The Grain Mill

We’ve already seen snippets of John’s Grain Mill scratchbuild, but now we can see how John created this impressive piece of terrain.

All the buildings I’ve made so far have been quite generic but couldn’t resist this build. It’s quite an imposing structure measuring 35 cm Long and 25cm high and 14cm wide excluding stairway and ramp. In order to protect the model for transit and storing it had to fit into a shoebox. Here’s how I went about making something like this.

Step 1 Detailed plan
I spent a couple of evenings drawing up a plan of the building on A3 paper. I looked at as many photographs as possible of this particular structure and learned something about it’s function to help with the design and build. The tall section is a Grain Elevator. A bucket elevator carries grain from ground level to the top of the elevator where it is discharged into a silo contained within this structure. The horizontal gantry contains milling equipment and three discharge hoppers are suspended underneath. On the other side of the building is a ramp. At the end of the ramp, grain is dropped into the bucket elevator feed.
For dimensions, I used the assumption that door opening heights would be 7 ft and width 3 ft. I used 5mm to a foot so that gave me the dimensions of this item then worked out the height and length proportions based on that. So the building worked out at 70ft long x 50ft high and 28ft wide. As I drew up the plan, I rechecked against the photos to make sure everything looked in proportion and decided that there would be four stages to the build :- Stairway, Gantry, Elevator and ramp. I thought the stairway would be the most difficult so decided to start on this.

I used the same method as in the office build to start with so glued together 2 cm x 1cm pieces of foamcore to make the steps. The maximum height being determined by the height of the shoebox. I added sides from mounting board to correct any warping then added steps from lolly sticks making sure some were damaged.

I made the landing wide enough for a 28mm figure base as I thought this would make a suitable sniper position. The supports I made from wood strip rather than replicate the flimsy metal supports on the original to make sure the stairway was robust enough for the table top. I added bannister rail supports from matchsticks and then the rail and surround at the top of the stairwell from mounting board which I also used for the base.

With confidence high I turned my attention to the gantry (which turned out to be the most difficult part of the build). I built the wooden structure from foamcore clad with cereal packet cardboard strips, lining the window openings with the same, then adding cut down matchsticks for the window frame parts. The length of the gantry would match the width of the shoebox to fit in.

The hopper assembly was cut from cereal box cardboard glued to 2 pieces of foamcore. This was then glued to the base of the Gantry

The next task was to build the supports for the gantry. I decided to replicate metal girders for this so I made H section girders from 40 thou plastic card. In order to fit in the shoe box, the supports would have to be detachable so I made sockets on the underside of the gantry and on the base. These were a snug push fit. I then added cross struts to provide additional strength. I needed two goes to get the base right and the small ‘turret’ would have to be detachable for the structure to fit in the shoebox. I used Hobbycraft corrugated foam for the asbestos roof.

This was constructed using foamcore clad with corrugated foam but provided a few problems so wasn’t straightforward. To fit in the shoe box, the top section had to be made separately and had to fit inside the gantry, fitting over posts on the lower section of the elevator when in use. There are also two ‘wings’ at the base of the elevator which were constructed separately and slot into the side of the elevator when in use and are stored inside the elevator when packed away.

Elevator under construction showing one of the wings. The top section fits inside the gantry for storage.

This was the simplest part of the build which I nearly missed as it’s so overgrown on the photographs. I made it in 3 sections. The start of the ramp was from mounting board covered in fine sand painted to represent concrete. The middle section was constructed from plasticard as it’s a metal structure. The third part appears from a video clip to be metal and wood. I made this from foamcore and added card planking.

I used clear plastic from food packaging for this. I taped the plastic to my cutting board to cut out pieces of plastic to fit the window recesses. I marked out where the vertical bars would be and then cut the windows to show broken panes before gluing the plastic strips to the rear face of the vertical bars using superglue

Painting and finishing.
Wood – Wilko Nutmeg Spice, then black acrylic wash, drybrush Wilko Mineral Stone and then a light white drybrush. I then used a black wash to make sure the planking was picked out.
Metal – Black acrylic and then a succession of dry brushing, dark brown, red brown and then yellow. (All plastic parts primed in grey)
Asbestos roofing – Primed grey first then Homebase Grey Fox then a succession of black and brown washes, finishing with a drybrush across the ribs of Homebase Silver Cloud.
Concrete – Grey, dry brushed white.
Earth – Red brown, dry brushed pale grey.
I then applied static grass where appropriate and the project was complete.

This building is going to be an impossing sight on the tabletop