These pages document my attempt at creating a furniture factory diorama. I created a diorama base for this structure from some left-over plywood and Masonite board. The first photo shows the local loading and unloading side of the structure. The building walls came from the DPM Woods Furniture Factory kit.
This shows the track side of the building.
I decided to try something different as the method for assembling the walls of this structure. The DPM corners on their kits always looked wrong to me. What I did was sand the outside corners of the wall sections at a 45-degree angle (making miter cuts, effectively). The close-up in the next photo shows the result. I did this using a disk sander.
One way to bring some life to our static models is to have open doors in our structures. I selected three of them to be open. This is not a decision to be made lightly, because open doors will require some interior modeling, leading to more work down the road. The DPM walls are very thick. The score-and-snap technique of styrene doesn't really work here. The only method I've found is to drill holes in the sections to be removed.
The challenge is to drill holes around the whole area to be removed without the drill bit jumping to the previous hole, and without damaging the parts of the walls that are to remain.
Next I use a sharp knife to cut through the webbing between the holes, so that the center section can be removed.
Then it is just a matter of trimming and filing the remaining debris from the inside of the door opening.
The following diagram shows the overall interior dimensions of the structure in scale feet.
There were two reasons for why I decided to create the interior floors. One was that I wanted to model some portion of the interior, and the other was that the structure's walls aren't straight. By bracing the interior with the first and second floors, the structure's walls will become straight. The two interior floors were cut from gray Plastruct sheets and the roof was cut from 0.040" white styrene. All will be painted, so choice of material doesn't really matter. I marked the sheets according to the dimensions shown in the diagram above, and then used the score-and-snap technique to break off the desired sections. I did have to do some minor filing to square up the cuts.
I started by painting the interior of the walls with a flat black ("Steam Engine Black"). This is necessary to keep the interior lights from shining through the walls later on. Next, I covered the exterior of the walls with Polly Scale "Sand". The purpose of that is to fill in the "mortar lines".
The next step is to paint the individual bricks. It is a technique I learned from Monroe Stewart in Allen Keller's video of Monroe's layout (Great Model Railroads #30). The idea is to take a flat, stiff-bristle paint brush and dip it in the paint of choice. Then wipe most of the paint off of the brush and touch the flat side of the brush against the tops of the bricks (not brushing like you do with the dry-brushing technique, but laying the bristles flat up against the top of the bricks). The next photo show the first pass using this method. Several passes are necessary, preferably with several different variants on the dominant color, in this case, red. As you can see, after the first pass the structure was still too light for my taste.
This photo shows the final paint scheme. Several passes of coloring the brick surfaces were applied. I also painted the concrete base, the door and window frames, and the brick above the doors and windows. Several applications of India ink mixture (mixed with isopropyl alcohol) and some weathering were applied to darken the walls. Finally, Testors Dullcoate was sprayed on to help protect the surface and to dull any remaining shininess.
For the window and door glass I decided to use Clover House's 0.010-inch thick "Clear Polycarbonate (Lexan)" (part #472). As shown in the photo here, I cut a single piece long enough to cover one row of windows. I attached it with Testor's Plastic Cement at two corners only. This holds the part in place to allow me to glue it in place with Krylon's "Crystal Clear Glaze". As you can see in the photo, it goes on milky-white, but dries clear. It acts as a glue. The danger with using Testors Plastic Cement is that it can dull/damage the clear plastic. If some of the Crystal Clear Glaze oozes into a window frame, it dries clear and so it won't affect the window's visibility.
I will be building the interior from the bottom up. Only some parts will have interior details. The first step was to prepare the "concrete" floor of the structure. I drilled a 1-1/2" hole into the center of the large area. This part of the structure will not be detailed. However, I will put a sound module under this structure, so I needed to drill a hole for the speaker opening.
Part of the building is raised above the base floor. This is to make it easier to move goods to and from a loading dock. This raised part is where I want to model the interior. I constructed a raised from some 0.020" styrene, as shown in the photo on the right.
After gluing this assembly to the bottom floor part, I painted the whole thing with an "Aged Concrete" color.
Next, this assembly was glued to the bottom of the structure, shown here upside-down.
The photo below shows the completed interior from above. The parts are various cast metal parts that were painted, unpainted wood (obviously!), and one figure in the upper-right of the photo.
Another shot of the first-floor detailing.
The second floor of the structure will not have any details in it. To make the second floor "float" above the first floor, I decided to connect it to the roof panel. Also, after experimenting with the internal lighting of the first floor, I decided to build a raised ceiling section so as to move the lights further away from the details on the first floor. This is because the farther away the light source is from the target, the wider its dispersion. The interior lighting of the first floor is accomplished by three 5mm bright-white LEDs in series with each other and a 1000-ohm resistor (the power source will be a 12-volt supply line). The bluish tint of the LEDs will represent fluorescent lights in the building. The center block on the second floor styrene is the raised ceiling section wherein the lights will reside.
If you were inside the building standing on the first floor (where the details are) and look up, the photo below is what you would see. You are looking at the ceiling of the first floor. It has been painted with Floquil's "Rail Brown", purposely left "cracked" to appear aged. The LEDs have been installed (glued with 5-minute epoxy), and a toothpick has been superglued in place to make sure the LEDs are pointing straight down.
The other side of the styrene sheet (the second floor) and the underside of the roof panel were also painted "Rail Brown", and the roof top was painted with Poly Scale's "Steam Engine Black" (to represent tar). The whole second floor/roof assembly is shown here, ready for installation.
The interior of the structure is finally complete. Shown in the next photo is the interior lighting hooked up to some temporary power, and the second floor/roof assembly glued into place in the structure. Before I did this, I made sure to mark the speaker hole and the location of the light's wires on the diorama board. Its holes will be drilled later on, but having the structure open made it easy to mark off where they should go.
I went through my scrap boxes to find parts that one might find on the roof of a factory. Some I expanded on with some random parts that looked good, and some came from parts of kits I bought years ago.
Off to the paint shop I went. After several coats of paint, weathering with chalks and dry-brushing, and supergluing the parts to the roof, this is the result. The company is now officially called the "Woods Furniture Co."
I covered the roof with "gravel", applied with matte medium. The gravel is a combination of several fine ballast materials and scale coal cinders. Also shown in the next photo is the diorama base painted black.
I decided to build a wrap-around loading platform from scratch. The first step was to build the support posts that normally would be dug into the ground. I need to build and install those first before completing the scenery under the platform. Since I have a number of these posts to do, I started off by making a simple jig (shown here). The long posts will support the roof over the platform.
This next photo shows the parts of the platform supports. I made them from scale 8" x 8" posts and 2" x 4" cross beams. With the jig, and some careful manipulation while the glue was drying, making these sub-assemblies went surprisingly quickly.
The area under the platform has to be covered with some other color than black. I used Burnt Sienna acrylic tube paint. After the paint was dry, I installed the platform support posts with white glue.
The next photo is a close-up of the area under the platform. I glued some tall weed grasses and some foam bushes in the area. These represent un-checked growth under the platform. Then I covered the area with matte medium and sprinkled Arizona Rock & Minerals' Earth Sand.
I then installed scale 6" x 10" joists to support the platform boards. I also put some 2x4 cross braces on the front posts.
After installing the joists, I spent three days carefully gluing scale 2" x 6" boards onto the joists. I also stained and weathered the boards.
Before I put the platform roof on, and while I still have access, I decided to install some details on the platform. On the left side of the building I installed a park bench (for the employees to sit and eat their lunch), several drums, and an electrical device (hard to see in the photo). In the foreground you can see (from left to right) a pile of boxes just unloaded from a boxcar, an employee carrying a box into the building, a pallet with bags of something-or-another, two employees carrying bags into the building, a pile of junk/parts, and a wooden board leaning up against the platform. You might have also noted that I glued open doors in place. These were made from parts found in my parts boxes. I trimmed them to size, painted them, and glued them in position.
On the other side of the building you can get a better view of the side of the building with its bench and drums. In the foreground (from left to right) is an employee attempting to drag a large crate into position (I plan on adding a vehicle into which the crates are being loading), another employee getting ready to grab a chair, and four chairs. The chairs were built in the factory and are being loaded into a local delivery vehicle. These were made from a Gold Metal Models kit.
Some scale 4x6's were used to complete the roof support structure. This part won't be visible, so it just needs to be functional.
The roof will be made out of simulated corrugated sheet metal. I bought this material from Builders in Scale. It comes in scale 7-1/2, 10, and 14-foot wide panels. The 10-foot panel fit my structure perfectly.
The instructions that come with the parts are well-written and complete. I was going to follow the instructions and cut 26-inch wide panels, just like in the prototype, but after trying to cut one such panel, I gave up. It is very hard to cut without destroying the material. I decided to make the panels in one long section covering the entire roof section. I cut it using the method shown in the photo. I put a metal ruler down over the material and then several weights. A sharp knife is what's needed. It worked, without damaging the material.
I had read about this before, so I was looking forward to using PC circuit board etchant to weather the sheet metal. The needed materials are shown in this photo.
However, when I tried it, I found the process to be very unpredictable. Once I put the corrugated material in the solution, there was a very short window between it starting to react and it being totally eaten up. On the couple of test pieces I tried, the final appearance was just a black area on the metal. It decided to just weather the material using chalks. Much more predictable. With this last photo the loading platform is complete, as is the entire structure in and of itself. The platform took one month of my modeling time, and, although not perfect, I am happy with the result. The project is not finished, however. The next step will be to build another structure. One that allows the company to store large quantities of wood. Building this main factory building took me from October 19, 2006 to December 18, 2006.
The completed structure.