Monday, August 22, 2011

Inspiration from an Old Friend, Pt.1

Art Curren. No, I didn't know him, but he was my favorite author at Model Railroader magazine. He was the undisputed  King of the Kit Bash. He could mold and meld simple plastic structure kits into amalgams of  marvelous modelling. (I'll try not to alliterate any further.)  He wasn't a professional modeller, he wasn't even a professional writer. He was head of Kalmbach's circulation department. But when he opened up a structure kit, he saw beyond the instructions to a building greater than the picture on the box.

Over the years, I thought I'd seen every article he had written. I even had his book, a collection of articles from MR. So imagine my delight when I ran across an article I'd never seen in an old MR from 1990. It was a factory kit bash using the classic Superior Bakery (one of his favorite starting points, along with Mt.Vernon Manufacturing, the Hotel Belvedere, and the Burlington Mills) as well as the Yard Office kit from Pikestuff (oooooh, Pikestuff). The Superior Bakery kit was originally produced by Revell back in the late '50s, sold to a series of manufacturers, finally ending up with Con-Cor/Heljan when Art bashed it in '90. Surprisingly, I had never assembled one of these kits. And while it was widely available back then, ah, not so much now. Turns out today it is a highly sought after kit. And I needed two. It took a while to get two on eBay that didn't cost an arm and a leg. The Pikestuff kit was fairly new in '90, and is still being produced today. It is an inexpensive kit, and I got one from Walthers.

The premise of this kit bash is we have a small manufacturer in a turn of the century building, who expanded to one side in a concrete block addition, and later to the other side in a corrugated metal addition.  I started with the concrete block side.

Wooo, Pikestuff concrete block, my favorite.  Since this represents an addition, I only need three walls. The long wall consists of two full-size pieces of block, plus a strip eight blocks high. These pieces are the ones I've always used, and in HO scale, are 14½'x 28'. The two side walls are narrower, 18½' in HO. I had to pick these up from Walthers. I suppose I could have just cut down the larger piece to fit, but these were so much more convenient. You can see how I braced the joints with .040 x .250 strip.

I needed to cut two openings in the long wall for a window and a shipping door. I've mentioned this razor saw before, one the size of a  #11 blade. It is sharp, stiff, and pointed, and I was able to make the cuts without drilling any pilot hole. I like this blade.

Door and window from the bakery kit. I added styrene casings around them for a better fit.

Here they are installed. Notice the .030 square strip around the window to cover small gaps.

Internal bracing to keep the walls square and secure the door.

A two block strip around the inside of the walls establish the roof line.

A simple roof of .030 styrene and some terra cotta cap tiles.

Art used the awning from the bakery kit as-is, but I felt it was too wide. In narrowing it, I had to lose the support bracket on one side. No big loss, as it didn't look good anyway, so off came the other side. Now I had to support the awning, and I used this brass wire to represent steel pipe.

The awning installed. You can see the four panels that make it up. Originally it was five wide, too wide for me. Normally in a situation such as this, I would just junk the piece and scratch a new one out of Plastruct sheet. But this was a really nice molding, and I had to use it.

A small boiler house addition on the side. I still need to add a roll-up door and smokestack, but otherwise this side of the building is mostly complete. Time to move to the other side.

The two ends of the Yard Office. One was cut so it was a scale 21' tall and the other so it was a scale 16½'.


 Let me explain the premise of this project. Art wanted to use all the parts from the kits and ONLY the parts from the kits, with the exception of  styrene sheet for the roof. I didn't hold myself to this restriction. I  have drawers full of parts, and dammit, I'm gonna use 'em. Here is where Art ran into trouble. He butt-jointed the two pieces together, figuring he would sand it so the joint would disappear. That just didn't happen, but he recovered by scribing two more joints 8' above and 8' below, representing the seams found on a real building. I considered doing that, but didn't feel  I could get a consistant scribe up and down through the corrugations. My solution was to place this styrene channel between them. In reality is should be an 'I' beam or 'H' beam, but since you won't see the inside, a channel will do. Which brings us to our second deviation. Art only had the ground level door and window, but since I was allowing myself to use other parts (stairways and railings), I added an upper floor door and window.

OOOPS, FIRST BIG SCREW-UP! I actually didn't discover the screw-up til a few more steps below, but I'll cop to it here. The two wall sections are reversed. Art had the taller section on the bottom, the smaller on top. Had I tried using his scribe method, this mistake would have been disastrous. Using the channel mitigated my faux pas. In fact, the more I looked at it, the more I felt this was the proper orientation.I think it makes the building look taller.

The windows and doors installed.

The wing wall alcove, with louvered vent and exhaust fan. I think it was here I realized my mistake. I groaned at first, then had a good laugh. It's just a model, not life and death.

The other side with its louvered vent. Pretty exciting, huh?

Art had a delivery door in the wing wall, but due to his self-imposed restriction, had no delivery dock.  I LOVE delivery docks, and had to have one. Here are the parts for mine. First I needed to cut an opening for the roll-up door. This time I roughed it out with a cutoff wheel in my Dremel, finishing up with a knife and this 90º chisel for the corners. The deck is a lamination of .020 scribed sheet and .030 plain sheet. The side panels were made from the cutoffs of the walls. The rounded portion at the top of them are the gutters meant capture the roof panels of the kit (not used.........yet). Here I think they make perfect rubber bumpers.

Test fitting the dock revealed I cut the sides too short. An .020 'concrete pad' rectifies the situation.

One of the things (almost) all my docks have is a stairway down from them. Here the steps are made from thick styrene strip. I had to remove part of the 'bumper' so the steps would fit flush. Here you can see why I had to laminate the deck, to make it thick enough to go to the top of the 'bumper.'

 Here I've installed brass railings, filled in under the steps, and added flashing where the steps meet the side wall.

Another test fit. Pretty good, I just need to remove a little more at the top of the opening so the door fits perfectly.

Well I've gone on long enough now. I hope you are enjoying  my ravings, and as always, comments and questions welcome. Don

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