Saturday, August 9, 2008
Kit-Bashing a Building by Gizzmo
Ever see a structure you just must have on your layout but can’t find it anywhere? Or, do you need to fill a spot that has an odd shape not available for purchase? In my case it was a simple want. After seeing a building done by Dennis Brennan that was featured in the Classic Toy Trains magazine, I knew the only way I could have it ,was to copy his work. Fortunately Dennis was very open with how he built it and shared the info with me. Thanks Dennis.
I've found the ability to make these custom buildings adds a great deal of interest and frees me up in the design of my layout.
I hope this general overview of the building prosses will help others decide to give it a try.
Let’s get started…
The first thing you may have to do is find/decide on what kits you will use as a source for material. Currently, I’ve only “bashed” two types of building kits. Mold injected and cast resin. Dennis used two mold injected kits made by Lionel. These kits are easy to cut with a small hobby saw and can be fused/glued together using styrene solvent. I have used the cast resin kits from Korber and found CA very good for bonding it together.
Since I was copying from Dennis, there wasn’t a need to make a design. Though it may be a good idea to do the same for your first try so as to become comfortable with the process, it isn’t a must. The principles are rather simple to apply to your own design but I found I learned a good deal by copying.
I started by searching the internet for the kits I needed. They are both Lionel kits. He used the “Electrical sub Station” and the “Municipal Building”. Both these kits are discontinued, but you can still find them online.
As you can see the building I did was a three sided unit. Its location on my layout prohibits viewing the back of the building so there was no need to finish it. I started by separating all the different wall sections into components and matching them up to form the 3 major walls. Once I was sure they new sections were the proper size and that they matched each other, I used the bonding solvent to attach all the components.
There are a few tricks I learned doing this worth noting. Try not to let the parts in the kit dictate what your building will look like. Notice the strips of white styrene plastic used to attach the first floor to the two above it. That strip, bonded to the back, is used to spread the floors apart and the gap is filled with a piece of molding found in the doll house section of my local art store. This little trick is used again between the 3rd and 4th floors on the front section. It is also used between the 2nd and 3rd but a wider spread was needed because the available 3rd floor wall sections were too short. The wider strip is creatively filled in with a piece of wood that will become a sign. By doing it this way a consistent floor to floor height can be maintained using the available kits pieces to full advantage. You can also notice the end wall has different sized windows than the front on the third floor. This helps to convince the viewer the floor spacing is maintained and the sign is just in front of the lower half of the front windows. As neat as it was to make this building, I found it was these subtle details I learned from Dennis that continue to help me in bashing projects.
After painting the brick and windows with acrylic paint I attached the end panels to the front. I used some Gator-board (foam board) I had laying around for a floor and a roof. I just hot glued it in place. The first floor was made from the plastic supplied with the kits. With the windows painted and glazed I installed them and added window sills of painted wood. The back is covered with one large piece of foam board.
I added some molding to the back just to make sure the illusion is complete. The back piece uses tape as a hinge and magnets to hold it in place. I’ll add some LED lights later. The next thing to do was to add the roof and doors. I filled the mitered molding gaps with wood filler and painted them a concrete color.
I’ll also add a roof top water tank from Korber models later. I was so impressed with this building I built a larger version of it and combined them both with a loading dock.
It’s a shame Lionel doesn’t make these any more. They are beautiful kits and very complete. They are also the only kit I found that has this style of window and door.
After doing these buildings I find myself dissecting any kit I look at looking for parts in my next structure. I can’t help it !
Thanks again Dennis for showing the way and opening up new avenues for me in this hobby. Gizzmo