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Since Joe is posting his Clinics over here for folks, I felt I should grab my Soda Machine Method:

I saw this idea on the N Scale TrainBoard.Com web forums so not my idea but here's how I created a pile of vending machines for community.

I had originally posted this at the MR Forums, so some will consider this a rerun :eek:

Here are the tools I used:
Small Square, Scale Rulers, Xacto Knife, Tweezer, Clear Parts Cement, Black Permanent Marker


Glossy Photo Paper, Strip Styrene correct for your scale and vending machine size

A camera or search the web with Google for "Vending Machines".

Your computer that has a graphics program installed, I used Photoshop CS.

I first scanned in a scale ruler so I could actually size the vending machine for my scale. I then took the image and copied it into the image of the scale ruler.


I then duplicated the vending machines that would fill a 8.5 X 11 sheet of glossy photo paper.


I then printed this out on my printer using the highest quality settings my printer has.

Next I carefully cut out the soda machine.


I then scored the styrene to the size of the paper vending machine. A Chopper III would be better. (I just got one, so I will be mass producing soon ;) )


Next used Clear Parts Cement and spread out on the front of the styrene.



Place on the styrene so it's square. When it has dried, you may want to trim any excess styrene or square the machine.


Next I used a black permanent marker and do top, both sides, bottom and back getting a nice even coverage.



I knocked out about 10-15 in 30 minutes


They look great on the layout.



Edit: Corrected grammer
Last edited by a moderator:


Entrepreneurial Teen
Cool! Thanks for the ideas! Excellent detail items, and a one-session project too!

Now if only I had a layout to put them on...


Registered Member
Staff member
Hily cow, that simple eh! Thank's for sharing your idea David, LOL I figure by this time next week there'll be a mess of model vending machines around the world. An excellent how to do it thread



grande man said:
Great post David! I don't have Photoshop, but someday I'm gonna do some of these...
In Windows, don't they have a image editing program, I seem to remember that when I worked at Caterpillar and had to make a who to for (bleck!) Lotus Notes. Mainly you want to make sure you are in scale. You will need a flatbed scanner to be accurate. I have seen some others use a scanner and models of their rolling stock, then create whole body decals for engines, infact I think Ken L. did this also. PhotoShop Elements is similar to Photoshop and about 1/6th of the price and will do almost any MR related as well as digital camera enhancing you would need. I am just lucky that when I owned the web dev company, I was able to keep all my software when I sold :)

I hope to see a lot of these little 1 evening project ideas. I plan on doing a CenterBeam lumber load howto next week, I have actual loads I photographed, similar to what Nevada N scale used to do. I had promised to do a how to on my weathering job, but with visiting grandkids, Church, cleaning and starting to re-organize the train room I ran out of time


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Very nice, David. Looks like just the ticket for any modern office, grocery store or gas station.

I'm a big fan of paper modeling, something that's really grown into its own with the advent of high quality printers and computers. I've done locomotive interiors, intermodal containers, building interiors and exteriors and now I'm working on a pair of billboards, all done using computer printers as a big part of the modeling. It's nice to see other folks embracing this "lost" art.



I like TYCO!
I just need to find some photos from the 50s to 70s of vending machines. Any guesses where I could find them?


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Dan, I've had good luck with finding lots of vending machines in photos on the Gas Signs website. If you scroll down this page (, for example, you'll see this photo:

There are plenty of others in the various gas station photos on that site. In fact, there's loads of good information for just about any era from the 60s on in the photos on the Gas Signs site.

You may not be able to cull images out of many of the scans on that site. You might have to make them yourself. But, the photos are a good guide. And graphic design, especially as it relates to vending machines in the 70s and 80s, was less photo-driven and more logo-driven, if that makes any sense. Your creativity with a period-appropriate logo will get you very far.

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