21/09/2018
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How to build and detail a card kit

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Here at BRM we are big fans of card kits. They’re a cheap way to fill a baseboard with buildings for a start. Better still, if well designed, assembly is great fun. Although they aren't a five minute build, time spent is repaid with a lovely model.

We've decided to modify a corner shop kit to make it look as good as possible, using a few simple tweaks. By tackling those corners with readily available materials and working on the more obvious flat surfaces, we think the end result looks pretty respectable...

What we used

Metcalfe Models PO263-4 OO/HO Corner Shop, M0054 – OO/HO Red Brick Builder Sheets

Craft knife

Steel rule

Scribing tool

Small screwdriver

Roket Card Glue

UHU

Wire

Tissue paper

 

1

Metcalfe Models' Corner Shop is supplied on thick, pre-printed cardboard sheets. All parts are die-cut, requiring a small nib to be cut through to release them from the sheet. Additionally, there are printed plastic windows and comprehensive instructions.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe kit

2

The classic upgrade for any card kit is to colour exposed edges using a felt tip pen. Colour from the back of the sheet to avoid getting ink on the printed front
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe kit, colouring edges

3

Fold the inner shop windows behind the front, trapping the plastic glazing. This isn’t what we expected, so trust the design and read the instructions.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, fit windows

4

There are two window sizes, large and small, but the holes in the wall don't look very different. The printed side is matt and should face out. Clear all-purpose glue holds the plastic in place.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, window options

5

Printed curtains are provided and should be fitted with a scrap card spacer so they aren't on the back of the glass. The downstairs windows also need net curtains. A single ply of tissue paper works perfectly.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, add curtains

6

Laser-cut sills and lintels are found on a separate sheet. Fitting these provides depth to the detail, which makes them an essential addition no matter how good the printing.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, sills and lintels

7

I like to add interior walls so that you can't see through the building. Card offcuts from the kit or old packaging are perfect for this job. Test fit everything - a little trimming was required by some windows.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, interior details

8

Despite being angled, the shop door fits perfectly between the two sides. Decorative mouldings surround the windows. We made a mistake by not colouring the visible brick edges - black paint sorts this.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, fit doors

9

Assembling the shop sign looks complicated but once you fit the first spacers, it's easy. A small pink piece of card provides a guide to the correct distance for each above the window. It's not stuck but used as a jig.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, shop signs

10

Several shop names are provided printed on thick card. More are on the thin card sheet to cut out and fix over the originals. Check the fit. We've coloured the ends and sides of the old name with black pen to hide gaps when the new name is added.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, shop signs 2

11

Orange cellophane used to be stuck to the back of shop windows to protect the goods from strong sunshine. Unable to find suitable sweet wrappers, we're painting the inside with Humbrol clear paint.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, window details

12

Chimney stacks are built from plain card layers and wrapped with the thick card sides. A strong method of construction but one that relies on accurate alignment of the parts for a square result. A slow drying glue isn't a bad idea to allow for adjustment.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, chimney stacks

13

A couple of tabs in the main floor fold back to provide alignment guides when fitting it in the large sheet. Another layer is then added for the shop floor. You could print a different surface to add variety, although it's hardly obvious from outside the model.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, add floors

14

Various shop interiors are provided although there are only two choices of back walls. A couple of small walls made from scrap card hide the gap behind the window displays when looking through the door.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, shop interiors

15

With the main part completed, a gable end is assembled in the same way. The inner walls for the passage aren’t flush with the bottom of the wall but raised slightly to let the wall fit into a gap in the base.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, gable, passage

16

Viewing a model from normal angles makes the roof more obvious than it is in the real life. Printed sheets look too flat to be convincing, but scribing along the courses and between each slate improves things.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, scribing

17

Both roof parts fit nicely, but we should have bevelled the inner edges of the one on the gables with a fine sanding stick to have a less prominent join.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, how to fit a roof

18

Bricks printed to match the Metcalfe range are available in Builder Sheet packs from the company. Each contains four thin and four thick brick card sheets, which include useful curved lintels and roof tiles.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, brick textures

19

We've cut out the castellated design, ensuring that only whole brick faces appear. All the edges are coloured with felt pen and the part is test fitted. A tiny smear of glue holds it in place.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, corner details

20

We felt that fancy corners would be excessive for the chimney stacks so these are just wrapped in a single piece. While a join is still visible, it's not obvious and could be kept away from the viewing angle.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, how to add a chimney

21

Chimneys get dirty, so a stiff brush and Humbrol Smoke weathering powder adds the all-important grime. As the card surface is very smooth, matt varnish, lightly sprayed and left to dry, helps adhesion.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, how to weather a chimney

22

Lead flashing stops rainwater seeping down between bricks and slates on real buildings. In model form, it's represented using 3mm wide strips of tissue paper and fixed with a tiny amount of PVA glue. A quick coat of paint finishes the job.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, how to add lead flashing

23

Printed pavement sheets and self-adhesive individual slabs are provided. The printed version matches the courtyard paving and the colours are superb, so we scribed the gaps between the slabs and used it.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, how to add a pavement

24

No guttering is included, but it can be made by from 4mm-wide strips from the edge of the thick card sheets. Colour with black pen and then fix with the slightly curved edge from the die-cut sheet outwards.
How to build a card kit, model railway, Metcalfe, how to add guttering

Finally, the model is bedded into the ground with grass fibres blown into place from a bottle. Since this is a high summer scene, we're using mainly beige with only a hint of green. 

How to build a card kit, Metcalfe, finished model

 

The final picture shows that with just a few fairly simple techniques it's possible to make a card kit look so much more realistic. These techniques can be transferred to any card kit too. Try them, it's easier than you think.

A model railway exhibition is a great place to ask experts any modelling-related questions. Click here to find out about three of the UK’s leading exhibitions.

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