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I had a go at signs for the buildings in the urban core, with mixed results. I had wanted to try decals to model painted signs on windows, and had tried direct-printing on sheets of clear plastic with good results. In HO scale. Consumer-grade ink-jet printers don’t generally have the resolution necessary for N-scale signs of the type I would like. I’ve run into this problem when making decals for the trucks, and it’s becoming a limitation. A laser printer would be nice, but that’s an expensive piece of equipment for a hobby.
I printed the signs on tracing paper first. This gave me an idea of how they would look against the installed background. The laundromat signs looked promising until I applied the decal, then the sign disappeared. Not enough contrast. Even with the interior for a background, the signs are barely visible. I had thought about mounting an exterior sign, but we’ll just say May’s doesn’t spend money on signs.
The bodega was named ‘Delos Market’, and the backing is 0.015″ styrene. I had wanted ‘Blue Sun Grocery’, but couldn’t reconcile that with the paint. ‘Soylent Greens’ seemed too pointed, so the name is a third-tier sci-fi reference. 7-UP logos anchor the sign, and chosen because I like 7-UP, and until 1948 the soda contained lithium hydrate, also prescribed as a mood stabilizer. Between the cocaine in Coca-Cola and 7-UP, people could stay medicated at 5 cents a pop.
The bar will be named ‘Wilsons’ after a local, and I had wanted to put the lettering on the windows, but couldn’t make the spacing look right. And decals on clear styrene don’t appear to work well in 1:160. I noticed that the upper story has windows well-spaced for a sign, and will pursue that.
It appeared that the bar could use some neons in the windows. I downloaded some images and adjusted for scale. A Rainier beer ‘R’ (it’s Tacoma) and ‘Budweiser’ sign came out OK, so I went back to the original window dressing and added the signs, then printed on paper and applied.
While things proceeded on Merchants Row, I went ahead with the Restaurant Building, now named ‘Marsans’ after a chef acquaintance. Marsan is a superior cook, and his wife used to manage Wilson’s bar in Hillsboro. I was working toward a red and grey theme for the restaurant, and wanted red tier curtains in the windows. I only learned what that style of curtain was for this project. Apparently ‘interior decorator’ is among the many disciplines required to master the hobby.
This style of curtain has the rod running behind the windows, so my usual methods for window dressing wouldn’t work. The first idea was to print the curtains and cut out, then use canopy glue to attach. I could see that the only thing holding the curtain sections together was the 0.5 mm strip of paper representing the rod. That was not going to work. The next thought was to mount the curtains on 0.015″ white styrene for stiffness, and cut-out everything that wasn’t curtain. Quickly following was the idea to use 0.005″ clear styrene. I figured if the styrene mounting sheet was larger than the window, edges would be concealed and testing showed the ‘double-pane’ wouldn’t be noticable.
Cutting was done with Xuron scissors and a hobby knife. The spaces between the curtains required some digging under magnification. Next go-round I may just trim the paper and leave the plastic. Attachment was with the least amount of canopy glue possible along the interior walls. The rod was delineated with Brown marker, and I found it best to touch the tip to the center and let capillary action do the rest. I overlaid a couple of curtains with spares where the ink was too enthusiastic.
The white rectangle in Marsan’s window is the menu.
But Wait, There’s More!
While in the area I put in the alley behind the buildings using the same Charcoal craft paper I used for the streets.
I also fixed the power line where it had sagged. The two transformers were removed, as they aren’t needed in the current street plan. The original idea was to have power to Rudy’s Printing and Marsan’s, but the print shop isn’t modeled entire, so we’ll assume services ‘off-stage’. Marsan’s will need power, and I’ll stick a pole in the alley to handle that.
The Wheeler-Osgood warehouse was repaired. It had taken a tumble off the layout, and some of the foundation needed replacement.
I weathered the replacement wood, but it is noticeable. I like it, in that it shows the layout as an active place where time passes.
While the building forces were out, I took care of a long-standing annoyance. When I built the truck yard for the Pacific Storage warehouse, I’d built some light poles, but not enough. But they were such a pain to build I didn’t want to mess with it. As I am generally cleaning up the layout, I bit the bullet.
All parts are styrene round stock. The poles are 1.6 mm, lights 2 mm, and supports 0.5mm. MEK holds everything together. This is the kind of detail that is printed these days, and next layout will be. Still, nice to take something out of stock and make it useful.
Plug Of the Day
Movies that have trains in them. Forget IMDB synopsis, this site focuses on the only parts that matter: the train scenes. Check it out.
This article first appeared on northernpacificproject.wordpress.com
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