Friday, December 11, 2020

USS Gambier Bay -- 1/200 Scale Paper Model

 I'm picking up this project again after letting it sit unfinished for about two years. I am not much for writing detailed build threads, but I will try to post updates now and then. Maybe that will help motivate me to finish the kit. It has lots and lots of greeblies.

The Gambier Bay was 512 feet long. The model will be just over 2-1/2 feet in length.

For the uninitiated, "greeblies" are those tiny little parts that can drive you half crazy, especially when your tweezers go "boink" and the part flies somewhere over your shoulder. Greeblies that you think fell onto the floor between your feet will actually land in the shag carpet in the next room. No one knows why; it just happens. 

My progress, so far: 

USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73) was a Casablanca-class escort carrier of the United States Navy. She was sunk in the Battle off Samar during the Battle of Leyte Gulf after helping to turn back a much larger attacking Japanese surface force. She was the only American aircraft carrier sunk by enemy surface gunfire during World War II. [Source: Wikipedia]

Progress on the Gambier Bay

I have mated hull and flight deck, and started on the galleries on the sides of the hull. I've run out of laser cut railings. Progress halts while I work out the best way to make my own.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Medieval "Morning Star" & Stand -- 1:1 scale paper model


Sometimes I just need a break from building airplanes and model RR structures. This evil-looking piece of hardware was a free download and an evening's work. And, who knows, maybe it will come in handy when I go back to teaching at the college in January.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Still Trying to Decide on a Trackplan for Ceresco

 Ceresco ("seh-RESS-koh") is one of two terminals on my Ceresco & Wolf River HO scale shelf layout. The other terminal, Scots' Landing, is nearing in progress -- track laid, some scenery done, some structures built. My requirements for Ceresco: 

  • Size, 9 feet x 2 feet
  • A simple plan -- most space given to scenery and scratch built structures
  • Varied elevations
  • Industrial atmosphere but not "big city" 
  • Most tracks not parallel to the edge of the layout
  • Drop-in Connection across the aisle for continuous running
  • Some staging, not necessarily hidden
  • Turntable & engine house
Here is the current "contestant":

Saturday, October 24, 2020

What If? - Dornier Do-335 Paper Model 1/33 Scale

 What if . . .

. . . Lufthansa converted a Dornier Do-335 fighter to a post-war, four-passenger, high-speed, executive transport? This paper model, from, is 16.5 inches long with a 17-inch wing span. I made two changes to the kit:  I scratch built the passenger cabin interior and the clamshell passenger door. I am always impressed by the fit and finish of Marek's designs.

Friday, October 23, 2020

New Bedford Whaleboat Paper Model - Scale: ~1/30

This is the Fiddler's Green Whaleboat with a lot of added detail. The model is 11 inches long, roughly 1:30 scale. Whaleboats generally varied from 28 to 33 feet in length and were manned by a crew of 5: a bosun, four oarsmen, and a harpooner.

I tapered dowels for the mast and spar, scratch built the harpoon and lance, carved a wooden tiller, made oarlocks from plastic rod, added standing and running rigging, and rigged the whale line, including coils in the line tubs and at the bow. Other added details include paddles, a water pail for lubricating the whale line, a "firkin" to hold drinking water, a "crotch" to hold the ready harpoon, a wooden drag (beside the tiller) used to help tire a harpooned whale, and a hatchet to cut the whale line if the "Nantucket sleighride" went sour.

These boats typically carried a lot of tools and gadgets. I modeled fewer than half of them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" paper model 1:33 scale

 This paper model kit from Maly Modelarz was a real joy to build. Artwork and fit are excellent and the finished model is very accurate in dimensions and proportions. The scale is 1:33. The flight deck base was a free download.

The tail marking identifies this as an aircraft from the Imperial Japanese aircraft carrier "Akagi," in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The red fuselage stripe and the aircraft number ("1") identify it as the torpedo-armed aircraft flown  by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the first wave of attackers at Pearl Harbor, in a flight of Kates. In all, 40 B5N2s armed with torpedoes and 103 B5N1s armed with bombs took part in that attack.

Once known for poor quality paper and "weird" color schemes,  Maly Modelarz has in recent years published a growing number of excellent, very detailed aircraft models in 1:33 scale. Their instructions are in Polish but newer kits (2002 and up) offer very good assembly drawings and diagrams.

How to Get Started in Paper Modeling


  • A Bit of History
  • Advantages of Paper Modeling
  • Basic Tools
  • Sites with Free Paper Models
  • Forum
  • tutorials

I started building plastic scale models as a grade-schooler. In high school, I build my first model railroad (HO scale) and began scratch building in wood. Around the year 2000, I discovered paper scale models and I haven't looked back. 

A Bit of History

Paper models have been around since the early 1800s when they were first printed in Europe, and they remain very popular today among European scale modelers.

In Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, there were no plastic model kits. Paper and wood were the only media available to most modelers behind the Iron Curtain. Publishers in Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany produced printed paper kits for that market, but the paper and inks were usually of poor quality.

After 1989, those publishers gained access to better papers, better inks, and western markets. Today, several companies continue to produce high-quality printed kits for a worldwide market.

Today the Internet has created a wider paper model industry. Using dedicated software, almost anyone can create a scale paper model kit and upload it to the Web for sale through "e-stores" or free distribution through portal sites. Dozens of new kits come online every week, many of them free or priced very low.

The huge variety of paper models offers something for everyone. The basic skills of paper modeling are easy to learn. And finished paper models are often mistaken for plastic models. As the prices of plastic models continue to rise, affordable paper models are gaining popularity.

Advantages of Paper Modeling

  • Low-cost & Free Kits
  • Simple Tools & Techniques
  • No Paints or Decals Needed
  • Huge Variety of  Subjects & Scale
  • The Glue Tastes Better

Basic Tools

  • Sharp scissors - hobby knife - steel straight-edge - toothpicks (for applying glue) - straight pin or T-pin (for scoring folds) - colored markers or pencils to color cut edges
  • Materials (from any craft shop)
  • 60# to 70# cardstock for printing downloaded kits -- My favorite is Wausau Bright White or Neenah Bright White Premium Cardstock, 65#, from Staples or Office Max.
  • Heavier card, about 1 mm thick for formers, wing spars, etc. - Cereal boxes are about 0.5mm thick; the backs of writing pads are about 1mm.
  • 0.010" to 0.020" piano wire for masts, struts, and landing gear
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue - a water-based white glue with less water content than Elmer's Glue.
  • Weldbond white glue for bonding plastic canopies and wire parts to paper
  • Avery Permanent Glue Stick for laminating parts
  • Watercolor pencils for coloring cut edges of paper parts -- You don't need to match the color; an assortment greys and black works well.

These Sites Offer Free Paper Models to Get You Started

is an online forum of friendly and mutually supportive paper modelers. You'll find help for every level of paper modeling and some very skilled modelers and designers. And there is a huge archive of free downloadable models. If you are a paper modeler and you are not a member of, slap yourself, then go join.


Building Clever Models Crossing Tower:  5 Ben Streeter Typical Kit Assembly Tutorial 05 15 14.pdf
Tutorial Videos for Seven Kits:  Videos & Ideas - Model Buildings
Scalescene's Arched Bridge:
On the Scalescenes Home page, almost at the bottom, click on:
•  Downloading & Printing Tips
•  Construction Tips
•  Detailing & Weathering Tips

Monday, October 5, 2020

 I Really Do Not Like the Word "Blog."

It sounds to me like something one would say while on one's knees leaning over a toilet bowl, or something you'd hear in a weather report. ("There's a Blog Warning for the L.A. Basin today so put on those gas masks.") Or it might be a creature one encounters in the dark recesses of a virtual dungeon, a creature with bad breath, bad skin, and a bad attitude. It might be one of those stupid acronyms that everyone loves to hate, Brotherhood of Left-handed Old Guys or the Baltimore Ladies Opera Guards, or the Baja-Larado Occulist Guild.  Or maybe it's the nickname you give to that friend who drools a lot and puts his shoes on the wrong feet. You know who I'm talking about.

But to call this a "blog"? To burden this humble epistle, this homespun chronicle, this whimsical potpourri of one's own triumphs, tragedies, merriments, misfires, and humorous cat pictures with a name that sounds like a Polish expletive? 

"Oh, blog it!" "Situation Normal, All Blogged Up." "That's it boys, we're blogged."

Dear friends, we could have called it an e-journal, a tale, a narrative, a yarn, a buzz -- something that reminds you of your mother's kitchen, your old dog, or your first romantic kiss. (Actually, "blog" does kind of bring to mind the first time I kissed a girl. I got better at it.) 

But "blog"? It's ridiculous! It's almost scatological! I wave my private parts at it! I fart in its general direction! May it smother forever in the arms of Cthulu! May it be bricked in behind a wall with a  bottle of cheap Italian wine! May it walk for weeks across the desert behind a dyspeptic camel!

But we're stuck with it, at least until some adolescent computer wonk with 70 million followers on InstaTwit coins a new term we can mostly agree on. So, blog on, me hearties! Arrrgh!

There. I got that off my chest. I feel so much better now.

 Coal & Gravel Bunker, Scratchbuilt, 1:87 scale

The Ceresco & Wolf River RR operates a half dozen 20-foot ore cars to haul coal and gravel to places along the line. At Scots' Landing, coal and gravel are transferred from the ore cars to small barges that serve communities up the chain of lakes. This freelanced bunker will stand on a concrete pad in the bay. Crews will use an idler flat car to push ore cars one at a time up the inclined trestle to the bunker.

The bunker walls are paper from Clever Models. I used Midwest and Kappler scale lumber stained with Hunterline weathering stain. The ore gates are castings from Rusty Stumps Scale Models, with chutes scratch built of Evergreen plastic card.

Friday, October 2, 2020

My Father's C-47 -- 1:33 Scale Paper Model  -- The Repaint

My father was a C-47 pilot in Europe in World War II. I bought and scanned a copy of Fly-Model's C-47, and used Photoshop to change the serial number and unit markings to match my father's airplane. Dad and his crew ferried a new C-47 from the US to England a couple of weeks after D-Day, so his plane had no invasion stripes. I had replace those with the olive drab of the rest of the aircraft, then redraw some of the panel lines. I also recolored the interior wall panels to a more accurate color. Next step is to print and build the kit.

In each of the photos, Fly-Model art is on the left, my repaint on the right.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

 Another plan for Ceresco 

The city of Ceresco is at one end of my U-shaped HO scale shelf layout. It's here that the Ceresco & Wolf River will interchange with the Chicago & Northwestern mainline. I like the idea of allowing for continuous running, Sometimes, you just want to sit and watch the train go around and around. My earlier plan for Ceresco didn't allow for that. This plan does. It is adapted from a plan by Rob Chant -- an HOn30 plan called the "Island of Misfit Trains." Ron's plan is 2'x7'. I flipped it end for end and added two feet to the right end to fit my 2'x9' space. Continuous running will be provided by a removable bridge across the aisle to the peninsula at Scots' Landing, at the other end of the layout. 

I welcome comments, suggestions, constructive criticism, and tasteless puns.

In this version, I've swapped a few things around. The roundhouse is less crowded and there are more industries on the right. Comments, suggestions?

I'm still looking at other layout plans for ideas and solutions, since I probably won't start building Ceresco until early 2021. Stay tuned.

 Ice House & Platform — 1:87 Scale  Model

I needed a small industry to fit a specific location on a narrow peninsula at Scots' Landing. My ice house is Clever Models' Creeky Roofing paper model with doors modified from the kit and roof panels from Smart Models. The platform is scratch built from Midwest Products dimensional lumber, stained with Weathering Mix from Hunterline. The platform was built on a scale drawing of "Atsan Ice" from (I think) an old Railroad Model Craftsman. The staircase is built with stringers from Northeastern Scale Lumber.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Ceresco Long House — an O-Scale Paper Model

The History

In 1844 the Wisconsin Phalanx, a group of followers of the 19th-century French socialist philosopher Charles Fourier, organized a communal settlement known as Ceresco (for Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture). About 180 people lived in the Association at its peak, farming nearly 2,000 acres. It was one of the three longest-lived Fourierist Associations in the United States, dissolving in 1850, and it was unique for having assets which exceeded liabilities at the time of its demise.

The members of the Phalanx registered their settlement with the state, as the village of Ceresco, Wisconsin, so the village survived the collapse of the utopian socialist experiment. Remaining members of the Wisconsin Phalanx later formed a living cooperative and study group called the Ceresco Union in 1855. Their doctrines included religious free thought and interpersonal free love. That group was disbanded by a mob of outraged citizens from the adjacent community of Ripon (founded in 1849). By 1858, the village of Ceresco was entirely annexed into the village of Ripon.

The Building

The Phalanx built two longhouses to house their earliest members. The first was built by combining several smaller existing buildings The second longhouse was purpose-built as a communal dwelling. That building still stands, though it has been converted to apartments and thoroughly remuddled. 

I have decided to build a scale model of the Phalanx Longhouse as it appeared in the 1840s. Photos are rare and none from before the Phalanx disbanded. I used what photos are known and measurements of the surviving structure to draw what I believe is a reasonably accurate rendering of the building — as accurate as it can be given the scant evidence. I plan to build the model in 1:48 scale and put it on display here in Ripon, where I live.

Early photographs lack details and modern images 
reflect a lot of "remuddling."

The old photos did reveal a few secrets.

I compared my initial renderings to the oldest photos to
confirm the original placement of doors and windows.

Using those proportions and measurements of the surviving structure, I drew elevations in 1:48 scale.

The center section is a mystery. It might simply be a central hallway, but there is no known description of it. My measurements and drawing also showed the building to be smaller than 19th-century writers had claimed. Old records suggest that it housed between 26 and 30 families. Given the size of rural families in the mid-1800s, it must have been a crowded place.

The Model
Putting it all together, the model will be about 30 inches long, a nice winter project. I will use O-scale clapboard, brick, shingle, and door & window texture papers from Clever Models. The model will be paper and card over foamcore. Railings and stairs will have to be scratchbuilt, probably with Evergreen plastic shapes. I'll put it on a base with a bit of Woodland Scenics landscaping, and a figure or two if I can find them.

One more drawing, this one with my best guess as to the porch, railings, and stairs. There are no known photos, drawings, or descriptions of the porches and stairs. I have drawn one possibility that is consistent with the neoclassical style of the building and with the simplicity one would expect of a Fourierite Commune like the Wisconsin Phalanx.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Cape & Armstrong Co. - 1:87 Scale 

Politicians rewrite history, why can't I?

Back in July I wrote that my McIntyre Marine was the largest shipper in Scots' Landing. That's no longer true. Cape & Armstrong is a wholesaler of general merchandise serving communities on the chain of lakes that stretches north from Pheasant Lake, where Scots' Landing is located. At C&A Co., merchandise of all kinds is transshipped from rail cars, to the C&A warehouse, to packet boats that serve businesses up and down the lakes. The company also handles some of the products coming south from the lake district -- furs, leather, apples and cider, honey, cranberries, and wild rice among them. At least one, often two boxcars are unloaded here each day, while an outbound car might carry a substantial amount of LCL freight.

Cape & Armstrong Co., General Merchandise
 scratch built paper model, 1:87 scale
adapted from photographs of a craftsman kit 
by Sea Port Model Works 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

 A Little Diversion

People tend not to use the name "Sakrison" and the word "normal" in the same sentence. I was once asked whether anyone in my family suffers from insanity. I had to be honest. I said, "We don't suffer from it; we really enjoy it."

True Story:  My firstborn daughter has been a nerd (and proud of it) since before nerditude was cool. Both our girls attended a small private grade school where most of the families went to the same church. Ingrid was in third grade when a classmate approached her one day and asked, "Ingrid, why are you so strange?" Her teacher told me Ingrid didn't miss a beat. She turned to her classmate and responded, "Have you met my father?"