Friday, January 30, 2015

Wethersfield Lumber - Peeling Paint & Assembly Part 1

I'm quickly discovering that the step that takes the longest in assembling a structure has little to do with structure assembly - it's all about the prep and painting. I've already covered how I've painted the kit I'm using for the Wethersfield Lumber Co. and how I started prepping the walls to look like weathered wood with peeling paint.

After the black dye stain dried, this is what the wall parts looked like:

Making the walls look like weathered wood is just the "base" over which you'll add the top coat in the color of the bulding itself. But before that, the next step in the "peeling paint" process is to brush on rubber cement:

I just used common Elmer's rubber cement, though I'd be curious to hear if others have tried different brands and what their experience has been. I brush it on fairly thin - using enough to cover the walls, but not enough to "glop" things up. I figured that'd be the best way to avoid obscuring detail - though I wondered later whether I'd used enough rubber cement...

I applied the cement over the weekend and then airbrushed grey PollyS (water-based acrylic) paint on Tuesday. The next step is to use an erasure to erase/peel off the topcoat to reveal the weathered wood siding below.  I didn't get around to the "erasure" step until Thursday - and wonder if I waited too long. I found it very difficult to remove the paint. LOTS of elbow grease required!

But the result was worth it:

It's obvious which wall has been "erased" - what you don't know is that that wall was the first one I'd applied the cement to, and it had "glopped" on. But since the erasure removes the globs, no detail was obscured, and the peeling paint effect is very pronounced. Much more so than on the other walls. See below:

Before/After of the side walls. As you can see, the "peeling paint" look here looks more like a "weathered paint" look - the wall still looks in need of a repaint, but the peeling isn't as obvious as it was on the wall where I'd glopped on the rubber cement.

And here are all the walls having been "erased." Overall, I'm really happy with the effect - though adding all the steps involved together adds up to a LOT of time involved. But there's no arguing with success - these styrene walls look great, even up close. And they don't look at all like plastic.

Oh, that windowed wall at the bottom of the photo? I was so happy with the "weathered wood" look that I decided to leave it exposed here and airbrushed a nice new even topcoat on the rest of the wall. Since I'd totally forgotten about doing a peeling paint effect on the windows, and the windows are all nicely finished in dark green, I decided to pretend that the shed was getting a new coat of paint and that the painter had already done the window frames. And you can see his progress right around the 3rd window from the left. Adding a painter, a small HO scale can of paint and a ladder will make for a really cool mini-scene (eventually - I have to find those detail parts first!)

Once all the parts are finally painted and otherwise prepared, assembly can finally begin. Fortunately, assembly of the Walthers kit is pretty straighforward and all that interior bracing looks very impressive. Somebody actually thought it was all individual pieces (flattering, for sure), but it was actually only 3 pieces per shed (2 vertical sections and 1 horizontal).

I used the Model Masters liquid cement with the needlpoint applicator. I like using this glue for parts I have to stick together first. I found Tenax and other watery glue harder to use for much of this kit.

Given the added "thickness" of the parts due to their being painted, I realized that some of them could be press fit together. In those cases, I did use the Tenax, using a microbrush applicator to wick in at the joints.

That meant not much clamping was required, but as you can see above, clamps were helpful when attaching the windowed clerestory walls. BTW, as is my usual practice nowadays, I used Formula 560 Canopy Glue to attach the clear plastic "glass" to the windows. And I glued the window frames themselves with Tenax since they press fit into the openings.

I still have a little ways to go before assembly is complete. I have to add the clerestory section above the tracks and add the roofs. I'm a little apprehensive about the roofs since they look perfectly pristine now in their fresh "grimy black" paint. They'll definitely need to be weathered to match the "age" of the walls. Let me know if you have any suggestions on how to weather roofs . . .

Oh, and let me know if you have any suggestions for making lots and Lots and LOTS of lumber piles. That interior, as beautiful as it is, is pretty darn empty right now.

But over all, I'm really happy with how this kit is coming out and you see it in its current state in the photo above, placed on the layout temporarily for tonight's operating session.


  1. Nice work as always, Chris - thanks for sharing it here!

  2. Chris, since the Middletown swing bridge hasn't changed since the period you are modelling (except for rust and the decay of the bridgetender's house above the track), you could use it as a transition to present-day in Portland, where you could model the new transfer building going up there and its double-ended, concrete-tied spur.