Christopher Brimley updated May 12, 2011

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  • Modeling Board-and-Batten Structures

    by Sam Swanson

    Photos by the author

    A loaded 20-ton G&LR hopper rolls by gravity past a modest board-and-batten home at the edge of Hall Hollow. The residence is built with a basswood frame and styrene boards and battens.
    Model Railroading - December 2005 - Page 22

    As structure siding goes, board-and-batten is my favorite style...unless the siding is heavily corroded corrugated metal, crumbling red brick or dry-rotted diagonal wood sheathing. Well, you get the idea. Board-and-batten siding creates an appealing vertical texture and pattern for model structure exteriors. It can be effectively modeled with basswood or styrene, both in sheet form or individual strips. This article presents examples on how to model board-andbatten siding, by illustrating various construction and finishing techniques.

    Outline Frame Sheathing

    If you want to build up your siding board by board and dont require a detailed interior, consider using an outline frame. For small houses and buildings, use scale 6"-square lumber and frame the outline of the walls and roof (allowing for thickness of the siding). Then assemble the outline frame, and add a .040 sheet styrene floor, which significantly stiffens the frame. I use Elmers Carpenters yellow glue to secure the floor and then after its properly aligned, use a gapfilling cyanoacrylate (CA) (typically Zap-A-Gap) to reinforce the perimeter joints (see Photo 1). Then add any additional framing to outline all doors and windows you plan to install. Use the actual detail part as a gauge to insure proper spacing of the framing wood.

    You may want to paint the floor a medium brown or tan, such as Floquil Foundation, before starting the board and batten installation. Start by painting the sheathing boards exterior side, whether they are styrene or basswood strips. Add the boards around the windows and doors first, and work out to the corners. Test fit the windows and doors, and paint them to match the exterior siding. Install them before adding the battens. And use the same yellow glue/CA sequence for securing all plastic and metal joints to your wood frame and boards.

    Glue the battens (also pre-painted) over the gaps in the boards. Finish the exterior by touching up with paint and weathering the exterior so the siding, window and door features blend in well together (see Photo 2). A quick way to blend these details is to hold the model upside down, flow on an ink stain along the undersides of areas that would be shadowed, and let dry. The ink stain (three drops of india ink per ounce of rubbing alcohol) will tend to gray the exterior, particularly if its white. Then with the model right side up, drybrush some full strength of the base color over the high points.

    Mount the structure on a base and build delicate details, such as steps and porches, in place. Paint the interior a dark brown or black, and add shades and view-block walls (a piece of colored cardstock), before installing the roof. Then add some ground cover and scenic details, so the structure looks like its built into the topography, as shown in Photo 3. Then its relatively straightforward to incorporate the structure into your layout scenery (see Photo 4).

    Outline basswood frames with sheet styrene floors ready to be sheathed (with prepainted styrene strips on the left, basswood on the right).
    Model Railroading - December 2005 - Page 23

    Solid Wall Construction

    Both wood and styrene sheet stock materials, milled with a board-and-batten surface, are convenient for small and large structures. Assembling rectangular and peaked sides cut from commercially available sheets goes relatively quickly (particularly when compared with outline-frame model assembly). Because of the warping propensity of large walls, both styrene and wood walls should be heavily braced, with stock at least 1/8" square (see Photo 5).

    Wood and styrene offer much the same fine detail, with more texture initially using the basswood stock, comparatively shown in Photo 6. Use an emery board and sand lightly in the direction of the board grain to impart some initial roughness to both styrene and basswood. Then add wood grain using a sharp #11 hobby knife blade. Lightly score wood grain by drawing the blade from top to bottom along the length of the board.

    Although its easy enough to roughen and distress styrene to look like wood, replacing styrene battens with wood goes the farthest to varying the near-perfect appearance of the styrene walls (see Photo 7). And dont overlook inexpensive styrene kits with a bit of distressing, new battens, and even geometry modifications, these kit walls can be used for a variety of buildings. A couple of examples are shown in Photo 8.

    Regardless of wall material type, use thin .020 V-groove styrene for roof panels (see Photo 9). I lightly brush Floquil Earth or Foundation along the grain before gluing the panel in place. After the roof is completed and the building placed on a base, accentuate the battens by drybrushing or sanding them lightly, as illustrated in Photo 10. Sanding to accentuate detail is one of the chief advantages of using wood, as styrene battens are best accentuated through drybrushing.

    With the roof finished and the structure mounted on a base, sand highlights along the wood battens using 400grit sandpaper. A bit of sanding goes a long way in accentuating the vertical detail.
    Model Railroading - December 2005 - Page 24 Model Railroading - December 2005 - Page 25

    Church of the Atonement

    Honestly, I didnt make up this churchs name. The prototype church is located in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, and its a good example of assembling a board-and-batten structure using sheet styrene. See the drawings and Photos 11-18, for a step-by-step summary of using sheet styrene, basswood trim, styrene window castings and cast plastic sheet roofing.

    As demonstrated through the several examples in this article, there are many ways to effectively model board-and-batten siding. And dont hesitate to use wood and styrene on the same model, as with a bit of sanding and distressing with a hobby knife blade, styrene can be textured and subsequently painted to appear like wood.

    Install the roof ridge plates and valley flashing, scenic details and entrance details (such as the stoop, stairs and handrails). Drybrush the shingles with some tan to accent the roof detail.
    Model Railroading - December 2005 - Page 26 Model Railroading - December 2005 - Page 27

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