Project - Scratch Building Fn3 Scale (1:20.3)Telephone Poles

Copyright 2019 Nicholas Kalis
Ivy Classic Tube Cutter 19050


Scratch building Telephone Poles

By Nicholas Kalis

Most model railroaders can probably find some use for telephone poles on their layouts. If one has not dived into scratch building yet, this can be a fine introductory project. Many of the materials used can be found in your local hardware store though the ivy will likely require a visit to the Scenic Express web site to order.

The prototype for my Fn3 (1:20.3) models of wooden telephone poles with light fixtures appear in several photographs of the Waipahu Engine House in Waipahu, Oahu (Hawaii). Prototype light fixtures were surely meant to make evening working conditions safer for engine house employees.

Here are step by step directions for making your own telephone poles in any scale. Be aware that you will need to find light fixtures in your scale – this should prove quite easy. I used products from Loco-Boose Hobbies because of the unusual scale I model in (at least unusual for an indoor layout).

·         Each wooden dowel was cut to length with a Microlux table saw (extra length was provided for to set each pole deep into the pink foam baseboard) but probably any hand saw will do
·         All dowels were scraped with a miniature saw to impart grain to each pole.
·         Each dowel was stained and let to dry (use a stain that suits you or work from prototype photos)
·         Built cross pieces of strip bass wood
o   first cutting and
o   then staining and then
o   attached with hot glue gun
o   (used X-Acto® X3254 Craft knife - Black to cut a flat spot for better adhesion)

·         Built two diagonal supports for each cross piece by cutting strip basswood
o   staining and
o   installed with hot glue using hot glue gun

·         First I cut off a piece of Miniatur Ivy
o   then I stretched the ivy; and
o   then I glued ivy on to each pole using Elmer’s White Glue

·         Each Loco-Boose Hobbies light fixture was shortened by cutting the tube with an IVY Classic 19050 tube cutter and

o   then bent each tube section straight and
o   then weathered by dipping each lamp into Bragdon Enterprises rust weathering powder
o   then spraying each lamp with Testor’s Dullcote
o   used paper towel to wipe off excess powder from lamps
o   allowed to dry

·         I attached weathered lamps using a hot glue gun and glue sticks.

·         To simulate four insulators, plastic beads were attached to each of most poles
o   Each plastic bead was sanded on one end by placing the sandpaper on a flat surface and rubbing the bead back and forth on said sandpaper
o   I then coated each bead with Testor’s Dullcote to remove sheen
o   then let to dry and
o   then attached to cross arms with superglue

·         Some green paint is painted at the base of each dowel to simulate mold growing on the telephone pole in this somewhat tropical climate of the prototype

·         The last step can be to attach a model pigeon to the cross arm using a model in the scale you have chosen. In some cases, the pigeon must first be painted. Painted pigeons are a short-cut. I used a Preiser 47084 Pigeon.

There you have it scratch built telephone poles that will not look like anyone else’s.

Commercial Components

1.      Preiser 47084 Pigeon 1:25 scale
2.      Mininatur 936-325 English Ivy O scale
3.      Loco-Boose Hobbies #DBL 10 Depot Lamps w/o light bulbs G Scale 

Materials Used

2.       Manufacturer Unknown Strip bass wood
3.      X-Acto® X3254 Craft knife - Black
4.      X-Acto® No. 11 blades
5.      Testors 1260 Dullcote Clear Flat Lacquer Overcoat
6.      Helping Hand Aluminum Oxide Sandpaper
7.      Bragdon Enterprises Weather System Medium Rust
8.      Custom made stain
9.      Manufacturer Unknown Beads, green
10.  Manufacturer Unknown WT-260 Glue gun
11.  Manufacturer Unknown Glue Sticks
12.  Manufacturer Unknown Paper towels
13.  Elmer’s White Glue
14.  Bob Smith Industries Maxi-Cure (CAA)
15.  Manufacturer Unknown Miniature saw