Fire Sale

I’m getting better, or at least more consistent, with using my Cricut Plotter for scratchbuilding on The Hills Line. While my primary structures, especially the rail-served ones, will always require sturdier construction methods, the majority of the buildings can be quickly and efficiently assembled from styrene sheet.

Case in point, Iowa Fire Equipment. The small, somewhat nondescript business on the south side of East 1st Street in Iowa City is a perfect candidate for this process. The entire structure was assembled in a day’s time.

After laying out the individual components in Adobe Illustrator, the walls were cut from .020 Evergreen styrene sheet. One thing I’ve learned is to allow a bit more space in my cutouts for doors, windows, and other openings to allow for the photo wallpaper. In essence, I take my measurements and round up to the nearest 1/10th of an inch. Any gaps can quickly be filled with styrene strip or even modelers putty.

I recently picked up a set of 1-2-3 blocks and some magnetic clamps. The combination of the two provides a considerably sturdier base for assembling walls. I’m more or less guaranteed to end up with square corners, no matter how hard I try to screw it up.

Iowa Fire Equipment’s west wall appears to be made of concrete, most likely serving as a fire wall (no pun intended). I cut out several copies of the wall from a single sheet and welded them together. This not only helps replicate the thickness of the wall, but also considerably stiffens the overall structure.

The roof was again cut from a single sheet to avoid having to fill the gaps between the two sides. I’ve been able to setup my Cricut to perform this cut at a lower pressure, in essence scoring the styrene. That way I can bend it to shape without breaking it into pieces.

The fire wall was painted with Testors’ Flat Light Aircraft Gray, my concrete color of choice, then weathered with an India Ink and rubbing alcohol wash applied with an airbrush. The photo wallpaper was added next, using 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive to attach the pictures to the styrene core.

Rix Products’ Pikestuff components were again used for the doors and windows, due to their inexpensive cost and flexibility. Since the view through the front door is much more obvious, I frosted the windows with a dullcoat spray, to limit the realization that there’s nothing inside the building.

Some final details, including additional signage and electrical boxes help bring life to this simple structure, and wrap up one more corner of the layout.

7 thoughts on “Fire Sale

  1. Well written post.

    This sure looks like the way to go with background type buildings.

    Where did you get your 123 blocks and magnetic clamps??

    As always your blog posts are very helpful for all us rookie modelers !


  2. I’m new to using a Cricut. Any recommendations for thickness of styrene and special settings? Thanks. John H


  3. Looks great James. I’m doing my first styrene building with paper laminated to create surface detail. Thanks for that idea. Have you tried removing paper you’ve laminated with super 77?


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