Qestion About Building Structures For Scratch

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Bigjon216, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. Bigjon216

    Bigjon216 Newbie

    Jul 9, 2012
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    Hello the names Jon well im a newbie here & Need Some Advice & Guidance Well Im In the planning mode to do and 4x8 layout Ho Scale Of Course, But i want to try my hand at scratch building and model of current amtrak station where i live im looking for realisam however im trying to figure out the best material to use what the best to work with and where to get it , this be my first custom set i want to kinda get crazy with it so please im open and listening to all sugestions thank you
  2. armchair

    armchair New Member

    Jun 21, 2008
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    Scratch builds

    Jon, Glad to see you are open to scratch building structures. One thing to remember, full size may not fit so be ready to compress some things, maybe fewer windows, or columns, etc. I use card stock or cereal boxes for my builds, others use wood or various plastics.

    search around the forum and other sites to get ideas. I have some pictures in the gallery as "armchair".

    I also have a blog http://armchairmodeling.blogspot.com

    Take a look and feel free to ask questions. Summer can be a little slow.

  3. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    :welcome1: to the forum Bigjon, Use the Search function to research the archives (don't post in them though, start new threads with any questions you may have, or post them in this thread). There are some incredible train projects documented, they may be of some help. as well may be the members of the Train forum.

    You should post an Introductory post in the Introductions Section, that way we know who you are. :)



  4. rowsdower

    rowsdower New Member

    Nov 15, 2012
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    Personally, I really enjoy working with milled strip wood and scribed siding produced by northeastern. Most, if not all, hobby shops can get it for you and the prices are actually quite reasonable for what you get.

    I have worked with styrene and it can be very useful for some applications, but I prefer wood for the kind of modeling I do. I mostly model the 1870's and 1880's, which I admit is probably not very useful if you're interested in amtrak. If you ever decide to build a wood building though, making it out of wood really looks best in my opinion.
  5. bob neill

    bob neill New Member

    Feb 8, 2007
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    There are several kits available to start from, and modify. A number of books with structure plans and many plans in magazines, especially back issues.From the paper model side, there are some building plans that can be downloaded. There is a recent website about a gas station that the website has several other structures available.

    Good luck and enjoy the hunt. Whatever you build will be perfict for your need.

    bob neill
  6. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    Aug 21, 2004
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    John - It would be advantageous to all if you could provide a picture of the Amtrak station in question, or something similar, as specifically what the prototype is constructed of weighs heavily on the best material to use in replicating it in miniature.

    If a converted existing station from years ago its basis is likely a frame structure and basswood would tend to be the best and easiest modeling material to employ in building your model.

    On the other hand, should the station be of modern construction and likely of concrete block, or some such, then the model would be best made using styrene sheet, or perhaps already scribed sheets.

    Honestly, the two differing materials require quite different methods for their use in building model structures. That said, I would definitely recommend purchasing one, or two, hobby guides addressing scratchbuilding. There are several really good ones out there. "Scratchbuilding for Model Railroaders - Craftsman Techniques Made Simple" by Walker provides a good overview and is available from Carsten Publications. Kalmbach Publishing offers a couple as well. These will serve you well as guides for this and any future construction projects.

  7. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Dec 15, 2008
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    John ,

    Cnj999 is right, the materials used on the prototype station will influence the selection of the best materials to build the model.

    I agree with him that nothing is as good for a wood structure as wood, although I have gotten very good good results using styrene to represent wood, it is just trickier to get the paint right. On my big sawmill I built walls with foam core, and covered them with balsa strips

    when representing metal, I like metal, usually brass, or styrene, again proper use of paint is needed to sell the illusion.

    For stone, I used to think that carved hydrocal (a very hard plaster) was the only good way. recently I have had some great success with carved foam glued onto foam core. ( see my Union Station build in the scratching and bashing section.)

    for stucko, it would be possible to build up walls from foam, foam core , or even wood, and then paint it to get the color right. thick paint or acrylic modeling compound could be used to put some texture into the wall.

    I find foam core to be very helpful, since it is cheap, and easy to work with. I will often cut out the shape of the walls in foam core to get an idea of what the building will look like, as if alterations are needed it is fast easy and cheap to make those alterations to a foam core model. once I'm satisfied with the shape of a structure, sometimes I will copy that shape with other materials, and sometime I will layer other materials on top, so of the foam core structure, so the mock up becomes the supporting frame of the finished building.

    If you are just starting, don't be afraid to jump in, and don;t be afraid to start over, if at any step of the process you are not satisfied with the result. a station will be a natural focal point , so the whole layout will look better if the station looks better. If you have to start over a couple times, that isn't wasted effort, as you will be learning stuff with each effort; none of us were born knowing this stufff
  8. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Apr 17, 2005
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    Give it a try....You'll like it..!!

    I built this roundhouse to fit my turntable (Walthers) and available space. I started by doing EXACT drawings, and going from there. The only commercial items used were the stripped wood siding, and the side and back windows (which I bashed 2 into 1). It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort...


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