including minuscule metal fragments that can foul electrical motors.
You can also find Art Sand used for sand painting or sculpting at your local Michael’s or AC Moore stores. The advantage is uniform color and consistent size.
Dry leaves which have been run through a bullet-shaped coffee grinder a couple times make fantastic, multi-colored ground cover.
• Collect leaves in the fall getting different sizes and shapes.You will find a mixture of these materials will give you a most realistic “dirt”.
River Rock RocksMy wife came into my office yesterday with a bag of River Rocks (Decorative covering for potted plants) and asked me if I could use them on my N Scale layout. They are about the size of a silver dollar, egg shaped, smooth and shiny.
It was this last element that made their use doubtful as either an N Scale cliff or even a field boulder, (I am modeling an area which features a granite quarry), the surface was nowhere near rough enough.
But river rock, even boulders in a river are often worn smooth by decades of being over-run by the water.
Two or three would look natural in my riverbed as the Envirotex floods the river basin and leaves the rocks protruding from the surface.
Works for me.
Until Next Month...
Make It Your Best Effort!
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