A Faller-inspired Kit-bash (Part 1)

One of my favorite buildings from the 'early days' of the N Gauge hobby was the Faller 2293 office building.  An explicitely modern building, its funky blue and creme colored structure with white window frames always brings a smile to my face when I see it in photos and on others layouts.  It also comes with a sheet of paper containing some really classic, 1970's style logos of various German/European brands.

Several years ago I collected 3 unbuilt kits and 3 built versions of this building and attempted to build an 'homage' of sorts to this structure by building a new building using just the white windows from the 2293 kits and deconstructed built versions.
I originally had intended to use the blue pieces as well, but I've found that the actual floor height of this buildings is fairly short for today's N Gauge standards (I think this is closer to Z guage than N) so in my first kit bash I created my own structure to give the building the right floor height (or at least a bit better than the original).

The ulimate result  of this '2293' homage project turned out okay...the big challenge was that the white window frames (especially on the older, built buildings that I diss-assembled) were extremely brittle and were difficult to get to look right.

While the ultimate result was somewhat satisfactory, it definitely was not really an homage to my favorite structure the way I originally intended.   It still sits prominently on the layout however.

I've been going through a lot of old boxes attempting to organize/clean the train room and I came across the original 'blue' wall pieces from the 3 unbuilt Faller 2293 kits.  It seems wrong to throw them in the trash, yet I am quickly getting overrun with all sorts of miscellany of parts and really didn't want to keep them in this start much longer.

So I decided its time to do another attempt at an homage to this building, but this time I'll be using the 'blue' facade pieces rather than the windows as the basis for this homage!

Also, its been a while since I've scratch built/kit-bashed or otherwise built a large building, and I've been wanting a new project like this for a while!

To start, I decided this building would only be facing toward the street - so essentially the backs and sides will be 'blank walls (no windows).    I determined that I had 18 (6 from 3x kits) different pieces of the blue plastic facade sections to work with, and the two longer sections could be used to make the building a nice wide version.

Using 1/8" thick clear acrylic sheet as my base, I scored floors using the basic height of two lego pieces (its just around 20mm or so, which I think is still on the short side if you were going to be prototypical, but more than generous when compared to most models!). 
I've then spent several long, tedious hours on the laborious process of cutting all of these pieces off their sprues, sanding, cleaning...
...slicing the little 'nubs' off the backs so they can lay flat!
And finally, laying them out on a sheet of cardboard for priming and painting.  As a matter of practice, I always paint my plastic kits to remove that plastic 'sheen', give a more custom look, and helps to add some opacity for the interior lighting that will be added later.
On the acryrilic sheet itself, I'm masking out the sheet against the earlier floor scorings to create the 'window frames' over which the plastic facade pieces will be added.
Spray-painting onto acrylic with masking tape is always a hit or miss exercise....bleed through is usually really difficult to control and once it starts there's little you can do to salvage the project!  My approach is to ensure that the Tamiya masking tape is well secured to the acrylic, and then apply several very light 'dustings' of paint to prevent any chance of bleed-through.  We'll see how well that turns out in my next post on this topic!


Minitrix 15401 Gas Wagon Set - weathering and stuff

I purchased a set of Minitrix's 15401 Gaskesselwagen-Set at Opherline when I was in Europe in February and received another set for my birthday from my wife as we decided to head north and do a little shopping at the EuroRail Hobbies shop!  So now I have a 10 wagon set of 'gas wagons'! Almost a real train!
These 5 car sets seem to be a good value; they are standard Minitrix quality (which is good) and retail for just over $100 USD, which turns out to be a bit more than $20 USD per car!  I think that's pretty good these days!  They also come nicely packaged in an attractive box and with individual cases for each car.
My only problem is that they are too pretty and need some dirt and rust! So off came the bogies, wheel sets removed, and away I went with a variety of washes, powders and some air-brushing to try and mimic some of the great weathering I've seen from others.
I'll skip sharing photos of 'how' I did it because I basically just used all sorts of techniques that you can find through any search of the web or YouTube.   Below are three of the wagons, the wagon in the foreground was untouched, while the two in background were given different types of weathering. I noticed in the various photos I looked at that sometimes the roofs would get really dark on some wagons, while others still stayed fairly white.
All wagons -except for brand new ones!-  show some rusting at the various rivet and joint areas.  I used a 'rust' wash from Vallejo for most of the rust streaks.  When I wanted a bit heavier rust pattern, I would mix in a bit of a rust weathering powder.
In general, I think they turned out really well and I like the look of this train a lot! I also weathered two VTG Gas wagons that I had purchased a few years ago and which I think will look fine as part of the train...for a total of 12 wagons!

But here's the problem....these wagons are heavy!  I first tried to pull them with a Kato Class 66...no luck!  My Arnold BB 25500 had no luck!  Wow! I only found one locomotive that could pull this train alone with any confidence that it could also make my 2% grades as well!  That locomotive was a Bachmann HHP-8 (what!? You say? Isn't that an American loco? Well, yes, sort of...but its cool and I have secret plans for it in the future...stay tuned for that!), anyway.....ultimately I'll have to figure out how to use my Roco Multimaus to program a multi-unit lashup to pull this train of 12 cars!
To paraphrase what others have said before, weathering is an act of faith.  Each time I weather a car, I am usually pleased with the results.  I think the most important part is having a good reference for what you want your results to look like (I had several photos from the web I printed out as reference), and some good materials to work with.  The various washes and powders that are increasingly available at hobby shops seem pretty fool proof if you apply the materials with care and aren't in a hurry!

Okay, that's it for now!  From a now dirty and rusty Quinntopia...Happy Modelling!


N Scale Cars with Lights from China!

Okay, so I've got lights in my trains, lights in my buildings but no lights in my cars! Is this one of those final details that will be sacrificed in the name of cost/time in this scale?  For years, that is what I have been gradually accepting.  Yes, their have been cars released with lights installed, but these tend to be fairly limited and very expensive!
Well, the industrious Chinese are at it again!  I was asked a question about these a couple of months back, and hadn't really paid attention to them until someone pointed out the price....about $2.00 each!

So I ordered myself a pack of 10 to check them out and installed them in my 'passenger terminal' backscene area you see picture above.   I ordered mine from Everest Model on eBay, although they currently have nothing for sale, I would recommend searching on eBay as I suspect someone else may aslo offer these at some point. 

The cars come in a plastic bag, no fancy packaging.  Which is nice considering the price! :-)
The wire leads to the four SMD LED's in these cars are naturally soldered oh so delicately, so take care not to accidently disconnect the wire form the SMD, like I did in the car below! But, this car now makes the perfect subject to take a look at what is going on 'under the hood' as we say here in the US.

The bottom of the car is a black plastic material that comes off with some gentle prying. 
The yellow wire is attached to a resistor with 'green/brown/black' color coding, which seems to indicate these are 51ohm resistors.  Which is both advertised and seems to work fine with 12v DC power.   I have to say that I was honestly impressed that these vehicles come with 4 SMD (LED's) installed: 2 white in the front, and 2 red in the back! 
Of course, what really matters is how they look!  Well, with some minor image adjustment with the camera to capture the overall look (these LED's are quite bright!), they look pretty incredible!  Now, the cars themselves are really nothing to get excited about, but they do seem to be better than I was expected. 
The white and red lights appear just where they should with only a very small amount of 'bleed' into the car interiors!  And look at those headlights in the below photo! Wow!
So I have a couple of thoughts with these....I like them a lot, but they are rather plain and a layout full of these could look strange. I was thinking of removing the wiring and LED's and installing them into a Wiking, Busch or other vehicle, but that's essentially like doing the wiring myself.  No thanks.  Some paint and other details might be enough to avoid looking too uniform, but again, its still a basic, boring, sedan.