Sunday, May 14, 2017

Scratch-Building Rusty | 16mm Scale

Trusty Rusty! The little diesel engine belonging to the narrow gauge Skarloey is ready for maintenance and quarry work:

Rusty has always been one of my favorite narrow gauge characters from the Thomas & Friends show growing up, being a bold and kind diesel, and his interesting design being a Ruston & Hornsby prototype.

Inspired by original illustrations of Rusty from the Railway Series books as well as the Thomas and FriendsTV show, I adapted a hybrid look for him the way I was inspired to make him look, with his dark gray livery,  equipped with a larger radiator for a square face, a wider body, and weathered in grime and dust like on in season 5 model from Rusty and the Boulder.

While I made Rusty a while back in 2014, he was due for an upgrade. I wanted to try for the first time making a working model from Lego's Power Functions system to give him control on battery power, and I'm very pleased with how he came out. Straight from the workbench, here I have a gallery showcasing my process while constructing him.


Acquiring the necessary parts, I assembled the battery box and receiver in place on the engine motor, made in a way for me to make an interchangeable chassis for use on multiple models.

In addition to painting and weathering the wheels for realism, I have Rusty's circular axel boxes made for me to mount them on temporarily to provide smooth running and make it easy to remove.

You can read this blog post to see how I make replaceable a narrow gauge chassis from the Lego Power Functions System.

Now I can begin construction on the body shell, made with thick card paper, and braced in glued  Midwest Products balsa strips for a strong bond. Bolts and rivets are made from peelable gems, primed before-hand to glue in place, and are naturally blended when painting.

On the workbench, and testing one of my hand-sculpted faces, he looks eager to be finished! Slidable buffers are glued on and the interior of his removable cab is painted.


Here are some of the faces I made for Rusty, some already finished and one being made. Made from Sculpy clay, I also use wood and clay carving tools with tooth-pics to construct the faces. After being baked and dried, they're painted with acrylics with hand-drawn eye brows, and stickers for the pupils.


 Now the fun part. Rusty is being painted here in Plaid FolkArt and Apple Barrel acrylics. Making the cab removable unintentionally allowed me to give myself a better way to access the cab interior's details to paint and glue, and also has a potential in having a second "open-cab" variation to the design!


Here are close up photograph of the finished cab interior. The leather seat is sculpted from Sculpy clay and painted to be glued in place like a comfortable tractor seat the driver. In addition to the throttle, brakes and a gauge, I began making details by hand, items common for a narrow gauge diesel for situations that call for things like tools or a spare rope, with an operator's warning!

Working couplers are made from bending Darice Craft Designer's 16 gauge wire into hooks to mount in a hole drilled from the buffer housing, then wrapped in thin strips of paper and glued in place for the couplers chains.

Buffers are strips of card rolled into shape and both front and back glued on paper, with the excess to be cut and sanded down. They along with the couplers are painted and weathered for extra realism, with rust, grime, and some warn metal on the buffers.

Rusty's hood is also removable! I made it so it can be opened to access the diesel engine inside. It's taped in the back and has small strips of craft wire for the screw handles. I made a starter crank for whenever the driver needed to jump-start the engine in case of an emergency.

I even considered giving Rusty brake pipes, which are also made by hand with craft wire, and leather cords cut and glued with strips of paper. They can be joined together to link a whole train consist together if needed.

With the new Lego battery power, he runs quite smoothly on any track and can pull a decent rake of wagons on set. Rusty overall is a very appealing character, and it was a fun project to make. I've learned from doing things many times, and it's quite fulfilling making a unique model that's unique and not quite like the original.

Next time I'd love to make an open cab wrap-around that can be mounted in place for shots of him working at the factory where he was built before coming to the Skarloey Railway.

Until next time!

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