Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Play-Doh, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but I didnt see a sticky about it.

    Can someone tell me a bit about styrene? Up till now ive been using foam board for the base of most of my scatchbuilding structures and its just not working quite right. I really want to simulate siding of houses. Is styrene available with a siding texture? What kind of textures and dimensions is stryrene sold as/in? Is it very expensive?

    Thanks for the help ahead of time.

  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Styrene is just a fancy-pants way to say "plastic." Several companies produce styrene in different siding patterns: scribed, clapboard, board & batten, corrugated, textured, squares (for use as sidewalks) and more. Evergreen is the first company that comes to mind but there are more. It is also available in dimensional sizes like plastic "lumber."

    It's not super cheap to buy but it's not horribly expensive either: more than cardboard but less than wood. The cheapest way to buy it, if you need really big quantities for very large structures, is to buy it in 4x8 foot or 36x72 inch sheets from an industrial plastic supplier. Common thicknesses in model railroading use are .020", .040", .060" and .080" but they can be had in other thicknesses.
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    If you're unfamiliar with styrene, Evergreen has a very informative booklet on working with styrene. I can't recall the title, but your LHS should either have it, or be able to get it for you.

  4. Jac's Lines

    Jac's Lines Member


    I know you asked about styrene, but if you're interested in really getting into scratchbuilding, you might want to consider wood. You can purchase sheets of scribed siding that simulates common construction methods (like clapboard, board and batten, etc.). Micromark ( has pretty good prices -- for picking sizing a good rule of thumb for HO is that 1/8" is close to 1 scale foot. Local hobby stores also will carry scribed siding (in both wood and styrene).

    The advantages of wood are that 1) it looks like wood (so you get wood grain without having to do anything special ) and 2) it's easily glued with common yellow carpenters 'glue or superglue. Styrene needs solvent based cement (which your LHS can help you with).

    When I got started seriously in scratchbuilding, someone alerted me to the old Campbell's kits. They are wood and just a step down from full scale scratchbuilding -- basically you get detailed instructions and all the wood, windows, shingles, etc. that you need. These really are a great way to cut your teeth with basic scratchbuilding techniques if you haven't had much experience with it, and all the needed parts are right there in the box so you don't need to mess around with guessing how much wood you need. Campbell's is sadly not making kits currently (although rumor says they will be back soon), but kits are available on ebay and hobby shops still occasionally have them on the shelves. also shows some still available. They are pricey, but a lot of the really great current scratchbuilders got their start with them.

    Of course, there are also some really good tutorials in the Academy section of the gauge, which can walk you through scratchbuilding from start to finish...
  5. Jac's Lines

    Jac's Lines Member

    One other thing: back in the days before readily available styrene, scratchers used cardstock of various thicknesses (usually available in craft or art supply stores). With the same basic techniques used for building in wood or styrene, you can build really good structures with cardstock. In the Academy, look at the threads by Robin (Matthyro) to see what can be done with cardboard:

    His work was just fantastic and his posts on the gauge were a major reason that I got back into scratchbuilding a couple years ago.
  6. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Great advice! Thank you everyone! I love the gauge more every day! You guys rock!
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Actually, the Campbell kits are in production. The present owner has announced that he will not introduce any new kits, but will continue to produce the existing Campbell designs. I don't believe they have a web page though.

    My first structure kit was a Campbell freight station. It didn't fall together like an Athearn BB, but it wasn't difficult either. Just follow the directions - Campbell included great templates - and stain/paint to suit.

    my thoughts, your choices

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