Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Cute Little Break

As most of you know it has been rather quiet lately, going from daily Gordon posts, to almost nothing.  The reason behind this is I am hurrying to get the Dominion done for the Ogden show on Friday, I will post Thursday night if I have time on the finished building.  As I have been slaving away on it I regularly had my oldest daughter watching and asking question after question after question (she's three).  But a few days ago I was doing some painting and she was determined to help, but that wasn't going to happen, so to calm her down I told her I would get her very own building to work on and that defused the situation.
So yesterday after I came home we went to the local hobby store to pick one out.  There wasn't anything "cheap" enough in N-scale so I dug around in the HO structures and found her a little Bachman house  for five dollars.
Later that night we began work on her very own building.  Under my close supervision I let her cut the parts off of the sprues with my Xuron cutters.  Once we had all the parts removed, we began assembly.  I let her figure out what parts went next and she did a very good job with that, I then assembled it for her.  On the box in big bold letters it states NO GLUE REQUIRED,  ha what a joke, without glue it was nothing more than a rickety shanty, so I glued it up.  Today she wants to paint it, so we'll see how that goes.  On a side note, it is very strange working in HO after doing N for so long, it felt huge, and seems like it would be a cakewalk to scratch build in.
I was proud of her, with the items she did, she did a great job.  In the new issue of Nscale Railroading, there is an article by Danica Kempinski daughter of the amazing Bernie Kempinski, where she makes a very good apple orchard, so this means I can groom my daughters to build all of my trees for me, ah that will be nice:)  These are a few pictures of her working on her building and one with her and the finished building.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Great Link and Free Signs to Boot.

Hi all, 
I just rediscovered a website that I haven't been to in years, in is called the Triveno Circle, and is run by James A. Powell.  The layout that he has been building is in HO but ideas, styles and basic construction is generally universal in all scales, so I don't discriminate against the other scales except TT, right now it looks silly, but so did N when it first arrived.  But anyway his layout is called the Wiscsasset Trivino & Western, it is an excellent layout with many great structures.  He has a style that is a little unique, he weathers the pants off of everything and the layout has a very dark undertone.  I highly suggest checking it out.

But one of the bonuses of his site is he has many great free signs to download.  I have a few examples down below that are from his site.  I have had these signs for many years but had forgotten where I had gotten them from, you may notice on a few of my structures I have used these signs, most recently on the Gordon.  Just click on the free signs tab on his site for many more to download.  Just one note, the signs are at a high resolution so the quality is excellent, you will need to shrink them down so they will be appropriate for N-scale.  

So don't just take the signs from here and his site, spend some time looking at his amazing layout and get some great ideas.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gordon Building - Inspiration

I have had a number of people ask if the Gordon is based on a prototype or if it is my own design, the short answer is yes!

There have been many that I have taken ideas from, but the two main influencers are the two buildings bellow.  I don't know the names of either but I will tell you the little info that I do know.  

The first I do know it resides in mid town Manhattan among the thousands of nameless mid-block mid-rises.  I initially was going to use this design at the reduced height of where the Gordon currently sits.  I decided to change it up when I found the photo of the other building and I decided to make it into a okay example of art-deco.  That building is in Europe, but I forget what country.   

Gordon Building Update - Davids Delicatessen

Building this little delicatessen took me considerably longer than I originally expected.  I also fought with it more than any other part of the this building, but it seems to have worked out.  

Like the entrance I built the door first and work out from it, I find this helps to keep things proportionate.  The door is a standard 36 x 72" and I built it from .020 x .020", .040"  and .080" strip.  Then I began to build up the deli from the bottom up.  I use primarily .010 x 040" and .020" square strip.  Sorry I am not to terribly descriptive on how it was built.

I painted the door with a mix I had made up a while ago and the painted the rest of the structure an olive drab.  I swear that everything in New York was painted olive drab in mid 20th century.  

The signs are mix of some that I through together and some that I have had for awhile.  The bit of tile in the entry was another texture that I printed from CG Textures.  I will be adding an awning once the rest of the structure is together, I also will add many more details on and in the windows at a later stage as well.  The front is essentially done now, so I will be moving on to the right side, other than that side the roof is the only other part that will be finished, the back and left will be forever unfinished, why waste time and materials on them.  

So what going to end up on the left?  Well it is going to be another structure on the scale of the Steven's, but I don't know for sure, what I do know is it will be a challenge to build and if I pull it off it should be rather neat.  But as always I could change my mind, stay tuned.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gordon Building Update - Entry

I finished the main entry to the Gordon today.  I built the doors first so the whole thing would grow out from that.  The doors are built from .020 x .040" and .100" strip styrene and they stand at seven scale feet tall.  The side windows are made from the same stock as the doors and then some .020" square strip for the mullions.
I then used the same trick for the blocks as I did for the top, used some scrap siding that I used up on the windows and then built the lintel over the door.  I used the same trick for painting as before and it matched perfect, I am glad I have this all typed here incase I need to do all of this again.  Next I made two little sconces from .010 x .020" and .040" strip and then used a silver prisma color marker to color it, I used the same thing on the door.  Then last I used some Woodland Scenics dry transfer lettering for the address.
Tomorrow I hope to have the other side at least started, I am planning a Delicatessen, but I may change that, I also want to do a small radio station but I may wait on that, we'll see.  

Favorite Buildings - Sun Tower

Sun Tower
Vancouver, Canada -1912-

The Sun Tower was an structure that I almost built instead of the Dominion.  I debated between the two for a few days and we all know what route I took.  The funny thing is I don't know where I got the confidence to even consider either, I had only scratch built one structure and must have felt invincible.  But by doing so I forced myself to learn so much.  The funny thing about this building is that it is only about a block away from the real Dominion and was the building that past up the Dominion in height to become the tallest building in the British Empire.  I still would like to build this structure someday but I don't need too may Vancouver landmarks in my eastern U.S layout.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Favorite Buildings - Newhouse & Boston Buildings

Newhouse & Boston Buildings
Salt Lake City, UT -1908-

This pair of eleven story buildings has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember, one reason for that is because they are so close to home.   The buildings are actually fraternal twins, each has slightly different ornamentation, but basically the same.  I think it was the Boston went through a renovation last year and the other had one done a few years earlier.  These two are structures that I definitely model (in a few years), those curves will be a bear.

On a side note, a few of you have introduced to some amazing buildings that I have never seen or heard of before, and I love it.  So some of the others that are visiting, please share with me some of your favorites, I really would like to know.

Gordon Building Update - Windows

I said I wasn't going to post on the Gordon tonight but my plans fell through and so I built windows.  I used a technique that I have been wanting to try ever sense I designed a warehouse a few years ago.  What I use is a etched brass mesh to kill all the mullions but it looked to flat so I  added some .020" square strip styrene on top of the mesh. 
I then sprayed on a primer after I masked the windows off so the brass would hold the paint.  I wanted a darker color in the windows so I used a flat dark grey, in the photos it looks textured but in-person it looks fine.

Some of you are probably scratching your head in confusion because of the way I am building this, I wanted to try finishing the front facade before adding the rest of the structure.  On other projects I felt I fought with it more as an assembled structure, and caused damage as I went along, so far I am really enjoying this method and will try it more in the future, but it may depend on the structure as well.  At the rate I have been going I hope the have the front done by the weekend so I can start the rest of the structure.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gordon Building Update - Paint

Yes I went ahead and painted the front shell, I have been having fun with this, it really feels nice going to a smaller project, its like a vacation.  So because of this excitement I have been moving at a steady pace, and so the Sunday only update wont work on a smaller project.  
I gave it a base coat of Polly Scale ????, most of the label is gone.  I got it for free (not five finger free) from my local hobby shop, I wanted some empty mixing bottles and he was out so he gave me a bunch of old paint he had, but this one was still good.  Once dry I attacked with india ink/alcohol wash and that made it a little darker than I wanted.  So when all was dry I came after the wash with another wash of Polly Scale Dust, as I reworked over a few spots I noticed the paint was stripping the india ink wash and it looked AMAZING!  What happened was the brush removed the wash on the surfaces but not in the corners and cracks and I must say is one of the best paint jobs I have ever done, or as Bob Ross would say "A happy accident".  The pictures do a horrid job showing my paint job on the building, the blocks turned out better than I hoped for and now I really regret not adding them to the rest of the building.
Next up I will build the windows and there are ONLY TWELVE!, unlike the 160 that I had on the Dominion, and the way I am going to do them will be a breeze.  I doubt I will post tomorrow on the Gordon cause I have other things to do but I will update when I get the windows done.

Favorite Buildings - Chicago Board of Trade

Chicago Board of Trade
Chicago, IL -1930-

If you are a fan of the New York Central (like myself) you will undoubtedly know this building, also if you are a fan of Batman Begins, this is the Wayne Enterprises building, they changed the building for the Dark Knight.  The LaSalle Street station that was served by the NYC and Rock Island railroads was across from this, but was raised for and expansion of the Board of Trade in 1983.  
Outside of New York this is the tallest Art Deco building in the world, it was also the tallest building in Chicago till 1965.  At the top of the building rests Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture.  Also there are numerous sculptures relating to Native Americans and the Harvest.

Gordon Pilaster Plans

Here are by request the plans and dimensions of the pilasters on the front of the Gordon that I built yesterday.  Click on the image to view it better.  Also the plans are scaled 3:1 so you could view them better, but all of the dimensions are accurate.

If anyone has requests like this I am more then happy to help out and supply the info.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gordon Building Update - Facade Takes Shape

Sorry for the surprise but I got a large amount of work done on the facade of the Gordon.  

I had to add a .010" layer to start on the frame work, across the top 1/2" I cut strips of .010 x .125" a 1/4" long and made individual blocks.  It turned out extremely well and I should have done it all the way down, ah well.  I then built the tiny cornice on top and the slightly larger one above the first floor from various dimensions of strip.  
The three vertical parts have a core of .040 x .250" strip, then I added three layers of .080, .100 and .125 strip that is .010" thick each.  Then I built the little decorative parts up at the top floor from .010 x .060" and .040" strip stock.  
In the first photo you can see my cement of choice, it is Tamiya Extra Thin Cement.  I used to use Ambroid Pro Weld, but the Tamiya has a tiny brush, so I don't flood my parts with too much cement and end up with finger prints.  Another bonus is the Tamiya is in a short squat bottle so it is less prone to being tipped over, but I have still managed to tip it.
This was just a quick update and I may not have explained some parts very well, please ask for clarification if needed.

Favorite Buildings - Helsinki Station

Helsinki Central Station
Helsinki Finland -1919-

I don't have very much info on this building but it is one of my all time favorite art deco buildings in the world.  The two pairs of granite statues are very striking and stylized and wouldn't mind one as my porch light on my home.  The clock tower is the other feature that I love on this building and yes more of that patina I love. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gordon Building Update - The Beginnings

Hello again, as I said here is the first Gordon Building update.  Lets get to business.  First off I cut three .060 x .250 and .188 strips, I cut them about a 1/4" too long just in case.  Then I cut a few strips off of a sheet of .030" spacing metal siding from evergreen for the areas between the windows and I also cut a .020 x .060" strip for the sills.  Last I needed some .060 x .250 cut for the top and bottom.
I then glued the basic frame work up in my magnetic gluing jig, that way everything stayed good and square, this is the critical point cause if the beginning is out of square then from here on out nothing will go right.  I also cut a little spacer so the spacing for the windows would be perfect.
Once the frame work is dry I popped it out, flipped it over and added .040 x .060" strip to the back for added strength and support.  Then I cut the tops of the vertical parts flush with the top horizontal pieces.  This building might move quickly so I may post a little more often than the Dominion, but we shall see.

Dominion Building Update - Trying to Find a Good Interior Designer

Hi Folks!  Well here it is the last Sunday update on the Dominion Trust Building, and I must apologize about the bittersweet end.  I am very burned out on this project, but don't worry, I still need to finish it for the March 6th show at Ogden Union Station.  I have a few little jobs left to do, but I need to shelve it for a couple weeks so I can start on the Gordon and finally start on some other major stuff.  I wont say too much about the gordon yet cause after all this is the Dominion show.

I began work in side and I hate to admit it but I don't like doing interiors for some strange reason.  I think it is because it is usually one of the last tasks and when it is time to do it, I am mentally on my next project.  The basically all but the furniture is photo textures that are free to down load at cgtextures.  I then sized and pieced them together on Adobe Illustrator and then printed them out on a nice glossy brochure paper on a laser copier.

The few pieces of furniture I built from strip styrene, then painted appropriately.  The table at the entryway, I added some pamphlets and a vase with flowers.  The pamphlets are paper cut to size and the vase was cut from aluminum tube.  The flowers are made from tiny squares of red paper and the stems are, he he he, hair:)  The few shrubbery's  are 1/8" square tube and clump foliage.  The paintings I got from the same site as the other textures, I them added a .020" plastic back, then colored the edges with a brown Sharpie.  I still need to build more furniture but that will come later.

I also added a black card stock view blocks on the upper floors but the windows are too lifeless and so I have a few things that I will try out to see if they will look better.  I have most of the glazing in, I just have a few windows left.  I also have curtains to hang as well on a few windows and have a few more signs and other details as well.

So I will post finished pictures of the Dominion before the show and have a better farewell but other than that we move to the Gordon.  I have built the Gordon about a dozen times in my head, trying to figure out the best route to take it.  I still have gobs of time today so I may post on it late tonight.  That reminds me, do you guys like the Sunday updates or would you prefer I post more often with smaller updates as I go?  If I don't hear anything I will stick with the Sunday posts. 

Favorite Buildings - McGraw-Hill Building

McGraw-Hill Building
New York City -1931-

The McGraw-Hill Building or aka "Jolly Green Giant" for the era that it was built was a very radical choice in colors.  It is clad in a turquoise green terra cotta, the same color is used on a smaller Art Deco building in Los Angeles that I may also post on.  Art Deco is one of my favorite styles of architecture and I will finally use it on my next structure.
McGraw-Hill no longer resides in this building but like the Chrysler Building it still carries the moniker it was born with.  

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Favorite Buildings - Book Tower

Book Tower

For the next building we go to the depressed city of Detroit.  Because of Detroit being down on its luck for so many years, it has some of the greatest examples of early 20th century architecture in North America.  The Book Tower was built in 1926 and was an addition to the Book Building built in 1916.
The buildings last tenants moved out on January 5th of this year and so it has been shuttered.  The company that owned it was unable to pay the back utility bills and that is why it is now abandoned.  
This building was the inspiration of how I was taking the Dominion Building.  This is why I did the  patina on the roof,  the detail between the windows comes from this and whole color scheme was to be modeled after this building, but some of you talked me out of it and now that is why the Dominion looks the way she does now.  I still want to use this color pallet on another structure, but hey, I maybe dumb enough to try to build this building in the future. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Favorite Buildings - Hoboken Terminal

Hoboken Terminal

This terminal is located in Hoboken New Jersey, just across the Hudson from New York.  It had fallen in to disrepair but has been going through a restoration.  Most of the work was finished for its 100th birthday in 2007, including the waiting room and a new clock tower being erected.  The original clock tower was dismantled in the 50's because it had become structurally unstable.  It was originally run by the Lackawanna  Railroad but is now under New Jersey Transit control.
Along with serving rail it has six ferry slips, but they haven't been used for years, last I had heard they were going to dredge out the slips and begin operation again  out of a few of them.  It is a gorgeous example of Beaux Arts architecture and as some of you know I am a fan of that patina color, the clock tower I believe is also copper and will eventually weather to match the rest of the terminal.  

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Favorite Buildings - Singer Building

In this time of transition, the Dominion running home and the Gordon warming up, I am going to do a little daily series of a few of my favorite buildings.  This may give you a idea of what inspires me to obtain the detail that I demand of myself.  I hope you enjoy.  

Speaking of the Dominion this Sunday will probably be the last update, I know its kind of sad but we all knew that this day would come. 

The Singer Building

Our first building is a sad example of "progress", Im all for progress but not at the expense of a icon of the early 20th century.  Because of it being narrow is the main reason it was demolished, it had been deemed "obsolete & unprofitable".  Up till the World Trade Center disaster it was the tallest building demolished.  It was demolished about the same time Penn Station was raised and the loss of the two lead directly to the strengthened move for historic preservation.
It was built between 1906 & 1908 and was the tallest building in the world for about a year, passing up the Philadelphia City Hall, then being surpassed by the Metropolitan Life Tower.  It was designed by architect Ernest Flagg and he had done other buildings for the Singer company as well.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Question About . . . . . Birds?

Today I had two very similar comments made about my building.  The first came from the greatscaper saying that I should add birds to the sign.  Then a few hours later my brother came over and said if I was going to add pigeons and  pigeon poop on some of the ledges.  So I think I want to add birds to the building.  
I haven't looked yet but I don't believe any are available in N-scale, so like everything else I must create them.  

So my first question is:  Have any of you ever made birds or have you seen some one make them in N-scale?  

Question #2 is:  Do you have any suggestions for making them?

So let me know your thoughts and ideas on this I would like to know.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dominion Building Update - Rooftop Sign & Columns

You guys probably wont listen to me anymore, I tell you todays post will be arriving later than usual but here it is earlier than usual.  I was able to finish the few things I wanted done for todays post faster than expected and I have a busy day ahead of me so I decided to get it out of the way.

After the poll and a few persuading  emails and posts I decided to forge ahead and erect the rooftop sign.  I had been hesitant to build it because I thought it would be a long and difficult trek the build it and the results wouldn't justify it.  But I've got to say, it went together rather easy and painless.  The 3D mockup I had done stood at 24' tall, I cut a piece of styrene to see how this looked and it felt too short, so I upped it to 30' or about 2 1/4".  

I needed to build six uprights, four would be identical and the other two would need to be custom to fit it with the rooftop building.  I built the uprights from .030" square strip, I wanted to use .020" square strip but felt that it wouldn't be strong enough, but the .030" worked well. 
I was surprised how strong the uprights were after the glue had cured.  

The letters had been a dilemma from the beginning, how was I going to get the font I wanted and have the not look like I cut them out by hand.  I am not a fan of those 3/4" white sign letters and so those were out.  So I started to get a file ready to send and have them laser cut for me, but then I discovered something very cool.  My wife loves to scrapbook and I heavily encourage her to do it because I feel guilty about spending so much time and money on my hobby.  I had been a supporting husband and tagged along to a few scrapbook stores with her, I started looking at die cuts to possibly use to cut the  the letters, but everything was too big or "too cute".  I did a little research and for fairly decent price you can get machines to hook up to your computer and cut any font or clipart you want.  My wife had been wanting a die cutter but just a cheep one that you bought the shapes and manually rolled the paper through.  So to my luck Tuesday was her birthday and I went out and bought her the Quickutz Silhouette (with the intention of using it for my sign).  So the letters are cut from a heavy card stock cause that is about the thickest it could handle, some of the more expensive ones out there can handle .010" sheet styrene.  video at the end of the post of it in action

So after the machine cut out the letters I then glued on two .025" rods while the letters were still semi part of the scrap so all the letters would stay evenly spaced and level.  I then glued on the up rights put it on top for a dry fit and . . . . its way too tall!!!  After some consulting with people I trust I chopped 10' off or 3/4".  That fortunately worked and it felt much better.  I then added the lateral X-bracing in three of the sections and then painted and weathered in the usual fashion.

The other thing I finished was the columns at the main entry, this was another area that I kept putting off cause I couldn't decide on what I wanted.  But I settled on HO scale columns made from Scale Structures LTD. (pt. # 2137).  I had to shorten them very slightly to fit but they worked very well.  

I have a open week coming up, so I hope to have most of the left overs done for next week, if I finish what I want next week will be the last Dominion Update (sniff).  I have a few new structures that I scratch build and I have a few old projects that I need to finish.  So what ever I do next it will be smaller than the Dominion, but don't worry they will be fun.


initial upright size

this is a very bad video of the Silhouette in action