Branch Engine HouseFamily small business model companies create some of the more intriguing kits available. Branch Engine House is a new release from Railway Design Associates, creators of injection reminiscent of stone buildings of the 19th century.
Building the BuildingThe kit is modular and comprised of 12 uniform wall sections. They are joined by external pilasters of 3 sizes; the widest ones are used in this kit to raise the height of the walls.
Workin' on the railroadSo what is this model like to build? It is pretty simple to get the walls up. The majority of my time was spent trying to figure out how I want my engine house to look. I'm "one of those" who does not want to make the same model as everybody else so I deviated from RDA's plan quite a bit. I chose a main building with a flat sloping roof and a peaked roof for the office. While that may not seem to matter much, it did create some challenges!
Unfortunately, the photo archivist forgot how to use his camera and deleted several photos worthy of Musée du Louvre: brush staining wooden parts and hacking away on plastic parts.
Beefy sprues taxed my snippers as I cut the parts from the sprues. I aligned and secured the sections in my magnetic gluing jig. The parts are joined with different types of BSI superglues. Even though I did not wash the plastic to remove mold oil, finger prints, or debris from sanding, none of the BSI lost its grip and failed. To extend and reinforce the gluing face for the corners RDA molds corner "L" parts that look like half-dog bones. In the following photo it is the component on the right edge of the wall section.
This model fits together well. It is molded for modular construction. The walls will need support while you fit and glue them, and they need to be squared good-n-true. Do not be fooled by some gaps in the corners - believe it or not, the corners are not glued together! Huh!? you may gasp, why for? The reason is that I wanted to build this model but with no layout and very limited space, I need to suitable for storage. I lock the corners together for work and display. The locks are square brass tubes cut an inch long with a two-inch brass rod inserted to lock them together. One tube is glued to a wall and the other to the adjacent wall. Result: a sturdy structure that can folded flat in a shallow box and slid in amongst other kits to store. When I am ready to mount it on a layout, the corners will be glued and clamped and bye-bye gaps.
Squaring up the wall sections, I used this corner "L" brace to keep the walls a uniform distance from my jig. I also used the thick styrene sheet provided in the kit to square the corners. Also, some wall parts bowed slightly and I used a beam made from the sheets to reinforce them.
Primary HallLining up the wall sections is easy. Although it is suggested in the instructions, I found little need to sand the edges. I abutted their bases against my metal gluing jig, positioned them tightly against the other, and joined them with the pilasters and the backing sheets. For the higher sections, a bit of sanding was required; I used a whole pilaster to join the upper extensions to their respective wall parts and the wall parts to each other. One thing to keep in mind is to make certain that you keep each corner overlapping like the opposite corner, i.e., wall X-front-left and X-front-right butts into the interior edges of wall A, and wall X-back-left and X-back-right butts into the interior edges of wall B. Otherwise your building will be cattywampus.
A snappy trickRDA includes thick sheet plastic for the roof, floor, making supports and other purposes. The sheets are about 1/8-inch thick. At first I shuddered and thought, Oh no, these will take forever to cut. Then I recalled that styrene, when scribed, snaps apart. A few passes with a knife or razor saw scribes a groove about a quarter-sheet deep; a little pressure and SNAP, a clean edge. This sheet plastic can be used to strengthen the wall as we have seen. Another use I suggest is cutting equilateral triangles to square the corners.
RoofsRDA shows us how to make beams and internal supports with the supplied thick sheet. It is a good idea if you want to top the hall with a peaked roof.
The main roof has been weatherproofed with tar paper. I made the paper with dollar-store masking tape. I tore off short strips and stuck them on the lower lip of the roof, then added successive strips towards the high end. Each new piece has a slight overlap onto the previous one. When each row is down, I start the entire process alongside it, slightly overlapping the edge of the proceeding row. The result looks like tar paper rolled with moderate care. A coat of cheap flat black dollar store spray paint seals the tape. It also makes some ends peeled up a skosh. No prob, CA tacs it down. The result you can judge for yourself. I think it looks like aging tar paper roof; graying it down with grays will make it look more weather-beaten.
To ventilate the engine house I used the six large vents supplied with the kit. I measured and evenly spaced spots to mount the vents. I drilled holes and shoved them in, carefully aligning them to stand upright along the sloped roof.