Building the General Rope & Wire Co

Written by Thom Miecznikowski, photos by the author.

Bill of Materials

Several fresh, sharp #11 blades. We recommend "Excell" brand blades.A scoring and burnishing tool. I use a dull, smooth edge dental tool but a dried out ball point pen or just the back side of your cutting blade will do. Optionally adding a "folding bone" can help you get clean tight folds.
A good cutting surface like a self healing pad or a sheet of glass works well.A medium gray magic marker for touching up the edge of the parts that you will be cutting out. It's very important that you touch up all of the exposed edges as you cut out parts. This is very repetitive so we won't mention it again.
ScissorsGlue. There are lots of options here. Primarily we recommend CA also known as super glue. The 5 to 15 second gap filling variety is best (the very thin CA can be used for "Plasticising" paper, an advanced technique). Other useful glues include white craft glues and a nifty pen applicator glue called ZIG 2 way glue. The pen applicator can be handy for tacking thin and small parts in place.
A steel straight edge or triangleNot absolutely required but strongly recommended a dull coat spray varnish. It's the finishing touch. It seals out moisture, the enemy of card stock, and also makes the image appear sharper by filtering out UV light. Some printer inks and papers have a sheen to them. A couple of coats of dulling spray will really pull things together. Some modelers will add dull coat the paper sheets before cutting. I can't say I do it but I can see potential pluses.

If you haven't built one of our Card models before, "General Rope & Wire Co." was created to let you experience our unique approach to craftsman level card modeling. This kit is being made available exclusively for readers of Shortline Modelers Lounge and will not be available anywhere for at least a year. The kit is simple to put together yet offers some challenge to those who want to take it. It will familiarize you with all of the techniques used in our other kits. Don't forget, if you mess up, just print another one and feel free to share this kit with your friends.

If you would like to see what else we offer, visit us at

Before we get started: a few notes about scale. The model provided is in O scale. For those who would like to build it in HO or any other scale, it can be easily done. Your home color printer can resize these images during printing. For HO, scale set your printer to 50% reduction. For S scale set the printer to 64% reduction and for N scale a setting of 28% should work well. When printing be sure your printer heads are clean and you are set to "photo" or "high quality".

Lets get started. I like to start with the most difficult part and that's the front wall which are located on page one and three.

One point to note, much of the cutting is non critical. Tabs can be cut with scissors or freehand and once you get comfortable with methods you can add or remove tabs to suit your own needs.

Scoring prior to cutting out.

You can now cut the complete wall part from the rest of the sheet. You will also cut out the main door from the front wall. Save the removed door image as you may want to use it later to enhance some details or act as a spare.

Start folding.There are some very thin folds. Remember this is the hardest part of this model. Once you have successfully done this you can do anything. Using your straight edge as a break, make all folds 90 degrees back. It should look like this when finished.

Folding is always critical! Before cutting out the parts, use a straight edge and scoring tool to carefully score all of the indicated fold lines and tabs. The idea is to crush the paper. Be sure your scoring tool does not tear or gouge the paper. It's always a good idea to practice scoring and folding on scrap paper first.

Put it aside and take a look at page three. In the bottom right there is a part that will become the door inset and the steel beam that supports the wall above it. Just to the right of that is an illustration that shows how it is to be folded. Also on this page is one of the internal supports and several detail parts that will be layered to create dimension.

Note that all but one of the folds are forward. So the scoring must be done from the back. To aid this you can use a push pin to mark the fold lines then flip over the page and finish your scoring. Back to the front side to cut the piece out. No tabs on this piece but if you think they may help, feel free to add some of your own but you shouldn't need them and they may get in your way.

Back to the front wall to glue it up. One of the maxims of card modeling. If the first glue joint is perfect, all the following ones will be as well. We are creating what is essentially a thin box.

We will start by gluing tab A to edge A. First fold the wall part to insure that all your folds are crisp and you understand how it all fits. The glue applied to tab A should be rather sparse. Just enough to be an even thin bead. If all your folds are true and sharp, the edge and tab will align easily. Once the glue holds the parts together, put this aside and take a break.

Side Walls & Inside Braces

Cut the wall away from the sheet. At this point every action is a duplicate of what you learned on the front wall. Score and fold the tabs indicated.

This would be a great time to test fit the side wall to the front wall.

You should also test fit the main internal brace (also found on page three). If you have been careful with all of your scoring and folding to this point everything should fit nice and tight. Glue it all together. Main brace to side wall then the front wall.

On page two you will find the other side wall and the back wall

Score cut and fold as before.

This wall has both a window and a freight door. We will want to use layers to build up dimension. Starting with the side window. Note there are several images of window frames printed on this page. You have the option of leaving it flat by not cutting out the window and freight door. The image is quite convincing as is if seen from a distance of 3 feet or more but if you want to get the full effect of how good a card stock model can look lets look at the process of layering.

The first layer that will be mounted from the back of the wall should be the glazing. I use scrap transparent plastic for packaging from my scraps box. If this isn’t available, the finished window will look more then passable without it. You might also use a gloss coat like nail polish directly on the second layer.

The second layer is the image of the entire window. This is also mounted to the back side of the wall.

Now moving to the front of the wall you will add the exterior window frames.

Several variations are supplied to allow for flexibility in creating the depth effect.

You might find it easier to cut these parts appart and use a board on board approach to build the window frame.

The same steps are used for the back freight door. One layer from the back (glazing optional) and two layers from the front.

OK now that you have had a break lets get the whole thing together by test fitting the side and back wall.

As before make sure everything fits and you understand how the parts go together. This is really the last critical step as we want a straight and plum model. When you are sure everything fits, glue the walls and braces together. It should go together very easily.

You have now gone through all of the steps of building one of our card models. We still have to add the roof and the optional side shed but lets let the pictures do the talking.

Adding the first layer of roof, the underlay

Adding the tar paper one strip at a time. Be sure to leave some of the wood exposed.

The Shed

Individual shingle strips start from the bottom edge.

There you are, your newest industry in town or along the right of way, the General Wire and Rope Company. I hope you enjoyed the process and as much as I have sharing it with you.

Kit Download

You can download the O Scale General Wire and Rope Company here. 76MB

About the Author

Clevermod01's picture

Thom Miecznikowski