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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #006 -- Our New Look
July 15, 2007
July 15, 2007



Happens every year. Summer just gets into full swing, we get past the Fourth and settle into the dog days and guess what.

Scale modeling takes the back seat in a big way as we set it aside for something better. But you can just about stand a few days at the beach, the mountains aren't that much cooler, so how can we keep an oar in the water (so to speak) and still please the family.

In an word...


This is a form of intellectual investigation that forms the basis for future modeling projects and can take you far beyond the confines of your computer's search engine or the silence of the local library (good for rainy day research).

How about a trip to the site of your planned model's prototype or a reasonable facsimile where you can snap pictures, take measurements of details and discuss the history and/or current environment with local caretakers, or other visitors.

This kind of firsthand visit can bring immeasurable detail to your upcoming modeling project by seeing the real colors, the effects of weathering and real life dents and dings.

For instance, suppose you want to build a WOW model of a WWII Consolidated B-24 Liberator and you find there's only one left in the world in Smyrna Beach, FL and you can't get there from here. Maybe it will come to you

4 Secrets


This one-of-a-kind is bomber is now under the direction of the Collings Foundation in Stow, Ma which preserves our wartime relics. The B-24 still flies and will be on a nationwide tour this summer and if you check their schedule you may find it landing at an airfield near you.

4 Secrets for Scale Modelers

Many secrets in scale modeling are not so secret among the practitioner of a particular modeling venue, but that doesn't mean the rest of us can't learn something helpful in areas we know very little about

RC Model Painting Secrets

Its not a case of just slapping on a coat of any old paint when it comes to Radio Controlled racers Michael James, and RC expert recommends you stick with the right kinds of paint for the job.

If you're doing detail work -- pinstriping, etc. -- on a RC body I recommend using Testor's Model Masters brand and other Testor's acrylic and enamel paints. You don't want to use a latex paint because they won't bond to Lexan plastic. Lexan is a trademark for the most common type of polycarbonate clear plastic sheet that is used to make RC bodies that you buy at a hobby shop.

If you want to do an overall paint job on the RC body you would use enamel or acrylic paints for best results. Enamel and acrylic paints bond to hard plastic, Lexan, metal, fiberglass, and even carbon-fiber -- what some chassis are made of -- making them the choice of RC professionals.

Model Railroad Design Secrets

If you are just getting into model railroading, I highly recommend you start with a plan on what you want to accomplish.
The arrangement of the tracks, switches, crossings, and uncouplers determines what you can do with your trains to make their operation a source of never-ending fascination.

I have found not better information source on model railroading than Robert Anderson who has authored a 200-page ebook tome on all facets of Model Railroading. This is one of the best guides to getting started I've had the pleasure of reading and covers everything from getting started to troubleshooting. It is a valuable resource no matter which scale you intend to operate.

He also has done a 16-page .pdf report "Model Railroad Design Secrets which you can download at no charge where it is excerpted at the scale-modelers-handbook website.

Scale Ship Modeling Secrets

My hands down favorite wooden ship modeling resource is "Wooden Ship Modeling For Dummies", a website run by Hubert Sicard. This is my secret stash for modeling "Chalk Talk" that every serious ship modeler should have access to at their fingertips.

For Wooden ship modelers, this site has it all:

GUIDE : If you had foreseen the purchase of a popular work on the construction of kits, your subscription gives you access to a complete and interactive work guiding you from the beginning to the end of your building site. The fortnightly update of the site assures you the regular addition of solutions to construction problems.

As all ship modelers, with my first model I bought a lot of miracle tools. Equipment which, through constant use, turned out to be useless. The enumeration of these tools is going to allow you considerable savings. On the other hand, all the building steps are executed without special equipment, except for a small drill and an iron.

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS : Among my twelve constructed models or models in construction, I have never found "Assembly Instructions" without bad directives. My website is going to indicate you these bad instructions and will offer you more rational extra methods.

NEW METHODS : The constant search for better building methods allows me to introduce and illustrate new methods of construction. These methods are explained by means of videos or photos. The purpose being to build and to improve your model with the minimum of means.

Besides 47 chapters of the Part 2.1 - Construction of a Kit, you will find in the Part 2.2 - Detailed Instructions for Typical Models new instructions for the assembly of kits representing various types of typical ships offered on the market.
For example, the construction of Le Renard is similar to the models Hanna, Falcon, Flyer, St-Helena, Albatross, Resolution or Toulonnaise.

Far from being static, the website gets bigger on average twice a month, with additions or updates. Added to this, a private mailing answers the questions of subscribers.

Diorama Formula

Dioramas present modelers with the chance to put words like composition, scene and paint medium into their vocabulary and a chance to put practice into practice. Here is a 10-step process for creating your first composition.

  • Pick your locale and era to suit your taste in scenery and military/civilian operations.

  • Limit your setting and make sure it fits in the operational possibility realm.

  • Dimensions. Settle on your final display limitations and then pick a scale that fits. (See the next step).

  • Get out your shoe horn Jam as much detail as possible in your scene, (Large scenes and structures into very tiny spaces!)

  • Plan the details. This is the most important part of your diorama. Try to build in bit of a river, or pond itself along the front of the diorama, where it can mirror interior elements of the scene.

  • Design your diorama to include THE BASIC "PICTURE FRAME" which controls the audience sight line and provides space to hide lighting gear.

  • Build in a turntable on a track, roadway or tank tread ways to provide alternate paths for your modeling subject. Disguise with vegetation unless the prototype has a turntable.

  • Use an audible theatrical device -- sound effects. A woofer speaker located beneath the layout can reproduce the sounds of your scene.

  • Build your diorama in a "shoebox" to provide bi-level "action". You can provide a battle scene on the lower level with crashed aircraft on the upper level.

  • Build Your diorama with a flying background. Develop multiple scene background flats (3-D cityscape forest scene or desert background) mounted in the diorama's overhead "attic" with two or three sets on ropes and pulleys to be hauled up showing the set behind it. These are called "the flies" in a theater.

Practice Makes Perfect

Your first Scale Modeling Practice Guide is ready for public consumption.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Remember ICER Isolate, Concentrate, Exaggerate, Repeat. This will help you develop Perfect Progressive Practice.
  2. The Perfect Practice Tip Sheet lays out five essentials of your practice outline that will help you develop routines to meet your needs.
  3. Set some honest goals for your modeling practice. You are the one who knows where you are weak and what you need to work on.
  4. Drill #1 for wooden ship modelers. Set up your own USS Stryo and perfect your ratline rigging.
  5. Whether you are working on a model railroad layout, a wooden ship model an RC racer or plane or a diorama sooner or later Modelers Block will set in. Here’s a nine-pack to get release.
  6. Practice something that really pays off: Model painting, the first thing seen by your friends and contest judges. It needs to be perfect. Practice masking. Here’s how.
  7. Most all modeling requires dexterity and if you get your practice by simply making models, you will be a long time developing this element. Instead try the Lattice Work Drill.
  8. Radio Control is featured for cars, planes and drifting practice. Do you know how to take a corner with a four-wheel drift? You will.

If you want to see what all the practice excitement is about go here for :

“Practice Today, BYOB
(Bring Your Own Brain).

Transform Yourself

My latest electronic sojourn took me into the field of transformers (No not the electric storehouses) like the ones used in the movie Transformers 2007 which rattled first week ticket sales to the tune of 4152.5 million. I got interested in who might be modeling these mechanical behemoths and if the conversions actually worked.

Its a whole new world out their on the fringes of scale model building. Check out

Kitbashing Transformers

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