Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cement Works Part One

I love opening a model building kit for the first time. There's something about the smell of plastic and anticipation of what the finished model will look like that is increasingly lost on the next generation of video-gamers and hobbyists looking for that instant release. And if the abundance of pre-built model train buildings is anything to go by, it seems that today's time-starved model railroaders are not excluded either in their search for railroad realism. So how do you explain a model railway kit building to someone who's never laid eyes on an opened box before? Well.... if like me you are about to sit down and start working on the FALLER old concrete mixing plant, then showing your teenage Son the 264 pieces waiting inside the box to be cut loose and glued together will soon have him reaching for the Xbox controller once more.

Faller's Old Concrete Mixing Plant contains 264 pieces which when laid out filled all 6 feet of my modelling space.

I started by taking each sprue of pieces from the box (sprue is a manufacturing term used to describe a liquid casting that then needs to be removed from the finished part), and identifying each section of the kit with the instruction manual. I then put the pieces for the base of the concrete plant aside, and returned the rest safely to the box. Although this Faller plastic kit comes moulded in 8 different colours, I've always shied away from simply gluing it together as supplied. I like to avoid a 'plasicky' finish by adding a little texture to the body of the kit before assembling it.

Mixing up some mortar coloured paint on my pastel, I simply splodged it over the stone sections of the concrete plant wall as shown.

With the pieces for the base of the concrete plant neatly cut from the sprue and laid out, I mixed up some mortar coloured paint by simply dirtying up some white acrylic artists paint with tiny dabs of black and raw umber (brown). Splodge it over the entire piece to ensure that the mortar finds its way into the moulded join lines. Wait a few minutes for it to set, then before it has time to fully dry, wipe the excess paint from the surface using a Kleenex tissue.

I then wiped the excess paint away using a tissue to get the result shown on the left.

If you compare the two kit pieces above, you can see how the piece on the left looks so much better with mortar lines added between the moulded stones. The paint also sticks to any cracks in the stone surface and dulls the plastic sheen of the kit without needing to repaint it.

I painted the timber upper-level, with the pieces still on the sprue, to look like weathered Australian hardwood.

Next up, I took to the sprue containing the pieces needed for the timber upper-level. The as supplied colour was a shade of grey which didn't really 'pop-out' on the picture on the front of the box. So, wanting to make this finished kit look Australian, I mixed up several shades of weathered natural hardwood using a mixture of white, brown and a dab of black artist paint. I thinned it down with a brush tip of water, and brushed it on vertically in line with the timber mouldings you can see in the above photo. By making sure that you constantly vary the shades of paint you are applying so that no two colours are beside each other, it gives the walls the appearance of being constructed from unpainted rough-sawn hardwood that has been left to weather over time.

The first finished wall of my concrete plant, showing the difference that a painted door and mortar lines can make. 

Finally, I painted all the doors for the building in slightly different shades of tan. I want the finished building to look like it has received regular maintenance over the years to keep it in good operational order. And doors that have been repainted at different times with whatever is left over in the maintenance shed, often have varying degrees of looking faded. The window frames I simply left as they came in the box. I was then ready to start assembling the concrete plant's base using a small bottle of Humbrol poly cement, the one that comes with the fine-tip applicator needle.

The rail loading side of my concrete plant showing the combined weathered hardwood upper level, and the mortar-lined stonework of the ground level.

Assembling a kit building is a fun process, and painting sections of the kit before gluing them together not only gives a better overall finish, but also prolongs the fun a little longer.

The plant-side of my cement works, which will face the edge of my layout, shows what a difference painting the doors in slightly different shades of tan can make.

All up, it took about 3 to 4 hours for me to do the above, all while watching Sunday afternoon football on the TV in the background. Next up, I have another 200+ pieces of silos, stairways and steel supports to add. And to get the correct appearance (and colour), for the cement silos and holding bins, I'm going to take a field trip to my local Boral concrete plant to photograph it in person. But as usual, that's a story for another day.

See also; Cement Works Part Two

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil