How To Build a Model or Structure Scratchbuild a large-scale grain elevator

Scratchbuild a large-scale grain elevator

By Jerry Paladino | November 7, 2023

Use PVC and styrene to create a unique structure

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I scratchbuilt a large-scale grain elevator in 1:29 scale using PVC pipes, PVC boards, and styrene.

three pieces of PVC pipe with threaded bolts through them
The author used threaded bolts to hold the silos together. Jerry Paladino photo


two pieces of PVC pipe with long threaded bolt through them
Two of the three pieces of PVC are joined with the threaded bolt. Jerry Paladino photo

To make the silos, I used 4” diameter PVC pipes. After cutting the pipes to the length that I wanted, I drilled holes through each pipe and used 2 threaded bolts to hold them together. The bolts run into the right side of the tower to hold the entire structure together. I used 3M Plastic Emblem and Trim adhesive to adhere the roof panels and silo cover.

The tower section was assembled using screws. I countersunk the screw heads and filled in the holes with an epoxy putty. I sanded the putty smooth after it dried. I painted the tower and silo tubes with a flat white exterior paint, while the roof sections and silo cover were painted a flat matte gray.

I had a sign company make the “Chalco” lettering, but I instead of sticking the letters on the structure, I removed them. I used black matte spray paint and the “stencil” left behind from the letters to spray on the silos. I figured the painted letters would weather nicely. I plan to leave the grain elevator outdoors year round.

Grain elevator dimensions

Tower building, 12” x 12”, 32” tall

Roof, 1/8” styrene

6 grain silos, 4” diameter PVC pipe, 26” tall

Silo caps, 1/8” styrene

Grain train shed section, 12” x 10”, 8” tall

model grain elevator on garden railway
The grain elevator installed on the railway. Jerry Paladino photo


back of model grain elevator on garden railway
The rear view of the grain elevator. Jerry Paladino photo

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