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 New York Mill - Modeled in Balsa Foam
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hon3_rr
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 01/09/2015 :  3:33:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As always, thanks all for stopping by. I hope that folks are enjoying this experiment with Balsa Foam.

Like most of you guys, I too really want to get some paint on the walls to see how that will work. But I have to stay disciplined and do things in sequence or I'll end up painting myself into a corner....

Galen: I may have confused you a bit. I was trying to show how my documentation numbering of the construction steps works. When I'm including a new technique or process, the construction numbering will include an alpha character to help denote that the described step is something new.

I was using the old Road Runner cartoon as a filler example of a new process or step.

I have not yet included any new steps on this build even though I have been trying a lot of new and different techniques/tools with the foam. But until I really identify something that is easy, fast and produces consistent results, I won't be adding any new techniques.

This foam is something which I am astounded with the amount of stone detail and how easy it is to achieve. I'm finding that I'm actually overdoing the texturing by actually doing too much tamping with the cosmetic sample handle tip.

Well, the first wall was a basic cut, carve and texture. The second wall I created has door and window openings, along with concrete lintels over the door and window openings. This required a slightly different approach.

Carving a Wall with Openings
12) Cut a piece of Balsa Foam from the stock sheet which will be slightly larger than the finished wall. This is to allow for sanding and to make sure the opposing walls are of the same size.
13) Cut the wall to the basic shape as the structure plans call for. You want to minimize sanding of the Balsa Foam.
14) Cut the wall template from the plans using a new #11 knife blade. Cut the template from one of the copies made earlier, keep the orig. plan set for future use.
15) Attach the template to the outside wall surface using double sided Scotch Tape. The tape will not hold as usual, but the tape will hold the template in place if handled gently.
16) Score the template drawing openings and other wall components with a knitting needle using enough pressure to lightly score the foam. (I tried various objects; pencil, knife, burnisher, ball point pen to name a few and found that for me the knitting needle worked best.)
17) Using a fine felt tip pen (I used a Micron pen) lightly ink in the openings and wall components using the score marks as a guide.
(18) Draw carving guide lines across the wall using the same distance between the lines as was used on the first wall.
19) Since this wall has what appear to be mason lintels over the door and window openings, I needed to make sure that the lintels were not depressed. I used some scrap strip wood to lightly depress the area around the lintels.
20) Cave the walls as before, using the carving guide lines and drawing transferred to the wall as guides.
21) Use the cosmetic sample brush handle tip and tamp the carved wall to add texture. Make sure not to tamp the lintels over the openings. I also did not texture the openings where doors and windows will be.
(Note:) I just used the plan drawings transferred to the wall, but if you have specific window/door castings which you will be using, make sure to include the correct opening size. I will carve or file/sand away additional stone as needed once I have selected my castings for these wall objects.

The pictures below will provide you with a bit of a visual for this process.

The first picture shows the plan template in place on the wall for transferring the plan by scoring the foam through the drawing.

The second picture shows the drawing on the wall along with carving guide lines in place. Note that is picture is prior to depressing the area around the lintels. I also included the opposing wall in this picture.

The third picture shows the carved wall. Note that I did depress the area around the lentils a bit too much in a couple of places, but I'll live with the error and try to learn something new with it on down the construction road. I also increased the size of the stones a bit to help limit the number of stones for painting later in the construction.







-- KP --
Life is to short to build all of the models I want to.

Edited by - hon3_rr on 01/09/2015 4:09:22 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 7059 Go to Top of Page

Ensign
Fireman

Posted - 01/09/2015 :  4:35:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Kris, your carved walls look fantastic!
Keep up the excellent work.

Greg Shinnie



Country: Canada | Posts: 7229 Go to Top of Page

quartergauger48
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 01/09/2015 :  7:21:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Kris, Really starting to take shape. I'v seen other craftsmen use a knitting needle for balsa foam
as well...For your first attempt with the BF, you are certainly doing a very good job'...



Ted

Country: USA | Posts: 4866 Go to Top of Page

TRAINS1941
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 01/09/2015 :  10:34:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Gets better with each post. Nice job Kris.


Country: USA | Posts: 9428 Go to Top of Page

hon3_rr
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 01/15/2015 :  6:16:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Been a few days since I've been able to get something posted. This is just a 'general' update as I was doing a lot of testing.

Arizona Dave uses some Matte Medium with green foam dust to form a paste to use as a gap filler when he works with green florist foam. I thought that I'd try to mix up a thin paste using the foam dust and matte medium to fill in the seam where I had to join two pieces of foam together to obtain a wall blank in the length needed.

Lamination of Balsa Foam for Walls
22) I cut two pieces of foam to the correct wall height plus just a bit extra to allow for sanding.
23) I used two toothpicks inserted into one of the wall sections to act as dowels to help add additional strength to the seam joint. I used a wire nipper to cut the toothpicks to length allowing approximately 1/3 inch of the tootpick to extend beyond the wall end. This was then inserted into the opposing wall section when the glue was applied to the wall sections.
24) I secured the two pieces of wall sections together using a wood glue (Tightbond II) trying to keep glue away from carving face so that the depth of the carving would not be as deep as the glue. This was an attempt to avoid any 'seam' to show once the wall was carved. The wall was allowed to dry overnight.
25) A application of Matte Medium and balsa foam dust in a thin paste was applied to the glue seam. This was to fill the seam. The paste was allowed to dry overnight.
26) A light sanding was done to make a flat top/roof edge between the two walls. I used 60 grit paper sitting on a glass plate.
27) The wall template was cut from the plan and taped to the wall blank, making sure the top (roof) edge was flush.
28) The wall components were then traced into the foam using a knitting needle.
29) A Micron pen was then used to trace the scribe marks to complete the transfer of the wall pattern to the foam.
30) Stone carving guidelines were then measured and added to the the wall using the same process as described earlier.
31) The wall was carved using a #11 knife blade.
32) The cosmetic sample brush handle tip was tamped over the entire stone wall carving to add texture.
33) Additional texture was added by using a nylon file cleaning brush to add some finer texture. I discovered that if over done, the carved stone texture and carving lines will be removed.

The first picture shows the two walls glued together and the resulting seam. The Matte Medium used to mix with the balsa foam dust is also displayed. I mixed a thin paste, about like milk. This turned out to be too thin of a mix. The matte medium also appears to have sealed the wall section around the seam, and was a difficult to carve effectively. I also used a wood piece to show where there is a small side building extending off of the main building on the plan set. This will be carved in 3 separate wall sections and then added to the main structure.



The second picture shows the plan set a bit better with the small building extension. Also note the poor seam between the two walls. I wanted to test how the foam dust paste would fill a seam, thus it is a sloppy seam. I can always cover the seam if needed later in the final diorama with a water pipe, lumber, etc.



This picture shows the seam between the two wall sections and how I tried to fill the gap with a thin mix of the foam-matte medium. As you can see in this picture of the dried paste, the seam was not filled correctly due to the mix being too thin and the area surrounding the seam was sealed by the matte medium. I chose not to add a second application of the paste to determine the effects on carving.



Picture below shows the carved wall. Note the area around the seam where the two wall sections were joined and you can see how the paste affected the ability to carve the area along with the sealing of the foam surface.



The final picture shows the carved wall section along with the side wall for stone comparison. One can also get a feel for the size of the structure by the X-acto knife in the picture.

For those who notice, yes... I missed a window when doing the layout for carving the wall. I'll just add this window at the appropriate step later.



-- KP --
Life is to short to build all of the models I want to.

Country: USA | Posts: 7059 Go to Top of Page

hon3_rr
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 01/23/2015 :  2:06:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I want to thank all who have popped in to see what is occurring on this build. I must admit to being surprised at the volume of views and positive comments from the gang here at on the forum. Jerry noted that there would probably be a good following and he appears to have been dead-on in his assessment.

I also want to again thank all who provided some outstanding input on my stack construction issues. See http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=44474 if you are interested in ideas on how to construct wrought iron stacks.

OK... Let's talk foam...

Since I was not obtaining good results filling the seam where the balsa foam wall blanks were joined to obtain the needed wall length, I decided to try a different approach. My plan was to make a thicker foam dust-Matt medium paste and fill the seam with it. The intent was to allow the filled seam to dry and then carve the stone rock into the balsa foam to determine if a thicker paste would give better results once carved. This has been put on hold.

I instead decided to make a fairly tight seam and then just carve and texture to see if I could blend the seam into the wall. Remember, we are experimenting here so all options are on the table.

I noticed that between the wood chutes and associated wood planking/sleepers to protect the wall, a large part of the lower visible wall would be hidden. The roof overhang will also contribute to the covering of the seam on the upper part of the wall. Finally, the painted sign on the mill wall will tend to pull the viewers eye away from the seam.

I really only have to worry about a third of the wall showing the seam. Consequently, this is the time to try the carving/texturing only option. The thicker dust-matte paste option will be tried at a later time.

Lamination of Balsa Foam for Walls (Cont.)
34) Using the opposing side wall for the height dimension, cut two pieces of foam to be laminated together to produce the needed wall length.
35) Laminate two wall blanks together using the earlier described process using toothpicks as dowels. -see steps 23 & 24-
36) Carve and texture the wall using the measuring and carving tools/techniques described for the other walls. I did use the nylon brush in a stippling motion using fairly heavy hits to add texture around the seam. The mortar lines were also carved a bit deeper on the entire wall (for consistency when viewing) to assist in hiding the seam line.

As I have been fighting the wall joint seams in this build, I determined that I also had an issue with the smaller stone wall building extension. (Pointed out on the plan set in earlier postings.) This extension has three walls which are only about 1.5 inches in length. If I create the extension using 3 pieces of foam, I would have a lot of seam area to deal with. I decided to opt for a different solution to avoid the wall joint seam issue.

I will cut a small block of balsa foam from a larger block to obtain the needed extension dimensions. I will then carve the stone face into the 3 exposed walls of the foam block with the 4th side being against the structure. This will give me only two seams, only one of which will be highly exposed to viewing.

The pictures below show a bit of what is going on. No matter how I try, I have not been able to get a good picture of the foam showing the carved rock texture.

First picture shows how the seam in this wall is a much cleaner joint than the joint on the opposing wall done earlier.



The picture below shows the carved laminated wall. The picture actually makes the joint look worse than it is. Remember that only the upper half of the seam will be visible, with the roof overhang obscuring some the top part of the wall.



The last picture shows the balsa foam block from which a smaller block will be cut and carved for the small stone extension.



As always, comments to the good, bad and ugly are welcome.


-- KP --
Life is to short to build all of the models I want to.

Country: USA | Posts: 7059 Go to Top of Page

Terry823
Engine Wiper

Posted - 01/27/2015 :  11:24:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Terry823's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Kris, as I have watched you do some pretty neat things with this foam, I have wondered about how strong the material is. Does the surface have more resistance than the green florist foam you mentioned? I have seen non-modelers do some pretty nasty things to models while poking and prodding to see how something has been done. Do you think it will hold its own against those people?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/121262945@N06/albums

Terry

Country: USA | Posts: 127 Go to Top of Page

hon3_rr
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 01/28/2015 :  5:21:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Terry and thanks for the complement,
I'm using the "heavy" foam which is the denser of the two balsa foams which is manufactured. When you ask about the resistance when compared to green floral foam, I am assuming that we are talking about the "dry" green floral foam, not the "wet".

I think that the green floral foam is actually a bit harder than the balsa foam. The balsa foam does not have the memory like the green floral foam however. This quality allows the balsa foam to be carved with more texture and details IMO. Balsa foam also has the advantage that solvents will not attack the balsa foam like green floral foam.

I will be applying a coating of matte-medium to the foam prior to the coloring of the foam which I suspect will stiffen and strengthen the foam. The structure will also have some wood to help protect the foam.

As I am planning on placing the completed foam structure on a small diorama with a stream and mountain side, I'm sure that most 'stray' fingers will be testing the water and rocks on the hillside. (Or at least that is my hope.)

I think that the balsa foam for home layout use would not be an issue in terms of strength. I think that drawbacks have more to do with items like wood and paper being attached long term (35 years plus.) This is something which I hope that techniques and modeling sequence steps will resolve.

You put forward an outstanding question Terry, so I hope that this response is adequate. Please let me know if I did not fully address the question.


-- KP --
Life is to short to build all of the models I want to.

Edited by - hon3_rr on 01/28/2015 5:35:33 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 7059 Go to Top of Page

Terry823
Engine Wiper

Posted - 01/28/2015 :  5:40:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit Terry823's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Kris. I don't live in an area where I can find this to buy, so I thought I'd ask someone who is using it before I ordered some. You answered my question very well.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/121262945@N06/albums

Terry

Country: USA | Posts: 127 Go to Top of Page

hon3_rr
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 02/02/2015 :  5:12:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
--- RAT POISON !!!--- When swear words are not enough, that's all I can say.

I know better, but did not follow my own rules. When I measured the actual walls produced I'm coming up a few feet short. 5 to 9 foot on the long walls. The issue is that I never measured the photocopies made of the drawings, and thus I'm short. I normally take a scale ruler to the copy shop when I make photocopies, and measure the copies to make sure that the copies are accurate. I did not do so this time. As this is in the sandbox, I did not take the time to do mock-ups either.

As I had planned on making some compromises in the walls, I'll live with what I've got. Due to this being my first build with the new medium of balsa foam, I had earlier decided not to put in the angled wall due to the seam issue. But I had planned on having a scale full length walls for the footprint of the mill. Oh Well....

The second "rat-poison" is that the walls are not quite on the same plane as I expected, another words, the base of the mill sat on a much larger/steeper slope than I expected. I did not realize just how much of a difference in elevation the mill had on the various wall sides. A mock-up would have probably shown this. If there was not so much snow on the ground in Black Hawk, I'd just go take a second look, being more observant of the ground contours which probably existed when the mill was standing. (The actual mill site is about an hour away... round trip for me.) As a result, I'm having to re-think my diorama base a bit as the contours are much greater than I had envisioned.

I cut a block of balsa foam a bit larger than the dimensions of the stone extension building. I than used a 4" disk sander to lightly sand the block to the correct size. I angled the sanding table to achieve the angle of the roof prior to sanding the face of the block which will become the top (roof) side.

NOTE: If you use a power sander with balsa foam, use a foot control rheostat or some other speed setting device to keep the disk speed really slow. Use very light touches to the sanding surface as the foam sands very, very quickly due to how soft the material is. I chose to use the power sander so as to give my carving surfaces a very clean surface prior to carving and texturing.

Now that I know how the balsa foam acts with a power sander, I would add the angled wall and sand the foam at the joint to create a clean angle and almost no seam. I suspect that pinning and bracing of the walls parts forming the angle would be necessary however.

I'll let the pictures below tell the story. But the build is moving forward. (You know that there will be a couple of 'rats' on this diorama when completed however.)

Picture below shows all of the wall components laid out. The ruler is a 6 inch plastic to provide idea of size. Remember, this is an HO scale model, so the mill footprint is huge.



Picture below shows the 'front' of the structure and how the front wall is above the side walls at the ground level. There is an actual 1 inch difference in elevation which the diorama base will need to account for.



Below is a closeup of the above showing the ruler. One can also get a feel for the texture in the wall carving.



This final picture shows the stone extension block with one wall carved, but without the texturing applied. The long wall above has the texturing. One can see how the texturing with the cosmetic brush handle adds to the final appearance of the stone in the wall. You can also see how the carving across the seam turned out. I'm hoping that the acrylic matte or gesso covering to be applied prior to coloring the stone work will fill the small 'sponge' holes in the balsa foam.




-- KP --
Life is to short to build all of the models I want to.

Country: USA | Posts: 7059 Go to Top of Page

hon3_rr
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 02/12/2015 :  4:25:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I know that folks have been anxious to see some of this balsa foam colored. Below are a couple of pictures showing my first pass testing on coloring of the foam.

The Polar Star Mill still stands today in Black Hawk and was constructed with stone walls similar to the New York Mill. I suspect that the wall coloring was similar, thus I'm basing some of my coloring on the Polar Star Mill.

I currently can't find my pictures of the Polar Star mill in my computer files.... and as I was just released yesterday afternoon from the hospital for a large ventral hernia surgery, I'm on lots of goodies courtesy of my local pharmacist and surgeon. So I'm not going to stumble around currently, but will post my pictures of the Polar Star later for comparison to the balsa foam.

One of the coloring factors of the stones in the Polar Star Mill is the large amount of mortar in the walls and the large amount of mortar on the stone surfaces. The mortar is also very light grey in hue.

On my test samples, I wanted to see if gesso or an acrylic paint would make a better base from which to color the stones. I'm trying to use Mike Chambers technique of coloring the entire wall with the mortar color, allowing to dry and then color the stone faces with almost a dry-brush technique.

You will see that I have used both a light grey acrylic and gesso on these preliminary testing panels. I'm thinking that the two coats of gesso are going to be used as the primer/mortar coloring of the walls.

Using the gesso, and then a Silverwood wash obtains a mortar color similar to what I recall.

All of the panels colored below had the Silverwood wash applied while the acrylic paint used to color the stone faces was still damp. I need to test the stone coloring allowing the colored stones to cure dry prior to applying the Silverwood wash. I suspect that I will obtain a better wall coloring this way.

Additional test panels of wall coloring will be posted next week once I can carve some more test panels and color, allowing for the two drying time sets. (Primer coat and stone face coat prior to final Silverwood wash application.)

The pictures below also show the effects of texturing and not texturing the carved stone faces to determine the difference in the final appearance of the stone wall. If one looks closely, you can also see how cracks in the flat stone face appear once the wall is colored.

As always, comments are always welcome on the good, bad and ugly.







-- KP --
Life is to short to build all of the models I want to.

Country: USA | Posts: 7059 Go to Top of Page

deemery
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 02/12/2015 :  7:32:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nice rock work… I've seen some buildings with bright/wide mortar, it's a hard effect to get right.

dave


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

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quartergauger48
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 02/12/2015 :  8:25:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wow, it's a difficult call: And a decision I can not make as all three examples
are each unique in there own right. I think I would have to have an idea of what the coloring
will be on the rest of the structure. I am leaning to the Gesso mostly... But the chalk and the acrylic are equally as enticing as well.....I know not much help here.....



Ted

Country: USA | Posts: 4866 Go to Top of Page

TRAINS1941
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 02/12/2015 :  8:47:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Kris your making this hard.

I like them all even with differences I'm going to say I'm leaning toward the one on the right.
But that's just me.

Glad your feeling better.



Country: USA | Posts: 9428 Go to Top of Page

BigLars
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 02/12/2015 :  9:16:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Kris,
That is some fine stone carving,



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