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Thank you for the pictures @Cat The first one is super skinny, I really like the design. I will have to make some of these, I like how the landing has stick out a little wider so you can open the door fully.

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Love the little spiral stare case for the last floor. I now remember seeing some of those in person.


love the little railing. They do seem to get whacked off a lot and easy to go poof!


there use to be a couple of etching companies that made a large sheet of just ladders in a couple lengths. Some meant for rail cars, others for buildings and such.



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So cat how do the stair steps on the gol metal escapes work? I know I have a set buried somewhere I got a long time back, but I think I came to the same conclusion as you that they were too bulky for what I was thinking of using it on. Was wondering if each step could be attached with a thin point at each end end to the side frame and then just twist the stair steps a bit to the right angle. Hand rails could just be part of the side frame. Will be a bit bulky to etch so not as inexpensive as a manhole cover!


it will be interesting to see your building with others set in the scene to see if the fire escape stands out or blends in.



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11 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

Love the little spiral stare case for the last floor.

Me too!!



think I will start out with some basic stairs and landings. Then add spiral stairs later. I want to give it some thought so that the modular and interchangeable so that you can transition from between sets.

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Cool! But ugh now I’ll want to put fire escapes on a bunch of buildings! Yes modular would be good! Cat have you seen any of the last floor being just a drop-down ladder in japan?


im all set to fold these up! Been working on this little etched metal building last night and it makes a fire escape look simple!




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2 hours ago, cteno4 said:

So cat how do the stair steps on the gol metal escapes work?

They're very skinny and just lie flat along the plane of the string along the edge.  It works fine though, you really have to squint closely at it to realise it's just a ladder with a railing.
I think that's the best approach.  Trying to twist stair treads to a proper angle would lead to many sproinging off into space as the brass snaps.
Also, if the stringers and treads were wide enough to be actual steps, then that would add to the bulk of the whole unit and be disproportionately large compared to the typical shrunken footprint buildings.
Alas no, I have not spotted any drop-down bottoms.  That has stood out as a different national characteristic.

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For the scaffolding project, I have made stairs similar to the former Kobaru kit, and I think they look great.

The two sides are bent first (they will be vertical), then each step is bent horizontally. It is actually quite easy to do.

This is what the design sheet looks like. The top of the stairs is on the right.

I can share a vector file of the design if this can help.





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On 3/6/2023 at 8:53 PM, cteno4 said:

Been working on this little etched metal building last night and it makes a fire escape look simple!


That sounds more like a punishment than a hobby @cteno4, looks amazing though.


On 3/6/2023 at 11:57 PM, Madsing said:

For the scaffolding project, I have made stairs similar to the former Kobaru kit, and I think they look great.

Thank you for sharing @Madsing I was blown away by your scaffolding when I saw it. Is this the same technique you used on the inspection platforms?

I am going to try a couple techniques to make the stairs one will be like yours with the fold up sides.


It has been a busy week at work, staying late for parents evenings so I haven't had a chance to get much done. 

I have been looking around for good dimensional drawings of fire escapes. I have found couple for commercial installations but not a lot for the smaller narrow steps in @Cat's first link. 


I will keep looking. The best I have come up with so far is here: https://www.mlit.go.jp/common/001225722.pdf

It gives some details about tread depth, spacing, inclination angle and the width of the steps. 


My current plan is to make two versions. A narrower small version with an I beam construction:



This will be followed by a larger welded style version:



Initially the basic etch will include stairs, square landings and handrails. I will then make some add on etches with half floor stairs, alternate handrails, curved and modular landings. For the landings my thinking is to offer 0.5m, 1m, 1.5m, 2m and 3m sections similar to the fences, possibly also some transition pieces to change the width such as going from stairs to spiral stairs. I started playing around with different shaped sections until I realised I was just playing and not doing any work 🤭



I am also thinking of creating exterior cladding that could be attached to outside of the fire escapes:



I am now working on different ways to construct each of the parts. I am going to test two methods at first, one version codenamed 'jeff' requires lots of construction with quite small fiddly pieces. The advantage is that it does not take up much space on an etch so I could get lots of parts.

The 'jeff' construction method:


1, Interlock separate parts on a base



2, Glue the joins, add and glue a top deck.



3, Finished landing.



The alternate version codenamed 'madsing' will used folding parts and half etch details wherever possible to replicate the look I beam style construction. It will be much easier to make but each part will take up more space.


As for spiral stairs I have no ideas at the moment how to go about constructing these. It may need a jig as one of the parts to help keep everything level and lined up.




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27 minutes ago, Kamome442 said:

The alternate version codenamed 'madsing' will used folding parts and half etch details wherever possible to replicate the look I beam style construction. It will be much easier to make but each part will take up more space.

While the details of the interlocking plates are stunning, such a fine-scale fire escape would look super bulky on undersized model buildings.
Even the Gold Medal design, which is completely flat folding parts can be too bulky looking for a number of applications.
I'm quite happy to forgo all depth of treads and deck heights to capture the light and airy look of the staircase as a whole.


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LOL codenames! you are down the rabbit hole on these!


Yes that’s how those little etched metal building do things a lot to save as much etch space as possible and then puzzle piece pack them into an etch. from building this building I’m not sure if the “Jeff” model will work as I would assume that I beam platform is only like 6” thick so that would mean 1mm strips to try to do that interlocked structure. Even with if foot high 2mm strips are tough to deal with as even cutting them out carefully they start to deform a lot a never can get pressed back into shape perfectly. Folding over a 1 or 2mm strip avoids this a lot as less deformation from cutting happens as it’s attached to the larger piece and the fold helps pull things straight as well a bit. These etched metal building kits use the folding a lot and it’s amazing how well it holds even some tiny pieces together. A few are like 3mmx3mmx4mm in folded size! Doing these etched metal building I realized these really complex folds and assemblies are not for most train modelers, they make a sankei kit look as simple as legos. Many folks find the sankei kits too fiddly and too much work already and the etched metal builds require a huge amount of patience, dexterity, and eye sight compared to sankei buildings! Some of the 1/700 etched metal ship stuff is amazingly detailed but after doing a few of those years ago I grew tired pretty fast of the tediousness and doing more just wasn’t fun.

I think Cat may be right it might be too heavy visually even if colors to scale. It’s just one of those modeling things I think our visual memory screws up. In our visual memory we have the vision of very open and lacy fire escape structures (I think it’s just a comparison to regular stairs that are big and solid not open) but at a distance the open structure starts to look more solid and that fights with our visual memory. We tend to hold the up close views in our visual memory (probably because our brain prioritizes the memories of us having to physically interact with things) over the more long distance views. Thus things on layouts can be to scale and proper but just not look right when viewed over a foot away as that 150’+ away and may clash with our more up close weighted visual memory. My classic example of this is sidewalk curbs. At scale sidewalks should be 1mm max high, but if you do them that high hey kinda disappear and don’t quite look right a couple feet away as our vision just doesn’t notice the 1mm or less sidewalk rise. To overcome this many folks just make higher sidewalks, but then figures and cars can clash with the now small wall curbs! What does work is to cheat with the coloring of the sidewalk and the curb edge to make a better contrast line to artificially make the curb height stand out better at a distance but still be to scale up close for figures and cars.


wondering if doing something like that here will work of cheating a bit on details and even the stair step widths and heights and maybe stanchion spacing to keep them looking right at distance but close enough close in to say fire escape with the main visual memories of a fire escape. Could probably forgo all the underside details of the platforms as you probably won’t be able to get a viewing angle on them unless you are boroscoping the layout. Also I-beam detail as well as we can’t really see that at scale unless you are like an inch away. I fear trying to both etch I-beam detail and fold a 1-2mm platform side may make it hard to fold. I know this treads heavily on being perfect scale representation, but there is always going to be this battle going on with our visual memory and mind’s eye with scaling things down.


one trick these etched metal buildings do on long folds that helps is to do perforations along the folded edge in addition to and partial etch line. Makes folding even thin fold overs each. Rub is it does create an odd rough fold edge, but painting will cover that up as well and may give a sort of rough metal patchwork feel anyway as the fire escapes always feel like 5 different kinds of metal work all tossed together. Folding the stair treads off the side rails also may give some interesting details that while not real may again say weird mixed metal work to our minds eye and it just clean things up with visual memories. It’s weird how much of our perception is not the current reality but filled in from our visual reality. It’s a big thing in neuroscience and how we perceive the world and process the never ending gush of sensory input effectively and efficiently. When you figure in time dimension then things get really weird with perception and reaction.





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Sorry @Cat I didn't explain that very well. This is really just a testing phase, I have never made an etch with intricate folds like the steps and I really have no idea what will work and what will not. At the moment I am just trying to figure out the shape and scale of everything. The final design be much finer and won't need watch makers tools to put it together (probably 🤭)

I will also be making mock ups in paper, styrene and maybe the odd 3D print. I like to have physical models hold and move around when trying design something.


Thank you for the information @cteno4 always useful. I am almost certain the first etches won't look great hopefully they will give me some understanding of the tolerances. Here are a couple of drawings for a folding landing. 

Fold down sides with holes to drop in handrails:



Fold up sides including hand rails and a drop in top:



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4 hours ago, Kamome442 said:

Sorry @Cat I didn't explain that very well. This is really just a testing phase,

Double whew!  Hmm, science.  Or engineering anyway...
: 3

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On 3/13/2023 at 12:42 AM, Kamome442 said:

Thank you for sharing @Madsing I was blown away by your scaffolding when I saw it. Is this the same technique you used on the inspection platforms?

I am going to try a couple techniques to make the stairs one will be like yours with the fold up sides.

Yes. I have used exactly the same technique for the stairs of the inspection platforms and the scaffolding. This is a 3D view after folding:1957999718_Screenshot2023-03-15at8_47_38PM.thumb.png.fca09d596c3561e208cd587966a4c466.png

The two side beams are to be folded first, preferably using a photo etch bending tool. The individual steps can then be folded one by one to be placed in the horizontal position. This is easy to achieve using tweezers. Note that the 3D rendering above (generated by Autodesk Fusion 360) is not completely correct. The bottom part of the steps will of course not actually be folded as shown, but the small tags linking the steps to the side beams will twist and the steps will be entirely flat and horizontal (I could not simulate this in the Fusion 360 sheet metal module).


In the scaffolding design, the top and bottom of the stairs have slots that are inserted into top and bottom beams. The scaffolding were actually relatively easy to assemble as they don't require much folding.




The stairs of the inspection platform are less elaborate. They are simply glued to the left handrail, as shown here:



The inspection platforms as shown above have been incredibly difficult to fold. The folding lines were too long and not flexible enough. However, I have used the same technique to create thickness with pallets (meant to model plastic pallets), and it worked very well. This could be useful for the stair landings.




I hope this helps.






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maihama eki

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a couple of prototype examples of Neon Noir lanterns. I took the smaller one, a #9 size lantern and added decals to advertise Sushi. I applied the decals to both sides. This is a font of 2.5 on a laser print, thin clear decal medium. Here it is next to a grain of sushi rice. It looks better in real life than the photo shows. These are tiny - just a few mm tall.




Did you ever see "Your Name on a Grain of Rice!"


Yes, there is an LED inside of this tiny lantern. It is very challenging to light it up and photograph it. I used my trusty Hewlett Packard power supply to power the LED at 2.5 V, and lowered the lights, and got a not great photo. Trust me, they look amazing.




These lanterns are really nice. Joe was kind enough to send some of the basic 3D print bodies as well. Having started down the road of drilling them out, installing LEDs, and finishing them with end caps as he has done, I can tell you this a challenging endeavor.






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@maihama ekithank you for sharing the pictures, your decals look awesome! I will have to work one some transfers at some point. Did you wrap them around the lantern or is it a rectangle patch on the front?

I have just started making the short round number 9 lanterns(right), they are crazy small but strangely slightly easier to make than those longer lanterns. They don't seem as prone to cracking when you drill them for some reason. I will send you a couple to play with once I have printed some more bodies.



A finished lantern:




I will be putting the first batch of lanterns on the shop this weekend. It won't be all the shapes straight away as I am waiting on some more LEDs.

For not it will be medium long, small long, and medium short in bright white. I should be getting some more warm white LEDs by Thursday. If the they arrive on time I will be able to get medium long and small long warm white up too.



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Lanterns are Live


I have added the lanterns to the shop, 5 versions so far. Links for each version below. I have decided to sell them in batches of 10 not 20 as that seems more reasonable. The price is now £10 so I will be sending them out with standard shipping without tracking (the price for tracked mail globally from the UK is around £9) however there should be a tick option at checkout if you want tracking this will however add £1 for UK sales and £4 for international.

In addition I am selling up the small lanterns have already made at £10 and not £15. This is because I have found a suppler that made better quality 0201 LED's and the current version will not be up to the same standards going forward. More on that below.
















Up to this point I have been picking up LED's from several sources wherever I can get them and there are slight differences. They have all used 0.1mm lacquered wires some with a longer wire to denote the positive and some have used a black lacquer on the positive. Also in a lot cases the ends of the wires have not had the lacquer removed which means I am doing that myself. It is all a little messy however more and more shops are now selling the smaller LED's and I recently used a new vendor. Not only is the soldering the cleanest I have seen but they are also using a finer 0.08mm wire. This is so much easier to bend it also gives a nicer finish. I have ordered some of their 0402 LEDs and if they are equally good I will keep with them going forward.


I have taken delivery of another 400 LED's on Friday so I will start making up more over the coming weeks. To begin with they might sell faster than I can make them but hopefully that will level out in time. 



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Joe, these are fabulous! Love the rtest ones you sent! Can’t wait to add them to some buildings! 


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Absolutely totally fabulous. 👍👍👍
I ordered some of the small long ones. I did not have any shipping costs for France, is this normal?

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On 4/8/2023 at 7:41 PM, cteno4 said:

Joe, these are fabulous! Love the rtest ones you sent! Can’t wait to add them to some buildings! 


Thank you @cteno4 I am looking forward to seeing these pop up peoples models.


2 hours ago, Tom C said:

Absolutely totally fabulous. 👍👍👍
I ordered some of the small long ones. I did not have any shipping costs for France, is this normal?


You are too kind @Tom C with your standards in model making I hope they are up to scratch! That's totally correct, shipping costs are included in the price.

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Arriving soon


I have sent have now sent out all the lantern orders so far and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone does with them.

I am now working on the small round Lanterns and will hopefully have them ready for sale in a couple of weeks. 

The latest etch order should be here towards the end of April. It has the test etch of fences in brass as mentioned before but it also contains some new items.

The first is the 1:80 scale versions of these critters:



The HO animal barriers will be able to go on sale straight away.


There are also some test etches for new stock.

I have put them on all on a small frame so that I can send them out with orders. Not all of them will probably work perfectly but should hopefully still be interesting to see.

First is a 1:80 scale Manhole cover, I didn't want to just scale up the N scale version so they are drawn from scratch, I am hoping most of the details will show up:



For 1:150 scale there are more manhole covers too, There are three little samples each with a couple of different designs:







I am hoping there will be enough designs that work to create a new set of etches.

Finally for 1:150 there are testers for each of these planter grates:



I also added a 1:12 scale manhole, I like the idea of making up etches that can include every little detail however I am not sure if they would ever sell. I would still like to make a small range of around 6 really nice designs and see if there is a market for them:



At the end of the month I will order the fences in either stainless or brass based on the which etch has the best results. I will order the test etches for the fire escapes as the same time.


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Just to say I haven't forgotten the road signs. I have been trying to clean up the layout a little so that each page doesn't look so busy, I think I am happy with how it all looks now. I have attached 2 sample pages of the 1:80 version below if anyone wants to look over them.

HO Road Sign Test.pdf 



For comparison here is a screen shot of a page from the 1:150 scale signs:



The 1:80 scale sheets have been a little trickier as each sign takes up a lot more space. I will make sure both scales include all the same designs there will just be fewer each design in the larger scale. My plan is group the signs by type (regulatory, warning, supplemental), each group will have a couple of pages. The first page will be the most common signs, additional pages will cover spacific areas such as a page of height, weight and width limits as well as less common signs. That way you will only need to print the pages you need.


I am going to include numbering and descriptions for each sign. The numbering is loosely based on the actual numbering system used for real street signs, I have used the proper 3 digit prefixes when I have been able to work them out. The suffix numbers are unique to me because I found the real numbering system utterly confusing 🤔 I hope this will also help if anyone stops a error in one the designs or with its translation, I will be able to make any corrections if you tell me the number and the issue.


I have also added some little symbols by the description to help give more information. As seen below, the backward 'm' is a mirrored version of the standard sign and the 'ns' signifies the sign is a non-standard version of the pedestrian crossing sign.




There will be other symbols such as fictitious for the Godzilla sign or unofficial for the eel sign.

I hope the like the layout, please do feel free to offer any feedback if you have it.


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