by: Keith Magee [ ]
I was asked to build a small “how to” diorama, utilizing the new 135th Construction Battalion Chimney section – a wonderful piece from the VLS line of diorama accessories. “Keep it simple – make it nice” was all I was told… so with an afternoon to spare, I began and finished this project.
THE CONCEPTThe key element of this piece is the resin work “Smoke Stack” (CO 0098). The kit is a two-piece simple concept affair that could easily be fit into any number of possible settings. I chose to augment the base of the kit with a set of resin boiler pipes (Gameworks), a fire door (scratch built), and some resin wall (Scalemilitary.com)
I wanted a project that I could complete in a single day, and at the same time, wanted to highlight the wonderful detail of the brickwork comprising the stack. It appears as if to have been built “brick by brick”, rather than carved.
PREP WORKAs with all resin kits, I began by washing down all of the pieces with a rag dampened with rubbing alcohol. Not only does this remove and dust and fingerprints from the piece, but also removes an traces of silicone separating fluid used in some resin mold processes.
I also wanted to deepen the recess of the stack opening, as the current configuration is only about ½ inch deep. I got out my trusty 6” drill bit, and centered a hole and cleaned out the section from end to end. I used a small flat file to finish of the interior to give is a smooth masonry appearance.
Once this was done, I primed all of the pieces in a flat light gray and let them dry for an hour.
THE BLUEPRINTI now had to decide on the final layout… I came up with a corner concept on a stone floor. While the wonderful little Gamework pipe kit is almost 7” in length, a little cutting would allow me to still get some great detail into the finished work The final concept is show in the next photo.
I also new that I didn’t want to build a smoke stack directly to the floor, so I created a small “ceramic” kiln, with a set of metal cleanout doors. This was all done using small Plastruct™ sections of scrap from previous efforts. I capped the edges of the tile area with quarter-round strip, and then used a bit of Tamiya model putty to cover any gaps.
Once all the kit components were decided upon and test-fitted, actual work began.
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLORUsing acrylic hobby paint, I first gave all pieces their darkest primary coloration, using Brick Red for the Stack brickwork, and Dark Terra Cotta for the actual bricks shown in the damaged walls. The pipe section was primed in a deep Black-green called “Wrought Iron”. The floor was simply giving a dark umber wash over the existing gray primer. Once all of the pieces were dry, I began doing the detail work of picking out individual bricks with similar earth tones to the initial primary color… I did this by adding tints of Tan, Brown, and Pink to the original color, thereby mimicking the variations often found in batches of brick.
The metal pipes and the boiler doors were metalized with an over-brush of Aluminum, and some Brass touches here and there. Rust was added near the end section of pipe that shows a rupture, and a bit of dark rust was also added to the doors. A small latch and hinge was found in the spare parts box, and this was placed on the doors in the closed position.
Finally, all the finished pieces were glued in place, and a unified wash of dark umber was applied evenly to all walls and exposed surfaces. A dark charcoal gray soot was added to the inner ledge of the Smoke Stack, and a darker spray of flat black was shot inside of the now hollow interior core. A large helping of homemade rubble and battered bricks was strewn about an glued in place with a diluted solution of white glue and water. Once the glue had basically cured to the point that the debris was fixed,. I had burned a total of 8 hours.
WRAPPING UPThis was a fun project… the smoke stack made a great center focus point of a small vignette. I plan to add a few British Red Devil scouts on patrol inspecting the area. I think that working on a “one day project” is not only satisfying for me as a modeler, but is a great way to get the next generation of modelers introduced to the hobby… in today’s “instant gratification” mindset, a two or three week project doesn’t have as much impact potential to hold a kids attention. Working on a tight timeframe on multiple related pieces to deliver a finished scene in a single day provides enough constant activity and sense of accomplishment to keep a wondering mind focused. What a great way for a dad to spend the day with his son!