Wanting a small dam I found Power Development of Small Streams – “A Book for All Persons Seeking Greater Comfort and Higher Efficiency in Country Houses, Towns and Villages.“. Published in 1920, the purpose of the book was to furnish the layman how to construct a small water power plant.

Now – IMO we can divide modelers into two major classes – 1)those who are happy to make something ‘good nuff’ .. and 2)those who delve into the model to make something that is at least close as they can to the real thing. I’m in that second category – I actually have fun with the research bit.


Quote: Arched and gravity dams sometimes are of masonry, but concrete is so much more easily handled and commonly is so much cheaper that the best permanent dams of today are largely of concrete. ((The drawings show a design for a)) concrete dam eight feet high, ten feet wide at the base and fifteen inches wide at the crest. This dam is made of a mixture of 1 part best Portland cement, 2 parts sand, and 4 parts gravel, or coarse aggregate. Large stone may be used in this work, but care must be taken that they are clean and are entirely surrounded by the finer materials of the concrete. This dam is not to be used where the length of the dam must be more than fifty feet. It was designed for the Alpha Portland Cement Company of Easton, Pennsylvania.


My version reproduced in Sketchup to fit the area I had. In a perfect world I would have liked a larger damn .. but .. *shrug* .. you gotta do what you gotta do. With a 3D model in Sketchup it is easy enough to turn that 3d model into 2D plans which I could then use to cut shapes out from Styrene.


As I said earlier, I created 2D drawings which I glued to styrene sheet and then cut out to make a ‘kit’. Here, I am gluing up the parts.


Assembly was pretty simple. Since I used styrene I used MEK to cement everything. Once put together, I needed to putty the joints. I didn’t have any modeling putty at the time so I used automotive putty. Hey .. it works!


A coat of primer or two with some sanding and I was ready to start finishing up.


First of all .. yeah .. I know the texture is overdone .. but my feeling on the subject is that .. IMO .. ‘overdoing’ texture often ‘works’. I think the eye ‘expects’ certain textures and although you might expect textures to appear smooth in scale. To create the look of boards in the form having moved I glued strips of paper to the model. Glue and sanded grout was used to create the heavy sandy texture.

Base Color

Finally I sprayed the entire model with a beige paint. There is always a lot of discussion about how to paint concrete. It usually starts out greyish green when wet then mostly white as it sets up. As the concrete weathers it gets yellowish or something of a beige color. Me – I like starting with a beige base color.

A/I Wash

Alcohol/India ink wash over the structure really tones down the color from the spray paint. Once this was dry I found a craft acrylic paint close in color and dry-brushed over the surface.

Dry Brushing

To finish up I used Linen craft paint to dry brush over the surface. I brushed over the edges, the textures .. trying to move the brush in a downward direction to give the sense of water having flowed that direction.

Penstock Collar

It was at this point that I realize I had forgotten that I would at some point need to attach the penstock. I will call it a ‘penstock collar’ .. have no idea what it would be called – if anything. In any case I made up something from styrene.

Rust & Stains

I added some NBW around the collar then painted and rusted everything. Some rust running down the face of the damn. Finally the top was painted black – EnviroTex would be poured over that.

Test Fitting

Fitting the damn into place. This of course would have been much easier if I had done this earlier in the layout build. Below the pump house is the base for the turbine.


Dam in place. I did a bit of water flowing over the spillway. The turbine is in place. The penstock still needs to be added between the damn and the turbine. I WILL get around to it someday.

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