How to Make a Water Tower Model

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Water towers like these remain a feature of city skylines.
Water towers like these remain a feature of city skylines. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A water tower is an iconic addition to any scenic layout. Water towers provided the supplies for steam engines, and are thus a vital part of any model railroad based on the steam era. They were also an important feature of many American towns. For wargamers, a water tower can provide cover, elevation and visual interest. Building a model tower is a straightforward modeling project that requires a few simple materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Drawing materials
  • Fiberboard or other base material
  • Craft knife or saw
  • Square-section balsa wood rod
  • Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Craft sticks or tongue depressors
  • Empty metal or cardboard can
  • Thin card
  • Scissors
  • PVA glue
  • Plastic rod or drinking straw
  • Acrylic paints and brushes

Sketch a plan for your water tower. During this stage, decide what scale you intend to use for your water tower, how tall you need it to be, and what features it will have. Most water towers consist of an open tower supporting a square or circular platform. A cylindrical tank with a conical or flat roof rests on the platform, with a pipe which can dispense water.

Cut a base from fiberboard or another suitable basing material using a craft knife or saw. The base should be slightly larger than you intend the footprint of your tower to be. It should also be relatively heavy to balance the tall, top-heavy model.

Construct a frame for the tower using balsa wood. The traditional water tower support consists of four, six or eight uprights with X-shaped supports between them. Secure the uprights firmly to the base using cyanoacrylate glue.

Build a square platform on top of the uprights. Build the frame of this from balsa wood and the crossbeams from craft sticks or tongue depressors with the ends trimmed square.

Cut an empty can or cardboard tube to scale using a craft knife or saw. This will form the body of your tank.

Cover your tank with textured material. Use thin card to represent sheet metal or craft sticks to represent vertical wooden staves.

Cut a circle from thin card using scissors. Cut a slit from the edge to the center of the circle and fold the card into a cone. Cut off the excess and glue the cone into place with PVA glue. This will form the shape of your roof. Glue it to the top of the tower body.

Decorate the roof of your tower. Use more card to represent metal plates or cut small pieces of thin card to create wooden shingles. Glue these to the roof with PVA glue in an overlapping pattern.

Cut a short length of plastic rod or drinking straw to represent the spigot and glue it into place at the bottom of the tower.

Paint your water tower in appropriate colors using acrylic paints.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always be careful when using a craft knife. Cut on a safe surface and make all cuts away from your body.

References

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