By Robert Hannaford
I was given two half relief Modeltown warehouses for Christmas by my very astute daughter. Individually I did not think the kits had sufficient ‘presence’ and I wanted a larger building. This article describes my construction of them as one warehouse. Having a long list of projects, it has taken me 9 months to start this one and the particular models used have been superseded in the Modeltown catalogue.
I like the Modeltown kits and I have made a few of them. I consider them good value and like the ease with which they can be hacked about and/or extra detail added to create your own unique version.
As with all resin kits it pays to give them a good wash and scrub to remove any lingering trace of mould release agent. I have in the past been lazy and put them in the dishwasher, but found spots not taking paint. I now wash by hand using a kitchen degreaser such as Mr Muscle.
The fronts were butt jointed together and floors and ceilings added. 5mm PVC sheet (from Direct Plastics) was used for the additional parts. The 2 redundant sides were used to create 3 compartments, and PVC sheet cut to create a back to each compartment. PVC sheet is great stuff to work with: it is stable and easily cut to shape. The PVC additions significantly increased the structural rigidity of the building. I used a super-glue (B&Q own brand) to construct the building. In the past I have used both Wickes Extra Strong Contact adhesive and glue of the ‘No More Nails’ type with equal success. The backs are a push fit to allow future access for internal repairs.
Ronseal ready mixed wood filler was used to fill in the gaps in the wall and roof sections. I find it perfect for use on resin kits, static or rolling stock. When first applied the excess can easily be removed with a damp cloth, and when dry it can be sanded and carved. In this case the stone courses were carved to join the existing courses and hide the joint. The same was done to join the two roof sections, though I did cut notches so the two parts of the roof interlocked for added strength.
Halfords grey primer was sprayed on all inside surfaces, followed by Halfords matt black. The matt black interior absorbs the light and hides the shallow depth of the building, the PVC floors, ceilings and backs, preventing extraneous light sources spoiling the illusion. The external roof surface was sprayed with grey primer and that is the final finish before the addition of ‘dirt’ and lacquer.
The windows and doors were masked on the inside. The external additions of hoist and loading bay platform were attached. The loading bay platform was raised to match the floor level at the door. The external surfaces were covered in Halfords grey primer. Coverage is important as this will form the background colour in the mortar joints in the stone walls. Note the tops of the walls that will be glued to the roof were also masked, to ensure resin to resin contact when gluing roof to walls. I am not sure this was strictly necessary, it just seems logical to me that a layer of paint might weaken the joint.
I use ‘Match Pots’, usually Vinyl Matt from B&Q or similar, as a cheap and useful source of paint for buildings. Using a fine sponge, of the type often found on the back of kitchen scouring pads, a colour called ‘Wholemeal’ was dabbed on the grey primer to simulate the colour of the stone. The aim is to only coat the surface and avoid getting the ‘stone’ colour in the mortar joints. I failed dismally, getting quite a bit in the mortar joints. The situation can be ameliorated later when weathering.
I painted the window and door frames and hoist mechanism. I used a lighter ‘match pot’ colour called ‘warm beige’ for the paving slabs and steps of the loading bay.
The windows were glazed. I stuck the window material provided in place with ‘Hobbycraft Silicone Glue’. The roof was glued in place using superglue. I prepared a dirty wash using a dark brown ‘match pot’ colour called ‘Chocolate Torte’ diluted with approximately 2 parts water. Slather it on with a thick soft brush, brushing in the direction of gravity as much as possible. Then wipe most of it off (I use kitchen roll), wiping in the direction of gravity. Then repeat, only this time I might squeeze a few drops of matt black acrylic into the dirty wash, do not stir it in. Catch some of the black on the brush and again slather on the building, blending the resulting black streaks. Then wipe some of it off. Repeat until you are happy with the effect. The resulting soggy dirty kitchen roll can be used to ensure window sills and the bottom of doors are suitably covered. I gave the paving slabs of the loading bay a generous coating of the dirty wash, then wiped the surface very carefully to leave the dirt in the dips. The aim was to emulate the effect of dirt washed by rain into the hollows. It is during the application of the ‘dirt’ that any excess stone colour that accidentally flowed into the mortar joints is darkened.
A cheap chain for use on the hoist was purchased from the Hobbycraft jewellery section. The chain was coloured gold, so I dropped it in dark grey paint and then pegged it to the washing line to dry, before it was glued in place.
Finally some 4mm scale ‘grass’ I found in my ‘odds and ends’ box was glued in patches along the base of the walls, including a small amount in a corner of the hoist platform. The finished building was given a couple of coats of Halfords clear matt lacquer. Usually I would mask the windows before spraying the lacquer; in this case I left them uncovered to allow the lacquer to simulate dirty glass. I apply the lacquer in the hope it will protect the building if caught in a rain shower. My buildings are not left out all year.
I added a set of Modeltown sacks and the ‘Sack Truck Man’. The wheels on the truck as supplied are a couple of glorified drawing pins and in my opinion need improvement. I used a couple of thick nylon washers to emulate tyres, but the wheels still do not look realistic. The sign on the building was created in Microsoft PowerPoint, printed, laminated and stuck to 2mm Plasticard. 1mm Plasticard was cut to frame the sign.
When constructing the complete Modeltown buildings I usually add some reinforcement to the inside corners and apply Plastic Filler to the underneath of the roof ridge. I am not sure if this is strictly necessary as the kits are pretty solid, I just like to play safe.
I mention the suppliers I used for completeness, I am sure everybody has their own favourites. The article is not intended to be prescriptive. As always in this hobby, experiment and most importantly have fun.