Modern Flatiron Scratchbuild - Complete

The best part of a scratch-build has to be the final steps when all the wiring, pieces, and (most of all) the wild guesses about how it will all work come together (or not!)!

So I here I present to you the (almost) complete "Canon" building (formerly known as the 'modern flatiron building')

Pictures say more than words.,,,most of the finish work involved adding pieces of trim around the back side windows and over the corners of the building.
I am really pleased with how this one turned out...if fits the strange shaped area I had and nicely integrates with both the modern Kato buildings and the other structures in downtown.  The only thing I might do is add some resistance or something to the entire structure as (you can probably tell) the LED's are quite bright!
The interiors, as I mentioned in the earlier parts of this project, are composed of some manufactured detail bits, as well as pieces of painted foam core and bits of styrene with some simple printed backgrounds on the walls.  The interior figures are all the very cheap Chinese made ones found on eBay.
With this project done, I have to start thinking about my next project.  I really enjoyed this technique and would encourage anyone to do the same.  Using the transparencies for the windows along with bits of styrene is really quite simple but gives a great effect.
That's all for today!  Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment (and for you other bloggers out there, I'm always interested in other work as well, so please feel free to share your blog!).


Modern Flatiron Scratchbuild - Part 3

As I mentioned in part 2, the next part was to add the interior details to each floor that I expected to add lighting to.  I did this using a combination of small pieces from Luetke Modellbahn, home-made office cubes, and bits of painted foam core.  I've found that even painted pieces of foam core can 'look' like furniture if the angles are square enough!
After finishing the details, I attached my lighting strips and carefully glued each floor section to the interior.  The challenging part is to ensure that I place the floor section correctly the first time as I only have a little over 1mm on either side.  If I miss, an unsightly (and impossible to fix) glue stain will result.  Fortunately I make it through this part withing any major errors!
I then soldered the leads from the LED strips to two brass wires that extend through the building.  This was a very easy way to solder in so many light strips and I'll probably use a similar method to this again.
I then attached the lobby section to the bottom of the building and after the glued had dried, I then applied the back wall (after checking to ensure that everything seems to be in square and all the lights work!
The next steps are to apply the remaining sides, the top pieces with a back-lit logo, and I'm getting pretty close to completion!


Modern Flatiron Scratchbuild - Part 2

I made good progress earlier this week, but things slowed down as I had to apply coats of primer and surface color with a spray can to many of the materials.

As you can see in the above photo, I applied my transparency sheets (printed on a laser printer) to the acrylic, and then glued my strips of styrene (already painted) on top of that.
Below you can see a more finished look, along with the ground floor, to get an idea of how its going to look:
I also did a little work on preparing the interior details for the lobby - mainly the 'back wall' where the elevator banks would be.  I decided to do something a bit different and used some 'rock face' material for the wall to give it a bit of architectural texture!
I referenced waiting for paint to dry above, and the below photo of the 'back wall' illustrates what I was doing.  The material is clear acrylic, so I need to spray it with a coat or two of primer to ensure its opaque, then apply the surface color.  An area was masked out for the application of more windows that will appear above the rooftops of the adjacent buildings.
While waiting for paint to dry, there is plenty to do, so I also soldered the leads onto the LED strips that I'll be using for the interior lighting.
Next I believe will be additional detailing on the floors, and then installation of the floors and the lighting.  I also need to figure out the wiring for the building top logo.  After that, I should be pretty close to gluing it all together and seeing what I've got!  Stay tuned!


Modern Flatiron Scratchbuild - Part 1

A current project I am working on is a building to fill a problematic gap right in the front of my downtown.   The shape of the block requires sort of an asymmetrical "flatiron" type style which is not really something you can get commercially.

I've been thinking up and collecting ideas on how to scratch build modern buildings (my last scratch-build was almost 2 years ago) so I've been a bit anxious to try out some of these techniques!

Basic Structure:

Clear Acrylic Sheets and Sintra:
I started off by getting my dimensions for this unusual location, and eyeballing what the best height would be.  I then set about the tediously slow process of scoring clear acrylic sheets with a hobby knife to cut these sheets to the right dimensions (the clear acrylic can be found in most home improvement type stores).

The key I've found with getting good, straight edges with acrylic is that you don't actually want to 'cut' all the way through...that seems to either lead to a devastating crack or an uneven break.  The trick is to score it just enough so that you can snap the piece along your score line against a solid table edge or something.  Its not easy, and is the most aggravating part of the project!

Windows and Exterior:

I'm using my new Kato buildings (shown in the top photo) as a guide for floor height, which is about 22.5mm or 7/8".  I decided to use Evergreen Plastics 349:  .040x.250 (1mm x 6.3mm)  as the exterior material to go between the floors.  At 6.3mm width, they are just wide enough to cover the 5mm foam core sections which will be the interior floors.

I'm not sure if this is making any sense, so maybe the pictures below will make it more clear what I'm talking about!

Given that I have my 7/8" floor height, I went into Intaglio (basic drawing program) and created a grid for the exterior window frames.  The vertical distances are 10mm, which gives a pretty good indication of windows.  I printed this drawing onto transparency paper using a laser printer and - wallah! - I have my window frames!  This is a much easier way of adding window details than trying to cut precise little pieces of styrene, etc...  Its a technique I read about a couple of years ago in Railway Modeller.
The Evergreen styrene strips will go on top of the transparent materials (which will go on top of the acrylic sheets.  Everything is going to be glued together in the space which will be covered by the styrene strips.

For the styrene strips themselves, rather than making the angle two pieces, I decided to try and keep the pieces together and try to avoid a problematic seam on the corner.  I scored the back of the styrene, painted, and then used a bit of heat to make the bends.
Ground Floor and Base:

For the ground floor/lobby, I decided I wanted it recessed from the rest of the structure (which seems like a typical design), but nearly double height.  Again, I used the 'ground floor' height of the adjacent Kato building so that they would consistent with each other.   The base itself is a sheet of styrene (Sintra is too thick for a floor), which I then applied some styrene "L" pieces to hold the plastic windows (which will be the support for the entire building) solidly in place.
I decided this building would consist of a high level of 'black and white' contrast.  Most of my buildings are grey, so a bit of a contrast was in order.  I decided to color the ground floor in what I hope looks like a black granite or marble material.   The entry way carpets are just electrical tape.

Finally, I also started working on the interior floors.   These are mostly cut from foam core, with additional vertical sections to which I glued a homemade interior wall patterns.   A picture does a better job of explaining this:
Next up is applying the transparent window sheets to the acrylic shell, then applying the exterior styrene pieces on top of that!


Earth Defense Organization - The Explanation

This last video was a lot of fun to put together, but I also thought I would explain some of it a bit more.

The background:
First, as a child, I was deeply impressed by Gerry Anderson's series UFO and Space:1999 (I love the models, and still do!).  It wasn't easy to be a fan either as this was before the days of cable and the shows were never really broadcast consistently here in the US.  I also used to love Godzilla movies.  My favorite parts? When the Japanese Army would race to downtown Tokyo where Godzilla (or one of his friends) was wreaking havoc on all those beautiful building models!

In fact, the "Earth Defense Organization" is actually a bit of an homage to SHADO,  although I was originally going to call it the "Quinntopia Xenomorph Self Defense Force" (for which I even created a logo!) which was influenced by the Toho films!  The motto in the banner at the top is Latin for "Destroy All Monsters".  A good motto!  But "QXSDF" was too hard to write!

A couple of years ago I got a Minitrix Class 47 in a lot of various pieces I won off eBay.  The Class 47 was in bad shape (including missing the buffers, which is somewhat painfully obvious in the video), although it did still run.  It sat in my 'project drawer' for a number of years. 

I've always loved model tanks.  So when I discovered the Roco Minitanks (and Arnold) flat cars with various Leopards, M115's, Unimogs, etc... I tried to get as many as I could find whenever they would show up.
The final element: the 'monsters'.  These are some Warhammer 40k Tyranids that had been hanging around, and I thought they made effectively scary creatures! 
The setting was mostly on the layout for the train stuff, but I created a special diorama just for the building explosion scenes (I was NOT going to light fireworks on my layout!).  The below diorama was put together in about a day!

Yes, real fireworks were used!  I wasn't sure what the effect would be....but I had expected things to catch on fire (which they did!).  So I had one shot to get it right, otherwise I would have to find another junker building to sacrifice!
The Class 47 was always designated to be the first locomotive for the EDO armored group, but a color scheme was a challenge.   I considered solid black, olive green, and other options, but ultimately went with a grey camouflage pattern that I created by cutting random shapes from masking tape.
There's a white stripe around the sides that turns to red at the ends.  This was a fun little touch that I leveraged for an earlier paint scheme idea and gives the loco a dash of color.
The stop motion sequences with the cars were actually a bit easier to pull off than I had imagined, although it is somewhat tedious and takes a lot to master! 
The bottom line, I think, for model railroads is that "when you control the railroad, you control the world" which is what can make this the world's bestest hobby ever! Thanks for reading!


When Hobbies Turn to Nightmares

Okay, this post isn't really about our hobbies becoming nightmares (well, not literally), but this new layout video I created...well, I think if you watch it, you'll understand!

There's a large 'back-story' on this video that I'll go into in another post.

But seriously, when the Planet Earth is threatened, who do we call?