BASH A BACHMANN BUILDING
BY "DO IT YOURSELF DAVE" CUMMINS
I'LL BET YOU had no idea Bachmann makes large scale buildings. They do...if you're not a bit bashful about the bashing business. So I want to show you how I turned an inexpensive Bachmann combine kit (#98906) into a typical trackside building.
Let's consider for a moment what real railroads often did when they needed a small building somewhere along the track. They ran a car no longer in service out to the site, lifted it off its trucks, and set it on timbers along the right-of-way. Depending on what they needed or had available, they would use any suitable freight or passenger car.
Normally the crews would set the car about ten or fifteen feet away from the tracks and build wood walkways or gravel roads for access. The trucks would, of course, be gone but such hardware as couplers, grab irons, even brakewheels would usually remain intact. Then they would install some electrical lighting. Over the years, they might board up some windows and doors, they might cut in a new door or window or, in the case of a passenger car, they might enlarge or remove an end platform. The steps and decking around it would come and go. Soon, every car became a unique structure. None had the "company look" typical of depots and locomotives.
It is my impression two unwritten rules applied to railroad car structures and virtually no North American railroad ever violated them. Rule One prohibited any routine maintenance. Rule Two outlawed any repainting.
Given the above, I had a free hand (and conscience) in modeling a trackside building. And so do you.
PLANNING THE MODEL
Even though I used a combine, a passenger car would work equally well. Here is what I decided to do:
1.) Leave one end platform intact and replace the other with a deeper, wider wood deck with a crude, wood railing.
2.) Board up three of the six trackside windows and four of the windows in back.
3.) Board up the baggage compartment door in the rear and provide no access to that side of the car.
4.) Use real glass in the remaining windows.
5.) Use the original Bachmann clerestory windows to convey an "old time" color and impression.
6.) Paint the roof an aged, weathered black and the car body green with modest weathering.
7.) Achieve an appearance suggesting the car was in reasonable condition when they converted it, and the conversion occurred relatively recently.
8.) Do nothing to the interior; no details at all.
9.) Place the car on timbers 9 by 9 scale inches (3/8-inch square).
10.) Install lighting from my outdoor layout's system.
The idea behind the project was to make only simple and obvious modifications and avoid an elaborate rebuild. A modest effort will make such a project show well. Unless you go all out, more work will result in very little improvement.
I should also point out I keep my models inside and take them out to the layout only when I run trains. If your model will stay outdoors, you must weatherproof the wood parts or, better yet, substitute plastic for wood.
PREPARATION, PARTS, AND PAINT
Start by separating the parts of the kit you will use from those you may store in the spare parts box. For example, this project requires no trucks, truss rods, seats, stove, or inside wall dividers. We will keep the rooftop smokejack.
Clean any flash from the parts. My kit had a lot around the window openings on one side. Do whatever minor work may be necessary to fit the parts until the body, floor, and roof go together perfectly.
I used a razor saw to remove the entire platform from the baggage end, being careful to leave some material around the slot where the body tab enters the floor. That is the only modification I made to the plastic parts.
Next I cut the wood. You should know the wood sizes can be pretty flexible. I may be fanatic about proper scale sizes when I scratchbuild a model of a certain prototype but this project is different! For one thing, no "correct" size exists for any piece and, for another, I was in a "use what's in the scrap box" mood.
I used 1/32- by 1/4-inch stripwood 2 5/8 inches long to board up the double windows and 1 7/16 inches long for the singles. I used 1/32- by 1/4-inch wood 3 1/2 inches long to cover the rear baggage door. The underbody beams are 3/8- by 3/8- by 19 3/8 inches.
I had a few pieces of .100- by 1/2-inch stripwood I had cut myself, so I trimmed them to lengths of 4 1/2 inches to use for the platform. The railing has posts 1/4-inch square by 2 1/8 inches tall with cap rails 1/16- by 1/4-inch. The stepping beams are 1/4- by 3/8-inch. For the baggage door they are 3 1/4 inches long and for the end platform they are 2 7/8 inches.
I stained all the wood parts with a mixture of India ink and alcohol. I fill a Floquil paint bottle with alcohol, then add 24 drops of ink. Brush on the stain and remember to color some pieces more than others.
I sprayed the car body with Floquil Coach Green and the roof with Floquil Grimy Black. You may apply the paint directly to the car; Bachmann kits resist crazing so a protective coat of Floquil Barrier is unnecessary.
The roof requires masking because the sides of the clerestory and the fascia boards are green. I sprayed on the black first, let it dry for several days, masked it off, then painted on the green. Normally you would go from the lighter to the darker color but my method involved less complicated masking.
I brush painted the snap-on grab irons and end railings with Floquil Brass. It is the same color as the plastic but allows later clear coats to adhere better. I painted the smokejack black and cemented it in place after I painted the roof with both colors. Otherwise the stack would have interfered with applying the green.
The body is completely green. I did mask the floor, though. The part visible at the base of the end walls should be green and so should the tiny piece of "wood" where the end steps attach to the body. I colored the step treads silver and the floor boards, end sill, and coupler brown.
When all parts had dried thoroughly, I sprayed them with a clear gloss coat, applied decals for my own railroad, and gave everything a final finish of Testor's Dullcote.
The first things I attached were the railings on the remaining original end platform. I left off the brakewheel figuring anybody using the end door would soon tire of bumping into the brakewheel and remove it. I screwed a knuckle coupler onto some scrap wood, then glued the wood to the underbody.
At this point I should mention the lighting system. I put off installing it until I build my next layout. (As you may remember, I have moved from Southern California to Georgia.) I did make sure I can reach all the screws holding together the structure when the time comes to open it and add lights.
Then I built the "foundation". I drilled 1/4-inch holes through the long beams to provide access to the four screws holding the body to the floor. That allowed me to glue in the beams with Walthers' Goo. Ordinary wood glue holds the platform and railing parts to the beams. I prefer the "tacky" glues because they retain a little flexibility and that helps a model absorb the shocks occurring when you handle or move it. I used Goo to hold the wooden boards covering the windows and the choice of what windows to cover was random.
After that I applied very light weathering and I mean light! I am no fan of the FAD ("Falling Apart Decrepitude") approach to narrow gauge modeling. The idea was simply to give the building a few years' worth of grime by airbrushing on a very dilute mixture of Floquil Grimy Black, principally from above.
Finally came the real glass windows. You may successfully substitute plastic for metal on many models, but only glass looks like glass. Except for the clerestory, I used Clover House microscope cover slides for the windows I left uncovered. They come in only one size. Fortunately, that is just large enough to cover a G scale window.
With the glass in, you're done.
I hope this article has inspired you to bash something. A kit, you understand, not the wife or kids! Whether you try this project or something very different is unimportant. I will consider the article a success if it inspires you to think seriously about any kit modification or if you add any new technique to your bag of tricks.
BILL OF MATERIALS
1 Bachmann 98906 combine kit
1 package Clover House window glass
4 feet 3/8" x 3/8"
6 feet 1/32" x 1/4"
1 foot 1/16" x 1/4"
1 foot 1/4" x 1/4"
2 feet 1/4" x 3/8"
3 feet 3/32" x 1/2"
Floquil Grimy Black
Floquil Coach Green
Floquil Roof Brown
Stain (solution of rubbing or denatured alcohol and India ink)