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  • Kitbashing Industries in Plastic

    The author built Danz Foods from components of the Heljan brewery kit, a useful product for kitbashing purposes. By using the walls from the kit against the backdrop of the layout like this structure, you can create more than one "complete" building from every single starter kit.

    The Rawleigh building was also made from the Heljan brewery, but was painted a different color since it is situated close to Danz Foods at the author's town of Clinton. The illusion works because at a glance. the structures appear very different.
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    A little three-dimensional imagination goes along way

    by BY JOHN SWANSON Model photography by the author

       Presently there are few industry kits on the market exceeding three stories in height. This is high enough for most purposes since industrial structures should be large enough to be believable, but not so large as to totally dominate a scene. The city of Clinton on my Dixon, Wyanet & Lake Superior is a large industrial town. I wanted buildings for Clinton that would convey a "big city" feel and serve as a backdrop. This requires structures four to six stories high, two and three story structures with 15- or 20-foot ceilings and the use of vertical accents on the smaller (two story) structures. Clinton is still under construction and may even be moved to another location on the layout, so these structures are not in a finished scene and do not have finishing details added.

    Life-Like's Belvedere Hotel was the starting point for the left side of Clinton Corn Processing. and the Life-Like Mt. Vernon Manufacturing Co. provided the right side. Both structures are weathered with a dilute wash of black ink.
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    The Heljan brewery

       The Heljan brewery malt house kit can provide the material for several different large industries, especially if the walls are used as flats against the layout backdrop. A.N. Danz and W.T. Rawleigh (see the photos) were both made from one Heljan brewery kit without using the boiler house or other extra pieces. Danz is made of the side walls of the main structure and the malting tower front wall. The joint is between the words Danz and Foods. The left Rawleigh building is made of the Heljan malt tower rear and two side walls, while the right Rawleigh building is two ends of the main structure. The "walkway" structure between the two Rawleigh buildings is a pair of walls from a Tyco general store mounted on a styrene "concrete" support.

       The various walls of this building are joined by vertical pilasters which make a neat joint both visually and structurally. These pilasters can be seen at either end of the boxcar spotted at the right Rawleigh building. There are also corner pilasters provided with the Heljan kit, and these allow a beautifully finished, square edge for the flats which sets them apart from the backdrop.

       Since Danz and Rawleigh are just a few feet apart in the Clinton scene, their similarity was disguised by painting them different colors. A.N. Danz was painted Testors Military Brown with Floquil Earth trim. I darkened the Testors with some black and used this to brush-paint the window and door arches. The windows and doors were painted Floquil Reefer Gray. Rawleigh was painted a buff brick color with black windows and doors. allowing natural shadows to provide wall contrast. In retrospect, dark gray, Pullman Green or some other dark color would have been a better choice for the windows and doors. The black causes the window framing to disappear and the doors to have no visible detail.

       Both of these structures are straightforward rearrangement kitbashes of a versatile industry kit. With a little saw work, floors can be rearranged for a totally different appearance.

    Life-Like kits

       Life-Like makes the Belvedere Hotel and the Mt. Vernon Manufacturing Co. which both contain a lot of kitbashing material. Since there are walls of identical length in both, and end walls which are half the length of the side walls, a wide varlety of wall combinations is possible.

       The Belvedere Hotel can be the basis for a concrete and brick factory kitbash requiring little effort. This is the structure lettered Clinton Corn Processing.

       The cast foundation bases of the kit are cut apart lengthwise to make the horizontal concrete members. The bottoms of the walls are then glued to these pieces and let dry. These wall/foundation assemblies are then glued edge to edge until the desired width of the structure is reached. Make up these subassemblies for whatever number of stories you want. Again, be sure to let the subassemblies dry between each step. The rest of the process is just a matter of stacking the walls until you reach the desired height.

       The first floor of Clinton Corn is built on a 1/2"-wide piece of .040" styrene. This serves as a foundation and it also raises the loading doors to proper trackside height. The loading door wall sections are the entrance-door ends of the hotel kit. To use these, simply cut off the entrance door and glue a freight door in its place. The entire first floor wall is made of both the three-window ends and the entrance door of the hotel kit. From left to right - refer to the photo - the first level consists of one half of a three-window end, an entrance door end, a three window end, an entrance door end, a three-window end, an entrance door end and the other half of the first three-window end. These pieces are glued edge to edge, to the foundation and to the horizontal "concrete" strip of the second floor. This sounds rather complicated, but with kit in hand you will easily see how things fall together. I also used the left-over pieces from the foundations for interior braces at all joints. To give the top of the structure a finished appearance, I glued on a 1/2"-wide strip of .040" styrene. At this point in construction there will be gaps, marks and obvious joints. To cover these (and also the small half windows at the ends of the first floor - not visible in the photo), glue on vertical strips of 3/8" wide, .030" styrene. This gives the appearance of a load-bearing structural member as well.

    What is probably the "world's most popular kitbashing starting point," the Superior Bakery from Heljan, was used to create the Midland Tire and Rubber Co. building. By cutting away the peaked area of a side wall as the author did, you can easily have a two- (or more) story structure.
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    Above: Clinton Box and Paper is a four-story Superior Bakery kitbash. The author removed the upper and lower foundation part of each wall piece in order to provide an "architecturally correct" building with continuous pilasters and wall area.

    Left:The Calabrese Processing Co. is similar, although made from an AHM engine house. The loading doors of the building were put into the wall opening for the boilerhouse addition (not used).
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       With construction complete, I masked off the brick areas and sprayed the horizontal and vertical members with Floquil Concrete. I let this dry, and then masked off the end verticals and sprayed the wall top Floquil Black. I later removed the masking tape and set the structure aside. When everything dried, I added the alphabet decal set. Clinton Corn name using a Champ 1/2" alphabet decal set. The building to the right of the Beveldere Hotel kitbash is assembled in the same manner. For this structure I used the walls and bases from Life Like's Mt. Vernon Manufacturing Co. The first floor is made of blank end wall and freight door end wall castings. The freight door wall was turned upside down so the door ended up at trackside height. Again, a 1/2"-wide, .040" styrene strip was used as a foundation. When assembly was complete, the entire structure was sprayed with Floquil Concrete, the top was masked, sprayed black, and the windows and doors were brush-painted coach green. A final wash of diluted black ink was applied to weather the building. This structure is part of Clinton Corn, but I have yet to decide what lettering to apply. A repeat of the name would be superfluous, and any advertising should clearly define the industry. I'll stumble on the right wording one of these days.

    Revell and AHM

       The Revell enginehouse was first produced in the mid-1950's and has also been marketed as a newspaper, printing facility and bakery, among other adaptations. For industry kit bashing purposes, the most versatile kit is the Superior Bakery, currently available from Heljan. One of the first kitbashes I made was the Midland Tire and Rubber Co. from the Superior Bakery kit. The front wall of Midland is a bakery side wall with two areas cut out, following the arch contour. This allows for an interior car-loading area. On top is an end wall with the cast "concrete" footing removed. See the photo. Midland's short side wall (left side) is a bakery side wall glued to a bakery end wall with its peaked top cut away. The second-story wall (with the shorter stack on it) consists of a bakery side wall recessed to match the front second story. The boiler room wall (with the tall, narrow windows) is an end from an AHM enginehouse, and the rear second-story wall (with sign) is the front from the Herald Press version of this kit.

       Using a couple bakery kits and the photo for reference, you'll find it easy to construct this building and probably improve it greatly. Midland Tire and Rubber has a "busy" enough appearance the lack of load-bearing pilaster columns is not readily apparent. Were the height of this structure increased to three or more stories, it would not look right. To use the bakery kit for kitbashing to three or more stories, the walls must be cut at the top of the pilasters and the foundations need to be removed from all but the bottom story. These wall sections are stacked to the desired height and then a top wall with the foundation removed, but with the arch left on, is added. The Clinton Box and Paper Co. is an example of this type of structure. Note how the load-bearing columns are continuous from ground level to the top wall arch. Incidentally, the windows on Clinton Box and Paper illustrate another consideration. I had been using liquid styrene cement to attach the clear plastic window glazing. At the top center window you can see where the clear plastic has become distorted, apparently due to long-term effects of the liquid cement. Also, I've had many windows just pop out. To avoid this, I now use white glue to attach the glazing. This works very well since the glue forms a very tight bond without attacking the plastic.

       The purpose of this article is merely to provide you with some ideas. Certainly there are no rigid rules when it comes to kitbashing. These structures have yet to be detailed - still needed are fire escapes, vents and other clutter to give more visual interest to the walls (and they also hide goofs). These items are best left as final additions, added only after all structures in a scene have been built, the scene concept finalized and with scenery well underway. It is frustrating to spend a lot of time adding fire escapes, etc., and then find you have knocked them off while fiddling with a scene and rearranging things. One bright side of breaking details is that my resulting comments do a very good job of heating the train room on a cold winter day.

    Article Details

    • Original Author JOHN SWANSON
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date June 1986

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