Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kitbashing - The "Art" of Curren

Many of us have marvelled at the numerous unique structures Art Curren (and others) have managed to create through the simple act of combining and changing parts from typical offerings of manufacturers over the years. Yes, they have managed to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary!

This posting showcases a couple of rudimentary kitbashes that I built when I first got into this great hobby fifteen years ago. Yes, they were my first efforts...and, no...they weren't spectacular, but they are sentimental to me, so they all hold a location on my B&M railroad that I constructed ten years ago.

I found in the September 1984 MR issue (page 70) an interesting kitbashing project proposed by Art Curren. Art recommended combining two simple AHM snap-together kits (later IHC) to create a highly effective model of a railroad freighthouse or storage shed. In that article he provided two examples; one combining the basic farmhouse and schoolhouse and the other combining the schoolhouse and barn.

Here we see the basic AHM barn in the foreground combined with the basic AHM schoolhouse in back to form one structure. I was impressed with Art Curran's ingenuity by utilizing the shared "inner walls" that would be useless material to make the interior wall partitions at the recessed loading ramp door. This structure resides along my abandoned section of Maine Central trackage.

This building was constructed using the basic AHM schoolhouse in the front with the basic AHM farmhouse (two story structure) in back. Art Curran's creative talents once again came to the fore here. He recommended creating the small annex you see in the foreground using the extra schoolhouse wall from the interior of the building.

This structure resides along Boundary Road on the outskirts of North Dover. With a little added details, the scene really comes to life.

Here is the picture from the DPM package.

...and here is the large industrial facility made from eight or ten of the Laube Linen Mills. With the addition of vines, downspouts and signage painted on the walls, some of the lines were eliminated. It is the overall effect I wanted at the time and the building has served its purpose doing yeoman's service during operating sessions over the course of the past ten years!

While not really craftsman structures, it is interesting to see how some creative kitbashing with plastic models can result in fascinating and realistic looking industries for your model railroad!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Whistlestop Junction - Bar Mills

With modern packaging, it is truly amazing how a kit of a train station can come in such a tiny parcel. Bar Mills offers many of their individual kits this way.  This little depot is a great kit for modellers who choose to model any area in North America as it resembles your typical "Whistlestop" station. 

First task after opening the box is to lay all the contents out. The laser cut items go together so well that it is almost as easy as doing a jigsaw puzzle!

I chose to paint my station in the standard Boston and Maine colours...Depot Buff and Maroon. I applied the paint as a wash so as not to plug in any of the fine details with too thick of a paint.  Before painting, I braced the interior side of each wall section to help avoid warping.

With the walls all painted, it is a simple matter of lining everything up, making sure all is square and glueing the wall pieces togethers. My heavy weights come in handy with this job...although there are a number of different methods out there to brace and ensure the degree of squareness.

The roof section is added and the depot is installed around the platform. Starting to look like a station to me!

This side view demonstrates some of the dry brush weathering on the side of the station depot. Some figures and other details have been added.

This angle shot shows the almost finished product. I just have to place some posters and signs around and it should be done. Then, place it on the shelf and await the layout extension job!
To see a more detailed account of this build, visit
To see more offerings by Bar Mills, visit
Thanks, Mike Hamer - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

After awhile, I decided to place this handsome little depot on a mini-diorama.

I purchased a simple wooden picture frame from Michael's to use as a base.

The stand of trees in the background are not part of the diorama.  They are on their own stand and simply are used for a background for photography purposes.

I call the diorama "Beyond Milepost 27.

I call it this because many of my favourite musicians passed away at the tender age of 27.  It is my hope that the gentleman standing on the lplatform will board the train here at Milepost 27 and he'll travel beyond MIlepost 28, 29 and so on to live a long and fulfilling life.

Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Robert Johnson, Brian Jones and Amy Winehouse are but a few members of Club 27, those famous musicians who never made it to their 28th birthday.

The additional structure on the diorama is a shack that came in a Full Steam Ahead kit offering called Black Cove Harbor.  In total, six shack kits were offered in that kit.

A few more views of the diorama.

An aerial one.

The Bar Mills depot is a really nice looking structure.

My guitar friend waiting for the train.

Thanks for checking in on my build!  Have a nice day!  Mike Hamer

Again, to view a more in-depth account of the build at the Railroad Line Forum, paste the link below into your address bar above

To view an exchange of views about the diorama itself, paste this link into your address bar.

Alder Models Canadian Northern Depot

My good friend and fellow Friday Night Group operator, Chris Lyon, asked me one day if I could complete a kit for him, the Alder Models CNoR depot. Chris left a large hard cover book with me where I learned that the Pollockville station produced from Alder Models is a "Third Class" depot...Canadian Northern's most common standard station design. (The Canadian Northern Railway was the largest and most important predecessor of the Canadian National in the west of Canada.) Many of these third class stations were built in the first decade of the 1900's and construction kept up well into the 1920's.

Here is how the kit was presented to me. It is a resin offering. The walls were in place and the roof was on and painted black. I noticed right away that Alder Models offers gorgeous castings.

I referenced a number of images of third class stations.  This is the colour scheme Chris wanted for his depot.

First line of work was to complete the station by adding the lower section you see above. Chris asked me to paint it in the colours of the time...grey with red public doors and blue service doors.

This front view shows just how lovely the sight lines are on the station. CNoR got it right with the look in my opinion.

Next step was to scratchbuild a passenger platform out of wood. I stained lengths of wood and weathered them with watered black paint. Then they were cut to size to match the platform width. Note how the width is narrower right in front of the station due to the little exterior protruberance.

A square ensured that all my planks would line up perfectly after I painted and weathered them.

Here is the finished platform with a number of details offered. The cars in the distance help set the scene even though there is no scene at the moment!

Before handing the finished station back to Chris, I wanted to place it on a diorama and set it in an active location, knowing full well that when it would go to Chris, it would be placed within the context of a quieter and less busy area.

An overall view of the diorama before the structure is lifted and placed on Chris's layout.

Chris snapped this photograph of the station on his Lyon Valley Northern railroad. It certainly looks at home nestled in the foothills.

Chris's wider view showcases just how much a show-stopper this scene is taking into consideration his incredible talents with scenery and painted backdrops.

Another view "down the line".

To see the entire build in progress, visit
Alder Models is under new ownershiop at
Cheers, Mike Hamer - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Klinger's Pharmacy - Raglan Road - Bar Mills

My good buddy, Rob Kazakoff aka "Kaz" asked me to build a structure for his collection. The one he chose for me to do was Kilinger's Pharmacy from the "four kit" offering by Bar Mills called "Raglan Road".

The pharmacy is the white building to the left in the photograph. You can also see the other structures which came as a part of this package. There are many interesting details in this awesome kit such as shingled sidings, awnings, a main floor entranceway that juts out from the building, cool looking signs as well as a balcony on the other side of the pharmacy which is not seen in this photo.

Beginning the build was tricky as the structure does not have four complete walls. Note the white shingled siding. I chose to use two tones of green for the window, door and roofing details

Here is the balcony on the righthand side of the structure. It was somewhat finicky to put together, but was done in one evening. Of course, all the laser cut parts were painted before assembly.

On to the bottom main entranceway that juts out from the building. Paint colours were applied to the layers. Then it was a simple matter of applying the 'peel and stick' layers overtop everything. This method makes you look like a masterful painter when done! Easy as 1-2-3!

See what I mean! I love this 'peel and stick' technology. Man, today's kits are super exciting to build!

Here's the finished lower section of the pharmacy. The windows are opague. I snapped this shot with a flash. All sections went together very well.

We see the lower section as married to the structure as a whole. A sidewalk was included in the kit. The two sections required a bit of 'jimmying' to go together. After a few moments all was settled and nestled in place. The front awning is applied over the entranceway. This structure is ready to go!

Side awnings are in. All the signs are nicely weathered and applied. I really like the appearance of this structure!

A nice three-quarter angle look at the finished structure. Patrons of the town where Kaz will eventually place this structure will have little health worries with Klinger's Pharmacy around!

Before handing the Pharmacy over to Kaz, I wanted to photograph it in amongst other buildings I had been working on at the time. It sure looks good place among its brethren!
To follow my build of this kit in greater detail, go to
To see other modellers interpretations of the pharmacy and the other structures in the Raglan Road offer, visit
To visit Bar Mills go to
Cheers, Mike Hamer - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Shipyard Brewery - Bar Mills Models

I loved this kit the moment I laid eyes on it. I saw two or three versions of Bar Mills' Shipyard Brewery as built by modellers at the railroad line forum group. Before long this craftsman kit was on my workbench and ready to be assembled!

I chose to recreate the structure in the same colours as indicated on the box and in the brochures. My friend, Kaz, usually works his modelling this way and he says that you never can go wrong with this approach. While I typically chosoe my own paint and weathering colours, I had to agree with Kaz on this kit!

As you can see, the front elevation of the building offers interesting nooks and crannies. My single concern with the structure was that the loading ramp was too small for even a single 40' boxcar to load and unload, so I made some alterations and additions to the kit which you will see in some of the later images.

I love the diamond shingle roofing. I painted mine black and ran a series of lighter grey chalks over top to get the effect you see above. Rust running downward below some vents adds character. So does the lovely cupola that came with the kit! The signage is typical of the high quality signs offered through Bar Mills and was included in the package.

My buddy, Kaz, was over one evening and we began discussing how we could make this a true railroad structure. He brought me the chimney stack which you see to the left and I placed a couple of my heavier weights to the right in an attempt to 'visualize' just how much further work and materials would be necessary in order to add an addition to the structure. I wanted two freightcars to be able to work the industry at a time in order to offer heightened switching possibilities.

Kaz had informed me of that fact that Bar Mills offered what they called the "1-Kit" which is basically a series of modular wall sections in clapboard siding. On the back of these sections are marked areas for a variety of window and door sizes and arrangements. Four wall sections come in a pack with tons of laser cut windows and door offerings. Above you see my start to the addition which I chose to recess back from the wall section on the original structure. This offered greater visual appeal.

Here is the addition. I added similar signage as found on the original. My biggest challenge was matching my weathering techniques seeing as this build occurred six months after the original. Matching the paint was fine...a simple matter of using the same red colour - the weathering - now there was the challenge!

Here is a three-quarter view of the finished structure. I scratchbuilt a loading dock which followed the contours of the structure. It is long enough to accomodate two 40' boxcars which was my initial desire. Because the addition is recessed, the loading area is substantially wider. This offers me more opportunity to add further detailing to the scene!

Front view of the entire facility. I felt really happy with my marriage of the colours from the original through to the addition. Another friend indicated that it wouldn't really matter had they been off a little, as the addition could have been place on the real building many years later. I wanted it to look like this was the initial stuctural plans from the 'get go'.

This view from above shows where the siding spur will end when I eventually get this structure up on my future shelf layout. Bar Mills' Shipyard Brewery is an excellent kit - one that you should consider for your layout!
To see other modellers versions of this great kit, check out
To see the steps I took to build this kit, follow
To learn more about the "1-kit" offering, go to
To visit Bar Mills go to

Thanks, Mike Hamer - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada