Finishing the Harbor

After the harbor water was poured, time to texture it. I used Dave Frary’s method employing decoupage material (Modge-Podge is one brand). The method involves using a brush to stipple the water surface with a series of thin coats to build up waves.

Texturing water 1 Texturing water 2

It’s important to use an up-and-down motion. If the brush is dragged along the surface, it will look like a brush was dragged across the surface. The method can be used on a painted surface, but will require a couple dozen applications to look right. I poured casting resin to hide bottom imperfections.

I used four coats. A couple of coats were tinted to vary water color. The stuff dries fairly fast: around 20 minutes. Mr. Frary recommends doing one layer per day, but you can do a couple of layers an hour. The results look good:

Water texture 2 Water texture 3

The more coats, the higher the waves. I just wan’t some ripples rather than a wind-swept surface.

Water done, it was time to move on to the car ferry pier.

The first step was to place the longitudinal stringers:

Pier stringers 1 Pier building 3 Pier building 2

These were formed of 3/32″ stripwood representing 12 ” x 12″ timbers. I used Rustoleum Camouflage Brown for painting.  I’d given some thought to how to install the decking. I’d ordered some scale 2″ x 12″ lumber for the top deck, but the wood is far too thin for structural support. It occurred to me that I could use 1/8″ sheet balsa for the sub-deck the rails were attached to, and use another layer of 1/8″ sheet balsa overlaid with the 2 x 12’s for the top deck. The 1/8″ balsa overlaid with the 2 x 12’s would just about come to the tops of the rails.

The first step was to remove the ties from the track on the pier, then epoxy them to the sub-deck. It’s probably much easier to remove ties from track not already laid, but I managed to get it done with minimum collateral damage.

Pier sub base 1 Pier sub base 2

An NMRA gauge kept proper rail separation. This was the first time I’d used it. I outlined the rails with a furniture pen (Dark Walnut) so the unpainted sub-deck wouldn’t show through the flangeways.

Outlining track on pier

Because the top deck would be made up of sections, I had to have a way to ensure that they would fit against the track. I decided that I could make templates by making a rubbing of the track on typing paper, then cutting the sections out.

Track rubbing

I don’t know if printer paper will work due to its increased thickness.

After cutting the templates out and transferring them to the sheet balsa, I started laying the top deck.

Building pier deck 2 Building pier deck 1

NWSL’s Chopper II was the tool of choice to cut the hundreds of planks. Per prototype practice, I laid the timbers between the rails, and a couple rows outside the rails parallel to the track. All other planks were laid perpendicular. The timbers were attached with straight white glue smeared on the base. I found that working about an inch at a time yielded the best results. After the glue dried, I trimmed the edge with a razor blade, then test-fit and sanded as needed.

Building pier deck 3

After painting, the sections were laid on the sub-deck.

Installing pier deck 1

I trimmed the end of the pier with a cutoff wheel in a motor tool. This method worked well enough that I’ll probably use it on similar projects.

To finish the project, I needed to install handrails and lights. I had a specific look I wanted, and spent some time searching for the right pieces. I found some photo-etched brass handrails in the style I wanted, but the lights were a bit harder. I finally found the right ones, but they were operating models. I hadn’t planned on having operating lights, but I figured I’d take off the bulb and use the poles.

I’d never used photo-etched brass, but remembered from reading the hobby press that brass should be soaked in a vinegar solution to give the surface ‘tooth’ for the paint to hold on to. Because I was using an enamel, I considered baking the pieces, but decided that would be overkill for this application. After painting, I started installing the handrails.

Installing pier railing 1

I found that having light-colored paper behind the work really aided in being able to see what was going on. This particular item had mounting pins on every stanchion, but I discovered that it was much easier to mount the rail if I cut off pins and mounted every fourth stanchion. To mount, I drilled a #70 hole, inserted the pin, and applied a very small drop of CA. I let each pin dry before moving on to the next.

The lights were made of black plastic, which was appropriate for the application. I applied a white/grey mixture of acrylic paint to the shades and top of the gooseneck to simulate pigeon and seagull activity.

Car pier 1 Car pier 2 Car pier 4

And there it is. The harbor is essentially done.


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2 Responses to Finishing the Harbor

  1. John says:

    Well done! Did you put any kind of sealer on the last layer of decoupage? I have use Mod-Podge, but found that it remains tacky unless sealed.


    • bkivey says:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for the kind words. I didn’t use any sealer, and Mr. Frary doesn’t mention it in his how-to video. Both the casting resin and the Mod-Podge dried hard.

      Liked by 2 people

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