Davis Island Terminal (AKA Red Hook Wharf)

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

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Thanks for the comments everyone. I am glad you are enjoying the build. TJ, one of the challenges I enjoy in N scale is using a craftsman approach and trying to get a lot of detail work. Some folks feel like N scale is too small and the detail is wasted. I agree that SOME detail might be wasted but I still like to try...

Barry, here you go. I shot a quick photo, not the best exposure but it gives you an idea. I tried to find a reference object that would be fairly universal to modelers...

Okay, time for the next installment of the build. I was away for the past week dealing with some laser related stuff and now I am back at the modeling bench. Getting started on the Sternad Freight building

Here's an edited photo from the FOS site of Sternad Freight. This is the goal for this build.

I liked the color used in the HO model and didn't have anything on hand that was close so the first step was to mix a batch of paint. A mixture of Polly Scale Concrete and Reefer Gray gave me a base and then I squeezed in a bit of Cadmium Red Deep from a tube acrylic I had in the drawer. Applied the paint with a sponge and let dry.

This building has a large sign on the right side and I wanted to get that taken care of first. Based on lessons learned on the first couple buildings, I wanted to cut the stencil in place so after the initial paint was dry I added piece of the Post-It note paper tape in the approximate location so I could cut a mask that would let me paint the white background of the big sign. Lasered the tape and peeled out the center. Added a couple Post-It notepad pages to make a quick mask and spray painted the white background.

While the paint was drying I went ahead and added the "glass" (WeldBond) to all the windows and assembled them so they would be ready to insert into the walls when needed.

Once the paint was dry on the siding, it was time to cut the walls and engrave the sign. Once again, based on lessons learned on the first two buildings, I wanted to engrave the sign on this one. This sign will be very weathered and faint so I wanted a very light engraving. There is another sign that will go on the front of the building that is easier to read so this one could be quite faded. That being said, I wanted to make sure I didn't over do the engraving and burn the sign into the side of the building. A few tests on some scrap and I was satisfied.

After the lettering was done, I wanted to add a few weathered boards in the siding. Since this was commercial scribed siding this meant using a razor blade to carefully cut some of the individual board loose and peel them up a bit to simulate warping. I also wanted to add a few board ends to break up the monotony of the scribed siding.

A couple words of caution when doing this in small scales: this sheet is 1/32" thick and scribed at 1/32" spacing. Since the scribing runs with the grain and you have to peel the boards along the grain, it is VERY easy to split the entire wall panel. Take your time, use many shallow cuts rather than a few deep ones.

Some folks advocate doing this step after adding bracing so it can help prevent splitting. While I agree in principle, personally I prefer to have the stability of the siding lying flat on my cutting surface. This is a matter of personal preference and you will find what works best for you. The key thing to remember is don't get too aggressive and split your walls in half.

After adding the warpage and board ends touch them up with dark AI wash (careful not too much). This helps highlight the end grain to the cuts and exposed ends helping the detail pop a bit.   

Much of the wall surface of this building will be hidden by adjacent structures so I only added the board detail to the visible areas. At this point the walls are about ready to assemble.

As you add warped board detail, it is easy to overdo the warping, especially in smaller scales. However, when trying to do it subtly a lot of times it looks like you aren't really doing anything at all. When you look at the photo above the added detail is not real obvious (a good thing). If you want an easy way to see how much you are REALLY warping the board use shadows to reveal your work. Hold your wall vertically directly under a light so any of your warped board cast a shadow down the face of the wall and all will become obvious...

In this photo you can see the warpage is a bit overdone. Some of these look like they are sticking out about 4-6 scale inches. As I handle the building during future steps of assembly some of this will go away as the boards get pressed back in so too much at this point is not an issue.

So, add the windows (preassembled earlier), add some additional AI wash weathering detail and the wall sections are about ready to assemble. Looking at this photo I notice that the right section is a bit warped. No concern there. This is only 1/32" thick siding and bracing will be added during assembly that will easily straighten this out.

So at this point the walls are ready for assembly. We'll start there with the next installment.


You Nscalers just amaze me, I'm at a point now where I'm beginning to think HO is too small...
Incredible work!


Thanks Al. The size is part of the challenge that I enjoy about N scale.  Always fun to see what I can do when it is this small.

I was out of town for 4 days last week hence my delayed responses. It is back to work now so hopefully I can get some more updates posted...

Assembling the walls. First step is add some bracing to provide stability and provide some additional gluing surfaces at the corners to make assembly easier.

The interior bracing of this structure is a combination of the techniques I used on the previous two structures. Similar to Langford Ice, there is some strip wood bracing used to control warping (and provide stability to the 1/32" thick siding) and there are laser cut cards to keep the walls square. Similar to Langford Ice I am using rafter cards to add rafter detail, maintain the correct vertical spacing of the inner square bracing cards, and provide additional vertical bracing on the walls.

Very important to make sure the strips at the corners are precisely flush with the edges of the wall panels. If they are off then it is likely getting your corner trim to fit well will be problematic.

After the bracing is in place add the first square brace. Note the notched edges to fit over the braces already attached to the wall panel. The short lengths of strip wood glued along the edge of the card provide a gluing surface and allow the brace to attach more reliably to the wall panel.

I use some machinist blocks and squares to make sure everything stays square. Also, you want to be sure that you keep the edges flush during this step, Failure to do so will cause problems while trying to attach the three remaining walls. Making sure you do it right during this first step makes the other steps much easier. You also want to make sure the card is square to the wall so the rafter cards will fit properly when the time comes to install them.

The next step is to add more of the interior bracing cards and rafter cards. Doing so will help hold the other wall sections in the proper location when it comes time to attach them. Here are the rest of the braces:

Here's what you are looking at:
A. These are the rafter cards that will brace the upper third of the structure from front to back. The tails at the top of each piece protrude through slots in the walls to add rafter detail to the finished roof.
B. The brace cards for the lower third of the building. There is a small section of shed roof that sticks out from the front of the building over the front door. The small protuberances on these cards are the rafters that will support the shed roof. The front wall panel has holes to facilitate this. The small parts at the right side are used over the windows so the card does not extend into view inside the window. Making the rafters part of the card makes them stronger overall than simply gluing actual rafters to the external wall of the building. The holes in the wall help ensure even spacing, keep the roof nice and level, and ensure the proper height. They also make it easy to achieve the desired pitch.
C. These are actually all the roof panels.
D. If you look closely you will see that various cards have notches cut in one edge or the other. This is to facilitate doors and windows in the wall panels which implies the braces need to be installed in specific locations (they do).
E. The three wood pieces are the walls for the small dormer like structure on the roof. The three small gray triangles at the bottom edge of the photo are actually the rafter cards for the dormer (sorry they got cut off in the photo).
As before, I only weathered the portion that will be seen outside the structure.

Installing the card with the shed roof rafters begins by inserting the rafter through the hole in the wall, sliding it up tight against the front wall, making sure it is relatively square (side to side – this does not need to 100% perfect just close), and then run some CA along the edges that contact the square brace card and wall panel.

This view helps you get the idea and also get an idea of how the shed roof section will be supported.

After the lower braces are in place it is time to add the upper rafter cards.

In the previous photo you can kind of see how the notch in the second card from the back fits around a window so the card will not be visible from the outside. You can also see the rafters for the shed roof over the front door.

After all the rafter cards are in add the second floor brace card and the rear wall. This step takes place all at once to ensure that the horizontal spacing of the rafter cards is even from front to back before they get glued to the brace card. The spacing of the rafter slots in the rear wall section makes this easy.

Here is a shot once all the rafters and braces are in place. It is starting to look like its namesake.

Add the other walls and some square stock for corner trim and the building is basically assembled. At this point I get a feel for how well I am tracking towards my goal. One thing that occurs to me is that it needs more weathering. Using a torn makeup sponge I dry dab on add more gray acrylic and white ink to simulate a little more peeled paint and waterfront weathering. I take my time here because I don't want to overdo it, especially now that the walls are assembled. Fixing a mistake at this point would be time consuming.

The extra weathering helps. For now I will leave it like this. It is likely I will add more once the final group of buildings is installed on the pier.

The next step is the roof. This building has a corrugated metal roof. I have some Builders In Scale N scale corrugated roofing in my parts bin. It looks pretty good and is easy to work with so I will use that for this structure. First I put new Post-It stickies on my paint jig (same process I used for Langford Ice). I cut the roofing into 3' widths (corrugated can be anything between 2' and 4'widths) and plan for a minimal overlap. I stick them to the jig and hit them with a couple coats of gray primer from Walmart. I do multiple coats to try to ensure I have no shiny spots.

As soon as I finish spraying, while the paint is still drying, I sprinkle on some Bragdon rust powders. U use a random sample of the dark, medium and light rusts. Sometimes I mix them sometimes I only use one color. Sometimes I cover the entire piece of roofing, sometimes only partially. I also make sure I leave a few panels un-rusted.

After the paint dries I take a large soft brush and brush off the powders making sure I always brush with the "grain" of the corrugations. This blends and streaks the rust as well as removes all excess. At this point the proofing panels are ready to be used.

Now that the roofing is ready I glue the roof card to the top of the building. It is pre-notched to fit around the dormer. Prior to attaching the card I add some double stick 3m transfer tape that will be used to attach the roofing. In this photo I have cut away the protective paper on the tape to expose the area where the dormer needs to be attached before I start adding roofing panels.

I preassemble the dormer using the rafter cards to ensure proper spacing. It is important to make sure this subassembly if kept square during assembly otherwise the dormer will be skewed to one side or the other when added to the roof.

After adding the panels, I used some scrap pieces to trim along the peak of the dormer.

At this point the building is pretty much assembled. I need to add the shed roof to the front, the freight doors, some trim and details to complete structure. We'll wrap that up in the next post.

See you soon.


Nice rust.  It's kind of hard to know when to stop sometimes...



Thanks for the comments guys and thanks for following along, it is very encouraging. Yes Al I know the feeling. In fact I find myself wondering if this rust might be a little too bright. I may come back and retouch this a little later on.

With tonight's installment we finish the third structure.

The last step is to do some detail work. I need to add the front sign, the hoist, trim the main doors and finish the roofs. I'll start with the sign.

While there is a sign painted on the right side of the building, there is also a red sign that hangs on the front. I wanted to try laser engraving again but using a slightly different technique than last time. First, I prepped the playing card with a thick coat of red tube acrylic paint and let it dry.

Next I engraved the lettering for the sign. I did it using many light passes to ensure that I did not end up burning a hole in the card.

Barrowing a technique for doing brick mortar, I next dipped a makeup sponge in white ink  and applied it to the lettering (a bit liberally) and then immediately wiped off the excess by lightly running the smooth side of the sponge across the letters. The left a bit of ink behind in the engraving while removing the excess on the surface of the sign. This helped bring out the lettering.

Next I engraved the board edges and cut the sign out of the card.

The last step was to add the frame and hang it on the front wall. The frame was also cut from the playing card (like the door frames). I CA'd it to the sign and set aside to dry.

Next came the hoist. There is a simple pulley based hoist on the front of the freight house. While it looks simple, it ended up consisting of 16 individual parts. Here are the first two beams and part of the pulley assembly so you get the idea.

There will also be a diagonal brace added and then there are rusted "iron" gussets that cover each joint in the wood. The gussets needed to be thin and the thinnest stuff I had on hand was a sheet of paper. I made my "iron" by painting a Post-It note with some Transparent Red Iron Oxide acrylic and immediately covering it with Bragdon Dark Rust powder.

Once that dried for a few minutes, I brushed off the excess powder and I had my iron. A hint for new modelers trying this type of small detail work for the first time, it is much easier to work with larger material rather than cutting tiny details and then trying to manipulate those tiny parts into place. To do the gussets I cut the rusted paper into narrow strips and then glued the strip over the joint.

Then turned it over and trimmed the edges flush with a sharp knife.

This insures a perfect fit and it is much easier to handle that trying to cut tiny gussets and then attempting to glue them in place accurately. I glued up the pulley assembly to the beams and set the hoist aside to dry.

Next I trimmed out the freight doors on the front of the building. The frames were laser cut from a playing card and glued on as a single piece. This made it much easier to keep everything straight. I added two pieces of Bershire Junction EZ line for the cables supporting the front shed roof over the front door.

I took a 000 brush and my dark AI mix and added some more weathering along the bottom edge of the front wall where there would be more water damage from weather. I also added a few more highlights on the front wall (sorry, lighting in this photo is not great, the new highlights are hard to really see).

The last step was adding some vent pipes and a stove pipe to the roof. Once again these are brass wire, painted engine black and then dipped in Bragdon rust powders. The stove pipe on this building was larger than the ones on the first two structures. The cap on this one was an 18" lampshade from Ngineering.

Finally, I glued the sign assembled earlier to the front of the building.

At this point this structure is done. I will add rope to the hoist once the building is in place on the pier.

So here are a couple crudely Photo-Shopped photos to see how I am tracking to the original HO kit from FOS (the FOS model is first followed by the N scale version):

One last thing for the new modelers out there following this. At this point I take a short break and clean up my work area. As I do so I find a number of scraps, broken and mismatched parts left over...

These are essentially free details. I throw them into a plastic bag and keep them for later. These kind of leftovers make great junk detail to have laying around when you get to the point of super detailing a scene. The HO and On30 guys go crazy with stuff like this. There is no reason N scalers can't do it too. As you work on projects and collect these leftovers, you will find that pretty soon you have an interesting collection of ready to use details on hand.

Next step in this project will be the Marine Paint building. See y'all soon.


Time for the next installment: Grove Marine Paint. Here is the goal. This is from a picture on the Fos Scale Models web site: http://www.foslimited.com

Drew up the plans and cut the parts.

So I am trying a new material this time around. After talking to some other laser users on the Nscale.net forum, I am trying out a new material called Taskboard. It reminds me of cardstock but is a little softer yet more stable. It is easy to work and doesn't seem to swell when liquids are applied. If you are CAing edges it works best to apply two coats of glue. The first coat seals the edge and the second actually bonds.

In the photo the parts at the upper left cut across the top of the large white material are all Taskboard. They consist of the back wall, the interior brace card, some curved exterior wall braces, and legs for the roof sign.

The wood scribed siding is used for the three visible walls of the structure. On the right side are the doors, windows, roofing and associated trim parts all cut from playing cards.

The first step was to prep everything (no photos of this step). I cut all the parts free and cleaned them up. I painted pretty much everything (scribed siding, Taskboard, and playing cards) with a coat of dark AI wash. Next I used a torn makeup sponge to dab on some light blue acrylic on the exterior wall parts. Lastly I dabbed dark blue on the doors, windows, rafter ends, and trim parts. I set those parts aside to dry and started on the signs.

So far I have tried a different technique for the signs on each of the structures in the project. Keeping that trend going, for this building I decided to try the "sand paper sign" method. First I created my signs and then printed them on a standard laser printer.

I printed multiple copies in case I damaged one while prepping.

The next step was to turn the paper over and using 400 grit sandpaper, I sanded the paper to make it thinner and easier to apply. The goal was to get it as thin as possible before it tore. Hindsight tells me I could have gone thinner than I did. Next time I will go farther.

I was sanding it thin for two reasons. First, to make it look less like paper when I glue it to the wall, and second, I wanted to apply the paint to the back of the sign and let it soak through to the front for the color. That way it would not paint over the lettering already printed on the front. So after I got done sanding, the next step was to apply some cream colored acrylics to the back of the sign.

Couple notes: First, I added the pencil lines after I finished sanding so I would roughly know where I needed to apply the paint.  Second, I added a bit of water to the paint for thinning. I wanted it to soak into the paper, not just sit on the surface.

This first sign gets mounted to a sign board and stands on the roof of the structure like a billboard. I let the paint soaked sign sit over night to dry and then glued it to the sign board cut from playing card stock (with boards engraved).Then while the glue was still wet I used an Xacto knife to add board detail.

The second sign is applied directly to the front of the building so there is no sign board to mount. I also sanded this sign thin and then applied the color to the back. Furthering my research in sign techniques, I wanted something thinner than paint to try soaking the paper with this time. I decided to try yellow food coloring. Based on the amount of water you mix with it you get different shades of yellow

This soaked through faster than the paint (and dried faster too). After it dried I cut it out and used some watered down WeldBond glue to apply it to the front wall.

This is where I realized I probably could have sanded it thinner. The paper was still a little thick and did not really settle into the grooves of the siding. Not a big deal but next time I will try sanding it thinner.

Next step: Doors and Windows.

First, add glass to the windows. I use a thin bubble of WeldBond stretched across the frames for glass. I went ahead and did all the windows and set them aside to dry.

I decided to try something new to make installation of doors and windows easier (I hope). I wanted to add a flange that would keep them from falling through the hole cut in the walls during installation. I took some playing card stock and cut out the door and window openings in their respective positions but I made each dimension about 2 inches smaller (A in the photo below).

I then glued the card stock to the inside of the wall such that the openings in the card lined up with those in the wall. Theoretically this would provide a 1" scale flange around the inside edge of each opening that would prevent the doors and windows from falling through the holes during installation (B in the photo above). I say theoretically because 1" in N scale is pretty fine and there is not much room for error. If you look closely you can see the flange through the window openings in the wall section on the right.

Over all the flange idea worked. I also discovered that if I cut the doors and windows 2 scale inches larger than the opening it compensates for the kerf of the laser and the doors/windows fit almost perfectly.

So the next step is to build up the doors and windows. The windows on this building are a slightly different design and each one consists of 5 parts (upper and lower sill, upper and lower sash, and frame). Finally, install the doors and windows in the walls.

At this point we are ready to assemble the wall sections. That will be the next post.


So, time to start assembling the walls. I cut an interior brace card that serves a number of purposes. First, it will help keep all four walls square during assembly, second, it provides the "floor" where the upper story overhangs the lower along the left side of the building. Lastly, it uses tab and slot to ensure the side wall is precisely located.

The FOS HO model has curved braces the run along the lower wall under the overhang. I glued the side wall to the brace card and then added the curved braces. These were laser cut from Taskboard.

After adding the braces, assembling the walls was pretty straightforward. I added scale 6x6's as corner trim and touched up the paint on the curved braces.

Next it was time to start the roof. As with the previous buildings I added rafter cards although these were smaller than previous versions due to the large windows in the upper floor. Also, rafter tails would only be visible along one side of the building. The opposite side butts up against the freight house so no rafters exposed on that side.

This building has a tar paper roof. I use the tissue paper method:

A: Cut tissue paper into scale 4 foot wide strips
B: Use black liquid acrylic paint to glue the tissue down. Start with a thick coat (one strip wide) and then lay a strip of tissue over the paint. Then lay down a thick strip of paint for the next strip of tissue AND add a thin coat of paint over the strip of tissue you just applied. I do this one strip at a time so the paint doesn't dry out (remember, it is being used as the glue).
C: Repeat until the roof is covered.
D: Trim overhanging tissue.

The last step is to dust the roof with Bragdon powders. I use a dust color and a dirt color. I glued the legs (cut from Taskboard) to the roof sign, added a simple roof vent and the roof is pretty much done.

So that about does it for this building. This completes the first four structures in the wharf scene. These will be located on pilings over the water. The other four buildings are on landfill and will be phase 2 of this project.

So let's see how this compares to the pilot model...Here is the FOS HO rendition:

And here are the four completed structures so far... (sorry my lighting is little off)

More detailing will be done when I build the actual pier and place the structures. So far though, I am happy with the progress.

Dave K.

Dang...you N-scalers have my respect.  :o  Great thread...thanks for inviting us to follow along.


Thanks for sharing...............



Very nicely done. I like it a lot.


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