Modern Chemical Plant Finishing Instructions

These instructions will tell you how to use the pipe pieces you've cast and assembled to create the full layout shown here.

First, be sure you have cast and glued the small assemblies of pieces as shown on the Chemical Plant Building Instructions page. The instructions below will show how to paint and stain the pieces before they are assembled for the final gluing and how to build the walls and floor for the layout.

The photo here has Star Wars miniatures in it to show the scale. The Star Wars miniatures are from Wizards of the Coast.

Painting the Pipes
1. To paint the pipes, I'm going to follow the same directions as shown on the Painting instructions page. Be sure to check it for more detailed information.

You can use either flat or satin white spray paint. Gloss is just too glossy to work because shoe polish won't stick to it afterwards.

Do each pipe section separately and take your time. I can't stress enough that your finished paint job depends entirely on how smooth your coat of white paint is.

2.
Test your paint!
I used flat white spray paint for all of the pipes and sci-fi pieces. On my next display I had purchased new spray paint (same brand) and apparently the paint formula had changed along with the nozzle type.

When I painted these floor tiles, the paint flaked off after it was dry. The moral of this story is to test your paint first!

3. Next you will need to paint Kiwi brand liquid black shoe polish over the pipe pieces. I'm going to follow the same directions as shown on the Painting instructions page. Be sure to check it for more detailed information.

Pry the lid off the bottle and pour some into a small cup then brush it over the entire piece. You might want to wear a rubber glove on the hand holding the piece because the polish will go everywhere.

4. Take a paper towel or rag and immediately wipe off the shoe polish. This will allow the shoe polish to get stuck in the cracks and details of the piece.

You will also notice that it will stain the pipe gray a little. If you want a darker gray you can let the first coat dry completely, then apply another coat of shoe polish and wipe it off again.

5. Once you're done with the shoe polish thing, glue the pipe pieces together as shown on the Chemical Plant Building Instructions page you just came from.

At this point you will have fully assembled and painted pipe sections that can be moved around in your chemical plant and laid out in any arrangement you want.

6. Once the pipe pieces are fully assembled, you can paint the valve handles. I thought the best colors to use were red and blue.

Get a little paint on your brush and carefully dry brush the color onto the valve handle. Try not to get the color between the spokes.

Adding Ooze
1. There are two different pipe assemblies that have a place for chemical ooze if you want to add it.

I'm going to use Envirotex Lite for the ooze. It's a 2-part resin that hardens clear and smooth after 24 hours. It's very easy to use and has no odor that I can tell.

2. The first thing you will have to do is seal the bottom so the liquid resin does not run all over the table. I'm going to use a thin piece of plastic for this. My thin plastic comes from a printer transparency, but you could use plastic from notebook dividers.

Cut the plastic so that it amply fits over the hole but does not stick out around the outside of your pipe assembly. We want to glue the plastic in place using 5-minute epoxy.

3. Squeeze out a small amount of 5-minute epoxy onto a scrap piece of paper. Use a wooden stick (or anything handy) to mix up the epoxy completely.

You will have to work in small batches at a time. You will find that the epoxy will start to set up before you can completely seal around all the areas you want. When this happens, simply mix up another small batch and continue.

4. Use a toothpick to drizzle the epoxy around the bottom edge of the tank so it seals against the plastic floor. Be sure to get a good bead all round the edge so the resin won't leak out.

Also be sure to seal around every block seam. You would be surprised at how thin of a crack the resin can leak through.

5. Put equal parts of A and B of envirotex into small cups.

Add a few drops of paint into one side and mix the A and B together. It takes very little paint to get a good solid color.

Carefully pour this colored resin into the vat and try not to slop it up onto the side walls.

6. It will take 24 hours before the ooze sets up completely, although the thicker the pool is, the quicker it sets up. I imagine it sets up faster in a thicker amount.

Feel free to experiment with different colors. In the other vat I mixed some bright green paint into the envirotex and it came out pretty nice.

Factory Floor and Walls
1. The factory floor and walls will be made out of 1/2" thick polystyrene foam insulating board. This is the stuff they use for sheeting on houses before they put siding on. You can get it at most lumber yards and usually comes in pink or blue.

The main advantage is that it's stiff and doesn't warp easily. It's also easy to cut (with a sharp knife), and you can make pits and holes in the floor that actually look deep.

2. Take a large sheet of 1/2" foam and cut it into the pieces shown.

The easiest way to cut the foam is to use a new sharp hobby knife. Lay a ruler or straight edge down and lightly cut down with one pass.

Continue to cut a few more times leaning the blade down deeper each time. Finally, you can bend the board back and snap off the unwanted edge.

3. The floor of the factory will have a 4" grid scored into it. This will give the impression of the floor being made of large concrete slabs.

First, lightly draw a grid of 4" squares on the large piece of foam. Then, lay a straight edge on each line of the grid and lightly cut into the surface about 1/8" deep.

4. Next, take the dull edge of a butter knife and lightly run it along the cut groove. What you want to do is widen the crack without cracking the foam. If you're too forceful you will get cracks along the seam.

Run the dull edge of the butter knife several times along each groove angling the blade with each pass so it will widen the groove. Don't be afraid to make the grooves really wide. The foam has a tendency to spring back together after each pass.

5. I want to add factory windows on two of the 12" long wall strips. You can find the factory windows on our Printed Plans page.

Print the windows on paper, find the sizes you want and cut them out with scissors. Lay the paper window along the top edge of your foam wall and draw a line around it with an ink pen.

Cut the square out of the wall using a hobby knife.

Painting and Staining the Walls and Floor
1. I'm going to paint the walls and floor a medium gray color. This is the same medium gray as shown on the Painting Instructions page.

This paint will take a while to dry because the paint doesn't soak into the foam. Be sure to get the paint down into the cracks of the floor really well.

2. Next I will stain the floors and walls using a mixture of Kiwi liquid black shoe polish and Future floor finish.

Start with 1/2 cup of floor finish mixed with 1/2 cup of shoe polish. This will give you about one full cup of ink wash which should be plenty to do all of the floor and walls.

3. If you do not have future floor finish, you can dilute the shoe polish with water. However, the floor finish has a way of thinning the polish without breaking it up. It also helps the polish to settle down into the cracks along with giving you a longer working time.

Liberally brush this shoe polish mixture over top of the floor, making sure you get it into all of the cracks really well.

4. After the floor is coated well, take a paper towel or rag and blot off the excess shoe polish. Try to avoid the cracks while doing this because you don't want to pull the polish out of the cracks.

Using a random dabbing you can get a nice irregular pattern on the floor which is more interesting than just plain gray. If you take off too much, simply apply more with a brush and continue to dab.

Be sure to stain the walls as well. You may have to stain one side of the wall, let it dry, then stain the other side and edges.

The Finishing Touches
1. To install the factory windows, you will need to print them out on clear transparency. You can find the factory windows on our Printed Plans page.

The windows will need to slide into a groove you will cut in the wall. Take a hobby knife and carefully cut a slot centered into the wall. This slot should be at least a 1/4" deep and as straight as you can get it.

2. You may want to widen the slot with a butter knife before inserting the windows.

Cut out the window, but add about 1/8" around the 3 sides that will embed into the wall. If you round the bottom corners it will slide in easier.

Test fit the window first. If it fits well enough, apply a small bead of glue around the 3 sides and slide the window into the slot.

3. Once the windows are inserted, you can glue the walls in place. Click on the photo on the right for a larger version of it.

If you want your pipe pieces to be permanently fixed to the floor, then you can glue them down at this time also. If you do not glue the pipe pieces down to the floor (so you can move them around later), then you may not want to add weathering powders around the bottom of them as the next step shows.

4. I'm going to use some weathering powder to add some grime and shadows. The kind I'm using here is "Doc O'brien's Weathering Powders" and they are a very good quality.

Basically, weathering powder is very finely ground pigment used in paint. For more information on weathering powders, check out our painting instructions page.

Dip a soft brush into the black powder and knock off the excess into the cap. Then brush around the bases of items.

5. Rub the powder into anywhere dirt and grime would collect, especially in corners.

The powder sticks to the floor much like charcoal pastels would. Wherever you brush hard, it will be darker. If you brush lightly, you will get a light shade.

For a little color and variety, use some brown and rust colors as well.

6. The final touch will be adding hazard signs to the equipment. You will find these hazard signs on our printed plans page.

Just print these signs out on your color printer. You will also need some permanent double stick tape, a magic marker and a pair of scissors.

Be sure the double stick tape is permanent (not temporary) or your signs will fall off.

7. Cut the sign you want out of the sheet and leave a little extra paper around it.

Put a piece of permanent double stick tape on the back, making sure it completely covers the sign on the reverse side of the paper.

Carefully trim the sign out of the paper with a pair of scissors. This will leave your trimmed sign completely backed by double stick tape.

8. Take a black magic marker and go around the outside of the sign. This will cover up any white edges of paper around the sign and make it look better.

Stick the sign onto the piece of equipment you want. The sheet of signs also includes a couple of small control panels as well.

If your signs have difficulty staying on to sharply curved surfaces like small pipes, just add a touch of super glue to the corner that pops up.

Here are a few photos of the finished pieces arranged in simple layouts. The Star Wars miniatures are from Wizards of the Coast.

For instructions on how these factory pieces were built, please visit the Chemical plant building instructions page.

To find out more information on how to use and build with the pipe pieces from molds #320 and #321, please visit our Tips & Tricks 26 page.

Click on the photos for a larger view.

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http://www.hirstarts.com. All photos, articles and plans are copyrighted by Bruce Hirst and may not be used without permission.
"Castlemolds(R)" is a trademark of Hirst Arts Fantasy Architecture Inc.
For more information contact bruce@hirstarts.com.