Davis Island Terminal (AKA Red Hook Wharf)

Started by rrkreitler, January 04, 2014, 01:04:34 AM

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So I was sick for the week of Christmas (the cold/flu season finally caught up to both my wife and I just in time for the holidays). This kept me indoors so I spent time at the bench getting more work done. A little model therapy is a great distraction from feeling under the weather. I took advantage of the time to get started on the Lanford Ice building.

This is an edited photo of the original from the FOS web site. This is the goal.

Langford Ice is the other building located at the end of the pier and is right behind the Goldring Oyster building.

The first step was creating the design. This went pretty fast now that I have the actual HO kit in hand and I had the main building design done in a matter of hours. Then I spent all the next day doing the signs. The signage turned out to be the challenge for this building. Anyhow, after all that design work was done I cut the parts. Most of the parts are from playing card stock but the four walls of the main building are cut from 1/32 scribed basswood siding. I also cut templates for doing the signage. This is the starting point, all the parts have been cut and construction could begin:

The 8 cards on the right side of the photo are all stencils for signs. The two large rectangles in the center are interior bracing to keep the building square during assembly. Due to the shape of this building I decided to manage the bracing differently than the method used on Goldring. The two smaller rectangles in the center are roof panels. The remaining three cards on the left side are the doors, windows, and office parts.

The basswood was thinner this time and I was concerned about warpage so I braced the main walls with square strip wood. This structure only has a couple windows and the surface area of the walls is greater so it was much easier to apply interior bracing. Using vertically scribed wood meant the bracing needed to be horizontal. I also attached glue strips at the corners (and for the roof panels) so they would be ready to go when it was time to assemble the building.

I painted the basswood with a thin coat (almost more of a wash) of Polly Scale D&RGW Cream.
Then used two of the sign stencils to paint the red and white backgrounds for the big sign on the main face of the building. Then I used a lettering stencil to do the first batch of lettering. I also added the big "ICE" sign by dabbing Reefer White on through a stencil.

I stalled at this point because a number of things were bothering me. First, I did not really like the color. I wanted something a bit more gray and tan. This had a bit of a gold tint to it I just did not like. Also I really did not like how the sign was coming out. The grooves in the milled siding were too deep and too well defined. Painting the sign was really tough. If I got the paint thin enough to get into the grooves it would bleed. If I kept it thick I could not get it into the grooves. The white lettering for the big "ICE" sign bled horribly and I ended up painting over it.

One other thing I noticed was significant expansion when I painted the wood. I have had this wood stored in my train room for a number of years. It must have become extremely dried out. The width of the main wall piece (which was originally 3" wide) increased a whole 1/8th of an inch after I painted it and it absorbed the liquid. I thought it would return to original size after it dried but no such luck. Given I had precut all the other pieces this extra 1/8th inch would be a problem. Time to reset and try again.


When I did the Goldring building I decided to do it board by board to get better looking siding. I decided I wanted to do the same thing here so it was back to the drawing board. I did learn a lot doing the Goldring building so this time I was confident I could get the walls done in short order. The first step was to make my boards. I used playing cards again, same as with the Goldring structure. I really did not like the D&RGW Cream color so this time I started with a thin coat of Polly Scale Mud brushed horizontally on the cards with a torn makeup sponge (right side) followed by a similar coat of Polly Scale Concrete (left side) - sorry, lighting is not the best for this photo.

I cut the boards on the laser and then CA'd them vertically to a sheet of 1/64th plywood. Using a very light setting I etched an outline of the wall into the siding so I could align sign stencils.

I went out to Amazon and purchased a roll of Post-It labeling tape. This is great stuff for laser stencils. It's two inches wide, made of thick paper with Post-It adhesive on one side. Not so sticky it destroys a model but sticky enough to prevent bleeding.

While the light adhesive is easy on the model, one thing to watch out for is if your paint is too wet, the paper will absorb it and expand a little. The light adhesive may not be able to contain the expansion and the stencil may bubble up. As long as my paint wasn't too watery the stencil worked fine. I applied some tape to the siding and used the laser to cut the stencil in place. Then painted the red backgrounds for the signs.

Next I tried to engrave the signs but had a bunch of trouble and could not get the engraving to work right. I was also very paranoid of over doing it and burning the signs into the wall panels. Given this was the third try cutting the walls and now that I was doing them board by board, setting up another "blank" to recut the walls would have taken another hour. I decided to forgo the etching this time and go with a stencil. I added a fresh piece of Post-It labeling tape and cut the lettering stencil in place.

I then spent a number of hours peeling and painting signs. It took longer than I expected and they did not turn out as well as I had hoped however they look okay from a distance. Keep in mind that this is N scale and the photos tend to be taken at a significantly closer distance than the model will normally be viewed at. After weathering up everything I am satisfied that they meet the minimum bar for what I am after. I also weathered up the rest of the wall sections to prep them for final assembly.

Weathering at this point was all done with my light and dark AI washes (Light = 1 tsp India ink per pint of 90+% alcohol, dark=2 tsp India ink per pint 90+% alcohol). I always use the highest percentage alcohol I can find. The higher the percentage, the less water they add to dilute it and the less warpage it causes. The signs were also lightly sanded with 400 grit paper and then washed with white ink.

The two wall section on the right are only partially visible hence the incomplete coverage. The bare areas will be hidden behind other structures when all buildings are put together on the wharf. I decided they did not need to be board by board and used the commercial scribed siding. I added a wash of white ink to lighten them up and get rid of the gold tint cause by the wood showing through. This helped get the color closer to that of the board by board siding I made.

The next step was adding wall details. I assembled the ice chute from parts I cut earlier. The rails for the cover are just two strips of styrene. The support wires are black Berkshire Junction EZ Line. The window was done using the same process as those on the Goldring building. Additional Bragdon powder weathering was added at this point as well.

Next step, assemble the walls. I add the interior bracing in a very deliberate way such that I can also attach cards that act like gussets inside the building that will keep it all square during assembly. The cards also provide the lateral bracing for the short end wall pieces. Here is the lower brace card installed in the first two wall sections. Another brace card will get glued to the long upper brace at the top.

The last two wall sections are added along with the upper brace card and you have the basic structure ready for a roof.


The roof.

This building uses standing seam roofing. I have seen some great standing seam roofing for large scale models. I am not aware of anything for N that doesn't come across as too thick. I will confess that I have not researched this lately so there may be newer products I am not aware of. At any rate, I need it now and don't have time to order and wait for it so I will make my own.

Ideally I want to use metal so it will behave and weather properly. It needs to be thin and something I have on hand – I will use regular aluminum foil. Doing some quick research, standing seam roofing comes in many sizes. Most popular seems to be with seams spaced between 12 and 18 inches. Seams are either one or two inches in height/depth so this works out for me. My playing cards are just under two scale inches thick. Meaning, I can use the edge of a playing card to make the standing seam in my roofing and the ribs will be to scale.

I lay out and cut a jig. The light lines are engraved guides where cuts need to take place. The deeper slots are where the seams will be pressed.

Then I CA'd this jig to another blank card to add strength. Now I am ready to make roofing.

First step, start with a strip of foil (wrinkle free) cut to scale 10 feet wide. I position it on the jig using the short guidelines. Originally I built the jig so you could do 5 panels at once however you need to press each one individually before you cut them apart anyway so it turned out easier to simply do them one at a time and cut them each time. Doing 5 at a time was actually more difficult.

Using a small wood block I hold the end of the foils strip in place and then using the edge of a trimmed piece of card, press the foil into the first groove.

Then, slide the block forward and repeat pressing the foil into the next groove with the trimmed card. Slide the block once again and press the foil into the third groove. Then slide the block to the next short guide line and cut the foil strip. Voila, you have one panel of standing seam roofing.

I use a cutting wheel to do these cuts. It doesn't catch or tear the foil and helps keep everything wrinkle free. You can see the one I use laying just above the jig in the previous photo.

You may have noticed that when I trimmed the piece in the photo above I cut it slightly crooked. That is not a problem. Later, during application it is easy to straighten out any crooked cuts with a razor blade. That being said, if you try this, I advise that you straighten the cuts before you paint the panels so you don't have to deal with shiny edges later...

Next painting. I built a quick painting jig by cutting the tops off of Post It notepad pages (the part with the adhesive) and using double stick tape to attach those strips adhesive side up to a board. I wanted to use the Post-It note adhesive because it was strong enough to hold the roof panels in place while painting them but not so strong I would destroy the panels taking them off once I needed them. They are small, aluminum foil, and a bit delicate to handle at this point.

I used gray primer from Walmart as the base coat. It has very little filler and two thin coats covered the foil just fine without obscuring any detail at all. Weathering process:
1. Start with bare foil.
2. Paint with primer
3. Wash with Bragdon powders mixed with alcohol. I used primarily black and dark rust powders with a few earth colors added for variation.

At this point the panels were ready to apply.

The primer coats added enough body to the foil that you could handle it pretty easily with tweezers without doing much damage yet the panels still appeared to be very thin which was my goal. One of the give aways for N scale models is when things like roofing are too thick. I am pretty happy with how the roofing turned out.

After the roof was installed I had a few shiny spots from glue. I dry brushed all the panels to do a final mix of the Bragdon colors, then applied a coat of Polly Scale flat finish. After that dried I added some more Bragdon powders to keep the look more natural.

Finally I added the corner trim to the walls and the face trim up under eaves. The next step is to complete the office section (the small section located around the corner from the chute).


Stunning.  You are raising the N scale bar.  Wow, Holy Cow, and

Thanks for sharing, and also thanks for letting Jan repost this on Nscale.net.  Can't wait to see more!


Wow great Idea on the roofing looks killer ! You really should cut a few of those jig's in HO and N and offer to sell them to us less fortunate and laser less board members (hint hint). Great looking so far !!!
Ken Crump
KC's Workshop


Quote from: Amagic41 on January 07, 2014, 08:45:43 AM
Wow great Idea on the roofing looks killer ! You really should cut a few of those jig's in HO and N and offer to sell them to us less fortunate and laser less board members (hint hint). Great looking so far !!!
I believe you could make your own fixture from styrene quite easily.  Glue some Evergreen 1x10 or 2x10 pieces to a piece of styrene sheet using wood or cardboard spacers between them.  The cardboard or wood could be 1-2" wide depending on the width you choose for your ribs.  Remove the cardboard, lay your foil over the styrene, and emboss it. 


I kind of stumbled across this thread, not sure how I overlooked it, sure glad I found it! 
I am very impressed with the way you have adapted individual board techniques to N scale.  Your explanations are very thorough, and even though I do not have laser access, I am confident that I can adapt your ideas to improve my modeling.  This is absolutely amazing work in any scale, but even more so IMO in N scale. 


Dave you keep amazing us, some of the folk at nScale.net are going crazy, thanks again and keep up the good work.
I love photo's, don't we all.


Evening Dave,
Just wanted to say your work is AMAZING.
Thank you for sharing.
8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)


   Thanks I did and worked great.  I'm still quite new to building craftsman kits and scratching and it is great t draw on all the tips and tricks I can find and sometimes they are right in front of my face. Thanks again.

Ken Crump
KC's Workshop




Thank you everyone for the comments, I really appreciate it. I have to admit I am having a lot of fun with this project and it feels great to get back into the swing of things. One thing I like to do in model building is take the techniques that the masters in the larger scales use (like Chuck and Troels) and see how much of that I can transfer to N scale. I am very thankful to those guys that they are so willing to share their knowledge. It makes this hobby that much better.

To address specific questions:
Ken, I was going to say contact me off list but it sounds like you tried Jerry's suggestion with some success. Any photos?

Jerry, my feeling is that there is no substitute for board by board, even in N scale. When I first thought of trying it I was a little skeptical. However after that first try I was surprised at how fast it went. Seems like it takes less time than comparable efforts I have made in larger scales, not sure why. I assume it is because the process is the same regardless of scale (measure, cut, attach, repeat as necessary) and in smaller scales the square inches needing coverage is much smaller. And I have to admit, the laser makes cutting to size fast and easy.

Janbouli, I am glad the N scalers are enjoying the build. Thank you for sharing it with them.

And with that, on with the office. The Langford Ice building consists of a main structure with a smaller section attached to one side. I refer to that section as the office. It is a very simple structure that is very straightforward to build.

No special techniques used on this. Simple playing card walls with some Builders In Scale N scale adhesive backed shakes/shingles applied per instructions. Same paints/washes as I used on the main structure. Window was assembled same as the others in this project. I trimmed the eaves with a couple spare pieces of siding left over from the main building.  The tar paper roof is some tissue paper "glued" down with Engine Black acrylic paint and then dusted with some Bragdon powders. The stovepipe is a piece of brass wire capped with an Ngineering light shade. The light over the door is a 12" Ngineering shade on a piece of .008" brass wire.

When placed in the final scene, the office sits in the corner between two larger buildings so no back walls are needed.

So the last steps are a few final details and then attach the office to the main building. I figured I would finish the detail work first because the larger building is easier to handle without the office attached.

If you look at the photo of the original model, there is a large duct that needs to be built up and attached to the front of the main building. This was pretty straightforward and I took advantage of the laser to do the fine cutting in order to save time. I used a piece of thick styrene strip as a base, cut two side profile pieces from a playing card to get the general shape. I then CA'd some .005" sheet styrene to the front and back following the profile provided by the cardstock. Once the glue dried I trimmed the excess and had the basic duct.

I also cut out some square "seams" that were about a scale 1 ½" thick (about as thin as I can go when cutting the playing card stock without simply burning it to ash) , added them at roughly two foot intervals. A drop of CA held them in place. I also added a couple brackets for support when mounted to the wall.

Next came a quick shot of Walmart gray primer followed by some Bragdon dark rust powder applied using the dark AI wash as a fixer. Hint: if you have trouble getting Bragdon powders to stick to your models, try mixing them with alcohol and brushing them on. Based on a few posts I have seen here I think a number of folks use mineral spirits for this purpose as well. I haven't tried that as I have always been happy using alcohol. Either way the liquid helps get the powders into the corners and crevices. The alcohol evaporates in seconds and once it is gone the powders actually stick to the model rather than blow away. You can even go over them with a soft dry brush to blend for some great effects after the liquid dries.

Here's the sequence of steps for the duct:

I added a piece of brass wire to the lower end to make it easier to hold while painting/weathering and to facilitate mounting to the building. I drilled a small hole and CA'd the finished duct to the front of the main building then went ahead and CA's the office to the left end of the main structure. One last piece of brass "vent pipe" in the roof and this structure is done.

And one last quick check against to the original to see how we are doing. No sunshine today but some rainy Seattle daylight none the less. Also a bit of crude PhotoShop work to add "water". I hope Doug doesn't mind, I borrowed his pilings and water for perspective. At least it has the right feel...


I'm not sure what to say other than, "WOW!!!".  The level of detail you achieve scratchbuilding such small parts is both mind-boggling (at least to me) and at the same time inspires me to step up my game.  That duct is great!  The addition of the flanges and bracing really takes it to another level!  And, using a lamp shade to top a vent, cannot believe I did not think of that. 


I agree entirely with WOW!!!  I had no idea N scale could look so realistic.  I love the standing seam roofing and the beautiful weathering you are getting on the buildings - just amazing!


I'd love to see that duct with something full size next to it to give an idea of relative size, it's got to be minute.  A real little gem of a detail there.

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