*Full disclosure, I wrote this while sick with the flu. I hope it makes sense.*
I have two main additions to the grav train and I’m tossing in a third piece of general terrain just because it fits in best with these guys. As you can see in the featured image, the main two pieces are a large tank and a coal car. Well, you can’t tell that exactly from the unpainted image… just trust me. The third piece is something you’ve probably seen a million times online, and that’s a soda can turned fuel tank piece.
Here are the tanks together before painting:
Okay, so let’s discuss the smaller tank first.
Formboard (standard, not Reddi-board)
Craft Paints (Grey, Gunmetal, Orange, Brown, Black, White, Green)
Wood Stain (Optional, you could do a brown wash)
This thing is pretty easy, you can look at the photo above and knock it out.
First, enjoy your beverage. Rip the tab out and recycle it. Next, flip the can top side down on some chipboard. If you are not familiar with chipboard, it is a dense cardboard material. You can buy a stack of 12″ x 12″ sheets offline. It is almost like the thick backing of notebooks, you know that rigid brown piece at the back. Honestly, you could probably use that if you have an old one around the house. Anyway, draw a circle the size of the top and cut that out. Then keep trimming the circle until it fits neatly over the top (see above image if needed). Hot glue that in place.
Next, cut a square of foam board the width of your soda can… or the outer diameter (OD) of it if you want to get technical. This is the OD of the middle of the can where it is thickest. Next, draw a line that divides that square in half. Place your can in the center and to the best of your ability outline the OD with a pen of pencil (if you have a compass, just use that to do the work for you). Next, measure 3/4″ from each side parallel to the line you drew to split the square. Cut off these two pieces, you can discard the middle section. Finally, with the two left over pieces, cut out the two half-circles. You have just created the two supporting legs. Hot Glue those bad boys onto that soda can, son!
Now, take your straw and determine how you want it to look coming out of the front of the can. Cut when you have the desired size. See the above image if you need inspiration. you could do multiple straws if you wanted. Once you have a settled length, pump one quick bead of hot glue into one end of the straw and let it cool. Then go to the other side and fill that puppy with hot glue. This will lock in the straw’s shape and give it some stability. Hot glue the straw to the chip board.
To prime the piece, mix some black craft paint with mod podge (thank you Black Magic Craft on YouTube) and coat the whole piece. Don’t worry if the black paint doesn’t cover the piece like a traditional primer would. The mod podge will make the paint stick to the can, the black mix is there to make your coverage task a little easier.
To paint the tank I used red. Took multiple coats. I got tired and settled for decent. You can go for broke and shoot for fully red. Terrain making is a balance of speed versus quality. I seldom shoot for quality.
To paint the concrete (get ready to see this recipe a lot), I base coat in grey, then sponge on lightly white, then green, then black. Then I sponge on grey over that to break it up. I will cover this more in a later post where it matters more. These legs are tiny. You could just slap the grey on and be fine.
To paint the straw, I first painted it black, then heavy sponged on orange and then heavily sponged on gunmetal. The small bits of orange and black popping out among the gunmetal will add a lot.
I think added some nicks of gunmetal to the tank, edge highlighted the concrete white, and added weathering on the bottom of the straw and supports with the wood stain. You could apply a brown or black wash to the whole thing to tone it down, but I chose not to. You could also get some hazard warning signs printed onto paper and mod podge those onto the finished product to give some more detail if you wanted.
For the big tank:
Some big cardboard cylindrical container (I used a protein powder can, but you could use Pringles, Target has large containers of oats, baby formulas cans, etc.) Just pick what ever fits your scale or desired look.
Mod Podge, Paint, Stain, Hot glue
To make it:
Hot glue that lid shut.
Ask yourself if you really want a platform on top. No? Skip this. Yes? Ask yourself why you do these things to yourself. Honestly, I just made a box with an opening on one side, slapped some grating in it (I did not paint the floor of said box black before doing this… you may want to and probably should). Next, I made a pretty basic ladder out of coffee stirrers. Hot glue it all. Then hot glue that mess to the can. Actually, hot glue the ladder last…. and dry fit first.
Man, these are terrible instructions. This is why I keep my tutorials basic overall. Oh well, we are this far in. Let’s keep going!
This part is a design choice I made for me and my grav train. You could make supports similar to those I made above. For me, I just needed to balance half the tank on the edge of the train, so I just made two little wedges to force the tank against the train edge. Then, I made them hook back. This space is enough room for a model to hide out in some decent cover.
Mod Podge, paint, weather the same as the other tank. The grating was painted with gunmetal and a copper paint. The wood was painted brown, dry brushed tan, highlighted tan.
The Coal Car
Paints, Wood stain, PVA Glue
So, I was very intentional on the scale of this car. First, it could only be so wide and long and still fit inside a grav train car. But, the height was up for grabs. So I decided to keep it the same as all my other one story buildings (3″ tall, with a sunked roof at 2 1/4″). This was done so that if I used the piece without the train it would match the standard height structure of the other buildings around it and could use any clip on features that connect buildings.
I added two ladders on the shorter ends so models moving along the train could easily climb up. I made these out of coffee stirrers.
Next, fill the roof with a thin coat of PVA glue and dump in some sand. You may want to seal the edges with some hot glue first to avoid sand spilling out onto your work area. I found doing this process twice gave me a better result than just one application. The point is to make it look like this whole thing is loaded with coal, so make sure there aren’t any obvious flat sections.
I then did a quick PVA coating on all exposed foam sections and hit the whole thing with some flat red spray primer that I had left over from when I made that second set of road tiles. This was the color of the car over all. I just added some gunmetal nicks and wood stain weathering.
Painted the ladder same as above.
For the coal, I did a thin coat of black. It did not fully cover the red and I will be honest…. once again, I simply couldn’t be bothered. It looked good enough for me. That is a repeated theme with big terrain builds for me… I start to cut corners just to finish. I tend to have more patience for quality when I do small projects. Anyway, I hit that with a dry brush of grey.
So, that is that. If it is not apparent, I do not feel 100% at the time of this writing. I have been battling the flu for the last few days and let me tell you… it is horrible. I even got a flu shot, which they say lessens the effects. I cannot image what it is like if this is a mild version of it. I have never felt so bad in my life.
Everything aches, I am exhausted, I can barely hold onto a thought, and I am locked in our guest room because my two-year old son normally runs and hugs me every time he first sees me in the morning or comes home from day care…. which I have had to miss so I do not get him sick. So, I have not seen my son in two days, which is actually the worst part of this whole thing. After he goes to bed, my wife and I had chatted for a while, me in the guest room with the door open.
Other than that, I have literally only spoken to my cat who has not left my side other than to use his litter box or get his own food. I don’t get the idea that cats are not as loyal as dogs. This little dude is probably the only reason I have what little sanity I have managed to maintain during this ordeal. Between the fevers, aches, isolation, and confinement to a guest room and bathroom for the sake of my family… my mind has been going a bit stir-crazy. That’s why I’m typing this on a Friday night and scheduling for a Sunday post. So, if any of this is bonkers or unreadable… well, at least I can say that not even the flu could keep me from posting.
Maybe it should have… who knows.