Model Car Race Shop Diorama
been wanting to build a model garage for years. I was never sure
if I should scratch build one or try and use some sort of kit.
My initial line of thinking was to use it as a background for
taking pictures of car models.
the way, I purchased one of the MRC / Academy Gas Station models.
It's not a bad kit, but is a bit small for what I wanted (as most
1950's gas stations were in real life). Over the years I've purchased
various parts and diorama acessories, even though I wasn't sure
when I would actually get to building this shop I was dreaming
built a small shop diorama once before (unfortunately, I never
took any pictures of it, and sold it). That was back in the 1990s.
wanted this new one to be larger, and have more details.
we've had some rainy weather that just won't give up. It's great
for the grass in my yard, but painting models is out of the question.
The humidity is way to high, and that can ruin a paint job instantly.
still wanted to work on a model on a saturday and just enjoy the
day. So I brought out the MRC garage and started thinking about
what I could do with it. I had purchased some wood months earlier,
thinking it could make a good base (eventually).
received some free plastic panels that were about 1/8 thick. I
was thinking these would be good to make the walls with. Unfortunately,
the plastic was very brittle, and no matter how I cut it, it would
crack and break. I couldn't get a straght edge out of it.
I bought the wood for the base, I bought two of them (I do
that a lot, buy 2 of something, because you will always need another
one later or if something goes wrong with the first one, you have
a spare). I measured out the wood and cut the pieces for the walls.
Initally, I thought this worked out prety well. Below the walls
are just mocked up for now.
thinking about this, I took a break and looked around online for
some other 1/24 garages. Many of them were two story. I wasn't
sure I wanted to go that far, but I did have a Plastruct
1/24 (G scale actually) stair case that I had bought some
time ago, so I thought this would be good to work into the project
re-cut some wood, and altered the shop so it could have a small
uppder deck. A place to maybe store car parts, or maybe a leisure
I've measured out on the wood the size and dimensions, and marked
them with a pencil. This is so I can make sure the building's
sides are square, and are placed where I need them on the wood
marked the walls which end is up, and what side is the inside
/ outside. That way I can make sure they all line up and fit correctly
once I'm ready to glue them in place. You can see in this image
the pilot holes for the small nails I used (along with wood glue).
Beware of Dog plastic sign makes for an easy and cheap piece of
plastic. I used it to cut out sidewalks for the outside of the
shop.I glued down the sidewalks first using the pencil guidelines.
This way, the plastic walls fit inside them, and are held in place
by the sidewallk, which made sure the walls were properly square.
coming along. The walls are up, and the basic platform is started.
I use a Testors 1/24 Mustang
model as a reference when judging the size of things and the
spaces. I used plastic trim to hide the seams and joints, much
like you do in a real house. Trim made from Platruct and Evergreen
plastics I had.
ended up with what's below. I used white plastic sheets to cover
up the wood (cheap for sale signs work well for that) on the inside.
The side brown wall is a sheet of Plastruct brick. I used a lot
of Evergreen styrene and plastruct shapes that I already had (to
save money), and basically used them all. I had just bought a
new bottle of Zap-A-Gap glue and
used half of the bottol on this project so far. It holds very
well. Later I needed to remove a small plastic piece I'd glued
down to the wood base. I had to chisel that off with a hammer,
and it still took some of the wood with it. This glue seriously
makes a bond!
wood walls were attached with small nails (I predrilled the holes)
and wood glue. They're very sturdy. Everything else I used the
super glue (CA glue). I used styrene to make the deck and railings,
along with some extra model parts. The one side of the building
won't get a wall since this is for photography
and taking pictues of car models in a garage setting.
below, you can see it can get quite messy once you get to building.
I built all this in one day and had a lot of fun doing it. Once
you get in the groove, you don't want to stop, and I was really
enjoying scratch building various aspects of the diorama set.
project was far too big for my model desk, so I used a table to
give me the room I needed. There are some things I would have
done differently if I had more Plastruct and Evergreem materials
on hand, but I didn't want to wait, and I didn't want to spend
too much money on the project, so I used what I had.
room inside for maybe 3 cars, and room outside to park maybe 6
below I'm just mocking up some garage accessories to get some
ideas. I've collected many accessories over the years for such
a project as this. I made a hand rail for the steps and the upper
I thought I had done all I could do at this point, I
shot it all with primer. It probably would have be easier
to paint the parts all separately, but since I was building this
on the fly, with the materials I had on hand, I wasn't really
sure what I would end up with at the end.
that I added an extra second story wall section to the left, with
a curve. Without that section, to take a photograph would show
the room's background area. With the piece in place, it blocked
the scene better for pictures. I curved it since making it square
brought to much attention to it, and it blends in better with
the front this way. I didn't want to construct a two story wall
all the way across the front. The curve is more subtle to the
railing is a divider between the front door and the garage area.
The primer prepares the model for paint, but also shows me any
areas that need more attention, and probabky some putter filler
room on the side to park a few cars, so I added a few minor details.
Electrical box, vent, and plumbing box..These are made from odds
and ends shapes that came from my spare parts bin, I just modified
them to fit my purposes visually.
front of the shop.
caught a break in the weather, so I painted more primer and the
black for the asphalt. Note that these are just base layers, and
don't show what the final look , colors or textures will be.
really starting to take shape and resemble a building.
began paintng some of the assemblies on the inside. In real life,
the stairs and upper deck would be steel probably, so I painted
them black with red accents.
brick has it's first coat of brown paint as well. The upper deck
has a floor made from Pastruct diamond plate. Below the deck on
the floor is also diamond plate. That area will be where most
of the mechanical work wll be done (in this shop).
first I thought I might paint the floor, but decided that would
probably look unrealistic with paint. I used a sheet of posterboard
paper from Michael's that looked like modern concrete. In the
service area I used a sheet of paper that has small dots on it,
like a commercial rubber floor material would have.
look good in this scale and quite real. I begain assembling and
painting various tools and shop furniture. The upper deck has
a set of lockers, a sit down bench, and a refridgerator (for now).
are the tool boxes, and the service area gets a desk, cabinet
unit, and a book shelf for shop manuals. The tool boxes were painted
to match the outside colors of the shop building. I still have
a lot to do as far as detailing all these, and adding a lot of
small extra items to set the scene.
is the ouside. The colors are a Tamiya
yellow and orange. It was still a bit humid outside, and it
played with the paint some, so there are some areas I'll have
to redo. But overall, it's not bad. I like it. The side section
to the left will stay in primer, to resemble concrete. The very
back of the shop was painted black on the outside and I won't
be adding any detail there.
ready for cruising night.
painted some more of the outside walls, and touched up on a few
areas. The outside drive was painted flat black. The sidewalks
are a light grey (though they look white in the images).
still have a ways to go. The garage door needs to be painted.
The windows need to be installed. I 'm also waiting on some supplies
to arrive to make a few more things.
think I might add the gas pumps and island. There's just enough
room for them.
had originally bought some hot rod stickers, that I thought would
be fun to use on a garage project. When building this shop, my
intention was to use them. But as I assembled it, it seemed like
there wouldn't be anywhere to put them because of their large
after adding the one upper wall on the side, suddenly, now there
was room. And the sticker actually worked out well. The shop's
colors of yellow and orange were originally based off this sticker,
even though it looked like at the beginning, I wouldn't end up
I worked on the shop more and more, I began thinking about adding
something to imply a wall on the one side. Something that woudln't
be permanent, since I still wanted to be able to take photographs.
first I thought I might use a wall only about 2 inches high. Something
I could line shop equipment up against. But after using the sticker
on the one wall, if I made this wall the same size, I could add
a sticker to this side. So I traced around the first wall and
cut out this one based on that. I also added another garage door
opening. This wall is only set in place and can be removed for
inside of the new wall was covered and sheet plastic and painted
white. I added some minor detail around the garage opening. I
curved the front of it like the first side, just because it looked
better that way rather than straingt up.
outside was painted the shop colors. I left it as raw wood, but
sanded and primed it before painting. The garage door opening
has some minor detail added around it.
the bottom, the sidewalks more or less 'locks it in place'. But
I have a piece of masking tape at the top holding it for now.
This is only a tempoary side for display and can easily be removed.
interesting how this shop keeps changing and evolving, far from
my original plans.
been making some headway on the various diorama parts. I wanted
a shop counter to divide the customer area from the shop, so I
made this one by cutting the previous
bookshelf unit (from Fujimi) in half. I then modified it and
added a counter top, and used diamond plate on the front of it.
Note the green Chilton shop manuals.
around the beginning I wanted to tint the windows a bit. It just
seemed that a light blue would give it more realistic look, especially
to resemble a night shot.
ordered some tint that's made for headlights. It wasn't quite
as light as I wanted color wise, but it will work. This is heavy
duty stuff, it's made for car headlights and such, and it's automotive
grade. It sticks extremely well, so make sure you get it where
you want it on the first try. My biggest problem with it was putting
it on small pieces of plastic. It's easy to get small bubbles,
and it sticks so well, it's hard to pull off to work them out
on a second try.
broke the main front window in half pulling the tint off on one
always a good idea to save scraps of plastic or materials you
come across. They can save the day. I had a flat piece of clear
plastic I saved from a product package from a store. I traced
around the original window, put the tint on, and then cut it out.
the glass all glued in place, I began working on the furniture
and such. I added some random performance parts to the upper deck
shelves. Also a ceiling fan, bench and some tools.
the temporary wall in place, it looks quite nice. I plan on adding
some car posters and signs eventually. I put a small metal bracket
to hold the top of the extra wall, so now once I slide it in place
it will stand by itself.
was waiting on the window tint, but since it arrived, that's done.
I'm also waiting on some small parts to add more detail, they
should be here in a couple of weeks.
still more I plan on doing. And I have more ideas, so I'm not
done just yet!
took the shop outside to try and get some images in the sun and
for better lighting. It's getting some dust on it already, so
I need to keep it covered in the future. I store in in the garage
becuase of it's size.