Sunday, January 13, 2013

Freight House: the handrails

Hello, everyone. Just a quick build update as I did manage to deal with the handrails on the freight house model over the weekend.

I certainly don't hold myself out to be a master modeler (and I'm sure you're seeing a multitude of sins in these very close up shots... click the picture to get really close in), but I rather like the way the handrails turned out. I built them up out of .025" Plastruct rod. For your amusement, I've included a number of in progress pictures.

I think I'll install those window A/C units next.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sign Painters

In addition to my addiction  to model detail parts, I have to admit to a book buying habit. Mostly I find cheap used books using Google Books to search and Abebooks to purchase. Among other things, I've found company histories for many of the industries on R Street - Goodyear, General Mills, Nabisco, W.P. Fuller, - plus the Thomson Diggs catalog (which was actually an eBay purchase...)

But today I'm posting about a brand new book* on a topic that is near to the hearts of model structure builders: signage and in this case hand painted signs. Sign painting has been a topic of keen interest to me since working on the Carlaw building decals. In my opinion, if we are modeling structures from before, say, 1980 we should be creating signs for our models with a sign painter's eye as much as possible.

Sign Painters, by Fayth Levine and Sam Macon, can help with that. It is a companion book to a documentary on the almost-but-not-quite-yet dying art of hand painted signs. The craft was nearly done in by the computer sign industry which tends to produce cheaper signs faster, but here and there local businesses have embraced sign painters. Hand painted signs, the book posits, escape the uniformity that creeps in with computer generated signs and they add a distinctive look that adds visual interest (and hopefully increased foot traffic) to store fronts. I'm certainly a believer.   

The book itself is mainly a collection of small, well written, autobiographical essays by over two dozen contemporary sign painters from across the U.S.. Their work is beautifully illustrated with great photographs which should give modelers plenty of inspiration. Indeed one of the sign painters featured in this book, Bob Behounek, is himself a model railroader.

Of particular interest to me, and I suspect other modelers too, is in the appendix. This little surprise at the end of the book is a reprint of an instructional pamphlet for apprentice sign painters by the Wagner School of Sign Arts. I have yet to find any indication of when this "Blueprint Text Book of Sign and Show Card Lettering" was originally published and I'm not going to hazard a guess. The information contained therein seems timeless and useful for my needs though. This twenty page section goes over the basics of lettering styles and proper composition, but my favorite part is the panels that illustrate the nomenclature of sign painters. Like most crafts, sign painters have their own vocabulary. And as one would expect, signs on different parts of buildings and different parts of the signs themselves have specific names. These plates in particular are sure to be referred to often when I make model sign decisions.

For more information on the book and the movie, check out their blog:

* Published in October of 2012 and a Christmas gift to me from my lovely and highly talented wife.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Freight Office Model Update

I may have mentioned somewhere that I am a really, really slow modeler. Even after I take into consideration the non-modeling demands on my time, I can only come to the conclusion that my progress on any given modeling project has to be measured on a geologic time scale.

Over the holidays I did manage to put in a few, ok, several hours on the freight office- and I'm still not done with the one wall I've been working on. So here is a picture in the midst of the sausage making .
My plan is to put as many of the details (including paint) while I can still work on the individual walls as separate pieces as  possible - I have other walls cut out and most of the windows installed by the way but I'm still a  long ways from assembling them together.

That said, I did get the foundation piece under the wall (not trimmed completely yet) and I've extended off to the left where the electrical conduit starts. 

The little bits attached to the walkway are the beginnings of  handrails. The steps going up to the walkway took a verrrry long time. I cut stringers from sheet plastic and then used strips to put the steps in and additional strips to fill in the backs of the steps (the rise). I probably could have built it up faster with sheet plastic. I'm not too worried about the little chip off the bottom of the walkway- there will be quite a bit of sculptamold paving on this side of the building when it is put in the drop in module.

Anyway... hopefully there will be another update on this project before the rurn of the next epoch.