Looking for ideas/tips on mdeling some "modern" buildings in N-scale

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Kodachrome, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. Kodachrome

    Kodachrome New Member

    Hi folks,
    I'm new to the forum here and new to scratchbuilding although not new to model railroading. I've just started back into N-scale after a couple of year hiatus. I need some ideas on modeling some "modern"(1970's, 80's) looking buildings for my layout. I guess I'm looking for sort of a concrete look.
    I want to scratch these because they need to custom fit in a couple of places on my layout and I'm also on a tight budget so I'd like to do this cheap.
    Any suggestions on materials? I was thinking maybe foam core board and possibly clear plastic with inked lines for windows/frames.
    These would be buildings served by rail. I might have tracks lead inside on at least one.
    Any thoughts or suggestions?
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    probably about 10 years ago, MR ran an article about building modern glass buildings out of plexiglass. The author built plexiglass "boxes" and used colored tape for the horizontal bits between floors, and thin carboard stips for the the vertical columns. I built one, and was a little put off by the price of plexiglass, but it was easy and looked good. Concrete is a very cheap and widely used building material in modern times, but most structures over about 5 stories are steel frame with concrete or glass veneer.

  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm not sure what sort of buildings you are looking to build. If you want to make "concrete tiltup" warehouses, I would use either sheet styrene, or it could be done with "cereal board."
  4. FrankG

    FrankG Member

    For modern buildings in N scale, nachoman is dead on. That article he mentioned also appears in the book "City Senery for Model Railroads" by Kalmbach Publishing. For N scale, I've found that plexiglass is overkill. You can go to a local craft store -- they sell VERY inexpensive sheets of clear plastic. The ones I got were made for "stained glass" projects and came in a pack of 2 or 3 for only a few dollars. Can't recall the name off the top of my head (something like Krystal something) -- they came in a light blue wrapper. Enough for several N scale skyscrapers. Really, once you assemble the clear box, you can use varying thickness of styrene strip to create the building's surface. Look at some photos for reference. And keep in mind the height of your windows, or you risk blowing them out of scale.
  5. Kodachrome

    Kodachrome New Member

    Thanks guys, the plexiglass/clear plastic method seems it would be an excellent idea for modeling modern city buildings and I plan on having a cityscape on the expanded edition of the layout but right now I'm just looking to model some modern rail served industries. I'd like them to look big enough to be served by rail as well. What exactly is "cereal board"? I might know it by another name but I'm not familiar with that term.
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    "Cereal Board" is a "gaugism." Matthyro has built some awesome scratchbuilt structures using cardboard from cereal boxes hence "cereal board."
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

  8. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Kodachrome!

    I think your industrial architecture should depend on what type of locale you’re modeling…

    Back in the 60’s & 70’s, there was a trend toward what was commonly called “urban renewal” …this was a scheme that backfired, in many instances, but that’s another story…

    One of the results of the urban renewal drive was to remove heavy industry from the urban areas, & to develop “industrial parks” on what had once been rural areas on the outskirts of metropolitan areas…

    The extra space allowed industries to expand into roomier quarters than they had known in the cities…The result being a move toward larger, lower, industrial buildings, tending toward a more generic style, using lots of concrete, & corrugated metal construction…

    N scale is a great scale to model this type of industry in, because it enables you to better capture the sheer size of these buildings on a reasonably sized layout…

    For scratchbuilding these types of structures, I would look into Evergreen styrene sheets…they make many types of corrugated sidings, & plain styrene makes a good representation of concrete…

    I would also recommend looking into products by Pikestuff…they make lots of building components in this modern industrial style, & they are all well suited to using in many different applications, & configurations… They would also be a good source for modern industrial windows, & doors…

    I hope this helps…

    p.s. If I’ve included any typos, just add them to the “Gaugespeak” to English Dictionary! :D ;) :D
  9. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

  10. Kodachrome

    Kodachrome New Member

    This particular part of the railroad is a rural mountain area. I have room for and want two fairly large modern looking industries. I'm thinking probably the low concrete or corrugated type structure. The biggest problem I face right now is an almost non existent hobby budget. I've looked at pikestuff and like it a lot but can't afford it. I've also browsed the Evergreen stuff at the HS in the past but I live in the boonies and the HS is over an hour away. With the price of gas these days I can't make that trip just for the styrene alone. I'll have to wait till the wife needs something else from the "city" area. I'm hoping to come up with something made from cardboard, illustration board or foam core or anything else I can pick up from the local "Wally World" (Is that a guageism by chance?:))
    Right now the "layout is on a 2 inch piece of foam board which is 2ft. X 8ft. in size and it's in a spare bedroom. Eventually it will be moved into a 9ft.X 14ft. area in a seperate building I have on the property here. I have to get power run out there first though. I was just about dying to get back into the hobby and build something though and I already had a lot of unused Peco code 55 turnouts and flextrack plus a few bridges and piers but unfortunately no structures. BTW can you guys tell what my favorite diesel color scheme is?:D
  11. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Ni Michael,
    Check out -
    They have a lot of stuff you can order on line...
  12. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Michael, one thing you could do is make some mock-ups of the buildings first. Just use whatever cardboard you have hanging around the house. Or, if you feel ambitious, you can also build final structures out of cardboard as well.

    Matthyro (aka Robin) does amazing work using "cerealboard" which is basically leftover cereal boxes. They're free, and I gather at his house, plentiful! If you do a search for threads he's started you will find lots of inspiration.

    Then, start collecting pix of the kinds of buildings you want. I usually start with a Google search, or you can look at existing models and get ideas from them.


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