Tasha Oates updated November 19, 2010


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  • Modeling Board and Batten Structures:

    Some Methods to Model a Familiar Structure Siding Type 

    By Sam Swanson, Photos by the author

    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-and- batten siding, by illustrating various construction and finishing techniques.

    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.

    Outline Frame Sheathing

    If you want to build up your siding board by board and don’t 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 Elmer’s® Carpenter’s yellow glue to secure the floor and then after it’s properly aligned, use a gap-filling 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 it’s white. Then with the model right side up, dry brush 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 it’s built into the topography, as shown in Photo 3. Then it’s relatively straightforward to incorporate the structure into your layout scenery (see Photo 4).

    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 it’s 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 don’t 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.

    Church of the Atonement

    Honestly, I didn’t make up this church’s name. The prototype church is located in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, and it’s 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 don’t 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.

    Outline basswood frames with sheet styrene floors ready to be sheathed (with prepainted styrene strips on the left, basswood on the right).

    After boards, battens, windows and doors are installed, residences are mounted on bases to facilitate addition of delicate details, such as porches and steps. Interior walls and window shades are made from tan cardstock.

    Finished residences ready for layout installation. Note how the vertical lines created by the board-and-batten siding contrast with typical horizontal clapboard siding on the right.

    The residence’s base is placed into the layout topography, and the scenery blended with the base’s scenicked edge.

    Both basswood siding (1/16” thick) and sheet styrene (.040 thick) require substantial interior bracing (with at least 1/8”- square stock recommended).

    The texture of styrene (left) and basswood (right) can be made similar by sanding with an emery board and distressing with a sharp hobby knife blade.

    To break up the near-perfect battens present in wood and styrene siding, use a chisel hobby knife blade to slice off random battens. Then glue some wood replacements, using various widths of scale 1” stock.

    Inexpensive styrene kits, such as the gray Tichy handcar shed (#7011) and tan Life-Like western homestead (#1338) can be detailed, distressed and modified for a variety of residences and similar small structures. Use sheet styrene to fill in windows, and wood for batten extensions and replacements. Nail hole detail can also be added to styrene walls, using a sharp, thin needle in a pin vise.

    After exterior walls are painted and weathered, the interior is painted black and roof panels installed. The two roof panels are .020 scribed sheet styrene.

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

    Field notes and photos were used to build up the HO scale mockup, which was originally sketched on graph paper. After determining the church was too big for layout installation, the mockup was reduced by 15 percent using a photocopier, and a selectively compressed model was built (and shown as such in the construction templates).

    Cut the four spire walls from Evergreen Scale Models .040 thick, .125 spacing board-and-batten sheet stock (#4544). Modify Grandt Line styrene 8-pane windows (#5255), by removing the mullions, for the louver frames. Add louver slats using scale 1x4 basswood. Use scale 1” thick basswood to frame the doorway, and add the ornamental peaks over the doors and louvers. Tack the basswood components into place with yellow glue and permanently secure with CA.

    Assemble the building walls over graph paper, using the three basic wall shapes and ESM .080 x 5/32” strip styrene (#167) for bracing. (Although I didn’t do it, it’s easiest to add the windows and ornamental above-window basswood trim to the walls before assembling the building.)

    Throughout the assembly process, check the vertical alignment of the building and spire with a small drafting triangle. The graph paper will insure the building goes together horizontally true.

    Add the interior bracing, window glazing and shades, and spire screen door framing. After painting the doorframe, install 200-mesh stainless steel screen (Building & Structure Company #5015).

    Install the roof panels, using the three basic roof shapes, over the styrene supports. I used cast urethane panels, which I cast in a rubber mold from a roof panel in a Kibri warehouse kit #9462. Again, I used yellow glue to tack the panels into place and secure them permanently with gap-filling CA.

    Add the foundation (two stacks of 1/8”-square balsa, painted dark brown) and mount the church building and spire on a base (1/2” insulation foam). Paint the walls white, and tie everything together with a dark brown acrylic wash. Prime the roof a dark color and fill in any imperfections.

    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.
















    Article Details

    • Original Author Sam Swanson
    • Source Model Railroading

    Article Album (20 photos)

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