Friday, October 28, 2016

The Little Shed on The Prairie

Life is a strange thing and modelling isn’t an exception. For months, we used an old Revell stable as a mock up in Clermont to represent a small shed standing at the crossroad. Our intent was to replace the cheap plastic model with a fully scratchbuilt structure. However, as months went by, it was evident the Revell structure had the right size and right proportion for that spot. And thus, we decided to reuse it but slightly alter its appearance so it would be less recognizable and closer to what can be found in Charlevoix.

The Revell stable is typical of 1950s-1960s kits full of small cast on details. They were included back then to add a sense of realism to the structure, but in fact they made them less generic thus harder to fit a vast array of purpose. In fact, when you remove all these cheesy details, you find out a very basic and common wooden shed that can be found from California to Newfoundland.

In my case, a generic weather-beaten wood shed was required. Thus, I decided to replace the side walls full of cute door by windowless sides of wood planks. The new walls were made out of a 1.5 slab of styrene with irregular width styrene “planks” distressed with a metal saw blade. One fine aspect of the original structure was the rotten ends of the planks and I reproduced that very realistic effect on my new walls.

Modified Tichy windows were used to replace the crude openings left in the shed gables. Lance Mindheim always reminds people how oversized window details can kill a structure and I fully agree with him on that one.

As for the rood, the coarse wood shingle texture was covered with prepainted corrugated paper cut to size and glued with CA. As any realistic roofing job, it is labor intensive but the final result pay off.

Now, about paint and color there's a lot more to say. I've always been unsatisfied with traditional method to stain wood in such fashion it gets the weathered silver appearance seen on shed and barns all over the world. That finish is crucial to achieve if you don't want your building to look like a bunch of stained matches glued together.

I painted the parts with Krylon Camouflage tan color and weathered with a mix of thinned black and burnt umber artist oil paints. It always gives a nice weathered look. For a more greyish look, Harold Minky in RMC a few years ago advocated using a white base primer before applying the weathering solution for a silvered wood effect. If I'm not satisfied by my paint job under the layout lighting, I could use it.

Corrugated paper sprayed with metallic paint makes great roof metal sheets
The same word of advice applies for roof. Older galvanized roof loose their silvery appearance over time and get bleached. While looking again at Mike Confalone's Knox Farm building, you can see he got it right. So I had to fix up that detail too before weathering. Pictures posted here show the "brand new" galvanized look which can be useful for many other applications.

While you can live with some discrepancies, wrong colors may totally kill a model and you're better paying a good deal of attention to that. There ain't fool proof methods. Each project required some thought just like you do when weathering a car or a locomotive.

So we now have a nice dilapidated wood shed standing near the track just as we wanted. It’s always fun to reuse old structures and find them hidden qualities. Never underestimate how a good paint job can salvage many, many thing and bring out their best qualities.


  1. Wow that turned out really good...George Dutka

  2. Thanks George! It another proof very mundane things help to build a layout.

  3. Just wondering where you got the paper corrugated roofing, it looks great.....Don Janes

    1. I got it at Deserres, a largge art & craft retailer in Canada very similar to Michael's. It's sold in large sheets about 24" x 36" for a few bucks. Once painted on both sides, it can be easily glued without risking it to warp.