Jurgen Eichardt

Over the past five or so years I’ve picked up the series of books Jurgen Eicharrdt wrote on machining. His practice is centred around model ship building but his technique is very well suited to the small scale modeller. All four books in his latest series are in German but they are very well illustrated and anyone familiar with work of this nature will be able to follow along.


Eichardt is East German, built his own machine tools, has plenty of opinions and is a pretty skilled guy.

Here’s his website. Scroll down to see his evolving model of the USS Cassin Young.


One source of books – they’re also on the bay and amazoon.



The Italians Pt 1: Robin Renzetti

If you’re young enough and are interested in learning how to make mechanical items properly Robin Renzetti is the most talented person I’ve come across on the internet. His IG and youtube channels are the best I have seen in terms of execution, reduction of tasks to basics and overall creativity.  Truly a master.




The Italians Pt.2 : Attilio Mari

I think a lot of people have come across Attilio Mari’s models but maybe less so his Youtube exploits or the book that features his model production throughout the years. If you haven’t run across him, he’s an interesting character making very neat models. I’m a lover of continental electrification and his 1/32 scale models never disappoint.

His channel:



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If you can’t beat em make shit they’ll buy


reclining NBW

Reclining NBWs in 1:160th

I don’t like where model railroading ended up but I do have a lot of Gcode – enough that I recently acquired a down on it’s knees resin printer to make hay. At the moment the printer is barely operational enough to shrink test with but early prints hold promise. I am muddling through a homemade scanner/printer/lost resin setup independent of this printer for my agricultural/architectural modelling projects with the hope that they will compliment one another. Time will tell.

Above is the first print – well the second actually – the first was in an area of the build plate that is completely non functional. It’s a poor image but the little nubs are 1-1/8″ NBWs for a GN water tank hardware kit that I drew up ages ago. The square nuts are .013″ across, look hex to the eye, but are actually pentagonal owing to some artifacts and failing consumables.

If I can get through the testing phase unscathed I have GN/NP FT and geep dynamic brake kits, GN/NP switch hardware and PNW caboose shell kits that will be offered in N scale for sale on insta.

Historically my interest has been with the the GN three phase system and the late 50s/early 60s end time period and so that’s what I’ll be flogging at first. More recently I’ve been dabbling in outdoor 1:50 and 1:32 and have printed off shells for some of the Skagit River Railway electric locos in N scale but unless someone shows interest in that, I think that those tiny prototypes are best left to better, heavier and much more costly manufacturing techniques in proper materials. Resin printing is a cost effective way to get a decent Z, N or TT scale model shell of a wooden boxcar, caboose, or a larger boxcab for that matter, but there are limitations to the process that demand better.


Hell freezes over

I got asked to finish up a backdrop recently and so I dragged out the dollar store paints to see if I might be up to the task. Given how little I paint and how bad I am I decided to use one of those rough and cheap 24″ panels that Opus sells. That way, if I am too awful, I won’t waste any time prepping.

dry test blocked out crop

More or less blocked out.

As it turns out, I am pretty awful but likely/hopefully still up to the task. I  think with continued practice my draftsmanship will return somewhat and then I’ll just be fighting the acrylic. I draw very infrequently and almost never paint anymore but even at that I can tell that I should be using better materials for the finished job. Dollar store stuff is very inconsistent and in general a bad move when you don’t know what the next move should be. With decent materials you don’t get the haywire colour-shifting as the paint dries and there is some semblance of opacity.*  The way it looked wet versus dry meant I spent a lot of time repainting things and still ending up in no man’s land. It is kind of like drawing with an HB pencil. Someone with skill can do it – someone without can’t. I’m no Helnwein.

The image I worked from was taken near Wenatchee, WA, around the east end of Appleyard, so not too far from where the second sub ends. I chose the scene because it is similar in form and colour to the area I’d be working on at the other layout but I also wanted see what it would be like with a little omaha orange mixed in. Even with just a shell I think the colour combo is quite nice. Makes me think of the Wenatchee-Oroville or Mansfield branches.

*Even good acrylics colour-shift and are somewhat translucent – just not anywhere near to the degree being discussed here.









Some Felt

some felt grass

A bit of felt enhanced with yarn, paint, sawdust, jute and ground foam. Wet matte medium also features prominently.


I had a sprawling bit on using felt as a grassy material but I’m not sure I agree with all of what I wrote when I was putting the piece together. It’s been a while. The main take away is that felt is cheap. The material can also be teased up to represent leafy plants layered and nested along the fast growing right of way.


Crappy Little Tree

EDIT: This is an old, unpublished post that has sat around for a number of years.

So our local train show came and went. I didn’t participate much, just fun Friday ops at Coquihalla man’s KVR http://kettlevalleymodelrailway.blogspot.ca/ where I held down the Brookmere operator’s position and then two hours at the Craftsman’s Corner to close out the weekend. I’ve always loved the idea of live modelling on the floor of a general hobby show and petitioned the committee I was on to take up the idea but since we we’re pretty bare bones at the end and I was already tied up with BC RPM the task was left to the late Jim Peters to formally  set up an informal schedule of modellers for a table on the main floor of the Cameron Rec Centre.

This year, with Jim’s passing, Doug Hicks organized us into formation. For my part I went with an old standby and showed folks how to make leaves and forest floor from sifted sawdust and paint. In the hours before the show while I was going through my boxes of supplies I came across some conifers sunk in Styrofoam at the bottom of a box. This is one of the more  garish ones that I left home:

Crappy little tree. Too green, needs some trimming but about the right shape for a 20-35 footer with lots of exposure.

Crappy little tree. Too green, needs some trimming but about the right shape for a 20 footer with lots of exposure.

By itself the colour isn’t too distracting. The shape is decent for a young tree with plenty of exposure but there is still some trimming to go. I was aiming for something small and hemlockish  that had grown along the cut line beside the tracks. Dunno how successfully- but it satisfied some other criteria – hence the post. Much of the Great Northern mailine through the Cascades  was realigned during  1927-29 and again in the early 1960’s so the trees tended to be quite small in the era I’ve chosen and these 1 – 2.5 inchers are necessary in great quantities with plausible anatomy.

Fortunately they are quite easy to make. All you need is wire, yarn, spray adhesive, something to flock with and (spray) paint.

RIMG1595 EDIT (2)


The yarn I used is some synthetic stuff sold by Phentex at Michael’s. I believe it is intended for slippers. It happened to be brown and stays fairly straight when you unwind it. I have a tree winder but these armatures were twisted between a vise and a pair of pliers. For more substantial specimens a layer  of tape can be added to hold the lower fibers in place during winding but that adds too much bulk to small trunks. Loose fibers are applied to the top of the trunk with super glue and left to dry. Once dry you can thin things out with a small pair of scissors and start the branch forming process. Once painted the desired shade they stiffen up a bit and further refining can be done right through the flocking process. The little paper thimble is used to shield the tree top from excess spray adhesive or hairspray. Without some care the tops can become matted and lose the delicate features that make the tree airy. I tend to mange my scenery colour by airbrushing with fluid acrylics, shooting down from the top in most cases.

The armature stage goes pretty quickly, especially with a winder or lockwire pliers. Total finished time depends on what you want and how skilled you are at getting it. Nothing new there. In the finished state they’re suitable along a cut line and don’t distract too much from larger, more prominent trees with twisted loop branches.




Blog Update

The past few years haven’t generated a lot of posts. To clear up my wordpress ledger I’ve decided to dump some of the unpublished posts onto the blog. Most of it is boring but someone somewhere might find a particular item to be of interest.


NAMES 2017 rapidly approaching

I should be writing this from a T.H. in Barrie, Ontario, but I’m not. Events conspired to keep me on the West coast for the second time in three years. Hopefully next year… If by chance you happen across this wayward blog while you’re within 20 hrs of the Detroit area I’d strongly suggest making the trip. I’ve never been to a better model meet. Nothing comes close.


On the plus side I’ll have an extra weekend to get ready for Makerfaire, June 10-11.


Vancouver mini maker faire this weekend

Just putting it out there that the show is this weekend at the PNE Forum. BCSME  has three tables. I’ve commandeered one to run a small lathe and mill from. Not sure how that will go with two machines but I’ve got a bigger safety screen this time around so maybe I’ll work more and yack less.

See you there,