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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #053-May Tipsheet
May 15, 2011
May 15, 2011

Never, Never, Never...

I'm Not Sure Winston Churchill had that in mind

If there is one thing I could impart through this May Tip Sheet which can have a lasting impact on your modeling efforts, it is depicted by the hapless frog above.

There have been many times in my 30-plus years of scale modeling in one form or another, I have been threatened with the conclusion it would be a lot easier to just relax, and slide down the gullet of retreat from a modeling challenge.

There is never any joy in packing up the mistakes in a project and just chucking them into the trash; you have already invested time, money and effort into attaining a modeling goal and there is not much praise rendered by others or self-worth realized in walking your project out to the dumpster.

Actually, I am quite impressed by modelers who have created some amazing results. Many others, too many,  have given up and end up wasting a lot of time.

Remember,  A quitter never will win and a winner never quits. There is a good chance you’d still be in the dark if Thomas Edison had quit after attempt number 750. After all, he didn’t know that with attempt number 1,000 (some say it was 10,000 attempts) he would invent the light bulb.

No, you modeling, no matter how good it gets, will ever have the impact of finding out how light is emitted, but if Edison abandoned the project after say attempt number 3,675, he wouldn’t know which materials worked and which ones didn’t. The same goes for you, the reason you fail with a given technique is to find out which one works.

Just because the long bill of snags you in the midst of your most ambitious jump doesn’t mean there is nothing but stomach acid in your future. Unlike the frog, you get to back up and try it again.



Solving Knotty Problems on Ship Models

  Here are a couple thoughts about rigging line and rigging knots.

To start with, make sure your rigging line is the appropriate color.

When it comes to running rigging there is always the law:

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (and maybe longer than that), it was a matter of Parliamentary law that all rope supplied to the British Royal Navy be soaked in Stockholm tar. I've never actually seen Stockholm tar, but my understanding is that rope soaked in it is a rich, medium brown. That's a good starting point for all the rigging line in a model of a British warship of that period - including the running rigging.

Standing rigging like ratlines are another matter - these were of natural hemp with a very light tarring.

To achieve these colors rely on dyes, not paints which will stiffen your line. Rit has a pretty good line of colors to emulate these two line systems.

If you beeswax the thread, then you'll find that knots snug down tightly and tend to stay tied because of the 'grip' afforded by the beeswax. How do you beeswax thread? Pull it over a block/cake of beeswax a couple of times in each direction and then set the wax into the thread by either slowly rolling it between thumb and forefinger while pulling it through with your other hand, or drawing across a lit light bulb (60 watts max) - if the wax smokes then you're drawing it too slowly. Beewswax works best on cotton or cotton/polyester mix thread. 100% polyester thread does not benefit from beeswaxing. BTW, pulling the thread over the wax cake and setting the wax by warming also helps to get stretchiness and curl out of the line.


My Scratch build of Emporium Seafood - Phase One

Editor's Note This multi-part construction tutorial begins here and continues on the website.

Making progress with Emporium Seafood build

This has been a real adventure, almost making it up as I go. Ir proves to me U am a much better scratch modeler in HO Scale than I ever was in N Scale.

one of the things I like most about scratch building is the ability to include details, the orginal builder never thought of including.

Here, for example is the backside of a herring smokehouse, a process not undergone by every fiesh species. In the foreground is a drying rack.

After researching New England fisheries like Emporium I found the smokehouse was a process which preceeded canning in the early days. website)

What Have You Found
For Scale Modeling Help?

There's a whole new high tech world developing out there and it is beginning to impact the world of scale modeling, and not in a negative way. It's called


I just got my iPad. So I've been looking around for beneficial uses, (I'm writing this on my iPad). Last month I reported on my use of the App

In my work on Emporium Seafood, I have used Multi-Measure a number of times and I can' get over how handy it is.

This got me to thinking, what other Apps are being developed with scale modelers in mind, so I started searching the Apple App Store for iPad Apps and the ANDROID Market (cell phone) for applicable Apps.

There are several which are simply trials for online versions of hobby magazine subscriptions. I am largely ignoring these.


So far I have only found a few and there are duplicates in ANDROID.

Wii Throttle Lite for iPad

Use your iPhone or iPod touch as a throttle for model railroad control! **PLEASE NOTE** This App is not a stand-alone product! Other hardware and software are required.

WiThrottle Lite is the free version of WiThrottle

Link to the popular JMRI software through a local Wi-Fi network to access throttle, address, and function controls wirelessly.

Digital Command Control (DCC) is now the most common control method for earnest model railroaders, allowing multiple trains to be controlled simultaneously anywhere on the track. JMRI is an interface program that works with most brands of DCC and is very popular because it simplifies DCC programming, signaling, control, and many other aspects of running a permanent layout. It is also free and multi-platform. 

Instead of direct control through the DCC system, WiThrottle Lite links with JMRI. This provides a universal interface to many possible combinations of technology and model railroads. As DCC evolves, JMRI is updated as needed.

RC Timer

Your Number One Radio Controlled Plane, Car, Boat Timer App, a must have to any radio controlled enthusiast, developed in order to stop unexpected dead sticks, running out of fuel and monitoring the performance of your models. 

This great little application will save your RC plane from unexpected empty fuel tanks, simple set the amount of time your model will run for and press start. The application can either give a discreet vibrate in your pocket, set your warning times from 3 minutes, 1 minute or 20 seconds. Remember always land or retrieve your model with enough fuel for maximum control.

This great app will let you save and add as many models as you wish.

The app will also allow you to know what models you have set within your transmitter, a must for anyone who has more than one model within their fleet. 

The user can also record the time their engine runs for, this is great if you want to run a full tank of fuel on the ground first, we suggest knocking of a couple of minutes of the recorded time so you know you still have a little in the reserve.

This app will also be useful for model boat users in order to retrieve their boats with fuel left within their tanks or battery life, also a must for car users for racing. 

Each model can be set with an existing photo within your iphone/ipod or take one on the spot. Share information with other modelers on run time for your models.

Our aim is to save your model with out great little rc modelers app. Don't delay download today, input your models and have fun.

Build Your Own Weathering Station

They measure 7.5 inches tall and about 1.25" in diameter. They are just what I was looking for. I found them at AC Moore. In their regular life they are sand art bottles used in wedding unity ceremonies. Selling as a unity set, they run $125 for a set of two with vase.

Mine were a buck apiece with the vase an extra $2. I have $5 in the whole rig. I use two for Alcohnol-India Ink mixes (one light, one dark and the third is the vinegar/steel wool.

Slicker than snot on a doorknob I take a handful of sticks, dunk them in the tubes for 10-15 seconds, pull them out and dunk the other ends Let dry and repeat depending on the amount of weathering desired.

Polymer Clay Makes Great Retaining Wall

Many times in scale modeling we get beyond our own capabilities and venture into another’s area of expertise, usually at some cost. Thankfully, when it came to the creation of a Polymer Clay flexible random stone retaining wall, that person turned out to be a very close personal friend.

Mary Stazzoni in Nashua, NH is that friend who had the material and equipment needed to crank out a couple 14-inch sections of that stonework and do it quickly.

She even wrote me out a set of directions for the next time I need a flexible retaining wall. I’d like to share them. After being removed from the packaging, polymer clay must be conditioned before it is ready to be used for a project. This can take a few minutes for soft brands of clay or a little longer for harder clays.

Polymer clay can be conditioned a few different means: by hand kneading, rolling and pressing it flat, a pasta machine (PM) may be used to speed the conditioning process up. A PM will flatten and roll out clay in sheet forms. Once the clay has been conditioned into a workable consistency, it's ready to be used in many different ways.

For this project, Bake 'n Bend polymer clay was combined with Granite clay, in order to achieve the flexibility and a stone-like appearance (the granite clay did that). Using Bake 'n Bend clay insured that the wall would have the flexibility needed. The cheaper clays, such as Sculpey III, tends to be more brittle after it's cured, so it would not be a good clay to use when some 'bend' is needed.

After mixing both clays completely (into one uniform color), a portion of the mixed clay was run thru the PM on the widest setting. This made for the thickest sheet of clay, good for the stability of the wall.

The least amount of handling of the clay while working with it, reduces the amount of distortion in the final piece. The top, bottom and sides were cut down to the desired height and length, and a texture sheet (or a deeply etched rubber stamp) was used to put the random stone look in the sheets.

This made for the thickest sheet of clay, good for the stability of the wall. The sheet is laid on the ceramic tile you will use to cure it on. The least amount of handling of the clay while working with it, reduces the amount of distortion in the final piece. The top, bottom and sides were cut down to the desired height and length, and a texture sheet (or a deeply etched rubber stamp) of the look of stone was used to put the stone look in the sheet of clay.

Directions continue here.

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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