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The Shipyard at Foss' Landing (Diorama) by gjdale (Grant) - FINISHED - SierraWest - Scale 1:87 (HO)

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I came across this kit by accident some years ago when a fellow modeller posted something about it on the forum here. I can’t remember now exactly who that was, but whoever you are, it’s all your fault! 


I thought this was a lovely diorama – something I had not tried my hand at before, and even though I’m not a “trains” guy, I was intrigued to learn more. My investigation led me to the SierraWest website, where I learned that this model kit uses a number of interesting and innovative modelling techniques that are certainly new to me. I just had to give it a try. And while I was at it, I couldn’t help myself and bought a “companion” diorama of Foss’ Landing – something for a future build… The kit designer and website owner, Brett Gallant, has done an excellent job of putting this kit together, including a substantial 106pg instruction manual that covers a lot about the techniques as well as building instructions. His website also has several videos demonstrating some of these techniques, and a forum area where there are several build logs of this and other kits.


When I broke the kit out the other day, I was thinking it was only a couple of years ago that I had bought the kit(s). When I thought further on this, I realised that it was actually in 2015 that I bought these, fully intending at the time that these would be the “next” model. Well, seven years later, I’m finally ready to start!

What’s in the box?

The box is well packed and organised, containing a number of individually numbered sealed bags of strip wood and other content, several laser-cut sheets of card, drawings/plans and templates, a box of resin mouldings and metal castings, and a substantial instruction manual.


Numbered bags indicate the contents of each:




Some bags specific to a particular part of the model:




The mouldings and castings:




Laser cut card:









Windows and mylar inserts:











Instruction Manual – wire bound “lay flat”





Advance Preparations

Construction begins with some advance preparations. Being a railroad model, there is reference throughout the manual to Floquil paint colours. These were discontinued some years ago, and the kit designer now favours acrylic paints from AK Interactive. However, there is no direct conversion suggestion from named Floquil colours. I spent a considerable time researching on the internet to try to get as close a match as I could to the Floquil colours. Try as I might, I could not find a conversion chart that included both the Floquil and AK paints. I ended up using a site that specialised in paint matching, typed in the Floquil colour name and then used the resultant screen depiction to try to match against an AK colour. Although there are certainly limitations on screen/monitor colour representation, I think I got reasonably close in the end. At the end of the day, an exact match isn’t important, but I’d like to be “in the ballpark”.


Three Floquil colours are needed for the advance preparation: Grimy Black, Boxcar Red, and Earth. My AK matches were Basalt Grey, Mahogany Brown, and Grimy Grey respectively. Why paint manufacturers use obscure names instead of a scientific identification system is beyond me!


First up, Bag #5 is called for:




From there we are instructed to extract the three sheets of 4” x 6: tar paper, the laser cut sheet of awnings, and the sheets of laser cut shingles.


The three sheets of tar paper are all sprayed with a coat of Grimy Black/Basalt Grey on one side. One sheet has the same on the reverse, while the other two get a coat of Boxcar Red/Mahogany Brown.


The laser cut sheet of awnings gets the same treatment, and the laser cut sheets of shingles get a light coat of Earth/Grimy Grey – “just enough to hide the white paper”.


This was my first experience of using AK Interactive paints, so I was somewhat apprehensive about leaping in. My research suggested that for airbrushing they should be reduced with AK’s own thinner at a ratio of about 70/30 thinner to paint ratio. So that’s what I did. I took a little while to do some practice and fiddle with air pressure and paint delivery. With the air pressure dialled down (about 15-18psi) and the paint delivery shut almost right down, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it sprayed, with absolutely no tip-dry occurring. Here’s a picture of the completed painted parts. I’ve turned one sheet of the shingles over to show the original state. I’m pretty happy with the colours as they’ve turned out.





The other advance preparation was to make up an alcohol stain using non-waterproof black ink dissolved in isopropyl alcohol at a ratio of 1 teaspoon (5ml) of ink to one pint (600ml) of alcohol. More to be revealed on how this will be used, along with plain isopropyl alcohol, later.


Okay, we’re off and running – or crawling, anyway!


Edited by gjdale
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WHOA!!!  You weren't kidding when you said your next project would be something quite different! 


This is going to be a very interesting build to follow.  How big is this going to be when it's complete?

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Best of luck with this beauty. These are limited edition kits, with tons of details. I'll be following with interest. I've built a few laser cut kits for layouts, but not one of these high end kits.


Started: MS Bounty Longboat,

On Hold:  Heinkel USS Choctaw paper

Down the road: Shipyard HMC Alert 1/96 paper, Mamoli Constitution Cross, MS USN Picket Boat #1

Scratchbuild: Echo Cross Section


Member Nautical Research Guild

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8 hours ago, gjdale said:

However, there is no direct conversion suggestion from named Floquil colours.

Try this MRH Acrylic Post-Floquil Painting Guide - free 40 page guide for subscribers. Membership is free. 


It doesn't specifically list AK but does match to Vallejo paints which should help convert Vallejo to AK

Edited by Jack12477
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Of all the boneyards in the world {chuckle} The Foss Boatyard....


I got an opportunity to tour the SS Lady Washington when she was at Foss (Tacoma) getting restored.... Today, Foss's landing is a big shiny glass and steel museum.... I believe the original boatyard was at the head of what today is called Thea Foss Waterway.... And everyone in the nautical world should know the name of Foss.. As both a tug company and a tug builder...


I'm in, I have to be, since your modeling a piece of my home counties history...


Thank you...

Current Build: F-86F-30 Sabre by Egilman - Kinetic - 1/32nd scale

In the Garage: East Bound & Down, Building a Smokey & the Bandit Kenworth Rig in 1/25th scale

Completed: M8A1 HST  1930 Packard Boattail Speedster  M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzer  F-4J Phantom II Bell H-13's P-51B/C

Temporary Suspension: USS Gwin DD-433  F-104C Starfighter "Blue Jay Four" 1/32nd Scale

Terminated Build: F-104C Starfighter



"Relish Today, Ketchup Tomorrow"

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9 hours ago, Jack12477 said:

Try this:


That is a terrific resource all round thanks Jack! Some really good tips and even more equipment I didn’t know I needed to boot!😊

Edited by gjdale
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Very interesting  - can't beat  a  dio.



Current builds  

28mm  Battle of Waterloo   attack on La Haye Saint   Diorama.

1/700  HMS Hood   Flyhawk   with  PE, Resin  and Wood Decking.




Completed works.


Dragon 1/700 HMS Edinburgh type 42 batch 3 Destroyer plastic.

HMS Warspite Academy 1/350 plastic kit and wem parts.

HMS Trafalgar Airfix 1/350 submarine  plastic.

Black Pearl  1/72  Revell   with  pirate crew.

Revell  1/48  Mosquito  B IV

Eduard  1/48  Spitfire IX

ICM    1/48   Seafire Mk.III   Special Conversion

1/48  Kinetic  Sea Harrier  FRS1

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Thanks for all the encouraging comments and the likes - this is certainly charting new waters for me.

Advance Preparations (continued)

The instructions emphasise that a successful, appropriately weathered model relies on both colour and texture. Colour for this model is achieved in several ways: Paint, Alcohol/Ink washes, and “Chalk”. The Chalk adds both colour and texture. The chalks contain very finely ground pigments that do not totally dissolve when applied and leave behind a natural appearing texture (so says the instruction manual). These are applied by scraping fine artists' pastel chalk sticks to create a fine powder. Emphasis is placed on using high quality pastels for this and in particular, the Rembrandt brand is recommended. So of course, I followed that advice and ordered in a few sticks. I had to do a bit of digging through the manual and the website to find the actual colours I might need – the Rembrandt numbering system can be quite confusing – and I think I may have slightly overdone it. Here is a chart of the colours I now have – I made this up as a ready reference for myself.




We are advised to prepare two “palettes” of these in advance – a “wood” palette and a “rust” palette, each containing four colours. The wood palette contains three separate brown tones and a white, while the rust palette contains one orange, two red and a cool grey. To keep these palettes in a useable form, some sort of storage was needed. A quick visit to the local Spotlight (sewing/craft) store produced this:




This version has 30 separate containers, each with a screw-top lid, which was very handy as 30 happens to be the exact number of chalks that I have (so far!).


The instructions suggest creating the powder by scraping a single edge razor blade along the stick. While this certainly works, I came across a tip on the SierraWest forum that suggested a quicker/easier way was to use a rasp. I tried this and it seems to have worked well. I used it a bit like a cheese grater, holding it over a sheet of paper that had previously been folded to create a pouring “funnel”.




I did this for the eight colours needed for the initial palettes. In the photo below, the wood palette is on the right, and the rust palette is on the left. Each jar contains about 1/3 to 1/2 of a chalk pastel stick.




All the jars have two labels on them – one on the lid and one on the body – to ensure correct identification. I went ahead and labelled the remaining jars while I was at it and will fill them with pigment as/when needed.


So here is my “ready use locker”, ready for action. 




Next up will be preparing the strip wood….

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Looks very interesting.  Will be great in your hands!




Current Wooden builds:  Amati/Victory Pegasus  MS Charles W. Morgan  Euromodel La Renommèe  


Plastic builds:    SB2U-1 Vindicator 1/48  Five Star Yaeyama 1/700  Pit Road Asashio and Akashi 1/700 diorama  Walrus 1/48 and Albatross 1/700  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/32


Completed builds :  Caldercraft Brig Badger   Amati Hannah - Ship in Bottle  Pit Road Hatsuzakura 1/700   Hasegawa Shimakaze 1:350

F4B-4 and P-6E 1/72  Accurate Miniatures F3F-1/F3F-2 1/48  Tamiya F4F-4 Wildcat built as FM-1 1/48  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/48

Citroen 2CV 1/24 - Airfix and Tamiya  Entex Morgan 3-wheeler 1/16


Terminated build:  HMS Lyme (based on Corel Unicorn)  


On the shelf:  Euromodel Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde; Caldercraft Victory; too many plastic ship, plane and car kits


Future potential scratch builds:  HMS Lyme (from NMM plans); Le Gros Ventre (from Ancre monographs), Dutch ship from Ab Hoving book, HMS Sussex from McCardle book, Philadelphia gunboat (Smithsonian plans)

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Preparing the Strip Wood

The strip wood provided in the kit appears to be good quality bass wood. Before it can be used for the actual building, it must first be prepared through a multi-step process to add both texture and colour, as well as details such as knots and splits.


The initial texturing is done by creating “grain”. This is achieved using stiff wire brushes of the modeller’s choosing. In the picture below, you can see that I have commenced this process. My initial brush of choice was a brass cleaning brush (obtained at the local hardware store). Prior to brushing, the backs of each batch are marked with line across the grain to indicate the “back” side. As we are only texturing one side of these, this mark will help to identify which side is “up”. Brushing was then implemented in batches of five strips at a time.




This is the result after brushing. 




Despite the amount of “shavings” produced, I was not particularly satisfied with the result and decided a more aggressive brush was required. This is the brush I used for the second round. 




It is actually a File Card (used for cleaning the swarf from the teeth of files). The teeth are steel and quite hard. I found that around five to six firm strokes with this brush were sufficient to impart a grain-like texture.




To provide greater contrast, here is a photo of that same batch on a black background.




Note the amount of “fuzzies” left after this process. These were cleaned up by drawing each strip through some 0000 steel wool, first with firm pressure on the edges of the strip, then with light pressure on the face. Here is the result after this initial cleaning up.




This has removed around 90% of the fuzzies, which is sufficient for this stage. Next up will be adding some initial colour.

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The addition of grain is very noticeable and looks good.  Did the instructions in the kit say to enhance the wood strips like this or did you decide that on your own?

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Thanks Glen. This is all new to me, so I’m following the instructions very closely and asking for clarification when in doubt.

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 Grant, I don't know if you're familiar with Gary's work but he provides tons of helpful hints for building dioramas. 



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Thanks for the reminder Keith. Yes, I followed along with Gary’s Autoshop diorama - spectacular work! Don’t think I’m in the same league but hoping that by following the very good instructions and seeking advice from the guys on the SierraWest forum, I’ll produce something passable.

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1 hour ago, gjdale said:

I’ll produce something passable

 Grant, you'll undoubtedly hit it out of the ballpark. 

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Some folks like to use a hobby hand saw, such as a Zona brand, with the finer teeth. I tried this saw and experimented with other saws with very fine teeth.Too fine and it's like the brass brush results. The file card gave good results; I'd be happy with that.


Started: MS Bounty Longboat,

On Hold:  Heinkel USS Choctaw paper

Down the road: Shipyard HMC Alert 1/96 paper, Mamoli Constitution Cross, MS USN Picket Boat #1

Scratchbuild: Echo Cross Section


Member Nautical Research Guild

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Thanks for the kind comments and all the likes. Onwards...

Initial Weathering

 The technique used to create the effect of weathered timber is both interesting and easy, not to mention quick!


We start by grabbing a half dozen of our previously “grained” boards, a pastel/chalk stick, a single edge razor blade, some isopropyl alcohol (IPA), a paint brush, and a glass work surface (in this case I’m using a piece of glass about 12: square). The technique is to firstly use the razor blade to scrape finely powdered chalk randomly over the boards.




Next, we dip our paintbrush in the IPA and wash the chalk powder into the boards.




The level of colouration is controlled by the relative amounts of chalk and alcohol, the key being to use lots of alcohol to ensure that most of the chalk is dissolved. Further tonal variations can be achieved by using a couple of different shades of chalk. The glass surface is not cleaned between batches, which also helps.


The alcohol evaporates quickly, so the boards dry in next to no time. Here is a random sample from different batches showing the variation in tone.




And a close-up of some of the same selection.




I also did some preliminary preparation of some laser-cut siding. These pieces will eventually be covered by the boards just prepared, but they are given an initial colouring so that any gaps in the boards will show this. The key here was to achieve a non-homogenous look. This is done by staining the boards with paint and thinner, and then adding a little chalk blotted into the surface using a paper towel wet with the paint thinner. Here is the result.





The next stage will be to add some details such as knots, knot holes, splits, insect damage etc to some of the boards.

Edited by gjdale
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Fascinating!  Thanks for showing the detailed steps in your wood weathering process.  I've got an idea floating around in my head for the next SIB project and this technique might be just what I need to pull it off.   


How's that for a teaser right back at ya!!  😁     

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Looking forward to the next installment.... 🙂


Cheers and Regards,



Edited by hof00

Completed Builds:


A/L Bluenose II

A/L Mare Nostrum

Sergal/Mantua Cutty Sark

A/L Pen Duick

A/L Fulgaro

Amati/Partworks 1/200 Bismarck

A/L Sanson

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Interesting technique for staining your boards, with the chalk and alcohol. I've used diluted paints and stains to do that. Whatever it takes to achieve a random look to your boards.


You could add nail holes on your claps where your simulated internal structure underlays. Use a dividers set just less that the board widths and run along a steel straight edge. You could use a pounce wheel too, but the spacing may not work as well.


Started: MS Bounty Longboat,

On Hold:  Heinkel USS Choctaw paper

Down the road: Shipyard HMC Alert 1/96 paper, Mamoli Constitution Cross, MS USN Picket Boat #1

Scratchbuild: Echo Cross Section


Member Nautical Research Guild

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nice start on the diorama Grant :)   interesting use of chalk as a stain.  are you going to use any sort of sealer afterwards?

I yam wot I yam!

finished builds:
Billings Nordkap 476 / Billings Cux 87 / Billings Mary Ann / Billings AmericA - reissue
Billings Regina - bashed into the Susan A / Andrea Gail 1:20 - semi scratch w/ Billing instructions
M&M Fun Ship - semi scratch build / Gundalow - scratch build / Jeanne D'Arc - Heller
Phylly C & Denny-Zen - the Lobsie twins - bashed & semi scratch dual build

Billing T78 Norden


in dry dock:
Billing's Gothenborg 1:100 / Billing's Boulogne Etaples 1:20
Billing's Half Moon 1:40 - some scratch required
Revell U.S.S. United States 1:96 - plastic/ wood modified / Academy Titanic 1:400
Trawler Syborn - semi scratch / Holiday Harbor dual build - semi scratch

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I'm following along with great interest, Grant. Your build logs are among the best on the MSW forum and I'm sure I'll learn a lot. This should be quite a bit of fun! Good luck!

Bob Garcia

"Measure once, cuss twice!"


Current Builds: 

Hms Brig-Sloop Flirt 1782 - Vanguard Models

Pen Duick - Artesania Latina 1:28


Completed: Medway Longboat 1742 - Syren Ship Model Co. 

Member of the Nautical Research Guild




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Thanks all for the kind comments and likes. To answer a few questions:


Ken - those details will be added to individual planks shortly - that’s the next task.


Popeye - no, there is no intent to add sealer over the chalk stain. The small amount of chalk residue actually helps to create the all-important texture. It’s difficult to describe and even more difficult to photograph, but when you handle the pieces that have been grained and stained, you really get it.


Glen - you have me intrigued… I can’t wait to see what comes out of your workshop next!


Bob - you are too kind sir. 😊

Edited by gjdale
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Wall Construction and Board Detailing


The walls are constructed in three layers. The first layer is a thick card sub-base. The second layer comprises a first (ground) floor card piece and the second-floor scribed siding prepared as in the previous post. The third layer, to be added a little later, is made up from the weathered boards. Here are all three sections for the first two layers.




These are glued up in stages. I used the base of a magnetic gluing jig to help with alignment of the sub-base and first floor piece.




Once that was sufficiently dry, I added the second-floor scribed siding.




Then repeated for the other three walls.




These were then all sandwiched between two glass plates and weighted down with a variety of heavy modelling reference books and left to dry for 24 hours or so to ensure they stayed flat.


Then it was time to return to creating individual details on the boards. So far, they been given an initial “graining” and treated with a chalk/alcohol mixture. The next step was to lightly sand the top edges of all the boards. This did a few things – first, it removed any remaining ‘fuzzies’; second, it created a very slight chamfer of the board edges; and third, it created a slight highlight along the board edges. The combined effect is to slightly accentuate the join between adjacent boards. In the picture below I’ve placed together several boards before adding this detail on the left, and several after adding the detail on the right.




Next, I slightly rounded the ends of all board. I tried to make this a little non-uniform – not sure to what extent I achieved that, but the sharp corners are all gone. Here is a sample.




Next up, it was time to add some knots. I followed the instructions here, creating both "indentation" knots (using a burnishing tool), and also some "toothpick" knots. I left about 1/4 of the boards with no knots at all, and about half the remaining boards received only "indentation" knots, and the remainder received a combination of "indentation" and "toothpick" knots. During construction, I'll try to mix these up to achieve a fairly random smattering of all the effects.

Here is a "toothpick" knot under construction. I used a small drill bit in a pin vise to make a small hole first, and then inserted the toothpick. I mixed up the angle that these were inserted also.




Here's a shot of all the "toothpick" knotted boards awaiting trimming. Some boards got only one toothpick and some received two.




The instructions say to use a pair of straight bladed toe-nail clippers to trim these, adding that these are readily available. Hmmm - maybe on that side of the pond, but down here in the Antipodes, not so easy to find. I did manage to find some online, but had to wait a few days for delivery. Of course, once they arrived, they were the perfect tool for the job. In using them, I made sure that the blades were parallel to the grain direction when in use. Here's one after trimming.




And here's a close up of a few boards showing the overall effect.




At this point, I departed slightly from the instructions. The instructions say to take one board at a time, cut it to size, then brush lightly with a steel brush, dampen with the Alcohol/ink mix, and blot a variety of chalks on with a dry brush while the AI is still damp, then glue the board in place. My variation here was to do all of that except for cutting the plank to size at the beginning and gluing in place at the end. Instead, I did all the remaining tasks to all of the planks, one at a time. It just made more sense to me from a 'process flow' perspective, but I may be missing something here.

I was also a little unsure during this stage. Once again, if you've done this before it's probably second nature, but the first time around, it's difficult to know if you are doing it right. The instructions say "..and make sure not to over apply the chalk". All well and good if you know what the right amount looks like to start with, but doing it for the first time is a little bit of an "adventure". I was concerned that I may have overdone it with the chalk, so I went back and gave the boards another very light pass with a steel brush to remove just a little of the excess, and then wiped my (dry) fingers over the surface. That seems to have done the trick.

Here is a picture of the completed boards with no toothpick knots.




And a close-up of a section of those same boards:




And here is a picture of the completed boards with toothpick knots.




And a close-up of a section of these:




I think I’m happy with these but am awaiting some further critique/guidance from the SW Forum gurus before committing them to glue.


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I think you've got the coloring on these boards down nicely. And the knots make it even better. Looks just like wood that's been out in the weather a long time. 👍


I'm going to try your technique on a wood flat car deck I have. Once upon a time there was a company, at least here in the US, that made a weathering solution that replicated this coloring, but he closed up shop a while back, with no replacement. I'll continue my search for a suitable substitute stain.


Started: MS Bounty Longboat,

On Hold:  Heinkel USS Choctaw paper

Down the road: Shipyard HMC Alert 1/96 paper, Mamoli Constitution Cross, MS USN Picket Boat #1

Scratchbuild: Echo Cross Section


Member Nautical Research Guild

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Ken, @Canute Check MicroMark website. Search for Hunterline Weathering Mix #89367-89370 and MicroMark Age-It Easy  #80873X3 & #81528X3

Edited by Jack12477
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Thanks for all the likes folks.


Ken - give this method a try before you go down the commercial supplies route. You’ll be surprised at just how easy this method is (and quick).

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