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al. This is especially true when apply- ing individual shingles or boards to a model. Use the solvent sparingly. The thinner cross-sections we tend to use may also be more prone to taking on a little bend where the solvents change the molecular structure of one surface and not the other. (I should probably stop writing this and call Dr. Wayne Wesolowski and get the real dope, but he’s probably in the middle of teaching his chemistry class.) Plaster buildings, even though they tend to have thicker wall sections, still need bracing on the inside, if for no other reason than to give additional gluing surfaces. “No other reason?” Plaster is brittle and needs braces in the worst way! I know this from per- sonal experience. Also, sealing all sur- faces of the plaster is a requirement, not so much for preventing warping, as it is to make the surface paintable. For any of these materials, taking on moisture is the enemy, and that should be taken into account when designing their construction methodology. We will get deeper into material choices next month. Let’s take a look at some of the physi- cal properties of strip stock (both styrene and wood). Try to bend it. Which bends easier,

¹/₈″׳/₁₆″? In the ¹/₈″ direction they bend equally, but in the wider, ³/₁₆″ side, it does not bend as easily. This is a pretty simple concept, but did you know that ¹/₈″×¹/₈″ stock will bend easier than ¹/₈″×¹/₁₆″? It is the “rectangularity” of the stock as much as the size that deter- mines just how flexible it will be. In our world the stiffness of the strip stock de- termines the strength of the wall. We all tend to seek a comfort zone with the building materials we choose to work with, where expedience has taught us what works and what does not. Over the years, I seem to have set- tled on ¹/₈″׳/₁₆″ stock for most interior bracing for O or S scale work. The HO

¹/₈″×¹/₈″ or

buildings I make tend to use ¹/₁₆″×¹/₈″ for the most part. When the models get really big, I go to ¹/₈″×¹/₄″ in O and S, and ¹/₈″׳/₁₆″ in HO. I have never done any building in N or Z, but I think the HO sizes would work. Regardless, the basic premise is that the thinner the wall stock, the more bracing is required. As the model gets smaller and small-

er, the braces become a greater and greater percentage of the model. The size of the bracing becomes a factor when it begins to interfere with the ad- joining wall. The smaller the wall, the less robust the bracing need be. Out- houses are pretty small as structures go, even in O scale. Southwestern Col- orado in the World War II era was an outhouse modeler’s paradise. There were a lot of them, since indoor plumb- ing was yet to manifest itself there. I started out modeling those privies in the standard way with scribed wood, and strip stock bracing. It was a pain where one sits because they were so small. I can only imagine the troubles of modeling these icons of the past in the smaller scales. The bracing was required to be thin, and, sure enough, Northern Illinois humidity did its evil work. They warped, and not just a little, they be- came an embarrassment and now reside in a landfill. Lately, I’ve taken to making those diminutive structures out of a sol- id chunk of wood overlaid with individ- ual basswood planks. I hacked a chunk of 2″×4″ down to about 1¹/₄″×1″, a good three feet long. I then diced them (about a dozen) to size with an appropriately angled roof. That roof, being made of styrene and tarpaper, was attached with cyanoacrylate to the tops. Warp now, you @$#^&!’s!

Northeastern Scale Models makes an interesting product called corner stock. It comes in ³/₃₂″ and ¹/₈″ sizes. It is mated, twin-milled square stock that the wall stock attaches in such a way that forms both a corner post and inte- rior corner brace, all in one strip of

wood. This product addresses the cor- ner problem quite nicely as long as you remember to keep the roof pitch in mind when crafting the mating walls. Any bracing will have to be engineered to mate in such a way as to let the roof lay down snugly on all the walls. Bracing often provides additional glu- ing surface. Where the braces are flush to the edges, make sure the final sanding procedure does not “round” the edges. Make sure your sanding block is really 90 degrees to the wall. A NorthWest Shortline “True-Sander” is a handy tool. Walthers and Micro-Mark both handle them, as do most hobby shops. Another way to maintain that all-important nine- ty degrees is to use small right triangles of stock at the floor and upper wall. By the nature of our railroads, the most visible part of our empire is the roofs of our models. Warping in the roof will be the first thing noticed and will detract greatly from the effect we are trying for. Roofing material should be thin enough to be believable and there- fore requires the most care in bracing. The walls themselves contribute great- ly to the roof maintaining its proper shape but need a little help to keep everything

straight and true. On

smaller buildings, just a few sticks un- der there will do the trick. Larger buildings will require a little more ef- fort to help maintain the proper pitch. Still, they may need to be even closer to their prototypes and make use of actu- al roof trusses.

Trusses can be crafted in a fixture and mass produced. Where there are large door openings, as in the case of an enginehouse, prototypical centers may be appropriate. For other, less-visible in- teriors, wider spacing will be fine. Some of the bracing we need to use is highly visible, like eaves brackets and porch roof supports. These serve as visual as well as structural supports on small ex- terior roofs. Other braces and supports that perform the dual role of visual and functional are the joists under a plat- form. Use prototypical dimensions and centers and your model will look (and be) fine. Just throw some of that brain power into the mix, and all your work will remain straight and true.

Roof trusses (above) can be made in fixtures for uniformity. They will prevent warping in the roof. For model privies (right) solid blocks of wood are used with plank overlays.


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