Scratchbuild wannabe question

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by goldshark, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. goldshark

    goldshark New Member


    All right, some of you guys just knock my socks off with your scratchbuilding skills. Now tell me something: where do you get your plans ? I sure hope you don't just dream them up in your heads !
    In other words, how does a newbe get started as far as dimensions goes ?

    TIA, Al Clermont, Fl
  2. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I dream them up in my head from looking at period pictures. Doors are 6 foot 8 to 7 foot high. I'm serious, I at most do a sketch. I started a Yahoo group and posted some old plans. Join if you want, but only myself and a few other members of all that have joined ever uploaded any plans. Fred
  3. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Like Fred,I get most of my ideas from pictures or just using my inagination.It does help if you know the size of a door or window.

    Even if you are no artist a rough sketch is very helpful in giving you an idea of what your building will look like finished.

    Another thought is to clone a kit building from a picture and modify it to suit your tastes.
  4. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Same here - I use plans from Garden Railways and Model Railroader when I can - but I look at prototypes & just start measuring & drawing :) :)
  5. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I make my own based on photos for the most part. I have used published plans in model railroad magazines and books dedicated to building plans, but for the most part I adapt what I see. I try to draw out a plan on paper rather than just going entirely "by eye" (paper is cheaper than wood or plastic.)

    If you have a photo of something that is still around, you can take some measurements and then interpolate dimensions, reducing where necessary. If you're working from a photo of something that you can't get to now (either it is far away or no longer exists) you may need to look for some element of the building etc. that you can interpolate (like a doorway, or a person in the photograph.
  6. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Mostly in my head. Or a picture I have taken.Like Dash, I guesstimate by using doors and windows as a point of reference.
  7. philip

    philip Guest

    Most the time I'll recon the actual building and measure every nook and cranny. The problem is the gabels of roofs especially if its a large structure. Then I'll photograph the building and print the image on paper resizing until its in scale.

    This picture is a project that I'm suppose to be doing for our family. Its a old abandoned church my great grandfather built. I'm planning on HO scale but the brick work is awesome. Hard to mimic in Ho scale. :cry: Kind of a rough example just to give you an idea.


    Attached Files:

  8. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    In addition to the above mentioned Yahoo group, there are several groups dedicated to Model RR structures, scratchbuilding, etc. Check it out.

    Even the Gorre and Daphetid yahoo group has plans for some of Mr Allen's famous structures like the engine house and others. There are also FSM and Tom Yorke groups for inspiration.
  9. goldshark

    goldshark New Member

    You guys have been most helpful, thanks. Tomorrow I'll stop at the local hobby shop and pick up an 'HO' ruler'.

    Al Clermont, Fl
  10. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Also do a search on the net for "MR Scale Calc 32" it is a great convertor.
    You can select your scale (8 to choose from), enter a length (inch, foot, cm, or mm).
    Then hit 1:1 and you get the actual length.

    For example, the Church above is 35' x 33.5', in N scale that would be:
    2.625000 inches x 2.512500
  11. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    I often work from photos to do working drawings for renovations, additions, etc. Usually, I'm involved with a building hundreds of miles away and a builder whose field measurement abilities are lacking. Usually, they forget to bring a ladder, too. The first thing I tell them is to measure exactly 4 laps of siding or 4 courses of bricks. I then can divide by 4, get an average unit measurerment and by counting siding or brick, I can determine all kinds of vertical measurements , roof pitch, etc.

    Tricks of the trade that may be useful here.

  12. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Mostly in me head...sorry :p ;) When I started the hobby back in '73, I had no coin so I had to make do. I even used a scale ruler I cut out of a MR magazine. Worked so well I didn't get a real one for another 15 years.
  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I had one of those! They printed little "scale ruler" sheets on the edge of the magazine, I cut it out and glued it to a piece of .020" styrene and used it for years!

    The metal ones are nicer, though...a bit of advice for those who want to use published plans: Get a multi-scale ruler (one with measurements for O, HO, N and Z) so you can translate plans published for other scales to your scale. Plans for large structures published in magazines tend to be rendered in smaller scale (to fit on the page) and smaller items tend to be rendered in larger scales. A ruler with the most common scales on it will let you make use of any plan! Or know the ratios between scales (easily worked out on a calculator) so you can use a photocopier with enlarger/reducer functions to produce a your-scale copy of a plan...
  14. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    I have used a metal ruler that has measurements in N scale and have been able to use it to make an N gauge structure from any plan or photo. Of course I change the shape and or size of the structure to fit the space I have.
  15. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

    I guess I'm really lazy. I try to work from as broadside a shot as possible and put it in an layer in CorelDraw. Then I draw some known dimentioned objects in another layer and size the 1st one so they match. Then I just draw over the image (almost like tracing) and all should be pretty close. Nice thing about a vector DRAW (not Paint) program like CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator is that they are infinitely resizable so you can adjust it or resize to another scale.
  16. Dragon

    Dragon Member

    My scratchbuilt enginehouse is "inspired" by John Allen's, but all the measurements are based on my Mantua mallet. That is the biggest engine it was designed to handle, thus the doors were made slightly wider and taller than that engine so it will fit, but nothing larger. It certainly doesn't match up with the NMRA "standards" template I have. :)

    Overall, it's all being dreamed up as I glue each board in place.

  17. JBBVry

    JBBVry Member

    well i get Blueprints from old MR's and RMC's and there are some of us who have saved all the paperwork from ever kit we ever owned. and we traid them to others. i have about 100 sets now some are FSM if you are interested contact me at

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