Site last updated 3/26/2023
Matt Hewitt's Projects
The Eagle Fish Camp
Note: This is not a 'How To', but a display of a completed 'Scratchbuilt Project' showing what can be done with some materials and time. It does not have to have been judged for AP Points.
June 24, 2004
Sometimes it's just right. You need a certain structure and the only way to get it is to shell out big bucks for a laser cut kit or even an FSM craftsman kit. Another choice is a cheap look, an already built kit that looks just like everyone else's kit, or… you can scratchbuild. Since my money is already earmarked for sound units (lots of sound units), I elect to dive into the goodie box and my pile of cut strip wood and build it myself.
Scratchbuilding is one of the best ways to stretch your model railroad dollar. Nothing in this hobby has brought me more pride and satisfaction than telling someone that I built it from scratch. You can do it, too, just start small and simple and them move up to larger projects.
The "Eagle Fish Camp" idea came from a picture that I saw in a Model Railroader from the mid 80s. With just a little planning, the same type of structure became a focal point in Greensprings WV, a small town on my Shadowton Ridge North Railroad.
As I was building this structure, more and more ideas kept popping up and the name was one of them. So I had to find an eagle for the peak. The costume jewelry department at Hobby Lobby held the answer. It started as a little humming bird. I changed the beak with a file and added the eagle paint job.
Almost everything on the structure is scratchbuilt. Only the window castings and the eagle were not. I used basic materials, wood, paper, plaster, fabric, aluminum foil, sandpaper, masking tape and brass tubing. Everything was low cost or free giving me an estimated cost of about $6.00 and my time. Looks like I can afford another sound unit!
Well, that's about it. You know that one of the best things of all about scratchbuilding is that my structure is a one-of-a-kind, the only one like it. Who knows, there could be a one-of-a-kind structure on your layout and all you have to do is scratchbuild it. Have fun!
Henry's Drive In
If you're modeling the 50's, you just have to have hot rods, a Drive In and girls on skates. So, get your wheels, and come on down to "Henry's Drive In."
I was working on the next town, "Berkling, W.Va." on my SRNRR layout and looking for ideas when I came upon a book "Fifties Flashback : A Nostalgic Trip!" by Albert Drake. The front cover shows a drawing of a drive in with a girl on skates and I knew what was now going to be the center of attraction on 1st and Vine.
As in the picture, it had to be round. The perfect form came from the bathroom. Really, it was a commercial toilet paper roll center. It became the main body of the building. A smaller tube finished off the top. Matte board was used to form the carport and stripwood made up the supports. I covered the building with "DAP Concrete Patch" to simulate stucco. The doors I made from thin cardboard, and the screens came from an old gas tank filter. The signs were copied from the same book that gave me this great idea.
The building came together really quite fast. The reworked cars and people, and I DO mean reworked, took three times as long. By the way, the ponytail on the girl on skates by the black Model 'A' truck is real. It's my own hair and I really can't afford to give up much more.
I hope that you try scratchbuilding soon. It's real kool Daddy-O.