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One of my projects is realising a lifelong interest in US Model Railroading.  I'm assembling the pieces for a Santa Fe layout inspired by a Model Railroader Magazine Project from the 1980s: "The Washita & Santa Fe."  There's isn't a readily available kit for the wooden board and frame Combination Depot and Freight House I need, so I'm going to have a first attempt at scratchbuilding one as a Cakebox Model.  Hopefully it will look something like this:

 

50441163_Drawing1.jpg.bef7a3eb10ca59c7dc14ed81872344e9.jpg

 

I have drawings from MR Jun '83 for the larger #4 Standard Santa Fe Depot used in the MR project, but even though that was compressed from 140' to 80' it is still over 11" long, so this will be a shorter, trial version.

 

Plans for a smaller Depot were published in Model Railroader in Nov '79, along with an article about a lad who saved up the money from working on his family farm one Summer to buy that station when it closed (it was moved to the farm to house his model railroad).  Those plans are just under 40' sq. (5.5" in HO Scale).  It's not quite as I've drawn it here (there was no railside access door), but it gives me the key details I need to tackle.

 

In terms of my rubbish* modelling, the post-Christmas tidy-up has provided some card, festive boxes, an offcut of 6mm cork sheet and some MDF :

 

Picture1.jpg.450dc96d9c9c4e0a6acdf42ac1375bb5.jpg

 

Picture2.jpg.072e63febba4d458bc77884db5d189f6.jpg

 

I realise these could all be classed as standard modelling materials, but other than the cork, which is from a roll of domestic insulation I bought for track underlay, all are being 'repurposed' for this project (there was a pile of MDF pieces in the house when we moved in).  This is very much a test piece for me, but I'll see how I get on, Keith.

___________________________________________

(* if this idea works I hope that can be a noun, not an adjective)

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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As an aside for anyone thinking about Cakebox modelling for the first time, the diorama I built for the first round of the 2019 competitions was the first time I’d ever tried putting together a scenic composition A late beginner :

 

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The experience and encouragement I received gave me the impetus I needed to try more ambitious builds, including an HO station big enough that my Cakebox would easily fit inside it Union Station - an HO Diorama:

 

CAE09E0E-4B9E-479F-A505-A79EFD86F686.jpeg.613a6b117e5b0f3e7078fed67ee7b6ea.jpeg
 

and this industrial building for my proposed US layout:

 

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So do have a go...

 

 

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Day 1 Step 1 - Board all ready:

Just a reference photo for later as I don’t have an 8” Cakebox.  I’ve cut my baseboard to be approx. 7 7/8” x 7 5/8”:

 

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OK, I’ll admit I marked it out to be 7 7/8” sq. but made such a mess rushing one side that modeller’s pride had me recut it a bit smaller and straighter before taking the photo (hey, it was cold in the workshop) :rolleyes:

 

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Day 4 Step 2 (Part I) - Mark your card

Although I’m trying this build in card, it’s also a dry run for a planned styrene / plasticard version later.  As such, I’m not trying to design parts with folding tabs (Metcalfe style), but am using double layers of thicker card for the main shape.  I’ve had my first go at marking out some pieces this evening, starting with both ends (and a strengthening interior wall):

 

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I’ve decided to follow the Model Railroader plans which have the door on the side, to make it easier for me to transfer the measurements given.  I can’t show the plans here due to copyright, but what I hope to learn by breaking the build down into simple steps anyone can follow is that this kind of basic scratchbuilding is something even I can have a go at.

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Day 5 Step 2 (Part II)
Saturday is my day off, so a chance to do a bit more this morning - not much progress to share, but natural light is better for the photos, so I’ll put this up now anyway:

 

C2905650-183B-4C8E-99D7-5131B4EC43C6.jpeg.93322aa95bd9b7ab5faea1cb5c5e9baf.jpeg

 

The key point is I’m cutting out the windows and doorways before cutting the walls to size, so I have a better surface to place my steel rule on.  Cutting card dulls blades quickly, so I’ve put a new blade into the Stanley knife: fortunately I have some ‘in stock’.  I’ve measured the front and back walls to be 1mm lower than the ends to allow for the protruding overhang of the roof (see original drawing).  The tricky bits are next, especially the bay window, so there will be a gap before my next post.
 

Although I’m making this up as I go along, I think I’ve managed to avoid any mistakes so far - other than making my coffee this morning with some out of date Colombian Ground that tasted rather like, well, Colombian ground :rolleyes:

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Day 5 Step 2 (Part III) - Visiting the bay
Slight change of plan as I had more time today.  The bay window is the main reason for scratchbuilding the depot: Walthers do a fairly generic Union Pacific Depot kit with a square bay, and a very generic small country depot with a high pitched dormer roof, neither of which are distinctively Santa Fe.  So I’ve had a first go at cutting out the bay today after all, as I don’t know if the thicker card I have will work here (it came as box inserts in some packaging):


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I’m not planning to make the bay double thickness, and if it doesn’t work I can try a folded, thinner card instead.  To get the calculations right the trick seemed to be to start with a plan view, even though I don’t need one to cut to.  The diagonal roof profile that looks to fall short of the 25mm measurement shown is not a mistake - that’s the measurement for the overhanging dormer roof when I make it.

 

One thing I’ve not yet sourced is some good plastic packaging to use for windows (I’m committed to making it from rubbish).  In one sense that’s a good thing - it means far less plastic packaging has been in evidence this Christmas.

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Day 6 Step 3 (Part I) - And it was all yellow

While the packing card I have cuts nicely, I was a bit concerned as to how it would take paint, as it’s not sold as modelling card, so did a small test: 

 

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Top to bottom on the left: 

 

the card I’m using for the walls,

the shiny side of a cereal packet,

and the dull side of a cereal packet.  

 

All are painted with identical yellow paint (two coats).  I think this confirms my suspicions, so I’ve marked out an outer skin of card pieces using a Christmas Biscuits box, similar to the dull side of the cereal packet: that seems to work best for a ‘painted wood’ finish.  The good news is that none of my painted samples have curled when painted - and the top piece (the ‘wall card’) has been glued to double thickness too without trouble.  That’ll be all for this weekend.  Take care and stay safe, Keith.

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Day 7 Step 4 (Part I) - Windows upgrade

An unplanned free evening has given me some time to have a first think about the window frames I need.  Santa Fe Depots often used a distinctive sash window, with an upper panel of six small lights over a larger, lower panel of nine.  Window frames were white, with the surrounding woodwork in green.  I found a small piece of left-over glazing sheet from a Ratio kit, and while it was bought for railway modelling, I think this can count as rubbish:


D4D12015-F6D2-4361-A947-AD8A35F3C0ED.jpeg.b21c4b2c14a9a40806d495a740678e6f.jpeg

 

If I had a budget for this project I’d be looking to buy pre-cut HO Tichy window frames, and if times were different I’d be going to a coffee-shop for some stirrers (and a Latté), but without any strips of wood lying around I’ve resorted to using paper for convenience.  My first attempt involved cutting out individual small squares - total failure:

 

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Attempt 2 involved individual narrow strips of paper glued behind the card wall.  It took a while to realise the absence of edge pieces was the problem - I’d painted the card wall edges white, but not given the window frames an edge.  Unfortunately I’d glued the inner wall behind the windows before I realised, so I had to make new walls - second failure:

 

54463036-5574-4B80-90E2-32D4B6C62674.jpeg.04695c54be7c4975e0462332e4b0b813.jpeg

 

Attempt 3 has been more successful - I cut a single paper template with holes for both windows that were each 1mm narrower than the holes in the card (along all edges), then placed longer strips of paper across both windows:

 

27A78169-2F4D-47AC-A8EB-16D52E4DE070.jpeg.5f8869534eed86e250885e2516715bc3.jpeg

 

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They’re not perfect - the wider piece that is supposed to show the join between the upper and lower panels isn’t very distinctive, but as this is the rear wall of the depot I think it will pass a ‘good enough’ test at normal viewing distance:

 

EABA9277-67E0-4484-B680-96A324894B65.jpeg.0ec9b1f5082420ceb0cab9259922f677.jpeg
 

I’m sure there are better ways of doing this - with more time, skill and patience traditional matchsticks could be used, for example, but hopefully the overall effect will look OK when I’ve finished.

 

Edit: after looking again with fresh eyes this morning, I’ve added an extra piece across the middle of the windows to simulate the separate upper and lower sash arrangement:

 

73CABE6C-5FAB-407D-8346-6086A2479D24.jpeg.1061ce0bf85d6026e6a2e4ca30750d32.jpeg

 

I also checked the size of a match: it scales to around 7” square: too big for either a window frame or the battens I need to add to the walls, although I think I’ll be able to get away with using matches to support the loading dock.

 

While I’m experimenting like this, and finding my limitations, I think it makes sense to continue assembling the rear wall of the depot first, where my mistakes will be hidden.

 

The main thing I’ve learned so far is just how much respect is owed to the more experienced scratch builders who do such a fantastic job of inspiring us.  Hats off to all, Keith. 

 

 

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
(Additional photo and comment)
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Keith it will all look good once the rest of the building progresses. I have respect for the guys and girls who produce some excellent card kits.

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1 hour ago, Wrenn said:

Keith it will all look good once the rest of the building progresses. I have respect for the guys and girls who produce some excellent card kits.

 

Thanks Kevin - good point about the card kits too, I agree 100% that the ingenuity and standard of kits today is incredible, both ready printed and downloadable.

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Keith, your making excellent progress with using the items you have to hand. You must have already hit the requisite 2 items of 'rubbish' already and your concept already covers the railway elements, so your well on the way.

Keep the updates coming Keith, this is just the early stages of a soon to be splendid Cakebox entry.

 

Mark

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22 hours ago, Wrenn said:

Keith it will all look good once the rest of the building progresses. I have respect for the guys and girls who produce some excellent card kits.

 

20 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

 

Thanks Kevin - good point about the card kits too, I agree 100% that the ingenuity and standard of kits today is incredible, both ready printed and downloadable.

 

12 hours ago, MAP66 said:

Keith, your making excellent progress with using the items you have to hand. You must have already hit the requisite 2 items of 'rubbish' already and your concept already covers the railway elements, so your well on the way.

Keep the updates coming Keith, this is just the early stages of a soon to be splendid Cakebox entry.

 

Mark


Day 9 Steps 3 and 4 (Part II) - Hiding round the back

Thank you for the nice comments and encouragement: hopefully I’ll live up to expectations.  The next photo does look promising I think: 

 

1FDC31F8-44E0-4C15-95A1-33C78113FF49.jpeg.9cd284efa41c05bce015cfddabb98e2e.jpeg

 

I’ve added some thin card strip battens along the rear wall of the outside layer ready for painting.  The windows and rear layers are not yet glued in place, but this mock-up looks OK to me: the paper window frames don’t look too thin, and there is some degree of texture / profile to the whole thing (the traditional problem with commercial card kits).  The battens aren’t perfect, but I’ll see how they look when painted.  Onwards and upwards, Keith.

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Keith the texture looks great and once painted it will look just right. A little weathering here and there will bring it to life.:D

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Day 9 Step 4 (Part III) - New Windows

I’m jumping about a bit, as I had an idea.  The windows on the side of the Depot will be more visible than those at the rear, so I’ve tried what I hope will be a better window.  Using card rather than paper, I tried a two part frame (for each window) - I marked out a full length frame first, then carefully cut a separate square piece to glue in front of it to represent the upper sash:

 

527A813A-7FCF-4250-8315-61A153922107.jpeg.10c0ccf3f920c50e9df1f48aef4b757d.jpeg

 

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I used paper for the thinner parts of the frame between the smaller lights, but the overall effect seems to work:

 

502A7E43-47D3-4E83-98A9-8B9A84F309BF.jpeg.f3e21893426e0d4f487a439a51d352e6.jpeg

 

I then glued the thick card inner wall behind it all - I won’t know until tomorrow how well this has stuck (as the card ‘sandwich’ between the inner and outer walls is thicker than the paper one on the rear wallow the Depot I tried first).

________________________________________
 

I’m not very accurate when it comes to marking out and cutting, and I’m making more mistakes than I should.  I’m happy to be advised of better techniques, but there are four steps I’ve found seem to help minimise errors:

 

4665E48F-77EE-494C-99B0-520843CCD773.jpeg.f9dfed8a19d52d3f5c3b8938f3b8eb05.jpeg

 

1.  Mark out measurements as far either side of the piece I want to cut as possible: that way any mismatches between either side are minimised across the bit I’m actually cutting.

2.  When cutting ‘outside edges’ start and end the cut beyond the piece I want.  I do use a steel rule as a guide, and make several gentle cuts rather than one deep one.

3.  When cutting ‘inside edges’ I try and work in from each corner: after making the four cuts shown in my diagram, I then make four more the other way (turning the card clockwise) so I am always cutting from, not into, the corners.

4.  (Not on the diagram).  I’ve found scissors better at cutting 1mm strips of card and paper for battens than a knife.  Even using the knife carefully, there is a tendency to tear the layers of cereal packet card, which scissors avoid.

 

I have no idea if these are recommended techniques for cutting card, but they do seem to be helping me give it a go.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Would just like to point out that you've accidentally named your American layout after an American home improvement store. Thought it was going to be a layout built out of only hardware store materials, at first! heh.

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9 hours ago, Pokemonprime said:

Would just like to point out that you've accidentally named your American layout after an American home improvement store. Thought it was going to be a layout built out of only hardware store materials, at first! heh.


Correct, but it may not have been an accident :rolleyes::

 

1E22F676-F54D-4F37-9CF0-5B099D339CCE.jpeg.299523ecabb382c4df9dd265a76cee3d.jpeg

 

I hadn’t thought of making a model just from leftover Home Improvement materials though.  I won’t run out of card...

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Day 12 Step 3 (Part III) - Getting the painters in

The layout I’m working towards will be set in 1970, by which time I think Depots like this would have been painted mainly in cream.  I’m painting this in a more colourful, older livery.  This is my first attempt, on the rear wall:

 

B063F0E5-69D5-42D2-89BE-32795076D154.jpeg.8af2f716661468452099e5fbead38c2a.jpeg

 

The yellow paint leaves a thin layer, so while it would have been helpful to rub out my pencil marking line, the upside is that it almost weathers itself.  The green may be a bit dark - it’s a very old tin of Humbrol I think I’ve had for twenty-five years!   Windows are not yet glued in place - this is just to see what it looks like, and I’m more than happy with this: the score lines on the bottom panel have come out OK.

 

The yellow is actually a bright Humbrol gloss bought for a Dapol kit of Stephenson’s Rocket I made five years ago, when I was getting back into kit building with the help of my local Model Shop:

 

8FD0D071-CD4B-4D36-9785-7F4F6760C27B.jpeg.6d855348ec687e17607fe440e6b89a6b.jpeg

 

The Airfix version my Dad made when I was a kid used to come in bright yellow plastic - the Dapol one comes in plain grey recycled plastic.  I found the Dapol rolling stock kits to be are excellent value for money, and fun to build.  Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Day 13 (Now out of step) - Un sacapuntas

It’s good to see some more cakebox build threads starting up.  A build thread is not a requirement of course - nor is an RMweb account: the World of Railways website has details for cakebox modelling too.  And there’s still plenty of time to get going (it’s fun, so do give it a go if you can).

 

At this point I should perhaps introduce the real hero of this particular project however: apparently the Spanish word for ‘pencil sharpener’ is: Un sacapuntas.  As I’m using regular pencils for marking out, I’m also using my sharpener a lot:

 

3355EFAB-B8FF-433B-A281-89F61E6D3D75.jpeg.2e0966dadd3b3ba6aa89dc812aacbb32.jpeg

 

Progress this weekend has been a mixture of Step 3 (walls), Step 5 (doors) - that’s the start of the loading bay door above, and Step 6 (loading dock).  Here is the loading bay door in position.  The top layer for the loading dock has been painted and scribed to represent wooden planking:

 

C2981787-1357-44E7-8FB1-0A063581815B.jpeg.8f3fb28d32d6a7eaa07cd42b22ac192d.jpeg


One of the mistakes I’ve already made was to glue solid the two layers of the end wall at the passenger end of the depot (to hold the window frames in place) before making the door that was also supposed to go in between the two layers.  I’ve therefore built it up in layers to compensate for this:

 

4DA53C43-AC57-4875-9CFD-D1C25A58073E.jpeg.3002d882c192a78f2a28d70fa1449bb5.jpeg

 

The only modification I had to make was to thin the narrow frames for the lights above the door: they look a bit too much like bars across the window above:

 

7E8B2BF8-E246-484E-B6FB-EFC5285F22B5.jpeg.d1149669eab71d68ce98902d20bfe278.jpeg

 

The doorstep could do with an extra layer of card to make it stick out a bit from the bottom of the frame - it is a separate piece (the longer strip in the previous photo.  I also need a door handle of course.
 

By way of comparison, these are doors for a OO Ratio Station I painted last year (note to self - must finish that kit sometime):

 

854C2D23-A744-41CA-81B6-7A5F93785B44.jpeg.746f4508e66b6292a87a45b2423f4bd2.jpeg
 

Given my Depot door began life as a mince pie box probably made from recycled card, I’m happy enough: it’s rubbish, but not that rubbish :unsure:.  


I need to carry on with the doors and walls when I get a chance, but these will just repeat what I’m doing so that’s all for now.  Stay safe, Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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I hope everyone is staying safe and well.  I should first of all acknowledge the very generous prize offered by @jrb’s JSModels for the competition element of the Cakeboxing: worth more than £1 per square inch of modelling!  (and do check out the Haigh Sidings micro layout thread here on RMweb too, it’s very impressive).  Back at my end of the scale...
 

Day 19 - Trying mature modelling

My search for plastic packaging to use for windows in the doors ended in the kitchen after a cheeseburger meal:

 

AB8BC5A4-647E-47CB-ACA8-DA5B21479CE6.jpeg.5b68c7e5fea5845905c3c314e757def7.jpeg

 

I’ve been eating mature cheese for years...but it hasn’t worked yet :rolleyes:.   Anyway, once washed, the rear of this is flat enough (and not too clear).  Glue takes a bit longer to stick, but I only need some small slices for the door lights (Step 5).

 

Progress this morning meant continuing Step 3 Walls and Step 6 Loading Dock.  I decided not to try fitting each batten to length on the end walls - it’ll be easier to cut them to size when the walls are finished.  Photo 2 shows my low-tech painting kit:

 

B7F7B6ED-8F5E-42F4-A25C-706C37056EAC.jpeg.0af73fc47a4d74909017f78bdef64b9f.jpeg

 

9FCB6BDC-4CF8-484A-AEEB-2B0771498536.jpeg.4c95d8dd129c9ea54ba44efd61ea2ad5.jpeg

 

The magnifying glass is very useful.  I’ve left the left hand end of the front wall until the bay window has been sorted.

 

Glueing the top layer onto the loading dock reveals the well-known problem with card modelling - white edges (I include the photo as this is often referred to as an issue with card kits - it’s not the kit, it’s the card):

 

7FB79DCA-632E-41A4-B828-27993B778170.jpeg.e1f167b6c44000408c34f9d15fb303d5.jpeg

 

To weather the top of the loading dock I gently sanded the surface (to show wear), then dabbed some grey acrylic paint onto some areas using a scourer that had been headed for the bin (to add a hint of colour variation):

 

50B1DB47-3D40-4A79-A50D-523D8FF1D0AD.jpeg.6fcc349741293c32315e00566e08f88b.jpeg
 

There’s nothing new or sophisticated in this - but it’s my first attempt, and so far it’s going better than I expected.

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Day 20 - while it snows outside

The Study  is needed for other things this afternoon, so there’ll be no painting or gluing after lunch, so here’s the rest of my progress this weekend:

 

The sliding baggage room door on the front of the depot is different to the one on the side, so is made a bit differently:

 

6811372C-B163-4914-9792-5BC0C77E42DF.jpeg.3e46701ed83e80b1374ae45dab4094d2.jpeg

 

The pencil-drawn lights in the windows are just to check the proportions look OK.  I then made a double layer frame:

 

6227F058-160F-43D6-850E-FE3B58AB484F.jpeg.04f20892b6568d4df5e5c70dcfaa93f7.jpeg:

 

I also made a start on the bay window, marking out some internal bracing / formers.  By marking them at regular intervals, I ended up with five, so could pick the three that were most accurate:

 

23341F41-1ACC-478F-B2B6-1F4A1D2B9816.jpeg.8b29aa380f368cfdb7a34adcdfc355fd.jpeg

 

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It all comes together (so far) like this:

 

0C3E1EE8-6408-4B69-8B10-52E4DA86C47C.jpeg.84b27227e12a794c274bb9dbd849c2ed.jpeg

 

Although each window / door is taking some time, I only need a handful for this small depot - it would be a different proposition if I were making a bigger model, like the 71 windows I counted when I made a Metcalfe Brewery a couple of years ago:

 

05D11DC3-DE7D-46C0-980F-DCA7056B0D02.jpeg.1bd16456288a81ab1f52c9323aa33ec2.jpeg

 

I’m not sure I’d have the patience to build so many layered window frames - hats off (once again) to those who do scratchbuild such structures, Keith.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Day 26 - A visit to the bay

US lineside Depots typically had a bay window trackside for the Station Agent’s Office.  Agents would pass on written telegraph train orders from centrally located Dispatchers to the Train crews.  Bay windows gave Agents a better view of approaching trains.  Santa Fe Depots had a standard diagonally sided Bay Window - other railroads often used square sided bays.  It’s the most detailed part of the model: the sub-assembly in this photo already has 21 separate pieces of card in it, with 6 more also shown waiting for the paint to dry!  This doesn’t include the windows themselves of course, which I’m hoping to tackle tomorrow:

 

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I don’t need the whole of the outer layer in the piece top right - it was my first attempt and the sides needed to be a bit longer to cover the joint with the wall.  It is an advantage of using rubbish card as a building material that I could just make another one!  As it will actually be a dummy bay window on my model, I’ve painted that section of wall dark grey to block any light:

 

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There’s along way still to go, but bit by bit I think I’m still on course,  Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Day 33 - The last of the Yule Log

I’ve fallen a bit behind my (informal) schedule, but have finished the bay windows with the last of a Yule log box this morning:

 

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This will now be left to dry for the rest of the day (glue and touch up paint).  There are over 40 individual ‘components’ including the windows!

 

 

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52 minutes ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

I’ve fallen a bit behind my (informal) schedule ...

 

...


There are over 40 individual ‘components’ including the windows!

 

Somehow, I suspect that few of us have so far made as much progress as we intended to.

 

Sometimes, this will have been due to external factors - sometimes because we found unexpected snags with what we were planning to do. For most of us, I suspect this is a mix of both (certainly is for me - but the less said ...).

 

As you've commented, it doesn't take long before the "parts count" on these builds starts to get frightening - and sometimes it isn't just the number of pieces.

 

I dread to think how many window pane openings you will have cut by the time you finish your build. Something similar is causing a bit of a roadblock with my build - however much you might be able to simplify the glazing, all the apertures still need to be cut in walls / bodyshells. The time to cut them all mounts up - the time to get them all looking consistent really mounts up!

 

Anyway, what you've built so far is looking good (and rather more complete than my build). I look forward to seeing progress.

 

 

Regards,

 

Huw.

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Thankyou @Huw Griffiths for the encouragement - fortunately for me the bay windows should be the last ones I have to do: to fit the cakebox dimensions this is the smallest of the standard Santa Fe designs (#1).  I must admit I’m having second thoughts about my original plan to follow this build with another one (using plastic add / styrene) for a much larger #4 version, for exactly that reason!  Good to hear you’ve started a build - I hope you’re enjoying it despite the snags.
 

Another group of modellers this exercise has made me think about are those wonderful souls able to produce some of the fantastic models we see in 2mm scale!  My first railway was in N Gauge 40+ years ago, but I don’t think I could go back there now.

 

I’ve had some more time to make a bit more progress this morning:

 

Day 33 (part 2) - Match of the Day:

 

With the main sub-assemblies coming nearly done, my thoughts have turned to assembling them (this is where the gaps in my modelling will start to show - literally!).  I’ve added some used matchsticks to strengthen the corners:

 

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The middle inner wall has two more matches on the other side.

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