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Polystyrene Materials Packs - your thoughts and Advice - Materials & Tools. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed May 19th, 2021 07:43 pm
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Colin W
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I'm looking to take on some new scratch built construction projects # and before starting wanted to consider the merits of using Wills PS sheets (which I know are very popular) or the printed papers on card approach which I've used so far.

Clearly you can go a long way with the latter, look no further than Granby Hotel and many others but what factors might sway me to shifting to the PS Sheet approach at least for some projects.  

This is a clean slate, please share your thoughts and all input will be appreciated.
  • Texture of course is one factor that's in favour of Wills but does it really matter when close up photography is not an objective for me?
  • Ease of construction is another I'm interested to hear about. 2mm PS sounds like tough work to cut and shape. Is it really?
Colin

# Under the heading "Project Green Light" if you get my drift.







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 Posted: Fri May 21st, 2021 10:12 am
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Petermac
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I think "texture" is the key to plasticard Colin - and the speed of construction.

You can bond plasticard vitrutally instantaly whereas card takes time to stick. Then there's the painting !!

Wills is not the easiest material to cut - particularly with windows and the like but then, nor is 2mm card.  Of course you don't have to use Wills - there are other "more manageable" plasticard manufacturers although I'm not sure how many product "kits".

I've used both and in terms of texture, no contest - Wills wins hands down every time.  If you're good with paint, then fine but, if you're like me, let someone else do the colouring for you ...............Mr Wiffen is very good at it .........

Some well built card kits, Scalescenes for example, are superb and, from normal viewing distance, it can be really hard, if not impossible, to tell there's no texture but I think you have to be a bit careful you don't create a layout built with the same buildings as everyone else ............  A bit of kit bashing is the order of the day.  John's hotel is a prime example.  It would have been really hard to make that from Plasticard but then again, look at the hotel on the Liverpool Lime Street layout....................

My vote would have to go to card but mainly because I'm not Rembrandt ............



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 Posted: Fri May 21st, 2021 06:36 pm
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I agree with everything Peter has said, so won't repeat it.  Texture alone is not convincing, it needs the right painting to make it realistic but if you can get that, then it is great. Cost definitely plays a part for me.  Card is relatively inexpensive, so mistakes are not too costly..... not so true with plasticard.  And plasticard sheets are not always of sufficient size, so there are visible joins to deal with.  
I think it is received wisdom that you don't mix media, but I think it works fine to mix card and plastic, if you do it carefully, especially if you are scratchbuilding.  This scene is made from card with paper covers, plastic, resin, white metal and plaster in and between the different buildings, but I don't think it is glaringly obvious. (Not to mention the annoying wooden roof beam!)  However, construction at the front of the scene has the texture, while those at the rear are card (except the one at the very back, between the two warehouses is from Linka moulds, in resin, not that you would know from the photograph.  And that may be the point).



I have also used Jarvis embossed sheets which are larger and thinner and easy to work with, but the detailing is not as good as Wills and I found it much harder to get a realistic paint finish.  But then, like Peter, I am no Rembrandt  Nor Lowry.  In fact my 4 year old granddaughter gives me a run for my money on the painting front.

Wills is not the easiest to cut, but nor is it overly difficult.  But it is quite unforgiving.  As Peter said, windows and doors are the trickiest bits.  Straight cuts are easy, a deep score and then snap apart.  I do find my steel rule likes to wander a bit though, but that may just be me.

Laser cut MDF is another option which I haven't tried yet, although I am just starting to learn the software with a view to having a go in the future, but you can buy scratch building sheets, with the bricks scored in.  Painting seems a breeze too but then those pesky "how-to" videos always make it seem like that!

John's hotel shows just how good, and flexible, card building can be (and Chubber's cutting mat always has the most exquisite card modelling) but there are plenty of examples of superb plastic modelling, so I guess it depends on the relative skills.

One final thing I would suggest is that it isn't really the walls that make a building convincing.  Good quality windows, guttering and pipework, a convincing roof and other details can be far more important - it's as if the eye ignores the main features and focusses on those details to make a model look like a building, and that is something I still need to work on.

And a final, final point, practice is more important than the media.  When I look back at my first scratchbuilding efforts, I cringe, but thankfully members here were most encouraging (and polite!) so I kept going.  I dare say I will look back at my current efforts with a bit of embarrassment in the future.... unless I have reached my peak!

I hope some of this is useful and i don't mean to teach egg sucking....

Regards

Michael



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 Posted: Fri May 21st, 2021 07:17 pm
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Colin W
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Thx Petermac, Headmaster,

both are highly constructive inputs (sorry no pun intended :( ).

I think you both appreciated that my question was posed purely for scratch building as opposed to kits or kit bashing but I just wanted to clarify the point for others.

Peter, you mentioned other molded PS sheet sources and I note 3 poll respondents have chosen "other". I'm not aware of these sources / manufacturers so some names would be appreciated. (Jarvis noted; thx)

I do use Evergreen PS materials and they have "modern" material surfaces AFAIR. I'm primarily interested in old stone, older brick, tiling and timber surfaces to suit 1930s rural England, and specifically buildings with character. Much as I've already used on Westown-Heathfield.

Any sources for window frames etc will be appreciated.



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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2021 07:39 pm
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Colin W
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In starting this topic, I'd completely forgotten about Slater's Plastikard as another PS option. So far I've 2 votes under "Other" and am interested in Members' personal views on Wills vs Slater's / others.

I can see they're quite different, 2.0mm Wills vs 0.5mm Slater's so would require different construction techniques but aside from that aspect, any comments? For example, I'd vaguely remembered John Flann favouring the Slater's stone sheets for their texture in various walls and buildings and a quick check back confirmed he'd used those products in many of his scratch builds.

I've changed topic title to better reflect my inquiry's purpose.



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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2021 09:08 pm
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Ssamm
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Good morning

As very much a novice, I have tried a few different materials.

I enjoyed working with Plasticard. It was easy to cut and glue. And the texture is very good. But I just cannot master the painting. Enamels don't like me and the feeling is mutual. I am finding acrylics much more convenient. Airbrushing give the best result but I am still learning. Is there a self -cleaning airbrush?

Scalescenes sheets are the best of the downloaded sheets.

Metcalfe put out sheets under what they call the 'Building Materials'. I have tried a couple of test projects where I use Metcalfe sheets over a Scalescenes shell. The advantage of this is that I am not reliant on my drafting skills and the windows line up! I agree with Peter. They are scalescenes kits are easy to kitbash and my 'library' of scalescenes files means I can usually find at least a good starting point and mix and match. 

I was quite happy with the result. The lesson with Metcalfe is to make sure you have enough to finish a project. I have been caught with the printing being quite different between batches.

I have not tried the Wills sheets because of the thickness and difficulty that makes cutting

Cheers
Evan

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 Posted: Sat Jun 5th, 2021 09:30 pm
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Colin W
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Ssamm wrote: Good morning

As very much a novice, I have tried a few different materials.

I enjoyed working with Plasticard. It was easy to cut and glue. And the texture is very good. But I just cannot master the painting. Enamels don't like me and the feeling is mutual. I am finding acrylics much more convenient.
I have not tried the Wills sheets because of the thickness and difficulty that makes cutting

Cheers
Evan

Hi Evan

thx for the feedback. To help with your painting issue here is my solution.

My "go to" product on PS had been the Vallejo Acrylic primer, at $9 for ~14ml it's fine for tiny fine models but expensive for larger areas - especially as you sometimes need 2 coats.

Rooting around in my shed, I discovered I had some surplus (and exceedingly old) Dulux All Surface Primer. It's long been my habit to run my excess acrylic paints into glass screw capped jars (old Mayo jars are good, large and wide necked). This way, stored in a cool place it seems to last "for ever".

Initially I was looking for a metal primer and the Dulux product was labelled as such. It's high in Zinc Phosphate so great for priming Galv and other metals etc. so I tried it out on some whitemetal components. It worked fine giving a very good fine cover by brush.#

So I thought why not try the PS and the other plastic sheet used in my WC&PR kit builds. As you'll see on that Topic, the results of the paint jobs were fine (IMO), given it was all hand brushed. It has both very good wetting and coverage even on the highly hydrophobic PS smooth surfaces.

# when compared to the Vallejo product it is possibly slightly less fine but was perfectly adequate on broad area and uneven surfaces




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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2021 07:51 am
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Longchap
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I’ve tried to vote in the poll, but for reasons unknown to me, it doesn’t want to play!
 
My vote would be Other for building stock and structures and styrene sheet and sections are my preference, as it’s what I’ve always used and it is very easy to work with, using the appropriate tools.
 
As for painting, it’s not the paint you use, it’s how you use the paint and that’s just a matter of gaining experience and developing technique, whether using paintbrush or airbrush. As a much younger person, the only available model paint was enamel, so I used it on everything and accepted the results, which at the time, I found reasonably okay. As a returning person of the third age, I now use both types and am very happy with results for enamel with air and paint brush and acrylic with the appropriate paintbrushes.
 
I was a complete acrylic novice a couple of years ago, but each subsequent building turned out better than the rest, so it really is simply a matter of a little necessary research (technique and paint types and yes, you first need primmer of the appropriate colour for your top coats and preferably sprayed onto a cleaned surface), followed by sufficient practice before you find your happy place with painting.
 
As this thread topic is on structure materials, I’ll comment that I find the Wills sheets expensive and also too small for many 4mm projects, although I have a supply of cobblestones which are excellent and will be used in my branch goods yard. Otherwise I usually stock up with a good supply of ‘others’ at model railway exhibitions or mail order when desperate for just the right item. For roof slates, I now use thin MDF pre-cut strips, as these save a great deal of time, boredom and scalpel blades.
 
Hope some of this is useful and more detail is given on my Newton Regis thread.
 
Best,
 
Bill



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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2021 08:17 am
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The Poll should be OK now. I have extended it for 40 days so it should be good until near the end of June.



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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2021 08:44 am
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Longchap
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Thanks Ron, worked a treat.

Bill



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At 6'4'', Bill is a tall chap, then again, when horizontal he is rather long and people often used to trip over him! . . . and so a nickname was born :)

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 Posted: Tue Jun 8th, 2021 06:25 pm
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Colin W
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PS Building Materials - an Update

I think I have enough input now to move forward, thanks everyone for your comments

No investigation would have been complete without looking back at some historical Resources. Newer members (me included) may be forgiven for forgetting that there is a marvelous and large resource here under "Scratchbuilding. - More Practical Help" with work by Robert (original Barchester I believe), Allan Downes and many others dating back 14 years. I'd encourage anyone considering starting scratch building to explore.

In Allan's work in O gauge he favoured using Wills PS sheets and clearly at this larger scale, texture becomes far more important. Robert in OO worked with Slater's Plastikard and also did a lot of card modelling. Over on Hintock, John favoured using Slater's PS laid on top of firm card and most of his many buildings were so constructed. There is some good documentation available on his former Website (while that continues to be maintained) at Hintock Scratch Building

John noted of Wills that he used the product for the quay wall because it better represents what would generally be used and it is an engineering work. Otherwise he found it very hard to work, overly heavy in relief and needed sanding down to "look right".
 







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