I’m Going To Need A Bigger Bench

by Feb 26, 2018Modeling Techniques, The Art of The Craft, The Modeling Conversation, The P48 Experience

Very large models have their own requirements for space and handling. I’ve done several posts about the International Harvester warehouse model I’m building and with the build finally drawing to a close, I wanted to share what I’ve learned.

Did I Mention It’s Big?
For comparison, this flat is nearly the size of a 24 x 48 inch suspended ceiling tile and it fills my main bench area (photo above). Because of the size, I built the flat in two sections so I could work at my bench and still have room to layout and cut materials and have my tools close by. This worked well but at some point the two halves had to come together so I could complete the brick sheeting across the joint. In retrospect, if I ever tackle another project of this size, I will set up a special work area to accommodate the model as a whole from the start.

Although I took care with the measurements, there were small discrepancies between the two halves. Truthfully, I would have been more surprised if there weren’t any at all. None of them were major or required special attention, they were more of an annoyance than anything. The lesson? You can never exercise enough care at the beginning of any project.

A big project like this can become overwhelming. The amount of work is deceptive and as always, I fought my urge to rush things many times. I’ve written of this struggle before, so won’t belabor it further. The fact I’m aware of this tendency and prepare for it is a good sign of personal progress as a modeler. Knowing your habits and shortcomings is the first step in overcoming them.

Because there are so many repetitive elements like the loading doors and windows, I treated both as separate projects. This helped with the sense of overwhelm and provided a feeling of completion when I finished a batch. Because of the previously mentioned discrepancies, I couldn’t mass-produce the window panels. Each one is essentially a custom fit, which required time and patience. To keep stress low, I only tackled a few at a time, setting myself the goal to finish one row within a set time frame of a few days. Each panel has five pieces to cut, pre-paint and assemble plus, a plain backing panel, so the work adds up with four floor’s worth of openings to fill.

In hindsight I could have pursued a number of simpler ways, such as making a master and casting the panels, and then fit the wall sections and pilasters accordingly. One of the joys of scratchbuilding is the learning process and the experience gained that you bring to the next model. I remind myself that craft is something you aspire to, not a destination you arrive at. In that sense nothing is wasted from mistakes.

Don’t spare the bracing

With so much length and height, bracing the building flat for stability is a prime consideration. Although it will never be seen, I spared no material on the back. Most of the primary bracing is simply styrene strips running horizontally and vertically and securely glued. These stiffen the building nicely and aid in positioning it on the module. Speaking of positioning the thing. I neglected to consider whether or not I could get the flat into the module as a single unit. Luckily, that’s not a problem at all.

Fortunately, the flat fits through the opening in one piece.

A large project like this involves more time and effort than you’ll ever anticipate. It seems like you’ll never finish the beast, as an endless chain of work and details keep cropping up. Eventually though the end does come into view and all the effort is worth it after all. The reward is worthy of the task.

As of this writing I still have window panels to fit and another, though much smaller building to build. There are numerous things like streetlights and other urban details to fit before I call the 13th and North E cameo finished. My deadline is fast approaching.