If you look closely at the photo, you can see a gap between the bottom of the main building and the top of the support structure. I want to close that gap as much as possible. The very center vertical H-columns of the support structure are longer than the outer perimeter ones. That is by design, and it is my plan to use those as the key supports and attachment points for the main building. I purposely made them a tiny amount too tall, so that I would be guaranteed that they would make contact with the plywood bottom of the main building. Now that it is time to paint the support structure, it is time to tackle this issue, and get the building to sit on the support structure as best as can be done.
With the main building set aside, I can now file down the tops of the center vertical columns so that the building sits flush.
The idea of filing down the center vertical posts worked to some degree, but I was very worried about the act causing damage to the model. So, after a while of doing this, I decided that I'd just glue a strip of styrene around the top of the support structure, and plan on filing it down later on to get the gap between it and the main building reduced as much as possible. I'll probably add some small shims to the tops of the vertical posts that are now too short. I am planning on using some fairly thick glue to attach the main building to the support structure, so that will offer some gap-filling abilities as well.
The next step in paint preparation was to remove the two plywood boards (visible in the photos above) which I was using as a stand-in for the future abutments. I had attached those to the module itself using a couple of drops of superglue. I decided to do that, so that the plywood stayed in place while I was constructing the incline on top of them, and hoping that just a quick blow with a hammer would break the superglue joint loose. So, when it came time to remove them, I did just that. However, apparently during the construction of the incline, some superglue I used in the actual construction of the incline dripped on to the plywood boards on the top, causing them to attach themselves to the incline. So, needless to say, when I hit the boards with the hammer, something had to give, and that turned out to be the connection points with the main part of the support structure, i.e. the tall open bay toward the left side of this photo. Luckily, it was a clean break at their glue joints, so I was able to re-attach the incline without any problems. Of course, with that done, the incline now floats in open space until I get the abutments installed, so I cobbled together a collection of wood from my parts box that just fit perfectly under the end of the include. I glued them together, and when dry, I used one drop of superglue to attach that wooden support to the module itself. This will support the incline during the painting process, while minimizing the amount of surface that cannot be painted. The end of the incline will be buried into the ground anyway, so it won't be visible.
Now comes the "fun" part; covering the entire module in painter's paper and tape. This photo shows the starting process of just covering the big open spaces on the top and the sides of the module.
The entire module has now been wrapped as a Christmas present, which is kind of funny as it is now Christmas time! Only the coal tipple support structure is exposed.
The area in the bays of the support structure was done by cutting strips of paper to fit the full length from the front to the back, taping those down, and then cutting strips that fit each bay's width individually and applying those from right to left (the photo is taken from what is the front the layout/module). This seems to create enough coverage to hide most of the concrete foundation blocks that the structure sits on. But, I will likely have to do touch-up painting after the whole thing is done.
This is a shot from the back of the module. The orange arrow points to a piece of wax paper I slid under the incline to hopefully prevent the painting process from "gluing" the incline to the temporary block of wood used to hold that end up.
It is New Year's Day, 2023, and I am finally ready to tackle the scariest part of this project, which is the painting of the support structure. I pulled down my foldable workbench in the garage, and started setting up my new experiment. On Amazon, I bought a rotating base, one that is big enough to handle the module and powerful enough to handle its weight. The module isn't very heavy, but it is rather bulky. Click the link to view my test video to see if this was a good position for it on my workbench. My module is four feet deep, and so I put my 4-foot level on the rotating base to make sure it cleared everything. This also give you a good idea of how slow and smooth this base rotates.
(external link: Testing Rotating Base)
The rotating base worked flawlessly and you can't hardly hear it. So, next, I put all sorts of painter's paper around the workbench to protect as much of the garage's content and walls as possible. I also covered the rotating base as much as I could, simply by placing a large section of painter's paper over its rotating top, which was attached with two strips of blue masking tape. I did this because I have additional plans for this base and I didn't want to it get any paint overspray. The fixed portion of the bottom of the base was covered by some blue masking tape as well. The power cord had to be taped down, too, because it tended to curl upwards, and I figured that that might interfere with the module's rotation. The idea behind using a rotating base was because the module has to be moved around while I am spraying paint in order for me to be able to get to all of its many angles and cavities. My thought was that the rotating base would make it a bit easier, so that I could concentrate on the painting, not necessarily on the constant rotating. Click the link to see the module spinning around, after I got it balanced and also cleared most of the obstructions.
(external link: Rotating the Module)
I decided to first apply a primer. I am showing a photo of the one I used, but it is probably not the best one for this particular task. Everything went well, but it is intended for metal surfaces and I am covering plastic. This photo is mostly just for my own records. Part of the reason for using this color is that it actually looks like rust, so if the final paint layer doesn't quite cover everything, this rust color will just add to the aged effect of the final model.
Lighting in the garage is pretty poor, but I was able to take this picture the next day after spraying the support structure. The spraying went well. I have a full-face painter's gas mask on, but the fumes were still getting to me, mostly because there is just so much surface that has to be covered in this complex model, so spraying took quit some time. The rotating base was a tremendous help. One of the features it has is that when you turn it off and then on again, it starts spinning in the other direction, which I found to be very helpful. The biggest issue I had was that as the paint went on wet, it has a shiny surface, which means it is hard to distinguish between wet paint and unpainted white styrene plastic under the poor lighting in the garage. I used an LED flashlight to help me find missed spots, but the next day (which is when I took this photo), I could easily spot some of the areas I had missed. I made a mental note of where they were, so that I could pay attention to them when I sprayed the final paint layer.
This was the spray-paint I used for the final color of the support structure. I had never used this paint before, although I have used their bottle paints before. I went for "Weathered Black" as that is, to my eye at least, a reasonably close match to what a structure covered in coal dust might look like. For this complex model, I used one full can and probably over half of this second can. I'm glad I bought two! Having to spend this much time spray-painting began to really hurt my finger, as the nozzle is a bit hard to depress.
I had initially intended to follow this up with a spraying of Testors Dullcote, but in the end I decided not to. One, the weather was getting colder. Two, I really wasn't enjoying the spraying process as far as the fumes were concerned. Three, the tru-color paint dried to a matte sheen, which is what I wanted. A structure shouldn't be under constant contact, so there is no real reason to protect it as such. So, the next day I removed the tape and paper from the module, and brought it back into the room. Overall, I am happy with the results. I was able to cover up the spots that I missed during the primer spray, and therefore spent even more time spraying the final paint color on day 2. But, I can definitely see spots where I can still see the primer. This is especially true for the very interior framing pieces, as it was hard to spray "through" the outside-facing frame members without having paint build up on them. Sitting down in the room and looking up at the model revealed more areas I missed, mostly under the incline. This is because I could not get the spray can under there. So, there will be a couple of areas that I will cover with some hand-painting. There were a couple of spots where some overspray got onto the concrete foundations, and most of the braces at the bottom of the vertical posts were not painted. I expected that, so I will be hand-painting those. This is something I can do at any time, so there is no hurry with them.