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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #061-On The Move
January 15, 2012
January 15, 2012

On The Move, We'll Be Brief

I apologize for the brevity of this issue, my wife and I are moving into our new condo and it happens to be the same week I go to press, so to speak, with Scale-Modelers Tools and Techniques Monthly.

I have been working on my favorite part of any modeling job, researching.

My next project after the move, is a diorama featuring my favorite WWII night fighter, the P-61 Black Widow.

I found a picture of one caught in take off by another Widow landing. Gunfire couldn't do that much damage.

I want too set it in a repair scene being worked on at a Saipan workshop modeled after a 1944 photo.

This is going to fit into a tight scene for a corner shelving unit in my new bedroom office.

I am looking forward to starting the Revell/Monogram kit and have been rounding up aftermarket details.

Incidentally, the landing Black Widow didn't look much better:

Stack Your Own Stack

Even in N Scale, a dowel makes a pretty ridiculous looking smokestack even after painting and weathering so when you find a ¼-inch dowel in a $65 fine scale structure kit is quite disappointing, but then again it is a chance to do it your way. A quick trip to the local hobby shop (even small plastic purchases helps in this economy) and I came away with Evergreen ¼-inch tubing and I also picked up some angle material for the corners of this building.

When you research smokestacks on the Internet (Google Images is a big help) you will find metal tube stacks were not just one full length tube like the old wood stove, but were made up of sheet metal sections which appeared to be welded together. They often have ridges circling the tube at each joint.

I replicated these using green floral wire wrapping it around the tube, pulling it tight and clipping with wire cutters at the joint. If you insert the wooden dowel into the tube it will hold the round shape. I then dabbed the ends with “Quick Grip” and setting it aside to dry. I masked these joints with a 1/16th tube which I saw on some smoke stacks. I fantasized mine was used to dispel inert gas used in the manufacturing process.

This gas line was offset from the main stack by about 1/32nd of an inch.

An added detail for my stack is a circular topper offset from the tube top with three wires. I have been unable to learn its purpose but it is clearly evident in some stack pictures. I just like the looks of it.

For the stack’s base I used a cover from an old eyeglass cleaning solution bottle. I drilled a pilot hole in the center and enlarged it to a tight fit for the end of the dowel. Then I painted it inside and out with a coat of concrete paint. The stack and gas tube are painted asphalt grey and the inside of the tube top is blackened with pure black acrylic.

When you set the stack alongside the building, its height will overpower the structure but these smokestacks were built so high to safely expel hot flue gases and smoke to make their disposal less hazardous to humans.

Tape-a-Roof Gives New Look


Mimicking the appearance of an aging roof constructed from rolled roofing for me previously meant finding imprint-less toilet paper, cutting it into N Scale three-foot strips, ,gluing the strips to a roof surface and then painting it an appropriate color, most likely black, the color of my mood when trying to accomplish such nit-picking work. Then I discovered my wife’s green floral tape and I’ll never go back to the bathroom for scratch building supplies. This stuff comes in half-inch rolls in lengths of 40, 60 or 90 feet at a under ¾ of a cent per foot, or 67 cents per roll. You could probably cover your whole layout with 90 feet of half-inch tape.

But for an N Scale roofing job this material is ideal.

• It sticks to itself and not to you.
• It can easily be worked around rooftop impediments.
• It will conform to valleys in the roof.
• It takes glue well to stick the first course (I use Elmer’s) and for the final course.

In between the courses, the floral tape sticks to itself well and allows you to easily raise the occasional edge to depict wind damage.

I try to keep the strips at half-a-tape width to resemble a three-foot roll, typical or roll length material.

For realism, I use a blade to raise an edge or two and in some places tear edges and lay on a patch or two to stop imaginary leaks.

One of the things I find surprising about this roofing method is the fact the tape strips seem to take on their own weathering vitality of their own. It picks up surface defects on its own from whatever it covers whether it is a bump or a dent.

Once you get the roof rolled the way you like, let the glue dry overnight and then hit the roof with a coat of asphalt-colored paint.

Let's Mix It Up

No matter what you are modeling, you can’t really call it your own until you change its appearance. Whether your starting point is a plastic rattle box, a few pieces of stripwood, or a blob of plaster, you never will be very satisfied with the original color. It just ain’t cool.

And since we’ve just come through New England’s most beautiful season, we’re devoting the rest of this issue to color, how to mix it, how to apply it and how to age it.

So if you are mixing, applying or aging, hopefully you will find something here to guide you.

Without a doubt model builders could easily spend a lifetime exploring the results of mixing paints to get specific colors, there are just so many possible results from mixing two or three colors together. One man’s auburn, for instance, is another man’s rust and what one individual sees as rust. What one calls chestnut, another refers to be as being hazel-colored. What one person sees as burnt sienna, another sees as reddish brown.

If it was only a question of what you call the color by decreeing this particular color will always be called auburn.

But what do you call the same color that has a little more red or a little more brown?

In the final analysis the “that’s it!” decision will be made by the viewer and not you.

A general formula for creating brown is one part red, one part blue and a little yellow, but how much of each will depend on what you and your girlfriend recognize. You can make a substantial change with just a drop or two difference in any of the primary or secondary colors involved.

To be more specific, you can use the formula part of burnt umber, three parts of golden ochre and twenty parts of white lead (I n art, lead white is known as flake white, also sometimes known as Cremnitz white.) It depends on how artistic you want to get.

Things to remember when mixing paints:

1. Get Out your paints (I find you can mix brands as long as you stay within the acrylic or oil-based paint families.
2. Use a color wheel to help you learn to mix paints to get the colors you want. Color mixing adds detail and excitement to your work.
3. It is a very good visual tool that demonstrates the relationship between the different types of colors of the spectrum. Learn the three elementary divisions of color:

• Primary colors are red, blue, yellow. These are the three 'starter' pigments and can’t be created using any other combination of colors, hence the term 'primary'.
• Secondary colors are orange, purple, green. They are the products of the three combinations of primary colors.
• Tertiary colors are those that involve all three primary colors (red, yellow and blue) in some combination or another.

4. Recognize the various hues of a color. All colors have various shades and are either 'warm' or 'cool'. Warm colors are prominent and bold, whereas cool colors are subdued and sober. Traditionally, yellow, orange and red are considered warm colors while blue, green and purple would be classified as “cool”.
5. Create a color grid. Use a piece of water color paper and mark of a grid with several blocks. In each block, place a splotch of your one of your “created colors with the “recipe” (measured color combinations) beneath it.

Incidently you will find a color wheel in the Download Center.

The Road Ahead

I am looking at a lot of exciting changes coming as 2012 begins. It promises to be one of my favorites as I look back over seven decades. This reminds me of the utter foolishness of teen suicide.

My wife and I are moving into our own Condo after a decade of renting (I know, the rent alone would have paid for it). We're excited by the prospect (a garage in snow country is a big deal).

I have launched my new website all about my  experiences with mobility scooters. You can bet it is another SiteBuildIt site Check it out:

Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 62 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 fifth 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 73rd 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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