New Ridge Cap and Another Roof

Seems like such a little thing: I took off the ridge cap from yesterday’s roof, which was made with cardstock, and replaced it with one made with standard copy paper. This cap is also narrower, and the shingles run vertically (as they should). In addition, I added a row of ‘vertical’ shingles on the rear loading-dock roof where it meets the wall of the main structure.


The photo may not do it justice, especially because I haven’t given it a spritz of Dullcote, but in person it makes a world of a difference.


I basically used the same process to roof the ice house, although I had to measure very carefully to account for the cupola, which is no longer removable (idiot that I am, I glued it all in place twice, and the second time around I used a lot of glue). For future structures, I will be sure to cut out the shingle-sheets before assembling each roof, so I will be able to use the roof pieces as templates. I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort if I had thought ahead about that. Anyhow, here’s the ice-house roof:

This looks much better than the tarpaper that came with the kit, in my opinion.


After much deliberation and experimentation, I finally settled on roofing that I am happy (enough) with. The main challenge? I really wanted to do something (for once) that wasn’t going to cost anything. After the surprise styrene stonework purchase I made last week, I’ve been counting back the ‘ka-chings’ and realizing how easy it is to get nickeled-and-dimed in this hobby.

Having built a couple of cardstock structures last fall, I am still enamored by how cost effective they were, and, while I wasn’t too excited about the finished cardstock models, there were aspects of paper that I really loved. So, when contemplating a roof, I finally decided to design my own using nothing but ink and paper.

Last night I Googled “shingle texture” and scrolled through various images of asphalt, slate, and shaker shingles until I found a nice dark slate with crisp lines. I really like the look of slate shingles; having lived in New Hampshire and Vermont all my life, I often visit old mills and barns with still-intact slate shingles, though the cupolas might have collapsed and the walls might be leaning this way or that. 

I brought the slate texture into Gimp (having recently decided that I no longer wanted to pay the monthly fee for Photoshop) and duplicated the image a handful of times, overlapping each layer until I had a whole page’s worth of shingles.

After sending a page to my inkjet printer, I started measuring and cutting. Once I had pieces cut that would cover the roof of the cooperage, I sprayed the back of each piece with Elmers Spray Adhesive, and stuck them on. Easy as that. Certainly not perfect, but I couldn’t have asked for better results without dropping $30 per building. And, the Elmers adhesive is hardly permanent. If I wind up wanting to spend some dollars on a fancy styrene roof, I can easily peel this one off.

Repainting Some Walls and Banging My Head Against Others

I’ve been away from my spraycans for the past couple of weeks, mostly because the final building of the three that needed repainting was daunting, to say the least.

It took me a solid week to build up the courage to remove all windows, doors, stripping, and ‘stonework.’ The project itself only took an hour or so, but it was delicate work and I am still rather surprised that I didn’t snap anything.

Spray-painting the pieces was easy. After gluing the walls back together, I began reattaching the strips of stonework. By some baffling turn of events, though, I couldn’t find one of the strips for the front of the building. I looked high and low, to no avail. Eventually, I gave up. It is likely that the adhesive became stuck on some piece of paper or something and would up in the garbage.

Anyhow, I contacted Branchline and inquired about their source for the styrene stonework. I got an email back almost immediately:

“The n scale stonework that we use is made by Plastruct. It comes 7 x12 sheets. How much are you in need of. I look forward to hear from you.”

Wow, I thought, I can just order through Branchline. That’s convenient! So I replied:

“I am only in need of about 6″ x 1/2″ but would be happy to purchase whatever you can spare.”

I heard absolutely nothing back for three days, so I followed up to ask if my email was received. Still no answer. A week later I tried again for good measure, but was met with silence.

Well, go suck an egg, Branchline. I ordered some styrene “Random Coursed Stone” sheets directly from Plastruct, and they arrived several days later. In the interim, I rethought the dock, and finally decided to reopen the holes just under the loading doors, which will allow me to attach the dock that came with the kit. I’ve been futzing around long enough. Really, I just want to get these models finished so I can start on the actual brewery.

I cut a length of Plastruct ‘masonry’ to fit the whole length of the cooperage, and added crenels for the dock-holes. I also cut a strip to run beneath the loading doors of the hoist house.

I reattached all doors, stripping, and windows (and took the opportunity to straighten the crooked window that has been gnawing at me for a couple of months).

To simulate mortar, I painted the Plastruct stone with Testors white paint then gently wiped it off the face of the stones so it only remained in the spaces between them. For variation, I scribbled on the stones with colored pencils in several shades of brown. Then I went over all with a No. 2 pencil and finally a white colored pencil, to blend it all in a bit.

The last major steps for these buildings will be as follows: place the scratch-built ‘wall’ in the cooperage again, add shingles or corrugated metal roofing, spray all with Dullcote, insert window ‘glass,’ and paint and add the docks.

Still plenty to do before they are done, but with any luck I’ll be finished before the end of March, at which time I will begin preparing to build the brewery proper. I’m nervous just thinking about it.

Veni, Vidi, Non Vici

I went with my twelve-year-old son to the Vermont Rails Model Railway Show yesterday. The half-hour drive was worth it, if only to spend some time watching trains run around the modular club tracks.

Disappointingly, there was only one small table of N-scale wares, and they were very outdated, worn-out bits of rolling stock. Most vendors were offering Lionel and HO-scale engines and stock, and the only scenic vendors were offering pre-fab HO structures and custom rock molds.

Last time I went to the Vermont Rails show was five or six years ago, and there was a significant amount of N-scale stock and scenic vendors. There was a local laser-cut model company, Creative Laser Design, a whole bunch of Kato track and components, and bounteous tables of N-scale engines and rolling stock in various liveries. This time around, there was none of that.

Also, there was only one non-club modeler representing his project “just for fun.” At the last show I attended, there were at least four or five non-club, non-vendors who had lugged their small layouts to the show just to operate them for the enjoyment of the crowd, including at least one shelf-sized switching layout. To help offset this “club- and vendors-only” trend, I plan on bringing my humble layout to the show next year.

I didn’t take many photos, mostly because I’m not sure how modellers feel about having their layouts photographed and posted online without giving them credit (and it was almost impossible to find the owners of each section of twenty- and thirty-piece modular layouts). Here’s one photo, just to prove we were there (my son is in the foreground):

Despite the lack of high-quality N-scale-specific vendors, we still had a good time admiring the work of other modellers, and we spent a full two hours strolling around, pointing out details, and talking about the operations.

Second Coat of Paint

I loved the color of the hoist house so much that I am now in the midst of an insane project: to repaint the first two kits I built. I’ve already finished repainting the ice house and haven’t quite started on the creamery. I hope to finish that this weekend.

I didn’t take any pictures of the repainting process, because it was such a mess that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was able to simply mask off some portions of the structure, but I also had to remove all the details (the doors, dock, flashing, and cupola), then repair and re-glue each one. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t exactly fun, but I am happy with the result:

As you can see, I removed the tarpaper from the roof. Surprisingly, it came right off without a struggle. I plan on roofing most of the brewery with slate shingles or corrugated metal sheets, but will wait until all structures are built before starting that. 

You can’t quite see it in the picture, but I also repainted the underside of the eaves white (which was the catalyst of the entire repainting project). The doors are also a darker green. 

I am primarily painting with rattle-cans now, except for some touch-up spots. I have been hesitant to use rattle-cans because I was afraid that they would either obscure details or ‘look like’ spray paint (or turn into little flame-throwers, or pocket-dial my mother-in-law, or a whole host of other irrational things).

Instead rattle cans are far easier and faster, and cause less warping than Testors paints. They look nice too. (Don’t worry, the brewery won’t look that nice after I throw some weathering powders at it.) 

What talked me into using rattle-cans? I credit Lance Mindheim, whose article in issue 999 of Model Railroader magazine heavily advocates the use of rattle-cans. While Lance’s aesthetic is far different than my own (he wouldn’t be caught dead with a brewery on his layout, not to mention a switching puzzle) I’ve always admired his brand of hyper-realism, and the fact that he relies heavily on rattle-cans to achieve those results is pretty astonishing.

Anyhow, I will post again after I finish repainting the creamery. Also, the Northwestern Vermont Model Railroad Association is hosting a model train show this coming weekend, which my son and I will be attending. I may post some photos from that here, too.