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  • Central Pacific's First Depot

    by Gordon Y. Mills

    The author's CP depot in HO. - Photo by Duane Leetzow.  --  Rear view of the author's CP depot. - Photo by Duane Leetzow.

    Prototype Modeler - August 1978 - Page 34 width= Prototype Modeler - August 1978 - Page 35 width=


       Here is a little building which anyone can put together even though relatively unskilled (in any scale), and have it look new or weathered. Use it on an old time pike or with contemporary equipment; keep it simple or add a lot of detail; use it for almost anything. You 'll end up with a model that can take its place with any car, loco, or structure that your layout may possess...with pride!

       My own station was built from a special kit produced for the 1969 NMRA Pacific Coast Region Convention. When I first planned a Southern Pacific group two years ago one of the first things I did was secure permission from Campbell Scale Models and the PCR '69 convention committee to reproduce the plans that were in the kit. Since that time I have found some detail revisions so the plans have been redrawn. I want to thank these people for their help. Now then, anyone can have a model of this tiny building, whereas before those of you outside of HO scale were left high and dry, so let's get down to business!!

       As I have indicated above, the kit was in HO, and for it Campbell produced special siding with the battens milled in, specially milled wood shapes for the corner posts, scribed door/floor stock, and a rectangle of card stock printed for the ap plication of their Profile Shingles. I know of no commercial wood suitable so I suggest that you purchase a quantity of" 3/64" sheet wood (for HO) for the siding along with some scale 1" x 3 " strip wood for the "bats". The corner posts can be made from 6" x 6" stock and if you want to include the internal framing as I did (although this was not in the kit) the top and bottom members can be made of this same material. The horizontal nailing strips are more of the 1" x 3" stock. Note, if you will, that my comer posts appear very large and heavy . They are! They are special pieces that are roughly a figure "8" in cross section. They were made this way in order that the siding could have a place to "nestle", thus af fording considerable strength to the fin ished model. Also I believe that the model was intended to have the roof permanently installed, which would make an accurately detailed interior unnecessary. I'll leave this up to you Espee fans to de cide on for your individual stations.
       I have drawn the smoke jack and window detail separately for you fellows who are not HO. For HO scalers, pick up three Timberline No. 506 window moldings. The smoke jack is Campbell's CB-15 which comes with an attic vent in the same package. Save the vent for another project; you don't need it here. Also get some Campbell CB800 Profile Shingles, and if you wish you may add a few of their CB-250 wood barrels. I have also glued a Weston (now Campbell) pot bellied stove to the floor of my building directly below the smoke jack for a more complete appearance.

       If you have a copy of Beebe's book The Central and Southern Pacific Rail roads (Howell-North), you will find a photo of the prototype depot on page 27. You will also see that my model and plans appear to be somewhat different but the changes would not be difficult to incorporate as you build your station. I suggest that the front wall be changed to a height of 18'-0", possibly even twenty feet, rather than the 15'-6" that I have indicated. The front window could be placed 3'-0" from the corner instead of 5'-0" as on the plan, and that should take care of the obvious discrepancies. Since it is sometimes difficult to work from nothing more than a photograph, I am in no way criticizing the quality of the kit that was produced. It was top notch!

       I decided to try some Westbrook Weather-It on the wood parts of my build ing; I was pleased with the results to say the least. I immersed the pieces in the liquid, which was poured into a plastic tray from a Delco Rochester carburetor kit, and let them soak until I felt that the degree of weathering was sufficient. I wanted a well worn look and I got it! After letting the soaked parts dry for about a week I was ready to start. Don't be too concerned about warpage unless you want a new looking building. Also, depending on the degree of aging that is wanted, you may choose to leave the wood pieces relatively unsanded; I did on my model.

       For added inside detail you can vertically scribe the siding material on the back side, making the lines correspond with the center to center spacing of the battens. Be sure that this is done before any nailing strips or other bracing are cemented to the siding. Perhaps I should also mention here that if you are going to use Weather-It or a stain on the wood, do so before you get cement on any surface, otherwise you'll have light spots where the stain is unable to get through and do its job.

    Front and right side view with the roof removed. - Photo by Duane Leetzow.

    Front and left side view with the roof removed. - Photo by Duane Leetzow.
    Prototype Modeler - August 1978 - Page 36 width=

       Let's go on to the floor. Some of you will want to use individual planks, and that is fine, but if you have a piece of scribed wood, it can be made to look much the same if you will notch the edges of it which will carry these lines down to the very ground. To go one step further you can measure the floor planks into various lengths and then with a screwdriver or some other small tool having a blade width no more than that of the plank, press down at each place where a joint between the ends of them is wanted. The idea here is to give the impression that the flooring has been made of random length pieces of tongue and groove stock which happened to be handy.

       To simulate the nail heads, small indentations can be made with a dental pick or some other tool with a slightly blunt end. Each plank is wide enough for two "nails". Don't forget to put some nails towards the middle of each plank while you are at it, or they will not look right. Once the floor is stained the effect will be quite good.

       I wanted to give the appearance of grime, grease, coal dust and what-have-you, so after having determined the location of the stove and where the door opening was to be, I spread some Dio-Sol over that area and across the front platform. While still wet I smeared a small amount of Grimy Black on that section of floor, frequently diluting it with a touch of Dio-Sol, until it blended into the previously stained wood. The result is a dirty, grimy area extending from the stove to the doorway and out across the front platform, yet the floor is fairly clean on the left side and along the back wall, plus a bit of the right front corner. It's very obvious where the greatest amount of foot traffic is!

       If you are planning to paint the exterior of your building, I recommend that you leave the roof and floor piece off until afterwards, the task will be much easier. Paint your window frames before you install them or you will have a touchy job ahead of you. I know! When you install the window frames, if you have chosen those from Timberline, turn them around and install them inside out for an appearance which will more closely approach that of the prototype. Reefer White is the correct color to use here.

       I used a leather punch...the kind with the rotating selector...to make the hole in the roof for the smoke jack. The stove does not have to be directly below, although mine is because it was easier to find a length of plastic sprue from an old kit that was straight, rather than make up a crooked flue! When I drilled out the bottom of the smoke jack, a small piece of it broke out, but I cemented it back in as I installed the flue. The jack appears to be made of something other than styrene, and I found it necessary to use Ambroid to hold this assembly together. Paint the smoke jack before you cement it to the roof. I used Floquil Grimy Black.

       The roof can be painted before the jack is installed. I gave mine a thin wash of Floquil No. RR 601 Zinc Chromate Primer which will give it a shade of red not unlike many buildings on the S.P. The rail road officially lists a Moss Green for shingle roofs, but many are this shade of red in practice.

       For an added touch and to give the impression that the stove gets used during the winter months, wash an area of the roof below the smoke jack with some grimy black, to show how rain has washed off some of the soot.

       The exterior of the building was painted with a wash of Floguil No. RR 133 Armour Yellow which is very similar to the prototype Colonial Yellow. I wanted the Weather-It to show through the paint, so I gave the walls a "wetting down" with Dio-Sol first thing, and then I proceeded to use a small brush and some paper toweling to distribute the thinned paint, lightly in some areas, heavier in others, to get the effect of old peeling paint with the bare wood showing through . Paint the battens yellow right along with the siding.

    This view from the left rear shows the location of the smoke jack on the root. The rough construction of this depot is typical of earlier days. - Photo by Duane Leetzow.
    Prototype Modeler - August 1978 - Page 37 width=

       Fashion a hasp from some thin paper and cement them to the door and the 2" x 4" at the left of the opening after painting them brown. If you wish you can make a padlock and hang it from the latter portion of the hasp. I strongly recommend that a good magnifying glass be used for this operation!

       Don't forget to glaze the windows. I cut some small pieces of clear styrene sheet from the top of a Delco Rochester carburetor kit package, purposely selecting a portion that was a bit foggy and scratched for the old look. A dab of cement in each corner will hold them nicely.

       How do I explain the freshly painted window frames? That's easy: The painters have just gotten that far with their job this week. Next Monday they are going to start on the siding.

       If you are wondering about what extra details to add, why not consider some of the offerings from Scale Structures? I'm going to add a broom, a coal hod and scoop, a hand truck a trash can, a shovel, and a scale later on. A light inside and another one out front over the door are two more possibilities for interesting detail. You might add nail heads, complete with water stains running down from each, on the exterior, opposite the 1" x 3" nailing strips. I used ball point pen ink before I painted the yellow, the ink then bleeding through. This was moderately successful but not enough to get an encore on any other model. Any better ideas on this will be welcomed.

       Well, Espee fans, that's about all there is to it. It's up to you from here on in. What's that, you say? When was the prototype building dismantled? Somewhere, I seem to recall having read that it was torn down around 1930. You say that's a long time ago, do you? Just forget the time element, unless it is important to you, and build your depot; it will look plenty good even with second generation units passing by.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Gordon Y. Mills
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date August 1978

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  • Vincent Coli likes this
  • Vincent Coli
    Vincent Coli David, Thanks for posting this! I want to build this structure and did not know this article existed. Vince
    October 17, 2012 - 1 likes this
  • David Lotz
    David Lotz Glad to be of help!! Sometimes things just work out!!
    October 17, 2012